Tag Archives: jetBlue

785 The Boeing Company

Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems continue to dominate the news, along with 737 MAX certification, lap babies, the proposed JetBlue and Spirit Airlines merger, route growth at United Airlines and Breeze Airways, and the demise of the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter. Also, flight tests for the B-21 Raider and more favorite aviation movies.

Aviation News

Boeing, not Spirit, mis-installed piece that blew off Alaska MAX 9 jet, industry source says

Wichita-based Spirit AeroSystems builds the 737 fuselage for Boeing. A person familiar with the situation says the door plug was removed by Boeing, and then reinstalled on the 737.

127 Days: The Anatomy of a Boeing Quality Failure

In The Air Current, Jon Ostrower reconstructs the journey of fuselage 8789 from Spirit AeroSytems to Alaska Airlines. It’s an insightful look at the relationship between Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems.

Opposition grows to Boeing 737 MAX 7 safety exemption

Boeing wants an exemption to certify the 737 MAX 7 and MAX 10, despite problems with the engine anti-ice system.

Video: United Airlines CEO: Boeing’s 737 Max-9 grounding is ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’ for us

NTSB Urges Parents Not to Fly With Children on Laps After Alaska Incident 

At a recent press conference, NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy said “We would urge passengers to put their children under two in their own seat, in an FAA-approved car seat, so they are secure and safe in case something like this happens.” Currently, the FAA allows children under the age of two to be held in an adult’s lap.

Boeing CEO to meet with senators scrutinizing 737 MAX 9 blowout

Dave Calhoun has been meeting with U.S. senators to answer their questions about the 737 MAX 9. After meeting with Calhoun, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth said he “offered no assurance” that Boeing would withdraw its exemption request for the 737MAX 7 jet. 

Boeing Whistleblower: Production Line Has “Enormous Volume Of Defects” Bolts On MAX 9 Weren’t Installed

JetBlue casts doubt on its merger deal with Spirit Airlines after judge rules against merger

JetBlue Airways has informed Spirit Airlines that the merger agreement might be terminated. JetBlue feels some conditions of the merger agreement can not be met while Spirit says there is no basis for terminating the merger agreement.

United Airlines To Launch First-Ever Route From Washington DC To Alaska

Breeze Airways Adds Three Airports, 11 Routes To Network

After Three Years on Mars, NASA’s Ingenuity Helicopter Mission Ends

On April 19, 2021, the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter made history by becoming the first craft to achieve powered, controlled flight on another planet. After sustaining rotor blade damage, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson announced that the Ingenuity mission had come to an end after  72 flights.

Ingenuity Mars Helicopter sitting on the surface of Mars.
This view of NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter was generated using data collected by the Mastcam-Z instrument aboard the agency’s Perseverance Mars rover on Aug. 2, 2023, the 871st Martian day, or sol, of the mission.

For more information about Ingenuity, see https://mars.nasa.gov/technology/helicopter.

Mentioned

Do Electric Aircraft Face Lapse Rate Challenges?

B-21 Raider Flight Testing Now Underway

Hosts this Episode

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

778 China Aviation Market

We take a look at the China aviation market, including the aviation boom in China, the aircraft that will support that market, and the impact on the global aviation industry. In the news, the V-22 Osprey is grounded worldwide, a judge wants more concessions from JetBlue as they seek to acquire Spirit, how airport expansion plans can come under fire on environmental grounds, and producing Sustainable Aviation Fuel through CO₂ direct air capture technology.

Guest

Vance Hilderman photo.

Vance Hilderman is the CEO of AFuzion, a safety certification consultancy for the aviation industry. Vance is the founder, CEO, and CTO of multiple safety-critical companies. He’s a world-renowned safety-critical expert, speaker, trainer, and author.

Vance describes the growth potential of the China aviation market, the challenges and opportunities for Western companies, and the implications of technology transfer and intellectual property concerns. He highlights the importance of the Chinese market for the aviation industry and the need for strategic approaches to navigate the complexities of doing business in China.

