Tag Archives: ATC

799 Doomsday Planes

Korean Air 747s will become the new doomsday planes, the new ATC rest rules have been delayed by the FAA, Breeze flight attendants voted to join the union, a United jumpseat pilot has upset some Southwest pilots, the GA flyover in DC was a success, Boeing employees were found to have falsified 787 Dreamliner inspection records, Airbus hasn’t leveraged an advantage in light of Boeing’s woes, and airlines sue the DOT over a new rule requiring the disclosure of fees.

Aviation News

Former Korean Air 747s Slated To Become USAF Doomsday Planes

Korean Air has confirmed the sale of five of its 747-8s to Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC), which is building the new Survivable Airborne Operations Center (SAOC) aircraft, also referred to as “doomsday planes.” The USAF states: 

The E-4B “Nightwatch” serves as the National Airborne Operations Center and is a component of the National Military Command System for the President, the Secretary of Defense, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

In case of national emergency or destruction of ground command and control centers, the aircraft provides a highly survivable command, control, and communications center to direct U.S. forces, execute emergency war orders, and coordinate actions by civil authorities.

SNC acquired five Boeing 747-8s from Korean Air. The current E-4B aircraft are based on the 747-200. SNC specializes in aircraft modification and integration as well as space technologies.

FAA Delaying the Start of ATC Rest Rules

The new FAA ATC rest requirements require controllers to have at least 10 hours off between shifts and 12 hours off before a midnight shift. The rule was to have taken effect by mid-July. However, the FAA has delayed those requirements while it talks to the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) union. FAA Air Traffic Organization Chief Operating Officer Timothy Arel hopes to reach a joint rest period agreement for the 2025 schedule “or sooner where feasible.”

Flight attendants at this Utah airline just voted ‘overwhelmingly’ to unionize

More than 76% of the roughly 600 Breeze Airways flight attendants voted to join the Association of Flight Attendants. AFA international president Sara Nelson said “We are inspired by their solidarity and thrilled to welcome them to our AFA family. Our labor movement is growing. Everywhere.” See: Breeze Flight Attendants Vote Overwhelmingly to Join the Flight Attendant Union.

“Breeze Flight Attendants organized for a union and a contract due to ongoing issues with constantly-changing work rules, substandard pay for time on the job, inadequate hotel accommodations, insufficient work hours, and inconsistent and disrespectful treatment from management.”

American Airlines is Issuing ‘Poverty Verification Letters’ For New-Hire Flight Attendants Because Their Wages Are So Low

Nearly One in Ten Alaska Airlines Flight Attendants Have Experienced Homelessness in the Past Year and Over a Third Have Been Forced to Use a Food Bank

Poverty verification letters are being sent to some new-hire flight attendants based in expensive areas.

Airline Feud Escalates: United Pilots Barred From Southwest Airlines Jump Seats After Controversial Incident

This stems from an incident where a “relatively new” United pilot reported some “inadequacies” to the FAA after jumpseating on a Southwest flight.

AOPA’s General Aviation Flyover in DC

Video: LIVE DC Flyover – AOPA’s National Celebration of General Aviation

FAA is investigating Boeing for apparent missed inspections on 787 Dreamliner

Boeing voluntarily disclosed to the FAA that some B787 Dreamliner inspections may not have been performed, but were signed off as completed. The inspections are intended to verify adequate bonding and grounding at the wing-fuselage joint.

In a statement to NPR, the FAA said it’s also investigating “whether Boeing completed the inspections and whether company employees may have falsified aircraft records.” The agency also said Boeing is re-inspecting “all 787 airplanes still within the production system and must also create a plan to address the in-service fleet.”

Boeing told NPR it “promptly notified the FAA and this is not an immediate safety of flight issue”.

Commercial jet maker Airbus is staying humble even as Boeing flounders. There’s a reason for that

Airbus has over 8,600 orders in backlog and can’t build planes fast enough. There is not much ability of Airbus to take orders from Boeing. (Boeing’s commercial backlog is more than 5,660 planes.)

Major airlines sue Biden administration over fee disclosure rule

The airlines don’t like the new DOT rule requiring upfront disclosure of airline fees. Filing a lawsuit against the DOT are Airlines for America, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, and Alaska Airlines. A4A said the new rules would confuse consumers and that its “attempt to regulate private business operations in a thriving marketplace is beyond its authority.”

Mentioned

Leo J. Kohn Digitization Project and Fundraising – Press Release [PDF]. The digitization and preservation project page where donations are accepted is https://www.wahf.org/kohn/.

Boeing YB-29J, "Pacsuan Dreamboat" on the tarmac.
Leo J. Kohn Photography Collection, #957 – Boeing YB-29J, “Pacsuan Dreamboat”, 44-84061. New York, NY. Photo by Larkins.

Exciting #SpotLAX24 Updates

ANA Star Wars livery
SpotLAX is a must-attend event!

Got $200K & Want To Fly Electric? This Ultralight eVTOL Ships In July & Doesn’t Require A Pilot License

Pivotal Helix eVTOL

Pivotal Helix eVTOL rendering.
Pivotal Helix eVTOL

Hosts this Episode

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

796 Air Traffic Controller Fatigue

To combat controller fatigue the FAA issued new rules for rest periods, another airport runway incursion, American Airlines pilots say the number of safety issues is increasing, Boom Supersonic received a Special Flight Authorization from the FAA to exceed Mach 1 for their XB-1 demonstrator, the Feds are using state resources to help enforce airline consumer laws, evidence shows someone other than a pilot at the controls of a charter flight operated by United, and a California bill would ban the CLEAR system at airports in the state.

Aviation News

New FAA rest rules to address ‘fatigue’ issues with air traffic controllers

Near-miss incidents continue to occur at the nation’s airports. After he toured air traffic control facilities, FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker said he “heard concerns about schedules that do not always allow controllers to get enough rest.”

From Statement from FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker:

Portrait of Michael Whitaker
Michael Whitaker, courtesy FAA

“In December 2023, we commissioned an independent panel of scientific fatigue experts to assess the risks introduced by controller fatigue in our system and to give us a roadmap to mitigate the risks. The panel’s report [PDF] brought into focus key reforms which we’re implementing immediately to ensure air traffic controllers are getting sufficient rest, while we also work to implement some longer term, systemic changes. As an initial step, I will require 10 hours off between shifts, and 12 hours off before a midnight shift, effective in 90 days, consistent with the expert panel’s recommendations. I am also directing the Air Traffic Safety Oversight Service to ensure the agency has a robust methodology to ensure compliance with this direction.”

