Tag Archives: Skydiving

768 Xwing Autonomous Aircraft

Autonomous aircraft with the regulatory affairs lead at Xwing. In the news, Delta Airlines reconsiders loyalty program changes, GPS spoofing of commercial flights, the Schiphol airport capacity cap, a crash takes the life of an AOPA senior vice president, and a 104-year-old woman goes skydiving.

Guest

Anna Dietrich is the regulatory affairs lead at Xwing, a company that flies piloted commercial cargo operations under a Part 135 certificate with a fleet of Cessna Caravans. The company has developed an autonomous aircraft for cargo operations and has conducted the world’s first fully autonomous gate-to-gate demonstration of a commercial cargo aircraft.

Anna Dietrich, regulatory affairs lead at Xwing.

Anna leads the certification program for advanced aircraft control and detect and avoid systems for the company’s autonomous flight operations. She gives us an overview of the Xwing autonomous program and the Superpilot autonomous flight technology. A remote pilot monitors the flight and can modify the flight plan if necessary.

We hear how the regulator’s viewpoint on airworthiness is now a more performance-based approach to safety. Operational rules can be the same as with a crewed aircraft, but in this case, some are performed by a system, and some by a pilot on the ground. For now, airman certification is unchanged, but some requirements are different and these will need to change over time.

Anna brings up the roles of humans in autonomous aircraft operations: who has liability and responsibility, and what training is appropriate? Also, how AI is regulated, thoughts on the certification process, and even public acceptance. We take the opportunity to ask Anna about the Terrafugia roadable airplane project that she co-founded.

Anna is an industry-recognized leader in policy, certification, and government relations for advanced air mobility (AAM), eVTOL aircraft, and autonomous aviation. Her experiences include Mars rover testing, being the founding COO of Terrafugia, testifying on AAM for Congress, and speaking at TED Global. She has appeared on or been published in a wide range of outlets including CNN, Ms. Magazine, and Good Morning America. She runs AMD Consulting, serves as Director of Regulatory Affairs for Xwing, is the co-founder and Director of Industry and Strategy at the Community Air Mobility Initiative (CAMI), and is a Senior Policy Advisor for AUVSI. She was the founding chair of the GAMA EPIC EVTOL committee and continues to have key roles in industry, including standards development efforts such as ASTM AC377 Autonomy in Aviation. She received her BS and MS in aerospace engineering from MIT and is a private pilot. More at annamdietrich.com.

See also:

  • Aviation Xtended Episode 184 with Max Gariel, the Co-Founder, President, and Chief Technology Officer for Xwing. 
  • Airplane Geeks Episode 736 with Earl Lawrence, the Chief Compliance and Quality Officer at Xwing, and former Executive Director of Aircraft Certification at the FAA.

Video: Xwing – Gate to Gate demo – Feb 2021

Aviation News

Delta CEO Admits Airline May Have Gone ‘Too Far’ With Loyalty Changes

Last week we described how Delta Airlines planned to change its SkyMiles program. The airline said it would retire Medallion Qualifying Miles and Medallion Qualifying Segments to focus on Qualifying Dollars. Many Delta customers were not happy with the change, and CEO Ed Bastian responded by saying, “No question we probably went too far in doing that. I think we moved too fast, and we are looking at it now.”

‘We moved too fast’: Delta Airlines may reverse controversial change

After the initial Delta announcement, Alaska Airlines said Delta SkyMiles Medallion members could join their Mileage Plan program with no flight segment or spending requirement. JetBlue offered elite status in its Mosaic loyalty program to Delta flyers through Oct. 31, or until 30,000 people take advantage of the offer.

Increasing Fake GPS Signals Near Iran Prompt FAA Alert

The OpsGroup reports that the number of GPS spoofing incidents in Iraq is increasing along a flight path alongside the Iranian border. The FAA calls this a “safety of flight risk to civil aviation operations.” OpsGroup said about a dozen business jets and airliners received fake GPS signals, and many of them lost navigation capability.

