Category Archives: Episodes

807 Hydrogen-Electric eVTOL

The Joby hydrogen-electric eVTOL 523-mile flight, severe weather and the Southwest Dutch Roll, the danger of getting too close to an operating jet engine, excessive heat impacts on aviation, exploding soda cans that injure flight attendants, and turbulence and hot tea water burns.

Aviation News

Joby Aviation completes a 523-mile flight in an eVTOL powered by hydrogen-electric tech

Joby Aviation, Inc. announced it has successfully flown a liquid hydrogen-electric eVTOL  demonstrator 523 miles over California. The aircraft was based on a Joby pre-production prototype battery-electric aircraft fitted with a liquid hydrogen fuel tank and fuel cell system.

The Joby eVTOL in flight.
Joby Aviation photo.

The liquid hydrogen fuel tank was designed and built by Joby. It stores up to 40 kilograms of liquid hydrogen which feeds the fuel cell system that produces electricity, water, and heat. The electricity powers six electric motors on the Joby aircraft. Batteries provide additional power primarily during take-off and landing. Joby plans to start commercial operations as soon as 2025 with its battery-electric air taxi.

Press release: Joby demonstrates potential for emissions-free regional journeys with landmark 523-mile hydrogen-electric flight

Video: The Complete Flight Profile of Joby’s eVTOL Aircraft

Airbus to freeze hiring as it battles cut-price Chinese rival

In the face of competition from COMAC and a stronger Boeing, Airbus wants to cut costs. The company has a 6-year backlog of A320 family aircraft and is struggling to get production to the rate they desire. Aircraft owners who need narrowbody aircraft sooner are likely to look at Boeing and COMAC. So Airbus is seeking to focus its activity on an “improvement program,” although it may be years before the C919 is certified by Western regulators.

For years, COMAC, the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, has worked to establish a viable Chinese commercial airframer. They started with the ARJ21 regional jet and then proceeded to develop the C919 narrowbody in the B737/A320 class. Lately, they’ve been working on a C929 widebody jetliner.

A Southwest jet that did a ‘Dutch roll’ was parked outside during a severe storm

Investigators looking at the Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 Max that experienced a Dutch roll say the plane had been parked outside during thunderstorms with wind gusts of up to 84 mph. After some routine maintenance, the pilots experienced “odd movements of the rudder pedals.” The NTSB hasn’t determined when the observed tail damage occurred.

The speculation is that the tail damage occurred during the storm when the rudder slammed back and forth in the wind. Safety consultant John Cox, a former airline pilot, said “I do not see this as a Max issue. I do not see this right now as a 737 issue. I see this as a one-off.”

Airport Ground Worker Killed After Getting Sucked Into Engine of Boeing 737 When They Stepped Into the ‘Danger Zone’

The accident happened in Iran during routine maintenance when the engines were powered for a test run. The worker was trying to retrieve a tool left near the engine.

As extreme heat bakes the West, emergency helicopters struggle to fly

Medical helicopter flights have been canceled in some areas due to high temperatures. Air temperature and tarmac temperature can be factors. Also, a confined area can require more engine power to land, which is affected by high temperatures.

Amid Oppressive Heat, Broiling Airplane Cabins Add to Travelers’ Woes

Unusually hot weather is causing cabin air conditioning systems to struggle to keep up. The Department of Transportation is studying whether to set minimum standards for cabin temperatures.

Southwest Airlines Flight Attendants Are Being Injured By ‘Exploding’ Coca-Cola Cans as Summer Heats Soar

The Southwest Airlines drink restocking process is different than the one used by other airlines. Most airlines use chilled drinks carts that deliver the cans cool. But Southwest delivers the cans directly, which might be causing the problem. Southwest is investigating.

