Tag Archives: United Airlines

669 Daedalean Flight Control Software

Daedalean AI-based flight control software for pilot assist and eventual autonomous flight, a Boeing 737MAX flight report, and a travel report on a trip to Germany.

Guest

Dr. Luuk van Dijk

Dr. Luuk van Dijk is CEO and co-founder of Daedalean, a Zürich-based startup developing flight control software for autonomous flight. The eventual goal is to create an AI pilot that measurably outperforms human pilots. Currently, Daedalean is working with regulators, leading aerospace manufacturers, and major eVTOL companies to test and certify the first machine learning-based sensor systems for guidance, navigation, and flight control.

Daedalean has created a pilot assist system that uses optical cameras for visual positioning without GPS, visual traffic detection without transponders or radar, and visual landing guidance without ILS. The Avidyne PilotEye system using Daedalean technology was introduced on the first day of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2021.

Avidyne Uses Daedalean AI Software in New PilotEye Vision System

“Daedalean’s neural network functions by taking high-resolution video input extracted in real-time by high-resolution cameras and sends it through a Convolutional Neural Network, which determines whether the images captured by the cameras are part of cooperative or uncooperative traffic. The system can also be used to identify safe landing areas if the pilot encounters an emergency situation.”

Aviation Today

The Daedalean product roadmap outlines the progression From Advanced Pilot Assistance Systems to Single Pilot Operations to Full Autonomy.

Luuk holds a PhD in Physics (UvA, RuG) and previously held Senior Software Engineering positions at Google Zürich and SpaceX, where he worked on infrastructure, flight software, and machine learning projects, among others.

Daedalean flight control software
Daedalean flight control software

Brian’s Travel Experience

We have two travel experience reports for this episode. First. Brian Coleman talks with Micah about his recent 737MAX flight. Then we hear about Brian’s trip to Germany on United, where everything did not go according to Brian’s perfectly planned itinerary.

667 Savvy Aviation

Mike Busch, founder and CEO of Savvy Aviation, talks about aircraft maintenance. Also, calling up the Civil Reserve Air Fleet, United Airlines says no duct tape, and unhappy Southwest Airlines pilots.

Mike Busch is surrounded by fans after speaking at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2021.

Guest

Mike Busch is the founder and CEO of Savvy Aviation, which provides aircraft maintenance services for the owner-flown General Aviation industry. The company offers professional maintenance management and consulting, a nationwide 24/7 breakdown assistance service, engine monitor data analysis, and predictive analytics.

Mike is a well-known aviation writer, teacher, aviation type club tech rep, aircraft owner advocate, and entrepreneur. He assists aircraft owners with their maintenance problems through his lectures, articles, and books. Mike is a National Aviation Maintenance Technician of the Year and previously appeared as our guest in Episode 446.

Aviation News

Pentagon orders civilian airlines to assist in Afghanistan evacuation

The Pentagon activated the Civil Reserve Air Fleet allowing commercial airlines to assist with the Afghanistan evacuation. Eighteen aircraft will be provided by American Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta Air Lines, Omni Air, Hawaiian Airlines, and United Airlines. This is the third activation in the history of the program and the Department of Defense stressed that the commercial aircraft will not fly into Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. Instead, they will be used to move passengers from temporary safe havens and interim staging bases.

United Airlines Tells Crews Not To Duct-Tape Passengers

United Airlines has informed flight attendants they should not use duct tape to subdue poorly behaved passengers. In a recent memo, the airline asks flight attendants to de-escalate the situation where possible, use designated items onboard, consult United’s safety manual for guidance, and file an incident report.

Southwest Airlines pilots ready to picket over ‘frustration’ and ‘chaos’ of summer flying increase

The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association says working conditions this summer have been unfair and has authorized members to hold picketing demonstrations. Complaints include forced additional days of flying, lack of hotel accommodation and transportation, and reshuffled flight schedules.

Mentioned

Pierre Sprey, Pentagon analyst who battled brass to produce A-10 warplane, dies at 83

659 Jet Fighter Cockpit

We talk with a company that provides educational jet fighter cockpit experiences. In the news, Amazon Air adds turboprops to the fleet, Boeing 777X certification, a new 4K Ultra HD flight data recorder, Virgin Galactic approval for commercial passenger space flights, and exiting the aircraft after the door closes.

Launchpad Marzari in the cockpit.

