802 Boeing Safety and Quality Plan

We take a look at the Boeing Safety and Quality Plan, the NTSB recommendations after the Southwest/FedEx near miss, the suspension of some ATC staff in India, Essential Air Service contracts, BARK Air’s lawsuit over airport-use restrictions, the sale of a B-17, and the NTSB inspection of the USAirways flight 1549 engines.

Aviation News

Boeing Safety & Quality Plan

Boeing had 90 days to deliver a comprehensive plan to the FAA to improve the company’s safety management and quality assurance, including in the supply chain. We look at The Boeing Product Safety and Quality Plan Executive Summary [PDF, 11 pages.]

The Plan includes the containment and mitigation actions Boeing took immediately after the accident. It also introduces Boeing’s new Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of production system health and associated control limits for each KPI. Boeing intends that these metrics will provide “a continuous assessment of factory health and provide early warning of emerging quality and safety risks. They also will facilitate tracking of Boeing’s improvement under the Product Safety and Quality Plan and guide decisions about system readiness for rate increases.”

Boeing’s Immediate Containment and Mitigation

Improvements directed at the Boeing production system:

Photo of Admiral Kirkland Donald.
Admiral Kirkland Donald
  • Revised the build plans, training, maintenance planning, aircraft manual documentation, removal requirements and inspection criteria for the Mid-Exit Door (MED) plug;
  • Instituted additional controls to prevent defects in the MED plug and similar structures and assemblies;
  • Added conformance inspections to nine critical build points;
  • Processed fleet and production inspection findings through Boeing’s SMS and Quality Management System (QMS);
  • Published alerts on removals and rework, signed by all factory employees;
  • Hosted representatives from 737 airline customers to review Boeing’s production and quality procedures, and to provide feedback;
  • Appointed a recognized safety and quality leader, Admiral Kirkland Donald, to independently assess Boeing’s production system; and
  • Implemented a revised management and salaried compensation model focused on quality and safety, with aligned key performance indicators across all programs.

Improvements directed at the Boeing supply chain:

  • Instituted additional controls at Spirit to prevent defects in the MED plug and similar structures and assemblies;
  • Added new inspections at Spirit, as well as pre-shipment approval requirements on fuselages prior to shipment to Boeing;
  • Added competency assessments for all supplier mechanics doing structural work at Boeing sites; and
  • Issued supplier bulletins to strengthen focus on conformance and reduce the risks of defects being shipped.

Key Performance Indicators

A significant component of the Product Safety and Quality Plan is the identification of six critical, safety-focused production health KPIs:

  1. Employee Proficiency (measures share of employees currently staffed to commercial programs who are proficient);
  2. Notice of Escape (NoE) Rework Hours (measures rework due to Fabrication and supplier-provided escapes to Final Assembly);
  3. Supplier Shortages (measures Fabrication and supplier shortages/day);
  4. Rework Hours per airplane (measures total rework hours per airplane in Final Assembly);
  5. Travelers at Factory Rollout (measures jobs traveling from Final Assembly); and
  6. Ticketing Performance (measures average escapes per ticketed airplane).

Each KPI also has associated control limits and defined criteria that will trigger corrective action and SMS risk monitoring.

Product Safety and Quality Plan Attention Areas

Safety Management System three main initiatives: 

  1. Streamlining employee reporting channels; [Submissions are up 500%]
  2. Addressing traveled work risk; [implemented a “move ready” process—737 airplanes may not move to the next factory position until identified build milestones are completed, unless a Safety Risk Assessment (SRA) is conducted and a mitigation plan is in place.]
  3. Deepening the integration of Boeing’s SMS with the QMS.

Simplification of Processes and Procedures [To help employees better understand their obligations, execute work instructions, and deploy solutions to overcome roadblocks.]

Supply Chain Defect Reduction

  • Strengthening data and analytics capabilities to provide proactive notification of supplier issues, including the creation of an advanced analysis tool;
  • Standardizing supplier oversight actions to prioritize safety and quality, including through the implementation of a common supplier engagement model; 
  • Simplifying and improving supplier quality processes;
  • Driving industry change and dialogue about quality and safety issues.

Training

  • Planned enhancements in late 2024, 
  • New manufacturing and quality employees will receive up to two more weeks of foundational training, followed by enhanced structured on-the-job training (SOJT)

Production System Compliance

  • Foreign Object Debris (FOD) control; 
  • Tool control; 
  • Parts and materials control; 
  • Employees’ adherence to work instructions. 

Engagement and Communications

  • Holding full-day quality stand downs and Safety and Quality events across the Company;
  • Creating and supporting Employee Involvement Teams (“EITs”) to conduct weekly problem-solving sessions and review employee ideas for improving the production system; 
  • Establishing a leadership program for manufacturing, quality, and fulfillment managers;
  • Improving the Company’s messaging about safety, quality, and compliance.

Installation Plan Improvements [work plans]

Special Audit Items

  • For Boeing quality escapes; 
  • Boeing liaison engineering and Material Review Board (MRB) issues; 
  • and Boeing’s approach to Spirit-related findings

Expert Review Panel Recommendations

Boeing agrees with the findings and recommendations of the Expert Review Panel.

