After last year’s extremely successful and sold-out drive-in format, Canada’s first socially responsible and physically distant air show is excited to return August 27-29, headlined by the U.S. Navy Blue Angels. New this year will be a Friday night show, Hour of Power, capped off with afterburners from the Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Demonstration Jet.
The drive-in format’s innovative and safe approach conforms to, and often exceeds, health guidelines to ensure an experience that minimizes risk to health and safety for everyone involved.
Guests will have the opportunity to purchase from roving food vendors or bring their own food and non-alcoholic beverages. There will be no stationary vendors.
Geospatial data supporting airports, investment strategy for airport recovery, lower airport operations volume, halted international flights, a health bill for domestic air travel, aviation events, a criminal conviction for unsafe drone operation, a B-21 update, and the outlook for New Zealand.
Bob Vander Meer is vice president of business development for NV5 Geospatial (Powered by Quantum Spatial). He has over 20 years of business development and management experience in the geospatial industry, and serves within NV5 Geospatial’s public market sector, leading the business development activities with state, municipal, and county government agencies.
Bob has provided executive support to over 700 airport projects under FAA Advisory Circular 150/5300-16A, -17C, -18B guidelines. He has managed all internal project activities, including overseeing that the airport ground surveys and collection of aerial imagery are performed in accordance with the appropriate FAA specifications.
We dive into how geospatial data for airports are collected, analyzed, and used for applications like obstruction analysis, airport mapping, and even pavement management and crack assessment, as well as interior mapping. Bob explains the sensors used and the aircraft that carry them.
Mark Stokes, the Business Unit Manager – SmartSuite at Brock Solutions, notes that “Many in the aviation industry went from full speed ahead, managing the absolute peak of volumes, to a near dead stop.” As business returns, “airlines and airports are likely going to not bring back as many people as they had before.” But the pre-pandemic situation with “unmanageable volumes of traffic” tells us “what’s going to happen to our systems and our passenger flows and our facilities when those volumes come back. Now, we have some time to prepare and to adjust the course so we can avoid those problems we were inevitably facing in 2019.”
The Dutch government announced they will require all travelers, including crew, to get both a PCR test and an antigen test before flying to that country. In response, KLM stopped operating all its intercontinental flights and some of its European services on January 22, 2021. A KLM spokesperson said, “We cannot run the risk of our staff being stranded somewhere. This is why we are stopping all intercontinental flights from Friday & all flights to European destinations where crew members have to spend the night.”
But what about cargo and repatriation flights, and the impact on vaccine shipments? Well, now aircrew will be exempt from the rules if, either they do not leave the aircraft position upon reaching their destination, or if a PCR test is done within 12 hours before the flight, then the rapid test is not required. Crew may also operate within a “72-hour bubble,” allowing them to isolate in a hotel.
President Biden signed an executive order that calls for interagency cooperation to develop recommendations for national public health measures for domestic travel. A press release from Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) announced the reintroduction of the Ensuring Health Safety in the Skies Act of 2020, which passed the Senate unanimously last year.
The Act [PDF] “would require the Departments of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and Transportation to establish a joint task force on air travel during and after the COVID-19 public health emergency. The task force would consist of representatives from various federal agencies, and would develop policy recommendations to address issues related to airport and air carrier operations during and after the coronavirus pandemic.”
This task force would be advised by a joint federal advisory committee to include aviation industry, security, and public health experts. It would clearly establish the risks that must be addressed, the stakeholders that should be involved, and the process for developing national standards for safe air travel.
Lufthansa announced starting February 1st, 2021, they will stop accepting cloth masks and all passengers will have to wear a surgical mask or an FFP2 mask, (also known as KN95/N95 masks). Masks with valves will not be allowed. Lufthansa Group member Austrian Airlines says that surgical masks will not be allowed. Only FFP2 masks.
A 22 year old man crashed the drone he was operating into a Los Angeles Police Department helicopter in September, 2020. He faces a statutory maximum sentence of one year in federal prison. The sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 12, 2021. The investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and the LAPD, with the assistance of the FAA.
