This episode focuses on the “Queen of the Skies,” the Boeing 747.
We look at the history of the Boeing 747, some facts and figures, our memories of the plane, the 747 in the news, and we discuss a few of the accidents and incidents. We also have some personal photos of the Boeing 747 taken by our listeners.
This week being episode 747, the boys decided to have a little fun and look at some Australian Boeing 747 milestones over the years. There are so many to cover, so these are just a snapshot. We highly recommend checking out http://aussieairliners.org/ as a superb reference on Jumbo’s and many, many other types in Australian service.
In the news this week, regional operator ReX have made the decision to cut schedules across their route network, citing the impact of global supply chain issues impacting their ability to service and operate their fleet, especially in terms of sourcing parts & spares for their SAAB 340’s.
The Australian Government’s Defence Strategic Review has been released, and we continue to pour over the details, with the Army appearing to cop the brunt of cutbacks and/or changes to equipment and posturing, while the impact, if any, on defence aviation operations remains to be seen. We’ll have more on this in future editions of this report, and on Plane Crazy Down Under and the Australian Defence Magazine podcast in coming weeks.
Our guest is Charlie Bolden, former NASA administrator, astronaut, and naval aviator. In the news, the first production Falcon 6X arrives at the completion center, Air Force accidents decline, FAA proposes changes to autopilot training, Frontier and Spirit propose a merger, and Delta wants a federal no-fly list for unruly passengers.
In our open and wide-ranging conversation with Charlie, he talks about the factors that have led to the prominence of commercial space companies. We look at how Congress reacted to the shift and why the commercial industry changed NASA for the better. These “New Space” companies often use an iterative development process that is very different from the regimented process used, for example, with the James Webb Space Telescope.
We touch on the role of NASA and the need for the Administrator to navigate the politics of Washington. We also consider whether the NTSB or FAA should investigate space accidents.
Charlie explains how returning to the Moon and going on to Mars raised concerns that funding would shift to human space flight at the expense of science missions. He also describes initial skepticism that the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter was a good idea. Charlie has some interesting thoughts on the notion of “colonizing” Mars and if that planet is really an alternative to Earth.
Along the way, we look at spherical aberration on the Hubble telescope (and its twin), what the Boeing CST-100 Starliner and the Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser bring, and of course SpaceX. Charlie describes an overwhelmingly emotional moment on his first Shuttle flight and how astronauts used ham radio to talk to their families from the Orbiter.
Charlie also provides some insight into the criteria used to select who would receive the four Space Shuttle orbiters after that program ended.
The first production Falcon 6X extra widebody twin arrived at Dassault Aviation’s 1.25 million square foot completion center in Little Rock, Arkansas. Serial number five was ferried from Dassault’s production facility in France. The Pratt & Whitney Canada PW812D-powered Falcon 6X is expected to enter into service later in 2022.
The Air Force reported 63 severe mishaps in fiscal 2021, compared to 71 the prior year. “Class A” incidents dropped to 21 from 30 in 2020. The 5-year average is about 27 Class A mishaps. The manned aircraft rate fell to 0.94 accidents per 100,000 flying hours, the lowest since 2014. At the same time, the rate for unmanned aircraft accidents jumped to 1.96 unmanned aircraft accidents per 100,000 flying hours, which is the highest since 2017.
This retired British Airways Boeing 747 can be rented from Cotswold Airport in the south of England. Purchased for just £1 ($1.30), almost £500,000 ($671,000) has been invested in the plane, which costs $1,300 an hour to rent, or $16,000 for 24-hours.
The FAA wants pilots to avoid overreliance on the autopilot and make sure they focus on flight path management. So the FAA issued draft guidance and recommended practices. The FAAs action comes in response to NTSB recommendations after the July 2013 accident where Asiana Airlines Flight 214 struck a seawall at SFO, killing three passengers. Also prompting the draft guidance are requirements specified by Congress after the two fatal Boeing 737 MAX accidents.
The two carriers are proposing a merger where Frontier Airlines would hold 51.5 percent and Spirit would hold 48.5 percent. A name for the combined airline hasn’t been offered, nor has the CEO or location of headquarters identified.
