News from the 2019 Dubai Airshow, Boeing’s 737 MAX 10, splitting up families who want to sit together on the airplane, NTSB findings on the fatal Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 accident, and a commercial aerial tanker company. Also, the application of structural batteries to aircraft, flying in formation down under, and romance in the air.
Dubai Airshow 2019
The 2019 Dubai Airshow ran November 17 – 21, reportedly with 1300 exhibitors, 100 aircraft on display, and around 90,000 in attendance over the five days. We talk about some of the aircraft orders placed and other topics from the airshow.
The largest Boeing 737 MAX is the MAX 10, and the company debuted the aircraft at its Renton, Washington facility. Boeing says they currently have more than 550 orders and commitments for the aircraft. With a range of 3,300 NM and maximum seating for 230 passengers, Boeing says it will offer the lowest seat-mile cost of any single-aisle airplane yet produced.
Reportedly, the Transport Canada Civil Aviation manager of aircraft integration and safety assessment sent an email saying the “only way I see moving forward at this point, is that MCAS has to go.” The manager’s email was sent to the FAA, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, and the National Civil Aviation Agency in Brazil.
The FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016 directed the Department of Transportation to study guidelines that would keep families together on airlines. Carriers were to have policies that keep parents and children under 13 sitting together. But that hasn’t happened and Senator Chuck Schumer from New York isn’t happy. See Family Seating from the DOT for tips.
As a result of the engine failure on Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 on April 17, 2018, material pierced the fuselage and caused the cabin to depressurize, with one fatality. The NTSB explains:
“…portions of the fan cowl separated in flight after a fan blade, which had fractured due to a fatigue crack, impacted the engine fan case at a location that was critical to the structural integrity and performance of the fan cowl structure. The NTSB found that the separated fan blade impacted the engine fan case and fractured into multiple fragments. Some of the fragments traveled forward of the engine and into the inlet. The impact of the separated fan blade with the fan case also imparted significant loads into the fan cowl through the radial restraint fitting, which is what caused the fan cowl to fail.”
It was the failed engine inlet and casing that impacted the fuselage. An abstract of the final report is available and includes the findings, probable cause, and safety recommendations.
Omega Air operates a few hose and drogue aerial tankers and has now received the first of two surplus KDC-10 tankers with aerial refueling booms from the Royal Netherlands Air Force. That will allow Omega Air to provide contractor refueling support to the USAF and other allies.
Observations from the 2019 NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition (NBAA-BACE). In the news, strange ideas to make airlines greener, a fleet of commuter planes to avoid road traffic, Southwest B737 maintenance records, therapy animals in the airport, Hawaiian Airlines 90th anniversary, and the Boeing 777X business jet.
Rob Mark attended NBAA-BACE held Event October 22 – 24, 2019 at the Las Vegas Convention Center and at Henderson Executive Airport. Rob offers some impressions of the event and talks about some of the new aircraft like the Gulfstream G700 and the Pilatus PC-12 NGX. He’s also pretty excited about the Vū Systems passive millimeter-wave sensor.
Rob also attended the Bombardier Safety Standdown held November 12 to 14, 2019 at the Omni Fort Worth Hotel, in Fort Worth, Texas. The event attracted a wide variety of participants, some 550 strong, all of whom are deeply interested in aviation safety.
Several airline executives have recently offered some strange ideas: Hungarian LCC Wizz Air CEO Jozsef Varadi is calling for airlines to stop offering business class on flights less than five hours, calling it “an inefficient and archaic model.” Lufthansa Group CEO Carsten Spohr has declared that “flights for less than 10EUR shouldn’t exist.”
FLOAT Shuttle Inc. (Fly Over All Traffic) offers southern California commuter flights operated by Southern Airways Express, LLC. from GA airports. For a fixed monthly fee, commuters beat ground transportation with 15-30 minute flights from almost 40 airports.