The panel:

  • Mark Rosekind, a safety and sleep/fatigue professional and former National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) member.
  • Charles Czeisler, chief and senior physician, Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders, Departments of Medicine and Neurology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
  • Dr. Erin Flynn-Evans, head of the NASA Ames Research Center Fatigue Countermeasures Laboratory.
NATCA logo

The National Air Traffic Controllers Association (NATCA) has expressed concern that they were not consulted about the new controller fatigue rules, and those rules may not produce the intended result given the current controller shortage. See NATCA calls on FAA to collaborate on air traffic controller fatigue.

Southwest B38M at Washington on Apr 18th 2024, runway incursion forces rejected takeoff

A Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-8 MAX performing a flight from Washington National, DC to Orlando, FL (USA), was taxiing for departure from runway 01 and taxied past the hold short line of runway 04. Meanwhile, a Jetblue Embraer ERJ-190 performing a flight from Washington National to Boston was cleared for takeoff from runway 04 and was accelerating.

Ground Control shouted that the Southwest plane should stop immediately and the crew stopped the aircraft about 40 meters/130 feet past the hold short line and about 30 meters/100 feet short of the runway edge line. The Jetblue crew aborted their takeoff at low speed and stopped about 240 meters/790 feet down the runway.

Aerial view of the airport showing relative positions of the two jets.
Graphics: AVH/Google Earth

American Airlines Pilots Claim There Has Been a “Significant Spike” in Safety Issues at the Carrier

In a leaked memo noting “problematic trends,” the Allied Pilots Association (APA) representing pilots at American Airlines asks members to take their time when conducting pre-departure checks. The union cites tools being left out, an increased number of aircraft collisions during towing, incorrect paperwork documenting aircraft damage, and hazards left by inexperienced ground staff on taxiways and around stands.

XB-1 to Mach 1

The FAA issued a Special Flight Authorization (SFA) to Exceed Mach 1 for Boom’s XB-1 demonstrator. Supersonic operations will occur in the Black Mountain Supersonic Corridor and some of the High Altitude Supersonic Corridor. This R-2515 airspace has been used extensively for research and military supersonic aeronautical operations.

Edwards AFB R-2515 Restricted Airspace: R-2515 Users Handbook [PDF]

The SFA extends to chase plane aircraft. A total of 10-20 flights are planned at the Mojave Air & Space Port (R-2508 Complex) before reaching supersonic speeds.

Biden Recruits 15 States to Help Enforce Airline Consumers Laws

Enforcement of consumer-protection laws covering airline travelers is the federal government’s purview. The U.S. Department of Transportation has signed memorandums of understanding with the attorneys general of 12 states and 3 others allowing them to investigate airline service complaints. If the states believe an airline violated the law or is refusing to cooperate with investigators, the states could refer cases to the DOT for enforcement.

The DOT will allow those states to access its consumer-complaint system and train state employees about applicable laws. Participating are Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin, as well as the District of Columbia, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

FAA, United Investigate Cockpit Visitor During Baseball Team’s Flight

On a Colorado Rockies charter flight operated by United Airlines, a man is seen in a video sitting in the captain’s chair during the flight. The FAA and United Airlines are investigating the incident. The video was posted to social media and YouTube, but subsequently removed. The man is seen at the controls of the Boeing 757.

California Moves To Ban CLEAR From Airports: No One Should Go Through Security Faster

Some California lawmakers think the CLEAR document verification system is anti-egalitarian. They are seeking to ban the service from airports in that state. The CLEAR service uses biometrics to identify passengers and allows them to go to the front of security queues. PreCheck and Global Entry would not be affected by the proposed law.

Mentioned

Ladybug Launch book cover.

Ladybug Launch: Inspired by a true story of chinitas in space by Melissa Trempe. The children’s book is based on the true story of Chilean high school girls who convinced NASA to send ladybugs to space. Find it on Amazon, at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, and in bookstores.

Boeing and the Dark Age of American Manufacturing

AI on the Ascent: Empowering the Aviation Maintenance Technician – Aviation Week Webinar, Wednesday, May 15, 2024 at 11:00 am ET / 8:00 am PT.

Hosts this Episode

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

788 Corporate Flight Attendant

The struggle to mandate corporate flight attendant egress training, the Bombardier Challenger jet crash in Florida, major executive changes at Boeing, Spirit AeroSystems whistleblowers, 737 Max Service Difficulty Reports, FAA’s Enhanced Air Traffic-Collegiate Training Initiative program, FAA safety recommendations for Boeing, and details on Boeing’s “traveled work.”

Guest

Susan C. Friedenberg is the CEO of Corporate Flight Attendant – Tech Training and Consulting. Over the past 25 years, Susan has been committed to continually raising the standards for flight attendants in all aspects of business aviation. Her school teaches students the professional role of a corporate flight attendant. She has dedicated herself to the idea that egress training is critical to ensuring the safety of the passengers and crew in an emergency.

Susan C. Friedenberg, advocate for corporate flight attendant egress training.

Susan started Corporate Flight Attendant – Tech Training in 1999 when she realized there were just two valid egress training companies for business aviation and that neither offered students a chance to learn the professional role of a corporate flight attendant. In her 5-day – 50-hour Zoom training, guests include a senior Pfizer employee explaining cockpit resource management and a major business aviation caterer who discusses what their kitchens need to know to expedite and deliver a perfect catering order.

Starting her aviation career as a flight attendant at American Airlines, Susan eventually moved on to Capitol Air until 1984 when that company went bankrupt. Discovering business aviation, she flew full-time for Coca-Cola’s flight department in Atlanta, Dupont Aviation in Wilmington, Delaware, and American Standard Companies from Teterboro, New Jersey. She’s also flown as a contract flight attendant.  

Susan has been active for decades with the NBAA and served on the association’s Flight Attendant Committee and the Scholarship Committee. Susan was also the Chair of the Contract Flight Attendant Group for two years. 