Delta Air Lines CEO Edward Bastian asked the U.S. Attorney General to set up a nationwide no-fly list for unruly passengers. The ACLU and others are critical, citing problems with the TSA’s current terrorist list.
Inside Marine One On March 4, 2022, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm, the American Helicopter Museum is offering members a sneak preview of the new Inside Marine One exhibit. A conversation will feature USMC Colonel Ray “Frenchy” L’Heureux (former Marine One pilot and author of Inside Marine One: Four U.S. Presidents, One Proud Marine, and the World’s Most Amazing Helicopter) and Roger D. Connor, Ph.D. (Curator of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Aeronautics Department). You can still participate in the discussion via Zoom (6:30-7:30) if you can’t join in person. Register by March 3, 2022.
Penobscot Island Air has started a new flight school at the Knox County Regional Airport in Owls Head, Maine. PIA provides mail, freight delivery, and even medevac services. The CFIs are Penobscot Island Air pilots and in the first three weeks, seven students enrolled.
The airport is shared by the OwlsHead Transportation Museum which conducts many events throughout the year, including the annual Wings and Wheels Spectacular Airshow, to be held August 6, 2022, 10:00-3:00.
We examine aircraft line maintenance with a successful family-owned business. Also, two engine failures on commercial flights, testing single pilot aircraft with an eye toward future autonomous planes, a possible all new design for an F-16 replacement, and a mid-air wedding.
FEAM Maintenance/Engineering provides aircraft line maintenance engineering services for commercial aircraft operators through a wide network of line stations. They hold approvals for all current and next-generation aircraft, including B787 and A350 aircraft.
Fred Murphy is the founder and president of FEAM, the company that started in 1992 as Fred & Everett’s Aircraft Maintenance. Fred had a vision and he saw a niche for a 3rd party maintenance provider that could deliver high-quality maintenance at a reasonable cost. Now 29 years later FEAM has grown from zero to nearly $100 million in revenue projected for 2020.
Prior to joining FEAM, Fred held various positions in maintenance/engineering departments at American Airlines, US Airways, FedEx and Trans World Airlines. Fred served in the US Air Force as a noncommissioned officer and holds an Associate Degree for Aircraft Maintenance Management. Fred also holds a Federal Aviation Administration airframe and powerplant license; Federal Communications Commission restricted radio operators license and a Federal Aviation Administration private pilot/ instrument rating.
Cam Murphy is the managing director of FEAM and is the second generation in his family business. Cam grew up in the business and his experiences include positions in almost every department, from janitorial services, stockroom clerk, to shadowing technicians on the flight line, and various management positions.
Cam joined the leadership ranks in 2010 with the vision of scaling the business. He and the team succeeded at that and what was once just two guys and a truck now employs about 1,100 technicians at 30 international airports. FEAM has maintenance certifications in the US as well as international certifications that include Korea, Singapore, Europe, Australia, Japan, and Bermuda.
Cam has an MBA in Aerospace and Defense, with a green belt certification for Lean Maintenance Repair and Overhaul from the University of Tennessee’s College of Business and Administration In 2017 Cam was awarded the Forbes 30 under 30 award, which recognizes 600 of the brightest young entrepreneurs, innovators and game changers in the US in 20 different industries.
United Flight 328, a Boeing 777-200, experienced an engine failure shortly after taking off from Denver International Airport. Debris fell along the aircraft’s flight path. The plane returned to Denver. There were no injuries. United Airlines announced they will be grounding 24 Boeing 777 aircraft powered by Pratt & Whitney 4000 series engines, Japan’s Transport Ministry instructed Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways to ground the Boeing 777s in their fleet. The FAA issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive that would require immediate or stepped-up inspections of Boeing 777 airplanes equipped with these engines. Boeing recommends suspending operations of the 69 in-service and 59 in-storage 777s powered by Pratt & Whitney 4000-112 engines until the FAA identifies the appropriate inspection protocol.
A Boeing 747-400 freighter taking off from Maastricht lost parts from one of its four engines. Two people were slightly injured, one went to the hospital. It appears to be a Longtail Aviation 747-400 converted freighter. The aircraft was originally delivered in 1991 to Singapore Airlines.
