Tag Archives: Boeing

714 Airline Contact Centers

We learn about airline contact centers with an expert in that field, and we talk with a Hollywood pilot and aerial coordinator who is widely known for his work on Top Gun Maverick and other major blockbusters. In the news, Boeing and Airbus are both having narrowbody delivery problems, a new US aircraft carrier reaches a milestone, a new avionics market report has some good news, and the French BEA investigates pilots who didn’t follow procedure.

Airline Contact Centers

Justin Robins from contact center company UJET.
Justin Robins

Justin Robins has had a long career in customer experience and contact centers, working at companies like Network Solutions, Intercontinental Hotels, Grizzly Industrial, and Hershey Entertainment and Resorts. His expertise is in contact center quality assurance, training and development, and workforce optimization.

Justin is Senior Director, Corporate Communications & Evangelism at UJET. The company provides a cloud-based call center application that integrates with CRM (customer relationship management) solutions.

Justin discusses airline customer contact centers broadly, including value to the airlines, contact center metrics, and utilizing the data that accumulates. He also explains reactive versus proactive service and how channels have changed over time – beginning with 800 phone numbers, then email and web-based chat, social media, and now smartphone apps.

He explains the UJET approach where the contact center system is purpose-built for the airline CRM system. Justin sees a contact center future with increased automation, self-service, and proactive outbound service.

Justin has significant experience as a keynote speaker and business consultant and is frequently recognized as one of the top experts to follow in contact center and customer experience.

Hollywood Aerial Coordinator

Kevin Larosa
Kevin Larosa

Kevin Larosa (“K2”) is a sought-after pilot and Hollywood aerial coordinator who has worked on over 100 different motion picture and commercial productions. He’s Known for his work on major blockbusters like Top Gun Maverick, The Avengers, Iron Man, Transformers, and The Last Knight,

Kevin is licensed to fly a variety of aircraft ranging from helicopters and airplanes to Learjets and more. He’s an ATP-rated pilot trained and certified in a number of aircraft, holding type ratings in several Learjet models in addition to the C-130/ L-382 Hercules and the Sikorsky S-70/ UH-60. Kevin also holds an FAA Part 107 UAS rating for flying unmanned aircraft. He’s a member of the Screen Actors Guild and the Motion Picture Pilots Association.

Aviation News

Boeing’s Problems Mount (GE and Raytheon Take Note)

Boeing Is Removing Engines From Built 737 MAX Inventory Amid Supply Chain Problems

Is recovery at risk from a broken supply chain?

Supply chain problems are affecting both Boeing and Airbus narrowbody deliveries. Boeing is delivering 31 737 MAX jets per month compared to a pre-pandemic rate of 52 per month. Airbus is building 40 A320 family aircraft per month against a target of 75 per month by 2025. Engine suppliers are behind and Boeing plans to take engines off previously built 737 MAX aircraft and install them on newly produced airplanes. 

The nation’s newest aircraft carrier, the Enterprise, reaches a milestone

Newport News Shipbuilding just laid the keel for the USS Enterprise, a Ford-class aircraft carrier. At over 1,100 feet long and weighing some 100,000 tons, the ship is powered by two nuclear reactors and features an electromagnetic catapult. Completion is expected by 2028.

AEA Unveils Second-Quarter 2022 Avionics Market Report

The Aircraft Electronics Association (AEA) second-quarter avionics market report shows worldwide business and general aviation avionics sales up 11.7% from the first quarter, the eighth consecutive quarter of increasing sales. This is a 15.8% increase in total sales compared to the first six months of 2021, driven by a 35.6% increase in forward-fit sales compared to the same time frame one year ago.

Air France pilots suspended after brawling in cockpit

In June 2021, two pilots in the cockpit of an Airbus A320 became engaged in an altercation. The copilot would not comply with certain instructions and the captain grabbed him by the collar. There may have been a slap involved. A flight attendant broke up the fight. Air France has suspended the two pilots.

Crew of fuel-leak A330 did not shut down engine before suboptimal diversion

A French BEA investigation determined that the crew on a December 2020 Air France flight at cruise noticed the fuel level was 1.4 tons below what it should have been. The captain went on a rest break asking the first officer and relief pilot to monitor the fuel level. After about 20 minutes, the discrepancy on the A330-200 had increased to 2.1 tons. The captain was recalled and fuel leak procedures were implemented, with the exception of a required engine shutdown.  BEA says the captain’s decision to leave the engine running was not questioned.