Passenger sues JetBlue for $1.5M claiming hot water scalded her, left ‘disfiguring burns’

The passenger was flying JetBlue flight 2237 from Orlando to Hartford, Connecticut. During the beverage service, some turbulence occurred and hot tea water spilled on the woman. She is suing JetBlue over alleged “disfiguring burns” and claiming JetBlue was “careless” and did not provide her with “reasonably safe traveling conditions.” The complaint alleges second and third-degree burns to the chest, legs, right arm, and backside.

Al Caruso Celebration of Life

Micah speaks with Eric Cianchette and John Miller remembering Al Caruso.

Mentioned

UMA’s Aviation Maintenance Technician Workforce Development Program Takes Off

Hosts this Episode

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

806 Fly-In

A look at the fly-in at the Spurwink Farm grass field. In the news, the EASA AD for Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines, Boeing and DOG agree to a plea deal, 737 oxygen generators, United travel delay messages, 107-II/CH-46 helicopter upgrade, and air travel complaints.

Spurwink Farm Fly-In

Our Main(e) Man Micah attended the 2024 Spurwink Farm fly-in and interviewed attendees and others.

A gyrocopter landing at the Spurwink Farm Fly-in.
Gyrocopter landing
A V-tail Bonanza landing at the Spurwink Farm Fly-in.
V-tail Bonanza landing.
Micah and 3 air bosses at the Spurwink Farm Fly-in.
Micah and the air bosses.

Aviation News

EASA Issues Airworthiness Directive Over Boeing 787 Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 Engine Parts

EASA (the European Union Aviation Safety Agency) has issued an updated airworthiness directive (2019-0286R1) for Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines. The AD pertains to Low Pressure Compressor front cases installed on Boeing 787 airplanes:

Engineering analysis has identified that 38 LPC front cases have non-optimal material properties. This could inhibit the intended function of the LPC front case to contain certain engine failures. This condition, if not corrected, could, in case of fan blade failure, lead to high energy debris release, possibly resulting in damage to, and reduced control of, the aeroplane.

The corrective action is to remove and replace the fan case for certain serial numbers. However, RR updated the population of affected parts to allow some to remain in service with inspections of LPC front case thickness at 16 locations.

Boeing to plead guilty to criminal fraud charge

The US Department of Justice and Boeing agreed to the previously reported plea deal. Boeing will plead guilty to a criminal fraud conspiracy charge and pay a criminal fine of $243.6m. The judge has to accept the deal. DOJ pointed out that the deal does not grant immunity to individuals.

FAA orders inspection of 2,600 Boeing 737s over oxygen mask issue

The passenger service unit oxygen generators can shift out of position due to a problem with a retention strap. The strap adhesive has been found to allow the generators to move.

Your Flight Is Delayed. Would More Details Make You Feel Better?

United Airlines is sharing a lot of flight delay and cancellation information via mobile alerts, texts, and emails.

Columbia and Piasecki Partner on Upgrade for 107-II and CH-46E Helicopters

Columbia Helicopters and Piasecki Aircraft Corporation (PiAC) are collaborating on a program to upgrade the Model 107-II tandem rotor helicopter to create a CH-46 107-III variant. Columbia holds the 107-II type certificate and intends to implement a phased series of STCs (supplemental type certificates) to upgrade the engines, introduce modern avionics, and make other improvements.

Air travel is getting worse. That’s what passengers are telling the US government

The DOT received so many complaints in 2023 that it took them until July to compile the numbers. Last year, the DOT received almost 97,000, just about a 13% increase over 2022. About 1.2% of flights were canceled in 2023, compared to 2.3% in 2022.So far this year, cancellations are around 1.3% In 2023, delays were about 21% of all flights, the same as this year. The DOT partly attributed the increase in complaints to greater consumer awareness of how to file a complaint. 

Mentioned

Land use around airports:

Aviation News Talk

The Journey is the Reward

Hosts this Episode

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

805 Running an Airport

The director of the Portland International Jetport explains airport surface detection and runway incursions, airport use restrictions, construction at the airport, the impacts of a power outage, and many other issues faced by airports. In the news, the NTSB reacts to a violation of its investigative regulations, Boeing plans to purchase Spirit Aerosystems, a resolution to the violation of the deferred prosecution agreement, the FAA’s Surface Awareness Initiative (SAI), a home damaged by space junk, and a pilot caught working for two airlines at the same time.