An old ATR 42-300 turboprop owned by FedEx (N912FX) is undergoing trial flights around the Waterbury-Oxford airport in Connecticut. Autonomous and single-pilot technology for helicopters and fixed wing aircraft is being tested.
Some in the USAF are thinking about an F-16 replacement that could be an all-new fighter. If it goes forward, this would be a new “four-and-a-half-gen or fifth-gen-minus” fighter. The study would hopefully inform the Air Force’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget request.
The first mid-air wedding hosted by Virgin Australia took place on a flight from Melbourne to Sydney. The first kiss didn’t occur until after the 737 arrived at Sydney since the couple wore masks due to Covid protocols. “After five years of dating we wanted to elope, and thanks to Virgin Australia, we’ve done just that.” Passengers received a buttermilk biscuit wedding favour in the shape of a heart.
An aviation climate control proposal from the EPA, an update on airline furloughs, questions about fighter pilot’s flying experience, Airbus’ autonomous A350, Delta Airline’s fleet simplification, and the Garmin outage that lasted for days. Also, an Australia News Desk from the boys down under, a special discount code for our listeners, and advice on choosing a flight school.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed new aircraft emissions regulations that some are criticizing and others are applauding. The proposal adopts 2017 emissions standards from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Boeing and the Airlines for America trade group welcomed the proposal. Environmental groups and the EPA itself said the proposed regulations would have no meaningful effect.
Southwest CEO Gary Kelly announced that the airline will not furlough or lay off any workers on Oct. 1, 2020. Kelly said, “We have no intention of seeking furloughs, layoffs, pay rate cuts or benefits cuts through at least the end of the year… I can’t guarantee it will never happen, especially during these dark pandemic times. I can promise you it will be the last thing we do to keep Southwest financially healthy and viable.”
American Airlines says it has over 20,000 more employees than it will need later this year. The airline has been trying to entice employees to accept voluntary leaves of absence or early retirement, but the acceptance numbers are lower than American wants to see.
We’ve recently seen a number of military aviation accidents. A team of senior U.S. Air Force officers has been speaking to pilots and aircrew to see if there are common factors. They find that experienced pilots worry about possible cuts in flying hours and increased use of simulators.
Since 2018, Airbus has flown an A350-1000 autonomously 500 times. The airplane is fitted with image recognition technology that uses external cameras. The software processes the images and controls the flight.
Delta had announced a fleet simplification strategy last December. At the beginning of 2020, Delta operated 20 different aircraft models in multiple configurations, with two more scheduled to join the fleet in 2020 (the Airbus A220-300 and A321neo). Delta has now accelerated its simplification strategy.
The FAA issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive (EAD) for Boeing 737 Classic and NextGeneration aircraft in storage. The bleed air fifth stage check valve on CFM56 engines stored for seven or more days could exhibit corrosion that could lead to an engine shutdown. Perhaps even a double-engine shutdown. This follows four single-engine 737 shutdowns during flight.
On Jul. 23, 2020, Garmin experienced a major outage attributed in the press to a ransomware attack. The FlyGarmin app for pilots using Garmin GPS based instruments and navigation equipment was affected, as was the Garmin Pilot app and Garmin aviation and navigation watches.
For a limited time, PilotPartner.net is offering a discount code for Airplane Geeks listeners. The code “airplanegeeks18” will get you an 18-month membership for the price of 12 months. Ken from PilotPartner was our guest in Episode 432.
As the coronavirus pandemic ravages the airline industry, Delta CEO Ed Bastian says he is leading the company through a defining moment. He opens up about how Delta is navigating the crisis, mandating masks on all flights, and blocking middle seats. He also pledges as CEO to stand against racism and is committed to promoting more African-American executives throughout the company.
A technical marketing advisor from Textron Aviation explains the new Cessna SkyCourier. In the news, strategic moves by aerostructures maker Triumph affect the Boeing 747, engine competitions are underway for the B-52 fleet and the F-15EX, a Pakistani airliner crashes under unusual circumstances, Delta Airlines retires the MD-80 fleet, and the U.S. Air Force drops the blanket height requirement for pilot candidates. We also hear about youth programs from the president of EAA Chapter 196.
