794 SouthWings Environmental Flights

The SouthWings volunteer pilot organization uses aircraft for environmental monitoring and survey flights. In the news, the best-selling piston aircraft in 2023, student pilot statistics, around the world in a LearJet, an additional Las Vegas airport, skipping security at airports, failure to disclose flight deck features, and a Spirit Airlines order deferral.

Guests

SouthWings is a volunteer pilot organization that flies conservation groups, community groups, the media, and decision-makers on environmental monitoring and survey flights, as well as flights of persuasion, and media flights.

Volunteer pilots donate their aircraft, time, and money to fulfill the 130-150 flight requests received annually. The aerial perspective and photographs that these groups and individuals capture help to tell the story to those on the ground. 

SouthWings is a member of the Air Care Alliance, a nonprofit public service organization representing a nationwide network of volunteer pilot groups that are putting charitable aviation to use to meet all sorts of needs throughout this country. 

Chelsea Easter, SouthWings Director of Operations and Volunteer Pilot Engagement.

Chelsea Easter is SouthWings’ Director of Operations and Volunteer Pilot Engagement. A 2012 graduate of Auburn University, Chelsea began working in the fields of mental health and education, and then took a look into the nonprofit world and was introduced to SouthWings where, for the past four years now, she has been recruiting, onboarding, and working closely with their volunteer pilots.

Landon Thorne, SouthWings volunteer pilot and board member.

Landon Thorne is a SouthWings volunteer pilot who also serves on SouthWings’ board. Landon has been flying since his teens. He has a long career in private equity and venture capital investing, and he served as an officer in the United States Marine Corps Reserve, retiring in 2002 with the rank of Colonel. During his military career and many active duty deployments, he served in Vietnam, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. In Vietnam, he flew 163 missions as a back-seater in the Cessna O-1 Bird Dog and vowed that he would eventually own one of those wonderful airplanes. Today he flies N68VN, his fully restored Bird Dog painted in the colors of Marine Observation Squadron 6.

Video: SouthWings Overview

SouthWings 2023 Program Report

Landon Thorne's Cessna O-1 Bird Dog in the hangar.
Landon Thorne’s Cessna O-1 Bird Dog

Aviation News

10 best-selling piston airplanes in 2023

In 2023, piston airplane shipments increased 11.8% to 1,682 worldwide. Cirrus figures prominently in the top ten. See the 2023 General Aviation Aircraft Shipment Report [PDF] from the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.

More pilots in 2023

The FAA U.S. Civil Airmen Statistics shows that 69,503 student pilot certificates were issued in 2023, a 24% increase over 2022. The U.S. Civil Airmen Statistics is an annual study published for the benefit of the FAA, other government agencies, and industry. It contains detailed airmen statistics not published in other FAA reports. Statistics about airmen, both pilot and nonpilot, are obtained from the official airmen certification records maintained by the FAA. An active airman is defined as one who holds both an airmen certificate and a valid medical certificate. Active Civil Airmen Statistics are currently available in spreadsheet form for 2018 to 2023.

Learjet 36A Crew Departs Wichita For Record Round-The-World Flight

Four pilots and one observer departed on April 3, 2024, for a 60-hour, 11-stop, record-setting flight around the world. The “Century Mission” commemorates the first around-the-world flight 100 years ago. The flight is a fundraiser for the restoration of an historic 1964 Lear Jet Model 23, Serial 23-003 owned by the Classic Lear Jet Foundation. That was the first Lear Jet delivered to a customer.

Plans for new Las Vegas airport no longer up in the air

In the 1990s, a second airport serving Las Vegas, Nevada was considered. Sixteen candidate sites were considered. Now the Southern Nevada Supplemental Airport project is finally moving ahead into the environmental phase. The Clark County Department of Aviation (CCDOA) plans to go before the Clark County Commission to award bids for project contracts. Project completion is planned for 2037.

Hundreds of people bypassed parts of airport security in last year

The Transportation Security Administration says that since March 2023, there have been at least 300 instances of people bypassing parts of airport security. The TSA says these aren’t full security breaches – passengers who bypassed some checks went through others or were stopped. Since March 2023, 200 people bypassed “exit lanes” often marked with “no reentry” signs, and 80 people evaded the travel document checker.

Duckworth wants FAA to review Boeing’s failure to disclose flight deck features

Senator Tammy Duckworth feels there is a pattern of Boeing not disclosing 737 Max flight deck features to pilots. A recent example is the design of the cockpit door which opens automatically during rapid depressurization. Duckworth wrote in a letter to the FAA “Boeing’s failure to disclose this feature is chilling given its history of concealing 737 MAX information from pilots.”

Spirit Airlines to defer Airbus deliveries, furlough 260 pilots to save cash

To conserve cash, Spirit Airlines plans to furlough about 260 pilots starting September 1, 2024. Additionally, Airbus has agreed to delay aircraft deliveries scheduled from the second quarter of 2025 through 2026 to 2030-2031. Spirit says the aircraft pushout has a positive $340 million liquidity impact over the next two years. Deliveries scheduled for 2027-2029 are unchanged.

Flight Team Internship

This California Science Center project exposes disadvantaged students to the many possible careers in aviation. The project needs support from aviation companies.

Mentioned

Mach Speed: From Mach 1 To Mach 3 Speed and Beyond

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, Max Trescott, Rob Mark, and David Vanderhoof.

793 Hypersonic Flight

Stratolaunch’s Talon A2 hypersonic vehicle, China’s C929 widebody passenger jet, Air Force One pilfering, Gulfstream G700 certification, Spirit Airlines’ credit boost, pilot disclosure of therapy sessions, United Airlines excess pilot capacity, and Frontier Airlines’ April Fool’s Day prank.

Aviation News

Stratolaunch Unveils Talon-A 2, Its Fully Recoverable And Reusable Hypersonic Vehicle

Stratolaunch Talon-A hypersonic test vehicle.
Talon-A hypersonic demonstrator, courtesy Stratolaunch.

Stratolaunch was formed in 2011 by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and Scaled Composites founder Burt Rutan to create an air-launched space transportation system. Scaled Composites built the Stratolaunch six-engine twin-fuselage carrier aircraft (“Roc”). A payload launch vehicle carried under the plane was to be released at high altitude and then flown into space. Paul Allen passed away in 2018 and the company was acquired in 2019 by Cerberus Capital Management.

Stratolaunch is working to advance hypersonic technology with the Talon-A, “an autonomous, reusable testbed.” The TA-1 flew on March 9, 2024, after it was released from the Stratolaunch, not quite reaching hypersonic speed. Now Stratolaunch has shown photos of the TA-2, designed to land at Vandenberg Space Force Base and be reused.

