Tag Archives: 737MAX

686 The Aviation Queen

Benét Wilson, the Aviation Queen, joins us after a long absence. In the news, Boeing executives field questions about the 737 MAX, ghost flights in the EU, an Airbus class-action lawsuit, Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopters heading to Israel, bad behavior by both passengers and crew, a 5G deal is worked out, a pilot who refused to fly is awarded $2 million, and a plane crashes but then is hit by a train.

Guest (More like a returning co-host)

The Aviation Queen, Benét J. Wilson.
The Aviation Queen

Benét J. Wilson, known as the Aviation Queen, is a senior editor at The Points Guy (TPG), which publishes hands-on advice to help readers maximize their travel experiences. This lifestyle media brand sees 10 million unique visitors a month and has a social media audience of over 3 million across Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Twitter. A staff of more than 100, including editors, writers and reporters, and a large pool of regular contributors, parses, analyzes, and reports on the world of points and miles.

Benét has been an Airplane Geeks co-host in the past and we’re happy to have this chance to get caught up. She brings a valuable perspective to the conversation.

The Points Guy logo.

At TPG, Benét does recruiting, handles internal training, and mentors interns and young writers. She does media appearances for TPG and brings her insights to the site with aviation and travel features. Benét is a veteran aviation journalist who has covered airports, security, and the airline passenger experience.

Aviation News

Hoping for recovery, Boeing bosses look to the future, deflect questions on the MAX crashes

Dominic Gates reports on interviews with Boeing’s Commercial Airplanes CEO Stan Deal and Chief Engineer Greg Hyslop. Dominic summarized the strategy described by the executives: “hunker down, fix the litany of current problems and rely on a revamp of the company’s engineering culture to restore Boeing’s stained reputation.” He writes, “Both executives deflected or flatly refused to answer questions about the engineering design mistakes that led to the two fatal 737 MAX crashes that have so damaged Boeing’s image.”

The article mentions “Flying Blind: The 737 MAX Tragedy and the Fall of Boeing” by Peter Robison, our guest from Episode 683, but also notes that two major feature documentaries are set to air in 2022.

Airlines push the E.U. to ease airport rules as Omicron rages.

Airlines have to use 80% of their airport takeoff and landing slots or they lose them. Of course, losing slots is something an airline wants to never let happen unless that’s part of some strategic plan. So when demand falls off a cliff, airlines are forced to fly nearly empty planes. Or even empty planes. We’ve seen thousands of these “ghost flights” that are a huge waste of fuel and needlessly pump carbon into the atmosphere.

The rules were waived in early 2020, but the European Commission has been reinstating them. Starting December 15, 2022, the winter travel season threshold has been set to 50 percent. The FAA waived the U.S. slot rules early on in the pandemic and has recently extended them through March 2022.

Airbus faces $339 million class action suit in the Netherlands, lawyers say

Lawyers for the Foundation for Investor Loss Compensation filed the class-action suit on behalf of “a hundred” institutional investors. They claim the investors suffered at least 300 million euros ($339 million) in damages when Airbus withheld information about corruption at the company, resulting in overpriced shares of Airbus SE. After a three-year investigation into bribery and corruption over sales practices, Airbus agreed in 2020 to a nearly $4 billion fine in a deal with French, British, and U.S. authorities. In that settlement, Airbus admitted it had paid huge bribes on an “endemic” basis to win contracts in 20 countries.

US, Israel finalize deal for 12 heavy-lift helos, two KC-46s

Under the agreement, Israel will purchase 12 Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopters. If the option for six more helicopters is exercised, the total deal could be worth $3.4 billion. The CH-53K is currently undergoing initial operational test and evaluation. Initial operational capability is scheduled for early 2023, with first deliveries expected in 2025.

A veteran flight attendant worked for United for 23 years using a false identity, federal court complaint says

The Brazilian flight attendant stole the identity of a boy who died in a car crash at age 4 in the 1970s.  The man used the boy’s name when he applied for a US passport in 1998. In December 2020, the State Department flagged the passport renewal application for “various fraud indicators.”

United Airlines Forces Out Flight Attendant For Her TikToks

The woman posted around 20 videos wearing her uniform, in violation of company policy. She’s now interviewing at other airlines. It’s important to know your employer’s social media rules.

Airlines Strand Passengers Who Partied on Flight Without Masks

A Canadian group chartered a plane to party in Mexico for the NewYear. Videos show the group flouting Covid-19 and safety rules. Sunwing Airlines flew the group to Cancún, and canceled the return flight to Canada after an internal investigation found that the passengers “exhibited unruly behavior and did not respect aviation or public health regulations.” Many passengers remained stranded in Mexico after at least three airlines said they would not fly them back.

Biden hails 5G wireless deal averting aviation safety crisis

AT&T and Verizon agreed to delay the rollout of C-Band 5G service two weeks – to January 19, 2022, absent any “unforeseen aviation safety issues.” The wireless carriers also agreed that the FAA would provide them “with a list of no more than 50 priority airports that they would propose to be subject to the C-Band exclusion zones.”