Guest

Photo of Paul Bradbury, Director of the Portland International Jetport (PWM).

Paul H. Bradbury is the director of the Portland International Jetport (PWM) in Portland, Maine. Since there have been many recent airport-related news stories, we asked Paul to join us and provide his insight.

One timely topic is runway incursions and surface surveillance systems. The Jetport currently employs an Autonomous Runway Incursion Warning System (ARIWS) but we also look at the  FAA’s Surface Awareness Initiative and the new uAvionics deployments.

We also discuss airport use restrictions, the different Part 135 and Part 121 requirements, and the financial, security, and safety impacts of service vs. on-demand operations.

Other topics include airport expansions, construction, and renovation while maintaining operations in the face of runway closures and back-taxiing on a runway. Also, residential development near the airport and land use issues such as improper zoning. Paul explains the impact of a power outage and the Jetport’s Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) backup project. We even talk about solar panel glare that impacts pilots, Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) requirements, and whether there should be a Gate 13. (See Airports having or skipping gate 13, based on airport size [OC]).

Aviation News

uAvionix enables ground surveillance for runway safety

The uAvionix FlightLine system provides ADS-B surveillance and surface situational awareness for Air Traffic Control towers at U.S. Airports. The system is qualified through the FAA’s Surface Awareness Initiative (SAI) program, a component of the FAA Surface Safety Portfolio. FlightLine is designed for facilities without existing surface surveillance systems. According to uAvionix, the FAA has identified over 230 airports that are potential candidates for an SAI solution.

The first FlightLine deployments by uAvionix are for Indianapolis International Airport (KIND) and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (KAUS) towers. The systems were to be fully operational by June 30, 2024. Aircraft positions on the surface and in airport arrival and departure corridors are displayed on a surface map of the airport. ADS-B is the primary source of aircraft position.

The Surface Awareness Initiative includes Approach Runway Verification and the Runway Incursion Device.

Boeing Sanctioned for Sharing Non-Public Investigative Information With Media on 737 Max 9 Door Plug Investigation

​​​Boeing “blatantly violated NTSB investigative regulations” and the NTSB announced a series of restrictions and sanctions on the company. Boeing provided non-public investigative information to the media and speculated about possible causes of the Jan. 5, 2024 door-plug blowout.

NTSB said Boeing will “no longer have access to the investigative information the NTSB produces as it develops the factual record of the accident.” Also, the NTSB will subpoena the company to appear at an investigative hearing into the case scheduled for Aug. 6 and 7, 2024 in Washington, DC. “Unlike the other parties in the hearing, Boeing will not be allowed to ask questions of other participants.”

See also:

Boeing to buy supplier Spirit AeroSystems in $4.7bn deal

Boeing plans to acquire Spirit AeroSystems in an all-stock transaction. Spirit, the manufacturer of the door plug, was spun off from Boeing in 2005. About 70% of all Spirit orders are for Boeing while Airbus accounts for roughly 25%. Spirit’s Northern Ireland operations that make wings and fuselage for the A220 will go to Airbus. Boeing will pay Airbus $559 million to take over four plants. The deal is subject to regulatory approvals.

Boeing will get a ‘sweetheart’ plea deal, says lawyer representing 737 Max crash victims

Lawyers representing the families of victims of the 737 Max crashes say that the US Justice Department is making a deal with Boeing concerning the deferred prosecution agreement. Reportedly, Boeing will plead guilty to criminal charges, pay a fine, agree to a corporate monitor, and be on probation for three years. The families would rather see a trial. They characterize this as a “sweetheart deal.”

