Tag Archives: Southwest

633 Aviation Safety

A Congressional report is critical of aviation safety and the FAA, the Air Force flies an AI co-pilot, precision airdrops as a service, Antonov AN-124 cargo, Chinese SODramjet, world’s first female aeronautical engineer, airline emissions statistics, flying through smoke.

Aviation News

Boeing ‘inappropriately coached’ pilots in 737 MAX testing: U.S. Senate report

The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation released a Committee Investigation Report titled Aviation Safety Oversight prepared by the Committee Republican staff. In testimony, whistleblowers were critical of Boeing and the FAA.

The report says that concerning this year’s testing of the MCAS system, Boeing officials “had established a pre-determined outcome to reaffirm a long-held human factor assumption related to pilot reaction time … It appears, in this instance, FAA and Boeing were attempting to cover up important information that may have contributed to the 737 MAX tragedies.”

Southwest Airlines Allegedly Cut Corners, Pilots Struggled to Get Planes to Take Off

Southwest livery

In the same report, a whistleblower working as an FAA safety inspector at a Southwest base alleged that the airline’s Performance Weight and Balance System (PWB) was flawed. The PWB system was introduced in 2017 but Southwest removed safety buffers and some pilots reported difficulty getting airborne. A Southwest spokesperson said, “We discovered a discrepancy between data systems involving the weight of a number of aircraft earlier this year. Southwest took immediate actions to prevent a recurrence, which included notifying the FAA, correcting the data discrepancies, and launching a daily audit to review each of the impacted systems.”

Dash Systems raises $8M for precision-airdrops-as-a-service at distant or disaster-stricken destinations

Dash Systems wants to expedite the “middle-mile” with military-inspired airdrops. They say Land the package not the planeTM and seek to drop pallets of parcels (“pods”) at their penultimate destinations, no matter how inaccessible the location is. The pods have control surfaces and a tail kit, and a method of slowing down and landing.

Swirl-in Airlift: Irregular Antonov Flights Deliver Relief to Phoenix Laxative Factory

Ukraine’s Antonov Airlines has been operating curious flights between Mumbai and Phoenix. Three An-124s have completed the route so far, and a fourth is enroute. Many speculated what the cargo is, but JetTip uncovers the true mission:

“The avgeek rumor-mill provided some hints at its cargo, with people saying it was carrying silica, seeds, or medicine; the payload is tons and tons of psyllium (pronounced “si-lee-uhm”), a plant grown in India, whose primary use is as a fibrous laxative. Coincidentally, psyllium is the main ingredient in Metamucil, which is manufactured in Phoenix.”

The Queen of the Hurricanes drove a Model A Roadster

Elsie MacGill is reported to be the world’s first female aeronautical engineer. Born in Vancouver in 1905, she wore leg braces because of polio. At one point she was told she’d never walk again. In 1938 she became the chief aeronautical engineer at Canadian Car and Foundry (Can Car) in charge of the design and construction of the Maple Leaf II training biplane, the world’s first aircraft designed and built by a woman. MacGill retooled the Can Car factory to mass-produce the Hawker Hurricane, and she was responsible for coming up with a winterized version with skis. Elsie MacGill died in 1980, at the age of seventy-five. She was posthumously inducted into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame in 1983. 

The Experimental Engine That Could Get Us Anywhere in the World in 2 Hours

The Chinese have developed and demonstrated a Standing Oblique Detonation ramjet engine, or SODramjet for hypersonic propulsion at Mach 16. It’s an old concept that utilizes shock waves produced in the engine. The Chinese demonstrator reached Mach 9 in a wind tunnel. See The criteria for hypersonic airbreathing propulsion and its experimental verification in the Chinese Journal of Aeronautics.

Air Force U-2 Surveillance Plane Flies First Mission with AI Copilot

The U.S. Air Force flew a U-2 Dragonlady reconnaissance aircraft with an artificial intelligence system as the co-pilot. Going by the call sign ARTUµ (pronounced R-2), the algorithm took control of the sensor systems after take off in an exercise that simulated a missile strike. As the pilot flew the U-2, ARTUµ controlled sensors and navigation and watched for enemy launch weapons.

Countries Ban U.K. Flights Amid Mutant Coronavirus Concerns

Flights between the U.K. and a number of other countries are being banned after a new, more contagious coronavirus strain was detected.

Mentioned

Facebook’s artificial intelligence robots shut down after they start talking to each other in their own language

Flying Dirty: Why Airlines Emissions Rise Even When They Try to Cut

631 Airlines Plan 737 MAX Return to Service

US airlines are releasing plans for the 737 MAX return to service, pilots are being advised to hold off participation in clinical vaccine trials, Southwest Airlines warns of its first-ever furlough, in-flight cell phone calls are off the table at the FCC, a final rule is announced for traveling by air with service animals, and the Paris Air Show is canceled for 2021.

Aviation News

US airlines detail plans for resuming Boeing 737 Max flights

In the US, the 737 MAX is operated by American Airlines, United, and Southwest. Those airlines are already making return to service announcements and passengers who don’t want to fly the MAX can change flights without penalty. American starts service on December 29, 2020, between New York LaGuardia and Miami, United service starts first quarter 2021, and Southwest service starts in the second quarter of 2021.