National Aviation Hall of Fame’s Spirit of Flight Award
Airlines face downward booking trends and very large furloughs, flight training in a time of social distancing, airlines struggle to enforce face-covering policies, airports are responding to the pandemic, Boeing issues draft pilot training document for the 737 MAX, and Spirit Airlines steps up to help a family in need.
United Airlines sent employees a notice saying that 36,000 employees may be subject to involuntary furloughs. That would represent 45% of its U.S. front-line workers. Most of these (26,000) would be flight attendants and airport customer service and gate agents. Up to 2,250 pilots could be affected.
In mid-April, there were days when TSA checkpoint volume was only 4% of previous year levels. In May and June, the volume rose slightly and airlines started operating more flights. But now Covid-19 infections are spiking upward in many U.S. states and bookings are again dropping.
A few months ago, Redbird Flight Simulations started thinking about social distancing and flight training. They’ve developed a platform for flight instructors and their students that uses video conferencing technology and a web-based version of the Redbird Navigator flight simulator operating system.
Airline passengers are required to wear face coverings in flight, except when eating and drinking. Most do, but not everyone. Cabin crew have difficulty enforcing a mask policy since there is no Federal requirement, only a recommendation.
In July 2020, the U.S. Department of Transportation published a 44-page “Runway to Recovery” plan [PDF] subtitled “The United States Framework for Airlines and Airports to Mitigate the Public Health Risks of Coronavirus.”
DFW and American Airlines plan to roll out self-check-in for luggage and touchless restrooms at the airport. The airport is piloting three luggage self-check-in systems: Amadeus’s ICM, SITA, and Materna IPS. DFW is also testing new sanitization technology including ultraviolet light to kill germs before they circulate into the HVAC system.
Boeing has a draft of its new 737 MAX pilot training document. The Allied Pilots Association (APA) representing American Airlines’ pilots has a copy and they say the document is vastly more thorough than previous drafts. The APA is generally pleased with it but some concerns remain. Boeing’s latest draft includes some 10 documents and 200 pages.
A family was flying on Spirit Airlines from San Juan to Philadelphia when their 4-year-old daughter had a medical emergency. The plane diverted to Turks and Caicos so the girl could get medical treatment. (She’s fine.) But the family didn’t have the necessary documentation when they tried to leave the island. Plus international travel is shut down there. They were trapped but Spirit and others came to the rescue.
Chris Manno talks about his 42 years as a professional pilot, first with the U.S. Air Force and then with a major U.S. airline. Chris has written An Airline Pilot’s Life which captures his military and commercial career. In the news, we look at industry first-quarter losses, production cuts, furloughs, and layoffs. Also, airline and airport safety measures, Federal bailout money, a hybrid-electric aircraft, and the Treaty on Open Skies.
Chris Mano writes the Jethead blog and has recently published a start-to-finish true-life story of his 42 years as a professional pilot, which includes seven years with the USAF and over 34 years with American Airlines. It’s titled “An Airline Pilot’s Life” and the paperback release is May 2020. The first part is currently Amazon Kindle’s #1 new release in commercial aviation. The book tells the stories of Chris’ USAF pilot training and squadron flying for 6 years, and then his airline career through DC-10 engineer to MD-80 FO to DC-10 FO to MD-80 captain, F-100 captain, MD-80 Check Airman, and B-737-800 captain.
The book describes a life-long dedication to aviation, a path that Chris knew he wanted to take even as a youngster. Through this first-hand view, the reader learns what it is like to be an air force pilot or an airline pilot.
Chris tells us about the difference between military and airline flying, the role of labor unions, and flight and cabin crew relationships. We learn why he likes the 737-800 so much, and what he didn’t like about the MD-80. Chris also provides his thoughts, from a pilot’s perspective, on the loss of confidence in the 737 Max, the process, and the regulator.
An aviation and space reporter helps us understand the current state of the aviation industry and where it might lead. We also bring you an inside look at how an article for an aviation magazine is produced.
Tom Risen is a Space and Aviation Reporter based in Washington, DC. He’s been covering the latest news and writing analysis about how airlines and aerospace manufacturers are adapting to the quarantine measures to slow the spread of Coronavirus.