Martin Tuck is a technical marketing advisor with Textron Aviation. He recently spoke with Airplane Geeks reporter-at-large Launchpad Marzari about the new Cessna SkyCourier which successfully completed its first flight recently.
The SkyCourier is powered by a pair of Pratt & Whitney PT6 turboprops. It can carry 6,000 pounds of cargo or 19 passengers, depending on the configuration. The freight configuration accommodates three LD3 shipping containers. The aircraft features single-point pressure refueling capability and rugged landing gear for use on unimproved strips. FedEx is the launch customer for the SkyCourier, with 50 firm and 50 option orders.
Located in Wichita, Kansas, Martin is a 42-year veteran of the aviation industry and has experience with the Hawker, Cessna, and Beechcraft brands, particularly in the King Air turboprops. He is part of the project team working on the new Cessna SkyCourier.
Aerostructures company Triumph Group is a long-time producer of the fuselage and horizontal stabilizer panels for the 747. The problem is that Triumph announced it will shut down the two plants manufacturing these components. Boeing has enough parts for the 747 backlog, but that’s the end of the supply. To continue production, Boeing would have to find a new source.
Triumph announced it was undertaking a comprehensive review of its structures business as it focuses on its core systems and product support markets and capabilities. The Company has divested its 10 build-to-print machine shops, five fabrication shops, two metal finishing facilities, and its two million square foot Nashville large structures plant.
The U.S. Air Force is again looking to replace the TF33 engines on its 76 B-52s. RFPs have gone to Pratt & Whitney, GE, and Rolls-Royce. The eight engines on each bomber would be replaced by eight General Electric TF34, GE Passport, Pratt & Whitney PW800, or Rolls-Royce F130 engines. The engine makers have until July 22, 2020, to submit final proposals.
Pakistan International Airlines Flight PK8303 attempted it’s first landing with gear up, scraping the engine nacelles on the runway before executing a go-around. It crashed into a residential area on its second landing attempt after both engines failed, killing all but 2 of the 99 people aboard, and one child on the ground.
Delta will retire its McDonnell Douglas MD-88/MD-90 fleet on June 2, 2020. MD-80 series was powered by two rear-mounted Pratt & Whitney JT8D-200 engines while the MD-90 was powered by IAE V2500 engines.
The Thunderbirds posted a message on social media that their recent flight over Southern California would be the last of the America Strong flyovers. This may have been a change in plans since some people expected flights over the Pacific Northwest and even other western locations.
The US Air Force Medical Standards Directory requirement previously required pilot applicants to stand between 5’4″ and 6’5″ tall. Applicants sitting height was to be between 34 and 40 inches. The Air Force said dropping those requirements was intended to attract a more diverse group of candidates. The Air Force Times said, “Instead of a blanket height requirement, the Air Force said that it will apply an ‘anthropometric screening process’ to figure out which specific aircraft applicants would be able to fly. These measurements, in addition to standing height, also measure an applicant’s eye height while sitting, buttocks-to-knee length, and arm span, are entered into a computer to determine which aircraft the applicant could and could not safely fit in.”
EAA Youth Programs
EAA Chapter 196 president Mike Smith tells us about some of their local chapter youth programs. The Experimental Aircraft Association is very focused on developing the next generation of aviation enthusiasts through the Young Eagles program, scholarships, internships, and aviation camps.
Van’s RV Formation Team
Mark Newton and a Van’s RV formation team landed in a 4-ship on runway 16R at Sydney International.
We mark the 50th anniversary of the first flight of the Boeing 747 with a member of that flight test team, now a docent at The Museum of Flight in Seattle. Also, the NTSB Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements, the last commercial flight of the Boeing 727, Airbnb may be doing something with air travel, SFO’s new outdoor observation deck, two Virgin Galactic pilots earn astronaut wings, and the Collier Trophy nominees list is released.
Boeing 747 ceremony, courtesy The Museum of Flight.
Sean Mobley, Docent Services Specialist with The Museum of Flight joins us. Sean also hosts the Museum’s Flight Deck Podcast. In addition, Docent Thomas Gray brings us recollections of the Boeing 747 flight test program and the first flight, fifty years ago.
From 1968 to 1985, Thomas was a member of the Boeing 747 first flight test team. That airplane, the “City of Everett,” resides at The Museum of Flight. Thomas was also the lead instrumentation engineer when RA001 was later used as the flying test bed for the 757/767 engines.