Mentioned

Top 10 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Boeing

Video: 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Boeing

Hosts this Episode

Your hosts: Max Flight and Max Trescott.

712 Digital Co-pilot

The founder and CEO of AeroSys describes the company’s digital co-pilot. Deliveries of the 787 Dreamliner resume, a personal eVTOL, USAF eVTOL pilot training requirements, A-10 Warthog modernization updates, Wheels Up partners with ATP to draw in pilots, the Regional Airline Association disagrees with ALPA over the pilot shortage, and the B-52H may receive a new designation.

Digital Co-pilot

In this Beyond the Press Release installment, we talk with Mirko Hahn, founder, and CEO of AeroSys. The company is developing Goose, which they say is the world’s first certified digital co-pilot for commercial and general aviation. Goose is an AI-based, offline-capable voice assistant.

AeroSys says its mission is “to make single-pilot journeys at least as safe as a multi-crew flight and to replicate the pilot monitoring for all the operations where a second human pilot is not present.” Aviation Entrepreneurship and Innovation Correspondent Hillel Glazer recorded this interview at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2022.

Aviation News

U.S. approves Boeing inspection, rework plan to resume 787 deliveries

The FAA has approved Boeing’s 787 inspection and modification plan and the company has resumed Dreamliner deliveries. On August 10, 2022, Boeing delivered a 787-8 to American Airlines. In September 2020, the FAA announced it was “investigating manufacturing flaws” in some 787 jetliners and deliveries of the 787 were halted in May 2021.

On Sale Flying Car Requires No LIcense

The Jetson One eVTOL from Sweeden weighs 86 kilograms (190 pounds) and is classified as an ultralight. Thus, no license is required to fly it. With a 20-minute flight time and a 102 km/hr top speed, the Jetson One can be ordered with a $22,000 deposit and a $70,000 final payment. However, production is sold out through 2023.

Video: Jetson ONE – Official Launch

Also: The brilliant Engineering behind Jetson ONE (video).

US Air Force Awards Contract for APTIMA to Evaluate Pilot Trainings on EVTOL Aircraft

The US Air Force awarded Aptima a contract to identify pilot competency requirements for eVTOL operations. Using simulators of various eVTOL prototypes with different levels of automation, Aptima will determine the training needed for eVTOL pilots. Aptima training scientist Samantha Emerson said: “The learnability study will help us not only understand the baseline pilot skills and competencies needed for proficient eVTOL flight, but also the impact of automation on pilot performance.”

A-10 Warthog’s Tusks Are Being Sharpened For A High-End Fight

The A-10 Thunderbolt II (or “Warthog”) is undergoing a modernization effort to support fifth-generation fighters. The A-10 has 10 pylons and can deploy a number of standoff weapons. Being considered are the ADM-160 Miniature Air-Launched Decoy (MALD) and the GBU-39/B Small Diameter Bomb (SDB). In the future, the AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM) is a possibility.

Wheels Up Partners with ATP for Pilots

Under the new agreement with ATP Flight School, Wheels Up can interview flight instructors with at least 1,000 hours. At 1,200 hours, if they are selected, the instructors can transition first officers on Beechcraft King Air 350, Cessna Citation CJ3, or Beechjet 400 aircraft. Wheels Up members can book private aircraft from the company’s fleet, as well as from third-party operators.

RAA Responds to Inaccurate Data on Pilot Supply

The Regional Airline Association (RAA) and the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) don’t agree if there is really a pilot shortage. In response to New FAA Data Shows U.S. Pilot Production Remains Strong from ALPA, the RAA issued a statement, RAA Responds to Inaccurate and Misleading Data on Pilot Shortage [PDF]. RAA claims ALPA “release[d] misleading comments and graphics seeking to deny the existence of a real and worsening pilot shortage.”

B52 to Receive at Least One New Designation After New Equipment Designation

The B-52H is getting new engines (Rolls-Royce F130s) as well as active, electronically scanned array radar, cockpit displays, and other changes. That could mean it’s time to move on from “H,” possibly to the B-52J or B-52K. The Air Force hasn’t decided yet on the new variant.