Fifty US airports to have buffers when telcos turn on new 5G services

The FAA says fifty U.S. airports will have 5G C-band buffer zones when AT&T and Verizon switch on new 5G services. They include Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Chicago O’ Hare, Newark, JFK, LAX, Philadelphia, and 43 other airports. Airports with 5G Buffer [PDF].  The airports were selected based on traffic volume, number of low-visibility days, geographic location, and input from the aviation community.

Boone County Jury Awards Nearly $2 million to Pilot Fired for Refusing to Fly in Unsafe Conditions

A pilot with almost 50 years of experience refused to fly a private plane to the Caribbean because he felt it was unsafe. He notified his employer that he’d wait and check the weather the following day, and let them know what the situation was. When he did so, the pilot was told that the company had hired a temporary pilot who made the flight. A few days later, he was informed he had been fired. The jury awarded the pilot $1,990,833 which included $1.3 million in punitive damages.

Plane crashes in Los Angeles County, then is hit by train

A Cessna 172 went down on the railroad tracks at an intersection shortly after taking off. Then, about 20 minutes later, a Metrolink train crashed into it. The pilot had been pulled out and was taken to a hospital. There were no other injuries.

Video: Train smashes into crashed plane seconds after pilot is rescued

Mentioned

The Journey is the Reward – Brian T. Coleman and Micah Engber plan to document Brian’s quest to achieve lifetime United 1K status.

Art For Bricks: Exclusive Brick Mosaic Art for everyone 

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, David Vanderhoof, Max Trescott, Brian Coleman, Benét Wilson.

685 Aircraft Management

Our guest is the CEO of aircraft management company PC Aviators, an air race champion, author, speaker, and former aerodynamics professor. In the news, flight cancellations strand thousands of air travelers, Boeing 737 MAX flights are set to resume in Ethiopia and Indonesia, more 5G drama, and adaptive cycle engines for military applications.

Guest

Aircraft management company PC Aviators CEO Pete Zaccagnino.

Pete Zaccagnino is the CEO of PC Aviators, an aircraft management company. He’s also a four-time Air Racing Gold Champion in the Jet/Sport Class, an author, a speaker, a former aerodynamics professor, and an Embry-Riddle graduate. He has flown over 23,000 hours in more than 270 aircraft types and he’s flight-tested over 685 aircraft.

Pete explains how PC Aviators views the aircraft management business as a personal relationship with the customers. That means getting to know the clients and providing services and experiences they value. Sometimes that includes tours all over the world.

PC Aviators manages the acquisition process, helping the customer determine what type of aircraft best suits their mission, deciding between a new plane and one from the used market, and looking at tax considerations. They locate the plane and provide a number of services, including inspection, contract negotiation, where to close, and even color. Aircraft management services continue after the purchase to address staffing, pilots, and maintenance reporting.

Pete comments on industry shifts toward private aircraft transportation and the prices and availability of aircraft. He argues that the perception of aviation has changed in a way that is helping the industry segment grow.

With his extensive success at the Reno Air Races through High Performance Aircraft Racing, we can’t help but ask Pete about the classes of aircraft, the makeup of the team, and the interaction with the public at the event. The 2022 Air Races, officially the STIHL National Championship Air Races, will be held September 14-18 in Reno, Nevada.

Relevant book cover

We also touch on the books Pete has written in The Relevant Series. The first book in the series is Relevant: A Military Thriller Inspired by True Events and the recently released second book is The New Cold War: Defending Democracy From Russia’s Secret Tech Weapon.

Founded in 2008, Park City Aviators is an aircraft management company based in Park City, Utah with locations across the United States. The company is committed to creating a new standard in affordable and professional private jet management.

Pete earned his undergraduate degree in Aeronautical Engineering. He has restored five airplanes and built three others (including a Lancair Super Legacy). Pete has flown over 23,000 hours in more than 270 aircraft types and flight-tested over 685 aircraft.

A former professor of Aerodynamics, Meteorology, and History, Pete has given over 100 training seminars on a variety of topics and has been a guest speaker at aviation peer groups and universities worldwide, including EAA AirVenture Oshkosh.

Pete’s fifteen years of racing at Reno have included four championships, including the 2019 Jet Gold Champion, 2015 Jet Gold Champion, 2013 Jet Gold Champion at 509 mph and the fastest qualifying lap at 529 mph, and 2007 Gold Champion in the Sport Class.

Aviation News

Holiday flight cancellations soar with Covid-19 disruptions and bad weather

Thousands of flights have been canceled during a very busy travel season. On January 1, 2022, FlightAware data showed more than 4,731 flights canceled globally. Thousands more cancellations followed on January 2. Looking at FlightAware data, CNN says airlines canceled more than 14,000 flights in the last 10 days. Bad weather and employees testing positive for Covid are credited with causing the disruptions.

Ethiopia to Resume Boeing 737 Max Flights Three Years after Deadly Crash

Boeing 737 Max: Indonesia lifts ban after 2018 Lion Air crash

Ethiopian Airlines Group says it will resume flying its four Boeing 737 MAX jets starting February 1, 2022. The airline’s Chief Executive Officer said: “We have taken enough time to monitor the design modification work. [With] more than 20 months of [a] rigorous recertification process… we have ensured that our pilots, engineers, aircraft technicians, cabin crew are confident on the safety of the fleet.” Indonesia’s transport ministry said the ban would be lifted effective immediately.