Guest

Dewy Larson is the owner of DreamBIG Entertainment LLC, a company that gives you the opportunity to sit in the cockpit of a fighter jet. DreamBIG Entertainment travels exclusively within the United States, attending air shows, festivals, fairs, and other events. They share the history and the rare opportunity to experience fully restored A-7D Corsair II and F-18 Hornet cockpits.

The A-7 and F-18 Hornet cockpits tour the United States as a Mobile Interactive Aviation Museum. The DreamBIG experience runs from February to November and can be brought anywhere. For the latest schedule, visit the DreamBIG Entertainment LLC Facebook page.

Aviation News

Amazon Air set to add ATR turboprops to freighter fleet

Sources have told The Air Current that Amazon Air plans to add about 10 leased ATR 72-500 freighters to its fleet of Boeing aircraft. The company has a strategy to reach smaller communities with a one-day delivery service.

Citing a serious flight test incident and lack of design maturity, FAA slows Boeing 777X certification

Boeing is trying to certify the 777X but the FAA has informed the company that it has concerns and Boeing may have to increase the number of test flights planned. That pushes certification more than two years, probably too late 2023. FAA concerns include an “uncommanded pitch event” in a Dec. 8, 2020 test flight, a critical avionics system that does not meet requirements, and late hardware and software changes in the flight controls.

Appareo Announces 4K Ultra HD Flight Data Recorder with Cellular Data Offload

Appareo announced a new 4K ultra-high-definition AIRS-400 Airborne Image Recording System (AIRS), equipped for cellular data offload. The unit captures pilot intercom system audio, ambient audio, and detailed flight data. Using internal inertial measurement units, AIRS-400 captures WAAS GPS (altitude, latitude, longitude, ground speed, vertical speed), attitude data (pitch, roll, yaw), rates of rotation, and acceleration data (G forces) 

Airplane Geeks reporter-at-large Launchpad Marzari spoke with Chris Garberg, the president of Appareo Aviation.

FAA Approves Virgin Galactic For Commercial Passenger Spaceflights

With the upgraded space transportation operator license, Virgin Galactic could begin carrying paying passengers to space. It has been reported that Virgin Galactic currently has over 600 reservations for its planned commercial passenger space flights, with ticket prices running between $200,000 and $250,000. 

Man Injured After Jumping Out Of Airplane Taxiing At LAX

A United Express flight operated by SkyWest Airlines was leaving the gate but a passenger apparently felt compelled to exit the plane. He tried to get into the cockpit, then opened the emergency door, which deployed the slide, and out he went. Man injured after jumping out of airplane at LAX.

Mentioned

First a passenger drought. Now a water drought. Can California airports cope?

Drought Reveals 1960s Plane Crash In California Lake

Archer Adds Talent to their Team with over Twenty New Engineers from Aerion Corporation

656 World Championship Air Race

World Championship Air Race is coming in 2022 and we speak with the series race director. In the news, Aerion’s supersonic intentions falter while Boom Supersonic flourishes, the 2020 Robert J. Collier Trophy winner is announced, the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A turns 60, and an American Airlines diversion due to lack of water.

Guest

World Championship Air Race

Willie Cruickshank is Race Series Director for the World Championship Air Race (WCAR). Sanctioned by the FAI, the WCAR will consist of two series that run in parallel: GP1 contested by top-ranking teams, and GT contested by developing pilots. Willie explains how the series differs from similar races in the past, the teams and venues, and the aircraft that will compete. He also comments on how new propulsion technologies might be introduced. Racing is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2022.

Willie was an RAF fighter pilot for 26 years, retiring as a Group Captain. He went on to spend nine years as a display pilot with the UK-based Wildcat Aerobatics team before joining the Red Bull Air Race World Championship. As Head of Aviation and Sport for that Championship, he was responsible for all aspects of flying operations including flight safety, racecourse design, pilot training, and briefing. Now as a board director of WCAR, Willie oversees all operational aspects of the series.

Follow @TheAirRace on Twitter, visit the website at wcairrace.com, and subscribe to the World Championship Air Race YouTube Channel. Also, listen to the World Championship Air Race Podcast.

World Championship Air Race appoints CSM to support global partnership strategy

World Championship Air Race (WCAR) has agreed a three-year partnership with 2Excel Aviation

Aviation News

The dream of supersonic passenger flight hits turbulence

Aerion announced on May 21, 2021 that “in the current financial environment, it has proven hugely challenging to close on the scheduled and necessary large new capital requirements to finalize the transition of the AS2 into production.” The AS2 was to be a business jet carrying 8-12 passengers at 1,000 mph.

