Tag Archives: Frequent Flier

767 Aircraft Seat

We talk with the CEO of an aircraft seat upholstery specialist company. In the news, airline loyalty programs are changing, unapproved parts are plaguing the airline industry, and Boeing is expanding its presence in India.

Guest

Jacobo Mesta

Jacobo Mesta is CEO of Soisa Aircraft Interiors, an AS9100-certified aircraft seat upholstery specialist headquartered in Chihuahua, Mexico, with a further facility in Dubai, UAE. The family-owned and run business was founded in 2006 and provides a range of flexible design and manufacturing services including prototyping, product and quality engineering, and the integration of foams, composites, and other interior parts. 

Soisa employs over 250 skilled workers across its sites and manufactures airplane seat dress covers, cushions, composite panels, curtains, carpets, and armrests. The company works with all major seat OEMs and its products are currently flying with more than 100 airlines worldwide. Soisa also has a robust ESG (environmental, social, and governance) program.

Aircraft seat cover from Soisa.
Soisa aircraft seat cover

We learn how Soisa pivoted in 2006 and joined the aerospace industry, growing its business and adding capabilities over time. Originally a fill-to-print shop, Soisa now has design and engineering capability. Products include seat dress covers, composite panels, and foam for OEMs and the aftermarket.

Jacobo explains who their customers are, the important design criteria, and some of the material and design changes that have occurred. We also learn about Soisa’s very strong ESG  (environmental, social, and governance) program where the company provides surplus material to the local Tarahumara tribe in Chihuahua who then make products they sell for income. Leasing company Avolon has started contributing seat components as well. Also, Soisa works with people in jail in a similar program.

Cross section of Soisa aircraft seat cushion showing layers.
Soisa cushion

Prior to becoming CEO, Jacobo held a number of roles, including Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing, and Sales Director.

Before joining Soisa and the aviation sector, Jacobo was involved in fuel oil trading at PEMEX, serving as a fuel oil trader and managing storage operations in Houston and Panama from 2002 to 2006.

Find Soisa Aircraft Interiors on their website, and on LinkedIn.

Soisa partners with Avalon to recycle used cabin materials

With artisanal interior reuse partnership, Soisa focuses on ESG

Aviation News

Airlines Are Just Banks Now

The Atlantic says airlines “make more money from mileage programs than from flying planes—and it shows.” In Delta SkyMiles changes: Airline overhauls how you earn Medallion status in biggest change yet, The Points Guy says,

Delta Air Lines is overhauling how you earn Medallion status as part of perhaps one of its biggest loyalty updates yet. The airline is retiring Medallion Qualifying Miles and Medallion Qualifying Segments, and it’ll instead focus on a redefined version of Medallion Qualifying Dollars… Depending on your personal travel and spending habits, Delta’s news may not necessarily sting that much, but there will certainly be some flyers who will miss the old program.

The Points Guy

Under the old Delta SkyMiles formula, status was based on a combination of dollars spent and miles traveled. In the revised program, status is based on dollars spent, and the amount of spending required to achieve status has gone up. As The Atlantic says, “SkyMiles is no longer a frequent-flier program; it’s a big-spender program.”

Durbin Pushes Legislation to Reduce Credit Card “Swipe Fees”; Critics Say Rewards Programs at Risk

A new bill proposed in Congress would reduce the so-called “swipe fees” retailers pay every time a customer uses a credit card. This could impact airline (and other) credit card loyalty programs.

Escalating scandal grips airlines including American and Southwest, wreaking havoc on flight delays and cancellations as nearly 100 planes find fake parts from company with fake employees that vanished overnight

Airlines around the world have announced they have found parts sourced from AOG Technics that lack valid documentation. Allegedly, the parts were sold to shops repairing CFM International jet engines. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) says that certain documents had been forged to make it appear as if AOG Technics’ parts had come from legitimate manufacturers.

Boeing New Facility Outside the US to Open Sooner

Boeing is opening a 43-acre complex in Bengaluru, India that will include laboratories, testing infrastructure, and research and development activities. It may create about 3,000 jobs. The company announced the investment following an order from Air India for 20 787 Dreamliners, 10 777Xs, and 190 737 MAX aircraft. Boeing has headquarters in Delhi and field service offices in other locations. Boeing is also expanding its Boeing India Engineering & Technology Center (BIETC), with locations in Bengaluru and Chennai.