Takeaways:

  • China is a rapidly growing aviation market with a large middle class and increasing domestic and international travel demand.
  • Western companies, including Boeing and Airbus, are eager to tap into the Chinese market, but they face challenges related to technology transfer and intellectual property concerns.
  • The Chinese government plays a significant role in the aviation industry, and partnerships and joint ventures are often required to do business in China.
  • The China aviation market offers both opportunities and risks, and companies need to carefully navigate the political and economic landscape to succeed.

Vance is a top authority in the aviation industry and has been featured in the Associated Press, Aviation Pros, and Aviation Today. He is the author of The Aviation Development Ecosystem and Avionics Certification – Complete Guide to DO-178, DO-178C, DO-254. Vance holds BSEE, MSEE (Hughes Fellow), and MBA degrees.

References:

Aviation News

Osprey Crash Triggers Worldwide Grounding

A USAF CV-22B Osprey tiltrotor crashed offshore near Yakushima, Japan, on November 29, 2023, during a training mission, killing eight service members who were aboard. The U.S. Air Force’s Special Operations Command ordered an “operational standdown” of the CV-22 fleet, and all other V-22 operators have done the same. More than 400 Osprey’s are currently in service with U.S. forces and Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force, which operates 14 of the aircraft. 

USAF Special Operations Command says, “Preliminary investigation information indicates a potential materiel failure caused the mishap, but the underlying cause of the failure is unknown at this time. The standdown will provide time and space for a thorough investigation to determine causal factors and recommendations to ensure the Air Force CV-22 fleet returns to flight operations.”

V-22 Osprey inflight with rotors in vertical flight position.
A CV-22 Osprey practices hoist operations near Albuquerque, New Mexico Feb. 22, 2021. Image: Airman 1st Class Ireland Summers Air Force.

Judge Seeks Further Concessions as JetBlue-Spirit Trial Concludes 

Judge seeks more sacrifices as JetBlue-Spirit trial ends

The US District judge concluded that fares would likely increase if the proposed $3.8B acquisition of Spirit by JetBlue goes through, and commented that JetBlue will most likely need to divest additional assets.  The airline already said it would divest gates and slots at Boston, New York Newark, and Fort Lauderdale International.

Portland jetport plan to cut trees, add surface parking draws opposition

The Portland International Jetport wants to build an additional parking lot. Meanwhile, the new Mayor has prioritized fighting climate change and expanding Portland’s tree canopy. The Jetport says demand for long-term parking exceeds capacity so travelers park at an offsite city lot and use a shuttle to the airport. They say onsite parking has the smallest carbon footprint. The opposition says clearing trees and destroying wetlands is short-sighted and environmentally harmful. They say the jetport should expand the shuttle service to include other existing parking lots.

UK’s first air capture plant is turned on to remove CO2 from the atmosphere and turn it into jet fuel

Mission Zero Technologies was founded in 2020 to develop direct air capture (DAC) technology that recovers atmospheric CO₂, which can then be used or stored. Their machine will run on solar power, recover 50 tonnes of CO₂ per year, and then turn it into Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).

Australia Desk

Mentioned

Early Winter Snow Stops Flights at Munich Airport

Video: Cessna Citation X from ARFF World

Video: EP 31: Smithy’s Southern Cross Replica Flies Again!

Hosts this Episode

768 Xwing Autonomous Aircraft

Autonomous aircraft with the regulatory affairs lead at Xwing. In the news, Delta Airlines reconsiders loyalty program changes, GPS spoofing of commercial flights, the Schiphol airport capacity cap, a crash takes the life of an AOPA senior vice president, and a 104-year-old woman goes skydiving.

Guest

Anna Dietrich is the regulatory affairs lead at Xwing, a company that flies piloted commercial cargo operations under a Part 135 certificate with a fleet of Cessna Caravans. The company has developed an autonomous aircraft for cargo operations and has conducted the world’s first fully autonomous gate-to-gate demonstration of a commercial cargo aircraft.

Anna Dietrich, regulatory affairs lead at Xwing.

Anna leads the certification program for advanced aircraft control and detect and avoid systems for the company’s autonomous flight operations. She gives us an overview of the Xwing autonomous program and the Superpilot autonomous flight technology. A remote pilot monitors the flight and can modify the flight plan if necessary.