"Roc" in flight, courtesy Stratolaunch.
“Roc,” courtesy Stratolaunch

China’s home-grown C929 widebody passenger jet enters ‘crucial’ development stage amid Beijing’s aviation push

China’s commercial passenger aircraft strategy follows a path from the ARJ21 regional jet, to the C919 narrowbody, to the C929 widebody. The Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) marketing director said of the C929 that it’s in “a crucial stage in the development process” and that “the overall technical scheme of the aircraft has been determined.” Originally, COMAC was partnered with the Russian United Aircraft Corporation to build what was called the CR929. But Russia seems to have dropped out of the program.

The real D.C. crime wave

The press corps flying on Air Force One is leaving with more than they came with. Anything with the Air Force One insignia on it is being carried out. The plane can accommodate up to 76 passengers along with a crew of 26.

Gulfstream G700 Earns FAA Certification

The G700 is the largest business jet Gulfstream has made, and the fastest one it has ever certified. Compared to the G650, the G700 is 10 feet (3.0 m) longer with a top speed increased to Mach 0.935. It’s powered by improved Rolls-Royce Pearl 700 engines. Aerotime reports that Gulfstream expects to deliver some 50 G700s and a total of 160 jets across all types in 2024.

Spirit Airlines gets credit from International Aero Engines that will boost liquidity between $150 million and $200 million

Unscheduled engine removals and inspections for certain Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan engines are required in light of the contaminated powder metal problem. With its A320neo aircraft, Spirit Airlines is the largest operator of that engine in the U.S. Taking aircraft out of service has a financial impact. A deal has been struck where Spirit will get compensation via a monthly credit through the end of 2024. The airline says this will boost liquidity by between $150 million and $200 million.

Panel says FAA should end mandate pilots disclose talk therapy sessions

The FAA appointed an expert panel of aviation associations, pilot and air traffic controller organizations, academia, and medical professionals. They recommended that the FAA discontinue the requirement for airline pilots and air traffic controllers to disclose talk therapy sessions, saying “The FAA should develop a non-punitive pathway for reporting previously undisclosed mental health conditions, treatments, or medications.” The FAA is reviewing the recommendations.

United Airlines is asking pilots to take time off in May because of a shortage of new Boeing planes

United Airlines is experiencing new plane delivery delays and is asking pilots to volunteer to take time off in May. Fewer deliveries mean fewer flight hours which leads to overstaffing. In a note to pilots, United said it expects to make similar requests during the summer and possibly into the autumn. The Air Line Pilots Association said United is offering short-term leaves and unpaid time off, but they are not mandatory.

Frontier Airlines to Add Wide-Body Aircraft to its Fleet Starting in June; Route from New York-JFK to Bora Bora Will Kick Off the Ultra-Low Cost Carrier’s New Long-Haul Service Offering

The airline will add the aircraft to its fleet beginning in June 2024. The new planes will feature lie-flat seating, a chef-curated inflight menu, and free Wi-Fi for all passengers. Two weekly flights will depart from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York (JFK) to Mote Mute Airport in Bora Bora, French Polynesia (BOB) beginning June 1, 2024. On April 1, Frontier offered a one-day-only fare sale with flights to Bora Bora for $1.

Wait, what?? OK…

“April Fool’s! We aren’t really going to add wide-body aircraft to our fleet, or lie-flat seating, or a chef-curated menu, or free Wi-Fi, or fly to Bora Bora. However, we are offering a one-day-only fare sale featuring flights for as low as $38, inclusive of taxes, fees and charges, on all international destinations Frontier serves, to places like Cancun, Montego Bay, Punta Cana, Los Cabos, Puerta Vallarta, St. Maarten, St. Croix, and more!”

Video: Frontier Airlines Auditions: Part 1

Mentioned

See Where Top Aviation Universities Rank – Flying Magazine August 2022

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, Max Trescott, David Vanderhoof, and our Main(e) Man Micah.

792 Boom Supersonic XB-1 Demonstrator

The milestone reached by Boom Supersonic with their XB-1 demonstrator and the recent leadership changes at Boeing, including the resignation of CEO Dave Calhoun. Also, the FBI contacted the passengers of Alaska Airlines Flight 1282, quality issues with Boeing MAX jets, FAA oversight of United Airlines, engine issues with Pratt & Whitney, and the farewell tour of the A-10 demonstration team.

Aviation News

Boom Announces Successful Flight of XB-1 Demonstrator Aircraft

The XB-1 supersonic jet demonstrator flew from the Mojave Air and Space Port. Boom Supersonic calls it the world’s first independently developed supersonic jet. The XB-1 incorporates carbon fiber composites, advanced avionics, digitally-optimized aerodynamics, and an advanced supersonic propulsion system. Boom said the “XB-1 met all of its test objectives, including safely and successfully achieving an altitude of 7,120 feet and speeds up to 238 knots (273 mph). While XB-1 was in the air, the team performed an initial assessment of the aircraft’s handling qualities, including airspeed checks with the T-38 chase aircraft, and assessing the aircraft’s stability in the landing attitude (at a high angle of attack).”

Boom’s supersonic airliner Overture “…will carry 64-80 passengers at Mach 1.7, about twice the speed of today’s subsonic airliners. Overture is designed to run on up to 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).”

Video: Full Video: XB-1 Takes Flight

Boeing C.E.O. to Step Down in Major Reshuffle at Embattled Plane Maker

Boeing announced leadership changes:

  • CEO Dave Calhoun leaves at the end of 2024
  • Stan Deal, the head of Boeing commercial planes left immediately
  • Stephanie Pope, Boeing’s COO, replaces Stan Deal.
  • Board Chairman Larry Kellner will not stand for re-election.
  • Steve Mollenkopf was elected by the board to be the new chairman. He’s an electrical engineer by training and the former chief executive of Qualcomm.
  • The Board will choose the next Boeing chief executive.

Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 passengers receive FBI letter identifying them as the victims of a possible crime

Attorney Mark Lindquist represents passengers who were on Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 when the door plug blew out. He shared a letter from the FBI’s Seattle division under the Justice Department that he says was received by the passengers he represents. The letter says “I’m contacting you because we have identified you as a possible victim of a crime.”

Boeing Charged with 737 Max Fraud Conspiracy and Agrees to Pay over $2.5 Billion

The DOJ press release from 2021 describes the conditions of the Boeing deferred prosecution agreement. In part:

“The Boeing Company (Boeing) has entered into an agreement with the Department of Justice to resolve a criminal charge related to a conspiracy to defraud the Federal Aviation Administration’s Aircraft Evaluation Group (FAA AEG) in connection with the FAA AEG’s evaluation of Boeing’s 737 MAX airplane.”

