Tag Archives: FAA

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.

798 Satellite Communications

Satellite communications for aviation with the Executive Director of Aviation at Iridium Communications Inc. In the news, we’ve lost an aviation icon, a DOT Office of Inspector General report looks NextGen, an unruly passenger pays the price, a second Boeing whistleblower dies, the declining value of frequent flyer programs, and squawking the 7700 emergency distress code.

Guest

Logo of satellite communications provider Iridium Communications.

John Peterson is the Executive Director of Aviation at Iridium Communications Inc., a satellite communications company offering global voice and data coverage. John helps deliver Iridium’s safety, voice, and data solutions to pilots and operators. John is an aviation enthusiast and private pilot who has worked in the industry for 30 years in different roles, including engineering, product management, and leadership roles at Boeing, Collins, Gogo, and Honeywell.

Iridium provides an L-band service with signals that pass through weather effectively. The Ku-band and Ka-band frequencies used by others have higher data rates but are more susceptible to degradation caused by weather. Because of the L-band reliability, those frequencies are permitted for safety applications.

John explains that the infrastructure for ground-based communication is robust in the U.S., but not so over the ocean. Thus, satellite communications are necessary for flights over areas without ground stations.

We learn that the Iridium “legacy” satellites have a data rate of 2.4 kbps while the new Iridium Certus® satellites offer a faster 700 kbps. John explains the orbital planes of the Iridium Low Earth Orbit satellites and how data gets to ground stations via cross-links between satellites.

John tells us about GA applications for satellite communications and the value-added resellers. We also explore critical infrastructure support, narrow-band IoT (direct-to-device) technologies,  and how low-cost hand-held transponders could bring significant value to aviation.

Aviation News

Dick Rutan, co-pilot of historic round-the-world flight, dies aged 85

Dick Rutan was a USAF pilot, a Vietnam War veteran who flew 325 missions, and a test pilot. He flew the first unrefueled non-stop flight around the world with Jeana Yeager in the Rutan Voyager, designed by his brother Burt. Dick Rutan and Mike Melvill flew two Rutan Long-EZ kit aircraft around the world as the Spirit of EAA Friendship World Tour. Dick set the point-to-point distance record in a ground-launched, rocket-powered aircraft. He died from complications of Long COVID in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, on May 3, 2024. He was 85.

DOT Inspector General Report Faults FAA NextGen Progress

The Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), is a large-scale FAA initiative to modernize the U.S. National Airspace System (NAS). According to the FAA, “NextGen… has modernized air traffic infrastructure in communications, navigation, surveillance, automation, and information management with the aim of increasing the safety, efficiency, capacity, predictability, flexibility, and resiliency of American aviation. NextGen’s scope includes airport infrastructure improvements, new air traffic technologies and procedures, and safety and security enhancements.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) report says the NextGen air traffic management technology is not living up to FAA promises.

See: FAA’s Report on Air Traffic Modernization Presents an Incomplete and Out-of-Date Assessment of NextGen [PDF] from the OIG.

A United Airlines passenger got “belligerent” with flight attendants. Here’s what that will cost him.

A passenger from Chelmsford, England on a flight from London to Newark, New Jersey had a loud argument with his girlfriend. Then he started yelling at a flight attendant. Court documents indicate that he was verbally and physically aggressive. The TSA said, “When flight attendants asked [the man] to be quiet and attempted to calm him, he became belligerent, threatening, and intimidating towards them. He also said that he would “mess up the plane.” The man was restrained and the plane diverted to Bangor, Maine. On March 22, 2024, he pleaded guilty to one count of interfering with a flight crew and was sentenced to time already served and ordered to pay United Airlines $20,638.

Was Foul Play Involved in the Boeing Whistleblowers’ Deaths? People Are Definitely Worried About It.

A second Boeing whistleblower has died, in this case, the man was 45 and passed after becoming suddenly ill. Two months ago, another whistleblower was found dead in his truck from a gunshot wound.

The bad news about your airline points

It’s harder to gain status on Delta, Alaska has increased points needed for some destinations, American limited what tickets earn points (based on where you bought the tickets), some airlines stopped posting redemption charts so you don’t know what your points are worth, airlines sometimes charge more for “mileage multipliers” than what the points are worth, and some airlines charge a fee to transfer points.

Mystery of Why Multiple Flights Over Belgium Suddenly Started Transmitting Emergency Distress Call in Quick Succession Has Been Solved 

At least four aircraft flying over Belgium squawked the 7700 emergency distress code at about the same time. Observers were curious about why, but the controller asked them to squawk 7700 when rerouting them through airspace where the military was conducting training.

Mentioned

Graphic for the Rockets and Rotors special exhibit at the American Helicopter Museum & Education Center.

Hosts this Episode

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

797 Pilot Training

We look at pilot training with guest Jason Miller from The Finer Points. In the news, more pilot downsizing, new DOT rules for canceled and significantly delayed flights, the FAA reauthorization bill, a general aviation flyover of the nation’s capital, and airport vs. tornado.

