Dr. Geoffrey Bower, the Chief Engineer at Archer Aviation, discusses eVTOL aircraft for the urban air mobility industry. In the news, bad behavior can get your frequent flyer account deleted, more 737 MAX woes, the Airbus A380 is fading for many airlines, LCC Avelo Airlines starts operation, the Aviation Safety Reporting System is extended to drone operators, and a story of missing luggage.
Dr. Geoffrey Bower is the Chief Engineer at Archer Aviation, a California-based startup in the emerging Urban Air Mobility (UAM) industry. The company is developing an all-electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft with a mission to advance the benefits of sustainable air mobility.
Geoff describes why UAM is receiving so much attention and why so many companies are involved. We look at the different eVTOL missions and design approaches, and the factors that affect efficiency and the cost of the aircraft. Geoff helps us understand crewed vs. autonomous eVTOL aircraft, and what is limiting the number of passengers they will carry. Pilot type ratings and the GAMA Simplified Vehicle Operations concept are also covered.
Infrastructure requirements are key to UAM success, as are regulator support and managing public acceptance, particularly with respect to noise footprint and affordability. Geoff talks about Archer Aviation eVTOL development and testing, and their timeline for first flight of a demonstrator aircraft.
Geoff has nearly 10 years of industry experience working on eVTOL aircraft. He started his career working on flight control system development and aerodynamic modeling at Zee.Aero. From 2016 through 2019 he was Chief Engineer for Project Vahana at A3, the Silicon Valley innovation center of Airbus. He led the engineering team that designed, built, and completed a successful flight test campaign of the Vahana Alpha demonstrator.
Geoff received a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a M.S. and Ph.D. in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Stanford University.
The FAA is cracking down on unruly passengers, and so is Delta. After an update to the airline’s SkyMiles program terms and conditions, “documented abusive behavior” is now grounds for termination of the offender’s frequent flyer account. Even being banned from flying on Delta is possible. Delta says examples of abusive behavior include personal threats, profanity, obscene language, insults or slurs directed to a Delta employee or ambassador. It also covers any intentional destruction to Delta property.
Last month, Boeing asked 16 customers to temporarily ground 737 MAX airplanes due to an electrical grounding problem on some specific tail numbers. Boeing said this manufacturing issue was unrelated to the MCAS problem and “could affect the operation of a backup power control unit.” The problem arises from a manufacturing process change. Now the FAA wants to see more analysis that shows this electrical problem does not affect other subsystems.
The FAA issued an Airworthiness Directive to check a pressure transducer for possible corrosion in Boeing 737 MAX CFM LEAP-1B engines after long-term storage. “The checks must be completed before each flight during the first 15h of power being applied to engines following prolonged storage.”
The FAA says a “manufacturing quality escape” affecting high pressure turbine cases could cause uncontained engine failures. “Several x-rays of the bleed ports of the HPT case showed 148 parts with nonconforming indications, eight of which were significant enough to impact the life of the HPT case.”
The A380 was a great idea at the time, motivated by high passenger volume and low airport capacity. But those conditions have changed. Air France, Etihad, Lufthansa, Qatar, and Thai have grounded some or all of their A380s. Malaysia Airlines is about to join that list, with the carrier’s half-dozen A380s unlikely to fly passengers again.
Avelo Airlines is an ultra-LCC targeting smaller, under-served airports with 189-seat Boeing 737-800 aircraft. They charge $10 to check a bag, no change fees, and “everyday low fares starting at $19.”
America’s newest airline, known for its $19 flights, is spending $1.2 million to bring its cheap trips to the East Coast
Avelo Airlines is planning a a new base in New Haven, Connecticut at Tweed-New Haven Regional Airport. Routes have not yet been announced.
The Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) is operated by NASA to collect confidential information from pilots and others about near misses. The data is used by the FAA to make aviation safer. Confidentiality is maintained to maximize the number of incidents reported. The Aviation Safety Reporting Program (ASRP) for UAS is now available for the UAS community.
Reports were received that an airplane departed Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport with an unsecured luggage compartment. It seems the compartment opened in flight and some luggage may have fallen out. The CRJ-700 returned to the airport without incident and passengers took another airplane to the flight destination, Chicago. One customer reported a missing bag. American Airlines says they are investigating.
This April, 2021 report on the electric aircraft market pegs it at $30 billion where eVTOL accounts for 48%, eCTOL (electric conventional take off and land) under 20PAX at 32%, and eCTOL for 20-100PAX at 20%.
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