“The tragic crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 exposed fraudulent and deceptive conduct by employees of one of the world’s leading commercial airplane manufacturers…”

“Boeing’s employees chose the path of profit over candor by concealing material information from the FAA concerning the operation of its 737 Max airplane and engaging in an effort to cover up their deception. This resolution holds Boeing accountable for its employees’ criminal misconduct, addresses the financial impact to Boeing’s airline customers, and hopefully provides some measure of compensation to the crash-victims’ families and beneficiaries.”

FAA wants inspections of Boeing Max planes for wiring flaws that could lead to ‘loss of control’

A recent FAA proposed airworthiness directive would require the inspection of about 207 737 Max airplane wings for wiring damage within three years. The Agency says an “unsafe condition” could result in a “loss of control” of certain Boeing 737 Max jets due to the “nonconforming” installation of spoiler control wires.

FAA to increase oversight of United Airlines after recent issues

Oversight of United Airlines by the FAA is increasing after recent incidents. The airlines vice president of corporate safety, Sasha Johnson said in a memo to employees that the “number of safety-related events in recent weeks have rightfully caused us to pause and evaluate whether there is anything we can and should do differently.”

The FAA will review some work processes, manuals, and facilities. Johnson said, “We welcome their engagement and are very open to hear from them about what they find and their perspective on things we may need to change to make us even safer.”

FAA responds to PW1100G ‘misaligned’ vane issue that caused a 2022 failure

Photo of a "blisk" by Olivier Cleynen - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30317852
A “blisk.” Image by Olivier Cleynen.

In 2022, the low-pressure compressor first-stage integrally bladed rotor (or “blisk”) in an Airbus A320neo engine failed, resulting in an engine shutdown. In a proposed rule, the FAA wants to require that airlines replace the rotor. Pratt & Whitney says “The [proposal] relates to a known issue that affected a limited number of engines and is unrelated to powder metal. The improved hardware has been deploying to the fleet over the past two years through previously released service bulletins.”

According to the FAA, a “misaligned” inlet guide vane ahead of the low-pressure compressor resulted in “aerodynamic excitement,” which caused the rotor to fail.

Improvements made by Pratt & Whitney include redesigns of the arm assembly and the first-stage integrally bladed rotor.

Why You’ve Never Been in a Plane Crash

Subtitle: The United States leads the world in airline safety. That’s because of the way we assign blame when accidents do happen.

Understanding the Boeing Mess

Mentioned

A-10 Demo Team Announces Its Final Year As The Warthog’s End Draws Near

A-10 Demo Team

Great Electric Airplane Race Preview

The Air Show podcast.

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, Max Trescott, Rob Mark, David Vanderhoof, and our Main(e) Man Micah.

791 U.S. Space Force

We learn about the U.S. Space Force with this week’s guest. In the news, aviation groups are unhappy with new tax proposals, a probable cause for the LATAM B787 sudden dive, results from the recent FAA production audit at Boeing, the NTSB plans a hearing on the 737-9 MAX door plug blowout, and JetBlue is getting an unfavorable response after a couple didn’t get what they paid for.

Guest

Colonel Erin Dick, standing.

Colonel Erin Dick currently serves in both civilian and military roles. On the civilian side, she is the Director of Public Affairs for the RAND Corporation. This non-profit, non-partisan research organization helps improve public policy through research and analysis. Her military position is IMA to the Director of Public Affairs, U.S. Forces Japan.

Erin’s previous military assignments were with the Space Training and Readiness Command (Space Force) and the US Space Command (Joint Combatant Command). She is a communications and public affairs executive with over 26 years of experience including leadership positions with multiple Fortune 100 aerospace/defense and engineering/architecture firms.

While Erin is not currently in the U.S. Space Force and did not speak to us as a representative of the Space Force, she provides valuable insights that help us understand the organization, its mission, people, and training.

Erin explains that space has become a contested domain and the Space Force was created to address the resulting challenges. The Space Force was formed by pulling resources from all the services and only includes three career fields: satellite operations, cyber, and space intel.

Seal of the US Space Force

Erin helps us understand the challenges of public perception faced by the service and provides her insights on the future of the Space Force and the importance of partnerships with industry and academia.

On a personal level, Erin shares her background in aviation, including her experience as a private pilot. She tells of joining the CV-22 squadron and reflects on her involvement in crisis communication following the recent tragic CV-22 crash.

A Colonel in the US Air Force Reserve, Erin has served for 26 years. As an Individual Mobilization Augmentee (IMA) in the Air Force, Erin has some unique responsibilities being directly assigned to an active duty unit and stepping in when needed. She has an MA in Strategic Public Relations from George Washington University and a BA in English from Texas A&M University.

New Commands, Ranks, and More: Big Changes for Air Force & Space Force

Growing the Space Force: Is Outsourcing Operations the Answer?

Space Force reveals official song: ‘Semper Supra’

Video: The Official United States Space Force Song (Lyric Video)

Aviation News

Aviation-Labor Coalition Warns of Harm from Tax Proposals Targeting Business Aviation

President Biden recently unveiled the Administration’s FY25 budget plan. It includes increasing the business aviation fuel tax five times and reducing the depreciation schedule to seven years from five for purchased business aircraft. The aviation and labor alphabet groups expressed their displeasure by sending a letter [PDF] to the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance and the House Committee on Ways and Means.

The letter was signed by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), National Air Transportation Association (NATA), National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (NJASAP), and Vertical Aviation International (VAI).

Boeing Tells Airlines to Check 787 Cockpit Seats After Mishap on Latam Flight

The “technical event” on the LATAM flight that recently experienced a severe dive, injuring many passengers, may have been identified. It appears that a flight attendant serving a meal to the cockpit crew might have inadvertently bumped the switch that adjusts the pilot’s seat. The pilot then pitched forward into the controls. In a memo to 787 operators, Boeing recommends inspecting cockpit seats for loose switch covers and instructs operators how to turn off power to the pilot seat motor if needed. Boeing says this is a known issue and issued a service bulletin in 2017. 

FAA audit of Boeing’s 737 Max production reportedly found ‘dozens of issues’

The New York Times reports that in a recent FAA 6-week production audit at Boeing, the airframer passed 56 tests and failed 33 tests. The NYT based its reporting after reviewing an internal FAA slide presentation. Many of the failed tests centered around a failure to follow “approved manufacturing processes” and a failure to keep proper quality control documentation. The FAA also performed a product audit at SpiritAerosystems which resulted in six passes and seven fails.

NTSB to hear sworn testimonies at public hearing into 737-9 door plug blowout

On August 6 and 7, 2024 the NTSB plans to hold an investigative hearing into the Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 9 door plug blowout on January 5, 2024. Sworn testimonies from witnesses help the NTSB determine the facts, circumstances, and probable cause of the incident. The hearing will be open to the public and will be live-streamed. Only NTSB board members, investigators, scheduled witnesses, and parties to the hearing will be allowed to participate.