We hear how the regulator’s viewpoint on airworthiness is now a more performance-based approach to safety. Operational rules can be the same as with a crewed aircraft, but in this case, some are performed by a system, and some by a pilot on the ground. For now, airman certification is unchanged, but some requirements are different and these will need to change over time.

Anna brings up the roles of humans in autonomous aircraft operations: who has liability and responsibility, and what training is appropriate? Also, how AI is regulated, thoughts on the certification process, and even public acceptance. We take the opportunity to ask Anna about the Terrafugia roadable airplane project that she co-founded.

Anna is an industry-recognized leader in policy, certification, and government relations for advanced air mobility (AAM), eVTOL aircraft, and autonomous aviation. Her experiences include Mars rover testing, being the founding COO of Terrafugia, testifying on AAM for Congress, and speaking at TED Global. She has appeared on or been published in a wide range of outlets including CNN, Ms. Magazine, and Good Morning America. She runs AMD Consulting, serves as Director of Regulatory Affairs for Xwing, is the co-founder and Director of Industry and Strategy at the Community Air Mobility Initiative (CAMI), and is a Senior Policy Advisor for AUVSI. She was the founding chair of the GAMA EPIC EVTOL committee and continues to have key roles in industry, including standards development efforts such as ASTM AC377 Autonomy in Aviation. She received her BS and MS in aerospace engineering from MIT and is a private pilot. More at annamdietrich.com.

See also:

  • Aviation Xtended Episode 184 with Max Gariel, the Co-Founder, President, and Chief Technology Officer for Xwing. 
  • Airplane Geeks Episode 736 with Earl Lawrence, the Chief Compliance and Quality Officer at Xwing, and former Executive Director of Aircraft Certification at the FAA.

Video: Xwing – Gate to Gate demo – Feb 2021

Aviation News

Delta CEO Admits Airline May Have Gone ‘Too Far’ With Loyalty Changes

Last week we described how Delta Airlines planned to change its SkyMiles program. The airline said it would retire Medallion Qualifying Miles and Medallion Qualifying Segments to focus on Qualifying Dollars. Many Delta customers were not happy with the change, and CEO Ed Bastian responded by saying, “No question we probably went too far in doing that. I think we moved too fast, and we are looking at it now.”

‘We moved too fast’: Delta Airlines may reverse controversial change

After the initial Delta announcement, Alaska Airlines said Delta SkyMiles Medallion members could join their Mileage Plan program with no flight segment or spending requirement. JetBlue offered elite status in its Mosaic loyalty program to Delta flyers through Oct. 31, or until 30,000 people take advantage of the offer.

Increasing Fake GPS Signals Near Iran Prompt FAA Alert

The OpsGroup reports that the number of GPS spoofing incidents in Iraq is increasing along a flight path alongside the Iranian border. The FAA calls this a “safety of flight risk to civil aviation operations.” OpsGroup said about a dozen business jets and airliners received fake GPS signals, and many of them lost navigation capability.

OpsGroup is a membership organization for pilots, flight dispatchers, schedulers, and controllers involved in international flight operations. The 8,000-member-strong organization shares new information on changes and risks that members have reported. Members get a Daily Brief, live Ops Alerts, and other resources. OpsGroup founder Mark Zee describes the organization in What Is Opsgroup All About?

US’s JetBlue challenges Dutch, EU over Schiphol capacity cap

The Dutch government is planning to cut capacity at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport from 500,000 annual flights to 440,000 flights. This is an effort to reduce noise and carbon emissions, but it is not a popular move within the industry. Opposition comes from KLM, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), and A4A representing ten US airlines. Other industry associations against the plan include BARIN (representing airlines in the Netherlands), Air Cargo Netherlands (ACN), Airlines for Europe (A4E), and the European Regions Airline Association (ERA).

JetBlue Airways has made a regulatory filing with the US Department of Transportation (DOT) against the Dutch government and the European Union, calling on the DOT to take action. The airline claims is it under an immediate threat of expulsion from Schiphol in 2024.