From 2014, Southwest Airlines purchased 88 Boeing 737 planes from more than a dozen foreign airlines. Southwest had the planes inspected and they were found compliant per FAA delegated authority. However, the FAA found some records discrepancies in May 2018 and gave Southwest 2 two years to bring the maintenance documentation into compliance. As of October 29, 2019, only 39 of the planes had been inspected.
San Francisco International Airport is using a “Wag Brigade” to help passengers with travel anxieties. LiLou the therapy pig sports a pilot’s cap and painted toenails. She says hello by raising a hoof, poses for selfies, and manages to entertain departing passengers with her toy piano. The Wag Brigade program also includes a number of dogs.
The first Hawaiian Airlines flight took place on Nov. 11, 1929, from Honolulu to Hilo. To celebrate its 90th anniversary, Hawaiian Airlines recreated that flight, flying on the same day, route and time as they did 90 years ago.
The Boeing Business Jet isn’t just one jet – it’s a series of airliner variants for the private and corporate jet market that includes the 747-8 VIP, 737 MAX VIP, 787 VIP, and 777X VIP. The 777X VIP has a 3,256 sq. ft. cabin with a base price of $474 million. Expect to spend an additional $90–$175 million to outfit the plane.
We talk with the chief engineer of the Bell V-280 Valor tiltrotor program. In the news, the FAA revoked the repair station certificate for the supplier of the Lion Air 737 MAX AOA sensor, and airline cabin crew stories: streaming video from a lav, crew arrests for money laundering, and fainting flight attendants.
Bell V-280 Valor
Paul Wilson is the chief engineer for the Bell V-280 Valor program. He leads the engineering team responsible for the execution of all development efforts on the V-280 Joint Multi-Role Tech Demonstration and Future Vertical Lift programs.
The Bell V-280 Valor is a fly-by-wire tiltrotor aircraft that had a successful first flight in 2017. The aircraft could represent a future Blackhawk replacement. The program now in the technology demonstration phase, focused on reducing risk and informing requirements and capabilities to help define the technical readiness of the future platform.
Paul explains what a tiltrotor design offers and how the V-280 is different from the V-22 Osprey and the mission that aircraft was designed for. In the case of the V-280, only the rotor pylon rotates, while the engine remains fixed. On the V-22, the rotor system and the engine nacelle rotate.
We learn about the system for managing torque provided to the two rotor pylons and the impressive agility of the V-280 at slow speed.
Bell’s program focuses on improving affordability and reliability. One example of platform sustainability and affordability is the use of augmented reality where Bell uses 3D design data throughout the lifecycle of the aircraft, such as in manufacturing and maintenance.
Previously at Bell, Paul led the V-280 Vehicle Systems IPT that developed and tested the flight control, avionics, propulsion, and mechanical systems. He also served in other leadership roles including as Project Manager for the 407GX Autopilot development and certification program and as the IPT Lead for Bell’s Vehicle Management Systems and Integrated Vehicle Health Management (IVHM) Technology IR&D.
Before joining Bell, Paul served in the US Air Force as an Acquisitions and Aerospace Engineering officer. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Texas at San Antonio and a Master of Science in Aeronautical Engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology.
Xtra Aerospace supplied the AOA sensor on the Lion Air 737 MAX that crashed, killing 189 people. The FAA has revoked Xtra’s aviation repair station certificate. Xtra repaired and approved for service a used angle of attack sensor that was installed on the Lion Air jet to replace a faulty one. In its final report, the National Transportation Safety Committee of Indonesia, known in Indonesia as KNKT, said the replacement sensor was miscalibrated. Its angle of attack was 21 degrees too high. In a statement, Xtra said, “We respectfully disagree with the agency’s findings” and that this action by the FAA “is not an indication that Xtra was responsible for the accident.”
In 2017, a Southwest flight attendant claims to have seen an iPad in the cockpit in flight that was live streaming from the lavatory. Also, the pilots departed the aircraft upon landing in violation of FAA requirements, and a loaded firearm was left unattended in the cockpit. This was reported to the airline, which continues to allow the pilots to fly. The FA and her flight attendant husband say they have been harassed.
