651 Ingenuity Flies on Mars

Ingenuity becomes the first aircraft to make a powered, controlled flight on another planet. Also, green aviation initiatives from IAG, Southwest Airlines, and Universal Hydrogen; the F-15EX gets a new name; a museum reopens and a major GA event is canceled; a recap of the 2021 Sun ‘n Fun Aerospace Expo; and a Lego story.

Aviation News

Ingenuity Becomes the First aircraft to Fly on Another Planet

The NASA solar-powered Ingenuity Mars helicopter has become “the first aircraft in history to make a powered, controlled flight on another planet.” The first flight flew 3 meters above the Martian surface for 39 seconds. The second flight was 5 meters for 51.9 seconds. The third flight was also to 5 meters then Ingenuity flew downrange 50 meters reaching a top speed of 2 meters per second.

Ingenuity Mars helicopter gets official international call-sign

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has established official designations for Ingenuity and Wright Brothers Field where it operates from on Mars. The Ingenuity first flight has been given the IGY three-letter designator and the call sign INGENUITY. Wright Brothers Field is designated JZRO for Jezero Crater.

IAG to power 10 percent of its flights with sustainable aviation fuel by 2030

International Airlines Group (IAG) intends to purchase one million tons of sustainable jet fuel every year. This would lower annual emissions by two million tons by 2030. That’s the equivalent of taking one million European cars off the road each year. IAG encompasses British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, Iberia Express, LEVEL, and Vueling. IAG plans to work with its suppliers so they can achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 for the products and services they provide to IAG. The company is investing US$400 million over the next 20 years and partnering with sustainable aviation fuel developers LanzaJet and Velocys.

Southwest Airlines Continues Its Support of Sustainable Aviation Fuel Research to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Southwest Airlines is supporting the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The NREL plans to utilize a biorefining process to develop low-carbon, low-cost, high-performance sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) created from wet waste, such as food. Southwest wants to be carbon neutral by 2050 and sees SAF as having an important role.

Universal Hydrogen raises $20.5m to accelerate hydrogen aviation

Universal Hydrogen secured $20.5m in new funding and is targeting 2025 for the first commercial regional aircraft flights. Investors include Fortescue Future Industries, Coatue, Global Founders Capital, Plug Power, Airbus Ventures, JetBlue Technology Ventures, Toyota AI Ventures, Sojitz Corporation, and Future Shape. Universal Hydrogen intends to build and test full-scale hardware for hydrogen commercial aircraft.

The F-15EX Has a New Name

At a rollout and naming ceremony at Eglin Air Force Base, the F-15EX was named the Eagle II.  The F-15C/D fleet is to be replaced by at least 144 F-15EXs. The older fleet has an average age of 37 years. Structural strain is becoming an issue.

Udvar-Hazy Center To Open May 5. Six Other Smithsonian Museums Plus The Zoo To Also Open In May!

The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center will reopen on Wednesday, May 5 – the 60th anniversary of the first U.S. human spaceflight by Alan Shepard. Timed entry passes will be required for all visitors and face coverings will be required for all visitors ages two and older. Some artifacts will not be on view and other restrictions apply.

Corona crisis forces Messe Friedrichshafen to cancel AERO 2021

Aero Friedrichshafen canceled for the second year in a row.

Mentioned

Sun ‘n Fun Aerospace Expo

Lego Boeing 747 Cockpit

Bye eFlyer 800 will fly you and 7 of your closest friends 500NM at 320 knots, or more with solar

Air Force unveils new mission statement

The Air Force released its new mission statement: ‘To fly, fight, and win…airpower anytime, anywhere.” This change emphasizes the primary competitive advantage and capabilities airpower provides to the nation and joint operations.

Video: “Weird Al” Yankovic – Mission Statement

650 Live at Sun n Fun 2021

This special episode was recorded live on the deck of Sun ‘n Fun Radio on April 14, 2021. It’s the second time we recorded an episode of the Airplane Geeks podcast at the Sun ‘n Fun Aerospace Expo. Max Flight is joined by reporter-at-large Launchpad Marzari and Lt. Col. Trevor “Boat” Boswell to talk about North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) interception of civil aircraft flying in TFRs or other unauthorized airspace. We also announce the four winners of our Plane Tags giveaway.