Thomas graduated with a BS in Electrical Engineering in 1961. He served in the New Mexico Air National Guard as a Radio Technician for one year where he provided maintenance service on F-100 fighter aircraft radio equipment. After that, he joined the Washington Air National Guard until 1967 as a Radio Technician, providing maintenance service on the mobile teletype and cryptographic equipment.
Thomas was hired by Boeing as the Systems Test Engineer on the Dyna-Soar program. From there he moved over to the Flight Test organization as an Instrumentation Engineer for 24 years. Thomas worked on the 737, 747, 757, 767, the Boeing Hydrofoil Test Craft, and John F. Kennedy’s Air Force One 26000. He also served as the test engineer on the Space Shuttle Carrier aircraft during Space Shuttle Landing tests at Edwards AFB, California. Thomas then worked as a Commercial Sales Support Engineer for three years and worked seven years as a Customer Service Engineer until retiring in 1995.
Courtesy The Museum of Flight.
Boeing 747 First Flight
The first flight took place on February 9, 1969 and we learn that the three initial flights were around Paine Field with a pilot, co-pilot, flight engineer, and F-86 escort. It wasn’t until the fourth flight that the full crew was aboard and the plane was allowed to fly over populated areas.
Thomas helps us understand the mood at Boeing leading up to the B747 first flight, as well as his role as part of the first flight test team. He explains the 747 test Instrumentation, the telemetry system, and the ballast system that moved water between barrels to change the airplane’s center of gravity.
The first flight Boeing 747 is on display at The Museum of Flight in the test configuration. An excellent 3D tour of the plane is available from the Museum. See Aviation Pavilion Virtual Tour for that aircraft tour and others in the collection.
Boeing 747 test aircraft virtual tour. Courtesy The Museum of Flight.
The National Transportation Safety Board (the NTSB) has issued its 2019-2020 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements. The NTSB would like the FAA to close the gap in safety requirements between commercial airlines and those operating under Part 135. The NTSB argues that all flights should be safe, no matter the purpose of the flight or the type of aircraft. Most Part 135 organizations don’t have a safety management system (SMS), flight data monitoring (FDM), or a controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) avoidance training program.
Home-sharing service Airbnb has hired long-time aviation industry veteran Fred Reid to be the company’s global head of transportation. His task is “building partnerships and services that make travel seamless while delivering the kind of people-to-people hospitality Airbnb is known for around the world.” CEO Brian Chesky says, “I’m not interested in building our own airline or creating just another place on the Internet where you can buy a plane ticket, but there is a tremendous opportunity to improve the transportation experience for everyone.”
A $55 million upgrade at San Francisco International Airport’s International Terminal includes a new, 3,000 square foot roofless observation deck on the Terminal G side. Since the outdoor lounge is behind security, only passengers using Terminal 3 (United) and the International G-side will have access to it. The deck offers a 180+ degree view of the ramp and runways on the north side of the airport.
San Francisco International Airport’s observation deck. Credit: Chris McGinnis | Tim Jue
The two Virgin Galactic test pilots who flew the SpaceShipTwo “VSS Unity” into space on December 13, 2018, were recognized in a ceremony at the Department of Transportation in Washington, DC. Mark “Forger” Stucky and Frederick “CJ” Sturckow were awarded Commercial Astronaut Wings by the FAA on February 7.
The Collier Trophy Selection Committee will meet on April 4, 2019, 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 13, 2019, at a location to be determined.
A Seattle Times aerospace reporter tells us about the Boeing 777X, the 787 Dreamliner, the Boeing manufacturing processes, and more. In the news, inflight WiFi phone calls, air traffic controllers behaving badly, an audit of privatized flight service, United Airlines helps young dance competitors, and a seaplane with an impressive paint job. We also have a listener report about the Canadian Fixed-Wing Search and Rescue Program.