The American Airlines flight attendants have been charged with money laundering after a routine customs check revealed large amounts of cash were being carried. The defendants evading reporting requirements and had no authorization to transmit money.
Cleaning fluid fumes caused the two flight attendants to momentarily fall unconscious and AA Flight 729 from London Heathrow to Philadelphia was forced to make an unscheduled landing in Dublin, Ireland. It seems that a canister of an aircraft interior cleaner had been left in a lavatory when the plane was at Heathrow Airport and fluid had leaked into the carpets.
Airshare chief operating officer Harry Mitchel talks about fractional jet ownership and aircraft management. Also, ADS-B equipage on the business jet fleet, C-130 groundings due to cracks, an airplane hacking security alert from the DHS, airport noise, and a Southwest Airlines program to create career paths for pilots.
Airshare chief operating officer Harry Mitchel.
Harry Mitchel is chief operating officer of Airshare, a large provider of fractional and aircraft management services. Airshare operates Phenom 100 and Phenom 300 aircraft in the fractional space, and also provides managed aircraft services where they maintain, crew, and schedule the owner’s aircraft.
As COO, Harry oversees all aircraft operations for the company, including flight operations, maintenance, scheduling, and managed aircraft. He has more than 35 years of experience in commercial and corporate aviation, including serving as vice president of operations for Colgan Air in Memphis, Tennessee.
Harry was also general manager of Funair Corporation, director of aviation for Magic Carpet Aviation (the aviation department of the NBA’s Orlando Magic), director of Pinnacle Airlines’ Corporate Education Center, and vice president of Aviation Compliance Services.
Holding a bachelor of science degree in aeronautical science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Harry has more than 7,000 hours of experience as an ATP pilot in global operations.
FAA regulation requires that starting Jan. 1 2020, aircraft must have ADS-B Out while flying in most controlled airspace. FlightAware reports that as of June 2019, 77% of the turbine-powered U.S. business aircraft are equipped with ADS-B
Associated Press reports that the Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued a security alert for small planes which warned that “modern flight systems are vulnerable to hacking if someone manages to gain physical access to the aircraft.” According to AP, cybersecurity firm Rapid7 looked at small aircraft and “found that an attacker could potentially disrupt electronic messages transmitted across a small plane’s network, for example by attaching a small device to its wiring, that would affect aircraft systems.”
But NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen writes that the AP story, “missed or mischaracterized some key points about small-airplane security.” He says the DHS notice applies to all aircraft, it’s not a GA notice. Also the story “misrepresented the nature of the potential security breach involved.”
Some residents of Portland Maine have been complaining about the noise from the Portland International Jetport. United States Senator Susan Collins has even gotten herself involved. Our Main(e) man Micah stepped up and penned a letter that was published by the Portland Press Herald. In it he makes a number of points about airport noise, including the approach taken in the Salt Lake City area as related by listener Patrick.
Southwest Airlines launched the Destination 225° career program to build career pathways for qualified pilots to become first officers. Program participants receive a Southwest mentor, attend training activities and events at Southwest, and ultimately have an opportunity to apply for a position as a Southwest First Officer.
Our guests tell us about circumnavigating the globe three times in a Pilatus PC-12: eastbound, westbound, and polar. In the news, Allegiant is testing a new service offering more seat pitch, the fuel dump from a Norwegian flight ruins a runway, more 737 MAX fallout, an English Channel attempt on a hoverboard, the Senate confirms a controversial nominee to be the new FAA administrator, Congress considers the PLANE Act with positive implications for GA, and China is growing the number of carrier pilots.
The Pilatus at Sangster International Airport, Jamaica.
Josh and Jack with the Pilatus PC-12.