AT&T, Verizon CEOs reject U.S. request for 5G deployment delay

AT&T and Verizon responded negatively to the request by the Transportation Secretary and the FAA administrator to delay the January 5, 2022 5G deployment. The companies characterized the government proposal as “an irresponsible abdication of the operating control required to deploy world-class and globally competitive communications networks.”

F-35s Could Get New Engines As Soon As 2027

The U.S. Airforce is pursuing several “Future Initiatives,” including lifting wing bodies, medium scale propulsion for UAVs, the Megawatt Tactical Aircraft (MWTA) program, and even air wake surfing. This article looks specifically at the Adaptive Engine Transition Program (AETP). While jet engines have two airstreams (one through the core and a bypass airstream around the core), AETP engines are adaptive with three streams. That third stream can be dynamically modulated between the engine’s core and the bypass stream. This results in increased thrust in a combat environment and increased fuel efficiency during cruise. AETP prototypes are being developed by General Electric (XA100) and Pratt & Whitney (XA101).

Video: GE’s XA100 Adaptive Cycle Engine

New Year Wishes

Brian Coleman talks about giving and sharing.

Mentioned

Aviation News Talk #214 San Diego Learjet Crash – Interview with Rob Mark

Maine Instrument Flight sold to Idaho-based company

Late passenger runs onto airfield at Phoenix airport, attempts to stop plane

Video: I Crashed My Plane

Hosts this Episode

Hosts: Max Flight, David Vanderhoof, Max Trescott, and Rob Mark. Contributor: Brian Coleman.

683 Boeing 737 MAX

We speak with the author of Flying Blind: The 737 MAX Tragedy and the Fall of Boeing. In the news, 5G concerns from aviation organizations, a new Boeing 787 production chief is named, a bill in Congress to limit airline fees, Air Force aircraft retirements, Finland selects the F-35, and no more astronaut wings for space tourists.

Guest

Peter Robison is an investigative journalist for Bloomberg and Bloomberg Businessweek, and the author of Flying Blind: The 737 MAX Tragedy and the Fall of Boeing

Peter Robison

We look back on the events surrounding the two 737 MAX crashes, including how Boeing responded to the first crash and then the second, and the broad cultural issues at Boeing that affected the quality of the work. Peter describes past Boeing leadership strategies and some of the changes the company has made in areas such as sourcing, location, and the engineering workforce. We also consider the relationship between the FAA and Boeing and how that contributed to the issues with the 737 MAX.

Flying Blind book cover.

In the end, it comes down to the question: “Would we fly on a Boeing 737 MAX?” Listen for our answers.

Peter is a recipient of the Gerald Loeb Award, the Malcolm Forbes Award, and four “Best in Business” awards from the Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing. A native of St. Paul, Minnesota, with an honors degree in history from Stanford University, he lives in Seattle, Washington, with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @petermrobison.

Aviation News

5G now means some flights won’t be able to land when pilots can’t see the runway

Verizon and AT&T plan to rollout C-band “5G” cellular ratio coverage. The FAA has concerns this might affect radio altimeters. The FCC and the carriers see no issues, but the carriers moved their December implementation date to January and more recently said they’d reduce the power output for six months at certain towers near airports. The Aerospace Industries Association (and a large group of alphabet aviation organizations) sent a letter to the FCC suggesting that AT&T and Verizon’s proposed power limits don’t go far enough for safety.

Now the FAA has said, “Landings during periods of low visibility could be limited due to concerns that the 5G signal could interfere with the accuracy of an airplane’s radio altimeter, without other mitigations in place.” See also, Aviation Coalition Says Industry Should Expect Significant Delays When 5G is Rolled Out and FreeFlight’s Terrain Series radar altimeters with RF circuitry to mitigate spurious 5G interference.

Boeing Names New Jet-Production Chief as 787’s Woes Slow Rebound

Elizabeth Lund has been named the vice-president and general manager of airplane programs for commercial jetliners. With an engineering background and a 30-year career at Boeing, Ms. Lund brings experience with the 767, 747, and 777 programs.

Markey Aims To Ban ‘Ridiculous’ Airline Fees With Bill

With Holiday Travel Season in Full Swing, Senators Markey and Blumenthal, Reps. Cohen and García Reintroduce Legislation to Stop Sky-High Airline Fees

Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), and Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García (IL-04) reintroduced the Forbidding Airlines from Imposing Ridiculous (FAIR) Fees Act. If enacted, the legislation would prohibit airlines from charging fees (including bag, seating, cancellation, and change fees) that are not reasonable and proportional to the costs of the services actually provided.

Airlines should not be able to bilk passengers just because they need to check a couple of bags, or charge an extra fee so parents can sit with their kids. It should not cost more to cancel or change an airline reservation than the original cost of the ticket, period. ..we must finally end this price gouging and return fairness to the skies.

Senator Edward J. Markey

The bill would also direct the Department of Transportation to review any other fees imposed by airlines, as well as ensure that children can sit together with their family members on flights at no additional charge.

Congress approves retirement of 160+ Air Force planes – with one notable exception

The US Air Force is asking Congress to retire 42 A-10 Warthogs, but Congress is refusing. The fiscal 2022 National Defense Authorization Act would keep the A-10 but retire seven F-16C/Ds, 48 F-15C/D Eagles, four E-8 JSTARS ground surveillance aircraft, 20 RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 30 drones, 18 KC-135s and 14 KC-10s, and three C-130Hs. This would free up resources to modernize the fleet.