Dominic Gates is the aerospace reporter for the Seattle Times. We discuss a variety of topics, including the recent Boeing 777 production rate cut due to softening demand and the production requirements for 777X flight test aircraft. We talk about the business decline of the 747 and the Air Force One replacement. Also, the requirement to restart 787 Dreamliner flight control modules and 787-10 final assembly in South Carolina. We look at globalization issues and Boeing’s strategy to rely on an extensive supply chain. Dominic also tells us about some of his memorable stories and scoops, as well as those that impacted labor.
Originally from Northern Ireland, Dominic taught high school calculus in Ireland and in Africa. He met his future wife and in 1992 moved to Seattle, where he switched careers to journalism. Dominic originally established himself as a journalist by freelancing, but eventually joined the Seattle Times as aerospace reporter in January 2003, his first newspaper job.
The Boeing beat is the highest-profile business beat at the Times and as the aerospace reporter, Dominic has broken many high-impact stories. His tenure at the Times coincides exactly with the story of the 787 Dreamliner. In 2003, just a month into the job, he broke the story in March that Boeing would hold a competition among the states for the final assembly location of its 7E7 airplane. On December 5 of that year, he revealed that Boeing’s 7E7 team was recommending Everett for final assembly. Ten days later, Boeing’s board made it official. Ever since, he has closely tracked the many twists and turns of the 787 story.
Dominic attends the European Air Shows each year and makes regular reporting trips to airplane leasing conferences, to Boeing plants around the U.S., including Charleston, and to Boeing suppliers, such as Spirit in Wichita. He has toured and written about the Airbus final assembly plants in Toulouse, the Airbus wing factory in Wales, and the Bombardier CSeries wing plant in Belfast.
The Chicago Tribune reports that The U.S Department of Transportation announced it could see allowing WiFi phone calls if airlines tell customers about the policy when they buy their tickets. This is so customers who don’t want to sit next to others making calls could make other travel arrangements.
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx said, “Consumers deserve to have clear and accurate information about whether an airline permits voice calls before they purchase a ticket and board the aircraft. Today’s proposal will ensure that air travelers are not unwillingly exposed to voice calls, as many of them are troubled over the idea of passengers talking on cell phones in flight.”
Members of the public can comment on the NPRM at www.regulations.gov, docket number DOT-OST-2014-0002. 60 days. Look for DOT-OST-2014-0002-1795.
The Boise Idaho Police Department says that after two helicopter pilots were unable to contact controllers, officers entered the Boise Airport air traffic control tower. One controller was sleeping and the other controller had left the tower and smelled of marijuana.
United Airlines came to the assistance of a group of American dancers trying to reach a major tap dance competition in Germany. The group was stranded in Boston over the Thanksgiving holiday due to the Lufthansa pilot strike, and United arranged for flights to transport the dancers to Germany in time for the competition. See Results – IDO World Tap Dance Championships 2016 for the ultimate outcome.
More interviews from the Farnborough 2016 Airshow. We also discuss the future of widebody airliners, the U.S. Air Force pilot shortage, jetBlue air turbulence, an F-22 grounded by bees, an evacuation at a JFK terminal, a ride with the Geico Skytypers, and does the U.S. needs an airshow like Paris?
Farnborough International Airshow 2016
We bring you more interviews from the Farnborough 2016 Airshow. You’ll hear about the F/A-18, the F-16, the PBY, and the P8.
Carlos Stebbings (holding mic) of the Plane Talking UK Podcast along with Micah and Brian interviewing US Navy Aviator Lieutenant Jeff “Hoagy” Hanley about flying his F/A-18 Super Hornet. (Photo courtesy of Dan Harrington.)
Micah talking with Matt Smith of the Plane Talking UK Podcast about the F-16 Fighting Falcon and why it’s called a Viper. (Photo courtesy of Dan Harrington.)
PBY-5A Catalina Miss Pickup posing with (from left to right) Pilot Pip from the Plane Safety Podcast, Captain Al Evans from Flightfear Solutions, Carlos Stebbings and Matt Smith from the Plane Talking UK Podcast, Micah, Brian and Captain Rod, Miss Pickup’s pilot. (Photo courtesy of Dan Harrington.)
Lithograph of P-8A Poseidon 168754, autographed and presented to Brian and Micah in Farnborough by Patrol Squadron 30 ‘VP-30’ based at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida.