OpsGroup is a membership organization for pilots, flight dispatchers, schedulers, and controllers involved in international flight operations. The 8,000-member-strong organization shares new information on changes and risks that members have reported. Members get a Daily Brief, live Ops Alerts, and other resources. OpsGroup founder Mark Zee describes the organization in What Is Opsgroup All About?

US’s JetBlue challenges Dutch, EU over Schiphol capacity cap

The Dutch government is planning to cut capacity at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport from 500,000 annual flights to 440,000 flights. This is an effort to reduce noise and carbon emissions, but it is not a popular move within the industry. Opposition comes from KLM, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), and A4A representing ten US airlines. Other industry associations against the plan include BARIN (representing airlines in the Netherlands), Air Cargo Netherlands (ACN), Airlines for Europe (A4E), and the European Regions Airline Association (ERA).

JetBlue Airways has made a regulatory filing with the US Department of Transportation (DOT) against the Dutch government and the European Union, calling on the DOT to take action. The airline claims is it under an immediate threat of expulsion from Schiphol in 2024.

AOPA’s Vice President of Air Safety Institute, Richard McSpadden Dies in Plane Crash

Richard McSpadden Jr., senior vice president of the AOPA Air Safety Institute, was one of two people killed in an aircraft accident on October 1, 2023, in Lake Placid, New York. The Cessna 177 Cardinal experienced an emergency after takeoff. The airplane attempted to return to the airport but failed to make the runway. Also killed in the crash was former NFL player Russ Francis.

104-year-old Chicago woman becomes oldest tandem skydiver

The Guinness Book of World Records may certify Dorothy Hoffner as the oldest person in the world to tandem skydive. The woman turns 105 in December and wants to go for a ride in a hot air balloon.

Mentioned

From The American Helicopter Museum & Education Center:

Aviation Newstalk Podcast

Portland jetport briefly shut down Sunday after car crashes through gate, drives on runway

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, Rob Mark, David Vanderhoof, Max Trescott, and our Main(e) Man Micah.

556 A New Microsoft Flight Simulator

Microsoft Flight Simulator returns in 2020, Launchpad Marzari talks with the operations manager and the chief pilot at Skydive Spaceland San Marcos, the Boeing 737 has an issue with slats, fun facts about business jets, Raytheon and United Technologies propose a merger, airport facial scans raise privacy concerns, and an electric hybrid Cessna 337 Skymaster takes flight.

Aviation News

E3: Microsoft Flight Simulator coming to Xbox, PC

Azure artificial intelligence and satellite imagery give the new Microsoft Flight Simulator stunning 4K effects. Coming in 2020, the sim is reportedly written for the PC and is not a port from Xbox.

Video: Microsoft Flight Simulator – Announcement Trailer | E3 2019

 

More than 300 Boeing 737s to be inspected for faulty parts

Slat track assemblies manufactured for the Boeing 737 have been found to have a hydrogen embrittlement issue. Operators are required to perform inspections to identify and remove faulty parts. See also, Spirit AeroSystems supplier made potentially faulty 737 wing parts.

Know The Facts About Private Jets Before You Bash Them

Advocacy group No Plane, No Gain offers data that illustrates the importance of business aviation, such as jobs supported, economic activity, accessibility to locations not served by airlines, humanitarian missions, and many more.

Raytheon and United Technologies Aerospace Businesses to Combine in Merger of Equals

Under the proposed merger, UTCs aerospace unit would combine with Raytheon in an all-stock transaction to create Raytheon Technologies Corporation. As previously planned, Carrier and Otis would spin off UTC as distinct companies.

Don’t smile for surveillance: Why airport face scans are a privacy trap

U.S. Customs and Border Protection says photos of travelers taken in a data breach

Face recognition is increasingly being used at airports. Is this a threat to personal privacy?

Ampaire Announces First Public Electric Flight

The Ampaire Inc. six-seat Cessna 337 Skymaster was retrofitted with a proprietary battery-powered electric propulsion system that replaces the rear combustion engine. The “resulting system is a ‘parallel hybrid’, meaning the internal combustion engine and electric motor work in concert to optimize power output as the plane flies.”