NTSB Proposes More Training, Tech After Southwest and FedEx Jets Near-Miss in Texas

In February 2023, Southwest Airlines and FedEx jets came close to colliding in Austin, Texas. After seeing the Southwest Boeing 737-700 plane at the last second, the FedEx pilots flew their Boeing 767-300 over the Southwest jet to avoid a collision. The two planes were only about 150 to 170 feet apart.

The NTSB determined the probable cause of the near miss was a bad assumption by the air traffic controller that the departing Southwest plane would be clear before the FedEx plane landed on the same runway.

 The Board also identified two contributing factors:

  • Southwest crew members failed “to account for the traffic on short final approach and to notify the controller” that they would need additional time for takeoff. 
  • The FAA did not require surface detection equipment at the Austin airport.

India’s Aviation Regulator Suspends Mumbai ATC Staff Involved In IndiGo & Air India Airbus A320neo Close Call

The IndiGo A320neo was on approach to Runway 27 at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (BOM) in Mumbai, India. The plane touched down seconds after an Air India A320neo had departed the same runway. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is investigating and has “derostered” the ATC staff working at the time of the incident.

Video: Indigo a320 Landing and Air India a320 Takeoff at The Same time at Mumbai Airport

JetBlue Awarded First-Ever Essential Air Service Contract

JetBlue will serve Presque Isle under a two-year contract. 

Essential Air Service

The Essential Air Service (EAS) program was implemented to guarantee that small communities served by certified air carriers before airline deregulation maintain a minimal level of scheduled air service.

This is generally accomplished by subsidizing two round trips a day with 30- to 50-seat aircraft, or additional frequencies with aircraft with 9-seat[s] or fewer, usually to a large- or medium-hub airport.  The Department currently subsidizes commuter and certificated air carriers to serve approximately 60 communities in Alaska and 115 communities in the lower 48 contiguous states that otherwise would not receive any scheduled air service.

2024-6-3 Order Selecting Air Carrier

Posted by the Department of Transportation on Jun 4, 2024:

“By this Order, the U.S. Department of Transportation (the Department) selects JetBlue Airways Corporation (JetBlue) to provide Essential Air Service (EAS) at Presque Isle, Maine (Presque Isle), for the two-year term from September 1, 2024, through August 31, 2026. JetBlue will provide Presque Isle with seven (7) nonstop round trips per week from Presque Isle International Airport (PQI) to Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) using 100-passenger Embraer E190 (E190) aircraft for the first year and 140-passenger Airbus A220-300 aircraft for the second year. JetBlue will be compensated at the annual subsidy rates outlined below.”

BARK Air for dogs sued days after first flight

Westchester County sued BARK Air alleging violations of the county’s airport-use restrictions.  Those restrictions include a prohibition on the operation of commercial and chartered aircraft with more than nine seats from using the private jet terminal. BARK Air’s Gulfstream Aerospace GV jet has 14 seats. In a filing to the FAA, Westchester County said that the public charters “closely resemble” services offered by large, commercial airlines.

Michigan Flight Museum (former Yankee Air Museum) Sells Centerpiece B-17 ‘Yankee Lady’

The Boeing B-17G has been sold to an undisclosed buyer for an undisclosed price. For some 40 years, the museum generated revenue with rides on the B-17. The money from the sale will be invested to support the museum.

Mentioned

NTSB Docket No. SA-532 Exhibit No. 8-A

William (Bill) Anders, Apollo 8 astronaut, Killed in San Juan Islands Plane Crash

Apollo 8: Earthrise

Taken aboard Apollo 8 by Bill Anders, this iconic picture shows Earth peeking out from beyond the lunar surface as the first crewed spacecraft circumnavigated the Moon, with astronauts Anders, Frank Borman, and Jim Lovell aboard.
Taken aboard Apollo 8 by Bill Anders. Image Credit: NASA.

Hosts this Episode

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

801 Sullenberger Aviation Museum

Interviews and a tour of the Sullenberger Aviation Museum. In the news, Boeing delivers its quality improvement plan to the FAA, and United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby calls for more competition in the airline industry.

Sullenberger Aviation Museum

Sullenberger Aviation Museum logo.

The museum at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport in North Carolina has been reimagined with new interactive experiences for visitors. The centerpiece is the “Miracle on the Hudson” exhibition featuring the jet that landed safely in New York’s Hudson River in 2009 – US Airways Flight 1549.

The Sullenberger Aviation Museum (an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution) tells stories of innovation, hope, and heroism throughout the history of aviation, It seeks to inspire visitors of all ages to pursue their dreams and goals.

Sully Sullenberger next to Flight 1549 at the press event.
Sully Sullenberger next to Flight 1549

We spoke with:

Katie Swaringen, Vice President of Collections, took us on a walking tour of the museum and explained some of the interactive experiences.

Stephen Saucier, President and CEO of the Sullenberger Aviation Museum, describes the museum’s vision, the master planning process, and experience design with Freeman Ryan Design. The result meets the needs of the community (STEM education, access to careers, workforce development), the many sponsors and contributors.