She’s written numerous articles about the corporate flight attendant’s professional role and created a safety presentation called, “Why You Need a Trained Person in the Back of Your Aircraft.” Her company also provides abridged training for Flight Techs (A&P’s) who act in a dual role aboard a business aviation aircraft as both a mechanic and a flight attendant in the back of the plane.

Aviation News

‘We’ve lost both engines,’ pilot said before private jet crashed onto Florida interstate, killing 2

A Bombardier Challenger 600 series jet carrying five people crashed while attempting to make an emergency landing on Interstate 75 near Naples, Florida. The pilot and co-pilot were killed. A crew member and two passengers escaped.

Boeing removes the Head of 737 Max program in wake of safety incidents

Eighteen-year Boeing veteran Ed Clark has been removed from head of the 737 Max passenger jet program. He had previously held the roles of 737 Max chief engineer and chief 737 mechanic. Katie Ringgold fills Clark’s position as head of the 737 Max program. She had been vice president of 737 Max deliveries. Boeing also announced the creation of a new executive position, Senior Vice President for BCA Quality. Elizabeth Lund fills that position. Lund had been senior vice president and general manager of airplane programs for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Mike Fleming fills Lund’s position. He had been senior vice president of development and customer service.

With Boeing in hot seat, claims against supplier Spirit AeroSystems take shape

Two former Spirit AeroSystems employees have come forward with quality deficiency allegations. The first was a quality auditor at the Wichita plant who was fired in 2022 for allegedly failing to conduct inspections that were his responsibility. Now a second ex-employee who worked alongside the first has corroborated the allegations.

Airlines Filed 1,800 Reports Warning Regulators About Boeing’s 737 Max

More than 1,800 service difficulty reports concerning the 737 Max were filed by operators over the last three years. Alaska Airlines alone filed more than 1,230 737 Max reports over that period. The nonprofit Foundation for Aviation Safety compiled federal safety reports and found 737 Max issues including fuel leaks resulting from misapplied sealant, malfunctioning stabilizing motors, fuel tank FOD, engine stalls, and anti-ice system problems. Under § 121.703, certificate holders must file Service difficulty reports for the occurrence or detection of certain failures, malfunctions, or defects.

FAA panel finds Boeing safety culture wanting, recommends overhaul

The FAA commissioned a panel of independent aviation experts. Their report is critical of Boeing’s safety culture and makes more than 50 recommendations: Section 103 Organizational Designation Authorizations (ODA) for Transport Airplanes, Expert Panel Review Report, Final Report. [PDF]

FAA Moves to Accelerate Air Traffic Controller Hiring by Enhancing College Training Program

FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker says, “Hiring more air traffic controllers is a priority. We need more entry points for controller candidates and this enhanced college controller training program is an additional avenue to get controllers into facilities sooner.” The Enhanced Air Traffic-Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI) program is designed to increase the number of students who can begin facility training immediately upon graduation. As of May 2023, the FAA lists 31 approved AT-CTI schools. [PDF]

Mentioned

Why a Good Flight Attendant Matters

Gulfstream 550 Evacuation Crewmember Training

G550 Will Require Evac Crewmember

PBS – The American Experience: Come Fly With Me: They Wanted to See the World and Ended Up Changing It

The Biden administration’s bet on sustainable aviation fuel

Hosts this Episode

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

777 Aviation Accident Litigation

Aviation accident litigation with a partner from a law firm that specializes in that topic. In the news, some distressing recent air traffic controller behavior, the FAA acts on Safety Team recommendations, three United Airlines employees are accused of accepting bribes, a cargo drone airline achieves first flight, the Collings Foundation ends their air tours, and Alaska Airlines looks to acquire Hawaiian Airlines.

Guest

Erin Applebaum, Partner at Kreindler & Kreindler LLP, aviation accident litigation.

Erin Applebaum is a Partner at Kreindler & Kreindler LLP. Within Kreindler’s aviation practice, she focuses on representing individuals who are injured or killed in general aviation accidents and commercial airline disasters. 

Erin currently serves on the Plaintiffs’ Executive Committee for the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 Boeing 737 MAX litigation against Boeing and other defendants. She is also part of the team challenging the Deferred Prosecution Agreement between Boeing and the Department of Justice.

Erin maintains a robust practice of representing passengers who have been seriously injured during commercial flights. She specializes in litigating claims governed by the Montreal Convention and teaches a popular aviation accident CLE course for other attorneys – “Montreal Convention for Plaintiffs’ Lawyers: Representing Passenger Personal Injury Claims Arising on International Flights.” For the highly respected, industry-wide publication, “Annals of Air and Space Law,” published by McGill University, Erin contributed her insight on a recent landmark decision regarding British Airways and the application of the Montreal Convention to injuries caused by unexpected conditions present during passenger disembarkation from international flights.

Erin is a member of several legal professional groups. She was recently appointed Co-Chair of the New York City Bar Association’s Aeronautics Committee, serves as a Vice Chair on the American Bar Association’s Aviation and Space Law Committee, and is an active member of the American Association for Justice and the International Aviation Women’s Association.

Aviation News

Drunk and Asleep on the Job: Air Traffic Controllers Pushed to the Brink

Some distressing recent ATC incidents have been reported: a drunk controller, one who smoked marijuana during breaks, and an employee who threatened and “aggressively pushed” another who was directing airplanes. There are more reports of sleeping on the job and working under the influence. A New York Times investigation found that air traffic controllers are fatigued, distracted, and demoralized and are increasingly prone to making mistakes.

FAA Takes Action to Address Safety Review Team Recommendations

With the release of the National Airspace System Safety Review Team report, the FAA is taking immediate action to enhance air traffic controller training and safety reporting:

  • The FAA will work with Air Traffic-Collegiate Training Initiative (AT-CTI) Program colleges and universities to ensure that graduates from these programs have the necessary skills to begin on-the-job training at a facility. These graduates still must pass the Air Traffic Skills Assessment (ATSA) exam and meet medical and security requirements. Previously, these graduates were required to attend the FAA Air Traffic Controller Academy before being assigned to a facility.
  • FAA announced a year-round hiring track for experienced controllers from the military and private industry.
  • FAA will keep filling every seat at the FAA Academy and increase classroom capacity beyond current limits.
  • FAA will expand the use of advanced training across the country. The agency has new facilities in Chicago and San Diego and will be adding them in Nashua and Phoenix in the spring. 
  • Finish deploying tower simulator systems in 95 facilities by December 2025. The FAA will deploy the first system in Austin by January 2024. 
  • To strengthen the safety culture, the FAA will provide reports from the Air Traffic Safety Oversight Service to the FAA Administrator and Aviation Safety Associate Administrator.