Post-crash recovery: How one airline plans to restore confidence in the Boeing 737 MAX

American Airlines COO David Seymour says, “We didn’t intend to be first to put the Max back in the air. But the only way to truly build confidence is by flying it. You don’t build that back by sitting on the ground.” American Airlines TechOps said it will take six to eight days to make each aircraft compliant with the new requirements for MCAS software updates (which take six hours) and flight control system re-wiring. That will be followed by a two-hour Operational Readiness Flight (ORF).

AA Reviewing Whether Pilots Can Take COVID Vaccine

Should commercial pilots take the Covid vaccine when it becomes available? Can they and still keep their medical? The FAA is waiting for the outcome of the upcoming meeting of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee. The Air Line Pilots Association is telling its members to not take part in clinical trials for vaccines.

Southwest Airlines warns it could furlough 6,800 employees to cut costs

If they occur, these would be the first furloughs ever for Southwest Airlines. The number amounts to 12% of the airline’s staff. Southwest says negotiations with labor unions to cut costs have produced a “lack of meaningful progress.”

FCC Walks Back Plan To Allow In Flight Cell Service

The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) is no longer going to look into a ruling that would allow passengers to make in-flight cell phone calls on domestic United States flights. 

The FCC said, “The record is insufficient to determine any reasonable solution that would strike an appropriate balance of competing interests.  There is strong opposition to the Commission’s proposals from many commenters in this proceeding, including our nation’s airline pilots and flight attendants.”

U.S. Department of Transportation Announces Final Rule on Traveling by Air with Service Animals

The U.S. Department of Transportation is revising its Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) regulation concerning the transportation of service animals by air. The final rule defines a service animal as a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability. An emotional support animal is no longer considered to be a service animal. The final rule will be effective 30 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register.

Cancellation of the 2021 edition of the Paris Air Show [PDF]

“In light of the uncertainty linked to the current COVID-19 health crisis, the Paris Air Show organization has made the decision to cancel the 2021 edition of the show, which was scheduled to take place from 21 to 27 June 2021. The next edition of the Paris Air Show will be held in June 2023, at a date that will be announced shortly. Exhibitors will receive a full refund of all sums already paid and the Paris Air Show will take full financial responsibility for this decision.”

Airplane Geeks Listener Poll 628 

Do you intend to fly to a vacation destination in 2021? 50% said Yes, 16% said No, and 34% said Maybe.
Do you expect to fly for business in 2021? 41% said Yes, 36% said No, and 23% said Maybe.

Mentioned

Obituary: Ralph Weymouth

629 Boeing 737 MAX Return to Service Airworthiness Directive

We talk with an Air Traffic Controller at London Heathrow who also acts as deputy manager of the ATC team for the RIAT airshow. In the news, FAA airworthiness directive permits the Boeing 737 MAX to return to service, Delta and tariffs on Airbus aircraft, Gatwick slot usage and planned labor action at Heathrow, speed dating in the air, Norwegian Air Shuttle troubles, autonomous airplane tugs, and a F/A-18C Hornet goes into the National Air & Space Museum.

Guest

Adam Spink has been an air traffic controller at the Heathrow Airport tower for 22 years. He’s also an instructor, examiner, and supervisor. Adam’s main job is in the Procedures and Development office working on new procedures and equipment.

Adam explains aircraft wake turbulence and the Time Based Separation (TBS) used at Heathrow to increase the aircraft landing rate, including the implications for air traffic controllers when planes are separated by time instead of by distance. See: New separation standard permanently adopted over the North Atlantic.

We also learn how the environmental aspects of aviation fit into key performance measures and controller metrics that include reduced emissions.

In addition to his job as a NATS controller at Heathrow, Adam acts as deputy manager of the ATC team for the Royal International Air Tattoo airshow (RIAT) held at RAF Fairford in the UK. He’s a member of the UK Air Transport Confidential Human Factors Incident Reporting Programme (the equivalent of NASA ASRS), and a member of various international working groups on low visibility ops, satellite-based navigation, and radar systems. Adam speaks about human factors at various medical school/medical university courses.

Find Adam on Twitter and Instagram.

Aviation News

U.S. lifts Boeing 737 MAX flight ban after crash probes, tough hurdles remain

On November 20, 2020, the FAA issued AD 2020-24-02, Airworthiness Directives; The Boeing Company Airplanes [PDF] superseding Airworthiness Directive 2018-23-51, which applied to all Boeing Company Model 737-8 and 737-9 (737 MAX) airplanes. AD 2018-23-51 required revising certificate limitations and operating procedures of the Airplane Flight Manual (AFM) to provide the flight crew with runaway horizontal stabilizer trim procedures to follow under certain conditions. 

The new AD requires installing new flight control computer (FCC) software, revising the existing Airplane Flight Manual to incorporate new and revised flight crew procedures, installing new MAX display system (MDS) software, changing the horizontal stabilizer trim wire routing installations, completing an angle of attack (AOA) sensor system test, and performing an operational readiness flight.

Southwest deploys team to bring 737 MAX jets out of desert

Southwest Airlines has 34 Boeing 737 MAX jets in storage in Victorville, California. The airline sent a team of mechanics to start the process of bringing its jets out of storage. 737 MAX flights at Southwest should resume the second quarter of 2021. There will be no re-booking charge for passengers who are uncomfortable flying on the MAX.