United Airlines will buy 15 ultrafast airplanes from start-up Boom Supersonic

United ordered 15 of the 88-PAX Overture, and has options for 35 additional planes. Boom CEO Blake Scholl Scholl said in a statement, “The world’s first purchase agreement for net-zero carbon supersonic aircraft marks a significant step toward our mission to create a more accessible world.” He told The Air Current that the estimated total investment required is $8B. Boom is planning test flights in 2026 and passenger service of the Mach 1.7 plane in 2029.

Garmin Autoland to Receive the 2020 Robert J. Collier Trophy [PDF]

The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) announced that Garmin Autoland has been named as the recipient of the 2020 Robert J. Collier Trophy for “… designing, developing, and fielding Garmin Autoland – the world’s first certified autonomous system that activates during an emergency to safely control and land an aircraft without human intervention.” The Collier Trophy is awarded annually for “… the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America, with respect to improving the performance, efficiency, and safety of air or space vehicles, the value of which has been thoroughly demonstrated by actual use during the preceding year.”

60th anniversary of the P&WC PT6A engine’s first flight

The Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC) PT6A is a turboprop engine used in many aircraft. It was produced in variants from 500 to 1,940 shp. First flight was May 30, 1961, from Toronto’s Downsview Airport in a twin-engine RCAF Beech 18 Expeditor 3T that had the PT6 attached to the nose. The engine entered service in 1964.

American Airlines Flight to London Diverts After Water Supply Drys Up

When flight attendants realised there was no running water aboard an American Airlines flight to London Heathrow, the Boeing 777-300 returned to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport an hour and a half after departure.

Mentioned

Spurwink Farm Pancake Breakfast and Fly-In, at Spurwink Farm in Cape Elizabeth, Maine on July 11, 2021.

International Vintage Sailplane Meet – July 10-17, 2021 at the National Soaring Museum.

EAA Chapter 141, Limington Harmon Airport, Maine. And while you’re there, stop by the Runway Restaurant located right at the entrance, 13 Airport Road, Limington, Maine.

Great Electric Airplane Race

647 Glass Cockpit

We explore the glass cockpit and the new book on the Garmin G3000 and G5000. In the news, the shape of the airline recovery, JetBlue scores London slots, Boeing gets a very large 737 MAX order, a special National Aviation Hall of Fame volunteer, an update on the Cessna SkyCourier, possible relief for Wichita aviation jobs, and a fun mod for Microsoft Flight Simulator.

Glass Cockpit

Glass Cockpit Handbook by Max Trescott.

Max Trescott’s G3000 and G5000 Glass Cockpit Handbook is a newly published resource for pilots flying with these Garmin flight decks for light turbine jets. The Garmin G3000 and G5000 are currently used in twenty-three aircraft models, with plans for adding more. Max describes glass cockpit hardware and software, and how the presentation of information differs from traditional cockpit gauges. We talk about reliability and lower maintenance considerations compared to steam gauges, weight advantages including paper document elimination, and the glass cockpit learning curve.

The G3000 and G5000 have nearly identical user interfaces, but the G3000 is designed for smaller and lighter Part 23 aircraft, while the G5000 is targeted to the Part 25 regulations which apply to larger aircraft, including the transport aircraft used by the airlines.

Besides being a host on this podcast, Max Trescott produces the Aviation News Talk podcast which focuses on General Aviation news, general tips for pilots, and technical details on glass cockpits and flying GPS approaches. The show features listener questions and occasional interviews. He’s the 2008 National CFI of the Year, and a Cirrus Platinum CSIP.

Aviation News

American Airlines Reports V-Shaped Recovery

American Airlines direct bookings are up 150-400% over 2020, and close to 2019 levels. Domestic load factors were 80% recently and all planes will be flying in May, 2021. Do leisure travelers believe the pandemic is over?

United unveils 26 new point-to-point routes from Midwest, East Coast

Since business travel isn’t indicating anything like a V-recovery, airlines want to capture the leisure travel recovery. The new United routes include “flights from Cleveland (CLE), Cincinnati (CVG), Columbus (CMH), Indianapolis (IND), Milwaukee (MKE), St. Louis (STL), and Pittsburgh (PIT) to a variety of coastal destinations, from Portland, Maine (PWM), to Pensacola, Florida (PNS).” These are point-to-point, non-stop routes that avoid hubs with service by the Bombardier CRJ550. The routes begin May 27, and will operate through Labor Day Weekend. See: With business travel lagging, Portland lands direct flights to cities around the U.S.