Mentioned

Wings Set Aviation Movie Standard in 1927

Video: New Lowest Landing? Wizzair Airbus A321neo Landing at Skiathos Airport

Yet another spectacular landing at Skiathos Airport (Greece), possibly lower than the famous Air Italy 737-800 approach!

Small plane crash lands on 91 Freeway in Corona

Hosts this Episode

Your hosts: Max Flight, David Vanderhoof, Max Trescott, Rob Mark, and Hillel Glazer.

710 Plane Crash

A 737 plane crash flight attendant tells her story. In the news, JetBlue plans to purchase Spirit Airlines, Piper Aircraft and CAE partner on electric aircraft, 2 million aviation professionals needed, FAA wants secondary fight deck barrier, EAA Airventure Oshkosh 2022 numbers.

Miami Air plane crash site, courtesy NTSB.
Miami Air crash site, courtesy NTSB.

Guest

Melissa Gonzalez

Melissa Gonzalez was a flight attendant aboard Miami Air International Flight 293 on May 3, 2019. The charter from Guantanamo Bay carried military and civilian personnel. While attempting to land on an ungrooved runway in heavy rain at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, the Boeing 737-800 overran the runway, crashed over the seawall, and came to a rest in the St. Johns River.

In this episode, we learn about something we hope to never personally encounter – a plane crash – from someone who was not only there, but who was a member of the cabin crew. Melissa describes the chaos of a nighttime plane crash into the water and how her training overcame the resulting confusion. Thrust into a leadership role, she was instrumental in getting the passengers out of the plane and to safety.

In 2020, Miami Air declared bankruptcy and ceased operations. However, Melissa has a passion for flying and she’s now a flight attendant doing corporate gigs.

NTSB releases report on 2019 Miami Air crash at NAS Jax

National Transportation Safety Board Aviation Accident Final Report [PDF]

Miami Air plane crash site closeup.
Miami Air Flight 293, Courtesy NTSB.

Aviation News

Spirit terminates Frontier merger deal, paving way for possible JetBlue acquisition

Spirit Airlines has decided to pursue a merger with JetBlue and not Frontier Airlines. Spirit had urged shareholders to accept the Frontier offer but didn’t have the support. The final vote was canceled and Spirit terminated the agreement. The JetBlue offer is all cash. If Spirit shareholders agree to an acquisition, the Department of Justice would have to approve.

Piper Aircraft Partners with CAE to Create Electric Aircraft STC

The Piper Aircraft and CAE partnership intends to develop a conversion kit via a Supplemental Type Certificate for in-service Piper Archer (PA-28-181) aircraft. CAE will convert two-thirds of its Piper Archer training fleet and the conversion kit will be made available to third parties. H55 of Switzerland is set to provide the battery system and the kit will include a SAFRAN ENGINeUSTM 100 electric motor.

Boeing forecasts need for 2.1 million aviation professionals

Boeing has published its Pilot and Technician Outlook 2022 – 2041. “The commercial aviation industry (minus business aviation and helicopter operations) will need 602,000 new pilots, 610,000 new technicians, and 899,000 new cabin crew personnel globally over the next 20 years…”

FAA introduces rule requiring airlines to have secondary flight deck barrier

The FAA has proposed a rule that requires commercial airplanes to have a secondary flight deck barrier. In a statement, Air Line Pilots Association President Joe DePete said, “I am pleased that the FAA has finally taken the first step toward addressing this vulnerability after years of delay—delays caused by airline opposition and that have resulted in thousands of planes coming into service since 2001 without this critical security enhancement.” The proposed Saracini Enhanced Aviation Act is currently before Congress.

Installation and Operation of Flightdeck Installed Physical Secondary Barriers on Transport Category Airplanes in Part 121 Service

“This proposed rule would implement a mandate in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018 by requiring that certain airplanes used to conduct domestic, flag, or supplemental passenger-carrying operations have an installed physical secondary barrier that protects the flightdeck from unauthorized intrusion when the flightdeck door is opened.” This document has a comment period that ends September 30, 2022.

David J. Higdon, Jr.

Our friend and fellow aviation podcaster Dave Higdon passed recently. See David Higdon Dies At 73 and the GoFundMe page Honor Dave with a brick at Brown Arch Osh.