AOPA’s Vice President of Air Safety Institute, Richard McSpadden Dies in Plane Crash

Richard McSpadden Jr., senior vice president of the AOPA Air Safety Institute, was one of two people killed in an aircraft accident on October 1, 2023, in Lake Placid, New York. The Cessna 177 Cardinal experienced an emergency after takeoff. The airplane attempted to return to the airport but failed to make the runway. Also killed in the crash was former NFL player Russ Francis.

104-year-old Chicago woman becomes oldest tandem skydiver

The Guinness Book of World Records may certify Dorothy Hoffner as the oldest person in the world to tandem skydive. The woman turns 105 in December and wants to go for a ride in a hot air balloon.

Mentioned

From The American Helicopter Museum & Education Center:

Aviation Newstalk Podcast

Portland jetport briefly shut down Sunday after car crashes through gate, drives on runway

Hosts this Episode

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

750 Northeast Alliance

A ruling in the Northeast Alliance antitrust suit, American Airlines flight attendants troubled by the “ConnectMe” app, new service and routes from Breeze Airways, Republic Airways to fine pilots who leave early, Cessna Citation Ascend unveiled, and a YouTuber charged in the crash of his plane.

Aviation News

Northeast Alliance partner logos: jetBlue and American Airlines.

Judge ends American Airlines-JetBlue alliance, says it is anticompetitive

In a May 19, 2023 ruling, the judge in the Northeast Alliance antitrust suit determined that the Alliance “substantially diminishes competition in the domestic market for air travel.” The Department of Justice alleged that by codesharing and collaborating to run complementary route networks through New York and Boston, the Northeast Alliance would “eliminate significant competition between American and JetBlue that has led to lower fares and higher quality service for consumers traveling to and from those airports.” Unless the ruling is appealed, the Alliance must end within 30 days.

In his ruling [PDF], Judge Sorokin says:

In the first months of 2020, executives at American Airlines and JetBlue negotiated and signed a first-of-its-kind alliance, in which the two carriers essentially agreed to operate as one airline for most of their flights in and out of New York City and Boston.

This case turns on what “competition” means. To the defendants, competition is enhanced if they join forces to unseat a powerful rival. The Sherman Act, however, has a different focus. Federal antitrust law is not concerned with making individual competitors larger or more powerful. It aims to preserve the free functioning of markets and foster participation by a diverse array of competitors. Those principles are generally undermined, rather than promoted, by agreements among horizontal competitors to dispense with competition and cooperate instead. That is precisely what happened here.

American Airlines and Microsoft Partnership Takes Flight to Create a Smoother Travel Experience for Customers and Better Technology Tools for Team Members

In May 2022, American Airlines announced they were partnering with Microsoft “to use technology to create better, more connected experiences for customers and American Airlines team members… American will use Microsoft Azure as its preferred cloud platform for its airline applications and key workloads.”

American Airlines Flight Attendants Say Mobile App Designed to Improve On-time Performance is a ‘Hazard to Passenger Safety’

Now the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) representing American Airlines flight attendants takes issue with the Airline’s “ConnectMe” app. The mandatory internal messaging app works within Microsoft Teams and allows flight attendants to communicate with gate agents, pilots, and engineers during pre-boarding and boarding.

The union says they didn’t have any input into the use of ConnectMe, interruptions through the app are a distraction, and there is a “constant barrage of texts [which] prioritizes another department’s objectives over safety which should be first and foremost.”

New Routes, Amenities, and a New First Class: An Update on a Busy Week for Breeze Airways

LCC Breeze Airways is announcing new cabin features, a new class of service, and the launch of some new routes. The “Breeze Ascend” first-class section upgrades its previous “Nicest Fare” seats. It will be introduced on its A220 aircraft and offer more space, premium seats and cocktails, and free snacks. Onboard WiFi is coming to the A220 fleet through Viasat satellite internet. The price is TBD and the rollout is expected to be complete by early 2024. See Cranky’s comments on this in Cranky Weekly Review Presented by Oakland International Airport: WestJet Fights off Strike, Breeze Gets Even Nicer, and More…

