Richard Aboulafia gives us his insights on the Boeing “middle-of-the-market” airplane, pilotless airliners, a comeback for Midwest Express, ATC privatization, United Technologies Corporation interest in Rockwell Collins, seat pitch, Russian and Chinese airliner programs, the Mitsubishi MRJ, and the HondaJet.
Richard Aboulafia is Vice President of Analysis at Teal Group. He manages both commercial and military consulting projects, and he analyzes broader defense and aerospace trends. Richard’s insights appear on television and radio programs, and in almost every major publication through his columns, his articles, or because he is being quoted. Richard writes and edits Teal Group’s World Military and Civil Aircraft Briefing forecasting tool that covers over 135 aircraft programs and markets.
The Midwest brand disappeared in 2010 when Republic Airways Holdings, the parent company of Midwest Airlines merged that airline with Frontier Airlines. Now, a group of business and airline professionals have plans to bring the brand back. The Midwest Express website asks, “Remember when flying was hassle-free? It can be again!”
Previously, we pointed out Alliance for Aviation Across America videos featuring “Sully” Sullenberger arguing against ATC privatization. Karen Walker, the Editor-in-Chief at Air Transport World, thinks Sully is using his status to mislead people.
A new on-demand service that matches travelers with professional pilots and GA aircraft. Also, a turboprop with one third of the parts 3D printed, more on the American uncontained engine failure, recovery parachutes for larger aircraft, flexible airplane wings, Southwest pilots ratify a new contract, and enlisted pilots for remotely piloted aircraft.
Rod Rakic co-founded OpenAirplane in 2013 to make renting an airplane as easy as renting a car. The “universal pilot checkout” resets the clock on the flight review, offers a renter’s insurance discount, and gives pilots access to the same make and model of aircraft across the U.S.
Now the company has launched FlyOtto, a new service that matches travelers with professional pilots and certified general aviation aircraft. On-demand private charter avoids the hassles of major commercial airports and increases the utilization of the GA fleet. FlyOtto takes advantage of the over 5,000 public use airports in the U.S.
A pioneer in the development of innovative experiences, Rod has spent 20 years creating online products that enhance and manage brands. In 2007, he co-founded myTransponder, a pioneering social media tool for aviation. Rod has years of experience developing tools and community specific to the aviation industry.
Rod started flying when he was sixteen and holds an FAA commercial pilot certificate with an instrument rating.
General Electric has tested the a-CT7 demonstrator engine which incorporates a very high percentage of “3D printed” parts. In the Advanced Turboprop (ATP) engine to come, 12 printed parts are planned to replace 855 conventionally manufactured parts. The ATP will power the all-new Cessna Denali single-engine turboprop aircraft.
Aviation Safety Resources (ARS) is working on the TriChute Safe Landing system that could be used on larger aircraft, such as the 8,000-pound Cessna Caravan. When this system is activated, the fuel-laden wings separate from the fuselage, and all three portions of the aircraft descend under their own parachutes.
Researchers from MIT, the University of California Santa Cruz, and NASA are working to develop flexible wing technology. This concept uses an “array of tiny, lightweight structural pieces” called “digital materials” that twist “when put under pressure from a pair of motors on the wingtip.”
Southwest Airlines says its pilots ratified a new collective bargaining agreement. The Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association (SWAPA) says 84 percent of the pilots who voted were in favor of the new contract. SWAPA announced the deal means a 15 percent pay raise, with a 3 percent annual increase through 2020. Also, pilots are no longer required to contribute to the pension plan.
The U.S. Air Force has an initiative to train enlisted Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) pilots for RQ-4 Global Hawk missions. The October 12 Enlisted Pilot Initial Class (EPIC) included four enlisted students along with twenty commissioned officers.
Airline branding and marketing strategies, Farnborough International Airshow 2016 coverage, an MH370 update, Southwest Airlines revenue and a system glitch, a large Chinese amphibian, a few world records, and news from Maine.
Shashank Nigam, CEO, SimpliFlying
Shashank Nigam is the CEO of SimpliFlying, a large aviation marketing strategy firm. We talk with Shashank about airline branding strategies and how they need to be different from those of typical consumer goods. He tells us about the changes implemented by some of his airline clients to better serve the new connected traveler, how airlines should manage crisis, and the value of empowered employees.