Joshua Marvil and Jack Long are recipients of the eastbound and polar circumnavigation diplomas awarded by the International Aeronautic Federation (FAI) and the National Aeronautic Association (NAA). Their westbound circumnavigation was completed in January 2019 and the diploma is forthcoming. All flights were on a Pilatus PC-12 and Jack and Josh have landed in more than 40 different countries and all seven continents.
On the 2015 eastbound trip, Josh and Jack were joined by pilots Jerry Seckler and Giuseppe Caltabiano at various points along the way. For the 2016-2017 polar circumnavigation, Giuseppe was along most of the way and Jerry joined the flight in Punta Arenas, Chile to fly the Antarctic segment. For the 2018-2019 westbound trip, the only pilots were Josh and Jack. Their wives Becky and Carolyn were along for almost all of these trips in their entirety except for some of the polar legs.
Jack is an entrepreneur by profession and a pilot by passion. He started two software businesses and one transportation business. In 2003, he became part of the founding faculty of the Acton School of Business where he teaches entrepreneurship. Jack soloed in a Piper Cherokee 140 in 1977 and moved-up the aviation food chain to a Mooney 201, a Cirrus SR-22, and now the Pilatus PC-12.
Allegiant Extra seating will get you priority boarding, an extra 6 inches of seat pitch, designated bin space, and a complimentary drink on the plane. Allegiant does this without changing the overall seat count: an additional row is added in the rear section and there is less Legroom+ option. Allegiant is testing Extra on flights to and from Los Angeles. At the end of the 2019-2020 winter season, the company will make a decision as to the future of the program.
It came out recently that some former WOW Air executives were planning to launch a new airline similar to WOW but not called WOW. Right after that, American investors purchased WOW Air’s assets. American businesswoman Michele Ballarin, one of the owners of USAerospace, is currently creating a new Icelandic company that looks to provide freight transport between Iceland and the US, with passenger operations to come.
A Norwegian Air flight from Orlando to London operating with an Airbus from Hi-Fly of Portugal experienced hydraulic trouble and was forced to return to Orlando. For some reason, a large quantity of fuel was dumped on Orlando’s airport runway and taxiway and it appears that the asphalt will need to be replaced.
In its second-quarter earnings report, Southwest said it had lost an estimated $175 million in profit. The Airline said it would shut down its operations at Newark Liberty International Airport and consolidate its operations in the New York area at LaGuardia Airport.
Franky Zapata made an attempt to cross the English Channel on a jet-powered hoverboard. While attempting to land on a refueling platform pitching in the waves in the middle of the Channel, Zapata fell into the water, just missing the platform. The Zapata Flyboard Air is powered by five small turbo engines, each producing up to 250 horsepower each.
Former Delta Air Lines pilot and executive Steve Dickson has been confirmed by the Senate to lead the FAA. The opposition voiced claims that while at Delta, Dickson mistreated a pilot who raised safety concerns. See also Politics and Aviation in the Flight to Success blog.
The bipartisan legislation Promoting the Launch of Aviation’s Next Era (PLANE) Act of 2019, S.2198, was introduced on July 23, 2019. The PLANE Act would benefit general aviation by empowering pilots, investing in airports, and ensuring opportunities for a sustainable, well-trained workforce. Boeing’s new Pilot and Technician Outlook predicts a need for more than 800,000 new pilots and 750,000 new aviation technicians in the next 20 years.
The annual program to recruit pilots for the People’s Liberation Army resulted in 20% more recruits than last year. Enrollment in the carrier-based fighter pilot program increased 41%. China currently has one operational aircraft carrier, with a second carrier expected to enter service soon, and a third is under construction.
Mistaking diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) additive for fuel system icing inhibitor PRIST on the flight line is a growing problem on ramps all over the world. This can be disastrous since DEF causes jet-A to crystallize and clog aircraft fuel filters and lines. In fact, DEF contamination of jet-A has already forced several business aircraft crews to perform engine-out landings in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Women in Aviation President Dr. Peggy Chabrian announced at the WAI Connect Breakfast at Oshkosh that she would retire in April 2020. The transition period will allow for an executive search to determine her replacement.