JetBlue Secures London Heathrow Slots for its Transatlantic Debut

JetBlue plans to launch transatlantic service this year with Airbus A321LR aircraft. In it’s summer 2021 schedule report, Airport Coordination Limited included allocated 270 slots to JetBlue for flights to and from London Heathrow (LHR) airport. 180 slots are for flights to New York-JFK and 90 slots for service to Boston. The slots phase in over time and expire on Oct. 30, 2021.

National Aviation Hall of Fame Volunteer Alice Griffin Turns 100

The National Aviation Hall of Fame (NAHF) in Dayton announced that volunteer Alice Griffin celebrated her 100th birthday on March 28, 2021. She was asked if she had any words of wisdom to share and replied, “Work hard, don’t take anything for granted, and give ten percent of your salary to charity.” The National Aviation Hall of Fame was founded in 1962 and is located adjacent to the National Museum of the United States Air Force.

The NAHF collaborated with the National Aeronautic Association for a series of aviation webinars in 2020, including:

Airports, Airlines and Airplanes: A Webinar  (May 28, 2020) with panelists Cirrus Aircraft co-founder and NAHF Enshrinee Dale Klapmeier, CVG Airport CEO and NAA Board Member Candace McGraw, Oliver Wyman Partner, and NAHF Trustee Geoff Murray, and United Airlines Executive and NAHF Chair Michael Quiello.

SPACE: Charting the next trajectory (Jun 25, 2020) Panelists included National Air and Space Musuem Director Ellen Stofan, NAHF Enshrinee and NAA Record holder Hoot Gibson, Blue Origin Director Business Development Brett Alexander, and former NASA Administrator and NAHF Enshrinee Charlie Bolden.

Aerobatics and Air Shows: Get your fix (Jul 24, 2020) Panelists included NAHF Enshrinee and Aerobatic Champion Patty Wagstaff, NAHF Candidate and Aerobatic pilot Julie Clark, IAC International judge and NAA Board Member Peggy Riedinger, and Aerobatic Pilot Vicki Benzig.

Sustainability and Innovation: Ensuring the future of aviation (Sep  10, 2020) Panelists included MagniX CEO and NAA Board Member Roei Ganzarski, Founder and CEO Bye Aerospace George Bye, President and CEO NBAA Ed Bolen, and President Environmental Affairs Airlines 4 America and NAA Board Member Nancy Young.

Cessna SkyCourier Begins Final Phase of Flight Testing

Textron Aviation is hoping to begin deliveries of the Cessna SkyCourier this year, however, the company first needs type-approval from the FAA. The certification flight test phase is underway. 

Production final assembly of the SkyCourier will start at the airframer’s east Wichita campus. Launch customer for the airplane is FedEx with 50 firm orders and 50 options.

New COVID relief bill could help bring back Wichita aviation jobs. Here’s how

The Aviation Manufacturing Jobs Protection Act was swept into the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, the COVID-19 relief package signed into law. It is a $3 billion public-private partnership where the federal government contributes 50% of the compensation for eligible employee groups, as long as the company commits to continuing employment of those workers. The funding is available until Sept. 30, 2023, but an employee group cannot receive the federal money for more than six months.

Here’s the stuck Suez cargo ship in Microsoft Flight Simulator

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 allows you to add things as modifications. YouTube and TikTok poster donut_enforcement has added the Ever Given cargo ship that has been stuck in the Suez Canal and completely shut down ship movement. 

Mentioned

This Cockpit View Of A C-17’s Wild Ride Through Star Wars Canyon Is Bonkers

The C-17 is a big, but incredibly nimble beast, as proven in this video of one making hard maneuvers while rocketing low through the Jedi Transition.

Video: C-17 Star Wars Canyon

Groundbreaking H3X Motor Brings Electric Aircraft One Step Closer To Reality

The startup H3X says it has developed a compact electric motor that develops more than 3 times the power and weighs less than most commercially available motors. 

Promotional video: The H3X electric motor: the power density of electric aircraft motors!