Tom is co-authoring a book about government oversight, he is the web editor and reporter for Future Flight News, and Tom was formerly technology and business reporter at U.S. News & World Report, and a staff reporter for Aerospace America.
Boeing says they’ll recall about 2,500 employees out of the 30,000 employees impacted by the shutdown. The recalled workers will support defense programs like the Navy’s P-8 and the Air Force KC-46 tanker, and also maintenance operations for 737 MAX jets stored at Moses Lake. Employees will be provided with personal protective equipment and enforce social distancing measures.
In response to airlines suspending orders, Airbus cut its production. The company said it delivered 122 planes in the first quarter, with 60 remaining undelivered. 55 were delivered in February, 36 in March.
Boeing 737 MAX jets have two independent flight controlled computers: the Collins Aerospace FCC-730 series computers, first built in 1996. These use single-core, 16-bit processors. They have limited compute power, but they are reliable.
More than 230 applications from air carriers for payroll grants have been received by the Treasury Department. United, Delta, JetBlue, Spirit and others have applied for the aid. The Treasury Department said that it would not require applicants seeking $100 million or less to provide compensation. Officials have said the compensation could include stock warrants and or other financial instruments.
Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants union and our guest in Episode 545 said, “This will lead to airline bankruptcies. The Treasury Department is destabilizing the industry, not helping save it.” The Treasury Department decided to make 30% of each cash grant offer a low-interest loan payable to the federal government. Nelson says Congress earmarked the money to immediately pay airline workers. If it’s turned into a loan, the airlines may choose not to take it.
The voluntary leave or retirement would occur in April or May, 2020. The Association of Professional Flight Attendants said about 7,960 members signed up for voluntary leave or early retirement out of 25,300 total. About 7,200 flight attendants signed up for three-, six- or 12-month leaves and about 760 will take early retirement.
Government aid under the CARES Act requires US airlines to avoid involuntarily furloughs or employee layoffs, and continuing service to all existing markets. Alaska Airlines is creating tag flights. For example, instead of flying from Seattle to Dallas and from Seattle to Houston, Alaska will fly from Seattle to Dallas to Houston.
HOK says they don’t foresee the need to make significant physical changes to terminals in response to COVID-19 because passenger terminals have been designed to be open and flexible. Thermal scanners and handheld thermometers for traveler screening are easily accommodated. But airports might look at “more comprehensive passenger wellness screening solutions.” We may also see “additional medical clinics within airports for use by passengers as well as airport and airline employees.”
The remaining Royal Australian Air Force legacy Hornets are coming back to the US to become civilian aggressors. The surplus RAAF F/A-18 Hornets are to be used in a contractor adversary air support role.
United Airlines has partnered with California Governor Newsom to provide free, round-trip flights for medical volunteers traveling to California to help in the frontline fight against the COVID-19 crisis. If you are interested in volunteering or learning more about the program, visit California Health Corps.
RavnAir Group was a regional airline serving small Alaskan communities. They’ve ceased all operations but Alaska Airlines says they will maintain service to its destinations, start some summer seasonal service sooner, work to develop service to communities in the Aleutian Islands, and Cold Bay.
The carrier and its customers raised more than $1 million for the American Red Cross in the first 24 hours of the campaign.
A few months ago, Airplane Geeks reporter-at-large Launchpad Marzari tagged along with Rob Mark, senior editor at Flying Magazine, as Rob was writing an article about the Texas Aircraft Colt LSA for the magazine. We get a “behind the scenes” look at what is involved in producing an article for an aviation magazine. That piece became the cover story for the May 2020 issue.
We look at Airport Watch, a group of airplane enthusiasts that have built a valuable relationship with their airport, law enforcement, and the community. In the news, we again look at the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak that is continuing to impact aviation. Also, a Southwest B737 experiences a fuselage rupture, and a man shoots at a police helicopter.
Peter Wagner, Airport Watch.
Peter Wagner is board president of Airport Watch, a crime prevention initiative that includes people who have an interest in various aspects of aviation and who spend time in the vicinity of the O’Hare Airport to observe the various airport operations. These airplane spotters provide safety and security value to the airport, law enforcement, businesses and the local community.