Guest

Jason Miller hearshot

Jason Miller is a CFII with over 20 years of aviation experience who has given nearly 10,000 hours of instruction. He is a member of the FAA Safety Team, an instructor for AOPA’s Air Safety Institute, and the FAA named him the Western Pacific CFI of the Year for 2009 and 2016.

To help pilots improve their flying, Jason created The Finer Points aviation podcast in 2005. His pilot training resources have grown to include a YouTube channel, a CFI Club, a ground school app, and the Airplane Camp experience.

The Finer Points logo.

Jason has long believed in raising the bar on pilot training. The concept behind The Finer Points is packaging training excellence and developing the tools and products for pilots that fill the gaps in pilot training.

The CFI Club was created as a place where instructors can interact and continuously improve their skills. The 3-day Airplane Camp events are held for pilots several times a year and include lectures, food, and survival skills.

Jason’s Ground School flight training app for private and instrument ratings is a complete flight training system built from experience.

Aviation News

Southwest to Trim Workforce by 2,000, Offer Voluntary Time Off Programs as Boeing Delivery Delays Hit Finances

Following a 1st quarter 2024 net loss of $231, Southwest Airlines is undertaking several cost-cutting measures.  By year-end 2024, the airline plans to have 2,000 fewer employees. Southwest will slow hiring and offer voluntary time off programs. Also, Southwest is leaving four “underperforming markets:” Bellingham International Airport, Cozumel International Airport, Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport, and Syracuse Hancock International Airport. The airline originally planned to take delivery of 85 737MAX jets in 2024, but was revised downward to 46 airplanes, and again to 20 aircraft.

Cargo airline Amerijet warns of pilot furloughs amid downsizing

Since losing contracts with the U.S. Postal Service and others, Amerijet International plans to furlough some of its 272 pilots soon. How many pilots are furloughed depends on how many pilots accept the company’s offer of fewer working hours. In 2023 the pilot union negotiated a minimum of 74 paid hours, regardless of the number of hours flown.

Biden-Harris Administration Announces Final Rule Requiring Automatic Refunds of Airline Tickets and Ancillary Service Fees

The Department of Transportation announced its final rule for airlines. Airlines must give passengers full cash refunds for canceled and significantly delayed flights if the passenger doesn’t accept alternative transportation or travel credits. Passengers who file a mishandled baggage report will be entitled to a refund of their checked bag fee if it is not delivered within 12 hours of their domestic flight arriving at the gate, or 15-30 hours of their international flight arriving at the gate, depending on the length of the flight. Passengers will be entitled to a refund for the fee they paid for an extra service — such as Wi-Fi, seat selection, or inflight entertainment — if an airline fails to provide this service.

The final rule improves the passenger experience by requiring refunds to be:

  • Automatic: Airlines must automatically issue refunds without passengers having to explicitly request them or jump through hoops. 
  • Prompt: Airlines and ticket agents must issue refunds within seven business days of refunds becoming due for credit card purchases and 20 calendar days for other payment methods.
  • Cash or original form of payment: Airlines and ticket agents must provide refunds in cash or whatever original payment method the individual used to make the purchase, such as credit card or airline miles. Airlines may not substitute vouchers, travel credits, or other forms of compensation unless the passenger affirmatively chooses to accept alternative compensation.  
  • Full amount: Airlines and ticket agents must provide full refunds of the ticket purchase price, minus the value of any portion of transportation already used. The refunds must include all government-imposed taxes and fees and airline-imposed fees, regardless of whether the taxes or fees are refundable to airlines.

Here’s what flyers should know about the bipartisan FAA reauthorization bill

Draft legislation from House and Senate committees:

  • Would codify into law the Department of Transportation rules on refunds when an airline cancels or significantly delays flights.
  • Travel credits issued by airlines in place of refunds would be valid for at least five years.
  • Commercial aircraft cockpit voice recorders would record for 25 hours.
  • The FAA would be required to hire more air traffic controllers.
  • Additional runway technology requirements.
  • Expanded legal protections for ground-based employees.

General Aviation Flyover Of D.C. Set For May 11

On May 11, 2024, about 60 GA aircraft will fly over Washington, D.C.  The General Aviation DC Flyover commemorates the first proclamation of National Aviation Day in 1939 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the creation of AOPA 85 years ago. The aircraft will follow the Potomac River to downtown Washington, fly over the National Mall, and head down Independence Ave.

The flight will be visible from the mall area and live-streamed on AOPA’s YouTube channel. Commentary by AOPA Live anchor Tom Haines and aviation journalist Miles O’Brien starts at 11:45 EDT.

