Brian Coleman joins us to talk about 737 MAX order cancellations, airlines flying cargo, flight cancellations and ghost flights, and furloughs. Also, the Stratolaunch might have a new life as a carrier for hypersonic test aircraft, some positive airline stories, fun aviation things to do at home including training being offered without cost, some interviews, stories, and an electric fold-up scooter that you can take on your plane.
Leasing company Avolon has canceled orders for 75 737 MAXs and four A330neos. They deferred delivery for 16 737 MAX planes and 9 other narrowbody aircraft to 2024 or later. Others may cancel as well and take advantage of material adverse change clauses that activate if Boeing cannot deliver within one year of the agreed date. This type of clause could allow customers to cancel and avoid penalties.
In order to utilize their aircraft and generate revenue, Southwest is offering its planes for rent to logistics companies and other shippers for dedicated cargo charters.
Atlas Air is taking at least one 747 freighter out of storage and China Eastern has taken most economy cabin seats out of two A330s. Cathay Pacific, United Airlines, Qatar Airways, and American Airlines are using passenger aircraft for scheduled cargo service.
Freight forwarders are saying the rates for medical supplies are shooting up. While general cargo is being shipped for $7-$8 per kg, medical supplies command $13 per kg. One forwarder said: “General freight is being offloaded, but there is a huge surcharge for medical goods. It’s absolutely disgusting and immoral. And all require a pre-payment. It is taking about 10 days to move masks, and some have been sub-standard.”
United Airlines is going from 139 daily flights serving 62 destinations from its Newark hub to 15 daily flights serving nine destinations. At LaGuardia, UA is going from 18 daily flights to four destinations to two daily flights serving one destination.
The Dallas Business Journal reports that Southwest Airlines flew 56 ghost flights in one week with no passengers. Three reasons were given:
- Air travel is deemed critical infrastructure to move around key personnel and cargo.
- Government aid offered to airlines implies the continuation of service.
- The logistical challenges of restarting an airline.
A GE spokesperson said, “Due to the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on the commercial aviation industry, GE Aviation is implementing a temporary reduction in commercial engine assembly and some component manufacturing operations for up to four weeks.”
The Stratolaunch twin-fuselage, 6 engine airplane only flew once, in April 2019. It was the idea of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen to launch orbital rockets, initially from SpaceX, then Orbital ATK, and finally the company’s own rockets. Stratolaunch ceased operations after Allen’s death, but the company has been re-hiring employees and announced a new business plan: building and operating hypersonic testbeds. Specifically, the Talon-A reusable vehicle capable of reaching Mach 6.
Positive Airline Stories
United Airlines is providing free round-trip flights for medical volunteers who want to help fight against the COVID-19 crisis. “Those interested in volunteering or learning more about the program can visit the New York City Health’s website here.”
Thirty laid-off Scandinavian Airlines employees started training to learn basic skills to assist in nursing homes and hospitals.
Woman gets VIP treatment from American Airlines flight attendants because she is the ONLY passenger on the plane
The cabin crew was exceptionally kind to the woman who was traveling to get to her mother in hospice.
What to do at Home
Listener Abhishek enjoys making paper planes as an evening hobby. Find some inspiration at these sites:
King Schools is offering the Using LAANC to Fly Drones in Controlled Airspace course for free. Additional drone test prep courses include the Drone Pilot License Test Prep which prepares you for your FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate exam, and the Drone Pilot License Recurrent Test Prep Course helps you prepare for the exam to renew your certificate.
The Drone Trainer is offering drone courses for free in April 2020. There is a real estate drone course, as well as a drone mapping course, that are regularly $199 each.
Listener Mike suggests a book where fiction meets today’s reality: The Dog Stars.
Listener Glen sent audio feedback about what he is doing while on lockdown in New Zealand.
Launchpad Marzari kicks off a competition to find the worst aviation movie.
Our Main(e) Man Micah visited Portland International Jetport and spoke with:
- Leah Marie and Luna, the Goldendoodle airport ambassador at PWM
- Zack Briggs, PWM customer experience manager
- Paul Bradbury, PWM executive director
Italy Unfiltered is located in Siena, a beautiful part of the Tuscany region of Italy. They normally offer private tours to small family winemakers focusing on Chianti and Brunello. They also offer food and olive oil tours throughout the year. However, with the region’s current situation there are no tourists traveling to Italy and no one to buy their wines. To help out there local producers, they are offering special cellar door prices to make room for this year’s harvest.