Boeing has announced a cut in the 747 production rate, and in a regulatory filing stated the possibility that production of the 747 could end. At the same time, Airbus plans to cut the production rate of the A380. Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings chief executive Bill Flynn said there are three options for large widebody intercontinental cargo aircraft: the B747-800, the B747-400 and the B777. The 747 has load and loading advantages and Atlas Air looks forward to a long useful life.
The U.S. Air Force needs 700 more fighter pilots by the end of 2016, and the shortage could reach 1000 within a few years.. Airlines offering higher salaries, better benefits, and long term career opportunities entice pilots to leave the service.
A JetBlue A320 flying from Boston to Sacramento encountered rough turbulence, and was diverted to Rapid City, South Dakota. At least 22 passengers and two crew members were taken to a hospital for evaluation. Passengers reported flying out of their seats and even hitting the ceiling.
192nd Fighter Wing Aircraft Maintainers at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia discovered a swarm of honey bees attached to the exhaust nozzle of an F-22 Raptor engine.
Airplane of the Week
David went flying for the first time in 2 years. He had the privilege of flying with the Geico Skytypers in a three ship formation over the Atlantic City, New Jersey coastline. Thanks to Jim Record for being an awesome pilot, and to Brenda Little for the opportunity.
Geico Skytypers SNJ-2, the Navy’s version of the Texan T-6, a WWII training plane.
We learn all about Active Noise Reduction headsets with the founder and CEO of Lightspeed Aviation. In the news: Bombardier job cuts and a CS300 order, the NASA aeronautics budget request, United 747 retirements, and the FAA reauthorization bill stalls. We also have the winner of the John Mollison print.
Allan Schrader, founder and CEO, Lightspeed Aviation.
Allan Schrader is founder and CEO of Lightspeed Aviation, a leading producer of active noise reduction headsets for aviation. Lightspeed introduced their first product in 1996 at EAA AirVenture and continues to develop and offer innovative products.
Allan tells us how he started Lightspeed and the sound cancellation technologies involved. We learn about the labs dedicated to delivering quieting, comfort, and fidelity; the headset trade-in program; and the different acoustic signatures of GA airplanes, helicopters, and airliners. Allan also talks about the introduction of the wireless headset, and integrating headsets with cockpit information to enhance the cockpit experience.
Allan has a civil engineering degree and an MBA, and started his career at Tektronix where he learned about product development and operations. Allan left Tektronix to launch a startup company producing wireless headsets, then after five years he and some of his Tektronix co-workers started Lightspeed Technologies to design and make Active Noise Reduction headsets.
Bombardier plans to cut about 7,000 jobs from its worldwide workforce of 71,000. Layoffs are expected in both Canada and Europe, split between the company’s plane and train operations. The better news is that Air Canada placed orders for 45 firm and 30 option CS300 airplanes.
The $19B FY 2017 NASA budget request asks for $790M to be used for aeronautics research impacting the safety, capacity, and efficiency of the air transportation system; a major new experimental flight initiative to demonstrate and validate new technologies that dramatically reduce fuel consumption, emissions, and noise, and open new markets for U.S. industry; and research and development for revolutionary low carbon emission aircraft, including associated transportation systems, as part of a multiagency effort to enable a 21st century clean transportation system.
Aviation journalist Brian Sumers reports that almost a year ago, United indicated that its 747 fleet would be around for a while, with maybe a 2020 decision point based on aircraft maintenance requirements. Now however, pilots were told that 747 retirements may occur at a faster rate. If United does move to retire the 747 quickly, they say they will accelerate deliveries of new widebodies.
The FAA reauthorization bill which would privatize ATC will not be introduced to the full House as scheduled. Facing widespread opposition to the bill, Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster will instead try and consolidate support. Expect the bill to be amended before it re-emerges from Committee.
John Mollison Print Giveaway
We announce the winner of the John Mollison signed print showing the B-25 flown by Dick Cole and Doolittle, Bud Anderson’s P51B, Alden Rigby’s P51D, and Maury Magneson’s P47. John was our guest on Episode 388 where he told us about his “Old Guys and Their Airplanes” video documentaries.
We also play a moving recording called “Grandpa’s Untold Story” that describes how the picture of one man’s B-17 came to be on the wall of his grandson.