See: Washington, DC Metropolitan Area Special Flight Rules Area; Technical Amendment

Prohibited Area 56 (P-56) surrounds the White House, the National Mall, and the vice president’s residence in Washington, D.C. The only aircraft allowed to fly in that area are specially authorized flights that are in direct support of the U.S. Secret Service, the Office of the President, or one of several government agencies with missions that require air support within P-56. These prohibited areas have been in effect for about 50 years.

Nebraska Airport Raked by Tornado

The Eppley Airfield general aviation area was severely damaged by an EF3 tornado, which produces winds of 135 to 165 mph. Four hangars containing about 32 aircraft were destroyed.

Mentioned

Life is just a Breeze at PWM

Apple Vision Pro on the subway

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, 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.

793 Hypersonic Flight

Stratolaunch’s Talon A2 hypersonic vehicle, China’s C929 widebody passenger jet, Air Force One pilfering, Gulfstream G700 certification, Spirit Airlines’ credit boost, pilot disclosure of therapy sessions, United Airlines excess pilot capacity, and Frontier Airlines’ April Fool’s Day prank.

Aviation News

Stratolaunch Unveils Talon-A 2, Its Fully Recoverable And Reusable Hypersonic Vehicle

Stratolaunch Talon-A hypersonic test vehicle.
Talon-A hypersonic demonstrator, courtesy Stratolaunch.

Stratolaunch was formed in 2011 by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and Scaled Composites founder Burt Rutan to create an air-launched space transportation system. Scaled Composites built the Stratolaunch six-engine twin-fuselage carrier aircraft (“Roc”). A payload launch vehicle carried under the plane was to be released at high altitude and then flown into space. Paul Allen passed away in 2018 and the company was acquired in 2019 by Cerberus Capital Management.

Stratolaunch is working to advance hypersonic technology with the Talon-A, “an autonomous, reusable testbed.” The TA-1 flew on March 9, 2024, after it was released from the Stratolaunch, not quite reaching hypersonic speed. Now Stratolaunch has shown photos of the TA-2, designed to land at Vandenberg Space Force Base and be reused.

"Roc" in flight, courtesy Stratolaunch.
“Roc,” courtesy Stratolaunch

China’s home-grown C929 widebody passenger jet enters ‘crucial’ development stage amid Beijing’s aviation push

China’s commercial passenger aircraft strategy follows a path from the ARJ21 regional jet, to the C919 narrowbody, to the C929 widebody. The Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) marketing director said of the C929 that it’s in “a crucial stage in the development process” and that “the overall technical scheme of the aircraft has been determined.” Originally, COMAC was partnered with the Russian United Aircraft Corporation to build what was called the CR929. But Russia seems to have dropped out of the program.

The real D.C. crime wave

The press corps flying on Air Force One is leaving with more than they came with. Anything with the Air Force One insignia on it is being carried out. The plane can accommodate up to 76 passengers along with a crew of 26.

Gulfstream G700 Earns FAA Certification

The G700 is the largest business jet Gulfstream has made, and the fastest one it has ever certified. Compared to the G650, the G700 is 10 feet (3.0 m) longer with a top speed increased to Mach 0.935. It’s powered by improved Rolls-Royce Pearl 700 engines. Aerotime reports that Gulfstream expects to deliver some 50 G700s and a total of 160 jets across all types in 2024.

Spirit Airlines gets credit from International Aero Engines that will boost liquidity between $150 million and $200 million

Unscheduled engine removals and inspections for certain Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan engines are required in light of the contaminated powder metal problem. With its A320neo aircraft, Spirit Airlines is the largest operator of that engine in the U.S. Taking aircraft out of service has a financial impact. A deal has been struck where Spirit will get compensation via a monthly credit through the end of 2024. The airline says this will boost liquidity by between $150 million and $200 million.

Panel says FAA should end mandate pilots disclose talk therapy sessions

The FAA appointed an expert panel of aviation associations, pilot and air traffic controller organizations, academia, and medical professionals. They recommended that the FAA discontinue the requirement for airline pilots and air traffic controllers to disclose talk therapy sessions, saying “The FAA should develop a non-punitive pathway for reporting previously undisclosed mental health conditions, treatments, or medications.” The FAA is reviewing the recommendations.

United Airlines is asking pilots to take time off in May because of a shortage of new Boeing planes

United Airlines is experiencing new plane delivery delays and is asking pilots to volunteer to take time off in May. Fewer deliveries mean fewer flight hours which leads to overstaffing. In a note to pilots, United said it expects to make similar requests during the summer and possibly into the autumn. The Air Line Pilots Association said United is offering short-term leaves and unpaid time off, but they are not mandatory.

Frontier Airlines to Add Wide-Body Aircraft to its Fleet Starting in June; Route from New York-JFK to Bora Bora Will Kick Off the Ultra-Low Cost Carrier’s New Long-Haul Service Offering

The airline will add the aircraft to its fleet beginning in June 2024. The new planes will feature lie-flat seating, a chef-curated inflight menu, and free Wi-Fi for all passengers. Two weekly flights will depart from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York (JFK) to Mote Mute Airport in Bora Bora, French Polynesia (BOB) beginning June 1, 2024. On April 1, Frontier offered a one-day-only fare sale with flights to Bora Bora for $1.

