Sophie Mills, Sharon Utting, Emma Hawksworth, and Vicky Bhogal-Hunt work for Air Navigation Solutions Ltd. ANSL is the air navigation services provider for Edinburgh and Gatwick airports. They also provide simulation training for Cambridge City Airport. We discuss their experiences as women in the aviation industry.
JJ Frigge is president of Hartzell Propeller. He’s responsible for all operating elements of the business including the development and execution of Hartzell Propeller’s strategy.
JJ began at Hartzell in 2011 as the company’s controller. In 2013 he took responsibility for the day-to-day business team as well as managing the company’s marketing and brand-building efforts. Prior to Hartzell Propeller, JJ spent 10 years as a finance manager at Proctor & Gamble. He is on the Communications Committee of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.
A 2001 Cum Laude graduate of the University of Notre Dame, JJ serves his community as a member of the board of directors and past president of the United Way of Miami County. He is also a past president of the Miami County Humane Society.
We learn about airline contact centers with an expert in that field, and we talk with a Hollywood pilot and aerial coordinator who is widely known for his work on Top Gun Maverick and other major blockbusters. In the news, Boeing and Airbus are both having narrowbody delivery problems, a new US aircraft carrier reaches a milestone, a new avionics market report has some good news, and the French BEA investigates pilots who didn’t follow procedure.
Airline Contact Centers
Justin Robins has had a long career in customer experience and contact centers, working at companies like Network Solutions, Intercontinental Hotels, Grizzly Industrial, and Hershey Entertainment and Resorts. His expertise is in contact center quality assurance, training and development, and workforce optimization.
Justin is Senior Director, Corporate Communications & Evangelism at UJET. The company provides a cloud-based call center application that integrates with CRM (customer relationship management) solutions.
Justin discusses airline customer contact centers broadly, including value to the airlines, contact center metrics, and utilizing the data that accumulates. He also explains reactive versus proactive service and how channels have changed over time – beginning with 800 phone numbers, then email and web-based chat, social media, and now smartphone apps.
He explains the UJET approach where the contact center system is purpose-built for the airline CRM system. Justin sees a contact center future with increased automation, self-service, and proactive outbound service.
Justin has significant experience as a keynote speaker and business consultant and is frequently recognized as one of the top experts to follow in contact center and customer experience.
Hollywood Aerial Coordinator
Kevin Larosa (“K2”) is a sought-after pilot and Hollywood aerial coordinator who has worked on over 100 different motion picture and commercial productions. He’s Known for his work on major blockbusters like Top Gun Maverick, The Avengers, Iron Man, Transformers, and The Last Knight,
Kevin is licensed to fly a variety of aircraft ranging from helicopters and airplanes to Learjets and more. He’s an ATP-rated pilot trained and certified in a number of aircraft, holding type ratings in several Learjet models in addition to the C-130/ L-382 Hercules and the Sikorsky S-70/ UH-60. Kevin also holds an FAA Part 107 UAS rating for flying unmanned aircraft. He’s a member of the Screen Actors Guild and the Motion Picture Pilots Association.
Supply chain problems are affecting both Boeing and Airbus narrowbody deliveries. Boeing is delivering 31 737 MAX jets per month compared to a pre-pandemic rate of 52 per month. Airbus is building 40 A320 family aircraft per month against a target of 75 per month by 2025. Engine suppliers are behind and Boeing plans to take engines off previously built 737 MAX aircraft and install them on newly produced airplanes.
Newport News Shipbuilding just laid the keel for the USS Enterprise, a Ford-class aircraft carrier. At over 1,100 feet long and weighing some 100,000 tons, the ship is powered by two nuclear reactors and features an electromagnetic catapult. Completion is expected by 2028.
The Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA) second-quarter avionics market report shows worldwide business and general aviation avionics sales up 11.7% from the first quarter, the eighth consecutive quarter of increasing sales. This is a 15.8% increase in total sales compared to the first six months of 2021, driven by a 35.6% increase in forward-fit sales compared to the same time frame one year ago.
In June 2021, two pilots in the cockpit of an Airbus A320 became engaged in an altercation. The copilot would not comply with certain instructions and the captain grabbed him by the collar. There may have been a slap involved. A flight attendant broke up the fight. Air France has suspended the two pilots.
A French BEA investigation determined that the crew on a December 2020 Air France flight at cruise noticed the fuel level was 1.4 tons below what it should have been. The captain went on a rest break asking the first officer and relief pilot to monitor the fuel level. After about 20 minutes, the discrepancy on the A330-200 had increased to 2.1 tons. The captain was recalled and fuel leak procedures were implemented, with the exception of a required engine shutdown. BEA says the captain’s decision to leave the engine running was not questioned.