Mentioned

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2022: Facts and Figures for a Record-Setting Year

Rex Airlines announces plan to retrofit existing fleet with electric-propulsion engines in regional trial – ABC News

Hosts this Episode

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

709 Aviation Training

Aviation training at the University of Maine Augusta, Boeing and Airbus orders at Farnborough, Delta TechOps LEAP-1B MRO, a fighter market forecast, an open fan engine demonstrator, dropping the KC-46 co-pilot, electronic bag tags from Alaska Airlines, airline pilots who decide to exit the plane, and rebalancing travel demand and airline capacity.

Aviation Training at the University of Maine Augusta

Aviation training at UMA - the Cirrus SR20.
UMA’s new Cirrus SR20 G6

UMaine at Augusta prepping a new generation of students for the airline industry

The University of Maine Agusta offers aviation training with a Bachelor of Science in Aviation program, through a public-private partnership with Maine Instrument Flight

On the occasion of UMA’s introduction of their new Cirrus SR20, our Main(e) Man Micah speaks with:

  • Lt John Warren, Maine Air Guard KC-135 Pilot and UMA Graduate
  • Maj. Gen. Douglas A. Farnham, Adjutant General, Maine
  • Amber Kochaver, a recent Program graduate
  • Dr. Joseph Szakas, Interim President UMA
  • Greg Jolda, Aviation Program Director
Dr. Szakas flying the VR Simulator with Greg Jolda
Dr. Szakas flying the VR Simulator with Greg Jolda
UMA SR20 Being Admired - Gen Farnum and Greg Jolda
UMA SR20 Being Admired – Gen Farnum and Greg Jolda

Note that UMA also offers a program for remote pilots flying small unmanned aircraft or drones. The 8-course UAS certificate program allows you to become a certified FAA remote pilot.

Aviation News

Longtime EAA President Tom Poberezny dies as AirVenture 2022 kicks off

Experimental Aircraft Association president Tom Poberezny has died at the age of 75. Tom was EAA president from 1989-2010 and succeeded his father, EAA founder Paul Poberezny. EAA CEO and Chairman of the Board Jack Pelton said, “It is not lost on us that Tom’s passing occurred on the opening day of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, the event he led into world prominence as its chairman beginning in the 1970s.”

Boeing Arrives with Max Order Boon from Delta, ANA

At the 2022 Farnborough Airshow, Delta Air Lines ordered 100 Boeing 737 Max 10 jets with options for 30 more. All Nippon Airways ordered twenty 737 Max 8s and two 777-8F cargo variants.

Boeing Smokes Airbus at Farnborough Airshow

Boeing received 172 firm orders at Farnborough while Airbus saw 85 orders. However, Airbus holds a much more significant backlog than Boeing and received a commitment for 292 jets from Chinese customers recently.

Delta TechOps to provide maintenance services for next-gen LEAP engines

Delta TechOps will become a provider of MRO services for CMFI LEAP-1B engines. Delta TechOps provides support for Delta’s fleet of aircraft and more than 150 other aviation and airline customers worldwide.

Forecast International: Fighter Aircraft Market Worth $260B over Next 10 Years

Forecast International released a new study, “The Market for Fighter Aircraft” ($2050). The company projects over 3,855 fighters built from 2022 through 2031. In 2022 dollars, that represents $281.4 billion.

Airbus and CFM International launch a flight test demonstrator for advanced open fan architecture

Airbus and CFM International are collaborating on an open fan (open rotor or unducted fan) engine architecture. The Flight Test Demonstrator is under CFM’s Revolutionary Innovation for Sustainable Engine (RISE) technology demonstration program. Testing is on an A380 with the engine replacing the usual #2 engine.

Air Force Considers Dropping KC-46 Co-Pilot on Some MIssions

The Air Force’s Air Mobility Command is thinking about reducing crew size on Boeing KC-46 Pegasus tankers during dangerous missions. The concern is that a conflict in the Indo-Pacific region could involve a Chinese anti-aircraft missile attack. Tankers are particularly vulnerable.  Reducing the number of airmen onboard a tanker would minimize casualties.

This airline is launching electronic bag tags to speed up airport check-in

Alaska Airlines is selectively rolling out electronic bag tags that can be activated up to 24 hours before a flight with the Alaska Airlines mobile app. At the airport, touching your phone to the tag will display flight information. No check-in is required. The program starts at San Jose International Airport in California.