NASA Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Prepares for First Flight

Month of Ingenuity: Helicopter Flight Preview Webinar

In early April, 2021 the Mars Ingenuity helicopter will attempt the first-ever powered flight on Mars. Join this interactive webinar to hear team members describe how they will support the helicopter when it takes to the skies. Monday, April 5 at 10:30 a.m. PDT / 1:30 p.m. EDT

Support

You can support the Airplane Geeks podcast by making a donation.

643 Aeronautical Charts

We learn about aeronautical charts produced by the FAA’s Aeronautical Information Services team. In the news, the NTSB will decommission the TWA Flight 800 reconstruction, Collier Trophy finalists announced as are Flying Magazine Editors’ Choice Awards and FAA General Aviation Awards, Boeing fined by the FAA, United orders the Boeing 737 MAX, Delta plans to reactivate pilots, Icelandair flies to Antarctica and back.

Aeronautical chart

Guest

Katie Murphy is a Supervisory Aeronautical Information Specialist in the FAA’s Aeronautical Information Services Visual Charting Team. Katie has worked with both VFR and IFR charts for over 17 years and is a self-proclaimed “map geek.”

Aeronautical Information Services (AIS) is the authority for the development of aeronautical charts and services. They are also the authoritative government source for collecting, storing, maintaining, and disseminating aeronautical data for the U.S. and its territories.

The Interagency Air Committee (IAC) Specifications are used in the preparation of United States Government Charts and thus define what appears in aeronautical charts.
Changes can be proposed through the Aeronautical Charting Meeting. Use the Aeronautical Information Portal to submit data forms, make inquiries, and sign up for notifications.

Aviation News

NTSB’s TWA Flight 800 Reconstruction to be Decommissioned

The lease is expiring on the National Transportation Safety Board training facility and the NTSB plans to dispose of the TWA Flight 800 reconstruction. With advances such as 3-D scanning, the need for large-scale reconstruction in teaching investigative techniques is less relevant.

Seven aviation and space achievements to compete for the 2020 Robert J. Collier Trophy [PDF]

The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) announced the seven finalists competing for the prestigious 2020 Robert J. Collier Trophy:

The Collier Trophy Selection Committee will meet virtually in June and the winner will be announced publicly following the selection. The formal presentation of the Collier Trophy will take place when health and safety protocols allow.

Flying Announces Editors’ Choice Awards for 2021

These awards recognize collaboration in aviation innovation and one of these teams will be chosen to receive the Flying Innovation Award:

  • Autoland: Garmin Aviation + Piper Aircraft + Cirrus Aircraft + Daher
  • ThrustSense Autothrottle: Innovative Solutions & Support + Pilatus + Textron Aviation
  • Crewed Dragon Capsule to the International Space Station: NASA + SpaceX

Boeing, hit with $6.6 million FAA fine, faces much bigger 787 repair bill – sources

In 2015, Boeing paid a $12 million fine and pledged to implement and improve several certification processes to further enhance the airworthiness and continued compliance of all Boeing Commercial Aircraft products. The settlement agreement resolved multiple pending and potential enforcement cases.  

Press Release – Boeing Agrees to Pay $12 Million and Enhance its Compliance Systems to Settle Enforcement Cases (December 22, 2015)

Under the agreement, Boeing could face up to $24 million in additional penalties over the following five years if it failed to implement its obligations.

Press Release – Boeing to Pay $6.6 Million in Penalties to FAA (February 25, 2021)

Now, the FAA has assessed $5.4 million in deferred civil penalties against The Boeing Company for failing to meet its performance obligations under the 2015 settlement agreement. Boeing also agreed to pay $1.21 million to settle two pending FAA enforcement cases. 

FAA says, “Boeing missed some of its improvement targets, and …some company managers did not sufficiently prioritize compliance with FAA regulations.”

See: Delegated Organizations

United orders another 25 Boeing 737 MAX jets to prepare for recovery

United Airlines ordered 25 new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft for delivery in 2023. The company also accelerated the delivery of other aircraft in anticipation of post-pandemic demand growth.

Delta To Reactivate All Pilots By October

Expecting a strong recovery, Delta informed pilots it plans to return them to flying status by October, 2021.

Icelandair 767 flying between Iceland & Antarctica

The 20 year old Boeing 767-300 is currently flying between Iceland and Antarctica via South Africa. The 767 has a crew of 20 people, including six pilots, 13 flight attendants, and one mechanic. The roundtrip journey covers over 20,000 miles.