Finland Selects the F-35 Lightning II as Its Next Fighter

Finland Chooses F-35 As Its Next Fighter

Finland will reportedly purchase 64 F-35A fighters, as well as a weapons package, sustainment, and training. The deal is valued at €8.4 billion ($9.5 billion). Flightglobal reports “€4 billion for the aircraft, €755 million for weapons, and €3 billion for equipment, spares, and training over the 2025-2030 period. A further €777 million is allocated for infrastructure improvements.” competing for the win were the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Dassault Aviation Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, and the Saab Gripen E.

FAA: No more commercial astronaut wings

The FAA will no longer award commercial astronaut wings because so many people are now riding into space. Space tourists who fly 50 miles up on an FAA-sanctioned launch will be put on an FAA commercial spaceflight list. NASA astronauts will continue to receive wings.

Recently Spotted Elf

David Vanderhoof, elf.

Hosts this Episode

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

679 Teaching the Next Generation of Pilots

Erika Armstrong joins us to talk about teaching the next generation of pilots. In the news, GE plans to split into three companies, preliminary details on the MD-87 crash, Boeing liability for 737 MAX crashes, and a Northeast Alliance update. Also, the Australia Desk and the MotoArt/Plane Tag festival.

Guest

Erika Armstrong, teaching the next generation of pilots

Erika Armstrong has had an extensive career as a Red Cross, charter, corporate, cargo, hazmat, and air ambulance pilot and captain. She flew 28 different aircraft before going to the airlines and eventually becoming captain on a B727-200.

We look at teaching the next generation of pilots and the effects of Covid on student pilot instruction. Erika has been focused on teaching student pilots to spend more time looking at themselves and understanding their startle reflexes in order to better react in an emergency. Erika also comments on student pilot diversity and the high washout rate.

Erika believes this is a good time to become a pilot and explains how business aviation has opened up due to the pandemic. We also hear how business aviation is different from commercial aviation, especially from a pilot’s perspective.

Concerning unruly passengers, Erika makes a good point that airlines and airports should look at how they can help passengers de-stress.

Erika is an aviation professor at Metropolitan State University in Denver, the Vice President of Business Development and Director of Instructional Design at Advanced Aircrew Academy, and the author of A Chick in the Cockpit.  Erika uses the power of social media to educate and share the joys of aviation to inspire the next generation of pilots. Find her on LinkedIn, Facebook, her website, and @armstrongerika1 on Twitter.

Aviation News

General Electric Announces Split Into Three Public Companies

GE’s health care business is to be spun off in early 2023, then in 2024 the renewable energy, power equipment, and digital businesses will be spun off. What will remain is GE Aviation, the engine-manufacturing operation. See: GE Plans to Form Three Public Companies Focused on Growth Sectors of Aviation, Healthcare, and Energy.

Runway Excursion, McDonnell Douglas MD-87

The NTSB provided details of the fatal October 19, 2021 crash of Boeing MD-87, N987AK, operated by 987 Investments LLC. The plane overran the departure end of runway 36 at Houston Executive Airport (TME), Brookshire, Texas after a rejected takeoff. The left and right elevator geared tab input rod links were found to be damaged. This is similar to the damage found during an investigation of a Boeing MD-83​ which crashed after a rejected takeoff on March 8, 2017. See: Rejected takeoff and runway excursion at Willow Run Airport, Ypsilanti, Michigan.

Boeing Accepts Sole Responsibility for 737 MAX Crashes, Wins Agreement that Avoids Punitive Damages

The joint court motion was filed by Boeing lawyers with lawyers for the families of the 157 victims of the 737 MAX crash in Ethiopia. The company accepted sole liability for the accident. Boeing explicitly agreed that the pilots were not at fault.

The defendant, Boeing, has admitted that it produced an airplane that had an unsafe condition that was a proximate cause of Plaintiff’s compensatory damages caused by the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 accident.

American Airlines Ends 60 Years of Shuttle History With New York-Boston Exit

American Airlines acquired the legacy assets of the Eastern Air Shuttle when it merged with US Airways in 2013. American plans to end the Boston to New York LaGuardia service by summer 2022. Instead, Northeast Alliance partner JetBlue Airways will operate the Boston – LaGuardia route for both carriers. Boston to New York JFK and Washington Reagan National service will continue under American branding.

Australia News Desk

Steve and Grant provide news and views from Down Under:

Australia’s International Border Reopens

Virgin Australia re-opens new-look Melbourne Lounge and launches new menu

First QANTAS A380 to land back in Australia today

A question of timing – the future of the RAAF’s air combat force

RAAF’s mysterious surveillance missions from Singapore

Video: ADM Podcast – 100 Years of RAAF

MotoArt/Plane Tags Festival

Brian attended the first annual MotoArt / Plane Tag festival at the company shop in California. He spoke with:

  • Dave, a serious Plane Tag collector
  • Kevin White, the MotoArt Production Manager
  • Dave Hall, the MotoArt CEO

Mentioned

An Anniversary of a Disaster, & a Celebration All in One – November 12, 2021marked the 20th anniversary of the crash of American Airlines flight 587 in New York City.