Wait, what?? OK…

“April Fool’s! We aren’t really going to add wide-body aircraft to our fleet, or lie-flat seating, or a chef-curated menu, or free Wi-Fi, or fly to Bora Bora. However, we are offering a one-day-only fare sale featuring flights for as low as $38, inclusive of taxes, fees and charges, on all international destinations Frontier serves, to places like Cancun, Montego Bay, Punta Cana, Los Cabos, Puerta Vallarta, St. Maarten, St. Croix, and more!”

Video: Frontier Airlines Auditions: Part 1

Mentioned

See Where Top Aviation Universities Rank – Flying Magazine August 2022

Hosts this Episode

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

792 Boom Supersonic XB-1 Demonstrator

The milestone reached by Boom Supersonic with their XB-1 demonstrator and the recent leadership changes at Boeing, including the resignation of CEO Dave Calhoun. Also, the FBI contacted the passengers of Alaska Airlines Flight 1282, quality issues with Boeing MAX jets, FAA oversight of United Airlines, engine issues with Pratt & Whitney, and the farewell tour of the A-10 demonstration team.

Aviation News

Boom Announces Successful Flight of XB-1 Demonstrator Aircraft

The XB-1 supersonic jet demonstrator flew from the Mojave Air and Space Port. Boom Supersonic calls it the world’s first independently developed supersonic jet. The XB-1 incorporates carbon fiber composites, advanced avionics, digitally-optimized aerodynamics, and an advanced supersonic propulsion system. Boom said the “XB-1 met all of its test objectives, including safely and successfully achieving an altitude of 7,120 feet and speeds up to 238 knots (273 mph). While XB-1 was in the air, the team performed an initial assessment of the aircraft’s handling qualities, including airspeed checks with the T-38 chase aircraft, and assessing the aircraft’s stability in the landing attitude (at a high angle of attack).”

Boom’s supersonic airliner Overture “…will carry 64-80 passengers at Mach 1.7, about twice the speed of today’s subsonic airliners. Overture is designed to run on up to 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).”

Video: Full Video: XB-1 Takes Flight

Boeing C.E.O. to Step Down in Major Reshuffle at Embattled Plane Maker

Boeing announced leadership changes:

  • CEO Dave Calhoun leaves at the end of 2024
  • Stan Deal, the head of Boeing commercial planes left immediately
  • Stephanie Pope, Boeing’s COO, replaces Stan Deal.
  • Board Chairman Larry Kellner will not stand for re-election.
  • Steve Mollenkopf was elected by the board to be the new chairman. He’s an electrical engineer by training and the former chief executive of Qualcomm.
  • The Board will choose the next Boeing chief executive.

Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 passengers receive FBI letter identifying them as the victims of a possible crime

Attorney Mark Lindquist represents passengers who were on Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 when the door plug blew out. He shared a letter from the FBI’s Seattle division under the Justice Department that he says was received by the passengers he represents. The letter says “I’m contacting you because we have identified you as a possible victim of a crime.”

Boeing Charged with 737 Max Fraud Conspiracy and Agrees to Pay over $2.5 Billion

The DOJ press release from 2021 describes the conditions of the Boeing deferred prosecution agreement. In part:

“The Boeing Company (Boeing) has entered into an agreement with the Department of Justice to resolve a criminal charge related to a conspiracy to defraud the Federal Aviation Administration’s Aircraft Evaluation Group (FAA AEG) in connection with the FAA AEG’s evaluation of Boeing’s 737 MAX airplane.”

“The tragic crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 exposed fraudulent and deceptive conduct by employees of one of the world’s leading commercial airplane manufacturers…”

“Boeing’s employees chose the path of profit over candor by concealing material information from the FAA concerning the operation of its 737 Max airplane and engaging in an effort to cover up their deception. This resolution holds Boeing accountable for its employees’ criminal misconduct, addresses the financial impact to Boeing’s airline customers, and hopefully provides some measure of compensation to the crash-victims’ families and beneficiaries.”

FAA wants inspections of Boeing Max planes for wiring flaws that could lead to ‘loss of control’

A recent FAA proposed airworthiness directive would require the inspection of about 207 737 Max airplane wings for wiring damage within three years. The Agency says an “unsafe condition” could result in a “loss of control” of certain Boeing 737 Max jets due to the “nonconforming” installation of spoiler control wires.

FAA to increase oversight of United Airlines after recent issues

Oversight of United Airlines by the FAA is increasing after recent incidents. The airlines vice president of corporate safety, Sasha Johnson said in a memo to employees that the “number of safety-related events in recent weeks have rightfully caused us to pause and evaluate whether there is anything we can and should do differently.”