Mentioned

Australian Frontline Machinery will hold the March 2021 Aviation Auction, auctioning demilitarised aircraft and spare parts direct from the Australian Defence Force. See Can civilians buy ex-military aircraft? for more information.

Virtual aviation events:

Aircraft Cabin Air International Conference 2021, March 15 – March 18, 2021.

Creating the Future of Vertical Flight: A Sikorsky Innovations Perspective, March 25, 2021.

Video: UNITED 328 Engine Failure! WHAT CHECKLISTS did the pilots use? Explained by CAPTAIN JOE

642 Aircraft Line Maintenance

We examine aircraft line maintenance with a successful family-owned business. Also, two engine failures on commercial flights, testing single pilot aircraft with an eye toward future autonomous planes, a possible all new design for an F-16 replacement, and a mid-air wedding.

Guests

FEAM Maintenance/Engineering provides aircraft line maintenance engineering services for commercial aircraft operators through a wide network of line stations. They hold approvals for all current and next-generation aircraft, including B787 and A350 aircraft.

Fred Murphy is the founder and president of FEAM, the company that started in 1992 as Fred & Everett’s Aircraft Maintenance. Fred had a vision and he saw a niche for a 3rd party maintenance provider that could deliver high-quality maintenance at a reasonable cost. Now 29 years later FEAM has grown from zero to nearly $100 million in revenue projected for 2020.

Fred Murphy, founder and president, FEAM.

Prior to joining FEAM, Fred held various positions in maintenance/engineering departments at American Airlines, US Airways, FedEx and Trans World Airlines. Fred served in the US Air Force as a noncommissioned officer and holds an Associate Degree for Aircraft Maintenance Management. Fred also holds a Federal Aviation Administration airframe and powerplant license; Federal Communications Commission restricted radio operators license and a Federal Aviation Administration private pilot/ instrument rating.

Cam Murphy is the managing director of FEAM and is the second generation in his family business. Cam grew up in the business and his experiences include positions in almost every department, from janitorial services, stockroom clerk, to shadowing technicians on the flight line, and various management positions.

Cam Murphy, managing director, FEAM.

Cam joined the leadership ranks in 2010 with the vision of scaling the business. He and the team succeeded at that and what was once just two guys and a truck now employs about 1,100 technicians at 30 international airports. FEAM has maintenance certifications in the US as well as international certifications that include Korea, Singapore, Europe, Australia, Japan, and Bermuda.

Cam has an MBA in Aerospace and Defense, with a green belt certification for Lean Maintenance Repair and Overhaul from the University of Tennessee’s College of Business and Administration In 2017 Cam was awarded the Forbes 30 under 30 award, which recognizes 600 of the brightest young entrepreneurs, innovators and game changers in the US in 20 different industries.

Aviation News

United Flight Sheds Debris Over Colorado After Engine Failure

United Flight 328, a Boeing 777-200, experienced an engine failure shortly after taking off from Denver International Airport. Debris fell along the aircraft’s flight path. The plane returned to Denver. There were no injuries. United Airlines announced they will be grounding 24 Boeing 777 aircraft powered by Pratt & Whitney 4000 series engines, Japan’s Transport Ministry instructed Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways to ground the Boeing 777s in their fleet. The FAA issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive that would require immediate or stepped-up inspections of Boeing 777 airplanes equipped with these engines. Boeing recommends suspending operations of the 69 in-service and 59 in-storage 777s powered by Pratt & Whitney 4000-112 engines until the FAA identifies the appropriate inspection protocol.

Dutch probe shedding of 747 freighter engine parts over Maastricht

A Boeing 747-400 freighter taking off from Maastricht lost parts from one of its four engines. Two people were slightly injured, one went to the hospital. It appears to be a Longtail Aviation 747-400 converted freighter. The aircraft was originally delivered in 1991 to Singapore Airlines.

FedEx and Sikorsky quietly begin single-pilot tests for cargo airliners

An old ATR 42-300 turboprop owned by FedEx (N912FX) is undergoing trial flights around the Waterbury-Oxford airport in Connecticut. Autonomous and single-pilot technology for helicopters  and fixed wing aircraft is being tested.

Air Force Boss Wants Clean-Sheet Fighter That’s Less Advanced Than F-35 To Replace F-16

Some in the USAF are thinking about an F-16 replacement that could be an all-new fighter. If it goes forward, this would be a new “four-and-a-half-gen or fifth-gen-minus” fighter. The study would hopefully inform the Air Force’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget request.