671 Pilot Mental Health

An airline captain focuses on pilot mental health and tells us what she is doing to bring that conversation into the light. In the news, another aerial refueling tanker competition, a Rolls-Royce electric airplane first flight, an X-Wing at the Smithsonian, a criminal charge stemming from the 737 MAX probe, the Cranky Dorkfest you missed, and emergency landings in Maine. Also, checked baggage issues and gifts for flight attendants.

Guest

Reyné O’Shaughnessy was a commercial airline pilot for over 34 years with a Fortune 50 company. She was a captain on the B767 and logged over 10,000 hours of total heavy jet flight time. In addition to the B767, her experience includes the A300/310, B727, and B747. Notably, thirty-four years ago she was one of the first women to be B747 qualified.

Now retired, Reyné founded Piloting 2 Wellbeing (or P2W) with a mission to create awareness about pilot mental health and mental wellness in the aviation industry. P2W serves individuals, schools, and corporations that want to implement supportive and practical training, experience compassionate forums, and be part of creating a better aviation world.

Reyné explains why the aviation community is so averse to talking about pilot mental health. We look at the need to normalize the conversation about pilot mental health and teach airlines and pilots a more holistic approach to wellbeing, that being a factor in safety performance. Companies need to support their employees with mental health training but the regulator is not currently forcing this. Reyné argues that reaching student pilots with information early in their career will help normalize mental health. The top flight schools are focused on technical training, but they need to incorporate wellness training into their programs.

Reyné’s new book, This is Your Captain Speaking: What You Should Know About Your Pilot’s Mental Health is available on Amazon.com. It looks at stress, anxiety, and depression in the aviation community.

Pilot mental health book This is Your Captain Speaking

Aviation News

Lockheed reveals new LMXT refueling tanker, firing the opening salvo in US Air Force competition

The U.S. Air Force has a bridge tanker competition coming up, also known as the KC-Y, and they released a sources-sought notification in June. The Boeing KC-46 is the incumbent, but they don’t have a lock on it. Lockheed Martin has just announced they will offer their LMXT aerial refueling tanker, based on the Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT).

Rolls-Royce’s all-electric ‘Spirit of Innovation’ takes to the skies for the first time

We previously reported Rolls-Royce’s intentions to build an all-electric airplane and use it in a world-record attempt reaching speeds of 300+ MPH (480+ KMH). They’ve built the plane, which they call the “Spirit of Innovation,” and succeeded in flying it for the first time. Power comes from a 400kW (500+hp) electric powertrain. Rolls-Royce says it has “the most power-dense battery pack ever assembled for an aircraft.”

Spirit of Innovation, courtesy Rolls-Royce.

Why There’s an X-Wing Flyer at the Smithsonian

The National Air and Space Museum has a Star Wars X-wing on loan from Lucasfilm. Dr. Margaret Weiteka, Curator and Department Chair of the Space History Department, explains why they have it and how it is being prepared for display.

Video: Why There’s an X-Wing Flyer at the Smithsonian

What You Missed at Yesterday’s Cranky Dorkfest

Cranky Flier reports on the event.

Former Boeing Pilot Expected to Face Prosecution in 737 MAX Probe

The Wall Street Journal reports that Federal prosecutors plan to criminally charge Boeing’s chief technical pilot during the 737 MAX development. Mark Forkner was Boeing’s lead contact with the FAA concerning pilot training for the jet. In a criminal settlement with prosecutors earlier this year, Boeing admitted that two unnamed employees conspired to defraud the FAA about 737 MAX training issues in order to benefit themselves and the company.

Bangor airport to close for 2 days in early October for runway repairs

Bangor International Airport will shut down for runway repairs. Concrete runways can degrade as a result of an alkali-silica reaction, which is sometimes called concrete cancer. Since BGR is the last US airport for emergency landings eastbound over the Atlantic, and the first westbound, any emergencies will have to land elsewhere.

Prerecorded

In Defense of the Flight Attendant by Joe A. Kunzler.

Brian Coleman’s gifts to cabin crew.

Why Brian doesn’t check bags.

669 Daedalean Flight Control Software

Daedalean AI-based flight control software for pilot assist and eventual autonomous flight, a Boeing 737MAX flight report, and a travel report on a trip to Germany.

Guest

Dr. Luuk van Dijk

Dr. Luuk van Dijk is CEO and co-founder of Daedalean, a Zürich-based startup developing flight control software for autonomous flight. The eventual goal is to create an AI pilot that measurably outperforms human pilots. Currently, Daedalean is working with regulators, leading aerospace manufacturers, and major eVTOL companies to test and certify the first machine learning-based sensor systems for guidance, navigation, and flight control.

Daedalean has created a pilot assist system that uses optical cameras for visual positioning without GPS, visual traffic detection without transponders or radar, and visual landing guidance without ILS. The Avidyne PilotEye system using Daedalean technology was introduced on the first day of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2021.

Avidyne Uses Daedalean AI Software in New PilotEye Vision System

“Daedalean’s neural network functions by taking high-resolution video input extracted in real-time by high-resolution cameras and sends it through a Convolutional Neural Network, which determines whether the images captured by the cameras are part of cooperative or uncooperative traffic. The system can also be used to identify safe landing areas if the pilot encounters an emergency situation.”