The FAA will review some work processes, manuals, and facilities. Johnson said, “We welcome their engagement and are very open to hear from them about what they find and their perspective on things we may need to change to make us even safer.”

FAA responds to PW1100G ‘misaligned’ vane issue that caused a 2022 failure

Photo of a "blisk" by Olivier Cleynen - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30317852
A “blisk.” Image by Olivier Cleynen.

In 2022, the low-pressure compressor first-stage integrally bladed rotor (or “blisk”) in an Airbus A320neo engine failed, resulting in an engine shutdown. In a proposed rule, the FAA wants to require that airlines replace the rotor. Pratt & Whitney says “The [proposal] relates to a known issue that affected a limited number of engines and is unrelated to powder metal. The improved hardware has been deploying to the fleet over the past two years through previously released service bulletins.”

According to the FAA, a “misaligned” inlet guide vane ahead of the low-pressure compressor resulted in “aerodynamic excitement,” which caused the rotor to fail.

Improvements made by Pratt & Whitney include redesigns of the arm assembly and the first-stage integrally bladed rotor.

Why You’ve Never Been in a Plane Crash

Subtitle: The United States leads the world in airline safety. That’s because of the way we assign blame when accidents do happen.

Understanding the Boeing Mess

Mentioned

A-10 Demo Team Announces Its Final Year As The Warthog’s End Draws Near

A-10 Demo Team

Great Electric Airplane Race Preview

The Air Show podcast.

Hosts this Episode

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

791 U.S. Space Force

We learn about the U.S. Space Force with this week’s guest. In the news, aviation groups are unhappy with new tax proposals, a probable cause for the LATAM B787 sudden dive, results from the recent FAA production audit at Boeing, the NTSB plans a hearing on the 737-9 MAX door plug blowout, and JetBlue is getting an unfavorable response after a couple didn’t get what they paid for.

Guest

Colonel Erin Dick, standing.

Colonel Erin Dick currently serves in both civilian and military roles. On the civilian side, she is the Director of Public Affairs for the RAND Corporation. This non-profit, non-partisan research organization helps improve public policy through research and analysis. Her military position is IMA to the Director of Public Affairs, U.S. Forces Japan.

Erin’s previous military assignments were with the Space Training and Readiness Command (Space Force) and the US Space Command (Joint Combatant Command). She is a communications and public affairs executive with over 26 years of experience including leadership positions with multiple Fortune 100 aerospace/defense and engineering/architecture firms.

While Erin is not currently in the U.S. Space Force and did not speak to us as a representative of the Space Force, she provides valuable insights that help us understand the organization, its mission, people, and training.

Erin explains that space has become a contested domain and the Space Force was created to address the resulting challenges. The Space Force was formed by pulling resources from all the services and only includes three career fields: satellite operations, cyber, and space intel.

Seal of the US Space Force

Erin helps us understand the challenges of public perception faced by the service and provides her insights on the future of the Space Force and the importance of partnerships with industry and academia.

On a personal level, Erin shares her background in aviation, including her experience as a private pilot. She tells of joining the CV-22 squadron and reflects on her involvement in crisis communication following the recent tragic CV-22 crash.

A Colonel in the US Air Force Reserve, Erin has served for 26 years. As an Individual Mobilization Augmentee (IMA) in the Air Force, Erin has some unique responsibilities being directly assigned to an active duty unit and stepping in when needed. She has an MA in Strategic Public Relations from George Washington University and a BA in English from Texas A&M University.

New Commands, Ranks, and More: Big Changes for Air Force & Space Force

Growing the Space Force: Is Outsourcing Operations the Answer?

Space Force reveals official song: ‘Semper Supra’

Video: The Official United States Space Force Song (Lyric Video)

Aviation News

Aviation-Labor Coalition Warns of Harm from Tax Proposals Targeting Business Aviation

President Biden recently unveiled the Administration’s FY25 budget plan. It includes increasing the business aviation fuel tax five times and reducing the depreciation schedule to seven years from five for purchased business aircraft. The aviation and labor alphabet groups expressed their displeasure by sending a letter [PDF] to the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance and the House Committee on Ways and Means.

The letter was signed by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), National Air Transportation Association (NATA), National Business Aviation Association (NBAA), NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots (NJASAP), and Vertical Aviation International (VAI).

Boeing Tells Airlines to Check 787 Cockpit Seats After Mishap on Latam Flight

The “technical event” on the LATAM flight that recently experienced a severe dive, injuring many passengers, may have been identified. It appears that a flight attendant serving a meal to the cockpit crew might have inadvertently bumped the switch that adjusts the pilot’s seat. The pilot then pitched forward into the controls. In a memo to 787 operators, Boeing recommends inspecting cockpit seats for loose switch covers and instructs operators how to turn off power to the pilot seat motor if needed. Boeing says this is a known issue and issued a service bulletin in 2017. 