Virgin Australia Hosts Mid-air Wedding on 737-8FE, VA841

The first mid-air wedding hosted by Virgin Australia took place on a flight from Melbourne to Sydney. The first kiss didn’t occur until after the 737 arrived at Sydney since the couple wore masks due to Covid protocols. “After five years of dating we wanted to elope, and thanks to Virgin Australia, we’ve done just that.” Passengers received a buttermilk biscuit wedding favour in the shape of a heart.

Mentioned

MRO Americas 2021, April 27-29, Orlando, Florida. #MROAM

2021 Aerospace Media Awards

Journalism & Aviation: A Complex Relationship, a webinar.

Podfest Expo

641 AOPA Events for 2021

The AOPA events planned for 2021, Bombardier ending Learjet production, United Airlines investment in eVTOL, VFR charts move to a 56-day production cycle, F-35A engine issues impact the demo team schedule, and a TSA agent saves the day for some confused passengers.

Guest

Chris Eads, AOPA Senior Director, Outreach and Events

Chris Eads is Senior Director, Outreach and Events for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). He’s a private pilot and an AOPA member since 2001. He began working for AOPA in 2013. Chris flies VFR all over the country both for fun and as a part of his role leading AOPA events and regional fly-ins.

We focus on AOPA’s thinking and plans for events late in 2021 and even into 2022. The organization has released plans for two 2021 Aviator Showcase events. Each showcase will be a single-day event designed to provide new product and aircraft information to pilots, aircraft owners, and prospective buyers.

Aviator Showcase at Manassas, Virginia
Aug. 27, 2021, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
At Manassas Regional Airport (KHEF), hosted by Chantilly Air Jet Center.

Aviator Showcase at Fort Worth, Texas
Oct. 1, 2021, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
At Fort Worth Alliance Airport (KAFW), hosted by Alliance Aviation Services.

These events will be one-day gatherings in an exhibit hall, with an aircraft sales display and technology-related seminars. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet with industry leaders in avionics and cockpit technology, flight planning, weather resources, aircraft manufacturing, and more.

To be sure AOPA is in alignment with current CDC guidelines at the time of the event, registration will open approximately 12 weeks prior to each event. Attendance will be limited according to CDC restrictions, and advance registration is required.

In addition to the two Showcases, AOPA is considering “pilot gathering air tours” for when the pandemic clears sufficiently. These would be similar to a barnstormer’s tour and include social functions, unlike the Aviator Showcase events.

Aviation News

Learjet, once the go-to private plane for celebrities, is ending production

Learjet, owned by Bombardier, will stop production later this year. Bombardier said it will concentrate on the Challenger and Global aircraft, which are more profitable. The company was started in 1962 by Bill Lear, with the first entry-into-service in 1963. The company was purchased by Bombardier in 1990.

Archer Aviation gets a $1 billion order from United Airlines, on the same day it announces a deal to go public

Archer Aviation Inc. announced that United placed an order valued at $1 billion for all-electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOL). United has an option to buy an additional $500 million worth of aircraft. Archer also announced its merger with Atlas Crest Investment Corp. which takes the company public and allows the public to invest in the urban air mobility (UAM) market. United Airlines plans to have a role in the UAM market with “last mile” transportation between airports and urban destinations using low-emission eVTOL aircraft.

VFR charts to go on 56-day publication cycle in 2021

The 56-Day Visual Charts notice [PDF] was published January 15, 2021 and takes effect February 25, 2021. In shortening the update cycle for VFR charts to match the dates on IFR charts, the FAA will now be updating all charts every 56 days.

F-35 Demo Team Forced To Cut Airshow Appearances Due To Fleet-Wide Engine Issues

Turbine blades in the Pratt & Whitney F135-PW-100 engine powering the F-35 are experiencing shorter than expected life. Some F-35As have been running close to design limits which is causing premature cracks in the turbine blade coatings. While not a flight safety issue, it is causing unscheduled engine removals. The depot system is apparently already backlogged, so this extra workload is adding to that problem. This impacts the available engine supply so the Air Force F-35 demonstration team is scaling back the number of air show appearances by about a third.

Wrong Portland: TSA officer helps family fly to correct coast

A family of three Spanish-speaking passengers landed in the wrong Portland airport – Oregon, not Maine. They were about 2,500 miles from where they wanted to be. A TSA agent escorted the family to a ticket agent, and learned the family only had $200. The agent personally provided the additional money that allowed them to book a flight to their correct destination.