Aviation training at the University of Maine Augusta, Boeing and Airbus orders at Farnborough, Delta TechOps LEAP-1B MRO, a fighter market forecast, an open fan engine demonstrator, dropping the KC-46 co-pilot, electronic bag tags from Alaska Airlines, airline pilots who decide to exit the plane, and rebalancing travel demand and airline capacity.
Aviation Training at the University of Maine Augusta
Experimental Aircraft Association president Tom Poberezny has died at the age of 75. Tom was EAA president from 1989-2010 and succeeded his father, EAA founder Paul Poberezny. EAA CEO and Chairman of the Board Jack Pelton said, “It is not lost on us that Tom’s passing occurred on the opening day of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, the event he led into world prominence as its chairman beginning in the 1970s.”
Boeing received 172 firm orders at Farnborough while Airbus saw 85 orders. However, Airbus holds a much more significant backlog than Boeing and received a commitment for 292 jets from Chinese customers recently.
Delta TechOps will become a provider of MRO services for CMFI LEAP-1B engines. Delta TechOps provides support for Delta’s fleet of aircraft and more than 150 other aviation and airline customers worldwide.
Forecast International released a new study, “The Market for Fighter Aircraft” ($2050). The company projects over 3,855 fighters built from 2022 through 2031. In 2022 dollars, that represents $281.4 billion.
Airbus and CFM International are collaborating on an open fan (open rotor or unducted fan) engine architecture. The Flight Test Demonstrator is under CFM’s Revolutionary Innovation for Sustainable Engine (RISE) technology demonstration program. Testing is on an A380 with the engine replacing the usual #2 engine.
The Air Force’s Air Mobility Command is thinking about reducing crew size on Boeing KC-46 Pegasus tankers during dangerous missions. The concern is that a conflict in the Indo-Pacific region could involve a Chinese anti-aircraft missile attack. Tankers are particularly vulnerable. Reducing the number of airmen onboard a tanker would minimize casualties.
Alaska Airlines is selectively rolling out electronic bag tags that can be activated up to 24 hours before a flight with the Alaska Airlines mobile app. At the airport, touching your phone to the tag will display flight information. No check-in is required. The program starts at San Jose International Airport in California.
It was a disagreement between the two after a 90-minute weather delay. Following an announcement by the pilot, the plane returned to the gate. Live and Let’s Fly claims “a credible source” said the captain was arguing with ramp agents and barking orders.
The Bye Aerospace founder, CEO, and chairman on electric airplanes. Also, AeroShark aircraft skin technology, the Collier Trophy finalists, a hydrogen fuel-powered aircraft engine, more lasers pointed at aircraft, F-35C crash video leakers charged, and the closing of airspace.
George E. Bye is the Founder, CEO, and Chairman of Bye Aerospace, founded in 2007. He has two decades of experience as an aerospace entrepreneur, engineer, and executive.
George describes recent developments in the electric airplane industry, including new interest and investments by a number of companies of all sizes – startups to major aerospace companies. What was seen just a few years ago as “too futuristic” is now considered overdue. We look at the regulatory landscape and how that has changed, and the significant advances in battery energy density.
George explains the advantages of electric aircraft and specifically how the Bye Aerospace electric eFlyer 2 is designed for pilot training. The eFlyer is attractive from an operating cost perspective, efficiency, and aesthetically. George provides the status of the program and tells us the company is now building the first production conforming eFlyer 2, serial number one. Two more examples are planned for 2023.
Along the way, we discuss the charging infrastructure for electric aircraft, the safety aspect of very quiet airplane engines, electric airplane student pilot training, and what that means for subsequent transitioning to other propulsion types.
George has developed several aircraft designs, including the all-electric eFlyer 2, eFlyer 4, and eFlyer 800 aircraft. The eFlyer 2 is now in the FAA certification process. Previously he designed the 14-foot wing-span solar-electric hybrid UAV, “Silent Falcon,” now in production in a former Bye Aerospace subsidiary. He also conceived the new, piloted solar-electric SOLESA design which has completed initial flight test.
As a well-known conceptual design engineer, he has consulted for major OEMs on their advanced development programs. George was a part of the conceptual design leadership team on the Boeing T-X program, now known as the T-7A “Red Hawk” USAF advanced jet trainer. He provides expert reviews for Lockheed Martin.