FAA audit of Boeing’s 737 Max production reportedly found ‘dozens of issues’

The New York Times reports that in a recent FAA 6-week production audit at Boeing, the airframer passed 56 tests and failed 33 tests. The NYT based its reporting after reviewing an internal FAA slide presentation. Many of the failed tests centered around a failure to follow “approved manufacturing processes” and a failure to keep proper quality control documentation. The FAA also performed a product audit at SpiritAerosystems which resulted in six passes and seven fails.

NTSB to hear sworn testimonies at public hearing into 737-9 door plug blowout

On August 6 and 7, 2024 the NTSB plans to hold an investigative hearing into the Alaska Airlines 737 MAX 9 door plug blowout on January 5, 2024. Sworn testimonies from witnesses help the NTSB determine the facts, circumstances, and probable cause of the incident. The hearing will be open to the public and will be live-streamed. Only NTSB board members, investigators, scheduled witnesses, and parties to the hearing will be allowed to participate.

See:

Alaska Airlines Flight Was Scheduled for Safety Check on Day Panel Blew Off

Alaska Airlines “engineers and technicians” had concerns and the aircraft was due to go out of service that evening. The NYT implies that the airline should have immediately taken the plane out of passenger service. They report that “Alaska Airlines says the plane did not meet its standards for immediately taking it out of service.”

JetBlue is slammed for charging elderly couple $5,200 for lie-flat seats that wouldn’t recline during seven-hour flight – then offering them just $400 travel credit even though neither wants to set foot on airline again

Traveling from Boston to California and wanting to travel in comfort, the 83-year-old couple purchased JetBlue’s “Mint Class” seats. Available on all transatlantic and select coast-to-coast flights, the service offers: “All suites. All aisle access. All the better to deliver our personalized, award-winning service. Featuring lie-flat seats and our exclusive Tuft & Needle sleep experience.”

But his seat was stuck halfway between upright and flat. Her seat was stuck fully upright. The crew managed to get his seat upright, but neither would recline. Then on the return flight, his seat reclined but her seat did not. Jetblue offered the couple $400 in Jetblue credit, but they plan to never fly on Jetblue again. The airline did increase their offer to $1,200 in travel credit.

Mentioned

Masters of the Air on Apple TV.

35th and Final Heli-Expo Sets Record Attendance Mark

Hosts this Episode

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

789 Scaled Composites

We talk with both the President of Scaled Composites and the VP of Flight Operations. In the news, the FAA tells Boeing to make a plan, Boeing looks at re-acquiring SpiritAerosystems, Skyryse takes deposits for a fly-by-wire helicopter, the V-22 Osprey could be returning to flight, airlines scale back pilot hiring, and the JetBlue – Spirit merger is off.

Guests

Peter Siebold and Greg Norris of Scaled Composites standing on the apron.
Peter Siebold and Greg Morris

Greg Morris is the president of Scaled Composites, and Pete Siebold is the VP of Flight Operations. Scaled Composites is the aerospace company founded by Burt Rutan to develop experimental aircraft. Currently owned by Northrop Grumman and located at the Mojave Air and Space Port in California, Scaled focuses on designing and developing concept aircraft that are often unconventional.

Greg and Pete describe the Scaled “secret sauce” and the company culture that keeps employees engaged and operating at their creative best. We hear about the experience of a first flight in a Scaled aircraft and the preparations made before test flights. Also how Scaled helps customers define their requirements and then designs the aircraft technology to meet those requirements. Interestingly, the design for a technology demonstrator can be quite different than the design for manufacturability. The two explain the personal and professional qualities that position an individual for an aviation career such as you might find at a company like Scaled Composites.

Greg Morris

Greg joined Scaled Composites in 2023 from Gauntlet Aerospace where he was President and Chief Test Pilot. He operated a flight school for 7 years and had 10 years of experience in flight test operations, including teaching in the Qualitative Evaluation Program for the United States Air Force Test Pilot School and target and chase support for the 412th Test Wing. Greg is a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and serves on the SETP Membership Committee. He is a nationally designated FAA Experimental Examiner and he’s conducted check-rides for a variety of aircraft, both Scaled Composites and others. 

Greg received a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Southern California and a Masters of Science in Flight Test Engineering from the National Test Pilot School.

Peter Siebold

Pete joined Scaled Composites in 1996 as a Design Engineer on the VisionAire Vantage. He worked extensively as a Flight Test Engineer on multiple programs before becoming a Test Pilot for the company. During his time at Scaled, Pete has held multiple leadership positions within engineering and flight operations, including Director of Flight Operations. Pete has flown 4 first flights at Scaled and 11 different Scaled aircraft. He was heavily involved in the development of Scaled’s simulator and avionics capabilities.