See:

Alaska Airlines Flight Was Scheduled for Safety Check on Day Panel Blew Off

Alaska Airlines “engineers and technicians” had concerns and the aircraft was due to go out of service that evening. The NYT implies that the airline should have immediately taken the plane out of passenger service. They report that “Alaska Airlines says the plane did not meet its standards for immediately taking it out of service.”

JetBlue is slammed for charging elderly couple $5,200 for lie-flat seats that wouldn’t recline during seven-hour flight – then offering them just $400 travel credit even though neither wants to set foot on airline again

Traveling from Boston to California and wanting to travel in comfort, the 83-year-old couple purchased JetBlue’s “Mint Class” seats. Available on all transatlantic and select coast-to-coast flights, the service offers: “All suites. All aisle access. All the better to deliver our personalized, award-winning service. Featuring lie-flat seats and our exclusive Tuft & Needle sleep experience.”

But his seat was stuck halfway between upright and flat. Her seat was stuck fully upright. The crew managed to get his seat upright, but neither would recline. Then on the return flight, his seat reclined but her seat did not. Jetblue offered the couple $400 in Jetblue credit, but they plan to never fly on Jetblue again. The airline did increase their offer to $1,200 in travel credit.

Mentioned

Masters of the Air on Apple TV.

35th and Final Heli-Expo Sets Record Attendance Mark

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, Max Trescott, David Vanderhoof, and our Main(e) Man Micah.

790 Airline Ticket Price

The components of an airline ticket price, Boeing’s contract negotiations with the International Association of Machinists, the NTSB’s frustration with Boeing’s cooperation, American Airlines’ order of 260 planes, an Alaska Airlines flight with an open cargo door, pilots falling asleep mid-flight, an Alaska Supreme Court ruling on aircraft surveillance, and a “technical event” involving a LATAM flight.

Aviation News

UK Air Passenger Duty Increasing, Premium Cabins Hit Hardest

The passenger tax in the UK is called the Air Passenger Duty (APD) and it is just one part of an airline ticket price. One Mile at a Time calls the APD “the highest passenger tax on air travel anywhere in the world.” As of April 1, 2024, the APD is going up:

  • The domestic economy APD will increase by £0.50, from £6.50 to £7 (~$9)
  • The domestic premium APD will increase by £1, from £13 to £14 (~$18)
  • The long haul economy APD will increase by £4, from £84 to £88 (~$112)
  • The long haul premium APD will increase by £9, from £185 to £194 (~$246)
  • The ultra long haul economy APD will increase by £1, from £91 to £92 (~$117)
  • The ultra long haul premium APD will increase by £2, from £200 to £202 (~$257)

Additional increases are planned for 2025.

An airline ticket price is made up of the base fare and carrier-imposed surcharges. Government taxes and fees include an excise tax (a 7.5% tax imposed by the U.S. government on domestic flights), flight segment tax (a $4 fee per flight segment), a passenger facility charge (an airport fee determined by the U.S. airport from which you depart), the September 11 security fee ($5.60 per one-way trip to offset security costs), Air Passenger Duty (APD) (for flights departing from the U.K.), and other country-specific charges.

As watershed contract talks with Boeing open, Machinists think big

International Association of Machinists logo.

Boeing and the International Association of Machinists are negotiating a new labor contract. The union’s District 751 represents more than 32,000 Boeing Machinists. The union says they’ll ask for a wage increase of over 40% over the next three years and the restoration of its traditional pension. Also, a commitment to build the next new Boeing airplane in Seattle, more quality inspectors, more union input into quality control, and a shift in the corporate culture to one that doesn’t alienate employees. IAM president Jon Holden said the union “must stand up and save this company from itself.” A mass meeting and strike authorization vote are scheduled for mid-July. The contract expires on September 12, 2024.

NTSB Chair Not Pleased With Boeing’s Cooperation On Door Plug Probe

Regarding the investigation into the Alaska Airlines door plug incident, NTSB chair Jennifer Homendy recently testified at a Senate hearing that “Boeing has not provided us with the documents and information that we have requested numerous times over the past few months.” At the hearing, Homendy complained that Boeing was not cooperating as the NTSB attempted to interview team members.

NTSB Chair: Alaska 1282 investigation is like ‘peeling an onion’

In an exclusive interview with The Air Current, Jennifer Homendy said the NTSB is planning a public investigative hearing into the January 5 accident aboard Alaska Airlines 1282. Homendy told TAC that the hearing will occur towards the end of the summer.

American Airlines to buy 260 new planes from Boeing, Airbus and Embraer to meet growing demand

American Airlines ordered 260 new aircraft and placed options for up to 193 more planes. The orders include 85 Boeing 737 Max 10s, 85 A321neo planes from Airbus, and 90 E175 aircraft from Embraer.

Alaska Airlines flight carrying pets arrives with cargo door open as carrier and Boeing face $1B lawsuit

Alaska Airlines logo

An Alaska Airlines flight from Los Cabos, Mexico arrived at Portland, Oregon with its cargo door partly open. None of the pets in the cargo hold were injured. Alaska Airlines told KOIN in a statement that “there was no indication to the crew that the door was unsealed during [last Friday’s] flight and all indications point to the door partially opening after landing.” Also, “Our maintenance teams inspected the aircraft, replaced a spring in the door, tested the door, and reentered it into service.”

A plane was flying with 159 onboard. Then both pilots fell asleep

A preliminary report by Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Committee says both pilots of a PT Batik Air Indonesia flight fell asleep at about the same time for around 28 minutes. The plane was carrying 153 passengers and four crew members headed to Jakarta on a two-hour and 35-minute flight.

Officers need warrants to use aircraft, zoom lenses to surveil areas around homes, Alaska court says

According to the Alaska Supreme Court, law enforcement officers cannot use aircraft with binoculars or cameras with zoom lenses to surveil a person’s home, unless they obtain a warrant. This stems from a 2012 case where Alaska State Troopers flew past a property to verify a tip that marijuana was being grown there. The officers used a camera and zoom lens to take photos of the property. Based on what they saw, a search warrant was obtained.

At least 50 hurt as LATAM’s Boeing 787 to Auckland ‘just dropped’ mid-flight

A Boeing 787 operated by LATAM Airlines experienced what the airline called a “technical event” mid-flight from Sydney to Auckland. Reportedly, the plane abruptly dropped and at least 50 people were hurt. Ten passengers and three cabin crew members were taken to a hospital. One person is in serious condition. The 787-9 Dreamliner (registered CC-BGG) operated as flight LA800 between Sydney, Australia, and Auckland, New Zealand.

A passenger told the BBC “The plane, unannounced, just dropped. I mean it dropped unlike anything I’ve ever experienced on any kind of minor turbulence, and people were thrown out of their seats, hit the top of the roof of the plane, throwing down the aisles. Some of the roof panels were broken from people being thrown up and knocking through the plastic roof panels in the aisle ways. And there was blood coming from several people’s heads.”