Three United Airlines Employees Accepted Bribes to Award ‘Lucrative’ Multi-Million-Dollar Renovation Contracts at Newark Airport

Following a Federal probe, three United Airlines employees pleaded guilty to accepting bribes and kickbacks that included renovating their homes and receiving Rolex watches. This was in exchange for awarding contracts to a company that offered higher prices than at least two other competitors. United has terminated all three employees: a corporate real estate director, an airline senior manager, and a contractor.

Qatar Airways Partners With The World’s 1st Cargo Drone Airline

Qatar Airways Cargo and cargo drone airline Dronamics have partnered, initially to link the Dronamics droneports in Greece with Qatar’s worldwide network. The Black Swan remotely piloted aircraft has a 26-foot fuselage with a 52-foot wingspan, 770 lb cargo capacity, a 1,550-mile range, and a top speed of 125 mph. Dronamics was established in 2014 and calls itself “the world’s first cargo drone airline.”

Video: Dronamics Cargo Drone First Flight

Collings Foundation Grounds Air Tour for WWII Aircraft

The Collings Foundation American Heritage Museum newsletter says, “In the wake of the 2019 B-17 Flying Fortress accident… We are moving forward on our long-term plans to bring the aircraft from a nationwide flying exhibition to permanent display here in Massachusetts.” The Wings of Freedom tour brought access to World War II aircraft like the Boeing B-17G, B-25, B-24, and P-51D. Rides on those aircraft were offered as part of a monetary contribution to the Foundation.

The American Heritage Museum is a 501(c)(3) organization located in Hudson, Massachusetts. It displays 50 aircraft and over 90 vehicles from the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard vehicles, as well as some from other nations. The museum also has some large artifacts like a rebuilt Hanoi Hilton POW cell and a part of the Berlin Wall.

Alaska Airlines in Deal to Buy Hawaiian Airlines for $1.9 Billion

Under the all-cash transaction, Alaska would buy Hawaiian for $18 per share, valued at $1.9 Billion (which includes $0.9 Billion of Hawaiian Airlines net debt), and operate the airline as an independent brand. Alaska said it plans to expand Hawaiian’s Honolulu hub to enable “greater international connectivity for West Coast travelers throughout the Asia-Pacific region.”

The transaction agreement has been approved by both boards and is conditioned on regulatory approvals, approval by Hawaiian Holdings, Inc. shareholders (which is expected to be sought in the first quarter of 2024), and other customary closing conditions. It is expected to close in 12-18 months. The combined organization will be based in Seattle under the leadership of Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci.

Press Release: Alaska Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines to merge

Additional information about the transaction is available at a new joint website at localcareglobalreach.com and investor materials can also be found at investor.alaskaair.com and news.alaskaair.com.

Australia Desk

The GippsAero GA-8 Airvan, which in more recent years became known as the Airvan 8, has been a success story of Australia’s aviation industry over its many years of production. Originally known as Gippsland Aeronautics, the company was founded in 1977 by Peter Furlong at the Latrobe Valley Regional Airport in eastern Victoria.  He was joined by George Morgan in 1984 and together they developed the GA200 Fatman crop sprayer and the GA8 utility aircraft.  The company was purchased by Mahindra Aerospace in 2009, with production continuing until 2020.  

But there’s good news!  George Morgan has now re-acquired the company and he has a vision to get the GA8 back into production in coming years.  This could see the eventual restoration of a large number of local manufacturing jobs, along with maintenance and other work along the way.

GippsAero GA-8 Airvan in flight.
Image credit: Steve Hitchen, Australian Flying Magazine

Co-Founder buys Mahindra out of GippsAero – Australian Flying

New LCC Bonza Air has raised the ire of many, canceling all of their new Gold Coast to Darwin flights for the entire month of December.  The move has left hundreds of passengers stranded and unable to get a satisfactory response from Bonza’s app-based contact system.  The route was announced in September and had been scheduled to commence this week.

Does the move signal troubled times ahead for the fledgling new Australian carrier?  Time will tell, but they will need to improve their customer contact methods, and quickly.

Bonza cancels Darwin-Gold Coast flights for all of December, leaving customers fuming – ABC News

Virgin Australia have announced plans to increase their current order book for Boeing 737 Max-8s to 14, with 3 already delivered, and a planned fleet of 39.  Up until this point, the 737 Max models haven’t been seen in large numbers in this part of the world, and with Qantas looking to progressively replace their 737 fleet with A320s, Virgin will eventually become the nation’s largest operator of the type.

Virgin Australia increases 737 MAX-8 aircraft order

Virgin is also aiming to rekindle its former partnership arrangement with Air New Zealand, following a break of five years.  The codeshare agreement would be most beneficial to VA passengers wanting to cross the Tasman, after the airline cut back services to all New Zealand destinations except Queenstown, as they contracted operations to focus on Australia during financial restructuring in recent years.

Virgin Australia plans to revive Air New Zealand partnership – Point Hacks

Mentioned

Video: How Many WW2 Fighters Survive in 2023?

The Owners Behind the Most Expensive Private Jets in the World

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, Rob Mark, and our Main(e) Man Micah. Contribution by Grant McHerron and Steve Visscher.

775 Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

The Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey talks about the $30 Billion capital plan to rebuild airport facilities and the transportation infrastructure. In the news, an unruly passenger is fined almost $40,000 for costs related to the resulting flight delay, FAA certification for remote airport tower operations, public charter flights and regulatory loopholes, American Airlines flight attendants might strike, and the FAA is allowing graduates of college and university air traffic control programs to skip training and go right to ATC facilities.

Guest

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Executive Director Rick Cotton.

Rick Cotton is Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, a post he’s held since August 2017. The Port Authority has jurisdiction over the transportation infrastructure in the region, including air, land, rail, and sea. That includes five airports: John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport, Stewart International Airport, and Teterboro Airport.