Mentioned

Step-by-step Guidance for Visually Impaired Travelers Now Available at Honolulu Airport

Pratt and Whitney 4360 – $12,000 (Fulton)

For sale by owner, the Pratt and Whitney 4360 Wasp Major R-4360-63A is a 28-cylinder, supercharged, air-cooled engine. This example was removed from a 1955 Douglas C-124 Globemaster II.

Pratt and Whitney 4360 Wasp Major engine on trailer stand.
Pratt & Whitney R-4360-63A

Wikipedia reports the R-4360 is an American 28-cylinder four-row radial piston aircraft engine designed and built during World War II. First run in 1944, at 4,362.5 cu in (71.5 L), it is the largest-displacement aviation piston engine to be mass-produced in the United States, and at 4,300 hp (3,200 kW) the most powerful. It was the last of the Pratt & Whitney Wasp family and the culmination of its maker’s piston engine technology.

The engine was used postwar on many aircraft, including:

Hosts this Episode

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

740 Status Match

Status match and airline loyalty programs with an industry leader. Also, an alleged export control violation involving Russia, a hydrogen-powered regional airliner takes flight, Jetblue court cases, and an FAA system problem impacts check rides. We also have an Australia News Desk report from Avalon and a visit to an El Al MRO shop.

Guest

Mark Ross-Smith.

Mark Ross-Smith is an award-winning global airline loyalty industry leader. He’s an author, the founder of industry news site Travel Data Daily, and the CEO of Status Match.com, which helps switch loyalty tier status to a new airline or hotel. Mark has 20 years of experience leading loyalty programs in telecoms and travel, most recently at Malaysian Airlines. He’s published dozen of papers and articles on airline loyalty and is a frequent speaker at conferences and other events.

Mark describes the “status cliff” faced by airlines and customers. As the pandemic halted travel, airlines extended customer loyalty status. Now that demand has returned, airlines don’t want to extend status for free. Large numbers of customers have been or are in danger of being downgraded.

We also learn that an airline’s loyalty program is sometimes valued higher than the airline’s operations. Credit cards are a high-margin business for airlines and contribute significantly to an airline’s valuation. We wonder if airlines these days airlines, or are they marketing companies and loyalty programs that have an airline division? Mark explains that regardless, airlines need to provide the kind of service that makes the loyalty program attractive to their customer demographics.

Mark tells us about the concept of the status match. This is where one loyalty program gives you some status based on the status you have with another. It’s a process that shifts consumer behavior and Mark explains why airlines (and hotels) engage in this practice, and what it means for the consumer. For a fee, StatusMatch.com may be able to arrange one for you.

Aviation News

2 Americans arrested for allegedly sending aviation technology to Russia

The charges include exporting controlled goods without a license, falsifying and failing to file electronic export information, and smuggling goods contrary to US law. US-based KanRus Trading Company allegedly sold equipment to Russian companies and provided repair services for Russian aircraft. Prosecutors say the pair concealed who their clients were, lied about how much the products cost, and they were paid through foreign bank accounts. All this to circumvent U.S. sanctions.

First hydrogen-powered airplane takes flight in Moses Lake

The 40-passenger regional airliner flew for 15 minutes using hydrogen fuel cell propulsion.  Universal Hydrogen developed the plane, nicknamed Lightning McClean. A fuel cell electric powertrain replaces the existing turboprop engines. The FAA granted Universal Hydrogen approval for the test flight under a special airworthiness certificate. The flight test campaign is expected to run through 2025, followed by entry into passenger service of ATR 72 regional aircraft that same year converted to run on hydrogen.

JetBlue is at the center of two cases that could remake the industry

JetBlue is deeply into a pair of high-profile antitrust cases that some say could redefine the way U.S. airlines compete. In one case, the Justice Department is looking at JetBlue’s Northeast alliance with American Airlines where the two airlines coordinate schedules and share revenue on selected Northeast routes. The airlines call it an alliance. The DOJ says it’s a de facto merger. In the other case, JetBlue seeks to merge with Spirit Airlines. The DOJ hasn’t yet said what it will do.

Check Rides Grind to a Halt When the IACRA System Coughs

It’s not a NOTAM system crash this time, it’s the FAA’s Integrated Airman Certification and Rating Application system (IACRA) that is failing. Without IACRA, designated pilot examiners are having difficulty performing check rides. The FAA confirmed that the IACRA system lost some data.