Skydive Spaceland (Part 2)

Two final interviews conclude the report by Airplane Geeks reporter-at-large Launchpad Marzari on his visit to Skydive SpacelandThomas Hughes, Operations Manager, Skydive Spaceland, San Marcos; and Chief pilot Matt Wampler.

Mentioned

FAA UAS Symposium 2019 report in episode 290 of The UAV Digest.

Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW)

555 Marzari Goes Skydiving

Airplane Geeks reporter-at-large Launchpad Marzari goes skydiving! Our Main(e) Man Micah talks with Bunk and Diana Chase about the Spurwink Farm Pancake Breakfast & Fly-In. A proud papa talks with a new Civil Air Patrol cadet, and more on cryogenic hydrogen fuel cells for electric airplanes. In the news, an eVTOL with a claimed 400-mile range, the CBS interview with Boeing’s CEO, a report on assumptions made during 737 MAX design and certification, and a rather strange story about trapping flight attendants in the plane.

Aviation News

Skai hydrogen-powered eVTOL air taxi boasts enormous 400-mile range

Alaka’i Technologies is an electric vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) air taxi company in the news. The Massachusetts-based company says their Skai aircraft will hold five passengers, including a pilot for up to four hours of flight time with a 400-mile range.

Video: Alaka’i Skai – Hydrogen powered VTOL air taxi

Red Bull cancels air race series after 2019 season

Launchpad Marzari provides the sad news.

What Boeing’s CEO said on CBS This Morning

In a CBS interview, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg apologized for the crashes. “Boeing and the FAA continue efforts to implement a software fix that corrects the fatal flaws in the 737 MAX’s new MCAS technology (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System)…”

Boeing Built Deadly Assumptions Into 737 Max, Blind to a Late Design Change

The New York Times describes a scenario where the MCAS was originally designed with multiple sensor inputs for a specific scenario but later enlarged the scope and dropped some of those inputs. The changes weren’t fully understood and “test pilots, engineers, and regulators were left in the dark…”

Delta Tried To ‘Trap’ Its Own Flight Attendants On A Plane, Messages Show

A Delta’s operations control center employee told the Delta gate agent to keep the door shut while some maintenance was performed. “Do not open door,” the message read. “flt attendants out of time and none available.” Delta says it was a breakdown of company protocol.

Launchpad visits Skydive Spaceland

Airplane Geeks reporter-at-large Launchpad Marzari visited Skydive Spaceland and he tells us about his skydiving experience. Tandem instructor Andrew Lee talks about the qualifications for becoming a jump instructor.

Video: Launchpad skydive

More to come next episode.

Spurwink Farm Pancake Breakfast & Fly-In Preview

Bunk and Diana Chase live a true airplane geek life. In the summer they live next to the Limington-Harmon Airport in Limington, Maine. In the winter they move to Lakeland, Florida where Bunk volunteers at the Central Florida Aerospace Academy and Diana works with SUN ‘n FUN media. Bunk and Diana are also part of the original group to start the Spurwink Farm Pancake Breakfast & Fly-In.

Bunk’s personal hangar in Maine opens right on the AirNav 63B’s runway 11/29. In it, he has two Pitts Specials, one of which (N6W) was built by Curtis Pitts himself for Mary Gaffaney, one of the world’s greatest aerobatic pilots. Also in that hangar is perhaps the most beautiful Piper Cub ever seen.

Bunk and Diana invited our Main(e) man Micah to their home to talk a bit about this year’s Fly-In which will take place on July 14, 2019.

Bunk &and his Pits N6W.

Bunk’s Cub.

Mentioned

Sticks, Stories, and Scotch

A mystery…

A mystery plane.

A mystery plane.

Report: Airlines Installing Uncomfortable Bumps In Seatbacks Because It Pleases Them

Air New Zealand spends billions buying new fleet of Boeing Dreamliner long-haul jets

Video: Driving the Hydrogen-Powered 2018 Honda Clarity Fuel Cell

 

AirplaneGeeks 374 Air Show Performer and Air Racer Vicky Benzing

 

Vicky Benzing

We talk with Vicky Benzing, a pilot, skydiver, aerobatic performer, and air racer. In the news, we have earnings reports for Boeing and some of the airlines, an air show parachutist lands in the crowd, an angle-of-attack indicator video for GA aircraft, the effect of Syrian sand on Russian jets, and Boeing fears the loss of the ExIm Bank.