Rick describes the history and function of the Port Authority, and the $30B plan to create world-class facilities that include rebuilding the airports. We discuss transportation between the airport and the city, the focus on the curb-to-gate passenger experience, and even the pricing of airport food.

Before joining the Port Authority, Rick served as New York State’s Special Counsellor to the Governor for Interagency Initiatives. He focused on the State’s major downstate infrastructure projects such as LaGuardia and JFK Airports, the Moynihan Train Hall and Penn-Farley Complex, the new Tappan Zee Bridge, the expansion of the Javits Center, and the MTA’s Second Avenue Subway project.

Rick spent 25 years at NBC Universal, where he held several positions, including 20 years as EVP and General Counsel and four years in London as President and Managing Director of CNBC Europe. He also served as Executive Secretary to the Department at the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare under Secretary Joseph A. Califano, Jr. and Special Assistant for Renewable Energy to Deputy Secretary of Energy John Sawhill at the U.S. Department of Energy. Rick received an A.B. from Harvard College and a J.D. from Yale Law School, and served as a law clerk to Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Video: About the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey

Aviation News

An expensive flight: American Airlines passenger fined almost $40,000 for being disruptive

After pleading guilty to interfering with a flight crew member, the federal district court in Arizona ordered the passenger to pay American Airlines $38,952 in restitution for delay-related costs due to her actions. The woman was also sentenced to time served in prison (3.6 months) and three years of supervised release, during which time she cannot fly commercially without prior authorization. This stems from a Feb. 13, 2022 flight where the passenger used profanity and threatened flight crew members flying from Phoenix to Hawaii. The plane was diverted and returned to Phoenix.

See also: Woman Ordered to Pay Over $38,000 in Restitution for Interference with Flight Crew on Hawaii-Bound Flight from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Arizona.

Another Remote Control Tower Option Bites the Dust

Searidge Technologies will end its five-year effort with Colorado’s Department of Transportation to implement a remote technology (RT) digital tower at Northern Colorado Regional Airport in Loveland. Bob Poole writes that new FAA certification requirements have also forced Saab to discontinue its participation as the RT technology provider for the remote tower for Leesburg Airport in Virginia.

In March 2023, the FAA announced that to have a remote technology system certified for a U.S. airport, it must first be installed at the Atlantic City, NJ, airport. That is where the FAA Tech Center is located. In addition, the Tech Center staff must be allowed to reverse engineer the system over three years so the FAA can determine if the system meets FAA certification requirements.

Searidge Technologies is a provider of services for remotely managing air traffic control. The company says they have “technology at over 40 sites in 25 countries [and they] are a global leader and preferred partner for Digital Towers and Advanced Airport solutions.” Searidge is owned by NATS (UK). Other RT service providers include Saab, Frequentis, and Kongsburg.

Big U.S. airlines fight over safety of ‘travel hack’ charter flights

“Public charter flights” have limited schedules (perhaps once or twice weekly) and set departure and arrival times. Booking is by individual seat and these flights are typically available during the tourist season. Flights are operated by tour operators or airlines that sell seats directly to passengers. Some charter operators offer these flights from private terminals and market themselves as providing flights without the hassle of the large terminals. (Avoid long security and boarding lines.) Dallas-based JSX is an example.

American Airlines and Southwest Airlines want to see the safety and security of these operations examined. They consider public charters a “loophole.” Meanwhile, United Airlines and JetBlue don’t want to see any changes. But they each own a stake in JSX.

See also: What Is a Charter Flight: Cost And All The Basics, What is Public Charter, and Plane Talk: Public Charter Flights – US Department of Transportation.

American Airlines Flight Attendants Expected to Formally Announce Christmas Strike On Monday

The American flight attendants are negotiating a new contract with the airline. The airline proposed a 19% pay rise over the four-year contract. The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) wants a 50% pay rise.

FAA Now Says AT-CTI Grads Can Skip Oke City Training Academy

The FAA is allowing graduates of college and university air traffic control programs to skip training at its own ATC academy in Oklahoma City and go directly to on-the-job training at ATC facilities.

Mentioned

Pentagon unveils new form for reporting UFO sightings

The form is available through the Defense Department’s All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO). That website provides official declassified information on UAPs, including pictures and videos, for the public to view.  At this time, the form is not meant for the public but methods are being explored to change that. See DOD press release: The Department of Defense Launches the All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office Website.

Hosts this Episode

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

763 Rigid Airships

The author of His Majesty’s Airship tells us about the era of the rigid airship and the fatal crash of the British airship R101. In the news, pilot medical condition reporting, the Boom Supersonic XB-1 demonstrator, two fatal military aircraft crashes, and the need for more air traffic controllers

Side view of rigid airship R101 moored to the mast.
R101 at the mast.

Guest

Sam C. Gwynne has authored a new book titled His Majesty’s Airship: The Life and Tragic Death of the World’s Largest Flying Machine

In 1930, Britain’s airship R101 was destined to transform air travel, link the far-flung outposts of the British Empire, and advance the career of ambitious Britain’s Secretary of State for Air, Lord Christopher Birdwood Thomson. The R101 would travel people in grand luxury with two floors of heated sleeping berths, bathrooms, cooking and dining facilities, and a smoking room.

Unfortunately, there were numerous complications, and their maiden voyage from England to British India’s Karachi and back took a fatal turn. While the May 1937 crash of the Hindenburg is infamous in U.S. lore, the fatal voyage of R101 is less well known, despite being one of the world’s great tales of aviation.

In our conversation, Sam places the R101 in the context of the rigid airships in the early 1900s. That includes issues of nationalism, competition with airplanes, and the British Imperial Airship Scheme of the 1920s that launched with the R100 and R101 sister airships. Sam says, “The history of airships is a history of a bad idea” and we explore the flawed technology that led to so many rigid airship disasters. As for the R101, Sam argues that the airship was an experimental prototype, which is dangerous by definition, but it was not treated that way.

Sam is the author of Hymns of the Republic and the New York Times bestsellers Rebel Yell and Empire of the Summer Moon, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. He spent most of his career as a journalist, including stints with Time as bureau chief, national correspondent, and senior editor, and with Texas Monthly as executive editor.

Airship R101 during assembly showing the metal framework and hydrogen gas bags.
R101 during assembly.

Aviation News

5,000 pilots suspected of hiding major health issues. Most are still flying

About 4,800 pilots are being investigated for falsifying medical records. They are military veterans who are receiving disability benefits for conditions that could make them unfit to fly. These include mental health disorders and other serious conditions. Veterans Affairs investigators discovered reporting inconsistencies when they cross-checked federal databases.

FAA Clears Boom Supersonic For XB-1 Flight Tests

The Boom Supersonic XB-1 technology demonstrator received an FAA experimental airworthiness certificate. With that, Boom can begin flight testing at Mojave Air and Space Port in California. The XB-1 is 71 feet long and is powered by three small afterburning General Electric J85-15 engines. High-speed taxi tests have been conducted, with a run up to 60 kt. achieved on Aug. 23, 2023 

Video: XB-1 Taxi Testing: August 23, 2023

F/A-18 Hornet Pilot Pronounced Dead In Crash At MCAS Miramar

Marine major identified as pilot who died in California F/A-18 crash

A two-seat F/A-18D Hornet crashed just before midnight at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, in the northern part of San Diego, California. The single pilot (Marine Maj. Andrew Mettler) aboard the F/A-18D was killed in the crash at MCAS Miramar. The Hornet belonged to Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224, based at MCAS Beaufort, South Carolina,

3 US Marines killed in aircraft crash in Australia during training exercise

Twenty-three Marines were on board the MV-22B Osprey aircraft. Three died and others were seriously wounded. The Marines were flying in support of Exercise Predators Run.

FAA hires 1,500 air traffic controllers but staffing challenges remain

The FAA reached its goal of hiring 1,500 air traffic controllers this year and wants funding for 1,800 in 2024. About 2,600 controllers are currently in training. There were more than 12,000 applicants this year.

Mentioned

9th Annual Girls in Aviation Day, September 23, 2023.

American Helicopter Museum & Education Center

Hosts this Episode

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

746 Live ATC Transmissions

Live and recorded ATC transmissions from LiveATC.net. In the news, the FAA Acting Administrator is stepping down, Airbus and Air France are cleared in the Air France Flight 447 accident, the FAA has some advice for terrain avoidance and warning systems, and ADs for Boeing 747-8s and B-17s.

Guest

Dave Pasco, founder and CEO of LiveATC.net.

Dave Pascoe is the founder and CEO of LiveATC.net, the world’s largest aviation radio voice data collection. Dave has had a life-long obsession with radio and technology, which led him to an MSEE degree and a career that spans RF technology to large-scale IT systems management.

Dave made a few minor detours along the way. One of those detours turned into LiveATC.net, which Dave started in late 2002. The service hosts live audio streams and archived voice data from over 3,000 channels of air traffic radio transmissions at over 1,400 airports and ATC control areas. Dave is also an active instrument-rated private pilot and avid ham radio operator.

Dave describes how the service is used by pilots, student pilots, CFIs, flight schools, aircraft operators, FBOs, the NTSB, and more. Volunteers capture the transmissions, often with a simple Raspberry Pi and a software defined radio. In addition, Dave often supports events such as EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, Sun ‘N Fun, and the Air Race Classic.

Aviation News

FAA Acting Administrator Billy Nolen To Depart Agency

Nolen announced he’d be leaving the FAA to spend more time with his family. He became Acting Administrator in April 2022 when former FAA Administrator Steve Dickson stepped down before his term was finished.

Air France and Airbus cleared over fatal 2009 Rio-Paris crash

Air France Flight 447, an A330, crashed into the Atlantic Ocean on June 1, 2009, killing all 228 people on board. A French court has determined that a causal link between any possible errors made and the crash could not be proved. “A probable causal link isn’t sufficient to characterize an offense,” the judge said in her statement. Families of the victims were shocked and angered by the finding.

FAA Issues Notice Warning Pilots Not To Silence TAWS Alerts

A terrain avoidance and warning system (TAWS) seeks to avoid controlled flight into terrain accidents. TAWS is the generic term for a ground proximity warning system (GPWS). According to the notice, “Alerts from TAWS can become a nuisance or a distraction to pilots when flying at altitudes below the alerting threshold of the system. This may result in the pilot’s decision to inhibit the system. Inhibiting warning systems and ignoring warnings, combined with deteriorating weather conditions leading to loss of visual surface reference and situational awareness, has been found to be the cause of some CFIT [controlled flight into terrain] accidents.”

FAA Proposes New Airworthiness Directive For Boeing 747-8 Aircraft

The FAA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) concerning “cracks in stringers, common to the end fittings, forward and aft of the pressure bulkhead at station (STA) 2360 at multiple stringer locations” on 747-8i and 747–8F series aircraft. The proposed AD would require repetitive inspections of stringer sidewalls and certain stringer assemblies.

In its investigation, the FAA determined that during assembly, un-shimmed or incorrectly shimmed gaps larger than what is required caused “excessive and sustained internal tensile stresses and resulted in stress corrosion cracking in the stringers.”

See also: AD Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (AD NPRM) – FAA-2023-0657

Coming Airworthiness Directive Expected to Ground All Airworthy B-17s

The FAA is preparing to issue an AD that will likely ground all B-17 aircraft due to “wing spar issues.” The Yankee Air Museum has already grounded its Boeing B-17G (“Yankee Lady”) in anticipation of the AD. The upcoming AD may be a result of wing spar issues found in the EAA’s B-17 “Aluminum Overcast.” That plane has been grounded since April 2021.

GlobalAir.com says in Rumors fly of AD that will ground all B-17 aircraft that Hangar Thirteen is restoring a B-17 and posted on Facebook about the Yankee Lady. The post noted that wing spars are a common issue within the B-17 community, citing a 2001 AD from the FAA concerning cracking and corrosion of the wing spar chords, bolts and bolt holes of the spar chords and wing terminals, and a correction of any problems found during inspections.”

According to Aero Vintage, there are now only four operational B-17s left. While there may be 46 total complete airframes and 18 registered in the U.S., many are currently being restored or used as display pieces.

Australia News Desk

Aviation pioneer Max Hazelton sadly passed away shortly before his 96th birthday after quite the career. Max was the founder of Hazelton Airlines which became a subsidiary of Ansett Airlines and then merged with Kendell Airlines to become Regional Express (aka REX) after Ansett went under in September 2001.

Vale Max Hazelton

Speaking of REX, they’ve taken a financial stake in a local electric propulsion company.

Rex Takes Stake In New Technology Electric Aircraft

Meanwhile, Qantas’ bid to take over Alliance Airlines is blocked by the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) and Qantas are not happy about it.

Qantas’ Purchase of Alliance Blocked

Finally, a former RAF Mustang arrives at the Hunter Fighter Collection in Scone where it was reassembled to static display in just three days.

Ex-RAF Museum P-51D Arrives in Australia

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, Rob Mark, David Vanderhoof, and Max Trescott. Contributions by Grant McHerron and Steve Visscher.

744 DOJ Antitrust Lawsuit

More states join the Justice Department antitrust lawsuit to block the JetBlue-Spirit Merger, a Delta flight aborts takeoff after another jet raises concerns, Shell cancels it’s plans for a SAF plant in Singapore, Delta uses its partnership with Lyft, and the FAA warns about summer travel disruptions. We also offer a little bit of aviation career advice and talk more about lap babies on airlines.

Aviation News

California, New Jersey Join Suit to Block JetBlue-Spirit Merger

jetBlue logo.

The Attorneys General of California, Maryland, New Jersey, and North Carolina joined the civil antitrust lawsuit filed by the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division. Those states now join Massachusetts, New York, and the District of Columbia. The civil antitrust lawsuit seeks to block JetBlue’s proposed $3.8 billion acquisition of Spirit Airlines. The 42-page amended complaint says:

JetBlue’s proposed $3.8 billion acquisition of Spirit would eliminate the largest and fastest-growing ultra-low-cost carrier in the United States. Spirit’s ultra-low-cost business model has increased competition and brought low fares to hundreds of routes across the country, making it possible for more Americans—particularly the most cost conscious—to travel. JetBlue competes hard against Spirit, and views it as a serious competitive threat. But instead of continuing that competition, JetBlue now proposes an acquisition that Spirit describes as “a high cost, high-fare airline buying a low-cost, low-fare airline.”

If the acquisition is approved, JetBlue plans to abandon Spirit’s business model, remove seats from Spirit’s planes, and charge Spirit’s customers higher prices. JetBlue’s plan would eliminate the unique competition that Spirit provides—and about half of all ultra-low-cost airline seats in the industry—and leave tens of millions of travelers to face higher fares and fewer options.

The DOJ’s suit is scheduled to go to trial in a Massachusetts courtroom on October 16, 2023.

Delta flight aborts takeoff as another aircraft crosses runway

Delta Air Lines logo.

Delta flight DL-1482 was cleared for takeoff from New Orleans runway 11 when ATC canceled the clearance and the A321-200 (N342DN) screeched to a halt. The FAA says the Learjet did not cross the “hold short line,” but the controller canceled the takeoff clearance out of an abundance of caution. The Aviation Herald reports the crew rejected takeoff at high speed (about 125 knots over ground) and stopped about 1500 meters/4920 feet down the runway. The Tower explained another aircraft had crossed the hold short line of the runway.

Shell cancels sustainable aviation fuel and base oil plant projects in Singapore

Shell logo.

Shell announced in 2021 that it was planning a biofuel project in Singapore to produce 550,000 tonnes of SAF per year for major Asian hubs like Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) and Singapore’s Changi Airport (SIN). Shell had planned to make their final investment decision by early 2023. Now the company says the market demand in that region will not support the investment.

Delta Rebooks Passengers On Lyft When There’s No Airline Seats Available

Some Delta Air Lines passengers arriving in Detroit found that strong thunderstorms in the area prevented them from flying to nearby final destinations. Delta stepped in and rebooked some passengers on Lyft. Lyft has been a Delta partner for six years.

FAA Warns of Air Traffic Controller Shortage Ahead of Summer Travel Season

The New York airspace is so congested that the FAA has asked airlines to make operational changes. For the peak summer travel season, the FAA would like to see larger planes and fewer flights. Consumer demand is forecasted to be seven percent higher during the summer than last year. The FAA says if nothing changes, we can expect 45 percent more delays. Staffing at air traffic control centers averages 81 percent of what’s needed. Staffing at the New York Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) is only 54 percent of the need.

Career Advice

An Electrical Engineering student with an interest in aviation asked us about career opportunities, how to fund pilot instruction, and general advice. We provide our thoughts and strategies. Mentioned:

Australia News Desk

Australia’s newest airline, Bonza, continues with the rollout of its new route network with the opening this week of its base in Melbourne, Victoria.  The opening comes as figures show they’ve sold over 100,000 seats since commencing operation two months ago. Will the strategy of offering budget fares for Melburnians to access the warmer weather of Queensland and points north be sustainable in the medium to long term?   And will other airlines move to match their destinations and pricing?  Business is business, after all.  We’ll continue to watch with interest.

Bonza hits 100k bookings as it launches Sunshine Coast-Cairns route

Qantas meantime have ventured into the sustainability stakes from another angle – biofuels.  Partnering with Queensland-based biofuel manufacturer LanzaJet & JetZero Australia, the airline will aim to jointly fund the construction of a facility to produce sustainable aviation fuel (SAF)

The proposed facility will utilise LanzaJet’s alcohol-to-jet technology to produce up to 100 million litres of SAF per year. Construction is expected to start in 2024.

Queensland biofuel refinery to turn agricultural by products into sustainable aviation fuel

The Royal Australian Air Force has returned from a successful Exercise Cope North in Guam, testing new strategies for the use of its C-17J Spartan fleet.  The platform continues to evolve for the RAAF, having been reclassified in 2021 from that of a battlefield airlifter to “Light Tactical Fixed Wing Airlifter”, with impressive results to date.

Exercise Cope North wraps up

Flying with Children and Infants

After the discussion on this topic in the last episode, a listener wrote in to present a different viewpoint on any ban on “lap babies” on airlines.

Mentioned

This battery safety feature can break your Apple AirTags. Here’s how to fix it

FAA Airport Design Challenge

The Airport Design Challenge (ADC) is an interactive learning and collaboration opportunity for students in grades K-12. 