Pete obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He became a certified flight instructor while attending the university, a rating he retains to this day. He is an Associate Fellow in the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and holds an Airline Transport Pilot Rating with seven Experimental Aircraft Authorizations and two Type Ratings. In 2004, Pete was part of the test team that won the Iven C. Kincheloe award for SpaceShipOne. He was bestowed the honor again in 2009 for his work as Project Pilot for WhiteKnightTwo.

Video: Model 401 Sierra First Flight

Video: Proteus: 25 years of Flight

Find Scaled Composites on Twitter/X, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Aviation News

FAA to Boeing: Develop a plan to fix your quality issues within 90 days

At a meeting in FAA headquarters, FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker told Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun that Boeing has 90 days to provide an action plan that addresses its “systemic quality-control issues.” After the meeting, Whitaker said, “Boeing must commit to real and profound improvements. “Making foundational change will require a sustained effort from Boeing’s leadership, and we are going to hold them accountable every step of the way, with mutually understood milestones and expectations.”

The plan must take into account the findings of the expert review panel report and the results of an FAA production-line audit. It will include the steps necessary to mature Boeing’s Safety Management System and integrate this with the company’s Quality Management System, to “ensure the same level of rigor and oversight is applied to the company’s suppliers.”

Justice Department Looking Into Boeing Blowout

The DOJ is examining whether the door panel incident falls under the government’s 2021 deferred-prosecution agreement with Boeing after the two fatal 737 Max crashes. If prosecutors determine that Boeing’s handling of the incident violated the 2021 agreement, they could rescind it and bring criminal charges against the company.

Engineering union and Boeing face off in fraught pilot contract dispute

The labor contract is with 23 flight technical and safety pilots in the flight operations group. These pilots don’t routinely fly production aircraft. The flight technical pilots develop pilot training programs and pilot manuals and liaise with airlines on their flight operations. The safety pilots help develop flight deck systems for new aircraft and support the certification process. The Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace union (SPEEA) says its members have “first-hand experience of the kinds of safety-culture problems an expert panel reported on…”

Boeing in Talks to Buy Troubled Supplier Spirit AeroSystems

Spirit AeroSystems has had preliminary discussions with Boeing and has hired bankers to explore strategic options. Spirit is also looking at selling its Ireland unit that makes parts for Airbus. Both companies have confirmed they are having merger discussions. The talks might not result in a deal. In a statement, Boeing said, “We believe that the reintegration of Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems’ manufacturing operations would further strengthen aviation safety, improve quality, and serve the interests of our customers, employees, and shareholders.”

Skyryse Taking Deposits for Fly-by-wire Turbine Single

Skyryse One is a Robinson R66 helicopter that has been retrofitted with the proprietary SkyOS operating system. This features a single-stick control and two touchscreens. It’s an IFR-capable, aircraft-agnostic, triple-redundant fly-by-wire system. Skyryse is taking refundable, non-transferrable $2,500 deposits.

V-22 Osprey Fleet To Return To Flight After 3-Month Worldwide Grounding

The V-22 Osprey fleet received approval from U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin for a safe and measured return to operations. The Naval Air Systems Command could lift the grounding and allow the services to resume V-22 flight operations. The cause of the crash has been identified, but the reason for the failure has not. The investigation continues.

Southwest Airlines Scales Back Pilot Hiring In 2024

A Southwest memo says, “Based on expected capacity growth beyond 2024, we’ve made the difficult decision to suspend Initial First Officer Training classes through the remainder of 2024 and defer job offers, beginning with our April classes.” The airline said pilots with conditional job offers would be placed in a “deferred candidate pool.” Once hiring resumes, those pilots would be called up.

JetBlue, Spirit end $3.8 billion merger agreement after losing antitrust suit

Citing regulatory hurdles, the two airlines ended their merger agreement. Attorney General Merrick Garland said, “Today’s decision by JetBlue is yet another victory for the Justice Department’s work on behalf of American consumers.”

Mentioned

Making Like Maverick in an L-39 by Rob Mark in JetWhine.

Bob Heil

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver

Tesla Model S and Model 3 vulnerable to GNSS spoofing attacks

Wheel Bearings podcast.

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, Rob Mark, Max Trescott, 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.

786 Flying Tigers

The founder and Executive Director of the Flying Tigers 69th DRS Association discusses the legacy of the men who kept the Flying Tigers in the air during World War II. In the news, GPS jamming and spoofing aircraft positioning systems, 737 MAX 9 lawsuits, Boeing quality actions, sustainable aviation fuel options, FAA and airline pilot retirement age, AV-8B Harrier phase-out, and a positive airline story.

Guest

Charlene Fontaine, founder and executive director of the Flying Tigers 69th DRS Association.

Charlene Fontaine is the founder and executive director of the Flying Tigers 69th DRS Association, Inc. That organization was founded in 2005 to carry on the legacy of the 350 men who served under Gen. Clare Chenault in World War II. This special squadron was requested by Chiang Kai-Shek and their mission was to drive the Burma Road, fly the Hump, and keep the aircraft flying.