649 Detect and Avoid

The CEO of Iris Automation explains detect and avoid capability for unmanned aircraft. This technology is essential to integrating beyond visual line of sight unpiloted aircraft into the National Airspace System.

Guest

http://www.irisonboard.com/Jon Damush, CEO Iris Automation

Jon Damush is the CEO of Iris Automation, which provides onboard detect and avoid technology for Beyond Visual Line of Sight drone flights.

Iris is primarily a computer vision and machine learning software company that is focused on helping unpiloted systems detect other airplanes. The company’s Casea product is a platform-agnostic 360-degree radial computer vision detect and avoid system for UAS.

Jon has over 30 years of aviation technology experience and executive leadership. He led new business ventures at Boeing NeXT, he was Chief Growth Officer at Boeing subsidiary Insitu, and he was a Boeing executive liaison and board observer to SkyGrid, a joint venture between Boeing and SparkCognition. Jon was the CEO of 2d3 Sensing, a leading provider of computer vision-based image processing software for aerial surveillance. He is also an FAA-certified commercial pilot with multi-engine and instrument ratings and he’s a certified flight instructor.

Note: This interview originally appeared in Episode 370 of the UAV Digest.

648 Bits

A micro-episode with some positive thoughts on aviation during Covid, and an Eat at the Airport review.

Aviation During Covid

A short piece from our Main(e) Man Micah with some positive personal aspects of aviation during Covid. This was originally written for the one-year anniversary of Isaac Alexander’s Sunday Night Zoom Meetings on March 21, 2021.

Eat at the Airport

Reporter-at-Large Launchpad Marzari stopped by Hangar 6 Air Cafe in Uvalde, Texas and filed this report. Find more airports with local eating establishments at EatAtTheAirport.com.

Hangar 6 Air Cafe

647 Glass Cockpit

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

Glass Cockpit

Glass Cockpit Handbook by Max Trescott.

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

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

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

Aviation News

American Airlines Reports V-Shaped Recovery

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

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

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

JetBlue Secures London Heathrow Slots for its Transatlantic Debut

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

National Aviation Hall of Fame Volunteer Alice Griffin Turns 100

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cessna SkyCourier Begins Final Phase of Flight Testing

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mentioned

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

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

Video: C-17 Star Wars Canyon

Groundbreaking H3X Motor Brings Electric Aircraft One Step Closer To Reality

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

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

NASA Ingenuity Mars Helicopter Prepares for First Flight

Month of Ingenuity: Helicopter Flight Preview Webinar

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

Support

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

646 Pilot Shop

Our guest is Sporty’s Pilot Shop vice president John Zimmerman. In the news, startup airlines are launching during the pandemic, data on General Aviation shipments, and F-35 software upgrade issues. Also, the recent Blue Bonnet airshow, how to notify the FAA of construction activity, and a hush kit for the Gulfstream.

Guest

John Zimmerman, VP Sporty’s Pilot Shop

John Zimmerman is a pilot and a vice president at Sporty’s Pilot Shop. Before becoming an employee, John learned to fly at a Cincinnati airport and regularly attended Sporty’s famous hot dog cookouts. Today as a vice president, he’s responsible for new product development and marketing. John regularly flies a Citabria, a Pilatus PC-12, and a Robinson R44 helicopter. He is an ATP and also holds ratings for multi-engine, seaplanes, gliders, and helicopters. John is also editor-in-chief of Air Facts and a contributing editor at Flying Magazine.

John tells us the Sporty’s story that started 60 years ago. It’s a company where the employees are pilots who use the products they sell. We look at the challenges of the last twelve months and consider the strength of the demand for flight training. John explains how Sporty’s Pilot Shop has responded to training technology that has changed over the years – from videotapes to streaming media.

We also learn about Sporty’s iPad Pilot News, the monthly email newsletter where you can find tips and tricks for using your favorite apps, stay up to date on the latest iPad news, read detailed reviews of new apps, and learn about new iPad accessories and specials.

Aviation News

How to launch an airline during a global pandemic

At least three airlines are planning to start operations in 2021: Norwegian low-cost startup Flyr, UK startup Flypop, and Breeze Airways in the US. Flyr will focus on the Norwegian family and leisure market with the Boeing 737-800. Flypop will offer low-cost long-haul flights with the Airbus A330. Breeze Airways from airline entrepreneur David Neeleman will target the US leisure travel market with the Airbus A220-300 and some Embraer E190 and E195 aircraft.