Australia News Desk

The Australian International Air Show made a triumphant return after a covid interrupted four-year break, and Grant and Steve were there to take in all the action.

The event is located at Avalon Airport, roughly 60 kilometres southwest of Melbourne, and is a major event on the world air show calendar.  This year saw attendance from many nations including the United States, Canada, the UK, New Zealand, Japan, Germany, and South Korea.

Standout displays included the Republic of Korea Air Force Black Eagles, RAAF F-35A and  F-18F’s, USAF F-22, Air Race World Champion Matt Hall, and aerobatics ace Paul Bennet.

Ostensibly a trade, government, and business exposition, it runs across six days, culminating in two and a half public open days, where the aerial action kicks into high gear.

In this report, the guys discuss some of the military announcements made during the show, take in the impressive array of USAF tankers that made the trip, and a new remote-operated aircraft designed and built by the ADF for ISR operations, which cost only $AU50,000 each.

Finally, they catch up with veteran air show commentator Peter Meehan, who’s retiring from his role as the voice of Avalon after more than 30 years, and his successor, well-known aviation writer and radio presenter Tony Moclair.

Steve Visscher and Grant McHerron.
F-35 in flight at Avalon.
F-35 at Avalon.
Biplane flying with explosions in the background.
Action at Avalon 2023.

Aircraft images by Wayne Nugent and Victor Pody.

El Al MRO Facility

Brian Coleman talks with Max Flight about his visit to an El Al MRO facility in Tel Aviv.

Hosts this Episode

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

413 Pay the Airline for What’s Important

We talk with an experienced travel writer about the air travel experience, frequent flyer programs (should they be regulated?), and an idea to centrally lock overhead bins. Also, regulating commercial balloon operators, the future of the A-10 (yet again), GA and biz jet sales, and a massive FAA hiring plan for Air Traffic Controllers. We learn who really did fly first, and why an AMT career might be worth a second look.

Guest

Kyle Stewart

Kyle Stewart

Kyle Stewart is a travel editor for Upgrd.com, a freelance travel writer, and he writes the Trip Sherpa blog. Upgrd.com is a resource website for frequent fliers featuring tricks of the trade and how to enjoy a first class experience on a coach budget.

Kyle tells us how frequent flyer programs and the travel experience have changed to what they are today. We also learn about airline mileage runs and status runs, what’s in Kyle’s “travel goodie bag,” and why the most important travel decision is to pay for the services that are most important to you.

Kyle flies several hundred thousand miles every year and has visited more than 50 countries on every continent except Antarctica. He has contributed to articles for Time, USA Today, Reuters, CNBC, MSN, Yahoo!, Huffington Post and many other media outlets.

News

Let’s Regulate Frequent Flier Programs. Here’s Why.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s has released an investigative report on airline loyalty programs. The report concluded that the government has the authority to regulate frequent-flier programs and asked for disclosure rules. The Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings at DOT wants to learn more about problems with frequent flyer programs, and has a complaint form to collect data: DOT Air Travel Complaint – Comment Form.

Should overhead lockers be centrally locked?

When an emergency evacuation occurs on an airliner, passengers are instructed to immediately exit the airplane and leave all carry on luggage behind. Of course, that’s not what happens. A fire safety expert from London’s Greenwich University has called for a central locking system controlled by the flight deck.

Tighter oversight of balloon operators urged after Texas crash

The NTSB is investigating a hot air balloon accident in where the balloon struck power lines, exploded, and all 16 aboard were killed. Should commercial balloon pilots be more strongly regulated in the U.S.?

Air Force To Make A-10 Replacement Recommendations as Early As Fall

The U.S. Air Force will begin working on its next five-year budget plan, and part of the plan will include a strategy for a close air support aircraft. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said options they’ll be looking at options for replacing or augmenting the A-10 Warthog. See also, The US Air Force has an absurd plan for replacing the A-10 Warthog.

GAMA: Airplane shipments, billings down across the board

The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) reports that in the first half of 2016, shipments for general aviation aircraft, turboprops, and business jets were down 4.5 percent over 2015. Billings were down 11 percent.

FAA Set To Hire 1,400 Entry-Level Air Traffic Controllers. The Catch: Only One Week To Apply

The FAA expects more than 25,000 people to apply for 1,400 Air Traffic Control Specialist – Trainee positions, so the application period is only one week: August 8-15, 2016.