Republic Airways To Issue $100,000 Fine If Pilots Quit Within First Three Years

The new Republic Airways New First Officer Career Advancement Pathway Program Agreement is designed to retain pilots, but it comes with some provisions:

  • Pilots must stay with the regional airline for at least three years.
  • After one year, pilots may have the opportunity to graduate to the captain position but will need to fly as much as they can in order to do so.
  • New hires are committing to being a captain for two years.
  • Pilots who voluntarily break the agreement and leave the airline before the three-year mark are subject to a $100,000 fine.
  • If a pilot resigns before the three-year mark, they are not allowed to work for any other competing airline within a year.

Teamsters, the union representing the airline’s pilots, filed a grievance against Republic, saying the agreement is problematic.

Textron Aviation Unveils Cessna Citation Ascend in Geneva

The fifth-generation Citation 560XL arrives in 2025 at a price of $16.7 million. ​Changes include a new and larger flight deck and cabin windows, Pratt & Whitney Canada PW545D engines, and interior improvements. The APU now is approved for unattended operation and the cockpit incorporates the latest version of the Garmin G5000 integrated flight deck, as well as Garmin’s 3D exocentric view airport diagrams on PFDs, including runway and taxiway signs, obstacle symbols, and building images.

Santa Barbara County Man Who Deliberately Crashed Airplane for YouTube Video Admits to Obstructing Federal Investigation

It’s a felony charge for the YouTuber who deliberately abandoned his plane in 2021 and recorded the event while he parachuted out, in an effort to get views.

Mentioned

AeroXplorer (previously TheExplorerBlog) is an aviation photography and news source that provides industry news and an airframe photography database with more than 30,000 photos. They have a map showing many airports. Click on one and see spotting photos from that airport. 

Ukraine’s F-16s Could Come From These Countries

SR-71 pilot, photographer and storyteller Brian Shul dies at 75

Brian Shul, our guest from Episode 375 (2015) died on May 20, 2023. He was an Air Force fighter pilot, flew A-7D, flew A-10, taught at the Air Force’s TopGun school in the F-5B, and became an SR-71 spy plane pilot.

History This Week PodcastThe World’s First Budget Airline Takes Off,  Monday, May 1, 2023.

Bill Barry is the 2023 winner of the Roger R. Trask Award from the Society for History in Federal Government.

National Air & Space Museum Innovations in Flight – Outdoor Aviation Display.

2023 Aerospace Media Awards

Aviation Xtended EP.172 – VC10DERNESS

myFlightradar24

myFlightradar24.com

 Bureau of Transportation Statistics

Hosts this Episode

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

744 DOJ Antitrust Lawsuit

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

Aviation News

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

jetBlue logo.

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

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

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

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

Delta flight aborts takeoff as another aircraft crosses runway

Delta Air Lines logo.

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

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

Shell logo.

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

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

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

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

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

Career Advice

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

Australia News Desk

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exercise Cope North wraps up

Flying with Children and Infants

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

Mentioned

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

FAA Airport Design Challenge

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

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

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

Hosts this Episode

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

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.

739 Decarbonizing Aviation

Decarbonizing aviation with a Program Director from the International Council on Clean Transportation. Also, a venture capital fund to grow the availability of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), the PT6 is 60 years old, GA aircraft shipment numbers for 2022, an AD for Continental engines, another close call at the airport, a plea to refrain from putting your pets through the TSA x-ray machine, and we wait to see if the DOJ will object to the Jetblue/Spirit merger.

Guest

Photo of Dan Rutherford, a program director working to decarbonize aviation.

Dan Rutherford is a Program Director at the International Council on Clean Transportation. The ICCT works to improve the environmental performance and energy efficiency of road, marine, and air transportation.

Dan directs ICCT’s aviation and marine programs. In that capacity, he helps national and international regulators develop policies to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gases from planes and ships.

We discuss the function and leadership of the ICCT and look at solutions for decarbonizing aviation through technology and policy. Dan describes pathways to net zero by 2050, which include emission cuts from sustainable fuels, increased aviation fuel efficiency, carbon pricing, and a few modal shifts.