Mentioned

Understanding The UK Air Passenger Duty (APD)

FlightSimExpo

This new Airbus air taxi has a 50-mile range and is quieter than a hairdryer

XPeng’s AeroHT flexes its eVTOL expertise, taking its X2 flying car to the skies above Guangzhou

Aviation Careers Podcast

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, Rob Mark, Max Trescott, David Vanderhoof, and our Main(e) Man Micah.

789 Scaled Composites

We talk with both the President of Scaled Composites and the VP of Flight Operations. In the news, the FAA tells Boeing to make a plan, Boeing looks at re-acquiring SpiritAerosystems, Skyryse takes deposits for a fly-by-wire helicopter, the V-22 Osprey could be returning to flight, airlines scale back pilot hiring, and the JetBlue – Spirit merger is off.

Guests

Peter Siebold and Greg Norris of Scaled Composites standing on the apron.
Peter Siebold and Greg Morris

Greg Morris is the president of Scaled Composites, and Pete Siebold is the VP of Flight Operations. Scaled Composites is the aerospace company founded by Burt Rutan to develop experimental aircraft. Currently owned by Northrop Grumman and located at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California, Scaled focuses on designing and developing concept aircraft that are often unconventional.

Greg and Pete describe the Scaled “secret sauce” and the company culture that keeps employees engaged and operating at their creative best. We hear about the experience of a first flight in a Scaled aircraft and the preparations made before test flights. Also how Scaled helps customers define their requirements and then designs the aircraft technology to meet those requirements. Interestingly, the design for a technology demonstrator can be quite different than the design for manufacturability. The two explain the personal and professional qualities that position an individual for an aviation career such as you might find at a company like Scaled Composites.

Greg Morris

Greg joined Scaled Composites in 2023 from Gauntlet Aerospace where he was President and Chief Test Pilot. He operated a flight school for 7 years and had 10 years of experience in flight test operations, including teaching in the Qualitative Evaluation Program for the United States Air Force Test Pilot School and target and chase support for the 412th Test Wing. Greg is a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and serves on the SETP Membership Committee. He is a nationally designated FAA Experimental Examiner and he’s conducted check-rides for a variety of aircraft, both Scaled Composites and others. 

Greg received a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Southern California and a Masters of Science in Flight Test Engineering from the National Test Pilot School.

Peter Siebold

Pete joined Scaled Composites in 1996 as a Design Engineer on the VisionAire Vantage. He worked extensively as a Flight Test Engineer on multiple programs before becoming a Test Pilot for the company. During his time at Scaled, Pete has held multiple leadership positions within engineering and flight operations, including Director of Flight Operations. Pete has flown 4 first flights at Scaled and 11 different Scaled aircraft. He was heavily involved in the development of Scaled’s simulator and avionics capabilities.

Pete obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He became a certified flight instructor while attending the university, a rating he retains to this day. He is an Associate Fellow in the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and holds an Airline Transport Pilot Rating with seven Experimental Aircraft Authorizations and two Type Ratings. In 2004, Pete was part of the test team that won the Iven C. Kincheloe award for SpaceShipOne. He was bestowed the honor again in 2009 for his work as Project Pilot for WhiteKnightTwo.

Video: Model 401 Sierra First Flight

Video: Proteus: 25 years of Flight

Find Scaled Composites on Twitter/X, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Aviation News

FAA to Boeing: Develop a plan to fix your quality issues within 90 days

At a meeting in FAA headquarters, FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker told Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun that Boeing has 90 days to provide an action plan that addresses its “systemic quality-control issues.” After the meeting, Whitaker said, “Boeing must commit to real and profound improvements. “Making foundational change will require a sustained effort from Boeing’s leadership, and we are going to hold them accountable every step of the way, with mutually understood milestones and expectations.”

The plan must take into account the findings of the expert review panel report and the results of an FAA production-line audit. It will include the steps necessary to mature Boeing’s Safety Management System and integrate this with the company’s Quality Management System, to “ensure the same level of rigor and oversight is applied to the company’s suppliers.”

Justice Department Looking Into Boeing Blowout

The DOJ is examining whether the door panel incident falls under the government’s 2021 deferred-prosecution agreement with Boeing after the two fatal 737 Max crashes. If prosecutors determine that Boeing’s handling of the incident violated the 2021 agreement, they could rescind it and bring criminal charges against the company.

Engineering union and Boeing face off in fraught pilot contract dispute

The labor contract is with 23 flight technical and safety pilots in the flight operations group. These pilots don’t routinely fly production aircraft. The flight technical pilots develop pilot training programs and pilot manuals and liaise with airlines on their flight operations. The safety pilots help develop flight deck systems for new aircraft and support the certification process. The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace union (SPEEA) says its members have “first-hand experience of the kinds of safety-culture problems an expert panel reported on…”

Boeing in Talks to Buy Troubled Supplier Spirit AeroSystems

Spirit AeroSystems has had preliminary discussions with Boeing and has hired bankers to explore strategic options. Spirit is also looking at selling its Ireland unit that makes parts for Airbus. Both companies have confirmed they are having merger discussions. The talks might not result in a deal. In a statement, Boeing said, “We believe that the reintegration of Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems’ manufacturing operations would further strengthen aviation safety, improve quality, and serve the interests of our customers, employees, and shareholders.”

Skyryse Taking Deposits for Fly-by-wire Turbine Single

Skyryse One is a Robinson R66 helicopter that has been retrofitted with the proprietary SkyOS operating system. This features a single-stick control and two touchscreens. It’s an IFR-capable, aircraft-agnostic, triple-redundant fly-by-wire system. Skyryse is taking refundable, non-transferrable $2,500 deposits.

V-22 Osprey Fleet To Return To Flight After 3-Month Worldwide Grounding

The V-22 Osprey fleet received approval from U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin for a safe and measured return to operations. The Naval Air Systems Command could lift the grounding and allow the services to resume V-22 flight operations. The cause of the crash has been identified, but the reason for the failure has not. The investigation continues.

Southwest Airlines Scales Back Pilot Hiring In 2024

A Southwest memo says, “Based on expected capacity growth beyond 2024, we’ve made the difficult decision to suspend Initial First Officer Training classes through the remainder of 2024 and defer job offers, beginning with our April classes.” The airline said pilots with conditional job offers would be placed in a “deferred candidate pool.” Once hiring resumes, those pilots would be called up.

JetBlue, Spirit end $3.8 billion merger agreement after losing antitrust suit

Citing regulatory hurdles, the two airlines ended their merger agreement. Attorney General Merrick Garland said, “Today’s decision by JetBlue is yet another victory for the Justice Department’s work on behalf of American consumers.”