The Airplane of the Week

More like the pilot(s) of the week, this time. After the 2016 Rio Olympic Opening Ceremonies, David was once again thrust into the argument of who flew first. It wasn’t Alberto Santos-Dumont for sure, but he does deserve to be a Hero of Brazil. Listen to David prove it.

Some of the articles:

Mentioned in the segment:

On The Mark

The Realities of AMT TrainingHere’s why an AMT career is worth a second look.

http://youtu.be/ihFRf9BaiWQ

Mentioned

The Flight Deal

Deal Ray

Express VPN

Milestones of Flight, Milestones in Life By David

43’rd Annual International SeaPlane Fly-in, Moosehead Lake, Maine, September 8th to the 11th, 2016.

Denver, Colorado to Jacksonville, Texas in a Cessna 150!

What a fire retardant drop looks like from right underneath

Help Wanted: Part-Time Pilots

Credit

Intro music courtesy Brother Love from his Album Of The Year CD. Outtro F/A-18 flyby recorded by Ted at the 2016 Dayton Airshow.

AirplaneGeeks 401 Aviation Accidents as Emergent Properties of Complex Systems

We explore aviation accidents as emergent properties of complex systems, and discuss: the Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association complaints about pilot wages, a survey on frequent flier rewards programs, an NPRM that would change FAR Part 61, third class medical reform in yet more legislation, and a two seat Robinson R44. David has an onfire history segment and Rob talks TSA.

Guest

Captain Shem Malmquist has a broad aviation experience ranging from teaching aerobatics and instructing in a wide variety of both general aviation and transport aircraft, to academic research and safety investigation.

Captain Shem Malmquist, FRAeS

Captain Shem Malmquist, FRAeS

We talk with Shem about improvements that have made air travel safer, and the gaps we now face for identifying problems that might arise in the future. Shem explains how aviation accidents currently present themselves as interactions of complex components. Resilience engineering is an example of a different approach to how we look at complex accidents. We discuss flight simulators, mitigating lithium battery risk, and autonomous vehicles, including both manned and unmanned aircraft.

Shem worked as an instructor and evaluator on several transport aircraft and has served as flight crew on the Embraer EMB-110, Shorts 360, B-727, DC-8, B-747 and MD-11. He continues to work a full flight schedule, mostly international long haul flights.

Shem has been part of the Air Line Pilot Association’s (ALPA) National Charting and Instrument Procedures Committee (CHIPS), and he was selected by his airline to be the chairman of both the airline’s Safety Committee and the Aircraft Design and Operations Committee.

As Flight Duty Officer, he led several initiatives, including a volcanic ash avoidance plan, air security procedures, and a number of regulatory compliance issues. Shem completed NTSB’s accident investigation training and acted as Party Coordinator for an MD-11 accident in Newark, New jersey, and he was on the “go-team” for an MD-11 accident in Narita Japan.

Last year, Shem was a keynote speaker at FAA’s InfoShare and has presented at several International Society of Air Safety Investigators (ISASI) events. He has also authored numerous articles on various issues involving flight safety and operations covering a broad range of topics from technical to human factors.

Shem earned a Masters (MSc) degree in Human Factors in Aeronautics through the Florida Institute of Technology, and a Bachelors of Science (BSc) from Embry-Riddle University. He is an elected Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, a full member of the International Society of Air Safety Investigators (ISASI), and a member of AIAA, IEEE, and SAE where he also serves on three committees: Flight Deck Handling Quality Standards for Transport Aircraft, Aerospace Behavior Engineering Technology, and Lithium Battery Packaging Performance.

Related Resources:

David Woods, Professor, Integrated Systems Engineering, The Ohio State University. Complexity in Human, Natural and Engineered Systems.

Sidney Dekker, professor at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, author on human factors and safety: Field Guide to Understanding Human Error.

Air Transport Safety Articles A collection of articles written by Shem Malmquist FRAeS.

Airline Safety and Accident Investigation Community on Facebook.

Driverless Cars and the Myths of Autonomy by David A. Mindell, MIT Professor of engineering and the history of technology, author of Our Robots, Ourselves: Robotics and the Myths of Autonomy.

News

Southwest Pilots Sue City of Chicago Over Billboard Advertising

SWAPA billboard

SWAPA billboard

The Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association (SWAPA) wanted to make a point about pilot wages on a billboard at Chicago Midway International Airport. City Hall told them they could not post their message, so the union filed suit against the city of Chicago, claiming an unconstitutional restriction on their First Amendment rights and asking for a temporary restraining order to allow the pilots to display the ad. As a result, a Judge orders Chicago to allow Southwest pilots billboard at Midway.