European regulator to lift Boeing 737 MAX grounding in January

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) executive director said the 737 MAX is safe to fly.  “We wanted to carry out a totally independent analysis of the safety of this aircraft, so we performed our own checks and flight tests. All these studies tell us that the 737 MAX can return to service. We have started to put in place all the measures. It is likely that in our case we will adopt the decisions, allowing it to return to service, sometime in January.”

Delta Skirts Trump Tariffs by Sending Airbus Jets on World Tour

As part of the Boeing/Airbus subsidy battle, tariffs were placed on European-built Airbus aircraft in October 2019. Delta has taken delivery of seven planes since then, but instead of flying them to the United States, the airline based them overseas, avoiding the tariff because they weren’t imports. In a statement to Bloomberg News, Delta said “We have made the decision not to import any new aircraft from Europe while these tariffs are in effect. Instead, we have opted to use the new aircraft exclusively for international service, which does not require importation.”

Suspension of airport “80/20” slot usage rule to last till end of March 2021 – Gatwick not happy

Until March 2020, European regulations required that an airline use 80% of its landing slots or they were lost. But because of the huge drop in travel demand, the rule was suspended for six months, then extended for another 6 months, to 27th March 2021. Gatwick airport wants the old slot rules reinstated before summer 2021.

Heathrow Staff To Strike For 4 Days In December

London’s Heathrow Airport wants to cut costs by reducing wages. The large Unite trade union says the airport plans to fire some 4,000 workers, then rehire them at lower wages. 85% of the union membership voted in favor of strikes in protest.

Airline offers speed-dating on dead-end ‘flight to nowhere’

Taiwanese carrier EVA Air and travel experience company are offering flights called “Fly! Love Is In the Air!” Twenty men and twenty women will depart from Taipei, fly around the island for three hours, return to the airport, and pairs will then enjoy a two-hour date. Seating on the plane is by random draw, but mingling is allowed. Food is prepared by a Michelin-starred chef.

Norwegian Air Is the Latest Trans-Atlantic Carrier to File for Bankruptcy in 2020 Due to Covid-19

Norwegian Air Shuttle has filed for protection from creditors in Ireland.

Autonomous Electric Tow Tugs Could Cut Handling Costs

Californian start-up Moonware says the aviation industry is stagnant. They want to do something about that. Moonware says they are “building an AI-powered fleet management network and subsequently deploying autonomous & electric vehicles to fundamentally reshape airport operations.” The company is developing a family of autonomous electrically powered tow tugs for aircraft ground handling.

National Air and Space Museum Welcomes Blue Angels’ F/A-18C Hornet

The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum has brought a Blue Angels’ F/A-18C Hornet BuNo 163439 into the collection. This is the first “Blue Angels” aircraft and the first F-18 the museum has acquired. 

Mentioned

Save Whiteman airport, a change.org petition.

Dobbins Reservists Tie the Knot Aboard a C-130

624 Aircraft Cybersecurity

The GAO issues aircraft cybersecurity recommendations, the Southwest pilot’s union balks at a pay cut, some think commercial aviation hasn’t seen the worst of it yet, Congress looks to establish the National Center for the Advancement of Aviation, Singapore Airlines has a new use for idled A380 aircraft, the Boom Supersonic XB-1 demonstrator rolls out, and an all-electric airplane racing league is announced.

Aviation News

Computers Aboard Airliners Vulnerable to Hacking, Watchdog Says

On Oct 9, 2020, the Government Accountability Office issued a report, FAA Should Fully Implement Key Practices to Strengthen Its Oversight of Avionics Risks. The GAO says, “Airplane manufacturers have cybersecurity controls in place and there haven’t been reports of successful cyberattacks on commercial airplane IT systems to date. But evolving cyber threats and increasing connectivity between airplanes and other systems could put future flight safety at risk if the FAA doesn’t prioritize oversight… We recommended that the FAA strengthen cybersecurity oversight for airplanes.”

Listen to the GAO podcast episode Watchdog Report, Protecting Air Travel from Cyberthreats.

Southwest pilots’ union pushes back on 10% pay cut proposal

Southwest Airlines has never had a furlough and the company is trying to avoid that for 2021. Management proposed a 10% pay cut for pilots, but the pilot’s union is balking. The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association is concerned that the across-the-board reduction and force majeure clauses could allow the airline to furlough pilots anyway.

Winter is coming for the world’s airlines

Bloomberg says that “the worst period for the aviation industry is probably ahead of it, rather than behind.” Carriers have been using their bank balances, government bailout money, and some cost-cutting measures. But the cash is dwindling.

‘The worst is not behind any airline’: Qatar Airways CEO warns more collapses coming for industry

Forty-three commercial airlines have folded so far this year. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) expects the industry to burn $77 billion in cash in the second half of 2020. 

Momentum grows for creation of National Center for the Advancement of Aviation

Two bipartisan bills have been introduced in the U.S. Congress that would create a National Center for the Advancement of Aviation (NCAA). One in the House and one in the Senate. The NCAA “would create an independent center to facilitate collaboration among commercial, general, and military aviation sectors to address the mounting workforce challenges facing the industry.” More than 130 organizations [PDF] representing all segments of aviation support the legislation, including AOPA.

See: H.R.8532 – To establish the National Center for the Advancement of Aviation

Grounded airline planes turned into pop-up restaurants sell out in 30 minutes

Singapore Airlines converted two Airbus A380 planes parked at Changi Airport into restaurants. Reservations for October 24th and 25th sold out in 30 minutes.