A sought-after consultant and speaker on aviation marketing, Shashank started SimpliFlying in 2009 as a blog on airline marketing. Since then, he and his team have built SimpliFlying into a global leader in airline consulting, having worked with more than 70 airlines and airports over the past seven years. Their latest projects include the Bombardier CSeries launch, and a re-design of the customer service strategy for Cebu Pacific. Shashank has a book coming out about airline marketing called SOAR. The book shares how some of the most innovative airline brands delight customers and inspire employees.
Farnborough International Airshow 2016
Brian, Micah, and the Trent
We kick off our coverage of the Farnborough Airshow with two interviews by Brian and Micah. First, we hear from Capt. Jeff and Dr. Steff from the Airline Pilot Guy show. They discuss their efforts to put together the live recording and meetup at Farnborough. Then Brian and Micah have an interesting conversation with Airbus A350 XWB marketing director Mike Bausor about the A350. We’ll bring you many additional interviews in future episodes.
The guys also had an opportunity to speak with Rolls Royce about the Trent Ultra in development. The Ultra will be a geared turbofan with all-carbon fiber fan blades. Perhaps most interesting, the fan blades will have adjustable pitch and be fully reversible, eliminating the need for thrust reversers. The engine in development after the Ultra features electrically driven fans powered by constant speed turbines that drive a generator.
Seated from left to right: Captain Nick, Captain Jeff, Dr. Steph. Standing: Markus Völter (Omega Tau), Micah, Carlos Stebbins (Plane Talking UK), Pilot Pip (Plane Safety Podcast) , Captain Al Evans (PTUK guest host and contributor), Brian. Photo by Daniel Hannington,
This publication “obtained a confidential document from the Malaysian police investigation into the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 that shows that the plane’s captain, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, conducted a simulated flight deep into the remote southern Indian Ocean less than a month before the plane vanished under uncannily similar circumstances.”
Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg have realized their dream of achieving the first ever Round-The-World Solar Flight! From the Solar Impulse website: “Beyond this historic milestone, the two Swiss pioneers will continue to urge the global implementation of energy efficient solutions through the creation of the International Committee for Clean Technologies and leverage the expertise and technology gained over the years in Solar Impulse by launching new innovative projects, such as the development of solar powered drones. Join the movement with #futureisclean.”
We explore aviation accidents as emergent properties of complex systems, and discuss: the Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association complaints about pilot wages, a survey on frequent flier rewards programs, an NPRM that would change FAR Part 61, third class medical reform in yet more legislation, and a two seat Robinson R44. David has an onfire history segment and Rob talks TSA.
Captain Shem Malmquist has a broad aviation experience ranging from teaching aerobatics and instructing in a wide variety of both general aviation and transport aircraft, to academic research and safety investigation.
Captain Shem Malmquist, FRAeS
We talk with Shem about improvements that have made air travel safer, and the gaps we now face for identifying problems that might arise in the future. Shem explains how aviation accidents currently present themselves as interactions of complex components. Resilience engineering is an example of a different approach to how we look at complex accidents. We discuss flight simulators, mitigating lithium battery risk, and autonomous vehicles, including both manned and unmanned aircraft.
Shem worked as an instructor and evaluator on several transport aircraft and has served as flight crew on the Embraer EMB-110, Shorts 360, B-727, DC-8, B-747 and MD-11. He continues to work a full flight schedule, mostly international long haul flights.
Shem has been part of the Air Line Pilot Association’s (ALPA) National Charting and Instrument Procedures Committee (CHIPS), and he was selected by his airline to be the chairman of both the airline’s Safety Committee and the Aircraft Design and Operations Committee.
As Flight Duty Officer, he led several initiatives, including a volcanic ash avoidance plan, air security procedures, and a number of regulatory compliance issues. Shem completed NTSB’s accident investigation training and acted as Party Coordinator for an MD-11 accident in Newark, New jersey, and he was on the “go-team” for an MD-11 accident in Narita Japan.