The Best and Worst Frequent-Flier Rewards Programs for 2016

Switchfly-Reward-Infographic-2016The Switchfly Reward Seat Availability Survey conducted by consulting firm IdeaWorks found that for the third year in a row, free seats open for booking increased. “Overall, I think the consumer is being better served than the year before,” says Jay Sorensen, president of IdeaWorks.

Switchfly CEO Daniel Farrar said, “This survey reflects the fact that airlines can’t afford to take their customers for granted. 21st century consumers are savvy and plugged-in. They know when their loyalty programs are offering them a real value and when they are not delivering; and they don’t have time for loyalty programs that aren’t delivering, especially in such a competitive space. Increasingly, consumers expect a personalized booking, travel and reward experience. Every time a customer interacts with the brand – online, offline or mobile – the user experience must be on-point. Airlines must make this happen and ensure that zero customers have a bad experience anywhere along the booking or redemption path.”

See Southwest and airberlin Top Reward Rankings but Turkish Airlines and Air China Rise High [Ideaworks press release, PDF]

Proposed Part 61 changes would benefit GA

The FAA has published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that would change FAR Part 61 which governs the certification of pilots, flight instructors, and ground instructors. AOPA is supportive of the proposed changes, which include “increased use of aviation training devices (ATDs) for maintaining instrument currency, the option to use new technically advanced aircraft instead of older complex or turbine aircraft for single-engine commercial pilot training, and giving credit for hours accumulated during sport pilot training toward earning a recreational or private pilot certificate.”

Defense Bill Includes Medical Reform Language

Third class medical reform from the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 keeps getting into legislation: As standalone legislation in the Senate, again as part of the Senate’s FAA reauthorization bill, and now by the Senate Armed Services Committee in the National Defense Authorization Act.

FAA Approves Two-Place R44

The FAA has certified Robinson’s two-place R44 Cadet The Cadet is essentially an R44 Raven, but with the rear seats removed for more cargo space. Maximum gross weight is reduced to 2200 pounds, engine power is derated to 210 hp takeoff and 185 hp continuous.

The Aircraft of the Week

Aviation Historian David Venderhoof comments on The F-35 Stealth Fighter’s Dirty Little Secret Is Now Out in the Open.

On the Mark

Rob is talking about why he likes something the TSA did … well, sort of.

Mentioned

Breastfeeding pilots file discrimination charges

Tell Frontier Airlines: Sexism Won’t Fly – ACLU petition.

Breastfeeding pilots’ claims against airline seen as advance

Pilots And ACLU Sue Airline Over Breast Milk Pumping At Work

and

Air Data System Failure Involving Airbus A320-243 A6-EYJ [PDF] from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.

Credit

Intro music courtesy Brother Love from his Album Of The Year CD. Outtro by Bruno Misonne from The Sound of Flaps.

Episode 16 – ‘Flyer Talk’ with Randy Petersen

A400M

This week, Max and Court are proud to bring you a “special” guest, Randy Petersen, Founder of Flyer Talk and Boarding Area.  Randy is a self-proclaimed “Frequent Flier Geek” and gives us some insight into the minds of a business traveler.  Word associations don’t seem to phase Randy, as he passes with flying colors (pun intended).

This Week’s News:

Max has a “Double Shock” pick of the week:

AirportGuide.com

Go Pro Digital Video Cameras

Why, you ask?  Because Max thinks this would produce some good video footage attached to a light aircraft. Video from an ultralight or LSA or a hang glider would probably capture the thrill of it real well.

Make sure to sign up for our new newsletter, “Airplane Geeks Week in Aviation.”  We’ll be bringing you these show notes, as well as some of the week’s news we didn’t have time to cover.  You can sign up at AirplaneGeeks.com.

We’re also happy to announce our partnership with Flightline Internet Radio.  You’ll be able to hear excerpts of The Airplane Geeks weekly.

Brother Love is responsible for this episode’s opening and closing music, and you can visit his site at http://www.brotherloverocks.com.

If you have a question or a comment for the Airplane Geeks, you can send it to thegeeks@airplanegeeks.com.

You can also leave us voice mail at (812) 757-4252. If you have a question you’d like mentioned on the podcast, this is the best way to go about it.