Mentioned

Making Like Maverick in an L-39 by Rob Mark in JetWhine.

Bob Heil

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver

Tesla Model S and Model 3 vulnerable to GNSS spoofing attacks

Wheel Bearings podcast.

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, Rob Mark, Max Trescott, and our Main(e) Man Micah.

788 Corporate Flight Attendant

The struggle to mandate corporate flight attendant egress training, the Bombardier Challenger jet crash in Florida, major executive changes at Boeing, Spirit AeroSystems whistleblowers, 737 Max Service Difficulty Reports, FAA’s Enhanced Air Traffic-Collegiate Training Initiative program, FAA safety recommendations for Boeing, and details on Boeing’s “traveled work.”

Guest

Susan C. Friedenberg is the CEO of Corporate Flight Attendant – Tech Training and Consulting. Over the past 25 years, Susan has been committed to continually raising the standards for flight attendants in all aspects of business aviation. Her school teaches students the professional role of a corporate flight attendant. She has dedicated herself to the idea that egress training is critical to ensuring the safety of the passengers and crew in an emergency.

Susan C. Friedenberg, advocate for corporate flight attendant egress training.

Susan started Corporate Flight Attendant – Tech Training in 1999 when she realized there were just two valid egress training companies for business aviation and that neither offered students a chance to learn the professional role of a corporate flight attendant. In her 5-day – 50-hour Zoom training, guests include a senior Pfizer employee explaining cockpit resource management and a major business aviation caterer who discusses what their kitchens need to know to expedite and deliver a perfect catering order.

Starting her aviation career as a flight attendant at American Airlines, Susan eventually moved on to Capitol Air until 1984 when that company went bankrupt. Discovering business aviation, she flew full-time for Coca-Cola’s flight department in Atlanta, Dupont Aviation in Wilmington, Delaware, and American Standard Companies from Teterboro, New Jersey. She’s also flown as a contract flight attendant.  

Susan has been active for decades with the NBAA and served on the association’s Flight Attendant Committee and the Scholarship Committee. Susan was also the Chair of the Contract Flight Attendant Group for two years. 

She’s written numerous articles about the corporate flight attendant’s professional role and created a safety presentation called, “Why You Need a Trained Person in the Back of Your Aircraft.” Her company also provides abridged training for Flight Techs (A&P’s) who act in a dual role aboard a business aviation aircraft as both a mechanic and a flight attendant in the back of the plane.

Aviation News

‘We’ve lost both engines,’ pilot said before private jet crashed onto Florida interstate, killing 2

A Bombardier Challenger 600 series jet carrying five people crashed while attempting to make an emergency landing on Interstate 75 near Naples, Florida. The pilot and co-pilot were killed. A crew member and two passengers escaped.

Boeing removes the Head of 737 Max program in wake of safety incidents

Eighteen-year Boeing veteran Ed Clark has been removed from head of the 737 Max passenger jet program. He had previously held the roles of 737 Max chief engineer and chief 737 mechanic. Katie Ringgold fills Clark’s position as head of the 737 Max program. She had been vice president of 737 Max deliveries. Boeing also announced the creation of a new executive position, Senior Vice President for BCA Quality. Elizabeth Lund fills that position. Lund had been senior vice president and general manager of airplane programs for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Mike Fleming fills Lund’s position. He had been senior vice president of development and customer service.

With Boeing in hot seat, claims against supplier Spirit AeroSystems take shape

Two former Spirit AeroSystems employees have come forward with quality deficiency allegations. The first was a quality auditor at the Wichita plant who was fired in 2022 for allegedly failing to conduct inspections that were his responsibility. Now a second ex-employee who worked alongside the first has corroborated the allegations.

Airlines Filed 1,800 Reports Warning Regulators About Boeing’s 737 Max

More than 1,800 service difficulty reports concerning the 737 Max were filed by operators over the last three years. Alaska Airlines alone filed more than 1,230 737 Max reports over that period. The nonprofit Foundation for Aviation Safety compiled federal safety reports and found 737 Max issues including fuel leaks resulting from misapplied sealant, malfunctioning stabilizing motors, fuel tank FOD, engine stalls, and anti-ice system problems. Under § 121.703, certificate holders must file Service difficulty reports for the occurrence or detection of certain failures, malfunctions, or defects.

FAA panel finds Boeing safety culture wanting, recommends overhaul

The FAA commissioned a panel of independent aviation experts. Their report is critical of Boeing’s safety culture and makes more than 50 recommendations: Section 103 Organizational Designation Authorizations (ODA) for Transport Airplanes, Expert Panel Review Report, Final Report. [PDF]

FAA Moves to Accelerate Air Traffic Controller Hiring by Enhancing College Training Program

FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker says, “Hiring more air traffic controllers is a priority. We need more entry points for controller candidates and this enhanced college controller training program is an additional avenue to get controllers into facilities sooner.” The Enhanced Air Traffic-Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI) program is designed to increase the number of students who can begin facility training immediately upon graduation. As of May 2023, the FAA lists 31 approved AT-CTI schools. [PDF]

Mentioned

Why a Good Flight Attendant Matters

Gulfstream 550 Evacuation Crewmember Training

G550 Will Require Evac Crewmember

PBS – The American Experience: Come Fly With Me: They Wanted to See the World and Ended Up Changing It

The Biden administration’s bet on sustainable aviation fuel

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, Rob Mark, Max Trescott, David Vanderhoof, and our Main(e) Man Micah.

787 California Science Center Space Shuttle Endeavour

The vertical stacking of the space shuttle Endeavour at the California Science Center, the delay in Boeing’s T-7A Red Hawk program, communication interruptions for El Al, infrastructure grants for US airports, Delta Air Lines trading cards, and the possibility of rescinding Boeing’s immunity deal.

The Final Move of the Space Shuttle Endeavour

Back on July 20, 2023, the California Science Center commenced Go for Stack, the process of moving and lifting each of the space shuttle components into place for Endeavour’s upcoming 20-story vertical display. This feat has never been done outside of a NASA facility.

The Space Shuttle Endeavour being stacked at the California Science Center.

Press release: Space Shuttle Endeavour Is Now Fully Stacked and Mated, Completing World’s Only Ready-to-Launch Space Shuttle Display.

Brian Coleman attended the recent Endeavour stacking event and spoke with the museum’s President and CEO and the Curator for Aerospace Science:

Jeffrey N Rudolph, President and CEO of the California Science Center in Los Angeles, California, and the President of the California Science Center Foundation. He provided the leadership for the planning, design, fundraising, and implementation of the California Science Center Master Plan which transformed the California Museum of Science and Industry into the new California Science Center and created an award-winning Exposition Park Master Plan to guide the redevelopment of Exposition Park in central Los Angeles. Jeff serves as a Fellow of the California Council on Science and Technology and the Executive Committee for the Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board and the Los Angeles Tourism Marketing District. He is the past chair of the Board of the Association of Science & Technology Centers and past chair of the Board of the American Alliance of Museums. Jeff received an M.B.A. from Yale University and a B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley.