Does Reduced Airline Capacity Give General Aviation And Business Jets More Opportunity?

Global business aviation is reported to be “back to 85% of pre-COVID-19 levels” while the U.S. business aviation market is down just 7% and charter flights are up 4%. Former first class passengers are turning to business jets and some travelers are looking at charter memberships and jet cards.

General Aviation Airplane Shipments Fall Off 10 Percent for 2020

In 2020, the overall GA industry saw 9.7 percent fewer shipments. Billings fell 14.8 percent. GAMA’s executive committee chairman, Nicolas Chabbert, said, “I must say that these figures are not representing the level of demand, which stays very high and are moderated by our ability to deliver as a global industry.” Supply chain constraints are limiting shipments, as well as company efforts to fight the pandemic and keep employees safe.

Block 4 Software Issues Could Cause F-35 Capability Delays, Costly Retrofits

The Government Accountability Office issued a 67-page report to Congress, F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, DOD Needs to Update Modernization Schedule and Improve Data on Software Development (PDF). The F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter is DOD’s most expensive weapon system program. Congress directed the GAO to review the F-35 program which is 3 years into a development effort to modernize the F-35 aircraft’s capabilities. GAO is making three recommendations to DOD: that DOD update its modernization schedule to reflect achievable time frames, identify and implement tools to enable automated data collection on software development performance, and set software quality performance targets. DOD agreed with GAO’s recommendations.

Mentioned

Valerie Insinna, Defense News’ air warfare reporter. On Twitter: @ValerieInsinna.

The Marshalling Detachment of the Commemorative Air Force

Adventure Flying podcast, Flying Over the Swiss Alps in a PA-28 with Launchpad Marzari. 

Obstruction Evaluation / Airport Airspace Analysis (OE/AAA) The FAA website where a project proponent can determine if they need to notify the FAA about a contemplated construction.

What is the Waffle House Index?

Support

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

645 Woman Aviator

The inspiring story of a legendary woman aviator and member of the “Mercury 13” who was also the first female FAA inspector and the first female investigator for the NTSB. Also, the AerCap/GECAS merger of aircraft leasing companies, the Dassault Falcon 6X first flight, FAA 2021 GA award winners, Buzz Lightyear’s mission with Southwest Airlines, and the serial stowaway.

Guest

Loretta Hall

Loretta Hall captured the memoir of the extraordinary woman aviator, Wally Funk, in Higher, Faster, Longer: My Life in Aviation and My Quest for Spaceflight.

Wally Funk was the first woman civilian flight instructor at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, the 58th woman in the U.S. to earn an Airline Transport Rating (in 1968), the FAA’s first woman operations inspector and Systems Worthiness Analysis Program specialist, and the first woman NTSB accident investigator. She was also one of the “Mercury 13,” hoping to become an astronaut.

Wally Funk

Loretta is a freelance writer and nonfiction book author. She’s a long-time space travel enthusiast and is currently a certified Space Ambassador for the National Space Society. Loretta has written eight books, including five on the history and future of space travel, one of which is The Complete Space Buff’s Bucket List: 100 Space Things to Do Before You Die.

Loretta has been interested in space travel since her teenage years when she followed the early NASA programs: the selection of the Mercury Seven astronauts, the suborbital and orbital missions of Mercury and Gemini, and the Apollo steps toward a moon landing. She has written eight books, including five on the history and future of space travel. Loretta loves finding ways to participate in space activities without being an astronaut. Her newest book was a cooperative effort to produce the memoir of Wally Funk, an icon in the fields of aviation and spaceflight.

Loretta Hall and Wally Funk

Aviation News

This $30 Billion Deal Could Reshape the Aviation Industry

AerCap Holdings announced that it would acquire the GECAS (GE Capital Aviation Services) unit of General Electric in a $30 billion deal. This would consolidate the number one and number two commercial aviation financing and leasing companies, measured by the number of aircraft. The resulting business would be the largest customer for Airbus, Boeing, and the engine manufacturers.

Dassault’s Falcon 6X Makes First Flight

Dassault Aviation’s Falcon 6X long-range, ultra-widebody business jet’s first flight was made from the company’s facility at Mérignac, France, near Bordeaux, on March 10, 2021.  The 2.5-hour flight reached FL400 and a speed of 0.8 Mach and was dedicated to Olivier Dassault, who died in a helicopter accident on March 7, 2021.