We consider how much it will cost to decarbonize aviation as well as regional differences in approach, such as surcharges and subsidies. Dan describes a way to integrate the different approaches across the global air travel industry.

Logo for The International Council on Clean Transportation.

Dan offers his thoughts on hydrogen as a fuel, and on the types of SAF: waste oils, other waste like agricultural or municipal solid waste, synthetic fuel like E-kerosene produced with renewable energy and captured carbon, and crop-based biofuels (from soybeans, palm oil, etc.)

Dan is an internationally recognized expert on measures to promote international transport’s fuel efficiency, control short-lived climate pollutants, and phase out the use of fossil fuels. Dan has helped design environmental policies at the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization and International Maritime Organization for over a decade. Dan holds a B.A. in Chemistry from the University of Minnesota at Morris and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering and Science from Stanford University.

See also:

Aviation News

United Airlines, five other companies launch effort to develop sustainable aviation fuel

A venture capital fund was created called the United Airlines Ventures Sustainable Flight Fund. Its objective is to invest in startup firms and technology that grows the availability of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). Initial investors providing more than $100 million are United Airlines, Air Canada, Boeing, GE  Aerospace, JPMorgan Chase, and Honeywell. United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said “This fund is unique. It’s not about offsets or things that are just greenwashing. Instead, we’re creating a system that drives investment to build a new industry around sustainable aviation fuel, essentially from scratch.” 

The Sustainable Flight Fund is not open to retail investors but United Airlines is offering 500 United MileagePlus frequent flyer miles to the first 10,000 customers who donate $1, $3.50, or $7 to the fund. Also, the United website and app will show customers booking flights the estimated carbon footprint of a particular flight.

United, Tallgrass, and Green Plains Form Joint Venture to Develop New Sustainable Aviation Fuel Technology Using Ethanol

In January, United Airlines, Tallgrass, and Green Plains Inc. announced a new joint venture – Blue Blade Energy – to develop and then commercialize a novel Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) technology that uses ethanol as its feedstock. If the technology is successful, Blue Blade is expected to proceed with the construction of a pilot facility in 2024, followed by a full-scale facility that could begin commercial operations by 2028. The offtake agreement could provide for enough SAF to fly more than 50,000 flights annually between United’s hub airports in Chicago and Denver.

PT6 Reaches 60 Years, Pratts Fly a Billion Hours

Pratt & Whitney Canada has accumulated one billion flight hours with the PT6 turboprop and turboshaft family. More than 64,000 PT6s have been produced since 1963 for more than 155 different aviation applications. Design work started in 1958, first run was February 1960, first flight was May 1961 on a Beech 18, and the engine entered service in 1964 on the Beech Queen Air.

GAMA: General Aviation Aircraft Shipments, Billings Improve in 2022

The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) reports that business and GA fixed-wing shipments were up 6.5% in 2022 compared to 2021, billings were up 5.8%, and rotorcraft shipments and billings were up 7.5 percent and 6.8 percent, respectively.

Source: GAMA Releases 2022 Aircraft Shipment and Billing Report

Airworthiness Directives; Continental Aerospace Technologies, Inc. Reciprocating Engines

“The FAA received a report of a quality escape involving improper installation and inspection of counterweight retaining rings in the engine crankshaft counterweight groove during manufacture. The FAA has also received reports of two ground engine seizures and one in-flight loss of engine oil pressure due to improper installation of the counterweight retaining rings during manufacture.”

“This AD requires inspection of the crankshaft assembly for proper installation of the counterweight retaining rings in the counterweight groove, and corrective actions if improper installation is found. The FAA is issuing this AD to address the unsafe condition on these products.”

Regional Jet Aborts Landing To Avoid Departing Flight At Burbank

A Skywest Airlines E175 (operating as United Express 5326) was cleared to take off at Hollywood Burbank Airport in California. Meanwhile, a Mesa Airlines CRJ-900 (American 5826) was on short final for the same runway.