Kenneth Phillips, PhD, Curator for Aerospace Science at the California Science Center. Ken develops the California Science Center Foundation’s programs and exhibits on aeronautics and space exploration. As curator, he is responsible for creating the vision that shapes these programs and leading the team in the process that includes concept and storyboard development; multiple phases of design; prototype development and testing; artifact acquisition; audiovisual production; exhibit fabrication and research on visitor learning.

Major projects include Phase III of the Science Center’s 25-year Master Plan featuring the space shuttle Endeavour and the Samuel Oschin Air and Space Center; the SKETCH Foundation Air and Space Gallery in Science Court; the Roy A. Anderson A-12 Blackbird Exhibit and Garden; and collaboration on the development of the Creative World gallery. 

Ken received his B.S. degree in Physics from the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, an M.S. in General Engineering from the University of Wisconsin, and a Ph.D. from The Johns Hopkins University in Environmental Engineering.

Dr. Ken Phillips and Brian Coleman observing the Space Shuttle Endeavour being stacked at the California Science Center.
Dr. Ken Phillips and Brian Coleman.

Aviation News

Will Biden Rescind Trump’s Boeing Immunity Deal?

After the two 737 Max crashes, the previous administration negotiated a deferred prosecution agreement whereby Boeing was granted certain immunity from prosecution, including fraud charges, and protection for Boeing’s senior executives. Many have criticized the deal.

The agreement required Boeing to “protect and detect violations of the U.S. fraud laws throughout its operations, including… those of its contractors and subcontractors.” Also, the Justice Department had “sole discretion” to decide if the “Company has breached the Agreement and whether to pursue prosecution of the Company and its subsidiaries.”

A lawsuit filed after the Alaska Airlines door plug blow-out alleges that Spirit AeroSystems had engaged in a “fraudulent scheme” to falsify records and hide “excessive” numbers of manufacturing defects. The theory presented in the article is that if the fraud allegations are substantiated, the Justice Department could rescind the deferred prosecution agreement.

Boeing pushes back T-7 plans due to faulty parts

Low rate initial production (LRIP) of the T-7A Red Hawk training jet has been pushed out to mid-2024. Boeing said part quality problems are to blame, along with supply chain issues. The T-7 will replace T-38 jet trainers. The Air Force plans to buy 351 T-7s by 2034.

Israeli flight from Thailand faced attack by ‘hostile elements’ – report

For the second time in a week, someone attempted to take over the communication network of an El Al plane and divert it from its destination. The crew noticed that the instructions it was receiving were improper and ignored them.

Biden-Harris Administration Announces Nearly $1 Billion in Grants from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to Improve 114 Airports Across the U.S.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allocates $5 billion ($1 billion annually from 2022 to 2026) to provide competitive grants for airport terminal development projects. In FY24, the FAA is awarding $970 million to 114 airports in 44 states and three territories.

The FAA has an excellent data visualization tool for the airports receiving funding. Hover over an airport to see the amount of the funding and details about how the money will be used. You can filter by better PAX experience, expanded capacity, sustainability, safety, accessibility, serving smaller communities, and tower upgrades.

What the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Means for U.S. Aviation

Portland Jetport to receive more than $10 million from FAA for improvements

Maine airports getting federal funding for critical terminal upgrades

Army CH-47s Fill In For Grounded Marine MV-22s In White House Airlift Role

The fleet of V-22 tilt-rotors was grounded after the fatal crash of a U.S. Air Force CV-22 off the coast of Japan in November 2023. The U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps all fly versions of the V-22. Other aircraft are being pressed into service to fill the role of the tilt-rotors. CH-47F Chinooks are accompanying Marine 1, which is unusual in the U.S., but not uncommon overseas. Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1) uses a dozen MV-22Bs for presidential airlift support missions. 

Delta has been keeping a secret for the past 20 years—and pilots really want you to ask about it

Unbeknownst to many passengers, Delta Air Lines has had a trading card program since 2003. The cards are exclusive to pilots and feature images of the aircraft they fly. New artwork is voted on by the pilots and introduced every five years. This recently broke on social media and now everyone is after the cards. In 2023, Delta handed out over 1.5 million cards.

Mentioned

Micah had a chance to meet up with listener Stephen Ivey who flies the Embraer Phenom for one of the big charter operations. He was doing a pickup at PWM and had some time to kill. Micah toured the Phenom, which is a smaller jet than he thought, but still very comfortable. This older one flies with a G1000.

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, David Vanderhoof, and our Main(e) Man Micah.

786 Flying Tigers

The founder and Executive Director of the Flying Tigers 69th DRS Association discusses the legacy of the men who kept the Flying Tigers in the air during World War II. In the news, GPS jamming and spoofing aircraft positioning systems, 737 MAX 9 lawsuits, Boeing quality actions, sustainable aviation fuel options, FAA and airline pilot retirement age, AV-8B Harrier phase-out, and a positive airline story.

Guest

Charlene Fontaine, founder and executive director of the Flying Tigers 69th DRS Association.

Charlene Fontaine is the founder and executive director of the Flying Tigers 69th DRS Association, Inc. That organization was founded in 2005 to carry on the legacy of the 350 men who served under Gen. Clare Chenault in World War II. This special squadron was requested by Chiang Kai-Shek and their mission was to drive the Burma Road, fly the Hump, and keep the aircraft flying.

We discuss the history and stories of the Flying Tigers and the 69th Depot Repair Squadron during World War II. Topics include the challenges of flying the hump, the experiences of the men who served, and the importance of preserving and sharing their history. Charlene tells us about the Chennault Aviation and Military Museum and her work on trauma and mental health. She also gives us a little taste of the film she is working on.

Mechanic repairing a Flying Tigers P-40 aircraft.
P-40 Warhawk under repair.
Burma Road switchbacks
Burma Road

In addition to awarding youth scholarships, the Association seeks to educate others on the history of China, Burma, India (CBI) and continue to build relationships with the people of CBI.  The 69th DRS Association works with other WWII organizations to help veterans and their families navigate the challenges of age, injury, and illness.

Charlene is an international consultant, speaker, author, root cause expert, wellness advocate, and researcher. Her main interest is how stress, trauma, and loss affect our daily lives. Her focus is on history and communication: how it shapes us, helps make life better and what can be gained. She works with industry, the military, law enforcement, veterans, and youth. The 69th engagements find her at air shows, conferences, schools, and reunions to inspire youth to learn history and honor our elders and all those who serve our country.