Peter is a professional photographer who has enjoyed aviation since he was young. He started plane spotting in 2001 at O’Hare Airport and now enjoys traveling to airports and air shows around the country photographing planes. While Peter’s personal favorites are the 747 and C-17, he enjoys all types of aviation.
Airport Watch holds monthly meetings, training sessions, and field tours at O’hare Airport. They liaison with the FBI, Chicago Police Department, Chicago Department of Aviation, and the TSA. Their connection to the Secret Service is through the FBI. Members come from all walks of life and include airport employees, the media, firefighters, pilots, other professionals, and the general public.
C-17 by Peter Wagner.
Peter explains how the organization came into existence and how it was structured using the Canadian model. The highly-detailed Airport Watch bylaws offer a comprehensive roadmap for others who might like to form a similar organization.
B747 by Peter Wagner.
We also discuss airplane spotting, including what spotters look for, spotting locations, and camera gear. Anyone in the United States can join Airport Watch. Find them on Instagram. Peter also has an Instagram where you can find his professional and personal photography.
American was flying 150 widebody aircraft at the end of December. Now about 135 of them will go into temporary storage from March 16 through at least May 6, 2020. This includes Airbus A330 and Boeing 767, 777 and 787 models. The airline is cutting international capacity by 75%
Delta Air Lines announced they’d cut global capacity by 40% and park up to 300 jets, including both narrow-bodies and wide-bodies.
Finnair will cut capacity by 90%, starting from 1 April and keep critical air connections for Finland, limited connections to Europe, and one remaining intercontinental route to Japan. The airline cites the “severe impact on demand for air travel” resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.
United CEO Oscar Munoz sent an email to employees saying, he “has spent the last two days in Washington, D.C., meeting with senior officials in the Trump Administration and senior members of the U.S. House and Senate in both parties to understand what government policies they may be considering and explain to them the impact that the coronavirus has had on our business.”
Official U.S. Air Force Statement: “The Air Force is committed to upholding the complete trust and confidence of Americans and our community engagement is the key to those connections. However, due to the uncertainty regarding COVID-19 and to protect our Airmen, their families and the communities that support us, the Department of the Air Force is suspending all outreach activities and support to community events through May 15. This includes, but is not limited to, on-base and civilian sponsored air shows, band performances and community engagements and meetings (speaking engagements, community meetings on installations, base tours, Pentagon visits, etc.).
Defense officials issued a memorandum [PDF] halting domestic travel for service members, Defense Department employees and family members. That includes permanent changes of station and temporary duty travel. The ban is in effect from March 16 to May 11, 2020.
A Southwest flight en route from Las Vegas to Boise, Idaho experienced some loss of pressure. They descended to a safe altitude and landed safely in Boise.A 12-inch rupture was found in the skin of the B737.
This episode, we have an interview with the president of the Greater Philadelphia Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen. In the news, more woes for Boeing with FOD discovered in undelivered 737 MAX airplanes and the DOJ is reported to be investigating the company. Also, the Coronavirus continues to disrupt commercial aviation, a solar electric UAV planned to stay aloft for a year, a new tail-rotor design from Bell that should be quieter and safer, and this year’s Collier Trophy nominees are announced.
David Vanderhoof and Mel Payne, president, Greater Philadelphia Chapter of Tuskegee Airmen.
The Department of Justice wants to know if Boeing knowingly lied to the FAA while seeking certification of the 737 MAX. Boeing’s former 737 MAX chief pilot Mark Forkner was subpoenaed last year to answer questions from federal prosecutors in front of a grand jury. He invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
More than 200,000 flights, mostly in China, have been canceled as a result of the Coronavirus. Delta, United, and American have halted service to mainland China and Hong Kong. With the resulting decrease in demand, jet fuel prices have fallen 17% in 2020. For an excellent explanation of the virus, see: You’re Likely to Get the Coronavirus.