According to the Aviation Safety Network report, “The air traffic controller cleared UA5326 to take off from runway 33 while the approaching CRJ-900 was around on short final to the same runway. The CRJ-900 discontinued the approach and initiate[d] a climb out. At the same time the ERJ-175 continued with its departure, which prompted a TCAS alert on the CRJ-900. The controller then instructed the CRJ-900 to turn… left. AA5826 circled and landed safely. UA5326 continued to the destiation.”

TSA wants you to stop putting pets through the X-ray machine

TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said, “We are seeing more people traveling with their pets and too many people are leaving them in the carrier case and sending them through the machine. No living creature, human or animal, needs to be exposed to X-rays they don’t need.”

JetBlue, Spirit insist merger won’t lead to higher airline fares, as DOJ circles

The Justice Department’s antitrust division hasn’t yet made a decision to block the merger of JetBlue Airways and Spirit Airlines or let it proceed. The airlines maintain the merger would lead to lower prices.

Mentioned

Video: How to fold a winning distance paper airplane: U.S. champion shares his secrets.

Video: PCDU…..There’s Been an Awakening….

Hosts this Episode

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

717 Jetblue/Spirit Merger

We talk with a mergers expert about the proposed Jetblue/Spirit merger.

Jetblue/Spirit merger

Amira elAdawi, founder of AMIRA & CO.
Amira elAdawi

Amira elAdawi is an expert merger consultant who has worked with Fortune 100 companies, government entities, and international organizations on mergers and acquisitions. Amira has been featured in Digital Journal, CEO World, Startup Nation, and others.

We talk about the details of the Jetblue/Spirit merger, or perhaps acquisition is a better term. Amira helps us understand the value of the deal expected by Jetblue and Spirit, and how it might affect others. She also helps us appreciate the difficulties that can be encountered, especially in integrating the cultures of the two companies. Amira describes possible impacts on ticket prices when a low-cost provider is removed, and we wonder how Frontier or others might fill any “gap” created.

Amira was formerly a senior principal at Booz & Co, and an external advisor to Bain & Co. In 2013 she founded AMIRA & CO, a boutique global management consulting firm, working exclusively on M&A integrations and enterprise optimization.

In addition to management, Amira is passionate about teaching. She regularly coaches an immersive business boot camp on strategy and financial management and founded a microfinance NGO for single mothers in Egypt.

Amira is fluent in English and Arabic and holds a double-major BA in economics and international relations (magna cum laude), an MBA from Harvard Business School, and a Master’s certificate in hospitality management from Cornell.

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight and our Main(e) Man Micah.

711 Women Student Pilots

A woman earns her pilot’s license at age 68 and now helps women of all ages successfully become pilots. We also have an interview with the CEO of Cirrus Aircraft. In the news, a hard landing injures a flight attendant, a mother/daughter flying first, JetBlue’s high turnover rate, flight cancellations and delays, a proposed rule for passenger refunds, and the FAA asks for public comments on seat size.

Maria Harrison-Dooley in the Diamond DA42
Maria Harrison-Dooley in the Diamond DA42

Guest

Maria Harrison-Dooley is the founder of You Fly Gal, an organization that provides scholarships and support for women student pilots. For decades Maria had dreamt of getting her Private Pilots License and at the age of 68, she accomplished that dream. Her motto is: “Flying is my passion, inspiration is my mission.”

Maria shows us that age doesn’t have to be a barrier when it comes to becoming a pilot. Noting the very high fallout rate for student pilots, she illustrates the critical role that community plays, especially for women student pilots. The Ninety-Nines: International Organization of Women Pilots is an example of an organization that fills that need.

Sponsorship for You Fly Gal scholarships comes from several sources, including King Schools and Pilot Workshops, but individual donations are also welcome.

Aviation News

Southwest Airlines Flight Attendant Ends Up With ‘Broken Back’ After Hard Landing

A Southwest Airlines flight attendant suffered a compression fracture to her T3 vertebra after a firm landing. She was reported to have been in her jumpseat. The pilots of Southwest flight WN2029 were making a visual approach at Santa Ana’s John Wayne Orange County Airport (SNA). The NTSB closed the investigation without making any specific recommendations.