Airplane of the Week
Listener Glenn Towler tells us the history of the English Electric Lightning.
A conversation about aircraft parachute systems with the founder of Ballistic Recovery Systems, HondaJet certification, the Cirrus Vision SF50, British Airways displeasure with Heathrow expansion plans, abandoned 747 freighters, and efficient but not accurate airport firefighters. Also, the Millennium Falcon, the Handley Page Herald turboprop, ATC job opportunities, and WATS tables.
Boris Popov is the founder of Ballistic Recovery Systems (BRS). In 1975, Boris survived a 400-foot fall in a collapsed hang glider and the incident led Boris to develop a whole-aircraft parachute system. Ballistic Recovery Systems was founded in 1980 and their first parachute for the ultralight aircraft market was introduced in 1982. In 1983 the system had its first save of an aircraft and crew and since then has saved hundreds of lives
In 1998 the company collaborated with Cirrus Aircraft to develop the first recovery parachute system used on a type-certified aircraft, the Cirrus SR20. Since then, there have been 56 Saves of Cirrus Aircraft with 114 survivors, resulting in a fatal accident rate that’s half that of typical GA aircraft. The company also offers parachutes for the Cessna 172, Cessna 182, and about a dozen light sport aircraft, including the new Icon A5 seaplane.
Achieving type-certification brings Honda Aircraft close to customer delivery of the HondaJet. The small, jet-powered airplane features an over-the-wing engine mount, natural laminar flow, a composite fuselage, and a Garmin® G3000 next-generation all-glass avionics system. Power comes from two GE Honda Aero Engines HF120 powerplants.
Cirrus Aircraft has released flight profile details of the Vision SF50 single-engine light jet. With a maximum ramp weight of 6,040 pounds, and a fuel load of 296 gallons/1,983 pounds, takeoff ground roll is 2,036 feet. At FL280, maximum cruise at 300 ktas burns 69 gph/462 pph, for a range of 1,000 nm. Fuel burn drops to 47 gph/315 pph and speed to 242 ktas at best-economy cruise, with range up to 1,200 nm.
International Airlines Group (IAG) CEO Willie Walsh isn’t happy with plans for Heathrow’s expansion. That plan includes a new runway, a new terminal, an underground train link, and a very expensive (£800m) car park. Walsh says all this would double the £40 fee they pay now for a return trip.
In an effort to remove three abandoned Boeing 747 freighters from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in Malaysia, airport officials posted a notice in several newspapers giving the owners 14 days to pay the parking fees and remove the planes. Otherwise, the airport would dispose of the planes. The freighters have now been claimed by Swift Air Cargo, a Malaysian company.
An Air China Boeing 737 had an engine fire while taxiing at an airport in China. This was reported by pilots of another plane who observed the fire. The firefighters arrived and dutifully covered the plane in foam – the reporting plane, not the one with the fire.
The Airplane of the Week
Can you feel it? There has been an awakening, the Dark and the Light. David’s Journey to the Force Awakens ends this episode with the ship that has been in more movies than any other: the YT-1300 Freighter called the Millennium Falcon. “She’s the fastest hunk of junk in the Galaxy” and has some really cool #AVGeek connections.
An early production model Handley Page Herald in BEA livery demonstrating a single engine fly past – Copyright DestinWorld Publishing
Matt Falcus returns to Across The Pond and discusses his latest book The Handley Page Herald about the two-engined turbo-prop aircraft that proved reliable and useful in service, but failed to capture the volume of orders expected. Airline service lead to a later life as a cargo and freight carrier until it finished service in 1999.
From the Timeline series, Matt is looking for new authors and contributors to grow the series of aircraft, airport and airlines books.
Aviation photographer Paul Filmer wrote in: “What a great British aircraft. In the late 80s early 90s I worked for Channel Express in Guernsey, Channel Islands and flew jumpseat in many flights from Guernsey to Bournemouth and return. We flew boxed cut flowers out and mail and express freight (FedEx, DHL etc) inbound. The cargo capacity was 5 tonnes and it was very popular with the loaders as the large cargo door was low to the ground. I loved my time flying on these pax aircraft turned freighters.”
Paul sent in a photograph of a Page Herald in service, and one of a hand carved model he had custom made recently: