Tag Archives: Southwest

803 Innovations in Flight

Innovations in Flight at the National Air & Space Museum, FAA preparing to address the public charter loophole, titanium components manufactured with improper paperwork, Southwest 737 MAX experienced a “Dutch Roll,” Lockheed Martin team receives Collier Trophy, and business jet found after 53 years.

Innovations in Flight

The annual Innovations in Flight was held June 15, 2024, at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air & Space Museum, Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia, adjacent to Dulles International Airport.

The outdoor fly-in features over 50 unique aircraft, flown in for one day only. Visitors explored the engineering and design innovations that have taken place during the last century of flight and talk with the pilots of vintage and modern aircraft on display.

Sign inviting kids to "be on a podcast."

Again this year, Hillel Glazer flew his 1972 Piper Cherokee 180 to Innovations in Flight. He describes how aircraft are selected to participate, the process of arriving and departing from Dulles Airport, and the taxiway through the woods that connects the two facilities.

Perhaps most notably, Hillel recorded conversations with some younger visitors, ages 7 to 13. In this episode, you can hear Johnny (Age 7), Alexandra (Age 8), Phoebe (Age 12), Luka (Age 12), and Jackson (Age 9). Jackson even has his own YouTube channel: Flight Pattern Talk with Jax.

Listener JD and Hillel at Innovations in Flight.
LIstener JD Gold (left) 777 Pilot for FedEx with Hillel (right).
Hillel's plane reflecting in the museum's architectural feature.
Reflections on the museum’s architectural feature above the side door.
Lined up behind a NOAA P-3 waiting to depart Dulles Airport.
Waiting in the conga line to depart behind the NOAA “P-3”

Aviation News

FAA Cracks Down On “Public Charter” Loophole, Bad News For JSX

The so-called “public charter loophole” allows charter companies to operate from private terminals without some of the requirements that larger carriers are subject to, such as TSA screening and pilots with more than 1,500 flight hours. The FAA says they are now going to address this situation by issuing an NPRM that would amend the definitions of “scheduled,” “on demand,” and “supplemental” operations.

Titanium in Boeing, Airbus jets lacks proper documentation, companies say

Spirit AeroSystems used titanium that had counterfeit documentation and which found its way into both Airbus and Boeing aircraft. U.S. and European safety regulators are investigating, while the companies involved say the titanium is not a safety issue, only the documentation is deficient.

US NTSB investigating ‘Dutch roll’ by Southwest Boeing 737 MAX

The Dutch roll occurred at 34,000 feet on a flight from Phoenix, Arizona to Oakland, California. The lateral asymmetric movements of the roll were named after a Dutch ice skating technique. Pilots regained control of the plane which proceeded without additional incident, however, Southwest found damage to structural components and the NTSB and FAA are investigating.

See: Yaw Dampers and video: What is a Dutch Roll?

The National Aeronautic Association Recognizes Lockheed Martin with Prestigious Collier Trophy

The 2023 Robert J. Collier Trophy was awarded by the National Aeronautic Association (NAA) to Lockheed Martin for the team’s work on NASA’s OSIRIS-REx sample return mission which collected an asteroid sample in 2020 and returned it to Earth on Sept. 24, 2023. The OSIRIS-Rex team includes Lockheed Martin, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Johnson Space Center, the University of Arizona, and KinetX, among many others.

A jet disappeared in Vermont over 53 years ago. Experts believe they’ve found it in Lake Champlain

Air controllers lost contact with the Aero Commander Jet Commander 1121A ( N400CP) shortly after takeoff in 1971 over Lake Champlain in Vermont. It was only found after an underwater searcher located it recently at a depth of 200 feet. The NTSB will verify that this is the plane from 1971.

Small plane crash-lands in Androscoggin River in Topsham

The 1947 fixed-wing single-engine Aeronca 7AC Champion is fully submerged, after experiencing mechanical problems.

Mentioned

Mobile Helicopter Exhibit

The mobile helicopter exhibit.
“Stubby,” the helicopter exhibit.

MAC Air Group founder Al Caruso flies west at the age of 74

Video: FIGHTER JET DELAY? – F-35’s buzz over Phillies vs. Orioles game in Baltimore causing a short delay

Hosts this Episode

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

802 Boeing Safety and Quality Plan

We take a look at the Boeing Safety and Quality Plan, the NTSB recommendations after the Southwest/FedEx near miss, the suspension of some ATC staff in India, Essential Air Service contracts, BARK Air’s lawsuit over airport-use restrictions, the sale of a B-17, and the NTSB inspection of the USAirways flight 1549 engines.

Aviation News

Boeing Safety & Quality Plan

Boeing had 90 days to deliver a comprehensive plan to the FAA to improve the company’s safety management and quality assurance, including in the supply chain. We look at The Boeing Product Safety and Quality Plan Executive Summary [PDF, 11 pages.]

The Plan includes the containment and mitigation actions Boeing took immediately after the accident. It also introduces Boeing’s new Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of production system health and associated control limits for each KPI. Boeing intends that these metrics will provide “a continuous assessment of factory health and provide early warning of emerging quality and safety risks. They also will facilitate tracking of Boeing’s improvement under the Product Safety and Quality Plan and guide decisions about system readiness for rate increases.”

Boeing’s Immediate Containment and Mitigation

Improvements directed at the Boeing production system:

Photo of Admiral Kirkland Donald.
Admiral Kirkland Donald
  • Revised the build plans, training, maintenance planning, aircraft manual documentation, removal requirements and inspection criteria for the Mid-Exit Door (MED) plug;
  • Instituted additional controls to prevent defects in the MED plug and similar structures and assemblies;
  • Added conformance inspections to nine critical build points;
  • Processed fleet and production inspection findings through Boeing’s SMS and Quality Management System (QMS);
  • Published alerts on removals and rework, signed by all factory employees;
  • Hosted representatives from 737 airline customers to review Boeing’s production and quality procedures, and to provide feedback;
  • Appointed a recognized safety and quality leader, Admiral Kirkland Donald, to independently assess Boeing’s production system; and
  • Implemented a revised management and salaried compensation model focused on quality and safety, with aligned key performance indicators across all programs.

Improvements directed at the Boeing supply chain:

  • Instituted additional controls at Spirit to prevent defects in the MED plug and similar structures and assemblies;
  • Added new inspections at Spirit, as well as pre-shipment approval requirements on fuselages prior to shipment to Boeing;
  • Added competency assessments for all supplier mechanics doing structural work at Boeing sites; and
  • Issued supplier bulletins to strengthen focus on conformance and reduce the risks of defects being shipped.

Key Performance Indicators

A significant component of the Product Safety and Quality Plan is the identification of six critical, safety-focused production health KPIs:

  1. Employee Proficiency (measures share of employees currently staffed to commercial programs who are proficient);
  2. Notice of Escape (NoE) Rework Hours (measures rework due to Fabrication and supplier-provided escapes to Final Assembly);
  3. Supplier Shortages (measures Fabrication and supplier shortages/day);
  4. Rework Hours per airplane (measures total rework hours per airplane in Final Assembly);
  5. Travelers at Factory Rollout (measures jobs traveling from Final Assembly); and
  6. Ticketing Performance (measures average escapes per ticketed airplane).

Each KPI also has associated control limits and defined criteria that will trigger corrective action and SMS risk monitoring.

Product Safety and Quality Plan Attention Areas

Safety Management System three main initiatives: 

  1. Streamlining employee reporting channels; [Submissions are up 500%]
  2. Addressing traveled work risk; [implemented a “move ready” process—737 airplanes may not move to the next factory position until identified build milestones are completed, unless a Safety Risk Assessment (SRA) is conducted and a mitigation plan is in place.]
  3. Deepening the integration of Boeing’s SMS with the QMS.

Simplification of Processes and Procedures [To help employees better understand their obligations, execute work instructions, and deploy solutions to overcome roadblocks.]

Supply Chain Defect Reduction

  • Strengthening data and analytics capabilities to provide proactive notification of supplier issues, including the creation of an advanced analysis tool;
  • Standardizing supplier oversight actions to prioritize safety and quality, including through the implementation of a common supplier engagement model; 
  • Simplifying and improving supplier quality processes;
  • Driving industry change and dialogue about quality and safety issues.

Training

  • Planned enhancements in late 2024, 
  • New manufacturing and quality employees will receive up to two more weeks of foundational training, followed by enhanced structured on-the-job training (SOJT)

Production System Compliance

  • Foreign Object Debris (FOD) control; 
  • Tool control; 
  • Parts and materials control; 
  • Employees’ adherence to work instructions. 

Engagement and Communications

  • Holding full-day quality stand downs and Safety and Quality events across the Company;
  • Creating and supporting Employee Involvement Teams (“EITs”) to conduct weekly problem-solving sessions and review employee ideas for improving the production system; 
  • Establishing a leadership program for manufacturing, quality, and fulfillment managers;
  • Improving the Company’s messaging about safety, quality, and compliance.

Installation Plan Improvements [work plans]

Special Audit Items

  • For Boeing quality escapes; 
  • Boeing liaison engineering and Material Review Board (MRB) issues; 
  • and Boeing’s approach to Spirit-related findings

Expert Review Panel Recommendations

Boeing agrees with the findings and recommendations of the Expert Review Panel.

NTSB Proposes More Training, Tech After Southwest and FedEx Jets Near-Miss in Texas

In February 2023, Southwest Airlines and FedEx jets came close to colliding in Austin, Texas. After seeing the Southwest Boeing 737-700 plane at the last second, the FedEx pilots flew their Boeing 767-300 over the Southwest jet to avoid a collision. The two planes were only about 150 to 170 feet apart.

The NTSB determined the probable cause of the near miss was a bad assumption by the air traffic controller that the departing Southwest plane would be clear before the FedEx plane landed on the same runway.

 The Board also identified two contributing factors:

  • Southwest crew members failed “to account for the traffic on short final approach and to notify the controller” that they would need additional time for takeoff. 
  • The FAA did not require surface detection equipment at the Austin airport.

India’s Aviation Regulator Suspends Mumbai ATC Staff Involved In IndiGo & Air India Airbus A320neo Close Call

The IndiGo A320neo was on approach to Runway 27 at Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (BOM) in Mumbai, India. The plane touched down seconds after an Air India A320neo had departed the same runway. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is investigating and has “derostered” the ATC staff working at the time of the incident.

Video: Indigo a320 Landing and Air India a320 Takeoff at The Same time at Mumbai Airport

JetBlue Awarded First-Ever Essential Air Service Contract

JetBlue will serve Presque Isle under a two-year contract. 

Essential Air Service

The Essential Air Service (EAS) program was implemented to guarantee that small communities served by certified air carriers before airline deregulation maintain a minimal level of scheduled air service.

This is generally accomplished by subsidizing two round trips a day with 30- to 50-seat aircraft, or additional frequencies with aircraft with 9-seat[s] or fewer, usually to a large- or medium-hub airport.  The Department currently subsidizes commuter and certificated air carriers to serve approximately 60 communities in Alaska and 115 communities in the lower 48 contiguous states that otherwise would not receive any scheduled air service.

2024-6-3 Order Selecting Air Carrier

Posted by the Department of Transportation on Jun 4, 2024:

“By this Order, the U.S. Department of Transportation (the Department) selects JetBlue Airways Corporation (JetBlue) to provide Essential Air Service (EAS) at Presque Isle, Maine (Presque Isle), for the two-year term from September 1, 2024, through August 31, 2026. JetBlue will provide Presque Isle with seven (7) nonstop round trips per week from Presque Isle International Airport (PQI) to Boston Logan International Airport (BOS) using 100-passenger Embraer E190 (E190) aircraft for the first year and 140-passenger Airbus A220-300 aircraft for the second year. JetBlue will be compensated at the annual subsidy rates outlined below.”

BARK Air for dogs sued days after first flight

Westchester County sued BARK Air alleging violations of the county’s airport-use restrictions.  Those restrictions include a prohibition on the operation of commercial and chartered aircraft with more than nine seats from using the private jet terminal. BARK Air’s Gulfstream Aerospace GV jet has 14 seats. In a filing to the FAA, Westchester County said that the public charters “closely resemble” services offered by large, commercial airlines.

Michigan Flight Museum (former Yankee Air Museum) Sells Centerpiece B-17 ‘Yankee Lady’

The Boeing B-17G has been sold to an undisclosed buyer for an undisclosed price. For some 40 years, the museum generated revenue with rides on the B-17. The money from the sale will be invested to support the museum.

Mentioned

NTSB Docket No. SA-532 Exhibit No. 8-A

William (Bill) Anders, Apollo 8 astronaut, Killed in San Juan Islands Plane Crash

Apollo 8: Earthrise

Taken aboard Apollo 8 by Bill Anders, this iconic picture shows Earth peeking out from beyond the lunar surface as the first crewed spacecraft circumnavigated the Moon, with astronauts Anders, Frank Borman, and Jim Lovell aboard.
Taken aboard Apollo 8 by Bill Anders. Image Credit: NASA.

