We learn about the Bambi Buckets carried by helicopters in aerial firefighting operations. In the news, the wreckage of the cargo jet that made a water landing is located, Richard Branson flies into space, the F-35A wins a Swiss competition and Germany buys the P-8A Poseidon, but China isn’t having a lot of success exporting their fighters, thoughts on supersonic transports, unruly passengers and defense training for flight attendants.
Sergio Fukamati is the aerial firefighting director at SEI Industries Ltd., maker of Bambi Buckets. SEI Industries is an industrial fabric products manufacturer established in 1978 and best known for its Bambi Bucket Systems used in aerial firefighting operations worldwide. These lightweight, strong, and flexible firefighting buckets were first introduced in 1982 and since then have become a very successful firefighting tool. The Bambi Bucket is now used in over 115 countries by more than 1,000 helicopter operators.
Sergio has over 25 years of international business management experience. He is a professional engineer and a registered project management professional. Sergio has led the Aerial Firefighting Division at SEI Industries Ltd, in Delta, BC, Canada since 2017.
Transair Flight 810 has been found on the seafloor at depths between 360 and 420 feet, about two miles off the shore. Parts of the Boeing 737-200 cargo plane were located using a Side Scan Sonar and Remotely Operated Vehicle. The wreckage is too deep for divers to recover the flight data and cockpit voice recorders and plans are being developed to recover the aircraft.
Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson becomes the first billionaire to travel to space aboard a spacecraft he helped fund. Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity space plane landed safely at Spaceport America. Branson announced a partnership with charity fundraising site Omaze where people can donate to the nonprofit Humanity for Space. The winner gets two seats on a Virgin Galactic commercial flight. See Win Two Seats on One of the FIRST Virgin Galactic Flights to Space.
Switzerland has chosen the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter in a $6.5 billion competition against Eurofighter, Dassault, and Boeing. The Swiss Federal Council said the F-35 offered the highest performance for the lowest price, although it noted that the F-35 did not achieve the best performance in the area of offsets.
This maritime surveillance aircraft sale is under the U.S. government’s Foreign Military Sales (FMS) process. The P-8A is used for anti-submarine warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and search-and-rescue operations.
China hopes to become a major exporter of fighter jets but hasn’t found much success. Most countries don’t want to partner with Beijing. Between 2000 and 2020, the United States exported $99.6 billion in military aircraft, Russia exported $61.5 billion, France exported $14.7 billion, while China exported only $7.2 billion worth of military aircraft.
The US Department of Transportation plans to propose that airlines would refund baggage fees if they fail to deliver a passenger’s bag within 12 hours of touchdown for US flights, or within 25 hours after an international flight. Also, airlines would have to refund the fees charged for other services if the service was not provided.
Voluntary classes for airline flight crews were paused in 2020 due to the pandemic. Now the Transportation Security Administration says they will resume in July. The FAA says airlines have reported more than 3,000 incidents involving unruly passengers since January 1, 2021.
On July 4, 2021, our friend and Airplane Geeks reporter-at-large Launchpad Marzari was killed when his Focke-Wulf FWP-149D crashed while enroute from New Braunfels Regional Airport to Skylark Field in Killeen, Texas. We are deeply saddened by the loss of this kind and generous man.
In this episode, Max Flight, Micah, David Vanderhoof, Max Trescott, Hillel, Brian Coleman, and Isaac Alexander reflect on their experiences with Launchpad and share some stories about the man who was larger than life.
Donations in Memory of Brad “Launchpad” Marzari
In lieu of flowers, memorials in honor of Brad’s involvement with EAA and the Young Eagles can be made out to EAA Aviation Foundation. Donations can be made by check or online:
Checks can be made out to EAA Aviation Foundation and in the memo section write “Young Eagles – Brad Marzari”. Please mail checks to P. O. Box 3816, Oshkosh, WI 54903-3816.
Donations can also be made online by going to eaa.org/give. Click on the blue Give Today button. Under the “Use my donation to support” dropdown, choose “Young Eagles.” In the comments section write “In memory of – Brad Marzari”
September – December 2019 issue of The Flyer [PDF], from the Commemorative Air Force, Page 21-22, Special Feature, Brad Marzari’s Focke-Wulf 149D, by Brad Marzari.