Last year, Shem was a keynote speaker at FAA’s InfoShare and has presented at several International Society of Air Safety Investigators (ISASI) events. He has also authored numerous articles on various issues involving flight safety and operations covering a broad range of topics from technical to human factors. Shem earned a Masters (MSc) degree in Human Factors in Aeronautics through the Florida Institute of Technology, and a Bachelors of Science (BSc) from Embry-Riddle University. He is an elected Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, a full member of the International Society of Air Safety Investigators (ISASI), and a member of AIAA, IEEE, and SAE where he also serves on three committees: Flight Deck Handling Quality Standards for Transport Aircraft, Aerospace Behavior Engineering Technology, and Lithium Battery Packaging Performance.
David Woods, Professor, Integrated Systems Engineering, The Ohio State University. Complexity in Human, Natural and Engineered Systems.
The Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association (SWAPA) wanted to make a point about pilot wages on a billboard at Chicago Midway International Airport. City Hall told them they could not post their message, so the union filed suit against the city of Chicago, claiming an unconstitutional restriction on their First Amendment rights and asking for a temporary restraining order to allow the pilots to display the ad. As a result, a Judge orders Chicago to allow Southwest pilots billboard at Midway.
The Switchfly Reward Seat Availability Survey conducted by consulting firm IdeaWorks found that for the third year in a row, free seats open for booking increased. “Overall, I think the consumer is being better served than the year before,” says Jay Sorensen, president of IdeaWorks.
Switchfly CEO Daniel Farrar said, “This survey reflects the fact that airlines can’t afford to take their customers for granted. 21st century consumers are savvy and plugged-in. They know when their loyalty programs are offering them a real value and when they are not delivering; and they don’t have time for loyalty programs that aren’t delivering, especially in such a competitive space. Increasingly, consumers expect a personalized booking, travel and reward experience. Every time a customer interacts with the brand – online, offline or mobile – the user experience must be on-point. Airlines must make this happen and ensure that zero customers have a bad experience anywhere along the booking or redemption path.”
The FAA has published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that would change FAR Part 61 which governs the certification of pilots, flight instructors, and ground instructors. AOPA is supportive of the proposed changes, which include “increased use of aviation training devices (ATDs) for maintaining instrument currency, the option to use new technically advanced aircraft instead of older complex or turbine aircraft for single-engine commercial pilot training, and giving credit for hours accumulated during sport pilot training toward earning a recreational or private pilot certificate.”
Third class medical reform from the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 keeps getting into legislation: As standalone legislation in the Senate, again as part of the Senate’s FAA reauthorization bill, and now by the Senate Armed Services Committee in the National Defense Authorization Act.
The FAA has certified Robinson’s two-place R44 Cadet The Cadet is essentially an R44 Raven, but with the rear seats removed for more cargo space. Maximum gross weight is reduced to 2200 pounds, engine power is derated to 210 hp takeoff and 185 hp continuous.
The history of the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) and the controversy surrounding their burial at Arlington National Cemetery. Also, battle lines forming over privatization of air traffic control, Southwest pilots take a stand, Iran orders more airplanes, a high altitude long endurance pseudo-satellite, tanker news, the Knightwatch E-4B, and your favorite airplanes.
Sarah Byrn Rickman
Sarah Rickman is the editor of WASP News, published by Texas Woman’s University (TWU), the home of the official WASP Archives. The Women Airforce Service Pilots flew for the U.S. Army in World War II. Since 2003, Sarah has been a WASP oral historian for TWU, recording many of these ladies’ stories on audiotape.
Sarah tells us about the history of the Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS) and the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). We also discuss the current controversy about the burial of WASPs at Arlington National Cemetery, the United States military cemetery.
Two new books on the WASP will be published this spring: WASP of the Ferry Command: Women Pilots, Uncommon Deeds from the University of North Texas Press, and Finding Dorothy Scott: Letters of a WASP Pilot, from Texas Tech University Press.
Sarah received the Combs-Gates Award for 2009 presented by the National Aviation Hall of Fame in Dayton, Ohio. Her grant is to research and write the story of the WASP who flew for the Ferrying Division in World War II. In addition to her books on the WASPs, Sarah is the author of numerous magazine and journal articles about the WASP.
Sarah is a former reporter/columnist for The Detroit News and former editor of the Centerville-Bellbrook Times (Ohio). She earned her B.A. in English from Vanderbilt University and an M.A. in Creative Writing from Antioch University McGregor. She describes herself as a former journalist and former novelist who “found” herself when she met these amazing women who flew airplanes for the Army back when many women didn’t even drive cars.
The U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee conducted a “markup” hearing February 11 on the Aviation Innovation, Reform and Reauthorization Act of 2016 (H.R. 4441). The bill was amended and the Committee voted to send the legislation to the full House for consideration.
The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) voiced its opposition to privatizing ATC by submitting a statement in opposition to privatized ATC.
Jack J. Pelton, EAA’s CEO and chairman said, “ATC privatization is simply a bad idea on many levels; it will not solve the FAA’s funding dilemma and will create a substantial number of new problems and challenges that would cripple general aviation.”
AOPA President Mark Baker said, “We’re profoundly disappointed that user fees are still part of this legislation.AOPA simply won’t accept user fees in any form on any segment of general aviation. And while there are some very positive provisions for GA in this proposal, user fees are a nonstarter for us.”
Nicholas Calio, the president and CEO of Airlines for America says separating ATC is “an international best practice that a growing consensus believes will create a more nimble, efficient, reliable and even safer system than the one we have today. Doing so will remove the kinks from an uneven and unpredictable funding apparatus while clearing the way for other improvements: more choices for customers, more direct flights, lower fuel consumption and reduced air emissions. So it’s puzzling why some would argue that everything is working just fine — an assertion that flies in the face of all that travelers have experienced over the past decade.”
A group of 13 right-leaning groups sent a letter to Congress stating that moving ATC to a new nongovernmental organization is “an excellent foundation upon which to build a new model for an operation historically mired in old-style thinking and fiscal ineptitude. To us it is an axiomatic economic principle that user-funded, user-accountable entities are far more capable of delivering innovation and timely improvements in a cost-effective manner than government agencies.”
FAA Reauthorization 2016 – NATA
National Air Transportation Association (NATA) President & CEO Thomas L. Hendricks calls ATC privatization a “threat” to general aviation. More at the NATA Congressional Action Center.
In an editorial piece, the New York Times characterizes privatizing air traffic control as a “solution in search of a problem” that “would do nothing to improve the present, federally operated system and indeed could make it worse.”
350 members of the Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association flew to Las Vegas on their day off to tell the public that they are upset. Why? because they don’t have a contract. Union president Jon Weaks said the pilots love Southwest and wouldn’t engage in travel disruptions. But they want to “give our company avenues so that we can trust them again.”
Under the sanctions, Iran’s commercial aviation capability suffered greatly. That’s all changing now. Iran Air has signed a purchase agreement with ATR for 20 firm and 20 option ATR 72-600 turboprop aircraft. The deal is valued at €1 billion.
In January, Iran Air placed an order for 118 Airbus single-aisle and widebody aircraft: A320ceo and A320neo families, A330ceo and neo airplanes, A350-1000s and 12 A380s. (Three A380’s were also purchased by Japan’s ANA in January.)
Solar-powered, long duration drones and other aircraft are development by companies like Google and Facebook to provide Internet service using them as pseudo-satellites. Now the British military is purchasing two solar-powered “Zephyr” high-altitude, long-endurance (HALE) UAVs from Airbus. These autonomous unmanned systems would be used for long-term surveillance missions, and possibly to provide communication and ground support in remote areas.
The Zephyr, originally developed by UK firm QinetiQ, has a 23m wingspan and yet only weighs 55kg and cruises at 20km.
Naval Air Systems Command plans to release a new draft request for proposal later this year for an unmanned aerial refueling tanker. According to sources, the final RFP for the Carrier Based Aerial Refueling System (CBARS) is due out in FY 2017, with contract award in FY 2018.
The Airplane of the Week
David finishes out his discussion of Doomsday Planes with the converted 747-200Bs, otherwise known as the E-4B Nightwatch that serves as the National Airborne Operations Center (NAOC).
Bruno Misonne composes music that incorporates the sounds of aviation in very unique ways. His latest creation is “The Sound of Flaps.” Bruno tells us this was “the most challenging project ever created. Everyone who regularly takes the plane becomes aware of this characteristic sound of flaps extending or retracting, a sound that becomes very audible when you are sitting in the cabin above the wings! It has been challenging to find a way to mix that sound with music since at first glance it seems quite impossible to do in such way that the result is pleasant!
The Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee’s Airman Certification System working group (chaired by AOPA) has been tasked with developing new certification standards, handbooks, and test development guidance for aircraft mechanics.