Guest

Vicky Benzing is an accomplished pilot, skydiver, aerobatic performer, and air racer.  She has more than 7000 hours of flight time and over 1200 parachute jumps in a flying career spanning over thirty years. Vicky currently holds an Airline Transport Pilot rating as well as a commercial rating in helicopters and seaplanes.

Vicky BenzingWe talk with Vicky about aerobatic performances at air shows, including training and preparation, the “chicken dance,” the maneuvers Vicky likes, and which ones the audience likes. Also, the difference between flying the Stearman and flying high performance jets, how competing in the Reno Air Races compares to flying aerobatics at air shows, and what the crowd interaction means to a performer like Vicky. Along the way, Vicky tells us about skydiving and that the United States Parachute Association is a good resource for finding jump zones and advice.

In 2005, Vicky began training with air show legend Wayne Handley. She entered in aerobatic competitions throughout the US, and won first place in the Intermediate category in both the Northwest and Southwest Regional Championships in 2006. Two years later, she placed in the top 10 finishers at the US National Aerobatic Championships in the Advanced category.  

Vicky Benzing performing

Vicky Benzing performing

In between flying aerobatic competitions, Vicky began performing in air shows and today she focuses her energies on her airshow flying.  Vicky holds a surface level waiver and a formation card, and has flown well over 100 air show performances at venues across the US, including performing at the airshow during EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh.

In 2010, Vicky began racing in the National Championship Air Races.  She was chosen “Rookie of the Year” twice by her fellow Sport and Jet Class racers, and made history in Reno this year as the “fastest woman” racer ever in the history of the Reno Air Races, flying Dianna Stanger’s one-of-a-kind L-139 jet on the race course at 469.831 mph. See Live from the Reno Air Races with SkyChick and Team Darkstar for a video interview with Vicky and Dianna.

L-139 at Reno Air Races

L-139 Courtesy Dark Star Racing

In addition to her aviation pursuits, Vicky holds a PhD in Physical Chemistry from UC Berkeley and has enjoyed a successful career in the Silicon Valley high tech industry.  Vicky is currently Vice President of the Sport Class Air Racing Association and is on the Board of Directors of the Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos, CA.

Vicky is sponsored by APECS Aerospace Corporation, an engineering consulting firm that specializes in providing support to aviation maintenance repair organizations.  Other sponsors are Oregon Aero, maker of seating systems and helmet and headset upgrades and ASL Camguard, creator of advanced engine oil supplements to reduce engine wear.

News

Faster production of jets pushes up Boeing’s profits

Boeing Co. third quarter earnings were up 25 percent to $1.7 billion, and the company raised its earnings outlook for the year. In the quarter, Boeing delivered 199 commercial jets versus 186 jets a year ago.

Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson said many wide-body jets coming off lease in the near future, will be available relatively cheaply, and will compete with new more fuel efficient jets.

American Airlines posts record profit but worries more about low-cost competitors like Spirit

Lower fuel spend helped jump net income 80 percent to $1.69 billion. Because 87 percent of American Airlines fliers fly only once a year and buy tickets based on price, next year American will offer cheap tickets with “less frills” on certain nonstop routes where it competes with discount carriers.

Alaska Air reports record profits from its busiest summer ever

The airline reported record quarterly profit of $274 million, and the busiest summer in the airline’s 83-year history.

Southwest Airlines reaps record $584M quarterly profit

With record net income of $584 million on revenue of $5.32 billion for the quarter, Southwest beat the same quarter last year which had net income of $324 million on revenue of $4.8 billion. The company put $228 million into its profit-sharing program.

Cheap fuel helped Delta set record profits

Delta’s operating margin grew to 21 percent and earnings per share were up 45 percent. Delta saved $1.1 billion in fuel costs year-over-year last quarter.

Allegiant Air profits leap 213 percent in 3rd quarter

Lower energy costs contributed to good financial performance and profitable growth of the network.