Hosts this Episode

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

800 Tail Strike

Airplane tail strike, miracle flights, 737 MAX Deferred Prosecution Agreement, the FAA Reauthorization Act, airport name changes, and fatal helicopter crash in Iran. Also, a report on the Valdez Fly-In and Airshow, and a scenic flight around Denali Mountain.

Aviation News

NTSB Releases Final Report Of United Airlines Boeing 737 Tail Strike In Houston

The NTSB report of the January 2024 tail strike says the 737-900ER touched down three times while landing. The aircraft’s aft fuselage “impacted the runway as a result of a delayed flare and subsequent nose-high pitch inputs.” The initial touchdown force was 1.87G and the second touchdown was 2.87G.

An article in SKYbrary states that “various studies by several of the major aircraft manufacturers have arrived at similar conclusions regarding the primary cause of tail strike. The most significant common factor is the amount of flight crew experience with the specific model of aircraft being flown.” Studies identified eight specific Causal Factors that greatly increase the risk of a tail strike:

During take-off:

  • Improperly Set Elevator Trim or Mis-Trimmed Stabiliser 
  • Rotation at Incorrect Speed
  • Excessive Rotation Rate
  • Improper Use of the Flight Director

During landing:

  • Unstabilized Approach
  • Excessive Hold-Off in the Flare 
  • Crosswinds
  • Over-Rotation During Go-Around

Over 65% of tail strikes occur during landings, while only 25% happen during takeoffs.

With One Simple Change, Southwest Airlines Will Deal Blow To Wheelchair Scammers, Unruly Passengers And Seat Savers

Southwest Airlines is considering implementing assigned seating, eliminating the need for passengers to board early to get a good seat. The change would address “the phenomenon of passengers faking disabilities to board early, end the practice of seat saving, and make it easier to identify unruly passengers on board.” Currently, Southwest is the only airline that doesn’t have passenger names and seat assignments on the flight’s manifest.

DOJ Takes Key Step to Hold Boeing Accountable for 737 MAX8 Crash Deaths

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has determined that Boeing breached the January 2021 Deferred Prosecution Agreement. The Clifford law firm (which represents families of the Boeing 787 MAX8 crash victims) says that Boeing could now face a criminal trial, although more action is needed from the DOJ.

Bipartisan FAA Reauthorization Act Signed Into Law

American Airlines Bus Service Connecting Wilmington Delaware Airport (ILG) to PHL to Start This Fall

The Delaware River & Bay Authority announced that American Airlines and its partner Landline Co. plan to launch a bus service between Wilmington Airport (ILG) and Philadelphia International Airport (PHL). Passengers flying out of Philly can park, check bags, and pass through security at the Wilmington Airport.

Chicago-Bound United Airlines Boeing 767 Diverts to Ireland After Passenger Gets Laptop Wedged Stuck in Business Class Seat

United Airlines flight 12 from Zurich to Chicago O’Hare was forced to make an emergency diversion to Shannon, Ireland after a passenger got their laptop stuck in a Business Class seat aboard the Boeing 767-300.

Two More Airports Are Fighting Over Using a City Name, This Time in Canada Where a Lawsuit Is Already Underway

Montreal-Trudeau International Airport (YUL) is suing Saint-Hubert Airport after the smaller airport decided to rebrand itself as Montreal Metropolitan Airport.

Valdez Fly-In and Airshow

Listener Brian and Cora attended the 2024 Valdez Fly-In and Airshow in Alaska and provided a trip report. The couple also took a scenic flight around Denali Mountain and the report highlights the unique experiences and stunning views.

The Valdez Fly-In and Airshow is an annual aviation event held at Valdez Pioneer Field Airport in Valdez, Alaska. Established in 2003, the Valdez Fly-In features world-class competitions, aerobatic displays, and a variety of activities for aviation enthusiasts and families alike.

Brian and Cora on the glacier.

Hosts this Episode

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

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.

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.

779 Aircraft Leases

Aircraft leases, engine leasing pools, and related aerospace investments. In the news, Southwest flight attendants will have to vote again on the proposed labor contract, the YouTuber who crashed his plane in a video stunt is flying again, the FAA issues an NPRM for the 737NG nacelle retrofit program, another NPRM is out for PW1100G engine inspections, DOT fines Southwest Airlines $150 million, and a new museum is created for WWII crashes flying over “the hump.”