A conversation about the Civil Air Patrol, noncommissioned officers in aviation, and the V-22 Osprey. Also, the last Doolittle Raider passes, the race to recover a Japanese F-35A, Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and light attack aircraft, the Stratolaunch first flight, the AOA sensor on Ethiopian 302, an airliner hits a sign, a positive airline story of the week, reduced seat recline, and an order for 60 all-electric airplanes.
Armando Carrion just retired after a 21-year career in the Air Force, most recently as enlisted aircrew on the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey. He specialized in flying light tactical fixed wing, and special missions. Armando has volunteered with the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) for 25 years and commanded two different squadrons.
In our conversation about the Civil Air Patrol, we learn that CAP program cadets come from all walks of life since they are not organized around a particular school or community. Established in 1941, CAP has over 60,000 members, including pilots, aircrew, and emergency responders. Besides service to the community, CAP offers pilots the opportunity to fly different aircraft types and build hours.
Armando also explains the importance of enlisted aircrew to the Air Force and the variety of positions that are available. Recently, the demand has grown for enlisted pilots to operate remotely piloted aircraft.
We also get some insights into the V-22 Osprey tiltrotor, and what lies ahead for Armando in civilian aviation.
Armando has crewed 26 different aircraft ranging from heavy cargo and airlift airframes to small general aviation aircraft employed in unique roles. He has volunteered for over 25 years serving as a search and rescue, disaster relief, and counter-drug mission pilot. Armando currently holds an FAA Commercial Certificate with Instrument and multiple ratings and endorsements. He’s a Reno Air Race team member and co-hosts the Plane Talking UK podcast.
The last of the Doolittle Raiders, Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” Cole, has died at age 103. The Doolittle Raiders flew a daring attack on Japan during World War II, less than five months after Pearl Harbor. Cole was Jimmy Doolittle’s co-pilot, who passed in 1993. The Raiders launched their assault April 18, 1942, flying B-25 bombers from the USS Hornet.
Special Operations Command (SOCOM) Army Gen. Richard Clarke said at a hearing of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities hearing, “Light attack aircraft is a need for our SOCOM, and I think it’s a need for our nation.”
Stratolaunch Systems Corporation successfully completed the first flight of the Stratolaunch, the world’s largest all-composite aircraft. The Stratolaunch flew for 2.5 hours, achieved a maximum speed of 189 miles per hour, and reached altitudes up to 17,000 feet.
Stratolaunch first flight. Photo courtesy Stratolaunch Systems Corporation.
Ethiopian Crash Data Analysis Points To Vane Detachment
Some evidence is suggesting the angle of attack indicator may have broken off the plane during or shortly after takeoff. By Guy Norris in Aviation Daily, behind the paywall.
A look at the Champaign Aviation Museum including their restoration work, the volunteers working on the aircraft, and the role of aviation museums. Also, 737 safety cards, the Scaled Composites Model 401, flight attendant trip brokering, Wow Air, and the 2018 Collier Trophy winner. First-hand impressions of the 2019 SUN ‘n FUN Fly-in and Expo as well.
B-17 restoration at the Champaign Aviation Museum.
The mission of the museum is “Touching lives by restoring history.” Their guiding principles include honoring our veterans and their families, educating the public about the experiences of past generations that flew in combat, and educating the public about aircraft construction and maintenance techniques. They focus on education and resources of the WWII era, and the museum seeks to restore and maintain aircraft in flying condition for public appreciation.
In fact, the Champaign Aviation Museum strives to build a reputation as a center of excellence for the restoration and maintenance of WWII era aircraft. The museum is located next to Grimes Field Airport (I74) in Urbana, Ohio, just west of Columbus.
In our conversation with Aimée, we look at the history of the museum’s B-17G project, the many volunteers engaged in the restoration, salvaging parts from five different B-17s, fabricating other parts, and adding to the workshop space.