2021 GA Award Winners Announced by FAA, Committee

The awards for National Flight Instructor, Aviation Technician, and FAASTeam Rep of the Year will be presented at EAA AirVenture at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, in July. The 2021 awards go to:

  • Ronald Jay Timmermans of Orlando, Florida, Certificated Flight Instructor of the Year
  • Michael Colin Dunkley of Coshocton, Ohio, Aviation Technician of the Year 
  • Adam Timothy Magee of Swisher, Iowa, FAA Safety Team Representative of the Year.

‘To infinity & beyond!’ Southwest Airlines reunites Buzz Lightyear with young passenger who left toy behind

After a young boy left his beloved Buzz Lightyear on a flight, a Southwest employee found it, located the family, and arranged for Buzz to return home.

Women’s History Month: A Look at Impactful Women in Aviation

Women Entrepreneurs in Aviation

These articles highlight just some of the amazing women who have had successful careers in aviation. They include

Mae Jemison, the first African American woman in space; Joan Higginbotham, who helped build the international space station and operated robotic arm; LeAnn Ridgeway, a Rockwell Collins executive leader (now Collins Aerospace); Susan Mashibe, Tanzania’s first female FAA-certified pilot and mechanic and owner of a private jet handling and hangar services company; Rachel King, the founder and owner of the Precision Approach aircraft washing service; and Steffany Kisling, founder of cabin attendant staffing company SkyAngles and SKYacademy, an online training platform for pilots, cabin attendants and aspiring crew.

Mentioned

#PaxEx Podcast 74: Ready to fly, but has COVID reset expectations?

Max Flight’s Aviation Podcast Directory

Airline Pilot Guy podcast

ABC7 Salutes: Filmmakers complete mission to make documentary honoring WWII heroes

Journey to Royal: A WWII Rescue Mission is a hybrid documentary and action film with painstakingly accurate recreations filmed using real planes (at the Palm Springs Air Museum and the March Field Air Museum) and recreated models. It is now available on streaming and cable platforms and on DVD.

The story takes place during the Second World War, the 4th Emergency Rescue Squadron was stationed on the Mariana Islands of the South Pacific. Its crews policed flight paths searching for B-29 bombers in jeopardy and downed airmen in need of rescue in the open ocean of this war-torn theatre.

View the trailer: Journey to Royal: A WWII Rescue Mission

World’s best airports for customer experience revealed

Support

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

644 Aviation Art Designs

MotoArt turns unused aircraft parts into high-end furniture and aviation art designs. In the news, Pratt & Whitney’s new hypersonic engine project, the AFRL autonomous Skyborg aircraft and the Boeing Loyal Wingman, Boeing criticizes the A321XLR, Qantas offers mystery flights, and the Southwest Airlines grant program.

Guest

Dave Hall is the co-founder and owner of MotoArt which sells high-end aviation-inspired furniture and aviation art designs constructed from genuine aircraft parts.

MotoArt aviation art designs.
Dave Hall

Dave is also the founder/owner of PlaneTags – collectible, three-inch oval-shaped luggage tags made from authentic aircraft skin. Each PlaneTag is laser etched with the aircraft’s schematic and serial / tail number and is attached to a baseball-type trading card containing the history of the aircraft.  PlaneTags allows collectors the opportunity to hold a piece of aviation history in their hands while simultaneously providing them with an educational experience for each aircraft offered. Nearly 100 different types of PlaneTags have been created to date and several years’ worth of aircraft are in the queue for future releases. PlaneTags fans can expect new releases each month.

Dave began his career working at his father’s fuel storage tank business and later moved on to marketing and selling high-end architectural signage for amusement parks and sports arenas. In 2001, he and former colleague Donovan Fell began creating sculptures out of vintage World War II propellers. The popularity of these sculptures prompted the two to form a partnership and together created MotoArt LLC, which introduced high-end aviation-inspired furniture and art designs constructed from genuine aircraft parts. Since its inception, MotoArt has created over 100 limited edition custom designs for both private and Fortune 500 clients.

Dave has graciously donated four PlaneTags to Airplane Geeks which we’ll be giving away to listeners in a random drawing. In addition, Dave is offering Airplane Geeks listeners a PlaneTags discount. Details in the podcast.