Aviation Today

The Daedalean product roadmap outlines the progression From Advanced Pilot Assistance Systems to Single Pilot Operations to Full Autonomy.

Luuk holds a PhD in Physics (UvA, RuG) and previously held Senior Software Engineering positions at Google Zürich and SpaceX, where he worked on infrastructure, flight software, and machine learning projects, among others.

Daedalean flight control software
Daedalean flight control software

Brian’s Travel Experience

We have two travel experience reports for this episode. First. Brian Coleman talks with Micah about his recent 737MAX flight. Then we hear about Brian’s trip to Germany on United, where everything did not go according to Brian’s perfectly planned itinerary.

653 Archer Aviation eVTOL

Dr. Geoffrey Bower, the Chief Engineer at Archer Aviation, discusses eVTOL aircraft for the urban air mobility industry. In the news, bad behavior can get your frequent flyer account deleted, more 737 MAX woes, the Airbus A380 is fading for many airlines, LCC Avelo Airlines starts operation, the Aviation Safety Reporting System is extended to drone operators, and a story of missing luggage.

Guest

Archer Aviation chief engineer.
Dr. Geoffrey Bower

Dr. Geoffrey Bower is the Chief Engineer at Archer Aviation, a California-based startup in the emerging Urban Air Mobility (UAM) industry. The company is developing an all-electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft with a mission to advance the benefits of sustainable air mobility.

Geoff describes why UAM is receiving so much attention and why so many companies are involved. We look at the different eVTOL missions and design approaches, and the factors that affect efficiency and the cost of the aircraft. Geoff helps us understand crewed vs. autonomous eVTOL aircraft, and what is limiting the number of passengers they will carry. Pilot type ratings and the GAMA Simplified Vehicle Operations concept are also covered.

Infrastructure requirements are key to UAM success, as are regulator support and managing public acceptance, particularly with respect to noise footprint and affordability. Geoff talks about Archer Aviation eVTOL development and testing, and their timeline for first flight of a demonstrator aircraft.

Archer Aviation eVTOL.
Archer Aviation eVTOL

Geoff has nearly 10 years of industry experience working on eVTOL aircraft. He started his career working on flight control system development and aerodynamic modeling at Zee.Aero. From 2016 through 2019 he was Chief Engineer for Project Vahana at A3, the Silicon Valley innovation center of Airbus. He led the engineering team that designed, built, and completed a successful flight test campaign of the Vahana Alpha demonstrator. 

Geoff received a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a M.S. and Ph.D. in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Stanford University. 

Aviation News

Threaten a Delta employee? Say goodbye to your SkyMiles account and elite status

The FAA is cracking down on unruly passengers, and so is Delta. After an update to the airline’s SkyMiles program terms and conditions, “documented abusive behavior” is now grounds for termination of the offender’s frequent flyer account. Even being banned from flying on Delta is possible. Delta says examples of abusive behavior include personal threats, profanity, obscene language, insults or slurs directed to a Delta employee or ambassador. It also covers any intentional destruction to Delta property.

Fresh FAA Concerns Set To Delay Grounded 737 MAX’s Return To Service

Last month, Boeing asked 16 customers to temporarily ground 737 MAX airplanes due to an electrical grounding problem on some specific tail numbers. Boeing said this manufacturing issue was unrelated to the MCAS problem and “could affect the operation of a backup power control unit.” The problem arises from a manufacturing process change. Now the FAA wants to see more analysis that shows this electrical problem does not affect other subsystems.

Corrosion caused by storage prompts FAA to order Leap-1B checks

The FAA issued an Airworthiness Directive to check a pressure transducer for possible corrosion in Boeing 737 MAX CFM LEAP-1B engines after long-term storage. “The checks must be completed before each flight during the first 15h of power being applied to engines following prolonged storage.”

FAA to require inspections of Leap-1A high-pressure turbine cases

The FAA says a “manufacturing quality escape” affecting high pressure turbine cases could cause uncontained engine failures. “Several x-rays of the bleed ports of the HPT case showed 148 parts with nonconforming indications, eight of which were significant enough to impact the life of the HPT case.” 

Malaysia Airlines is latest to say it will abandon the Airbus A380

The A380 was a great idea at the time, motivated by high passenger volume and low airport capacity. But those conditions have changed. Air France, Etihad, Lufthansa, Qatar, and Thai have grounded some or all of their A380s. Malaysia Airlines is about to join that list, with the carrier’s half-dozen A380s unlikely to fly passengers again.

Avelo Airlines Becomes the Nation’s Newest Passenger Carrier

Avelo Airlines is an ultra-LCC targeting smaller, under-served airports with 189-seat Boeing 737-800 aircraft. They charge $10 to check a bag, no change fees, and “everyday low fares starting at $19.”

America’s newest airline, known for its $19 flights, is spending $1.2 million to bring its cheap trips to the East Coast

Avelo Airlines is planning a a new base in New Haven, Connecticut at Tweed-New Haven Regional Airport. Routes have not yet been announced.