Captain Walks Off Alaska Airlines Flight After Fighting With First Officer

It was a disagreement between the two after a 90-minute weather delay. Following an announcement by the pilot, the plane returned to the gate. Live and Let’s Fly claims “a credible source” said the captain was arguing with ramp agents and barking orders.

Captain, Crew Abandon Passengers In Burning Plane

Reportedly, after an explosion and smoke on a Vueling plane, the captain and most of the crew ran out of the plane leaving passengers to fend for themselves.

It could be up to 3 years before flight capacity and pilot supply are ‘back in sync,’ American Airlines CEO says

CEO Robert Isom told investors the surge in demand is outpacing staffing levels. Mainline route capacity should be sufficient in about a year. Regional routes could take two or three years.

Mentioned

American Helicopter Museum Voted Best Museum for Families

History of El Avion

Hosts this Episode

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

707 Boeing 707

This episode is dedicated to the Boeing 707. Our guest is the facilities manager for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Institute which displays a Boeing VC-137C used as Air Force One for seven U.S. presidents. In the news, Lufthansa looks to reactivate some A380s, sometimes it’s a good idea to toss something into the cockpit, and how old planes are repurposed.

Boeing 707 in flight, courtesy Boeing.
Boeing 707, courtesy Boeing.

Guest

John Lehne is the facilities manager for the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Institute, located at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.

John’s responsibilities include the operations and maintenance of Foundation property and displayed artifacts, such as the Air Force One Pavilion and SAM 27000, the Boeing VC-137C aircraft used by the president of the United States.

In October 2005, John was asked to help the Foundation on a “temporary” basis. The completed Air Force One Pavilion was being transitioned from the general contractor to the Reagan Foundation. That “temporary” job turned into a 16+ year career with the Foundation.  

He also oversees construction projects, contracted services such as maintenance, and various trades, as well as special event logistics.  John has a small staff of foundation employees and outside contractors that make up his “on-site” facilities team.  It is an ever-changing job that presents some unique challenges, especially the care of the aircraft and other displays. 

Boeing 707

Our Main(e) Man Micah reflects on the history of the Boeing 707.

Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Institute

SAM 27000 was the second of two Boeing VC-137C United States Air Force presidential aircraft. It is a specially-built Model 707-353B that served seven United States presidents over 29 years.

SAM 27000 at Reagan Library in Simi Valley, by Rlwagner. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
SAM 27000 at Reagan Library

John explains the acquisition process and ownership of the aircraft, along with the transportation challenges to get it to the facility. He tells us about how the aircraft was prepared and the display constructed. We learn about the maintenance challenge in the face of large numbers of visitors who go through the aircraft. John describes the interior of the plane, including the presidential suite and other cabins. He also tells us about the other aircraft and exhibits at the site.

Video: Boeing VC-137C Air Force One – “SAM 27000 in Action” – 1982-88

Aviation News

Lufthansa to Reactivate Airbus A380

The airline anticipates increased travel demand in 2023 and is assessing the number of A380s they plan to reactivate. Delayed deliveries of other aircraft contributed to the decision to bring the A380 back into service. In 2021, Lufthansa announced a phase-out of some long-haul aircraft, including the A380. Six of the airplanes have been sold. Up to eight may be reactivated. Lufthansa plans to add more Airbus A350-900s and Boeing 787 and 777 airplanes to replace older aircraft.

Woman Forgets Purse While Boarding Flight. Ground Crew Does The Unthinkable

In a viral video, an airport worker throws a passenger’s forgotten purse from the edge of the passenger bridge to a pilot’s waiting hands in the cockpit window. It’s a perfectly executed toss.

10 Examples of How Old Planes were Transformed into New Businesses

Recycling old airplanes takes several forms: Some parts and components are sold into the used parts market. Others A few items become end up as aviation collectibles, artwork, and even functional furniture. What’s left over can be sold as scrap. This article gives some creative ways that old aircraft have been repurposed.

Mentioned

From the American Helicopter Museum & Education Center:

The Journey is the Reward

Palms to Pines Air Race – August 11 – 13, 2022.

NASA To Aviation Industry: We Can Develop Flight Tech To Cut Carbon Emissions

Hosts this Episode

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

705 Air Force One

Air Force One paint scheme and production problems, F-35s as Aggressors, Israeli extended range F-35s, Delta’s “juniority benefit,” Piedmont wage increases, and a U.S. Navy safety stand-down.