We discuss the history and stories of the Flying Tigers and the 69th Depot Repair Squadron during World War II. Topics include the challenges of flying the hump, the experiences of the men who served, and the importance of preserving and sharing their history. Charlene tells us about the Chennault Aviation and Military Museum and her work on trauma and mental health. She also gives us a little taste of the film she is working on.

Mechanic repairing a Flying Tigers P-40 aircraft.
P-40 Warhawk under repair.
Burma Road switchbacks
Burma Road

In addition to awarding youth scholarships, the Association seeks to educate others on the history of China, Burma, India (CBI) and continue to build relationships with the people of CBI.  The 69th DRS Association works with other WWII organizations to help veterans and their families navigate the challenges of age, injury, and illness.

Charlene is an international consultant, speaker, author, root cause expert, wellness advocate, and researcher. Her main interest is how stress, trauma, and loss affect our daily lives. Her focus is on history and communication: how it shapes us, helps make life better and what can be gained. She works with industry, the military, law enforcement, veterans, and youth. The 69th engagements find her at air shows, conferences, schools, and reunions to inspire youth to learn history and honor our elders and all those who serve our country.

69th test pilots standing in front of a C47 airplane.
69th Test Pilots Heiner, Brecht, Garrison, and Sgt Twiggs.
Truck convoy on the Burma Road.

Aviation News

GPS interference now a major flight safety concern for airline industry

EASA partners with IATA to counter aviation safety threat from GNSS spoofing and jamming

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) says GPS jamming and spoofing incidents have increased in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. EASA recently held a joint workshop with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) with the “high-level conclusion… that interference with satellite-based services that provide information on the precise position of an aircraft can pose significant challenges to aviation safety.” Mitigating these risks requires short-, medium- and long-term measures:

  • Short-term, pilots and crews need to identify the risks and know how to react and land safely.
  • Medium-term the certification requirements of the navigation and landing systems need to change.
  • Long-term the agency needs to be involved in the design of future satellite navigation systems.

The workshop attendees agreed to several measures:

  • Reporting and sharing of GNSS interference event data. In Europe, this would occur through the European Occurrence Reporting scheme and EASA’s Data4Safety programme.
  • Guidance from aircraft manufacturers to ensure that aircraft operators are well-equipped to manage jamming and spoofing situations.
  • Alerting: EASA will inform airlines, air navigation service providers, manufacturers, and airports about attacks.
  • As a backup, aviation must retain a Minimum Operational Network (MON) of traditional navigation aids to ensure there is a conventional backup for GNSS navigation.

Boeing shareholders sue after midair 737 Max 9 blowout

Shareholders filed a class action lawsuit alleging that Boeing misled them about potential “serious safety lapses.” The suit was filed for those who purchased Boeing common stock between Oct. 23, 2019, and Jan. 24, 2024. On that date, Boeing and its executives claimed they were “making steady progress” on their “top priority … the safe return to service of the 737 MAX” following two deadly crashes in late 2018.

The suit claims “Unbeknownst to investors, statements such as those… were false and misleading because Boeing failed to disclose that it had been prioritizing its profits over safety, which led to poor quality control standards in the production of its commercial aircrafts such as the 737 MAX…”

Other related suits:

  • Six passengers filed a class-action suit claiming physical and emotional distress.
  • Four passengers are seeking damages from Boeing and Alaska Airlines for experiencing “havoc, fear, trauma [and] severe and extreme distress.”

Feb 4, 2024: Boeing to dedicate more days in 737 factory to address quality issues and ideas

In a message to employees, Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Stan Deal said the 737 program will spend several days in the Renton factory to focus on quality, including inspecting some undelivered airplanes for potential nonconformances before delivery.

Fat, sugar, trash: All the weird things that may fuel planes by 2050

Right for Whom? Airlines Shift SAF Goals to Easier – And Far Less Effective Targets

Aviation has a net-zero carbon goal by 2050 with sustainable aviation fuel, or SAF, being a key driver. The Washington Post says that in 2023, production of SAF in the United States was less than 0.2 percent of the airline industry’s jet fuel consumption. The goal is 100% by 2050. SAF can be produced from fat (cooking oil, vegetable oil, animal fat, Ethanol from corn now and other feedstocks in the future, waste (residue and “cellulosic cover crops” grown in the off-season), and hydrogen.

As the Marine Corps Says Goodbye to Decades-Old Jet, Its Maintainers Hit the Fleet for the Last Time

The F-35B Lightning II STOVL jet is the future for the Marines, replacing the AV-8B Harrier II which has been in service since the 1980s. The Harrier will be phased out over the next two years.

FAA warns US Congress against hiking airline pilot retirement age

In a letter to Congress, the FAA Administrator said the mandatory retirement age of airline pilots should not rise to 67 from 65 without first conducting additional research.

Hosts this Episode

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