FAA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) now available for drones

The Aviation Safety Reporting System (ASRS) is operated by NASA to collect confidential information from pilots and others about near misses. The data is used by the FAA to make aviation safer. Confidentiality is maintained to maximize the number of incidents reported. The Aviation Safety Reporting Program (ASRP) for UAS is now available for the UAS community.

Airplane Compartment Opens, Luggage Drops

Reports were received that an airplane departed Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport with an unsecured luggage compartment. It seems the compartment opened in flight and some luggage may have fallen out. The CRJ-700 returned to the airport without incident and passengers took another airplane to the flight destination, Chicago. One customer reported a missing bag. American Airlines says they are investigating.

Mentioned

Manned Electric Aircraft: Smart City and Regional 2021-2041

This April, 2021 report on the electric aircraft market pegs it at $30 billion where eVTOL accounts for 48%, eCTOL (electric conventional take off and land) under 20PAX at 32%, and eCTOL for 20-100PAX at 20%.

A Rationale Construct for Simplified Vehicle Operations (SVO); Whitepaper Version 1.0 (May2019) [PDF] from GAMA.

Notification when The Points Guy iOS app is available.

Eat at the Airport.com helps you support eating establishments at airports and airfields.

Aviation News Talk podcast, Episode 187 What Pilots Need to Know about Hearing Loss – Dr. Greg Van + GA News.

Mayo Clinic Clear Approach podcast – The podcast for aerospace medicine that matters, by Greg Vanichkachorn, M.D., M.P.H., and aerospace medicine specialist, family physician, occupational medicine specialist.

Thirty Thousand Feet aviation podcast directory.

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

631 Airlines Plan 737 MAX Return to Service

US airlines are releasing plans for the 737 MAX return to service, pilots are being advised to hold off participation in clinical vaccine trials, Southwest Airlines warns of its first-ever furlough, in-flight cell phone calls are off the table at the FCC, a final rule is announced for traveling by air with service animals, and the Paris Air Show is canceled for 2021.

Aviation News

US airlines detail plans for resuming Boeing 737 Max flights

In the US, the 737 MAX is operated by American Airlines, United, and Southwest. Those airlines are already making return to service announcements and passengers who don’t want to fly the MAX can change flights without penalty. American starts service on December 29, 2020, between New York LaGuardia and Miami, United service starts first quarter 2021, and Southwest service starts in the second quarter of 2021.

Post-crash recovery: How one airline plans to restore confidence in the Boeing 737 MAX

American Airlines COO David Seymour says, “We didn’t intend to be first to put the Max back in the air. But the only way to truly build confidence is by flying it. You don’t build that back by sitting on the ground.” American Airlines TechOps said it will take six to eight days to make each aircraft compliant with the new requirements for MCAS software updates (which take six hours) and flight control system re-wiring. That will be followed by a two-hour Operational Readiness Flight (ORF).

AA Reviewing Whether Pilots Can Take COVID Vaccine

Should commercial pilots take the Covid vaccine when it becomes available? Can they and still keep their medical? The FAA is waiting for the outcome of the upcoming meeting of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee. The Air Line Pilots Association is telling its members to not take part in clinical trials for vaccines.

Southwest Airlines warns it could furlough 6,800 employees to cut costs

If they occur, these would be the first furloughs ever for Southwest Airlines. The number amounts to 12% of the airline’s staff. Southwest says negotiations with labor unions to cut costs have produced a “lack of meaningful progress.”

FCC Walks Back Plan To Allow In Flight Cell Service

The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) is no longer going to look into a ruling that would allow passengers to make in-flight cell phone calls on domestic United States flights. 

The FCC said, “The record is insufficient to determine any reasonable solution that would strike an appropriate balance of competing interests.  There is strong opposition to the Commission’s proposals from many commenters in this proceeding, including our nation’s airline pilots and flight attendants.”

U.S. Department of Transportation Announces Final Rule on Traveling by Air with Service Animals

The U.S. Department of Transportation is revising its Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) regulation concerning the transportation of service animals by air. The final rule defines a service animal as a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability. An emotional support animal is no longer considered to be a service animal. The final rule will be effective 30 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register.

Cancellation of the 2021 edition of the Paris Air Show [PDF]

“In light of the uncertainty linked to the current COVID-19 health crisis, the Paris Air Show organization has made the decision to cancel the 2021 edition of the show, which was scheduled to take place from 21 to 27 June 2021. The next edition of the Paris Air Show will be held in June 2023, at a date that will be announced shortly. Exhibitors will receive a full refund of all sums already paid and the Paris Air Show will take full financial responsibility for this decision.”

Airplane Geeks Listener Poll 628 

Do you intend to fly to a vacation destination in 2021? 50% said Yes, 16% said No, and 34% said Maybe.
Do you expect to fly for business in 2021? 41% said Yes, 36% said No, and 23% said Maybe.

Mentioned

Obituary: Ralph Weymouth

629 Boeing 737 MAX Return to Service Airworthiness Directive

We talk with an Air Traffic Controller at London Heathrow who also acts as deputy manager of the ATC team for the RIAT airshow. In the news, FAA airworthiness directive permits the Boeing 737 MAX to return to service, Delta and tariffs on Airbus aircraft, Gatwick slot usage and planned labor action at Heathrow, speed dating in the air, Norwegian Air Shuttle troubles, autonomous airplane tugs, and a F/A-18C Hornet goes into the National Air & Space Museum.

Guest

Adam Spink has been an air traffic controller at the Heathrow Airport tower for 22 years. He’s also an instructor, examiner, and supervisor. Adam’s main job is in the Procedures and Development office working on new procedures and equipment.

Adam explains aircraft wake turbulence and the Time Based Separation (TBS) used at Heathrow to increase the aircraft landing rate, including the implications for air traffic controllers when planes are separated by time instead of by distance. See: New separation standard permanently adopted over the North Atlantic.

We also learn how the environmental aspects of aviation fit into key performance measures and controller metrics that include reduced emissions.

In addition to his job as a NATS controller at Heathrow, Adam acts as deputy manager of the ATC team for the Royal International Air Tattoo airshow (RIAT) held at RAF Fairford in the UK. He’s a member of the UK Air Transport Confidential Human Factors Incident Reporting Programme (the equivalent of NASA ASRS), and a member of various international working groups on low visibility ops, satellite-based navigation, and radar systems. Adam speaks about human factors at various medical school/medical university courses.

Find Adam on Twitter and Instagram.

Aviation News

U.S. lifts Boeing 737 MAX flight ban after crash probes, tough hurdles remain

On November 20, 2020, the FAA issued AD 2020-24-02, Airworthiness Directives; The Boeing Company Airplanes [PDF] superseding Airworthiness Directive 2018-23-51, which applied to all Boeing Company Model 737-8 and 737-9 (737 MAX) airplanes. AD 2018-23-51 required revising certificate limitations and operating procedures of the Airplane Flight Manual (AFM) to provide the flight crew with runaway horizontal stabilizer trim procedures to follow under certain conditions. 

The new AD requires installing new flight control computer (FCC) software, revising the existing Airplane Flight Manual to incorporate new and revised flight crew procedures, installing new MAX display system (MDS) software, changing the horizontal stabilizer trim wire routing installations, completing an angle of attack (AOA) sensor system test, and performing an operational readiness flight.

Southwest deploys team to bring 737 MAX jets out of desert

Southwest Airlines has 34 Boeing 737 MAX jets in storage in Victorville, California. The airline sent a team of mechanics to start the process of bringing its jets out of storage. 737 MAX flights at Southwest should resume the second quarter of 2021. There will be no re-booking charge for passengers who are uncomfortable flying on the MAX.

European regulator to lift Boeing 737 MAX grounding in January

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) executive director said the 737 MAX is safe to fly.  “We wanted to carry out a totally independent analysis of the safety of this aircraft, so we performed our own checks and flight tests. All these studies tell us that the 737 MAX can return to service. We have started to put in place all the measures. It is likely that in our case we will adopt the decisions, allowing it to return to service, sometime in January.”

Delta Skirts Trump Tariffs by Sending Airbus Jets on World Tour

As part of the Boeing/Airbus subsidy battle, tariffs were placed on European-built Airbus aircraft in October 2019. Delta has taken delivery of seven planes since then, but instead of flying them to the United States, the airline based them overseas, avoiding the tariff because they weren’t imports. In a statement to Bloomberg News, Delta said “We have made the decision not to import any new aircraft from Europe while these tariffs are in effect. Instead, we have opted to use the new aircraft exclusively for international service, which does not require importation.”

Suspension of airport “80/20” slot usage rule to last till end of March 2021 – Gatwick not happy

Until March 2020, European regulations required that an airline use 80% of its landing slots or they were lost. But because of the huge drop in travel demand, the rule was suspended for six months, then extended for another 6 months, to 27th March 2021. Gatwick airport wants the old slot rules reinstated before summer 2021.

Heathrow Staff To Strike For 4 Days In December

London’s Heathrow Airport wants to cut costs by reducing wages. The large Unite trade union says the airport plans to fire some 4,000 workers, then rehire them at lower wages. 85% of the union membership voted in favor of strikes in protest.

Airline offers speed-dating on dead-end ‘flight to nowhere’

Taiwanese carrier EVA Air and travel experience company are offering flights called “Fly! Love Is In the Air!” Twenty men and twenty women will depart from Taipei, fly around the island for three hours, return to the airport, and pairs will then enjoy a two-hour date. Seating on the plane is by random draw, but mingling is allowed. Food is prepared by a Michelin-starred chef.

Norwegian Air Is the Latest Trans-Atlantic Carrier to File for Bankruptcy in 2020 Due to Covid-19

Norwegian Air Shuttle has filed for protection from creditors in Ireland.

Autonomous Electric Tow Tugs Could Cut Handling Costs

Californian start-up Moonware says the aviation industry is stagnant. They want to do something about that. Moonware says they are “building an AI-powered fleet management network and subsequently deploying autonomous & electric vehicles to fundamentally reshape airport operations.” The company is developing a family of autonomous electrically powered tow tugs for aircraft ground handling.

National Air and Space Museum Welcomes Blue Angels’ F/A-18C Hornet

The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum has brought a Blue Angels’ F/A-18C Hornet BuNo 163439 into the collection. This is the first “Blue Angels” aircraft and the first F-18 the museum has acquired. 

Mentioned

Save Whiteman airport, a change.org petition.

Dobbins Reservists Tie the Knot Aboard a C-130