George holds a B.S. in Engineering from the University of Washington and is an ATP-rated pilot with over 4,000 flying hours. He was a USAF instructor pilot in the supersonic T-38 for Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training, C-141B Instructor Aircraft Commander, and is a Desert Storm veteran.
Lufthansa Technik and BASF co-developed an aircraft skin technology they call AeroSHARK which contains 50-micrometer “riblets” that imitate the flow characteristics of sharkskin. It’s meant to reduce drag and thus improve fuel consumption and lower emissions. Swiss International Air Lines plans to begin equipping its twelve Boeing 777-300ERs with AeroShark beginning in mid-2022. The fuel savings are said to be more than one percent. AeroSHARK was launched on the Boeing 777Fs of Lufthansa Cargo.
The Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon program seeks to develop and demonstrate the technologies that enable effective and affordable air-launched hypersonic cruise missiles.
The Gremlins are groups of UASs flown from existing aircraft out of range of adversary defenses. After mission completion, the Gremlins are retrieved by a C-130 transport aircraft to be taken home and turned around within 24 hours for the next mission.
Ingenuity is a technology demonstration to test powered flight on Mars. The helicopter rode to Mars attached to the belly of the Perseverance rover.
The Mission Extension Vehicle is a satellite life extension vehicle. It docks to a client geostationary satellite whose fuel is nearly depleted and uses its own thrusters and fuel supply to extend the satellite’s lifetime.
The Collier Trophy Selection Committee plans to meet on March 31, 2022, and announce the winner shortly thereafter.
Airbus and CFM International plan to use an A380 for a hydrogen-powered flight demonstration program. The engine will be mounted on the rear fuselage. Four hydrogen tanks will be fitted in the rear cabin. Airbus says that flight of the aircraft will occur “around the middle of this decade.” Airbus A380-800 serial number MSN001 will be used for the demonstration. CFM is modifying an existing engine type in the U.S., a GE Passport engine.
On February 7, 2022, eleven airliners were struck by lasers in a one-hour period near the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA). No injuries were reported, but the industry is very concerned about the rising trend. Addressing this problem is difficult.
An ensign and four chief petty officers have been charged with violations of Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, failure to obey a lawful order. The Navy is not releasing the names of the charged sailors.
In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, countries around the world are closing their airspace to Russian aircraft.
Israeli News Desk
Eyal describes a fatal accident where an LSA Sierra P2002 with two persons on board crashed in the mountains near Jerusalem. Weather conditions likely played a role with the LSA that was certified for VFR only.
Also, Elbit Systems will introduce a new version of the Skylark 3 short-range UAV at the Singapore Airshow 2022. The drone is equipped with a hybrid propulsion system that includes an electric engine and a combustion engine. The Skylark family of drones has been ordered by 27 countries.
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)
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
New startup airline Airbahn, Boeing’s fighter bid is rejected by Canada, more on 5G and aviation signal interference, people try to bring the darndest things on airlines, what happens when you drop an iPhone from an airplane, an Australian water landing, A350 peeling paint, Airbus suggests a possible single-pilot freighter.
Based on their filing, Airblue will operate flights in the Western United States with service to mid-tier markets. Initially based at Long Beach Airport (LGB) or Orange County Airport (SNA), all planes and crews will return to base every day. Airbahn A320s will have 174 seats each, in a one-class configuration.
According to sources, Boeing’s bid to replace Canada’s fleet of CF-18s with Super Hornets has been rejected. Bids were to meet requirements for missions at home and abroad, as well as for substantial Canadian economic benefit. Bids from Lockheed Martin (F-35) and Saab (Gripen) were accepted.
First, we saw carriers delay 5G implementations one month to January. Now the mobile carriers are proposing a step further for six months: temporarily reducing base station power everywhere and limiting power near airports and heliports. This would give the FAA more time for further studies. The FAA hasn’t yet responded to the proposal.
Airlines are discovering that A350 paint is blistering and peeling off, exposing the composite material underneath. On the orders of the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority, Qatar has grounded twenty of its 53 A350s. Airbus says it’s not a safety issue, but airlines want to know what’s happening.
We talk with Ellie Carter, Britain’s youngest solo glider pilot, and youngest single-engined PPL holder. Ellie has a passion for helping youngsters in aviation. In the news, the possibility of just one pilot on the flight deck for long haul flights, Airbus eyes an A350 freighter derivative, airlines struggle to meet the growing travel demand, a unique checked baggage item, a delay and possible price increase for the new Air Force One planes, the U.S. Air Force wants to know who would bid on a contract for the KC-Y bridge tanker, and an open rotor engine.