BAE Systems and Prismatic designed the unmanned solar-powered PHASA-35 airplane, and have tested it at the Royal Australian Air Force’s Woomera in South Australia. A High Altitude, Long Endurance Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (HALE UAV), this “pseudo-satellite” could provide persistent service for defense, security, resource management, and communications. Another high-altitude solar-electric airplane under development is the manned SolarStratos.
Helicopters with a single main rotor need an additional tail rotor to counteract the torque of the main rotor. But the tail rotor contributes a lot of noise and represents a safety hazard on the ground. Bell has come up with a different approach: four smaller shrouded electric fans in the tail.
The United States Air Force-Boeing X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle Team
Unmanned Aircraft Systems Traffic Management Team
The Collier Trophy Selection Committee will meet on April 2, 2020, in Arlington, Virginia, and the recipient will be announced publicly the following day. The formal presentation of the Collier Trophy will take place on June 11, 2020, at a location to be determined.
We talk about flight planning with the founder and CEO of SkyVector. In the news, we look at transferring funding for light attack planes to the U.S. Special Operations Command, the Aircraft Noise Reduction Act, Boeing’s Board of Directors’ decision to pause 737 MAX production, and Alaska Airlines ugly holiday sweater promotion. We also have the Australia News Desk from the boys down under.
David Graves, founder and CEO of the SkyVector flight planning system.
David Graves is the founder and CEO of SkyVector, which provides worldwide aeronautical charts, online mapping, and related flight planning products and services. The company combines its aeronautical mapping capability with weather and data overlays, airport information, FBO listings, and more.
In 2003, David was working as a programmer for a Seattle startup. He took an introductory flight with a small flight school at Boeing Field and his first solo came after 4 months and 20 hours. He earned his private pilot’s license about a year later.
SkyVector.com flight planning went on-line in the fall of 2006 and by the end of 2009, it was experiencing over 100,000 unique users a month. In 2010, David quit his job to work on SkyVector full-time. The World VFR and World IFR charts went live in 2012. Flight Plan filing went live in 2015, and at the end of the decade, SkyVector is being visited by over 550,000 unique users per month.
David explains some of the discriminators of flight planning services, the SkyVector user interface, and interaction with other flight planning products. We discuss data sources and improvements in accuracy and learn about the Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor (MRMS) project which utilizes an automated system that integrates data from multiple radars and other sources to generate seamless, high spatio-temporal resolution mosaics. (Be sure to see the Operational Product Viewer.)
We touch on the SkyVector map layer with unmanned aircraft Notams (or “Drotams”), compare the new electronic flight planning tools with the “old” paper and pencil methods, and look at future flight planning developments.
December 20, 2019, is National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day. It’s celebrated on the third Friday of December each year. Sometimes it’s called National Ugly Holiday Sweater Day, or simply National Ugly Sweater Day. In any event, Alaska Airlines has a promotion and passengers wearing a holiday sweater on December 20 will be allowed to board early.
Australia News Desk
Steve Visscher and Grant McHerron bring us a news report from the Australia Desk.
Airshare chief operating officer Harry Mitchel talks about fractional jet ownership and aircraft management. Also, ADS-B equipage on the business jet fleet, C-130 groundings due to cracks, an airplane hacking security alert from the DHS, airport noise, and a Southwest Airlines program to create career paths for pilots.
Airshare chief operating officer Harry Mitchel.
Harry Mitchel is chief operating officer of Airshare, a large provider of fractional and aircraft management services. Airshare operates Phenom 100 and Phenom 300 aircraft in the fractional space, and also provides managed aircraft services where they maintain, crew, and schedule the owner’s aircraft.
As COO, Harry oversees all aircraft operations for the company, including flight operations, maintenance, scheduling, and managed aircraft. He has more than 35 years of experience in commercial and corporate aviation, including serving as vice president of operations for Colgan Air in Memphis, Tennessee.
Harry was also general manager of Funair Corporation, director of aviation for Magic Carpet Aviation (the aviation department of the NBA’s Orlando Magic), director of Pinnacle Airlines’ Corporate Education Center, and vice president of Aviation Compliance Services.
Holding a bachelor of science degree in aeronautical science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Harry has more than 7,000 hours of experience as an ATP pilot in global operations.