Mother, daughter lead historic Southwest Airlines flight to St. Louis

Mother Holly Petitt and daughter Keely Petitt flew the flight from Denver (their hometown) to St. Louis on July 23, 2022. Holly served as the captain and Keely served as the first officer. The airline’s Campus Reach Internship Program helped Keely learn more about aviation and the airline.

JetBlue Boss Says Airline is Over-Hiring Staff Because Existing Employees Are Quitting En Masse

JetBlue is hiring, as are most other airlines, but employee retention is a big problem and the turnover is very high. So the airline is forced to over-hire. JetBlue estimates that by the end of the year, half of its workforce will have been with the airline for less than two years.

Airlines cancel more than 1,500 US flights Friday

Bad weather caused more flight delays and cancellations. FlightAware reported more than 7,700 delays in the United States on one day last week. The day before that, the TSA screened 2.3 million passengers.

DOT rule would require airlines to issue refunds for domestic flights delayed by 3 hours

Under current rules, passengers are entitled to refunds if an airline has “made a significant schedule change and/or significantly delays a flight and the consumer chooses not to travel.” However, there is no definition of “significant.” If enacted, the proposed rule would define the terms of a “significant” change and cancellation:

  • Changes that affect the departure and/or arrival times by three hours or more for a domestic flight or six hours or more for an international flight
  • Changes to the departure or arrival airport
  • Changes that increase the number of connections in the itinerary; and
  • Changes to the type of aircraft flown if it causes a significant downgrade in the air travel experience or amenities a­­vailable onboard the flight.

See Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Airline Ticket Refunds and Consumer Protections.

How small should airplane seats be? The FAA wants to hear from you

In the 2018 FAA Reauthorization Act, Congress directed the FAA to issue rules for minimum dimensions for passenger seats necessary for passenger safety. Since then, the FAA conducted simulated emergency evacuations and is now asking for public comment. This is safety-related, not comfort-related.

See: Request for Comments in Minimum Seat Dimensions Necessary for Safety of Air Passengers (Emergency Evacuation)

Australia News Desk

We pay tribute to Glen Towler, Dave Higdon, and Grant’s father, Jim McHerron, all of whom passed away since our last segment.

Australia is about to see a new low-cost carrier take to the skies, in the form of Bonza Airline, flying a small fleet of Boeing 737 Max-8 aircraft. The first of those arrived in-country last week, and Steve is cringing at their proposed market strategy. Corny, you may ask? Well, it may be if you speak Australian slang.

Bonza airline’s first plane touches down: Boeing 737 MAX arrives in Australia

Bonza 737 Max-8 VH-UJT. Photo by Cam Hines.
Bonza 737 Max-8 VH-UJT. Photo by Cam Hines.

In defence news, the RAAF has elected to keep Australia’s fleet of F-35A fighters flying, despite safety concerns over ejection seat components in a small number of US and Israeli jets which has seen those nations temporarily suspend operations.  The Department of Defence has issued a statement saying an ongoing risk assessment regime has been put in place with regard to the issue, and developments are being monitored closely.

RAAF to continue flying its F-35s despite ejector seat fault

Beyond the Press Release

Our Aviation Entrepreneurship and Innovation Correspondent Hillel Glazer interviewed business executives at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2022. His objective was to look beyond what anyone can read in company press releases.

In this episode, Hillel talks to Zean Nielsen, the CEO of Cirrus Aircraft.

Mentioned

Museum needs space for more cars, airplanes, and students

The Owls Head Transportation Museum has launched a $9.7 million capital campaign to expand museum space and educational programs.

EAA Airventure Oshkosh 2022 photos by listener Steve:

Cirrus Vision jet.
Cirrus Vision jet.
Focke Wulf FWP-149D.
Focke Wulf FWP-149D.

Video: President Theodore Roosevelt flying in a Wright Brothers plane in 1910

Theodore Roosevelt – First Presidential Flight, 1910

Theodore Roosevelt's first flight.

Hosts this Episode

Your hosts: Max Flight, David Vanderhoof, Max Trescott, and Rob Mark. Contributions by Hillel Glazer, Steve Vischer, and Grant McHerron.

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.