PlaneTags from MotoArt, aviation art designs.
PlaneTags giveaway.

Finally, the Pima Air & Space Museum is running a sweepstakes (open until April 9, 2021) where your donation enters you in a contest to win a $25,000 MotoArt gift certificate.

Aviation News

Pratt & Whitney Makes Hypersonic Revival As Pentagon Pushes Reuse

Pratt & Whitney has a secret development program to develop a low-cost, reusable hypersonic propulsion system. This is a capability high in priority for the U.S. Department of Defense. The program is called Metacomet and comes from Pratt & Whitney’s GatorWorks prototyping division in Florida. David Stagney, senior director of GatorWorks said, “The faster you go, the larger the propulsion system is relative to the vehicle and how much payload and fuel you can actually fit in. So, we have spent a lot of time going back to the fundamentals and thinking about how to solve that problem differently. We know the Air Force wants to go really fast. They also want to have some very low-cost solutions, and to be able to have a large quantity of vehicles.”

Boeing to base U.S. Air Force prototype on Australian pilotless combat jet

Boeing designed and manufactured the unmanned “Loyal Wingman” aircraft in Australia, which just completed its first flight. The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Skyborg autonomous aircraft program has contracted with Boeing, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, and Kratos Defense & Security Solutions to develop the prototypes. Boeing says they are basing their bid on the Loyal Wingman. The technology will be tested during Orange Flag exercises this summer.

Boeing labels new Airbus jet a ‘potential hazard’ just days after being fined millions for safety oversights

The A321XLR gets additional range with a fuel tank that is moulded into the fuselage. Boeing has informed the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) that this design “presents many potential hazards.” EASA had already noted the design, saying “An integral fuselage fuel tank exposed to an external fire, if not adequately protected, may not provide enough time for the passengers to safely evacuate the aircraft.”

First there were flights to nowhere. Now there are ‘mystery flights.’

Qantas is launching three flights to unspecified Australian destinations. Passengers will have  “low-level scenic flybys of key landmarks” and land about two hours after departure. That will be followed by a day’s worth of activities on the ground. In order to know what to wear and pack, Qantas will give passengers clues about the destination.

Southwest Airlines donates 7,500 free flights for those in need of medical care

The airline’s Medical Transportation Grant Program is providing roundtrip flights for those in need of urgent medical care. Southwest awarded the tickets to over 75 nonprofit hospitals and medical transportation organizations. The airline valued the transportation at $3 million. To date, more than $38.6 million in free transportation has been provided since the program began in 2007.

Mike Collins

Rob Mark talks about the passing of Mike Collins, AOPA Technical Editor and Director of Business Operations. See Saying Goodbye: AOPA Loses Technical Editor Mike Collins.

Mentioned

Aerojet Rocketdyne

Air Care Alliance

AvGeekFests.com

Innovations in Flight Family Day and Outdoor Aviation Display

47th annual Sun ‘n Fun Aerospace Expo April 13-18, 2021. See SnF Covid policy.

Podcasting on a Plane, Episode 091, Remote View Flight Check with Rob Mark.

Airplane Geeks Listener Poll #643: Who would you like to see win the 2020 Collier Trophy?

Cat attacks pilots in cockpit, plane forced to make emergency landing

Trade group again names Portland’s jetport best in North America. Airports Council International recognizes the world’s best airports in customer experience with their annual Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Awards. The Portland International Jetport was named the best airport in North America for customer experience in its passenger class.

Airplane Flyover

643 Aeronautical Charts

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

Aeronautical chart

Guest

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

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

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

Aviation News

NTSB’s TWA Flight 800 Reconstruction to be Decommissioned

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

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

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

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

Flying Announces Editors’ Choice Awards for 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See: Delegated Organizations

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

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

Delta To Reactivate All Pilots By October

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

Icelandair 767 flying between Iceland & Antarctica

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

Mentioned

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

Virtual aviation events:

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

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

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

642 Aircraft Line Maintenance

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

Guests

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

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

Fred Murphy, founder and president, FEAM.

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

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

Cam Murphy, managing director, FEAM.

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

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

Aviation News

United Flight Sheds Debris Over Colorado After Engine Failure

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

Dutch probe shedding of 747 freighter engine parts over Maastricht

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mentioned

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