Tag Archives: Skyryse

789 Scaled Composites

We talk with both the President of Scaled Composites and the VP of Flight Operations. In the news, the FAA tells Boeing to make a plan, Boeing looks at re-acquiring SpiritAerosystems, Skyryse takes deposits for a fly-by-wire helicopter, the V-22 Osprey could be returning to flight, airlines scale back pilot hiring, and the JetBlue – Spirit merger is off.

Guests

Peter Siebold and Greg Norris of Scaled Composites standing on the apron.
Peter Siebold and Greg Morris

Greg Morris is the president of Scaled Composites, and Pete Siebold is the VP of Flight Operations. Scaled Composites is the aerospace company founded by Burt Rutan to develop experimental aircraft. Currently owned by Northrop Grumman and located at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California, Scaled focuses on designing and developing concept aircraft that are often unconventional.

Greg and Pete describe the Scaled “secret sauce” and the company culture that keeps employees engaged and operating at their creative best. We hear about the experience of a first flight in a Scaled aircraft and the preparations made before test flights. Also how Scaled helps customers define their requirements and then designs the aircraft technology to meet those requirements. Interestingly, the design for a technology demonstrator can be quite different than the design for manufacturability. The two explain the personal and professional qualities that position an individual for an aviation career such as you might find at a company like Scaled Composites.

Greg Morris

Greg joined Scaled Composites in 2023 from Gauntlet Aerospace where he was President and Chief Test Pilot. He operated a flight school for 7 years and had 10 years of experience in flight test operations, including teaching in the Qualitative Evaluation Program for the United States Air Force Test Pilot School and target and chase support for the 412th Test Wing. Greg is a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and serves on the SETP Membership Committee. He is a nationally designated FAA Experimental Examiner and he’s conducted check-rides for a variety of aircraft, both Scaled Composites and others. 

Greg received a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Southern California and a Masters of Science in Flight Test Engineering from the National Test Pilot School.

Peter Siebold

Pete joined Scaled Composites in 1996 as a Design Engineer on the VisionAire Vantage. He worked extensively as a Flight Test Engineer on multiple programs before becoming a Test Pilot for the company. During his time at Scaled, Pete has held multiple leadership positions within engineering and flight operations, including Director of Flight Operations. Pete has flown 4 first flights at Scaled and 11 different Scaled aircraft. He was heavily involved in the development of Scaled’s simulator and avionics capabilities.

Pete obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He became a certified flight instructor while attending the university, a rating he retains to this day. He is an Associate Fellow in the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and holds an Airline Transport Pilot Rating with seven Experimental Aircraft Authorizations and two Type Ratings. In 2004, Pete was part of the test team that won the Iven C. Kincheloe award for SpaceShipOne. He was bestowed the honor again in 2009 for his work as Project Pilot for WhiteKnightTwo.

Video: Model 401 Sierra First Flight

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Aviation News

FAA to Boeing: Develop a plan to fix your quality issues within 90 days

At a meeting in FAA headquarters, FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker told Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun that Boeing has 90 days to provide an action plan that addresses its “systemic quality-control issues.” After the meeting, Whitaker said, “Boeing must commit to real and profound improvements. “Making foundational change will require a sustained effort from Boeing’s leadership, and we are going to hold them accountable every step of the way, with mutually understood milestones and expectations.”

The plan must take into account the findings of the expert review panel report and the results of an FAA production-line audit. It will include the steps necessary to mature Boeing’s Safety Management System and integrate this with the company’s Quality Management System, to “ensure the same level of rigor and oversight is applied to the company’s suppliers.”

Justice Department Looking Into Boeing Blowout

The DOJ is examining whether the door panel incident falls under the government’s 2021 deferred-prosecution agreement with Boeing after the two fatal 737 Max crashes. If prosecutors determine that Boeing’s handling of the incident violated the 2021 agreement, they could rescind it and bring criminal charges against the company.

Engineering union and Boeing face off in fraught pilot contract dispute

The labor contract is with 23 flight technical and safety pilots in the flight operations group. These pilots don’t routinely fly production aircraft. The flight technical pilots develop pilot training programs and pilot manuals and liaise with airlines on their flight operations. The safety pilots help develop flight deck systems for new aircraft and support the certification process. The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace union (SPEEA) says its members have “first-hand experience of the kinds of safety-culture problems an expert panel reported on…”

Boeing in Talks to Buy Troubled Supplier Spirit AeroSystems

Spirit AeroSystems has had preliminary discussions with Boeing and has hired bankers to explore strategic options. Spirit is also looking at selling its Ireland unit that makes parts for Airbus. Both companies have confirmed they are having merger discussions. The talks might not result in a deal. In a statement, Boeing said, “We believe that the reintegration of Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems’ manufacturing operations would further strengthen aviation safety, improve quality, and serve the interests of our customers, employees, and shareholders.”

Skyryse Taking Deposits for Fly-by-wire Turbine Single

Skyryse One is a Robinson R66 helicopter that has been retrofitted with the proprietary SkyOS operating system. This features a single-stick control and two touchscreens. It’s an IFR-capable, aircraft-agnostic, triple-redundant fly-by-wire system. Skyryse is taking refundable, non-transferrable $2,500 deposits.

V-22 Osprey Fleet To Return To Flight After 3-Month Worldwide Grounding

The V-22 Osprey fleet received approval from U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin for a safe and measured return to operations. The Naval Air Systems Command could lift the grounding and allow the services to resume V-22 flight operations. The cause of the crash has been identified, but the reason for the failure has not. The investigation continues.

Southwest Airlines Scales Back Pilot Hiring In 2024

A Southwest memo says, “Based on expected capacity growth beyond 2024, we’ve made the difficult decision to suspend Initial First Officer Training classes through the remainder of 2024 and defer job offers, beginning with our April classes.” The airline said pilots with conditional job offers would be placed in a “deferred candidate pool.” Once hiring resumes, those pilots would be called up.

JetBlue, Spirit end $3.8 billion merger agreement after losing antitrust suit

Citing regulatory hurdles, the two airlines ended their merger agreement. Attorney General Merrick Garland said, “Today’s decision by JetBlue is yet another victory for the Justice Department’s work on behalf of American consumers.”

Mentioned

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Bob Heil

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver

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Wheel Bearings podcast.

Hosts this Episode

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

677 Green Aviation

Green aviation topics such as sustainable aviation fuels and hydrogen power. Also, airline flight cancellations due to weather and staff shortages, flight automation for non-pilots, the F-15EX engine competition, FAA and FCC disagreement on 5G interference for pilots, a possible national no-fly list for unruly passengers, and interviews from the 2021 Pacific Air Show.

Green aviation: Airbus zero-emission concept aircraft.
Airbus zero-emission concept aircraft. © AIRBUS 2020

Aviation News

Textron Aviation – More Environmentally Friendly Fuels Approved for Cessna Piston-Powered Aircraft

A number of Cessna piston-powered aircraft are now approved for 91-octane unleaded (91UL), 94UL, or 100VLL (very low lead) fuel. Textron Aviation announced this for the Cessna 172 Skyhawk and 182 Skylane. The 206 Turbo Stationair HD aircraft is now approved for 100VLL. These fuels are cleaner burning compared to others with higher lead levels.

How close are hydrogen planes, really?

The short answer: maybe 3 or 4 decades. There are issues with carrying the fuel onboard a large commercial aircraft, creating the infrastructure, and price. SAF, or sustainable aviation fuels, is a much shorter-term step.

Biodiesel is booming. It may help the climate, but there’s a big environmental risk

Biodiesel is in high demand and Government incentives are helping ramp up production significantly. A third of all soybean oil produced in the U.S. already goes to make biodiesel. This is putting pressure on feedstocks, like soybean oil, which costs around a dollar per pound now. Last year it was $0.35.

American Airlines cancels 1,400 flights due to staff shortages, bad weather

Weekend staff shortages and bad weather were blamed for the cancellations. American reported that 376 flights were canceled on Friday, October 29, 551 flights were canceled on Saturday, and 480 more on Sunday. FlightAware said American has delayed more than 1,000 flights since Friday. About 1,800 flight attendants are scheduled to return from leave. The airline recently hired over 600 more and plans to start them by the end of December.

I’m Not a Pilot, but I Just Flew a Helicopter Over California

California start-up Skyryse developed FlightOS, a system that allows non-pilots to fly aircraft. Skyryse is backed by $250 million in funding and the system uses sensors such as cameras and radar.

General Electric Bests Pratt & Whitney In $1.6B F-15EX Engine Competition

The first lot of eight F-15EX fighters were powered by the competing GE F110-129 engine. The Air Force announced that the engine will continue to power the F-15EX. The firm-fixed-price deal could be for up to 329 engines. Deliveries will start in October 2023 and run through June 2031

FAA worries new 5G wireless service could interfere with aviation safety

In FAA Plans Warnings to Pilots, Airlines Over New 5G Rollout, the Wall Street Journal says the FAA is preparing a Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin and an airworthiness directive saying that cell towers transmitting 5G signals could affect certain automated features that help fly and land airplanes. Like radar altimeters. On the other hand, both the FCC and the telecom industry say there is no evidence the 5G signals will interfere with aviation.

Buttigieg Says No-Fly List For Violent Passengers ‘On The Table’

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said that a no-fly list should be considered for violent airplane passengers.

There is absolutely no excuse for this kind of treatment of flight crews in the air or any of the essential workers—from bus drivers to air crews who get people to where they need to be.

Pete Buttigieg

Related: What Would it Take to Set Up a National ‘No-Fly’ List of Unruly Passengers?

The FAA gathered top U.S. airline executives for a meeting to discuss the problem of unruly passengers. The airlines were given a month to develop concrete “additional steps” that reduce such incidents. A national “no-fly” list used by all airlines was suggested by Delta, but others prefer that the issue is handled by law enforcement.

Pacific Air Show

Brian Coleman attended the Pacific Air Show and spoke with a number of people, including Air Force Reserve Master Sgt Uscanga Harris, Ed, Gary with the US Coast Guard Auxiliary, Jay, and Stephanie.

Mentioned

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