Todd Giles, the CTO at Honeywell Aerospace Technologies, describes the company’s motivations for sponsoring the museum and the Maker Space. We talk about the Honeywell APU in Flight 1549 and touch on the SmartRunway and SmartLanding traffic awareness offerings to come, as well as new bizjet and eVTOL cockpits.

Inspire, educate, and elevate: The Miracle on the Hudson – The Sullenberger Aviation Museum takes flight in Charlotte

Video: The Sullenberger Aviation Museum takes flight in Charlotte

Aviation News

Boeing Gives F.A.A. Plan to Address Systemic Quality-Control Issues

In response to an FAA order, Boeing delivered a “comprehensive action plan” to address the airframer’s systemic issues. Boeing did not set a timeline to make changes. Boeing developed six metrics for tracking the plan’s progress.

Video: FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker holds a briefing to discuss Boeing’s safety issues — 5/30/2024

Scott Kirby Says It’s Time to End the Big Jet Airline Duopoly

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby says it’s time for more competition. From The Air Current.

Mentioned

Whirlwind – Wikipedia

Bristol Helicopters – Wikipedia

Iran President’s Crash Highlights Struggle to Upgrade an Aging Fleet – WSJ paywall

Japan Air Lines Flight 123 – Wikipedia

27th annual Spurwink Farm Fly-In promotional poster. Sunday, July 7, 2024.

Hosts this Episode

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

800 Tail Strike

Airplane tail strike, miracle flights, 737 MAX Deferred Prosecution Agreement, the FAA Reauthorization Act, airport name changes, and fatal helicopter crash in Iran. Also, a report on the Valdez Fly-In and Airshow, and a scenic flight around Denali Mountain.

Aviation News

NTSB Releases Final Report Of United Airlines Boeing 737 Tail Strike In Houston

The NTSB report of the January 2024 tail strike says the 737-900ER touched down three times while landing. The aircraft’s aft fuselage “impacted the runway as a result of a delayed flare and subsequent nose-high pitch inputs.” The initial touchdown force was 1.87G and the second touchdown was 2.87G.

An article in SKYbrary states that “various studies by several of the major aircraft manufacturers have arrived at similar conclusions regarding the primary cause of tail strike. The most significant common factor is the amount of flight crew experience with the specific model of aircraft being flown.” Studies identified eight specific Causal Factors that greatly increase the risk of a tail strike:

During take-off:

  • Improperly Set Elevator Trim or Mis-Trimmed Stabiliser 
  • Rotation at Incorrect Speed
  • Excessive Rotation Rate
  • Improper Use of the Flight Director

During landing:

  • Unstabilized Approach
  • Excessive Hold-Off in the Flare 
  • Crosswinds
  • Over-Rotation During Go-Around

Over 65% of tail strikes occur during landings, while only 25% happen during takeoffs.

With One Simple Change, Southwest Airlines Will Deal Blow To Wheelchair Scammers, Unruly Passengers And Seat Savers

Southwest Airlines is considering implementing assigned seating, eliminating the need for passengers to board early to get a good seat. The change would address “the phenomenon of passengers faking disabilities to board early, end the practice of seat saving, and make it easier to identify unruly passengers on board.” Currently, Southwest is the only airline that doesn’t have passenger names and seat assignments on the flight’s manifest.

DOJ Takes Key Step to Hold Boeing Accountable for 737 MAX8 Crash Deaths

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has determined that Boeing breached the January 2021 Deferred Prosecution Agreement. The Clifford law firm (which represents families of the Boeing 787 MAX8 crash victims) says that Boeing could now face a criminal trial, although more action is needed from the DOJ.

Bipartisan FAA Reauthorization Act Signed Into Law

American Airlines Bus Service Connecting Wilmington Delaware Airport (ILG) to PHL to Start This Fall

The Delaware River & Bay Authority announced that American Airlines and its partner Landline Co. plan to launch a bus service between Wilmington Airport (ILG) and Philadelphia International Airport (PHL). Passengers flying out of Philly can park, check bags, and pass through security at the Wilmington Airport.

Chicago-Bound United Airlines Boeing 767 Diverts to Ireland After Passenger Gets Laptop Wedged Stuck in Business Class Seat

United Airlines flight 12 from Zurich to Chicago O’Hare was forced to make an emergency diversion to Shannon, Ireland after a passenger got their laptop stuck in a Business Class seat aboard the Boeing 767-300.

Two More Airports Are Fighting Over Using a City Name, This Time in Canada Where a Lawsuit Is Already Underway

Montreal-Trudeau International Airport (YUL) is suing Saint-Hubert Airport after the smaller airport decided to rebrand itself as Montreal Metropolitan Airport.

Valdez Fly-In and Airshow

Listener Brian and Cora attended the 2024 Valdez Fly-In and Airshow in Alaska and provided a trip report. The couple also took a scenic flight around Denali Mountain and the report highlights the unique experiences and stunning views.

The Valdez Fly-In and Airshow is an annual aviation event held at Valdez Pioneer Field Airport in Valdez, Alaska. Established in 2003, the Valdez Fly-In features world-class competitions, aerobatic displays, and a variety of activities for aviation enthusiasts and families alike.

Brian and Cora on the glacier.

Hosts this Episode

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

799 Doomsday Planes

Korean Air 747s will become the new doomsday planes, the new ATC rest rules have been delayed by the FAA, Breeze flight attendants voted to join the union, a United jumpseat pilot has upset some Southwest pilots, the GA flyover in DC was a success, Boeing employees were found to have falsified 787 Dreamliner inspection records, Airbus hasn’t leveraged an advantage in light of Boeing’s woes, and airlines sue the DOT over a new rule requiring the disclosure of fees.

Aviation News

Former Korean Air 747s Slated To Become USAF Doomsday Planes

Korean Air has confirmed the sale of five of its 747-8s to Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), which is building the new Survivable Airborne Operations Center (SAOC) aircraft, also referred to as “doomsday planes.” The USAF states: 

The E-4B “Nightwatch” serves as the National Airborne Operations Center and is a component of the National Military Command System for the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

In case of national emergency or destruction of ground command and control centers, the aircraft provides a highly survivable command, control, and communications center to direct U.S. forces, execute emergency war orders, and coordinate actions by civil authorities.

SNC acquired five Boeing 747-8s from Korean Air. The current E-4B aircraft are based on the 747-200. SNC specializes in aircraft modification and integration as well as space technologies.

FAA Delaying the Start of ATC Rest Rules

The new FAA ATC rest requirements require controllers to have at least 10 hours off between shifts and 12 hours off before a midnight shift. The rule was to have taken effect by mid-July. However, the FAA has delayed those requirements while it talks to the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) union. FAA Air Traffic Organization Chief Operating Officer Timothy Arel hopes to reach a joint rest period agreement for the 2025 schedule “or sooner where feasible.”

Flight attendants at this Utah airline just voted ‘overwhelmingly’ to unionize

More than 76% of the roughly 600 Breeze Airways flight attendants voted to join the Association of Flight Attendants. AFA international president Sara Nelson said “We are inspired by their solidarity and thrilled to welcome them to our AFA family. Our labor movement is growing. Everywhere.” See: Breeze Flight Attendants Vote Overwhelmingly to Join the Flight Attendant Union.

“Breeze Flight Attendants organized for a union and a contract due to ongoing issues with constantly-changing work rules, substandard pay for time on the job, inadequate hotel accommodations, insufficient work hours, and inconsistent and disrespectful treatment from management.”

American Airlines is Issuing ‘Poverty Verification Letters’ For New-Hire Flight Attendants Because Their Wages Are So Low

Nearly One in Ten Alaska Airlines Flight Attendants Have Experienced Homelessness in the Past Year and Over a Third Have Been Forced to Use a Food Bank

Poverty verification letters are being sent to some new-hire flight attendants based in expensive areas.

Airline Feud Escalates: United Pilots Barred From Southwest Airlines Jump Seats After Controversial Incident

This stems from an incident where a “relatively new” United pilot reported some “inadequacies” to the FAA after jumpseating on a Southwest flight.

AOPA’s General Aviation Flyover in DC

Video: LIVE DC Flyover – AOPA’s National Celebration of General Aviation

FAA is investigating Boeing for apparent missed inspections on 787 Dreamliner

Boeing voluntarily disclosed to the FAA that some B787 Dreamliner inspections may not have been performed, but were signed off as completed. The inspections are intended to verify adequate bonding and grounding at the wing-fuselage joint.

In a statement to NPR, the FAA said it’s also investigating “whether Boeing completed the inspections and whether company employees may have falsified aircraft records.” The agency also said Boeing is re-inspecting “all 787 airplanes still within the production system and must also create a plan to address the in-service fleet.”

Boeing told NPR it “promptly notified the FAA and this is not an immediate safety of flight issue”.

Commercial jet maker Airbus is staying humble even as Boeing flounders. There’s a reason for that

Airbus has over 8,600 orders in backlog and can’t build planes fast enough. There is not much ability of Airbus to take orders from Boeing. (Boeing’s commercial backlog is more than 5,660 planes.)

Major airlines sue Biden administration over fee disclosure rule

The airlines don’t like the new DOT rule requiring upfront disclosure of airline fees. Filing a lawsuit against the DOT are Airlines for America, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, and Alaska Airlines. A4A said the new rules would confuse consumers and that its “attempt to regulate private business operations in a thriving marketplace is beyond its authority.”

Mentioned

Leo J. Kohn Digitization Project and Fundraising – Press Release [PDF]. The digitization and preservation project page where donations are accepted is https://www.wahf.org/kohn/.

Boeing YB-29J, "Pacsuan Dreamboat" on the tarmac.
Leo J. Kohn Photography Collection, #957 – Boeing YB-29J, “Pacsuan Dreamboat”, 44-84061. New York, NY. Photo by Larkins.

Exciting #SpotLAX24 Updates

ANA Star Wars livery
SpotLAX is a must-attend event!

Got $200K & Want To Fly Electric? This Ultralight eVTOL Ships In July & Doesn’t Require A Pilot License

Pivotal Helix eVTOL

Pivotal Helix eVTOL rendering.
Pivotal Helix eVTOL

Hosts this Episode

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

798 Satellite Communications

Satellite communications for aviation with the Executive Director of Aviation at Iridium Communications Inc. In the news, we’ve lost an aviation icon, a DOT Office of Inspector General report looks NextGen, an unruly passenger pays the price, a second Boeing whistleblower dies, the declining value of frequent flyer programs, and squawking the 7700 emergency distress code.

Guest

Logo of satellite communications provider Iridium Communications.

John Peterson is the Executive Director of Aviation at Iridium Communications Inc., a satellite communications company offering global voice and data coverage. John helps deliver Iridium’s safety, voice, and data solutions to pilots and operators. John is an aviation enthusiast and private pilot who has worked in the industry for 30 years in different roles, including engineering, product management, and leadership roles at Boeing, Collins, Gogo, and Honeywell.

Iridium provides an L-band service with signals that pass through weather effectively. The Ku-band and Ka-band frequencies used by others have higher data rates but are more susceptible to degradation caused by weather. Because of the L-band reliability, those frequencies are permitted for safety applications.

John explains that the infrastructure for ground-based communication is robust in the U.S., but not so over the ocean. Thus, satellite communications are necessary for flights over areas without ground stations.

We learn that the Iridium “legacy” satellites have a data rate of 2.4 kbps while the new Iridium Certus® satellites offer a faster 700 kbps. John explains the orbital planes of the Iridium Low Earth Orbit satellites and how data gets to ground stations via cross-links between satellites.

John tells us about GA applications for satellite communications and the value-added resellers. We also explore critical infrastructure support, narrow-band IoT (direct-to-device) technologies,  and how low-cost hand-held transponders could bring significant value to aviation.

Aviation News

Dick Rutan, co-pilot of historic round-the-world flight, dies aged 85

Dick Rutan was a USAF pilot, a Vietnam War veteran who flew 325 missions, and a test pilot. He flew the first unrefueled non-stop flight around the world with Jeana Yeager in the Rutan Voyager, designed by his brother Burt. Dick Rutan and Mike Melvill flew two Rutan Long-EZ kit aircraft around the world as the Spirit of EAA Friendship World Tour. Dick set the point-to-point distance record in a ground-launched, rocket-powered aircraft. He died from complications of Long COVID in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, on May 3, 2024. He was 85.

DOT Inspector General Report Faults FAA NextGen Progress

The Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), is a large-scale FAA initiative to modernize the U.S. National Airspace System (NAS). According to the FAA, “NextGen… has modernized air traffic infrastructure in communications, navigation, surveillance, automation, and information management with the aim of increasing the safety, efficiency, capacity, predictability, flexibility, and resiliency of American aviation. NextGen’s scope includes airport infrastructure improvements, new air traffic technologies and procedures, and safety and security enhancements.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) report says the NextGen air traffic management technology is not living up to FAA promises.

See: FAA’s Report on Air Traffic Modernization Presents an Incomplete and Out-of-Date Assessment of NextGen [PDF] from the OIG.

A United Airlines passenger got “belligerent” with flight attendants. Here’s what that will cost him.

A passenger from Chelmsford, England on a flight from London to Newark, New Jersey had a loud argument with his girlfriend. Then he started yelling at a flight attendant. Court documents indicate that he was verbally and physically aggressive. The TSA said, “When flight attendants asked [the man] to be quiet and attempted to calm him, he became belligerent, threatening, and intimidating towards them. He also said that he would “mess up the plane.” The man was restrained and the plane diverted to Bangor, Maine. On March 22, 2024, he pleaded guilty to one count of interfering with a flight crew and was sentenced to time already served and ordered to pay United Airlines $20,638.

Was Foul Play Involved in the Boeing Whistleblowers’ Deaths? People Are Definitely Worried About It.

A second Boeing whistleblower has died, in this case, the man was 45 and passed after becoming suddenly ill. Two months ago, another whistleblower was found dead in his truck from a gunshot wound.

The bad news about your airline points

It’s harder to gain status on Delta, Alaska has increased points needed for some destinations, American limited what tickets earn points (based on where you bought the tickets), some airlines stopped posting redemption charts so you don’t know what your points are worth, airlines sometimes charge more for “mileage multipliers” than what the points are worth, and some airlines charge a fee to transfer points.

Mystery of Why Multiple Flights Over Belgium Suddenly Started Transmitting Emergency Distress Call in Quick Succession Has Been Solved 

At least four aircraft flying over Belgium squawked the 7700 emergency distress code at about the same time. Observers were curious about why, but the controller asked them to squawk 7700 when rerouting them through airspace where the military was conducting training.

Mentioned

Graphic for the Rockets and Rotors special exhibit at the American Helicopter Museum & Education Center.

Hosts this Episode

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

797 Pilot Training

We look at pilot training with guest Jason Miller from The Finer Points. In the news, more pilot downsizing, new DOT rules for canceled and significantly delayed flights, the FAA reauthorization bill, a general aviation flyover of the nation’s capital, and airport vs. tornado.

Guest

Jason Miller hearshot

Jason Miller is a CFII with over 20 years of aviation experience who has given nearly 10,000 hours of instruction. He is a member of the FAA Safety Team, an instructor for AOPA’s Air Safety Institute, and the FAA named him the Western Pacific CFI of the Year for 2009 and 2016.

To help pilots improve their flying, Jason created The Finer Points aviation podcast in 2005. His pilot training resources have grown to include a YouTube channel, a CFI Club, a ground school app, and the Airplane Camp experience.

The Finer Points logo.

Jason has long believed in raising the bar on pilot training. The concept behind The Finer Points is packaging training excellence and developing the tools and products for pilots that fill the gaps in pilot training.

The CFI Club was created as a place where instructors can interact and continuously improve their skills. The 3-day Airplane Camp events are held for pilots several times a year and include lectures, food, and survival skills.

Jason’s Ground School flight training app for private and instrument ratings is a complete flight training system built from experience.

Aviation News

Southwest to Trim Workforce by 2,000, Offer Voluntary Time Off Programs as Boeing Delivery Delays Hit Finances

Following a 1st quarter 2024 net loss of $231, Southwest Airlines is undertaking several cost-cutting measures.  By year-end 2024, the airline plans to have 2,000 fewer employees. Southwest will slow hiring and offer voluntary time off programs. Also, Southwest is leaving four “underperforming markets:” Bellingham International Airport, Cozumel International Airport, Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport, and Syracuse Hancock International Airport. The airline originally planned to take delivery of 85 737MAX jets in 2024, but was revised downward to 46 airplanes, and again to 20 aircraft.

Cargo airline Amerijet warns of pilot furloughs amid downsizing

Since losing contracts with the U.S. Postal Service and others, Amerijet International plans to furlough some of its 272 pilots soon. How many pilots are furloughed depends on how many pilots accept the company’s offer of fewer working hours. In 2023 the pilot union negotiated a minimum of 74 paid hours, regardless of the number of hours flown.

Biden-Harris Administration Announces Final Rule Requiring Automatic Refunds of Airline Tickets and Ancillary Service Fees

The Department of Transportation announced its final rule for airlines. Airlines must give passengers full cash refunds for canceled and significantly delayed flights if the passenger doesn’t accept alternative transportation or travel credits. Passengers who file a mishandled baggage report will be entitled to a refund of their checked bag fee if it is not delivered within 12 hours of their domestic flight arriving at the gate, or 15-30 hours of their international flight arriving at the gate, depending on the length of the flight. Passengers will be entitled to a refund for the fee they paid for an extra service — such as Wi-Fi, seat selection, or inflight entertainment — if an airline fails to provide this service.

The final rule improves the passenger experience by requiring refunds to be:

  • Automatic: Airlines must automatically issue refunds without passengers having to explicitly request them or jump through hoops. 
  • Prompt: Airlines and ticket agents must issue refunds within seven business days of refunds becoming due for credit card purchases and 20 calendar days for other payment methods.
  • Cash or original form of payment: Airlines and ticket agents must provide refunds in cash or whatever original payment method the individual used to make the purchase, such as credit card or airline miles. Airlines may not substitute vouchers, travel credits, or other forms of compensation unless the passenger affirmatively chooses to accept alternative compensation.  
  • Full amount: Airlines and ticket agents must provide full refunds of the ticket purchase price, minus the value of any portion of transportation already used. The refunds must include all government-imposed taxes and fees and airline-imposed fees, regardless of whether the taxes or fees are refundable to airlines.

Here’s what flyers should know about the bipartisan FAA reauthorization bill

Draft legislation from House and Senate committees:

  • Would codify into law the Department of Transportation rules on refunds when an airline cancels or significantly delays flights.
  • Travel credits issued by airlines in place of refunds would be valid for at least five years.
  • Commercial aircraft cockpit voice recorders would record for 25 hours.
  • The FAA would be required to hire more air traffic controllers.
  • Additional runway technology requirements.
  • Expanded legal protections for ground-based employees.

General Aviation Flyover Of D.C. Set For May 11

On May 11, 2024, about 60 GA aircraft will fly over Washington, D.C.  The General Aviation DC Flyover commemorates the first proclamation of National Aviation Day in 1939 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the creation of AOPA 85 years ago. The aircraft will follow the Potomac River to downtown Washington, fly over the National Mall, and head down Independence Ave.

The flight will be visible from the mall area and live-streamed on AOPA’s YouTube channel. Commentary by AOPA Live anchor Tom Haines and aviation journalist Miles O’Brien starts at 11:45 EDT.

See: Washington, DC Metropolitan Area Special Flight Rules Area; Technical Amendment

Prohibited Area 56 (P-56) surrounds the White House, the National Mall, and the vice president’s residence in Washington, D.C. The only aircraft allowed to fly in that area are specially authorized flights that are in direct support of the U.S. Secret Service, the Office of the President, or one of several government agencies with missions that require air support within P-56. These prohibited areas have been in effect for about 50 years.

Nebraska Airport Raked by Tornado

The Eppley Airfield general aviation area was severely damaged by an EF3 tornado, which produces winds of 135 to 165 mph. Four hangars containing about 32 aircraft were destroyed.

Mentioned

Life is just a Breeze at PWM

Apple Vision Pro on the subway

Hosts this Episode

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

796 Air Traffic Controller Fatigue

To combat controller fatigue the FAA issued new rules for rest periods, another airport runway incursion, American Airlines pilots say the number of safety issues is increasing, Boom Supersonic received a Special Flight Authorization from the FAA to exceed Mach 1 for their XB-1 demonstrator, the Feds are using state resources to help enforce airline consumer laws, evidence shows someone other than a pilot at the controls of a charter flight operated by United, and a California bill would ban the CLEAR system at airports in the state.

Aviation News

New FAA rest rules to address ‘fatigue’ issues with air traffic controllers

Near-miss incidents continue to occur at the nation’s airports. After he toured air traffic control facilities, FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker said he “heard concerns about schedules that do not always allow controllers to get enough rest.”

From Statement from FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker:

Portrait of Michael Whitaker
Michael Whitaker, courtesy FAA

“In December 2023, we commissioned an independent panel of scientific fatigue experts to assess the risks introduced by controller fatigue in our system and to give us a roadmap to mitigate the risks. The panel’s report [PDF] brought into focus key reforms which we’re implementing immediately to ensure air traffic controllers are getting sufficient rest, while we also work to implement some longer term, systemic changes. As an initial step, I will require 10 hours off between shifts, and 12 hours off before a midnight shift, effective in 90 days, consistent with the expert panel’s recommendations. I am also directing the Air Traffic Safety Oversight Service to ensure the agency has a robust methodology to ensure compliance with this direction.”

The panel:

  • Mark Rosekind, a safety and sleep/fatigue professional and former National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) member.
  • Charles Czeisler, chief and senior physician, Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders, Departments of Medicine and Neurology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
  • Dr. Erin Flynn-Evans, head of the NASA Ames Research Center Fatigue Countermeasures Laboratory.
NATCA logo

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) has expressed concern that they were not consulted about the new controller fatigue rules, and those rules may not produce the intended result given the current controller shortage. See NATCA calls on FAA to collaborate on air traffic controller fatigue.

Southwest B38M at Washington on Apr 18th 2024, runway incursion forces rejected takeoff

A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-8 MAX performing a flight from Washington National, DC to Orlando, FL (USA), was taxiing for departure from runway 01 and taxied past the hold short line of runway 04. Meanwhile, a Jetblue Embraer ERJ-190 performing a flight from Washington National to Boston was cleared for takeoff from runway 04 and was accelerating.

Ground Control shouted that the Southwest plane should stop immediately and the crew stopped the aircraft about 40 meters/130 feet past the hold short line and about 30 meters/100 feet short of the runway edge line. The Jetblue crew aborted their takeoff at low speed and stopped about 240 meters/790 feet down the runway.

Aerial view of the airport showing relative positions of the two jets.
Graphics: AVH/Google Earth

American Airlines Pilots Claim There Has Been a “Significant Spike” in Safety Issues at the Carrier

In a leaked memo noting “problematic trends,” the Allied Pilots Association (APA) representing pilots at American Airlines asks members to take their time when conducting pre-departure checks. The union cites tools being left out, an increased number of aircraft collisions during towing, incorrect paperwork documenting aircraft damage, and hazards left by inexperienced ground staff on taxiways and around stands.

XB-1 to Mach 1

The FAA issued a Special Flight Authorization (SFA) to Exceed Mach 1 for Boom’s XB-1 demonstrator. Supersonic operations will occur in the Black Mountain Supersonic Corridor and some of the High Altitude Supersonic Corridor. This R-2515 airspace has been used extensively for research and military supersonic aeronautical operations.

Edwards AFB R-2515 Restricted Airspace: R-2515 Users Handbook [PDF]

The SFA extends to chase plane aircraft. A total of 10-20 flights are planned at the Mojave Air & Space Port (R-2508 Complex) before reaching supersonic speeds.

Biden Recruits 15 States to Help Enforce Airline Consumers Laws

Enforcement of consumer-protection laws covering airline travelers is the federal government’s purview. The U.S. Department of Transportation has signed memorandums of understanding with the attorneys general of 12 states and 3 others allowing them to investigate airline service complaints. If the states believe an airline violated the law or is refusing to cooperate with investigators, the states could refer cases to the DOT for enforcement.

The DOT will allow those states to access its consumer-complaint system and train state employees about applicable laws. Participating are Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin, as well as the District of Columbia, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

FAA, United Investigate Cockpit Visitor During Baseball Team’s Flight

On a Colorado Rockies charter flight operated by United Airlines, a man is seen in a video sitting in the captain’s chair during the flight. The FAA and United Airlines are investigating the incident. The video was posted to social media and YouTube, but subsequently removed. The man is seen at the controls of the Boeing 757.

California Moves To Ban CLEAR From Airports: No One Should Go Through Security Faster

Some California lawmakers think the CLEAR document verification system is anti-egalitarian. They are seeking to ban the service from airports in that state. The CLEAR service uses biometrics to identify passengers and allows them to go to the front of security queues. PreCheck and Global Entry would not be affected by the proposed law.

Mentioned

Ladybug Launch book cover.

Ladybug Launch: Inspired by a true story of chinitas in space by Melissa Trempe. The children’s book is based on the true story of Chilean high school girls who convinced NASA to send ladybugs to space. Find it on Amazon, at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, and in bookstores.

Boeing and the Dark Age of American Manufacturing

AI on the Ascent: Empowering the Aviation Maintenance Technician – Aviation Week Webinar, Wednesday, May 15, 2024 at 11:00 am ET / 8:00 am PT.

Hosts this Episode

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

795 Airline Industry Insights

Marisa Garcia offers airline industry insights. In the news, orders from Korean Air and Japan Air Lines, the Frontier financial incentive to retain new pilots, lower reward values for frequent flyer programs, landing a plane on the road, changing the name of an airport, and jet service for your dog.

Guest

Marisa Garcia headshot

Marisa Garcia is the founder, editor, and writer at FCMedia | FlightChic. She’s a freelance writer and senior contributor with Forbes.

FlightChic provides airline industry insights, analysis, and reviews, strongly focusing on the passenger experience. Marisa covers aircraft interiors, technical advancements, aviation safety and regulations, airline branding, and marketing strategies. Frequent flyers and aviation enthusiasts will find that Marisa’s writing provides valuable insights and perspectives on the evolving aviation landscape.

Marisa joins the conversation as we discuss recent JAL and Korean widebody orders. She offers her perspectives on the premium economy “sweet spot” for airlines and how onboard comfort has improved. Other topics include cabin crew training (especially safety training), the eroding value of airline frequent flyer programs, the criticality of aircraft interiors to safety, and how she became a “safety geek.” Marisa just published Why A B797 Revival Should Be Boeing’s New $50 Billion Plane in Forbes and has a lot to say about a Boeing “middle of the market” aircraft.

Marisa has worked directly designing and manufacturing aircraft interiors and safety equipment for many of the world’s leading airlines. She now applies that hands-on experience to reporting on product innovations, certification requirements, and new programs. The editorial aim of FlightChic is to highlight trends and make the industry easier to understand, both for professionals and everyday travelers.

See some recent articles by Marisa:

Aviation News

Korean Air Favors Airbus With Order For 33 New A350s

Korean Air announced an order for 33 A350 family aircraft: 27 A350-1000s and six A350-900s. The deal is valued at USD 13.7 billion. The A350-1000 can accommodate 350 to 410 passengers in a standard three-class configuration. The A350-900 variant is about 7 meters shorter than the A350-1000 and typically seats 300-350 passengers in a three-class layout.

Japan Airlines Will Introduce 42 New Planes from Airbus and Boeing. Accelerating International Network Growth With Advanced Fuel-Efficient Aircraft

JAL is acquiring 21 Airbus A350-900s, 11 A321neos, and 10 Boeing 787-9 planes. The A350s will be added to its international routes, augmenting its current A350 domestic operations. In January 2024, Japan Airlines debuted new cabins on their A350-1000 fleet of aircraft with enclosed suites.

Frontier Airlines Will Make New Hire Pilots Pay Nearly $60,000 If They Leave the Airline Within Two Years

As of May 1, 2024, the new Frontier Training Cost Repayment Agreement is designed to help the airline recoup the training cost for new pilots. Pilots who leave within two years will pay a prorated portion of the currently estimated $59,190 training cost.

Also, Frontier Airlines recently started a new out-and-back model business model where airplanes (and crew) return to their home base each night. Flight attendants don’t like the out-and-back model saying they earn less and spend more on hotel accommodation and commuting costs. The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) says that most of Frontier’s crew members don’t live close to their home base, and many commute more than 90 miles. The union wants Frontier to enter into contract negotiations over the issue.

Frequent Flyer Programs Deliver Lower Reward Value in the Era of Basic Economy Fares and Co-Branded Cards – Press Release

The IdeaWorksCompany Reward Seat Availability Survey answers the question, “How costly is points redemption for the most popular basic reward type offered by top US airlines?” The survey reviewed flight award programs from Alaska, American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, and United. These programs were found to have declining value to flyers.

Plane lands near Poland Springs building after running low on gas

A Cessna running low on fuel made an emergency landing on a road in an industrial area.

Oakland officials vote to include ‘San Francisco’ in airport’s name

The Board of Commissioners for the Port of Oakland voted to change the name of Oakland International Airport to San Francisco Bay Oakland International Airport. Oakland airport officials say travelers sometimes fly into San Francisco’s airport when their destination is closer to the Oakland airport. San Francisco has claimed a trademark violation and has threatened a lawsuit.

The world’s first doggy jet service will cost you $6K for a one-way ticket

BARK Air offers a “white paw” experience. The check-in process involves no crates or TSA checkpoints. Calming aids are provided in the cabin along with leashes, poop bags and a beverage. The first BARK Air flights take off on May 23, 2024.

Mentioned

LeVeL33 – Meetup April 19 or 20, 2024.

NASA Retires DC-8 Flying Lab

Hosts this Episode

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

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.