Air Force One
Air Force One

Aviation News

Hot mess: There’s a problem with Trump’s Air Force One paint job

Former President Donald Trump decided to replace the traditional Air Force One paint scheme with a different design that includes dark blue paint on the underbelly and engines. Reports say the dark color may cause cooling problems for some components. An Air Force spokesperson said the “…darker colors, among other factors, on the underside of the VC-25B aircraft might contribute to temperatures exceeding the current qualification limits of a small number of components.” 

Two days later…

Biden scraps Trump’s Air Force One paint scheme over cost

The Biden administration announced the new Air Force One planes will not change to the darker paint scheme. An administration official said, “The Trump paint scheme is not being considered because it could drive additional engineering, time, and cost.” Under the $3.9 billion fixed-price contract to modify two 747-8s, Boeing would have had to pay for any design changes.

Boeing Can’t Find Enough Workers to Build the New Air Force One

The Government Accountability Office says that Boeing is having difficulty finding enough skilled mechanics to work on the aircraft who can also pass strict security requirements. Supply chain delays and Boeing’s dispute with former subcontractor GDC Technics are contributing to the project headwind.

First F-35 Aggressor Dedicated To Replicating Chinese Threats Unveiled

The U.S. Air Force 65th Aggressor Squadron (AGRS) has been reactivated at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada using the F-35A Lightning II. The AGRS mission is “to know, teach and replicate fifth-generation air adversaries,” particularly the airpower capabilities emerging from China. See: 65th Aggressor Squadron reactivates at Nellis AFB with aggressor force of F-35s.

Israel Has Extended The Range Of Its F-35s

Israeli media reports indicate that the country has developed modifications to its F-35I fighters that give them enough range to reach Iranian targets without refueling. This could possibly come from external drop tanks or conformal fuel tanks. The Israelis have also developed a smart bomb that can be carried by their F-35s.

Delta’s ‘juniority benefit’ is saving the airline loads of cash after many of its higher-paid workers took buyouts in 2020, bucking the recent trend of companies paying more

After the federal payroll support program ran out in September 2020, most airlines furloughed workers to downsize their operations, But Delta targeted their highest-paid employees with buyouts, not furloughs. That left Delta with a relatively younger and lower-cost workforce. With the travel rebound and insufficient employees, airlines are scrambling to hire. That’s driving their workforce costs up. But Delta is able to hire younger staffers that cost less. Delta CEO Ed Bastian calls this a “juniority benefit.”

Significant wage bump for Piedmont PIlots [From Reddit.com]

A memo published to pilots by Piedmont Airlines VP, Flight Operations Stephen Keefer, and MEC Chairman Captain Ryan Miller stated that a tentative agreement (TA) had been reached for a labor contract extension through July 2029. The TA provides for wage increases for pilots, increased wage premium for Line Check Pilots, and commitment to improvements in flow-through to American.

After series of crashes, U.S. Navy to pause flight operations for safety reviews

After a spate of recent crashes, the U.S. Navy said it would pause all flight operations to conduct safety reviews and training. Units that were not deployed paused on June 13. Deployed units were to pause “at the earliest possible opportunity.” In the past few weeks:

  • A Navy pilot was killed when his F/A-18E Super Hornet crashed during a training mission.
  • An MV-22B Osprey crashed and killed five U.S. Marines during a training mission.
  • A Navy helicopter went down during a training flight and one person sustained non-life-threatening injuries.

Mentioned

The Journey is the Reward

Portland jetport’s main runway reopens, ending disruptions

Innovations in Flight – Outdoor Aviation Display at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum June 18, 2022, 10:00 am to 3:00 pm at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia.

3 Good Reasons Why The F-35 Was Not Featured In Top Gun: Maverick

Hosts this Episode

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

690 Charlie Bolden

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.

Guest

Charlie Bolden photo
Charlie Bolden

Charles (Charlie) F. Bolden Jr., was Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration from 2009 to 2017. He’s a former astronaut who flew on four Shuttle missions, and a retired United States Marine Corps Major General. He is the Founder and CEO Emeritus of the Charles F. Bolden Group.

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.

Among a number of other activities, STEM education is a focus of the Charles F. Bolden Group. Charlie talks about the SERVIR-West Africa project, a joint initiative by the US agency for International Development (USAID) and NASA.