Across the Pond
Pieter Johnson welcomes Ellie Carter to Across The Pond. At age 14, Ellie became Britain’s youngest solo glider pilot and later went on to become Britain’s Youngest single-engined PPL holder, having soloed at 16. She is currently qualifying for her aerobatic and IFR ratings.
A STEM ambassador and Chair of the Light Aircraft Association’s Youth and Education Support Strut, Ellie has a passion for helping youngsters into aviation and has just completed her A-Level exams specializing in maths.
Ellie has been awarded the British Women’s Pilots Association, Hilda Hewitt Trophy, for her actions and her example, being an inspiration to her peer group. Most recently Ellie was awarded the Light Aircraft Association’s President’s Breitling Certificate for her work in promoting younger people in aviation.
Long-haul flights typically have three or four pilots, with two pilots on the flight deck. Airbus and Cathay Pacific are working on a system to allow only one pilot on the flight deck at cruising altitude on long-haul flights.
Airbus is interested in competing in a market dominated by Boeing, and will reportedly be seeking board approval to proceed with an A350-based freighter. The modified A350-900 might be slightly longer than the passenger version and take four to five years from the launch date to enter service.
Travel demand is going up in the U.S. and American Airlines wants to be ready. A company memo is asking non-union employees to volunteer their help at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. The corporate scheduling, planning, and communications workers are being asked to work unpaid 6-hour shifts helping travelers in international terminals and other tasks.
The U.S. Air Force posted a Contracting Opportunity for new tankers. The “Sources Sought” request is “to determine if there exists an adequate number of qualified interested contractors capable of providing solutions to meet the requirement. The Government may use the responses to this Sources Sought for information and planning purposes.” The Air Force is looking for companies that can deliver approximately 140-160 Commercial Derivative Tanker Aircraft—at a rate of 12 to 15 per year—to supplement the Air Force Tanker Aircraft fleet at the end of KC-46A production, and bridge the gap to the next Tanker recapitalization phase.
Vertical Aerospace is an electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOL) startup based in the UK. The company announced pre-orders for up to 1,000 of its electric VA-X4 vertical takeoff aircraft. American Airlines ordered between 250 and 350 aircraft, Virgin Atlantic ordered between 50 and 150, and aircraft leasing group Avolon ordered 310.
The VA-X4 seats 4 PAX and a pilot, with commercial flights expected in 2024. The aircraft can cruise at 202 mph, has a usable range of up to 120 miles, and is claimed to be 100x quieter than a helicopter thanks to the VA-X4’s distributed propulsion system.
Vertical plans to go public this year on the New York Stock Exchange via a SPAC merger (special purpose acquisition) in a deal valuing it at $2.2 billion. SPAC investors include American Airlines, Avolon, Honeywell, Rolls-Royce, and Microsoft’s venture capital fund M12.
Breeze Airways flight attendant strategy breaks new ground, and not everyone is comfortable. Also, an Air Force One contractor files for bankruptcy, Leap-1B engine orders for the 737 MAX drop, penalties for unruly air passengers under the FAA crackdown, a second Stratolaunch flight, Airbus freighters on the horizon, and Embraer delays the E175-E2 again.
New LCC Breeze Airways plans to begin operations sometime in 2021. Founder David Neeleman spoke with Forbes and Ben Schlappig has some observations in One Mile at a Time.
Breeze Airways requires flight attendants to be “enrolled in college and living in company housing. In other words, the airline is trying to exclude anyone who has a family, a college degree, or is looking to build a career,” says Ben. Flight attendants will “be paid a fixed $1,200 per month, receive $6,000 towards tuition for online coursework, and receive company housing.”
Boeing was previously awarded the $3.9 billion contract to convert two 747-8s to serve as Air Force One. These would replace the 747-200s used now. Boeing subcontracted the interiors to GDC Technics but in April 2021, Boeing filed a lawsuit against GDC Technics and canceled their contracts. Then GDC countersued Boeing, but now GDC is filing for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11. Boeing says GDC hasn’t met its obligations and is 12 months behind schedule. GDC countered that Boeing was mismanaging the program and owed the company more than $20 million in payments.
737 MAX issues haven’t affected only Boeing. They’ve affected the supplier network as well, and that includes the engine maker. The CFM Leap-1B engine exclusively powers the Boeing 737 MAX. It was developed by Safran Aircraft Engines and GE Aviation through their joint company, CFM International.
Two passengers on a Jan. 4, 2021 jetBlue Airlines flight from Haiti to Boston, Mass. drank personal alcohol and acted in a disruptive manner. There was yelling and hand waving and the arms of two separate flight attendants were grabbed. Police escorted the passenger off the plane upon arrival. One passenger was fined $31,750 and the other $16,750. A third passenger was fined $14,500 after a Jan. 14, 2021 SkyWest Airlines flight from Yuma, Ariz., to Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas.
The FAA is strictly enforcing a zero-tolerance policy toward passengers who cause disturbances on flights, fail to obey flight crew instructions in violation of the FAA’s regulations, or engage in certain conduct described by federal law. FAA Administrator Steve Dickson signed an order directing a stricter legal enforcement policy against unruly airline passengers in the wake of recent, troubling incidents. “Flying is the safest mode of transportation and I signed this order to keep it that way,” Administrator Dickson said.
The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) says the Breeze employment style is “akin to gig economy jobs such as drivers at Uber and Instacart. On the surface, you can also extrapolate that most of the people who will ‘qualify’ for this lifestyle are younger people, with an expiration date when they fail to continue to meet the “youthful” requirements.”
The Stratloaunch test flight from California’s Mojave Air and Space Port lasted a little over 3 hours. The twin-fuselage Stratolaunch carrier was sold to Cerberus Capital Management in October 2019 after company founder Paul Allen passed away. The Stratolaunch website calls it “The Future of Hypersonic Testing” and says, “Providing the most efficient path for transitioning hypersonic technologies from research to implementation. Our unique air-launch system offers a reusable hypersonic platform, tailored for customer instrumentation and experiments.”
Boeing tends to dominate the cargo aircraft market, but Airbus has made it known they want to challenge that. The Airbus CEO said recently, “We do not like the idea to remain weak in that segment in the future. I think we have the right product to be able to be more aggressive in that market.” But what Airbus hasn’t said is what widebody model they have in mind – the A330, A350, or A380. Or when we’ll know.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.”
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.
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.
Boeing decides to move 787 Dreamliner production to South Carolina, the FAA Administrator flies the 737 MAX, Germany halts its heavy-lift helicopter procurement, airlines offer Covid-19 testing to passengers, furloughs after the CARES Act expired, go-arounds and accidents, a fast electric airplane from Rolls-Royce, advanced preflight after maintenance, and Flightradar24 DDoS attack.
Boeing made their decision, and all assembly of the 787 Dreamliner will be consolidated in South Carolina. Production of the 787 will end in Washington state. Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Stan Deal said the move to consolidate the work in North Charleston, S.C., will be done by “mid-2021, according to our best estimate.”
FAA Administrator Steve Dickson (a former Delta Air Lines pilot) flew the 737 MAX. At a news conference, Dickson said, “I completed a number of test profiles today to examine the functionality of the aircraft and I liked what I saw, so it responded well. I did two landings and also some air work maneuvers over about a two-hour period… and I felt prepared. I think most importantly, I felt that the training prepared me to be very comfortable.”
In what was called “a surprise development,” Germany decided not to replace the German Luftwaffe’s aging CH-53G series helicopters with either the CH-53K King Stallion or the CH-47F Chinook. The reason: both heavy-lift helicopters are too expensive.
JetBlue has partnered with Vault Health to provide at-home saliva tests to customers “wanting peace of mind and those who must secure a negative COVID-19 test result before entering certain states and countries or in order to avoid certain mandatory quarantines.” United Airlines will offer testing for customers traveling from San Francisco International Airport to Hawaii beginning Oct. American Airlines will offer pre-flight testing to travelers at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport going to Hawaii starting on Oct. 15.
The August 15, 2019 crash of Dale Earnhardt Jr’s Cessna Citation Latitude at Elizabethton, Tennessee (0A9) followed “an unstable VFR approach, a poorly executed landing, and a botched go-around attempt.”
The concept includes a 500hp motor, and “a battery with enough energy to supply 250 homes.” Rolls-Royce is ground testing the technology on a full-scale replica of the plane’s core. Project partners include YASA, a British electric powertrain company, and electric aviation startup Electroflight. Rolls-Royce said, “The first flight is planned for later this year and we are aiming to beat the current all-electric flight world record early next year.”
General Aviation fatalities have occurred after in-flight emergencies that have been the direct result of maintenance personnel who have serviced or installed systems incorrectly. The General Aviation Joint Steering Committee (GAJSC) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) say that a significant number of those fatalities could have been avoided if pilots conducted more thorough preflight inspections of aircraft that have just been returned to service.
Flightradar24 experienced a sustained Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack that resulted in extensive downtime. “We are continuing to do everything possible to mitigate the effects of the attack and to harden our systems to reduce the likelihood of future attacks making our services unavailable.”