Mentioned

Check Out These Stunning Images Of The Super Bowl’s Bomber Trio Flyover

Here’s why Army helicopters have Native American names

FAA Files Reveal a Surprising Threat to Airline Safety: the U.S. Military’s GPS Tests

Gerbino Flight Systems: Innovations in Flight

Gerbino rotorcraft by listener Harold.

632 Flight Training with Jason Miller

Guest Jason Miller produces flight training videos, a critically acclaimed podcast (The Finer Points), and now the Ground School flight training app. In the news, legend Chuck Yeager dies at 97, flight training restrictions due to Covid-19 and airline plans to transport vaccines, insurance rates for pilots, Designated Pilot Examiners, and a hydrogen fuel cell-powered research aircraft.

Guest

Jason Miller

Jason Miller is an award-winning CFI with more than 20 years of experience. He is the founder of the original flight training podcast, The Finer Points, and is the host of the fastest growing flight training channel on YouTube. He’s passionate about developing products that make a difference for real pilots in the real world and can be found online at learnthefinerpoints.com.

Video: Ground School Tour.

Aviation News

Yeager Leaves a Legacy of Speed

On December 7, 2020, Charles E. Yeager died of natural causes, at age 97. Besides breaking the sound barrier on October 14, 1947 in the Bell X-1, Yeager tested the YF-100 prototype of the F-100A, evaluated a Russian MiG 15 that had fallen into American hands, and on December 12, 1953, took the Bell X-1A to Mach 2.44 where he encountered “inertia coupling” at 76,000 feet. His skills were evident as he regained control at 25,000 feet.

Flight School Association of North America (FSANA)

FSANA says they are getting some reports of flight training restrictions and limitations that would limit in-person flight training. For example, Michigan has terminated all in-person collegiate instruction for at least a 3-week period. FSANA is also hearing concerns about crossing state boundaries for flight training and being subject to “return quarantines” due to state restrictions.

Potential insurance relief on the horizon for older pilots?

Many AOPA members are complaining that their premiums are spiking, coverages are being limited, and restrictions to just get covered are sometimes harsh—often with little to no explanation. “Not a day goes by that I don’t get a call about insurance rates,” says AOPA President Mark Baker. ow, AOPA’s strategic insurance partner AssuredPartners Aerospace, has teamed with an aviation insurer that will explore options for pilots up to age 79. This insurer will also offer potential coverage options for younger and newer pilots.

Flight School Association of North America (FSANA)

Although airman certification in the United States is conducted by the FAA, most of the actual certification of pilots is done by Designated Pilot Examiners (DPEs). They are certified as instructors, administer practical tests for airmen, and charge for their services. DPE’s serve at the pleasure of the FAA, meaning the FAA can revoke the privilege at any time, with or without need for cause. Recently, there have been two terminations of DPEs that have been reported in the press. FSANA is interested in the review process and termination, and/or appeal of such a termination process. Perhaps some additional transparency is needed.

Airlines Gear Up to Transport Vaccines That Could Revive Travel

US Airlines have been planning the distribution of Covid vaccine for months in anticipation of a huge demand for transport capacity. Airlines even are preparing to run vaccine-only flights. United says a single 777 can carry up to one million doses. Some vaccines need extreme cooling with dry ice – carbon dioxide – which is regulated by the FAA. United conducted some tests and asked the FAA to raise the limit so it could fly the Pfizer vaccine from Brussels to Chicago. The agency agreed, allowing the airline to carry up to 15,000 pounds of dry ice aboard a Boeing 777-224, compared with the previous limit of 3,000 pounds. See FAA Advisory Circular Re: Transporting Dry Ice [PDF].

Hydrogen-Powered HY4 Rolled Out

The HY4 research aircraft was shown by a consortium of European companies and organizations. Details are scarce, but the twin-boom HY4 looks like it is based on the Pipistrel Aircraft Taurus G4. The Taurus utilizes two electric gliders joined by a center section wing with an electric motor. The HY4 hydrogen drive uses a fuel cell powering a 160-HP electric motor. With a top speed of 108 knots, range is claimed to be up to 900 miles. Test flights began last month and more than 30 takeoffs and flights of up to two hours have been completed. See the HY4 website.

HY4 – 2020 6th Generation, courtesy H2FLY.

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