The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) has announced the recipient of the 2018 Robert J. Collier Trophy. The Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (Auto GCAS) team “successfully complet[ed] a rapid design, integration, and flight test of critical, lifesaving technology for the worldwide F-35 fleet.” Auto GCAS was developed by Lockheed Martin, the U.S. Air Force, the F-35 Joint Program Office, NASA, and the Defense Safety Oversight Council.
David’s list of U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps non-transport variants of the C-130:
ABCCC Combat King Combat King II COMBAT SENT Combat Shadow Combat Solo Combat Spear Combat Talon I Combat Talon II Commando II Commando Solo Compass Call Credible Sport Dragon Spear GHOSTRIDER GUNSHIP ii HARVEST HAWK HC-130H CROWN Fulton PAVE PRONTO PAVE SPECTRE SKIBIRD SPECTRE SPOOKY STINGER II SURPRISE PACKAGE FAT ALBERT
Reports from NBAA’s Regional Forum in Houston, attacking the pilot and mechanic shortage, and NBAA’s top safety focus areas. Wo look at the Boeing 737 Max, AOA indicators, MCAS, and the certification process. Also, a Southwest Airlines labor agreement, more coin tosses for good luck, B-52 re-engining, famous aviation siblings, Red Bull air races, and the Boeing 747.
Comments from analysts suggest that “airlines that over-ordered the latest version of Boeing’s 737 workhorse, the grounding could be a good excuse to delay or cancel purchases, saving cash on the balance sheet.”
NBAA chief executive Ed Bolen says business aviation industry’s next big test is the pilot and maintenance technician shortage. Interest in business aviation careers needs to be generated among young people. Ed has some suggestions on how to accomplish that.
Sky Kids is a project that puts children with special needs and disabilities in general aviation aircraft to give them confidence and self-esteem. In the news, Airbus announces that A380 production will cease, Southwest Airlines declares an “operations emergency” concerning aircraft maintenance, Southwest is also conducting certification flights for routes to Hawaii, and Icon A5 demo flights spark calls to emergency dispatch.
Claire Schindler, event coordinator for Sky Kids California, with the Falcon 7X.
Claire Schindler is the event coordinator for Sky Kids California. Sky Kids originated in Goodyear, Arizona with Bill Antonucci, his wife, and friends. They created a day to give children with special needs and disabilities the opportunity to fly a general aviation aircraft, free of charge. The event gives these children and their families the chance to have a fun-filled day and just be a kid. The event typically includes a full lunch buffet, clowns and face painting, and firefighters and police presence. The hope is that Sky Kids will give these children something to look back on for many years to come.
Sky Kids was so popular and successful in Arizona that it morphed into two events: in Scottsdale, Arizona in November and in Goodyear, Arizona in April.
Along with some friends, Claire volunteered at the Sky Kids event in Scottsdale and is now working to create a Sky Kids event in California. Planned for September 14, 2019, at Chino Airport (KCNO), Threshold Aviation will host the event at their FBO.
Claire attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona from 2013 to 2017. While there she served as president of the local chapter of Women in Aviation International (WAI), and participated in many community service events.
After graduating, Claire started her first flying job at a company called Chalk 2 Inc which involved chasing UAVs and working toward her CFI. After earning her hours, Claire was hired at her dream job flying the Falcon 7X for a private charter company.
Airbus announced It will end production of the A380 by 2021. Emirates, the largest A380 customer, has reduced its open order of A380 aircraft and will instead purchase A330neo and A350 airplanes. The total number of A380 deliveries is expected to be just over 250.
Southwest Airlines has had to remove airplanes from service and declared an “operational emergency,” The company told its mechanics that those who call in sick will need a detailed doctor’s note when they return to work. Southwest has been in lengthy contract talks with its mechanics represented by the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association.