United, in turmoil, reports drop in revenue

United Continental saw lower sales for the quarter and missed its profit forecast.

Parachutist crashes into tent at Wings Over Houston Air Show

At the Wings Over Houston Airshow, a parachutist from a vintage Lockheed C-60 and using a WWII-era parachute landed in the crowd and took down a small tent. He suffered a broken limb. No spectators were injured.

FAA Video Provides Primer On AOA Displays

For those looking for an introduction to angle-of-attack indicators in GA aircraft, the FAA has a new video to get started. The 19-minute video includes an introduction to angle-of-attack indicators, their use and general advice on installation in airplanes – plus references to FAA documents for further research. It also has demonstrations of three AOA indicators in the market – Alpha Systems, Bendix King, and Safe Flight. The devices have gained increased attention in the last year as the FAA’s safety arm focused on studying loss-of-control accidents, which can be mitigated with AOA indicators, the agency said.

Harsh conditions are foiling Russian jets in Syria

Russia is finding it difficult to keep its military aircraft in the air in Syria. A significant percentage of its attack planes and transport aircraft are grounded.

​Boeing CEO: Losing Export-Import Bank “means loss of jobs”

Boeing is concerned that Congress will not reauthorize the ExIm Bank, which acts as the official export credit agency of the United States federal government.

The Australia News Desk

Airline boss promises ‘a tiger can change its stripes’

The boys are back and the comedy flows as they report on Tiger Airways apparently improving their customer experience and even getting a new call center. Steve is less than enthused!

Qantas to unveil Retro Roo II in November

He is, however, rather excited about the next Retro Roo colour scheme from Qantas. As we record an existing 737-800 is in the paintshop at Townsville getting one of the old Qantas paint schemes applied. We’re hoping for the V-Jet look.

Virgin to sell entire Fokker 50 fleet

Meanwhile, Grant gets to run his Big Motor Fokker vs Little Motor Fokker joke as Virgin are selling off all their Fokker 50s.

An Evening with Matt Hall

Finally, Steve’s going to be Em-Cee for the Angel Flight charity dinner at Bankstown in Sydney on Saturday, October 31, 2015. Get on down and support the cause if you’re in the area!

OzRunways with Matt Hall

Mentioned

AOPA Live This Week for October 22, 2015 has a really good special report from the Red Bull Air Races in Las Vegas. Matt Hall from Australia (and frequently heard on Plane Crazy Down Under) won the race. Second place finisher Paul Bonhomme from Great Britain won the championship.

These are the 15 coolest airline paint jobs in the skies What airline do you think has the coolest livery?

Reclining seat to blame? Southwest flight returns to LAX after ‘altercation’

Crammed-in jet passengers get uptight when the seat’s not upright

Inside the RAF – Britain’s Ultimate Pilots Episode 1 2015

http://youtu.be/CkIkHL-ME2k

Credit

Opening and closing music courtesy Brother Love from the Album Of The Year CD. You can find his great music at brotherloverocks.com.

 

Episode 148 – Bits and Pieces V

Fairey Swordfish of the Royal Navy Historic Flight
A Fairey Swordfish of the Royal Navy Historic Flight, similar to the one flown by Anthony Johnson. Photo courtesy Paul Fiddian – Global Aviation Resource.

This is another Bits and Pieces episode. Sometimes when we can’t record at our usual Sunday evening time, each of us contributes a segment which all get assembled into the show. This time we have:

Be sure to attend the Become a Pilot Family Day and Fly-In June 18, 2011, 10 a.m. – 3p.m., at the National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center next to Dulles International Airport. Max, Rob, Dan, and David are joining Milford and Charlie from FlightTime Radio, along with some other aviation podcasters as they broadcast their show live.

Mentions:

Anthony Johnson and his flight crew
Anthony Johnson and his flight crew colleagues preparaing for a flight in a Fairey Barracuda.

Follow the @AirplaneGeeks on Twitter and on Facebook, send us email at thegeeks@airplanegeeks.com, or leave a message on our listener line: (361) GEEKS01.

Opening and closing music is provided by Brother Love from the Album Of The Year CD. You can find his great music at http://www.brotherloverocks.com/.