  • Small teams of students work together to learn about their local airport and to complete development tasks in Minecraft Organized lesson plans covering topics from airport layout, pavement, lighting, structures, and innovative growth. Collaborative work between students, parents, and teachers performed in a virtual environment.
  • Airport Design Challenge enrollment opened on April 1, 2023.

Emil Bocek, last Czech RAF pilot during WWII, dies at 100

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, Rob Mark, David Vanderhoof, and Max Trescott.

738 Air Traffic Control

An Air Traffic Control Tower Operator Certification program, actions from the FAA including a safety call to action, a request for increased hand-flying during normal operations, a new rule requiring airport safety management systems, and IT system fixes. Also, flying over Russian airspace.

Guest

Brooke Manley, Air Traffic Controller and Adjunct Professor at SUNY Schenectady.

Brooke Manley is an Air Traffic Controller and Adjunct Professor at SUNY Schenectady in New York. She has worked at Albany Tower, an FAA control tower in Latham, New York, for three and a half years. Brooke graduated from SUNY Schenectady in 2017 with a degree in Aviation Science, Air Traffic Control, and a commercial pilot’s license. SUNY Schenectady is one of only two colleges in the country that offers an Air Traffic Control Tower Operator (CTO) certification program.

At SUNY Schenectady, students gain hands-on training in the Schenectady County Airport Control Tower. The College developed this program to help fill a need locally and nationally for qualified air traffic controllers. The two-year program includes four semesters: Air Traffic Basics, Ground Control, Local Control [or Tower Control], and ATC Internship.

Ground and local control each include 8-10 weeks in the lab. Using a tabletop exercise with model airplanes, Brooke presents student controllers with realistic scenarios that controllers encounter in the tower. Students take the role of controllers while Brooke coaches them while speaking as the pilots.

After certification at Schenectady Tower, a 6-month internship provides the work experience necessary to apply to private, nonfederal contract towers. This internship is performed under the supervision of a certified controller who is plugged in with the student and can step in at any time if needed. 

Later, many students want to work for the FAA at larger facilities. After getting one year of experience at a contract tower, they can apply to work for the FAA. The other option to get into the FAA is to apply directly as an “off the street” applicant – essentially anyone that doesn’t have a one-year experience regardless of previous experience or education. This is the route Brooke took. She went through the SUNY Schenectady program and got hired by the FAA right after she graduated. She encourages students to apply to any off-the-street openings from the FAA. The hiring process can vary from a few months to more than a year wait.

Find SUNY Schenectady County Community College on Facebook and Twitter.

Aviation News

FAA issues “safety call to action” after several near-disasters

FAA Acting Administrator Billy Nolen issued a memorandum to the FAA Management Board announcing the formation of a safety review team to examine the U.S. aerospace system’s structure, culture, processes, systems, and integration of safety efforts. The initial focus will be a Safety Summit in March, then the Commercial Aviation Safety Team will take a fresh look at Aviation Safety Information Analysis and Sharing data. Finally, the review team will focus on the Air Traffic Organization (ATO) and assess ATO’s internal processes, systems, and operational integration.

FAA Shifts Focus to Pilot Manual Flying Skills

The FAA has now recommended that airlines should allow pilots to hand-fly during normal operations whenever possible. The FAA recently published Aviation Circular Flight Path Management (AC 120/123) which states the importance of pilots having the skills to fly the plane when the automation fails. It notes that manual flying skills are paramount for flight safety, that automation requires more training (not less), and that it is not a binary choice between manual and automated flight. Both are essential components with different but complementary skill sets needed.

FAA Completes Rule to Increase Safety at Airports

The final rule requires certain airports to develop and implement a safety management system (SMS). The Part 139 Airport Certification Status List shows the 258 Part 139 airports required to implement SMS. These capture over 90 percent of air carrier passenger traffic in the United States. The final rule for SMS for Certificated Airports goes into effect 60 days after the rule is published in the Federal Register.

FAA says it’s implemented fixes to avoid repeat of IT failure that halted air traffic

Acting FAA administrator Billy Nolen testified before the Senate Commerce Committee, addressing NOTAM system failures that caused an aviation ground stop. He said, “We have instituted a one-hour synchronization delay between the primary database and the backup database that gives us time to make sure that we have no issues there.” And “Secondly, we’ve increased the level of oversight to ensure that more than one person is available when work or updates are being done on the live database, along with up leveling our level of oversight within the command center to ensure that we’ve got leadership present.”

Airlines say Chinese carriers have an ‘unfair advantage’ as China reopens: They’re allowed to fly over Russia

After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, many air carriers were banned by Russia from flying over Russian airspace. This means long detours. Airline CEOs say that puts them at a disadvantage compared to Asian carriers who still fly over Russian airspace.

Australia News Desk

As Grant and Steve are getting ready for the Australian International Airshow (better known as Avalon 2023), the timing was right for a wrap of some military aviation news from the past fortnight.

Australian company SEA Tech has received a $279M contract to upgrade training ranges for the RAAF’s EA-18G fleet.  The aircraft themselves will also receive upgrades including newer generation jamming packages and anti-radiation missiles.

CEA Technologies to upgrade Growler training ranges

Australia to upgrade Growler electronic warfare planes

The latest Government Defence White Paper has also been tabled, although not yet made public, with rumours of more MQ-4C Tritons on the order books, and even an additional squadron of F-35A’s, taking the total order from 72 airframes to 100.  Time will tell on this one.

The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) have retired the first of their C130H aircraft, beginning a draw-down of the type ahead of the arrival of a new C130J fleet later this year.  It comes as a similar withdrawal of their P-3K2 Orion fleet, similarly to be replaced in coming months with new P-8 aircraft, leaves a brief capability gap in the region, to be filled by RAAF and other allied aircraft for the time being.

End of an era: RNZAF retires first C-130H

P-3K2 retirement leaves capability gap

And in civil aviation news, the government is said to be considering yet another report into the state of general aviation in Australia, with yet more re-hashed ideas on how to fix the mess.   Stand by here as Grant climbs onto his soap box for a bit of a (G)rant!

Airports Association welcomes White Paper

Mentioned

Electric air taxi tested in the greater NYC area

BETA Technologies ALIA-250 hovering.
BETA Technologies ALIA-250.

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, Rob Mark, David Vanderhoof, and Max Trescott. Contributions by Grant McHerron and Steve Vischer.

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