Boom Rolls Out Its XB-1 “Baby Boom” Supersonic Demonstrator Jet

Boom Supersonic is working toward the 55-seat supersonic airliner called the Overture. A step in that development is the XB-1 supersonic demonstrator aircraft, frequently called the “Baby Boom.”

Video: XB-1 Supersonic Rollout, hosted by Boom Founder and CEO Blake Scholl.

All-electric aircraft racing league announced

An all-electric aircraft racing league is being formed and they plan to start racing in 2022. Air Race E says pilots will fly in fields of eight electric-powered aircraft, wingtip-to-wingtip, at 280 mph 10 meters above the ground, over a 1.5-kilometer oval circuit. Twelve teams have formed from nine countries: the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Norway, Ukraine, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

Mentioned

New England Air Museum, restoring the Burnelli CBY-3.

Redbird Migration 2020, a free virtual flight training conference Wed, Oct 21, 2020, 09:00 AM – Thu, Oct 22, 2020, 05:00 PM, America/Chicago Time.

AvGeekFests.com

The Learjet Diaries by Greg Madonna.

Kilborn by Wayne Hughes.

Phil’s Airline Fleet News

NBAA honors pilots who landed Citation after dual flameouts

614 Choosing a Flight School

An aviation climate control proposal from the EPA, an update on airline furloughs, questions about fighter pilot’s flying experience, Airbus’ autonomous A350, Delta Airline’s fleet simplification, and the Garmin outage that lasted for days. Also, an Australia News Desk from the boys down under, a special discount code for our listeners, and advice on choosing a flight school.

Aviation News

US Says it Will Adopt Global Climate Standards for Aviation

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed new aircraft emissions regulations that some are criticizing and others are applauding. The proposal adopts 2017 emissions standards from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Boeing and the Airlines for America trade group welcomed the proposal. Environmental groups and the EPA itself said the proposed regulations would have no meaningful effect.

Southwest Airlines Will Not Furlough Workers On Oct. 1

Southwest CEO Gary Kelly announced that the airline will not furlough or lay off any workers on Oct. 1, 2020. Kelly said, “We have no intention of seeking furloughs, layoffs, pay rate cuts or benefits cuts through at least the end of the year… I can’t guarantee it will never happen, especially during these dark pandemic times. I can promise you it will be the last thing we do to keep Southwest financially healthy and viable.”

American Airlines’ Grim Warning To Flight Attendants

American Airlines says it has over 20,000 more employees than it will need later this year. The airline has been trying to entice employees to accept voluntary leaves of absence or early retirement, but the acceptance numbers are lower than American wants to see.

Fighter Pilots Warn Of Newly Trained Pilots’ Lack Of Actual Flying Experience

We’ve recently seen a number of military aviation accidents. A team of senior U.S. Air Force officers has been speaking to pilots and aircrew to see if there are common factors. They find that experienced pilots worry about possible cuts in flying hours and increased use of simulators.

Airbus Completes Autonomous Airliner Experiment

Since 2018, Airbus has flown an A350-1000 autonomously 500 times. The airplane is fitted with image recognition technology that uses external cameras. The software processes the images and controls the flight.

Delta Air Lines: Fleet Simplification Will Be A Game Changer

Delta had announced a fleet simplification strategy last December. At the beginning of 2020, Delta operated 20 different aircraft models in multiple configurations, with two more scheduled to join the fleet in 2020 (the Airbus A220-300 and A321neo). Delta has now accelerated its simplification strategy.

FAA warns of Boeing 737 double-engine power loss (EAD)

The FAA issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive (EAD) for Boeing 737 Classic and NextGeneration aircraft in storage. The bleed air fifth stage check valve on CFM56 engines stored for seven or more days could exhibit corrosion that could lead to an engine shutdown. Perhaps even a double-engine shutdown. This follows four single-engine 737 shutdowns during flight.

Garmin Aviation App And Services Down in Ransomware Attack

On Jul. 23, 2020, Garmin experienced a major outage attributed in the press to a ransomware attack. The FlyGarmin app for pilots using Garmin GPS based instruments and navigation equipment was affected, as was the Garmin Pilot app and Garmin aviation and navigation watches.

Mentioned

QANTAS Boeing 747 VH-OEJ “Wunala” Final Walkaround at LAX

For a limited time, PilotPartner.net is offering a discount code for Airplane Geeks listeners. The code “airplanegeeks18” will get you an 18-month membership for the price of 12 months. Ken from PilotPartner was our guest in Episode 432.

Delta CEO: Navigating the Coronavirus Crisis – Boss Files with Poppy Harlow

As the coronavirus pandemic ravages the airline industry, Delta CEO Ed Bastian says he is leading the company through a defining moment. He opens up about how Delta is navigating the crisis, mandating masks on all flights, and blocking middle seats. He also pledges as CEO to stand against racism and is committed to promoting more African-American executives throughout the company.

613 A-10 Thunderbolt II

A former A-10 pilot who flew combat missions during Operation Desert Storm tells us about the A-10 from a first-hand perspective. Also, Boeing 737 MAX cancellations, airline layoffs and furloughs, Emirates plan for the A380, an American Airlines and JetBlue partnership, a bizarre Icelandair plan, aviation museums are re-opening, the B-52 Chrome Dome mission, a drive-in airshow, and thoughts on Urban Air Mobility.