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.
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.
We 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
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
We talk with Kevin Michaels about United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz and his strategy to repair the airline’s image, radical ideas for air travel, and Southwest Airlines purchase of two gates for $120 million. Also, risks that the airliner order bubble could burst, Bombardier strategy, and the viability of the A380neo.
Kevin began his career as a project engineer with gas turbine OEM Williams International. Since then, Kevin has accumulated more than 25 years of aviation experience, including hundreds of consulting engagements for leading aviation and aerospace companies worldwide.
He is a globally recognized expert in the aerospace manufacturing and maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) sectors. Kevin has significant expertise in business-to-business marketing, customer satisfaction, and strategic planning.
Kevin’s experience spans all major market segments, including air transport, business and general aviation, and military. He was director of Strategic Development with Rockwell Collins Government Systems, and principal with The Canaan Group.
Kevin has a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering and an M.B.A. from the University of Michigan; he also has an M.Sc. and a Ph.D. in International Relations from the London School of Economics.
Our conversation covers a number of current topics, including:
The airline order “super cycle,” the risk that it is a bubble that could burst, and the effects of sinking fuel prices and low cost of capital.
The situation at Bombardier, including their balance sheet and strategic problems given the market and actions by Boeing and Airbus.
The viability of the A380neo and how the engine manufacturers might look at it,
Retirements from the fleet where the aircraft have more value entering the surplus parts market. This has a significant impact on the OEM new parts market.
Oscar Munoz appears to be taking a different approach to managing the public image of the airline came from the merger of United Airlines and Continental five years ago. In full page newspaper ads he said, “The journey hasn’t always been smooth” and “We are committed to re-earning your trust.” On the new UnitedAirtime.com website.Munoz says:
“Let’s be honest, the implementation of the United and Continental merger has been rocky for customers and employees. While it’s been improving recently, we still haven’t lived up to our promise or our potential.”
British Airways has taken delivery of its first 787-9 Dreamliner of the 22 planes it has ordered. The -9 is 20 feet longer than the base -8, has a higher maximum take-off weight (MTOW), can seat 280 in a three-class configuration, and has an 8,300 nautical mile range. BA also released a time-lapse video of the aircraft being assembled in Seattle.
The Teague design consultancy firm shared with Fast Company some radical concepts for an imaginary future airline called Poppi. Teague asked themselves, “If we started an airline from scratch, what would we do?” At the recent Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) conference their Poppi concept was presented:
Southwest Airlines paid United Airlines $120 million to sublease two gates at Dallas Love Field. Southwest had already controlled 16 of the 20 gates at Love Field. United and Virgin America controlled two each. Delta Air Lines argues the gates are owned by the city and airlines can’t sell them. All this is being heard by a federal judge.
We found this piece after recording the episode. Virgin America CEO David Cush talks about the Love Field gates.
The Airplane of the Week
NASA Super Guppy N941NA
David attended the Joint Base Andrews’ open house on September 19th 2015. Last week we brought you David’s interview with Lieutenant Colonel Christine “Grinder” Mau, Deputy Commander for the Operations Group of the 33rd Fighter Wing. Col. Mau was the first woman cleared to fly the F-35A Lightning II, and one of only 52 women fighter pilots in the USAF.
This week we have the interview with David Elliot, the Flight Engineer and Program Manager for the NASA Super Guppy N941NA. David talks about flying and the planning for missions. A unique aircraft with unique missions.
The Australia News Desk
ATC Ben on the ramp at Karratha, Western Australia
Finally back after a bit of a break although Grant has subbed out due to family reasons, being ably replaced by ATC Ben. Ben tells us about his recent slight change of job, and location, having moved from the world of en-route controller in Melbourne to tower controller in the remote Western Australian town of Karratha. He tells about the aircraft movement this predominantly mining based town hosts each day, including scheduled airline services through to multiple helicopter flights going out to the oil and gas rigs off the coast.
In the news, the RAAF has used a KC-30A tanker to successfully conduct air to air refuelling sorties with a USAF F-35A in the skies over California recently. Using the boom system, the Lighting II make 59 contacts, taking on 23,000lbs of fuel in total. A busy day for all involved.