A Florida family is suing NASA after a piece of space debris crashed through their home

After the space junk punched a hole in their roof, the family is seeking compensation for non-insured property damage, emotional and mental anguish, and other damages. Pilots must report incidents where objects fall from aircraft within 24 hours. The FAA tracks such incidents to ensure safety. Falling objects (including those from the sky) are typically covered under standard homeowners’ insurance policies for property damage.

Pilot Caught Secretly Working For Two Airlines

One Mile at a Time wonders how she managed schedules at two airlines without running into conflicts. Also, how long did she think this was going to last? Was she planning to pick one airline?

KM Malta pilot caught flying for another airline in breach of safety rules

The Shift reports that a first officer with KM Malta Airlines was found to be traveling to London during her rest period and working for Virgin Atlantic. Virgin fired the woman immediately when they discovered what she was doing, a violation of international safety rules and the employment contract. Reportedly, KM Malta Airlines initially suspended her but then reinstated the pilot. See also, Virgin Atlantic is hit by frightening safety scare after pilot’s disturbing secret was exposed and Pilot Caught Secretly Working For Two Airlines.

Mentioned

The Air Show Podcast

Flight Planning Demands a Dose of Common Sense

Airbus releases its first original free-to-view docuseries, A330neo evolution

The series is titled “A330neo: The Heir Apparent.” It’s an Airbus Original documentary series that explores the A330neo. Find episodes on the Airbus YouTube channel.

Video: A330neo: The Heir Apparent – An Airbus Original series (Trailer)

Dassault Falcon 7X at the Portland Jetport.
Dassault Falcon 7X
Three airplane geeks at a beachfront picnic table.
An FO, Micah, and Captain Dana

Hosts this Episode

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

804 Triphibian

Boeing CEO testifies before Congress and prosecutors ask for criminal charges, investigators look into a low-altitude Southwest flight and an activist investor wants Southwest CEO out, NTSB released a close-call preliminary report, and Cirrus won’t approve a certain 100LL fuel. Also, an Australia Desk report, the E-3 AWACS jet, and a Triphibian.

Aviation News

Boeing CEO grilled at Senate hearing: ‘The problem’s with you’

Boeing CEO David Calhoun testified at a two-hour Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations hearing. Calhoun admitted that whistleblowers were retaliated against. Subcommittee chair Sen. Richard Blumenthal stated “After whistleblower John Barnett raised his concerns about missing parts, he reported that his supervisor called him 19 times in one day and 21 times another day. And when Barnett asked his supervisor about those calls, he was told, ‘I’m going to push you until you break.’”

Blumenthal said that in his opinion, the Department of Justice should criminally prosecute Boeing for violating its 2021 deferred prosecution agreement. The DOJ has until July 7, 2024, to decide how it will act.

Video: Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun testifies before Senate committee on safety issues — 6/18/2024

Victims’ Attorney Asks DOJ To Fine Boeing; Prosecute Executives

In his 32-page letter to the DOJ, Professor Paul Cassell of the S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City asks for $24 billion in fines, that part of the $24 billion fine should be used for “corporate compliance and new safety measures,” that a corporate monitor is appointed to review the safety measures and “to direct improvement as appropriate.” Also that the DOJ prosecutes former Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg and other “responsible corporate executives.”

Exclusive: US prosecutors recommend Justice Dept. criminally charge Boeing

U.S. prosecutors asked Justice Department officials to bring criminal charges against Boeing for violation of the deferred prosecution agreement.

Federal officials are investigating a Southwest Airlines low flight over Oklahoma City suburbs

A Southwest Airlines plane triggered an automated low-altitude alert nine miles out from the Oklahoma City airport. Flightradar24 shows the plane descending to about 525 feet AGL over Oklahoma City suburbs. Air traffic control asked, “Southwest 4069, low altitude alert. You doing OK?” The pilot responded, “Yeah, we’re going around.” The air traffic controller responded telling the pilot to maintain 3000 feet. Federal officials are investigating.