Guest

Buck Wyndham is an Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University graduate who joined the Air Force to fly his dream airplane, the A-10 Thunderbolt II. He became one of the very first pilots to take the Warthog into battle and flew many missions during Operation Desert Storm. He went on to fly the T-38 Talon as an instructor for over seven years. 

Buck describes A-10 design and its mission as a ground support aircraft built around a 30mm rotary cannon. “The gun” is 21 feet long, weighs 4,000 pounds loaded, and can fire 70 rounds per second. Buck describes the physical sensations when firing the gun, and he tells us about the difference between air-to-air combat with fast jets and air-to-ground combat with an attack aircraft. He also explains A-10 maneuverability.

Hogs in the SandBuck’s new book, Hogs in the Sand: A Gulf War A-10 Pilot’s Combat Journal, is available in either hardcover or paperback. It’s a gritty, inside look at aerial warfare during Operation Desert Storm, but it is more personal and emotional than books of the same genre. It’s not the typical combat account. It includes that but also much more.

Currently, Buck is an A320 captain for a major US airline, and he is the Chief Pilot for Code 1 Aviation in Rockford, Illinois. Buck has written articles for Warbirds, Classic Jet Journal, and Warbird Digest. He enjoys flying vintage aircraft, building his RV-8, and working on his next book, a novel entitled Red Air.

The Hogs in the Sand website has information about the book, and also some good A-10 videos. Find more on the A-10 at the Hogs in the Sand Facebook page.

Aviation News

Boeing 737 MAX cancellations top 350 planes in first half of 2020

Sixty orders for the 737 MAX were canceled in June by airlines and leasing companies. Deliveries in the first two quarters of 2020 were down by 71% compared to the previous year.

Southwest Airlines Has Another Ominous Warning for Airlines

Southwest Airlines has never had an involuntary layoff or furlough. That might change this year. Southwest’s initial plans for 2020 suggested the airline expected a recovery by year-end and  Southwest originally planned to operate in November and December about as many flights as last year. However, in a letter to employees, Southwest acknowledged that this is becoming unlikely and they may see involuntary layoffs and furloughs.

American Airlines warns 25,000 employees about potential job cuts as coronavirus continues to sap demand

25,000 front-line employees, about 29% of American’s U.S. mainline workforce, were warned that they could be furloughed this autumn. As with other airlines, employees were advised to take early retirement packages or extended leaves. American’s revenue in June was down more than 80% versus a year ago.

Delta just gave United a stark lesson in pandemic business leadership

United Airlines has said that blocking middle seats is just PR. However, Delta Air Lines and Southwest “decided their customers would prefer those middle seats empty,” according to ZDNet. Delta is not raising ticket prices and CEO Ed Bastian says those empty middle seats are the “No. 1 reason” travelers are booking with Delta.

The president of Emirates says passengers will never again be as comfortable as they have been aboard the enormous discontinued Airbus A380

Only 251 A380s will have been delivered by Airbus when production stops in 2021. Emirates has about half of them and the airline’s president Tim Clark says they’ll bring them back into service: “Hopefully, we’ll see them flying for at least another 10 years. Unfortunately, it’s not being produced. So there’s nothing we can do about it. We’ll keep it going as long as we can.”

In a twist, American partners with JetBlue in bid for New York and Boston

American Airlines and JetBlue Airways have again formed an alliance where each can sell seats on the other’s flights. With this agreement, American stands to gain in JetBlue strongholds Boston and New York. JetBlue could benefit from American strength in the Midwest and Southeast. The deal is subject to regulatory approval.

Icelandair says it’s letting go of all its flight attendants — and shifting their duties to the pilots

Icelandair and its cabin crew have had a labor dispute and last Friday the airline said starting July 20 cabin crew employment would be terminated. The airline’s pilots would temporarily assume flight attendants’ roles. In May 2019, 419,000 passengers flew on Icelandair. In May 2020, just 3,100 flew the airline. But then on Sunday… Icelandair and flight attendants have struck a deal. Icelandair and the Icelandic Cabin Crew Association (FFI) reached an agreement and the announced firing of the flight attendants was rescinded.

Mentioned

Aviation News Talk YouTube channel

TABfabric Etsy shop for hand-made face masks. Proceeds go to the Pasadena Woman’s Shelter.

B-52 Stratofortress – US strategic bomber / Documentary US Air Force / WHD

Airshow London (Ontario) announced its 2020 air show will take place on September 12 and 13 as a drive-in format featuring a traditional three-hour air display. The airport grounds can accommodate close to 2500 cars with this socially responsible model. Guests will arrive with a pre-purchased ticket (1 ticket per vehicle) and be directed to park in their own 20 X 25-foot space to enjoy the show either inside or outside their vehicle. Guests can bring their own refreshments, listen to the show on their car radios, and utilize portable washrooms.

609 Airline Cash Flow

United leverages its MileagePlus program to improve its balance sheet, one study says the Amazon Air fleet will grow to 200 aircraft, a British aircraft carrier takes a step towards operational capability next year, and Southwest Airlines wants you to provide a “customer health declaration” at check-in. Also, the Finland fighter competition, flight sim hardware from Thrustmaster, and how old is too old to get your pilot’s license?

Aviation News

Surprising Statistics About United MileagePlus

United is mortgaging its frequent flyer program to raise $5 billion

Cash flow remains a major concern for airlines. United announced financing of $5 billion secured through the airlines’ loyalty program. It’s part of their plan to have $17 billion in liquidity by the end of September. CNN says that’s 3 times the cash they normally have on hand. United estimates the value of its Mileage Plus program as a standalone business at $20 billion.

Amazon Air Fleet to Grow from 39 to 200 by 2028

A report from Joseph Schwieterman and Jacob Walls of the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development predicts that the Amazon Air fleet will grow to 200 aircraft by 2028. The report, Insights into Amazon Air: 2020’s Transportation Juggernaut [PDF] was published on May 22, 2020.

HMS Queen Elizabeth ready to conduct carrier strike operations

After a six week test, the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth takes the next step toward operational capability in 2021 when it could deploy with two frigates, two destroyers, a nuclear submarine, as well as support vessels. The ship will also carry 24 F-35B jets, including US Marine Corps aircraft, in addition to a number of helicopters. The recent training demonstrated that carrier jets could be ready to take off on short notice and provide combat air patrols.

See also, Why Britain needs aircraft carriers and The Aircraft Carrier We Need.

Southwest now requires a ‘customer health declaration’ from passengers before flying

Southwest Airlines announced they’d require a “customer health declaration” from customers at online check-in. Customers must acknowledge an awareness of Southwest’s face covering policy and confirm they do not have symptoms of COVID-19. Also that they have not been diagnosed with or exposed, to COVID-19 in the 14 days prior to travel, and they do not have a fever when they travel. The declaration will appear during the online check-in process via the Southwest app, Southwest.com, SWABIZ.com, and the carrier’s mobile website. This is consistent with the recently published Southwest Promise.

Airlines ban alcohol on planes in response to Covid-19

A number of airlines are suspending all or part of their alcoholic drinks service in response to Covid-19.

Finding Finland’s next fighter jet: HX challenge

Under its HX fighter program, the Finnish Air Force plans to replace its F/A-18 C/D Hornet aircraft. Competing for the buy are Eurofighter, Boeing, Dassault, Lockheed Martin, and Saab.

Mentioned

EAA membership

Brian.

Thrustmaster revealed their new range of flight sim hardware, officially licensed by Airbus and designed for integration in civil aviation games including X-Plane 11 and Microsoft Flight Simulator. The range includes a modular sidestick, a dual thrust lever throttle with add-on modules, the Officer bundle pack (sidestick + throttle), and an all-new metal desk clamp.

RenegadeAV8R S2 EP24 – USAF Thunderbird #8 FLACK Promo

6-Year-Old Genius Kid Becomes Etihad Airways Pilot for a Day

Learn to Fly, Live your Dream and Get a Pilots’ License! –  eBook by Max Trescott. [PDF]

SkyVector Areonautical Charts

AirNav Airport Information

Wallingford Sign

604 Aircraft Storage

The chief commercial officer of one of the largest aircraft maintenance, storage, and reclamation operations explains aircraft storage in light of the large number of airplanes taken out of service. In the news, members of the new Women in Aviation Advisory Board are announced, the fatal Canadian Snowbird crash, the Cessna SkyCourier first flight, airline passenger policies for wearing masks, and Airbus looks to a downsized future.

Guest

Scott Butler

Scott Butler, chief commercial officer, Ascent Aviation Services.

Scott Butler is chief commercial officer of Ascent Aviation Services, one of the largest aircraft storage, maintenance, and reclamation operations in the world. Ascent provides fully integrated aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), line maintenance, storage, reclamation, paint, and interior services to owners, operators, and lessors of wide-body, narrow-body, and regional aircraft.

Ascent Aviation Services currently operates two maintenance facilities in southern Arizona that cover more than 1,250 acres and house 5 hangars.  Now managing over 400 aircraft, the company is a Class IV 14 CFR Part 145 certified Repair Station and maintains approvals and certifications from regulatory authorities globally, including FAA, EASA, BDA/AMO, TCCA, NCAA, and 2-REG.

Aircraft parking and storage are regulator-approved maintenance programs. Scott explains the categories of aircraft storage and describes aircraft preparation and maintenance while in storage:

  • Active parking for aircraft that could be activated within days and put into revenue service quickly. Maintenance includes running the engines, inspections, periodic ops checks, etc.
  • Short-term parking, usually for 1-3 months. Maintenance includes short-term engine and controls preservation, disconnecting batteries, and covering tubes and sensors. Activation might take a few days or a week.
  • Long-term storage, perhaps for up to a year, with an option for storage exceeding one year. Maintenance includes full engine preservation (“pickling”), fluid draining, use of preservation oil, corrosion protection coverings, sealing the landing gear, and animal protection.

We also talk about the reasons for parking or storing aircraft, and the types of aircraft now being stored. Ascent also performs dismantling operations and they are even using drones for dent mapping. Scott comments on the outlook for freighter and specialty conversions, and changes to how cargo is being moved.

Scott is an aviation professional with more than 10 years in the aerospace industry. Prior to joining Ascent Aviation Services as CCO, he was the Director of Sales for Zodiac Aerospace, owned by Safran since February 2018 and offering aerosystems, cabin interiors, and seats.

Scott has held leadership positions in program management, engineering and operations management at TE Connectivity and Rockwell Collins. He holds a degree in Aviation Human Factors and Aerospace Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Aviation News

US aviation industry leaders appointed to Women in Aviation Advisory Board

The Women in Aviation Advisory Board (WIAAB) was established in October 2019 under the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018. The FAA states, “The objective of the Women in Aviation Advisory Board (PDF) is to develop and provide independent recommendations and strategies to the… FAA to explore opportunities for encouraging and supporting female students and aviators to pursue a career in aviation, with the objective of promoting organizations and programs that are providing education, training, mentorship, outreach, and recruitment of women for positions in the aviation industry.”

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao announced the appointment of 30 board members. Former U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson will serve as chair of the board. She’s currently President of The University of Texas at El Paso. See Women in Aviation Advisory Board Membership (PDF).

CAF member who died in Snowbird plane crash identified

One of the Canadian Snowbirds planes crashed in Kamloops, BC. The team was on a tour of the country under Operation Inspiration, similar to the U.S. tour of the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds. The Royal Canadian Air Force CT-114 Tutor with Captain Richard MacDougall and Captain Jennifer Casey on board had just lifted off when something went wrong. Captain Casey was killed and Captain MacDougall sustained serious but not life-threatening injuries. The plane crashed into a house in a residential neighborhood.

Cessna SkyCourier Successfully Completes First Flight

In March 2020, the Cessna SkyCourier successfully completed initial ground tests. Now the first flight of the prototype Cessna 408 SkyCourier twin-turboprop has been accomplished lasting 2-hours and 15-minutes. A common platform will support various configurations, including a 6,000-pound payload freighter, a 19-seat passenger version, and a mixed passenger/freight combination. FedEx is the launch customer for the SkyCourier, with 50 firm and 50 option orders. It will have a maximum cruise speed of 200 ktas and 900-nm range.

U.S. airlines tell crews not to force passengers to wear masks

Southwest memo says it will not deny boarding if customers don’t wear masks

American Airlines’ policy says customers “may be denied boarding” for not wearing a mask. United’s policy allows boarding in most cases, but the policy states, “there could be an isolated situation where a customer may be denied boarding as a last resort.” JetBlue says, “Customers who refuse to comply with our policy will be denied boarding.” Southwest policy says wearing a mask is a “requirement,” but a memo obtained by CNN states, “We will not deny boarding solely based on a Customer’s refusal to wear a face covering.” and… “You are expected to inform Customers of our face covering requirement but are not expected to be the enforcers — ask the Customer to comply with wearing a face covering if they are able.”

American told its pilots, “Once on board and off the gate, the face covering policy becomes more lenient. The flight attendant’s role is informational, not enforcement, with respect to the face covering policy… Bottom line to the pilots: a passenger on board your aircraft who is being compliant with the exception of wearing a face covering is NOT considered disruptive enough to trigger a Threat Level 1 response.”

Airbus to be ‘resized,’ could cut output again – sources

Airbus executives were told to “face reality” and that Airbus may not survive without change. “Radical,” “proactive,” and urgent steps are needed, particularly if the pandemic produces a second wave.

Boeing CEO: It could take 3 to 5 years for airline industry to return from ‘apocalyptic’ state

In an edited interview, Boeing CEO David Calhoun was asked on NBC television “do you think there might be a major US carrier that may have to go out of business? He responded, “I don’t want to get too predictive on that but yes, most likely. Something will happen when September comes around.”

Delta to retire Boeing 777s as pandemic dims outlook for international travel

Delta Air Lines said it will retire its fleet of Boeing 777s. Also that this fall it may have 7,000 too many pilots. Long-haul international travel is not expected to recover quickly. Delta’s daily cash burn is down to $50 million a day. CEO Ed Bastian said “Our principal financial goal for 2020 is to reduce our cash burn to zero by the end of the year, which will mean, for the next two to three years, a smaller network, fleet, and operation in response to substantially reduced customer demand.”

603 The RenegadeAV8R

David Costa, the RenegadeAV8R, on being a jet airshow demo pilot, hosting the RenegadeAV8R Radio Show and engaging young engineers in a project to set new jet records. Also, ALPA wants COVID rules and not just guidelines, airline cash flow with sale/leaseback transactions, a tragic runway accident, the unending Heathrow airport controversy, Frontier rethinks their middle seat strategy, and Qatar Airlines wants training expenses reimbursed by a terminated pilot.

Guest

RenegadeAV8RDavid “Taz” Costa is a jet airshow demonstration pilot flying the TS-11 Iskra, an advanced military jet trainer. He also hosts the RenegadeAV8R Radio Show and is CEO of Renegade Jets. David is also an airline transport pilot with over 15,000 hours of flight time in over 100 different makes and models of aircraft.

The RenegadeAV8R Radio Show promotes aviation to a wide audience using interviews and stories from guests that demonstrate excellence, overcoming obstacles, and achieving big goals. Both aviation enthusiasts and others admire and appreciate the radio show, which is also released as a podcast.

We talk with David about airshows and the value they provide. He describes what being an airshow performer means to him, and how he interfaces with people while he’s on the ground. David loves talking to the crowd, answering their questions, and serving the fans. We discuss the future of airshows and the need for the “new normal” to be like the “old normal.”

Dave Costa

Dave Costa

The original Iskra achieved four world records at the time, but those have been eclipsed. David explains his plan to upgrade the Iskra and launch a world record attempt using the skills of engineering students. This brings the latest engineering knowledge to the project and offers the students a unique opportunity to apply their skills to real-world aircraft.

Be sure to catch the RenegadeAV8R Radio Show podcast.

The RenegadeAV8R TS-11 Iskra

The RenegadeAV8R TS-11 Iskra

Aviation News

ALPA Wants FAA To Enact COVID Rules

Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) President Capt. Joe DePete wants the FAA to mandate compliance with CDC recommendations, not just suggest guidelines. “There are carriers that are doing a good job and there are carriers that are doing not such a great job,” DePete said. “So there is this varying patchwork of compliance or lack thereof and that’s no way to handle a pandemic.” 

Southwest Airlines Sells 20 Boeing 737s For $815 million

Southwest Airlines has entered into a sale/leaseback agreement with BOC Aviation for 10 Boeing 737-800s and 10 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft. This generates $815 million in cash for the airline. BOC Aviation is a global aircraft leasing company, originally founded as Singapore Aircraft Leasing Enterprise (SALE) in 1993.

Person killed by Southwest plane on Austin airport runway

A Southwest flight landing at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Texas struck and killed a man on the runway. The unidentified man was not a badged airport employee.

Heathrow Third Runway May NEVER be Built

London Heathrow’s John Holland-Kaye says it could be 10 to 15 years before the airport needs a third runway. The Heathrow £14billion expansion plan could be scrapped given the poor economic situation. At the least, it’s not a priority now. Also, Heathrow expansion: What is the third runway plan?

Frontier Airlines will drop open-seat fee that drew attacks

Frontier Airlines had a plan to charge passengers at least a $39 “More Room” fee to sit next to an empty middle seat. Amid accusations that Frontier was attempting to profit from coronavirus fear, the airline has dropped the plan.

Qatar Airlines Demands Training Repayment From Fired Pilot

Qatar Airlines fired a pilot trainee and now demands a payment of $162,000 for training expenses. Qatar created a cadet scholarship program for locals, which this woman joined in 2013 and graduated in 2017.

What to do at home

Open access to online training materials at Pipistrel Online.

Gleim Aviation is offering free online courses.

Sporty’s online flight instructor refresher course offered for free.

This Chicken Wings trailer is a parody of the “Top Gun 2 Maverick” trailer.

Mentioned

Black Files Declassified, from the Discovery Channel.

Across the Pacific, the long-awaited PBS documentary on Pan American Airways.

Jamie Dodson, co-author of Hunting the Wind: Pan American World Airways’ Epic Flying Boat Era, 1929–1946.

Listener Michael flew his SR-22T over KVCV, Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville, California:

KVCV, Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville, CA

KVCV, Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville, CA

Michael and the Cirrus SR22T

Michael and the Cirrus SR22T

602 The Life of a Pilot

Chris Manno talks about his 42 years as a professional pilot, first with the U.S. Air Force and then with a major U.S. airline. Chris has written An Airline Pilot’s Life which captures his military and commercial career. In the news, we look at industry first-quarter losses, production cuts, furloughs, and layoffs. Also, airline and airport safety measures, Federal bailout money, a hybrid-electric aircraft, and the Treaty on Open Skies.

Guest

Pilot Chris Manno

Chris Manno

Chris Mano writes the Jethead blog and has recently published a start-to-finish true-life story of his 42 years as a professional pilot, which includes seven years with the USAF and over 34 years with American Airlines. It’s titled An Airline Pilot’s Lifeand the paperback release is May 2020. The first part is currently Amazon Kindle’s #1 new release in commercial aviation. The book tells the stories of Chris’ USAF pilot training and squadron flying for 6 years, and then his airline career through DC-10 engineer to MD-80 FO to DC-10 FO to MD-80 captain, F-100 captain, MD-80 Check Airman, and B-737-800 captain.

The book describes a life-long dedication to aviation, a path that Chris knew he wanted to take even as a youngster. Through this first-hand view, the reader learns what it is like to be an air force pilot or an airline pilot.

An Airline Pilots LifeChris tells us about the difference between military and airline flying, the role of labor unions, and flight and cabin crew relationships. We learn why he likes the 737-800 so much, and what he didn’t like about the MD-80. Chris also provides his thoughts, from a pilot’s perspective, on the loss of confidence in the 737 Max, the process, and the regulator.

Find Chris at the JetHead blog and look for An Airline Pilot’s Lifeon Amazon.com.

Quarterly earnings reports, production cuts, layoffs…

Southwest Airlines Reports First Quarter Loss

Boeing plans to cut airplane production, 10% of its workforce in aircraft market ‘frozen’ by coronavirus crisis

The Non-Bailout: How the Fed Saved Boeing Without Paying a Dime

Warren Buffett & Berkshire Hathaway has completely sold out of its airline stakes.

Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita to lay off 1,450 employees

United Launches Plan To Cut At Least A Third Of Its Pilots

Boeing’s Biggest 737 MAX Customer Slashes Aircraft Delivery Schedule

Airline safety measures…

JetBlue To Require Passenger Face Masks

United Airlines adds safety procedures, ticket changes

Airport safety measures and federal grants…

Paine Field Airport to test passengers for fever before boarding

How did a small coastal airport in Owls Head get an $18 million federal bailout?

Tiny airports rake in big cash after botched stimulus formula

Other aviation news…

Airbus and Rolls-Royce cancel E-Fan X hybrid-electric RJ100 experiment

Air Force Is Down To One Tired Old Jet To Fly Open Skies Surveillance Flights

Mentioned

Airport Ambience, A whole day in 4K