Ben then talks about his participation in the annual World Flight event, the Australian version of which raises funds for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Ben is a regular participant in this virtual around the world flight, using a fixed based 737 simulator in Hobart, Tasmania. More details can be found at http://worldflight.com.au/.
Across the Pond
Astronaut Major Tim Peake
This week Pieter celebrates #WorldSpaceWeek with an update on the UK Space Agency’s first European Space Agency astronaut Major Tim Peake who will fly to the International Space Station on December 15th 2015. His mission title is Principia and he will be on the space station for up to 6 months. We also get an update on the latest Arianne 5 launch last week from French Guiana.
A replacement for the T-38 jet trainer, FAA releases proposed regulations for small UAS, the world’s largest airport terminal is planned for China, changes to airline rewards programs, great aviation stories, and discussions about pilot reliance on automation and the Delta refinery.
Steve Taylor is a graduate of The Citadel with a degree in civil engineering. He served six years as a pilot in the U.S. Air Force with service in Vietnam flying a C-130. Following a long flying career, he retired as an international airline captain. Along the way, Steve has flown the J-3 Cub, T-37, CV-880, DC-9, B-727, B-767, and L-1011. Steve’s autobiography, Wheels Up: Sky Jinks in the Jet Age, tells great true-life stories.
Steve has been a solo ocean sailor and holds a U.S. Coast Guard captain’s license. He has owned and operated a commercial construction company and is a Coastal Master Naturalist.
The U.S. Air Force wants to replace the T-38 Talon with a new two-seat jet trainer. The T-X program anticipates at least 350 planes and Northrop Grumman has a prototype that they plan to fly this year. Its a clean sheet design.
FAA Releases Details of Proposed Rule 107 for Small Drones
The FAA announced a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for commercial use of small drones weighing less than 55 pounds. These unmanned aircraft must be operated within visual line of sight, under 500 feet AGL, and during daytime hours only. Operators would be required to pass an aeronautical knowledge test and obtain an unmanned aircraft operator certificate with a small UAS rating. Public comments can be made online at the Regulations.gov website referencing Docket FAA-2015-0150.
Max and David provide an initial reaction to the NPRM in Episode 81 of The UAV Digest.
Zaha Hadid Architects has unveiled plans for its Beijing New Airport Terminal Building, which it says will be the world’s largest. Reportedly, the 7.5 Million Square Foot facility is to be completed in 2018.
Effective April 17, Southwest rewards points will depend on the destination, time, day of travel, demand, and some other factors. Other airlines are making changes too: Delta Air Lines switched from miles traveled to dollars spent. United Airlines plans to switch to a similar plan.
Malaysia Airlines woes, F-35C conducting at-sea testing, what to do about thin airline seats, American flight attendants reject contract proposal, and Southwest Airlines Captain grabs the controls.
Our guest this episode is Dr. Kenneth Phillips, the Aerospace Science Curator of the California Science Center. The Center aims to stimulate curiosity and inspire science learning in everyone through memorable experiences.
Phase III of the Science Center’s 25-year Master Plan features the Space Shuttle Endeavour and the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center; the SKETCH Foundation Air and Space Gallery; the Roy A. Anderson A-12 Blackbird Exhibit and Garden; and development of the Creative World permanent gallery.
We talk with Ken about the Center’s mission, how the exhibits flow from one to another and tell a story, the role of a museum curator, and the different skill sets of the supporting staff. Admission to the California Science Center is free.
Ken has served as Curator for Aerospace Science since 1990 and develops the California Science Center Foundation’s programs and exhibits on aeronautics and space exploration. As Curator, he is responsible for creating the vision that shapes these programs and leading the team in the process that includes concept and storyboard development; multiple phases of design; prototype development and testing; artifact acquisition; audiovisual production; exhibit fabrication and research on visitor learning.
The Southwest pilot in the LGA crash pulled the throttles back over the co-pilot’s hand, and lost her job.
David Vanderhoof’s Aircraft of the Week
David takes a moment to pay tribute to all Veterans.
The Australia News Desk
Grant’s birthday has aligned with Qantas releasing a retro livery that dates back to when he was born. He and Steve think it looks great!
Meanwhile, Grant’s been off flying hot air balloons and passing his biennial flight review while Jonesy’s flying his “new” Cessna home and Steve’s started a new job with the railway. It’s all “GO” at the AusDesk!