Southwest’s Diehard Fans Don’t Want Airline to Change

Activist hedge fund company Elliott Investment Management has taken a $1.9 billion stake in Southwest Airlines and wants to oust the airline’s CEO Robert Jordan. Elliott says Jordan “has delivered unacceptable financial and operational performance quarter after quarter and Jordan and former CEO Gary Kelly (currently the executive chairman) “are not up to the task of modernizing Southwest.” Elliott wants to replace Jordan and Kelly with outsiders and make “significant” changes to the board of directors with others who bring airline experience.

NTSB Releases Preliminary Reports On Two Airline Close Calls

In April 2024, a Swiss Air A330 aborted its takeoff from Runway 4L at JFK after they saw taxiing traffic on the runway. One controller cleared the Swiss flight for takeoff, and a ground controller cleared four other airplanes to cross the same runway. In February 2023, TCAS (traffic/collision alert system) issued “resolution advisories” over an inbound Mesa Airlines Bombardier CRJ900 and a SkyWest Embraer EMB-170 at  Hollywood-Burbank Airport. The two aircraft came within 1,700 feet of each other.

Cirrus: G100UL Use May Void Warranties

GAMI Responds To Cirrus G100UL Service Advisory

General Aviation Modifications Inc. has invested in developing an unleaded, high-octane fuel that could replace leaded avgas in piston airplanes. Cirrus has tested G100UL fuel in SR20, SR22, and SR22T aircraft, but the result is mixed. Cirrus says “While some aspects of the initial Cirrus testing of the GAMI G100UL fuel are encouraging, other areas, including materials compatibility, remain inconclusive. At this time, Cirrus does not approve the use of GAMI G100UL fuel in Cirrus SR Series airplanes.” See Transition to Unleaded Fuel and Use of Non-Cirrus Approved Fuel in SR Series Aircraft [PDF].

Australia Desk

Grant and Steve return for an Australia Desk report, the first for 2024, and much has happened in the first half of the year on the Australian aviation scene.

Sadly, in a case of “we told you so”, new LCC entrant Bonza Air has ceased operations after 15 months, entering into voluntary administration on April 30th.  Despite numerous reports of a buyer being found for the group, lessors had repossessed the company’s 737 MAX8 aircraft, the last of which departed Australia on June 5th.

Bonza joins a long list of failed operators who’ve tried to enter the local airline market, only to find that hype, spin, and fancy PR only go so far before the financial realities of operating in an ultra-competitive aviation environment begin to take their toll.  Previous entrants include Compass, Air Australia, JetGo, Impulse (which morphed eventually into Jetstar), OzJet, and most notably (but for perhaps a wider range of issues) Ansett.

But fear not!  As cringe-worthy as the infantile branding of Bonza was, Grant shakes Steve to his boots with news of a possible new contender under the name Koala Airlines.  Oh, dear….

Bonza owes money to almost 60,000 customers, hundreds of staff, and 120 suppliers, court hears

Koala Airlines

In defence news, the RAAF has taken delivery of its first MQ-4C Triton aircraft; the first of four on order which will be based in northern Australia at RAAF Base Tindal, and operated remotely from RAAF Base Edinburgh in South Australia by 9 Squadron.

9SQN had been stood down since 1989, following the transfer of Australia’s Blackhawk fleet to the Army, and has now been reactivated in this new RPAS role.  The squadron enjoys a rich history however, dating back to its inception in 1939.

First Australian Triton lands at Tindal

No. 9 Squadron RAAF

Plane Crazy Down Under

Mentioned

Familyfest Boeing/Leonardo MH-139A Grey Wolf Helicopter

MVP Aero Model 3 Amphibious Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) –  A prototype “triphibian” light-sport aircraft.

Promotional poster for the Spurwink Farm Fly-In.

Hosts this Episode

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

803 Innovations in Flight

Innovations in Flight at the National Air & Space Museum, FAA preparing to address the public charter loophole, titanium components manufactured with improper paperwork, Southwest 737 MAX experienced a “Dutch Roll,” Lockheed Martin team receives Collier Trophy, and business jet found after 53 years.

Innovations in Flight

The annual Innovations in Flight was held June 15, 2024, at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air & Space Museum, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, adjacent to Dulles International Airport.

The outdoor fly-in features over 50 unique aircraft, flown in for one day only. Visitors explored the engineering and design innovations that have taken place during the last century of flight and talk with the pilots of vintage and modern aircraft on display.

Sign inviting kids to "be on a podcast."

Again this year, Hillel Glazer flew his 1972 Piper Cherokee 180 to Innovations in Flight. He describes how aircraft are selected to participate, the process of arriving and departing from Dulles Airport, and the taxiway through the woods that connects the two facilities.

Perhaps most notably, Hillel recorded conversations with some younger visitors, ages 7 to 13. In this episode, you can hear Johnny (Age 7), Alexandra (Age 8), Phoebe (Age 12), Luka (Age 12), and Jackson (Age 9). Jackson even has his own YouTube channel: Flight Pattern Talk with Jax.

Listener JD and Hillel at Innovations in Flight.
LIstener JD Gold (left) 777 Pilot for FedEx with Hillel (right).
Hillel's plane reflecting in the museum's architectural feature.
Reflections on the museum’s architectural feature above the side door.
Lined up behind a NOAA P-3 waiting to depart Dulles Airport.
Waiting in the conga line to depart behind the NOAA “P-3”

Aviation News

FAA Cracks Down On “Public Charter” Loophole, Bad News For JSX

The so-called “public charter loophole” allows charter companies to operate from private terminals without some of the requirements that larger carriers are subject to, such as TSA screening and pilots with more than 1,500 flight hours. The FAA says they are now going to address this situation by issuing an NPRM that would amend the definitions of “scheduled,” “on demand,” and “supplemental” operations.

Titanium in Boeing, Airbus jets lacks proper documentation, companies say

Spirit AeroSystems used titanium that had counterfeit documentation and which found its way into both Airbus and Boeing aircraft. U.S. and European safety regulators are investigating, while the companies involved say the titanium is not a safety issue, only the documentation is deficient.

US NTSB investigating ‘Dutch roll’ by Southwest Boeing 737 MAX

The Dutch roll occurred at 34,000 feet on a flight from Phoenix, Arizona to Oakland, California. The lateral asymmetric movements of the roll were named after a Dutch ice skating technique. Pilots regained control of the plane which proceeded without additional incident, however, Southwest found damage to structural components and the NTSB and FAA are investigating.

See: Yaw Dampers and video: What is a Dutch Roll?

The National Aeronautic Association Recognizes Lockheed Martin with Prestigious Collier Trophy

The 2023 Robert J. Collier Trophy was awarded by the National Aeronautic Association (NAA) to Lockheed Martin for the team’s work on NASA’s OSIRIS-REx sample return mission which collected an asteroid sample in 2020 and returned it to Earth on Sept. 24, 2023. The OSIRIS-Rex team includes Lockheed Martin, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Johnson Space Center, the University of Arizona, and KinetX, among many others.

A jet disappeared in Vermont over 53 years ago. Experts believe they’ve found it in Lake Champlain

Air controllers lost contact with the Aero Commander Jet Commander 1121A ( N400CP) shortly after takeoff in 1971 over Lake Champlain in Vermont. It was only found after an underwater searcher located it recently at a depth of 200 feet. The NTSB will verify that this is the plane from 1971.

Small plane crash-lands in Androscoggin River in Topsham

The 1947 fixed-wing single-engine Aeronca 7AC Champion is fully submerged, after experiencing mechanical problems.

Mentioned

Mobile Helicopter Exhibit

The mobile helicopter exhibit.
“Stubby,” the helicopter exhibit.

MAC Air Group founder Al Caruso flies west at the age of 74

Video: FIGHTER JET DELAY? – F-35’s buzz over Phillies vs. Orioles game in Baltimore causing a short delay

Hosts this Episode

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

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.