FAA regulation requires that starting Jan. 1 2020, aircraft must have ADS-B Out while flying in most controlled airspace. FlightAware reports that as of June 2019, 77% of the turbine-powered U.S. business aircraft are equipped with ADS-B
Associated Press reports that the Department of Homeland Security Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued a security alert for small planes which warned that “modern flight systems are vulnerable to hacking if someone manages to gain physical access to the aircraft.” According to AP, cybersecurity firm Rapid7 looked at small aircraft and “found that an attacker could potentially disrupt electronic messages transmitted across a small plane’s network, for example by attaching a small device to its wiring, that would affect aircraft systems.”
But NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen writes that the AP story, “missed or mischaracterized some key points about small-airplane security.” He says the DHS notice applies to all aircraft, it’s not a GA notice. Also the story “misrepresented the nature of the potential security breach involved.”
Some residents of Portland Maine have been complaining about the noise from the Portland International Jetport. United States Senator Susan Collins has even gotten herself involved. Our Main(e) man Micah stepped up and penned a letter that was published by the Portland Press Herald. In it he makes a number of points about airport noise, including the approach taken in the Salt Lake City area as related by listener Patrick.
Southwest Airlines launched the Destination 225° career program to build career pathways for qualified pilots to become first officers. Program participants receive a Southwest mentor, attend training activities and events at Southwest, and ultimately have an opportunity to apply for a position as a Southwest First Officer.
The director of the Portland International Jetport joins us to talk about airport development, airport noise, attracting airlines, and other topics. In the news, the A321neo has an excessive pitch problem, unique airline seats with more middle seat space, an unruly passenger gets banned for life, and an electric airplane company begins taking customer letters of intent. We have interviews from the Spurwink Farm Pancake Breakfast and Fly-In: the director of the Owls Head Transportation Museum, a young cadet from the Civil Air Patrol, and a retired professional pilot.
Paul Bradbury, director of the Portland International Jetport.
Paul H. Bradbury, P.E. is the airport director for the Portland International Jetport (PWM) in Portland, Maine. Paul has held several positions at the Jetport since 1992 and he was appointed the airport director in 2008. In this position, he is responsible for the overall management, operations, and planning for the Jetport.
PWM reached record passenger volumes for the past two years as it has focused on service and its value proposition to customers.
Under Paul’s leadership, the Jetport completed the largest capital improvement program in its history. That included a new parking garage, a 137,000 square foot terminal expansion, an aircraft deicing fluid capture facility, and the rehabilitation of the north/south runway.
These projects have placed PWM at the forefront of sustainable design. The terminal expansion was only the second terminal project in the country to receive the US Green Building Council’s LEED Gold certification. The aircraft deicing fluid capture facility recently received the ACI-NA 2018 Environmental Achievement Award for Mitigation.
Paul is a licensed professional engineer with a B.S. in Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has issued Airworthiness Directive 2019-0171 [PDF] for Airbus A321neo airplanes. Certain Elevator Aileron Computer (ELAC) part numbers installed on some airplanes can cause an “excessive pitch attitude… in certain conditions and during specific manoeuvres… This condition, if not corrected, could result in reduced control of the aeroplane.”
Leisure airline Jet2.com says they have has issued a lifetime ban to a 25-year-old woman and billed her more than £85,000 after her disruptive behavior caused a flight to be diverted. The RAF scrambled two Typhoon fighters to escort the aircraft. According to Jet2.com, she “displayed a catalogue of aggressive, abusive and dangerous behaviour on the aircraft, which included attempting to open the aircraft doors during the flight.” See also Couple who restrained Jet2 passenger demand payout from airline.
Ampaire CEO Kevin Noertker says “The Ampaire Electric EEL is the first step in bringing lower emissions, lower operating costs, and quieter operations to general aviation through electrification.” The company was to begin taking letters of intent for its Electric EEL hybrid airplane at EAA AirVenture.
Spurwink Farm Pancake Breakfast and Fly-In
Our Main(e) Man and contributor-at-large Micah attended this year’s Spurwink Farm event and recorded three interviews:
Cadet First Lt Emily Earle from the Civil Air Patrol.