Micah tells the story of Harriet’s Helicopter Pilot.
SeatGuru – Everything you need to know about the seats on your next flight.
PT6Nation – All about the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 turboprop.
Patrolling the skies September 11, passengers fighting over reclining seats, pilot hypoxia, a Dubai aviation mega-hub, airplane weather radar, and the new Southwest livery.
Guest Patrice Billings was the first female police officer to become a helicopter pilot for a U.S. law enforcement agency. She was flying air patrol for the the St Louis County Police Department on September 11, 2001. Patrice was a member of the SWAT Team for 10 years and was even nominated for TV’s America’s Most Wanted Heroes Award.
Now Patrice is a speaker and consultant, and brings her experience and wisdom to others by sharing stories of survival, of overcoming obstacles, and of re-inventing oneself.
We talk about flying air patrols in an MD-500E helicopter in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks. Patrice relates the strangeness of a quiet airspace and the stress of not knowing if attacks were planned for additional targets. Patrice tells us her thoughts on being a woman pilot in law enforcement, and on flying the helicopter. She’s also writing a fiction novel based on her life experiences.
Recently, three U.S. commercial flights have had to make diverted landings after passengers got into fights over the ability to recline their seats. Frustrated with limited seat space, air travelers are turning to devices like the Knee DefenderTM that prohibit the seat in front from reclining. Some airlines, like Spirit and Allegiant, have seats that don’t recline. At Mary Kirby’s RunwayGirlNetwork, they have talked about new “butt-to-knee” and “eyeball to seat-back” measurements that better reflect the space provided to passengers.
Honeywell is manufacturing a new onboard 3-D weather radar system called IntuVue® 3-D Weather Radar. On their web page Honeywell says,
“Weather-related delays & cancellations cost the U.S. economy $18B in 2007. Turbulence-related incidents cost airlines on average $150K/incident. Total cost to the industry exceeds $100M/year. Business jet operators experience approximately 180,000 flights that are delayed due to weather, costing an estimated $340M.”
Southwest debuted their new livery for its 737s and David expresses his opinion. He isn’t faint of heart about what he thinks of the new scheme.
The Australia News Desk
Grant’s been at the Moorabbin Air Museum for the 75th anniversary of Wirraway A20-10, the oldest surviving Wirraway in the world. The Wirraway was based on the NA-16 (which became the T6 Texan) and was made in Australia by the Commonwealth Aircraft Company.
Lt Cdr Chris Götke pictured with Captain Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown CBE DSC AFC Royal Navy (95) the Royal Navy’s most decorated and distinguished Naval Test Pilot, in front of Sea Fury T20 just before he took off to fly to the Air Day at RNAS Culdrose
Pieter Johnson continues his reports on historic aircraft with the sad news of the recent crash landing of the Royal Navy Historic Flight’s Hawker Sea Fury T.20 last month. Having saved the aircraft from almost total write off with a textbook landing Lt Commander Chris Gotke (‘Goaty’) walked away safe and well. We now need this aircraft back where it belongs….In the air.
NASA is co-hosting a history symposium (along with the Air & Space Museum) March 3-4, 2015 to mark the centennial of the creation of the NACA [National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics]. They are looking for people to write/present papers on some aspect of NACA/NASA history. The deadline for proposals is Sept 15.
Here’s a great video from one of the A-10 designers, Peirre Sprey. He goes into great detail on the design requirements that went into the Warthog. Mr Sprey explains why there is no aircraft on deck to replace the A-10. The present view of having the F-35, F-16, or F-15E pick up the A-10s close support mission is a pipe dream.
First run of the V8 engine powering their new P85 kit aircraft. The P85 is a derivation of Altitude Group’s Radial Rocket airframe, with changes to accommodate a V8 firewall forward powerplant package utilizing the LS series of V8 engines.
On September 16, 2014, retired airline Captain Christopher Brown will set out on Arcadia Mission 2014, a solo flight mission from Montreal to Vancouver, commemorating the 75th anniversary of the first Canadian intercontinental flight. Aboard Arcadia, a restored 1961 Beechcraft Bonanza, Chris will make stops in Ottawa, North Bay, Kapuskasing, Regina, Winnipeg and Lethbridge.