Aviation News

First Falcon 6X Arrives at Dassault’s Little Rock Completion Center

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.

Deadly aircraft accidents declined in 2021, Air Force says

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.

Retired Boeing 747 Bought for $1.30 Begins New Life As Party Plane

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.

FAA proposes changes in autopilot training

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.

Frontier to buy Spirit Airlines in $2.9 billion low-cost carriers deal

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.

Mentioned

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.

The American Helicopter Museum's graphic for their Inside Marine One exhibit.
Inside Marine One

You Can Now Learn to Fly at Owls Head Airport

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 Owls Head 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.

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, David Vanderhoof, and Max Trescott.

686 The Aviation Queen

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

Guest (More like a returning co-host)

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

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

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

The Points Guy logo.

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

Aviation News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

United Airlines Forces Out Flight Attendant For Her TikToks

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

Airlines Strand Passengers Who Partied on Flight Without Masks

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

Biden hails 5G wireless deal averting aviation safety crisis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mentioned

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

Art For Bricks: Exclusive Brick Mosaic Art for everyone 

Hosts this Episode

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

683 Boeing 737 MAX

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

Guest

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

Peter Robison

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

Flying Blind book cover.

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

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

Aviation News

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

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

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

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

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

Markey Aims To Ban ‘Ridiculous’ Airline Fees With Bill

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

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

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

Senator Edward J. Markey

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

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

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

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

Finland Chooses F-35 As Its Next Fighter

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

FAA: No more commercial astronaut wings

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

Recently Spotted Elf

David Vanderhoof, elf.

Hosts this Episode

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

681 Startup Airline Airbahn

New startup airline Airbahn, Boeing’s fighter bid is rejected by Canada, more on 5G and aviation signal interference, people try to bring the darndest things on airlines, what happens when you drop an iPhone from an airplane, an Australian water landing, A350 peeling paint, Airbus suggests a possible single-pilot freighter.

Aviation News

Airbahn: New SoCal-Based US Airline Startup

The CEO of Airblue (Pakistan’s second-largest airline) founded Airbahn in February 2018. The airline received a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for Interstate Air Transportation in October 2020 from the DOT. Airbahn has now taken delivery of its first Airbus A320 in the United States, an ex-Airblue plane now with registration code N786PB. Airbahn is currently hiring staff in California.

Airbahn logo

Based on their filing, Airblue will operate flights in the Western United States with service to mid-tier markets. Initially based at Long Beach Airport (LGB) or Orange County Airport (SNA), all planes and crews will return to base every day. Airbahn A320s will have 174 seats each, in a one-class configuration.

Boeing told its bid to sell fighter jets to Canada did not meet Ottawa’s requirements

According to sources, Boeing’s bid to replace Canada’s fleet of CF-18s with Super Hornets has been rejected. Bids were to meet requirements for missions at home and abroad, as well as for substantial Canadian economic benefit. Bids from Lockheed Martin (F-35) and Saab (Gripen) were accepted.

5G aviation fears: Mobile carriers propose to reduce power, especially near airports

First, we saw carriers delay 5G implementations one month to January. Now the mobile carriers are proposing a step further for six months: temporarily reducing base station power everywhere and limiting power near airports and heliports. This would give the FAA more time for further studies. The FAA hasn’t yet responded to the proposal.

4 things TSA really doesn’t want you to bring on an airplane

That would be guns and ammo, full-size hygiene products, alcohol, and fertilizer.

iPhone survives landing after pilot takes Airplane mode way too seriously

A pilot in Orlando dropped his iPhone onto the runway on takeoff, but the “Find My iPhone” app lead searchers right to it on the runway. Surprisingly, the phone was undamaged.

Video: Funny Exchange about an iPhone FOD on the runway!

Costly Airbus paint flaw goes wider than the Gulf

Airlines are discovering that A350 paint is blistering and peeling off, exposing the composite material underneath. On the orders of the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority, Qatar has grounded twenty of its 53 A350s. Airbus says it’s not a safety issue, but airlines want to know what’s happening.

Mentioned

US airman shot down over Romania in WWII is accounted for

Airbus CEO suggests A350 Freighter is a good candidate to implement single pilot operations

Two men escape serious injury after light plane crashes into ocean off Perth

Hosts this episode: Max Flight, Max Trescott, and Rob Mark.