Flying Over the Swiss Alps in a PA-28, from the Adventure Flying podcast presented Icon Aircraft. Listen to Launchpad as he describes two of his most memorable experiences flying. The first was something of an unusual trip across the Swiss Alps in a PA-28. The second was flying into Zurich International Airport in a GA aircraft, when he had just received his pilot’s license.
We talk with a company that provides educational jet fighter cockpit experiences. In the news, Amazon Air adds turboprops to the fleet, Boeing 777X certification, a new 4K Ultra HD flight data recorder, Virgin Galactic approval for commercial passenger space flights, and exiting the aircraft after the door closes.
Dewy Larson is the owner of DreamBIG Entertainment LLC, a company that gives you the opportunity to sit in the cockpit of a fighter jet. DreamBIG Entertainment travels exclusively within the United States, attending air shows, festivals, fairs, and other events. They share the history and the rare opportunity to experience fully restored A-7D Corsair II and F-18 Hornet cockpits.
The A-7 and F-18 Hornet cockpits tour the United States as a Mobile Interactive Aviation Museum. The DreamBIG experience runs from February to November and can be brought anywhere. For the latest schedule, visit the DreamBIG Entertainment LLC Facebook page.
Sources have told The Air Current that Amazon Air plans to add about 10 leased ATR 72-500 freighters to its fleet of Boeing aircraft. The company has a strategy to reach smaller communities with a one-day delivery service.
Boeing is trying to certify the 777X but the FAA has informed the company that it has concerns and Boeing may have to increase the number of test flights planned. That pushes certification more than two years, probably too late 2023. FAA concerns include an “uncommanded pitch event” in a Dec. 8, 2020 test flight, a critical avionics system that does not meet requirements, and late hardware and software changes in the flight controls.
Appareo announced a new 4K ultra-high-definition AIRS-400 Airborne Image Recording System (AIRS), equipped for cellular data offload. The unit captures pilot intercom system audio, ambient audio, and detailed flight data. Using internal inertial measurement units, AIRS-400 captures WAAS GPS (altitude, latitude, longitude, ground speed, vertical speed), attitude data (pitch, roll, yaw), rates of rotation, and acceleration data (G forces)
Airplane Geeks reporter-at-large Launchpad Marzari spoke with Chris Garberg, the president of Appareo Aviation.
With the upgraded space transportation operator license, Virgin Galactic could begin carrying paying passengers to space. It has been reported that Virgin Galactic currently has over 600 reservations for its planned commercial passenger space flights, with ticket prices running between $200,000 and $250,000.
A United Express flight operated by SkyWest Airlines was leaving the gate but a passenger apparently felt compelled to exit the plane. He tried to get into the cockpit, then opened the emergency door, which deployed the slide, and out he went. Man injured after jumping out of airplane at LAX.
We talk with Ellie Carter, Britain’s youngest solo glider pilot, and youngest single-engined PPL holder. Ellie has a passion for helping youngsters in aviation. In the news, the possibility of just one pilot on the flight deck for long haul flights, Airbus eyes an A350 freighter derivative, airlines struggle to meet the growing travel demand, a unique checked baggage item, a delay and possible price increase for the new Air Force One planes, the U.S. Air Force wants to know who would bid on a contract for the KC-Y bridge tanker, and an open rotor engine.
Across the Pond
Pieter Johnson welcomes Ellie Carter to Across The Pond. At age 14, Ellie became Britain’s youngest solo glider pilot and later went on to become Britain’s Youngest single-engined PPL holder, having soloed at 16. She is currently qualifying for her aerobatic and IFR ratings.
A STEM ambassador and Chair of the Light Aircraft Association’s Youth and Education Support Strut, Ellie has a passion for helping youngsters into aviation and has just completed her A-Level exams specializing in maths.
Ellie has been awarded the British Women’s Pilots Association, Hilda Hewitt Trophy, for her actions and her example, being an inspiration to her peer group. Most recently Ellie was awarded the Light Aircraft Association’s President’s Breitling Certificate for her work in promoting younger people in aviation.
Long-haul flights typically have three or four pilots, with two pilots on the flight deck. Airbus and Cathay Pacific are working on a system to allow only one pilot on the flight deck at cruising altitude on long-haul flights.
Airbus is interested in competing in a market dominated by Boeing, and will reportedly be seeking board approval to proceed with an A350-based freighter. The modified A350-900 might be slightly longer than the passenger version and take four to five years from the launch date to enter service.
Travel demand is going up in the U.S. and American Airlines wants to be ready. A company memo is asking non-union employees to volunteer their help at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. The corporate scheduling, planning, and communications workers are being asked to work unpaid 6-hour shifts helping travelers in international terminals and other tasks.
The U.S. Air Force posted a Contracting Opportunity for new tankers. The “Sources Sought” request is “to determine if there exists an adequate number of qualified interested contractors capable of providing solutions to meet the requirement. The Government may use the responses to this Sources Sought for information and planning purposes.” The Air Force is looking for companies that can deliver approximately 140-160 Commercial Derivative Tanker Aircraft—at a rate of 12 to 15 per year—to supplement the Air Force Tanker Aircraft fleet at the end of KC-46A production, and bridge the gap to the next Tanker recapitalization phase.
Vertical Aerospace is an electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOL) startup based in the UK. The company announced pre-orders for up to 1,000 of its electric VA-X4 vertical takeoff aircraft. American Airlines ordered between 250 and 350 aircraft, Virgin Atlantic ordered between 50 and 150, and aircraft leasing group Avolon ordered 310.
The VA-X4 seats 4 PAX and a pilot, with commercial flights expected in 2024. The aircraft can cruise at 202 mph, has a usable range of up to 120 miles, and is claimed to be 100x quieter than a helicopter thanks to the VA-X4’s distributed propulsion system.
Vertical plans to go public this year on the New York Stock Exchange via a SPAC merger (special purpose acquisition) in a deal valuing it at $2.2 billion. SPAC investors include American Airlines, Avolon, Honeywell, Rolls-Royce, and Microsoft’s venture capital fund M12.
World Championship Air Race is coming in 2022 and we speak with the series race director. In the news, Aerion’s supersonic intentions falter while Boom Supersonic flourishes, the 2020 Robert J. Collier Trophy winner is announced, the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A turns 60, and an American Airlines diversion due to lack of water.
Willie Cruickshank is Race Series Director for the World Championship Air Race (WCAR). Sanctioned by the FAI, the WCAR will consist of two series that run in parallel: GP1 contested by top-ranking teams, and GT contested by developing pilots. Willie explains how the series differs from similar races in the past, the teams and venues, and the aircraft that will compete. He also comments on how new propulsion technologies might be introduced. Racing is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2022.
Willie was an RAF fighter pilot for 26 years, retiring as a Group Captain. He went on to spend nine years as a display pilot with the UK-based Wildcat Aerobatics team before joining the Red Bull Air Race World Championship. As Head of Aviation and Sport for that Championship, he was responsible for all aspects of flying operations including flight safety, racecourse design, pilot training, and briefing. Now as a board director of WCAR, Willie oversees all operational aspects of the series.
Aerion announced on May 21, 2021 that “in the current financial environment, it has proven hugely challenging to close on the scheduled and necessary large new capital requirements to finalize the transition of the AS2 into production.” The AS2 was to be a business jet carrying 8-12 passengers at 1,000 mph.
United ordered 15 of the 88-PAX Overture, and has options for 35 additional planes. Boom CEO Blake Scholl Scholl said in a statement, “The world’s first purchase agreement for net-zero carbon supersonic aircraft marks a significant step toward our mission to create a more accessible world.” He told The Air Current that the estimated total investment required is $8B. Boom is planning test flights in 2026 and passenger service of the Mach 1.7 plane in 2029.
The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) announced that Garmin Autoland has been named as the recipient of the 2020 Robert J. Collier Trophy for “… designing, developing, and fielding Garmin Autoland – the world’s first certified autonomous system that activates during an emergency to safely control and land an aircraft without human intervention.” The Collier Trophy is awarded annually for “… the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America, with respect to improving the performance, efficiency, and safety of air or space vehicles, the value of which has been thoroughly demonstrated by actual use during the preceding year.”
The Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC) PT6A is a turboprop engine used in many aircraft. It was produced in variants from 500 to 1,940 shp. First flight was May 30, 1961, from Toronto’s Downsview Airport in a twin-engine RCAF Beech 18 Expeditor 3T that had the PT6 attached to the nose. The engine entered service in 1964.
When flight attendants realised there was no running water aboard an American Airlines flight to London Heathrow, the Boeing 777-300 returned to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport an hour and a half after departure.
Spurwink Farm Pancake Breakfast and Fly-In, at Spurwink Farm in Cape Elizabeth, Maine on July 11, 2021.
Avelo Airlines flight report, Redbird Flight Simulation, Nicki’s flying adventures, the covert Ravens program, the Commemorative Air Force, USAF Aerial Targets Squadron, the Flying Musicians Association, and a commentary about sustainable jet fuel.
Launchpad Marzari spoke with Hank Coats, the CEO and president of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) and Nancy McGee, Vice President of Education about their new headquarters and the Henry B. Tippie National Aviation Education Center.
Dennis Klotz and Trent McMillan represented the Flying Musicians Association at Sun ‘n Fun. Founded in 2009, this 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization is for pilots who are also musicians. They welcome all proficiency levels and musical genres.
Commentary on sustainable aviation fuel
In this opinion piece, Main(e) Man Micah tells us his views about sustainable fuel for aviation.
The SE200 concept airliner from SE Aeronautics is a tri-wing design with two rear-mounted engines and a double tail fin. The widebody jet would seat 264+ passengers and burn 70 percent less fuel than a plane of similar size. The SE200 is a 100% molded composite aircraft, with a claimed 80% reduction in CO2 emissions per seat kilometer. Flying at Mach .9, the jet would have a range of 10,560 miles at 500+ PMPG.
Colonial Pipeline’s insufficient security allowed a ransomware attack to shut down the company’s 5,500 mile fuel pipeline from the Texas Gulf Coast to New Jersey. This led to widespread gasoline shortages across the U.S. East Coast, and impacted the supplies of jet fuel.
The emergency exit door separated from a Boutique Airlines flight just before takeoff from Gogebic-Iron County Airport in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. One passenger said his carry-on bag was sucked out. Apparently, the pilots failed to complete a pre-flight checklist.
On March 16, 1962, 93 soldiers, 11 crew, and 3 South Vietnamese soldiers boarded Flying Tiger Line Flight 739 for a secret mission to Saigon. They never arrived and the subsequent search and rescue operation found nothing. The families of those lost never knew what happened.
Warbird Adventures, which operates a World War II P-40 fighter training aircraft certificated in the limited category, asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to review an FAA emergency cease-and-desist order. The company was providing flight instruction without an exemption to FAR 91.315. In a two-page ruling Warbird Adventures, Inc., et. al. v. FAA., the court refused to review the emergency cease-and-desist order.
Across the Pond
Pieter Johnson (XTP Media) and Gareth Stringer (Editor of Global Aviation Resource) provide a special Across the Pond segment to mark the tenth anniversary of the first ATP segment on Airplane Geeks.
For more great aviation content, listen to the Xtended podcast, including Episode 116 – Restoration Force & the Cockpiteers with Gavin Hoffen on his new book Restoration Force about cockpit restoration projects.
Fridge Magnet Give-a-way
Send an aviation-themed postcard to:
Airplane Geeks Give-A-Way 2935 Mystic Mountain Lane Belton, Texas. 76513
Elite Airways in Auburn, Maine hosted an “Aircraft Pulling” event to benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of Mid-Maine. Teams competed to pull a 31,000-pound CRJ200 15 feet. The team that pulled the aircraft 15-feet the fastest won a trophy. Elite Airways also gave out two round-trip tickets to the team that raised the most money.
Dr. Geoffrey Bower, the Chief Engineer at Archer Aviation, discusses eVTOL aircraft for the urban air mobility industry. In the news, bad behavior can get your frequent flyer account deleted, more 737 MAX woes, the Airbus A380 is fading for many airlines, LCC Avelo Airlines starts operation, the Aviation Safety Reporting System is extended to drone operators, and a story of missing luggage.
Dr. Geoffrey Bower is the Chief Engineer at Archer Aviation, a California-based startup in the emerging Urban Air Mobility (UAM) industry. The company is developing an all-electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft with a mission to advance the benefits of sustainable air mobility.
Geoff describes why UAM is receiving so much attention and why so many companies are involved. We look at the different eVTOL missions and design approaches, and the factors that affect efficiency and the cost of the aircraft. Geoff helps us understand crewed vs. autonomous eVTOL aircraft, and what is limiting the number of passengers they will carry. Pilot type ratings and the GAMA Simplified Vehicle Operations concept are also covered.
Infrastructure requirements are key to UAM success, as are regulator support and managing public acceptance, particularly with respect to noise footprint and affordability. Geoff talks about Archer Aviation eVTOL development and testing, and their timeline for first flight of a demonstrator aircraft.
Geoff has nearly 10 years of industry experience working on eVTOL aircraft. He started his career working on flight control system development and aerodynamic modeling at Zee.Aero. From 2016 through 2019 he was Chief Engineer for Project Vahana at A3, the Silicon Valley innovation center of Airbus. He led the engineering team that designed, built, and completed a successful flight test campaign of the Vahana Alpha demonstrator.
Geoff received a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a M.S. and Ph.D. in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Stanford University.
The FAA is cracking down on unruly passengers, and so is Delta. After an update to the airline’s SkyMiles program terms and conditions, “documented abusive behavior” is now grounds for termination of the offender’s frequent flyer account. Even being banned from flying on Delta is possible. Delta says examples of abusive behavior include personal threats, profanity, obscene language, insults or slurs directed to a Delta employee or ambassador. It also covers any intentional destruction to Delta property.
Last month, Boeing asked 16 customers to temporarily ground 737 MAX airplanes due to an electrical grounding problem on some specific tail numbers. Boeing said this manufacturing issue was unrelated to the MCAS problem and “could affect the operation of a backup power control unit.” The problem arises from a manufacturing process change. Now the FAA wants to see more analysis that shows this electrical problem does not affect other subsystems.
The FAA issued an Airworthiness Directive to check a pressure transducer for possible corrosion in Boeing 737 MAX CFM LEAP-1B engines after long-term storage. “The checks must be completed before each flight during the first 15h of power being applied to engines following prolonged storage.”
The FAA says a “manufacturing quality escape” affecting high pressure turbine cases could cause uncontained engine failures. “Several x-rays of the bleed ports of the HPT case showed 148 parts with nonconforming indications, eight of which were significant enough to impact the life of the HPT case.”
The A380 was a great idea at the time, motivated by high passenger volume and low airport capacity. But those conditions have changed. Air France, Etihad, Lufthansa, Qatar, and Thai have grounded some or all of their A380s. Malaysia Airlines is about to join that list, with the carrier’s half-dozen A380s unlikely to fly passengers again.
Reports were received that an airplane departed Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport with an unsecured luggage compartment. It seems the compartment opened in flight and some luggage may have fallen out. The CRJ-700 returned to the airport without incident and passengers took another airplane to the flight destination, Chicago. One customer reported a missing bag. American Airlines says they are investigating.
This April, 2021 report on the electric aircraft market pegs it at $30 billion where eVTOL accounts for 48%, eCTOL (electric conventional take off and land) under 20PAX at 32%, and eCTOL for 20-100PAX at 20%.
Mayo Clinic Clear Approach podcast – The podcast for aerospace medicine that matters, by Greg Vanichkachorn, M.D., M.P.H., and aerospace medicine specialist, family physician, occupational medicine specialist.