69th test pilots standing in front of a C47 airplane.
69th Test Pilots Heiner, Brecht, Garrison, and Sgt Twiggs.
Truck convoy on the Burma Road.

Aviation News

GPS interference now a major flight safety concern for airline industry

EASA partners with IATA to counter aviation safety threat from GNSS spoofing and jamming

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) says GPS jamming and spoofing incidents have increased in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. EASA recently held a joint workshop with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) with the “high-level conclusion… that interference with satellite-based services that provide information on the precise position of an aircraft can pose significant challenges to aviation safety.” Mitigating these risks requires short-, medium- and long-term measures:

  • Short-term, pilots and crews need to identify the risks and know how to react and land safely.
  • Medium-term the certification requirements of the navigation and landing systems need to change.
  • Long-term the agency needs to be involved in the design of future satellite navigation systems.

The workshop attendees agreed to several measures:

  • Reporting and sharing of GNSS interference event data. In Europe, this would occur through the European Occurrence Reporting scheme and EASA’s Data4Safety programme.
  • Guidance from aircraft manufacturers to ensure that aircraft operators are well-equipped to manage jamming and spoofing situations.
  • Alerting: EASA will inform airlines, air navigation service providers, manufacturers, and airports about attacks.
  • As a backup, aviation must retain a Minimum Operational Network (MON) of traditional navigation aids to ensure there is a conventional backup for GNSS navigation.

Boeing shareholders sue after midair 737 Max 9 blowout

Shareholders filed a class action lawsuit alleging that Boeing misled them about potential “serious safety lapses.” The suit was filed for those who purchased Boeing common stock between Oct. 23, 2019, and Jan. 24, 2024. On that date, Boeing and its executives claimed they were “making steady progress” on their “top priority … the safe return to service of the 737 MAX” following two deadly crashes in late 2018.

The suit claims “Unbeknownst to investors, statements such as those… were false and misleading because Boeing failed to disclose that it had been prioritizing its profits over safety, which led to poor quality control standards in the production of its commercial aircrafts such as the 737 MAX…”

Other related suits:

  • Six passengers filed a class-action suit claiming physical and emotional distress.
  • Four passengers are seeking damages from Boeing and Alaska Airlines for experiencing “havoc, fear, trauma [and] severe and extreme distress.”

Feb 4, 2024: Boeing to dedicate more days in 737 factory to address quality issues and ideas

In a message to employees, Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Stan Deal said the 737 program will spend several days in the Renton factory to focus on quality, including inspecting some undelivered airplanes for potential nonconformances before delivery.

Fat, sugar, trash: All the weird things that may fuel planes by 2050

Right for Whom? Airlines Shift SAF Goals to Easier – And Far Less Effective Targets

Aviation has a net-zero carbon goal by 2050 with sustainable aviation fuel, or SAF, being a key driver. The Washington Post says that in 2023, production of SAF in the United States was less than 0.2 percent of the airline industry’s jet fuel consumption. The goal is 100% by 2050. SAF can be produced from fat (cooking oil, vegetable oil, animal fat, Ethanol from corn now and other feedstocks in the future, waste (residue and “cellulosic cover crops” grown in the off-season), and hydrogen.

As the Marine Corps Says Goodbye to Decades-Old Jet, Its Maintainers Hit the Fleet for the Last Time

The F-35B Lightning II STOVL jet is the future for the Marines, replacing the AV-8B Harrier II which has been in service since the 1980s. The Harrier will be phased out over the next two years.

FAA warns US Congress against hiking airline pilot retirement age

In a letter to Congress, the FAA Administrator said the mandatory retirement age of airline pilots should not rise to 67 from 65 without first conducting additional research.

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, Rob Mark, Max Trescott, David Vanderhoof, and our Main(e) Man Micah.

785 The Boeing Company

Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems continue to dominate the news, along with 737 MAX certification, lap babies, the proposed JetBlue and Spirit Airlines merger, route growth at United Airlines and Breeze Airways, and the demise of the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter. Also, flight tests for the B-21 Raider and more favorite aviation movies.

Aviation News

Boeing, not Spirit, mis-installed piece that blew off Alaska MAX 9 jet, industry source says

Wichita-based Spirit AeroSystems builds the 737 fuselage for Boeing. A person familiar with the situation says the door plug was removed by Boeing, and then reinstalled on the 737.

127 Days: The Anatomy of a Boeing Quality Failure

In The Air Current, Jon Ostrower reconstructs the journey of fuselage 8789 from Spirit AeroSytems to Alaska Airlines. It’s an insightful look at the relationship between Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems.

Opposition grows to Boeing 737 MAX 7 safety exemption

Boeing wants an exemption to certify the 737 MAX 7 and MAX 10, despite problems with the engine anti-ice system.

Video: United Airlines CEO: Boeing’s 737 Max-9 grounding is ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’ for us

NTSB Urges Parents Not to Fly With Children on Laps After Alaska Incident 

At a recent press conference, NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy said “We would urge passengers to put their children under two in their own seat, in an FAA-approved car seat, so they are secure and safe in case something like this happens.” Currently, the FAA allows children under the age of two to be held in an adult’s lap.

Boeing CEO to meet with senators scrutinizing 737 MAX 9 blowout

Dave Calhoun has been meeting with U.S. senators to answer their questions about the 737 MAX 9. After meeting with Calhoun, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth said he “offered no assurance” that Boeing would withdraw its exemption request for the 737MAX 7 jet. 

Boeing Whistleblower: Production Line Has “Enormous Volume Of Defects” Bolts On MAX 9 Weren’t Installed

JetBlue casts doubt on its merger deal with Spirit Airlines after judge rules against merger

JetBlue Airways has informed Spirit Airlines that the merger agreement might be terminated. JetBlue feels some conditions of the merger agreement can not be met while Spirit says there is no basis for terminating the merger agreement.

United Airlines To Launch First-Ever Route From Washington DC To Alaska

Breeze Airways Adds Three Airports, 11 Routes To Network

After Three Years on Mars, NASA’s Ingenuity Helicopter Mission Ends

On April 19, 2021, the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter made history by becoming the first craft to achieve powered, controlled flight on another planet. After sustaining rotor blade damage, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson announced that the Ingenuity mission had come to an end after  72 flights.

Ingenuity Mars Helicopter sitting on the surface of Mars.
This view of NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter was generated using data collected by the Mastcam-Z instrument aboard the agency’s Perseverance Mars rover on Aug. 2, 2023, the 871st Martian day, or sol, of the mission.

For more information about Ingenuity, see https://mars.nasa.gov/technology/helicopter.

Mentioned

Do Electric Aircraft Face Lapse Rate Challenges?

B-21 Raider Flight Testing Now Underway

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, Rob Mark, Max Trescott, David Vanderhoof, and our Main(e) Man Micah.