Meanwhile, a Southwest Airlines spokesperson confirms the airline “…is slated to perform a long-range navigation and communication validation flight from Oakland to Honolulu.” Southwest started the FAA certification process in late 2017 and these proving flights are one of the last steps for Southwest in the FAA’s ETOPS (Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards) certification process. Southwest already has a landing page for the service to come.
We look at how artificial intelligence is impacting commercial aviation and a consider a few of the areas that hold the greatest promise. In the news, a concept that would have pilot conversations monitored by an AI agent, how to get new airplanes signed off by the FAA during a furlough, Norwegian Air Shuttle’s share offering, and the loss of a remarkable female military aviator.
Mark Roboff, General Manager for Digital Transformation, Aerospace & Defense at DXC.
Mark Roboff is an IT executive with over 15 years experience in artificial intelligence and related fields. He’s been a true AvGeek since he was little, and Mark loves working in aviation – first as Global Solution Leader for Aerospace at IBM, then more recently as VP of Aviation at a prominent AI startup, and now as General Manager for Digital Transformation, Aerospace & Defense at DXC. Mark has worked with OEMs, Tier-1 suppliers, and numerous airlines on AI, advanced analytics, and IoT/sensors, with a focus on key application areas such as AI-driven maintenance and autonomous flight.
Mark tells us about the state of the aviation industry with respect to AI technology and AI applications. He characterizes maintenance and flight operations as the low hanging fruit. An AI-driven predictive maintenance capability would provide great value to the airlines.
We consider what is required to close the gap and bring these applications to the industry. The need for data to teach the AI engines is key, and Mark explains how the “terabyte of data per flight” that we hear about isn’t representative of the entire fleet. Many aircraft are simply not architected to provide that volume.
Mark also explains the circumstances where AI be useful. An interesting example is prognostic maintenance models for components like seats. Premium airline seats are complex, expensive, and don’t necessarily have sensors. A health management system where AI is trained from maintenance logs offers real potential.
We also look at AI and autonomous flight. Mark points out some differences between autonomous automobiles and autonomous aircraft and how their respective technological gaps are different. Social and regulatory issues remain a challenge.
Mark has worked closely with IATA as a strategic partner on AI-driven maintenance, helping to define the next generation of aircraft health management tooling and predictive maintenance solutions. He has given keynotes at the IATA Safety & Flight Ops Conference and the IATA Maintenance Cost Conference, and he has also spoken at AviationWeek’s MRO conferences across the globe. Mark gave the AI keynote at the SAE Aerospace Standards Summit this past October and is chairing a proposed SAE committee focused on Applied AI in Safety-Critical Systems.
NIIT Technologies is recommending that airlines use AI to monitor pilot voices to predict whether a crew will be late on their way to the airport, to determine if a particular pilot is the right “fit” for the job, or to monitor pilot conversations and improving safety through flight operation quality assurance (FOQA) and real-time monitoring.
The company says, “Using our data technology, we can acquire the voice of the pilot while they are flying and use AI to differentiate between what is a normal and expected conversation or determine if there is increased stress in the pilot’s voice.”
Southwest Airlines wanted to put three new jets into service. For that, they needed the sign off of an FAA safety inspector. The problem was, the safety inspectors were furloughed during the partial government shutdown. Southwest agreed to cover the cost of briefly recalling a furloughed inspector. Is this special treatment? The Professional Aviation Safety Specialists, AFL-CIO (or PASS) feels they should have been notified.
In an effort to keep the airline afloat, Norwegian is undertaking a 3 billion kroner ($353 million) rights offering. They just announced a 2.5 billion kroner yearly pretax loss and they have a 250 million euro ($286 million) bond maturing in December.
She was the first woman to fly a tactical fighter jet in the US Navy, the first woman to land on an aircraft carrier, and the first woman to command a squadron. At age 65, Rosemary Mariner lost her 5-year battle with ovarian cancer. To honor her, a 4-plane “missing man” formation was flown by an all-women pilot and ground crew.