Guest

Nathan Dickstein is Managing Director and Head of Aerospace Leasing at investment firm AE Industrial Partners, LP. The company was founded in 1998 as AeroEquity and later rebranded as AE Industrial Partners (AEI).

Nathan Dickstein, managing director and head of aerospace leasing at AE Industrial Partners, LP (AEI) on aircraft leases.

Nathan focuses on the origination and management of aircraft leases, engine leasing pools, and related aerospace investments. He has over 12 years of industry experience investing in aircraft and engine leasing at investment funds, banks, and leasing companies.

We explore various aspects of aircraft leasing and its impact on the aviation industry. Nathan discusses the challenges faced by airlines due to airworthiness directives and the need for early engine visits. Our conversation also delves into different types of leasing companies and the expertise of AEI in aircraft leasing. Nathan highlights the benefits of aircraft leases and the flexibility they offer. We also consider the growth and resilience of the aircraft leasing industry.

Before joining AE Industrial in 2020, Nathan worked in Marathon Asset Management’s Structured Credit team where he was responsible for the origination and management of aircraft and aviation-related investments. Before Marathon, Nathan was employed by Alterna Capital Partners, responsible for sourcing, executing, and realizing aircraft investments. 

Nathan’s previous industry work experience includes Deucalion Aviation Funds, the equity investment arm of DVB Bank where he was responsible for transaction analysis and deal structuring, and AWAS Aviation Capital, a top 10 aircraft lessor, where he was part of the Risk Management team.

Aviation News

Southwest Airlines Flight Attendants Forced to Rerun Contract Vote After Crew Discovered Ballot System Was Vulnerable to Fraud

Transport Workers Union Local 556 (TWU Local 556) represents Southwest Airlines flight attendants and contract negotiations have been going on for years. Recently, with 95% of eligible union members voting, the proposed contract was soundly rejected. However, some members questioned the integrity of the voting process. After an investigation, the union says the membership will have to vote again.

Trevor Jacob Goes Flying On Temporary Certificate

Two years ago, Trevor Jacob intentionally crashed his Taylorcraft for a YouTube stunt. His pilot certificate was revoked in April 2022, and he was recently sentenced to six months in prison for hiding evidence. However, Jacob was eligible to apply for a certificate after one year and he says he’s passed the written exam and completed his checkride. With that, the FAA says he has now been issued a temporary pilot certificate.

(a) A temporary pilot, flight instructor, or ground instructor certificate or rating is issued for up to 120 days, at which time a permanent certificate will be issued to a person whom the Administrator finds qualified under this part.

(b) A temporary pilot, flight instructor, or ground instructor certificate or rating expires: (1) On the expiration date shown on the certificate; (2) Upon receipt of the permanent certificate; or (3) Upon receipt of a notice that the certificate or rating sought is denied or revoked.

Code of Federal Regulations § 61.17 Temporary Certificate.

FAA Starts 737NG Nacelle Retrofit Mandate Process

Following two incidents, the NTSB recommended a redesign of the 737NG nacelle. The FAA issued three notices of proposed rulemaking (NPRMs) that would mandate that operators would have until July 31, 2028, to upgrade their aircraft with new inlet spacers and fasteners, a fan cowl support beam, a stiffer exhaust nozzle, and upgraded inlet aft bulkhead fasteners. Boeing would issue maintenance instructions by Dec. 31, 2029. The changes are intended to keep fan cowls closed, intact, and attached to the airplane in the event of a fan-blade-out event.

FAA Outlines Next Phase Of PW1100G Inspections

In another NPRM, the draft rule based on two service bulletins developed by Pratt would mandate inspections of the PW1100G. The next batch of engines needing off-wing inspection of high-pressure turbine (HPT) stage 1 and stage 2 disks were identified and high-pressure compressor (HPC) stage 7 and 8 integrated blade rotors (IBRs) are to be added to Pratt’s “fleet management plan.”

DOT Penalizes Southwest Airlines $140 Million for 2022 Holiday Meltdown

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced a $140 million civil penalty against Southwest Airlines for violating consumer protection laws over the 2022 Christmas holiday and into the New Year after the operational failures canceled 16,900 flights and stranded over two million passengers. Most of the penalty will go towards compensating future Southwest passengers. In its investigation, DOT found the company violated consumer protection laws by failing to provide adequate customer service assistance, failing to provide prompt flight status notifications, and failing to provide refunds promptly and properly.

600 U.S. planes crashed in the Himalayas during WWII. A new museum shows the artifacts

An estimated 1,500 pilots and passengers were killed flying “the hump” due to incorrect maps, weather conditions, flying at high altitudes with unpressurized aircraft, and other causes.

Mentioned

American Heritage Museum

Video: Collings Foundation Hangar (Stow, MA)

Air Force Safety Center: Aviation Statistics

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, Rob Mark, and David Vanderhoof.

776 Moving to Multi-engine Aircraft

We talk with a pilot who is moving to a multi-engine aircraft, and his young daughter who wants to be a military pilot. In the news, Southwest Airlines is experimenting with an airport lounge idea, an airport just won a Best Restroom award, a hydrogen-powered engine is being developed for general aviation applications, the financial challenges of a municipal airport, and good news for general aviation deliveries.

Diamond DA62 twin engine aircraft in the hangar.
Diamond DA62

Interviews

Michael Rogers sold his Cirrus and bought a Diamond DA62 twin-engine because he needed something bigger for his family. Taking delivery in Canada, he met up with the delivery pilot and flew the DA62 cross country. We hear about transitioning to multi-engine aircraft.

Michael’s daughter Eva Rogers was 10 years old when we first spoke with her. Now at 14, she still aspires to become a military pilot, although maybe with a different service.

Aviation News

Southwest Airlines trying massive customer perk

Southwest does not operate its own airport lounges, but they have been testing lounge access with Priority Pass for select top-tier customers. The airline says, “Beginning Nov. 22, [2023] we’ll be surprising and delighting a select group of customers with a complimentary Priority Pass membership for a year, which will allow them and two guests per visit access to the Priority Pass lounge network.”

Are BWI Airport’s new bathrooms the best in the nation?

Now Boarding: Winner of Cintas 2023 America’s Best Restroom® Contest – BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport

Cintas Corporation has named the Baltimore/Washington International (BWI) Thurgood Marshall Airport the winner of the 2023 America’s Best Restroom® contest. Each year, Cintas selects one public restroom to receive the award. As part of a $55 million facelift, BWI built new restrooms in Concourse B and is modernizing restrooms throughout Concourses B, C, and D.

The newly constructed restrooms at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport maximize occupant capacity while enhancing the overall passenger experience. The entrance welcomes travelers with an aesthetic mural and seating area while they wait for their companions. The new restrooms feature bright, spacious, fully enclosed stalls for privacy, touchless fixtures and individual lactation, adult changing and family assist rooms. Each restroom features a state-of-the-art smart restroom system that integrates with color-changing, LED stall occupancy lights and digital signage at the restroom entrances showing current availability. The smart restroom system also provides real-time inventory tracking and usage counts for custodial services.

Cintas Corporation

BWI joins Tampa International Airport, Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, and Fort Smith Regional Airport in Arkansas in America’s Best Restroom Hall of Fame. Nominations for 2024 are open.

DeltaHawk launches hydrogen engine development program

DeltaHawk Engines has completed advanced simulation analysis of a hydrogen fuel engine for general aviation aircraft. This is a variant of the 180-hp DHK180 2-stroke piston engine that was certified by the FAA in May 2023. That clean sheet engine has an inverted-V engine block, a turbocharger and a supercharger, mechanical fuel injection, and liquid cooling.

Lewiston-Auburn airport puts biggest hangar up for sale or lease

The Auburn-Lewiston Municipal Airport is trying to get on a solid financial footing. Elite Airways ceased operations in 2022 abandoning three leased Bombardier CRJ-700 airplanes at the airport. The same for tools, trailers, machinery, and other property. An auction was held which netted the airport about $140,000. The 27,000-square-foot Hangar #5 was originally built in 2008 for the Lufthansa Lockheed Starliner project, which was canceled in 2018. Hangar #5 is now available.

GA aircraft deliveries continue to climb

The 2023 Third Quarter General Aviation Aircraft Shipment Report [PDF] was just released by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA). YTD, all segments of general aviation aircraft deliveries and billings increased. Piston airplane shipments increased almost 12% in 3Q23 over 3Q22. Turboprops increased almost 15% and business jets increased 2%.

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, Max Trescott, David Vanderhoof, and Micah, with contributions by Brian Coleman.

736 Autonomous Aircraft

We talk about autonomous aircraft with an Xwing executive. In the news, Airbus and Qatar Airways settle their dispute over A350 paint problems, a personal eVTOL, the 2019 report that explains how Boeing lost its way, a close call with a B737 taking off and a B767 landing on the same runway, the F-22 Raptor gets its first kill, and a Boeing 737 has crashed fighting fires in Australia.

Xwing Caravan taking off.
Xwing Caravan

Guest

Earl Lawrence is the Chief Compliance and Quality Officer at Xwing, a Part 135 air carrier operating across the United States. The company is building an air transportation system of certified autonomous aircraft, starting with the express regional air cargo market. Xwing has demonstrated an autonomous gate-to-gate flight with a cargo aircraft. The plane was able to taxi, take off, land, and return to the gate entirely on its own.

Headshot of Earl Lawrence, Chief Compliance and Quality Officer at Xwing
Earl Lawrence

Earl explains that the Xwing vision for autonomous aircraft doesn’t mean moving the cockpit to the ground or eliminating the pilot. It means taking the pilot out of the airplane and into a control center. A single pilot could provide guidance to multiple flights from one console while handling ATC communication.

Doing this offers cost savings, greater aircraft utilization, and more stable and predictable hours for pilots. Earl tells us about the positive impact on pilot lifestyle and the opportunity for some disabled people to become pilots.

Earl points out that Xwing is using autonomous technologies, but for the most part following existing regulations. Autonomy is needed to bring the price of flying down and make it simpler and more accessible to people.

Earl brings more than three decades of experience in the aviation industry to Xwing. Most recently, Lawrence served as the Executive Director of Aircraft Certification at the FAA, leading an organization of over 1,400 people that oversee all types of certification, production approval, airworthiness certification, and continued airworthiness of the U.S. civil aircraft fleet – including commercial and general aviation activities. Before joining the FAA, Earl spent sixteen years at the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), where his efforts contributed to the creation of the Sport Pilot and Light Sport Aircraft categories. Throughout his career, Earl has consistently led the charge in bringing cutting-edge aviation technology to market.

Aviation News

Airbus and Qatar Airways settle A350 dispute

In 2021, Qatar Airways complained to Airbus that some A350 fuselage paint was peeling and unsightly. Qatar grounded some 30 aircraft and asked Airbus for compensation. Airbus said it was only a cosmetic issue, which they would address. But Qatar refused to take new deliveries and Airbus canceled the A350 contract with Qatar. And then Airbus canceled an order for A321neo jets. Qatar filed a lawsuit in London.

Now both parties have made up and “reached an amicable and mutually agreeable settlement.” Terms were not made public.

Press release: Qatar Airways and Airbus reach amicable settlement in legal dispute

Startup Says It’s Personal eVTOL is the One for Supercar Customers

Israeli company AIR has spent four years developing and testing a sport eVTOL “that is easy to handle and can be used daily.” Their mission is to “create personal, intuitive flying vehicles at scale, for exciting and safe experiences.” The winged multicopter seats two. You can pre-order the AIR ONE with a $1,000 deposit. The base price is $150,000. They have 300 pre-orders.

Artist's rendering of an Air One in flight.
Air One in flight.

The Long-Forgotten Flight That Sent Boeing Off Course

That flight is the headquarters move from Seattle to Chicago. “A company once driven by engineers became driven by finance.”

Fedex B763 and Southwest B737 at Austin on Feb 4th 2023, loss of separation on runway resolved by go around

A FedEx 767-300 was on final for a CATIII ILS approach to Austin Texas runway 18L and was cleared to land. The tower let the crew know that a Boeing 737 would depart prior to their arrival. The 767 was cleared to land. Meantime, a Southwest Airlines 737-700 was holding short on runway 18L for departure and was cleared for takeoff from that runway. The tower let the Southwest pilots know that a Boeing 767 heavy was on a 3-mile final. About 30 seconds later the Tower asked if they were on the roll, and the crew confirmed they were. Shortly thereafter (25 seconds) someone says “Southwest abort, the Fedex was on the go (around)”.

F-22 Shoots Down Chinese Spy Balloon Off Carolinas With Missile (Updated)

The large balloon traversed much of the country, sometimes over sensitive military locations. As the balloon moved off the coast, F-22 fighters from the 1st Fighter Wing at Langley Air Force used a single AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missile to bring it down.

Why stratospheric balloons are used in era of space-based intelligence

Balloons can hover closer to the ground and may be able to intercept communication or electronic signals that orbiting systems can’t. Balloons also offer more persistent, less predictable coverage over an area of interest.

A Boeing 737-300 Has Crashed Fighting Fires In Australia

Early reports indicated both pilots were taken to the hospital with minor injuries. The 737 was operated by Coulson Aviation to help firefighting efforts in the Fitzgerald River National Park. After dropping the load at around 700 feet, flight tracking data shows the plane reaching about 1,800 feet and then crashing.

Australia News Desk

While it hasn’t exactly been your stereotypical summer weather in Australia, we haven’t (yet) seen any snow – and certainly none in Sydney.  Snow, however, was exactly what greeted a Sydney-bound passenger this week as confusion with the airport code when booking saw him arrive in a rather chilly Sidney, Montana

G’day? Man Realizes Too Late He Bought a Ticket to Sidney — not Sydney

Meanwhile, the Qantas and Emirates codeshare agreement noted up ten years this week.  We look at what that has meant to Australian travelers.

10 years on, has the Qantas-Emirates partnership delivered?

Qantas is still in the sights of local media, however, with another turnback, this time for a QantasLink Dash 8 due to severe turbulence.  The event forced CEO Allan Joyce to go on the offensive, pointing out a few facts about turnbacks, comparing them not only to airlines overall but specifically the local QF rival, Virgin Australia

Qantas passenger and flight attendant rushed to hospital suffering head and neck injuries after sudden turbulence

Mentioned

Video: What it’s like to fly the Opener BlackFly eVTOL

AOPA Podcasts

The people who live inside airplanes

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, Rob Mark, and Max Trescott. With contributions by Grant McHerron and Steve Vischer.

735 Aircraft Automation

The co-founder and CEO of Reliable Robotics explains how aircraft automation sets the path to bringing certified autonomous vehicles to commercial aviation. In the news, the first graduating class from United Aviate Academy, the NTSB and BEA comment on the Ethiopian Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau’s final report on the 737 Max crash, pilots working to make their airport safer, the government wants to know if the Southwest meltdown was caused by unrealistic scheduling, and ADS-B Exchange purchase by Jetnet.

Guest

Robert Rose headshot.

Robert Rose is the co-founder and CEO of Reliable Robotics, a company that seeks to bring certified autonomous vehicles to commercial aviation. Their vision is to leverage aircraft automation to transform the way we move goods and people around the planet with safer, more convenient, and more affordable air transportation. The company is headquartered in Mountain View, California, and has a distributed global workforce.

Robert explains how incremental safety enhancements can lead to the long-term goal of remotely piloted aircraft. Reliable Robotics is developing a higher precision navigation system, followed by the capability for auto-land without airport infrastructure. From there, an auto-takeoff capability that includes takeoff rejection, and auto-taxi. Altogether, these significantly impact the safety of GA aircraft

Admitting that fully autonomous aircraft are not a near-term possibility, Robert says that aircraft automation takes us down the path to autonomous operation.

He sees certification in three phases:

  1. Certification of a continuous engagement autopilot for the Cessna Caravan.
  2. Certifying the management of contingencies outside the system’s control.
  3. Certifying detect and avoid and the communication system with the pilot in a control center.

Robert’s engineering experience spans aerospace, self-driving cars, robotics, gaming, and consumer products. Prior to co-founding Reliable Robotics, he was the Director of Flight Software at SpaceX where he led the development of the onboard flight software for the Falcon 9 rocket and the Dragon spacecraft, resulting in the first commercial mission to the International Space Station. At Tesla, Robert was the Senior Director of Autopilot, Robert brought to market the first consumer automobile with fully unassisted self-driving capability. At X (Google’s skunkworks division), Robert led a team bringing advanced machine perception and manipulation technologies to large vehicles. 

Earlier in his career, he developed three Game of the Year award-winning titles as a Game Engine Programmer at Sony PlayStation. Robert holds a B.S. in Computer Science, a B.S. in Computer Engineering, and an M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Oregon State University.

Aviation News

United Airlines celebrates historic first graduating class of Flight Academy Pilots

United Aviate Academy graduated the first 51 student pilots out of what United hopes will be 5,000 by 2030. United is the only major U.S. airline to own a flight school. Nearly 80% of this inaugural graduating class is made up of women or people of color. The airline hopes that at least half of the graduates will be women or people of color. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says only 5.6% of pilots are women and 6% are people of color.

What’s next for the graduates?

  • Some will work as Certified Flight Instructors at the academy and build their hours toward 1,500 required flying hours
  • Others will build hours at participating flight schools or universities, including Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Purdue University and Hampton University.
  • Graduates are encouraged to eventually fly for a United Express carrier, take on leadership roles at an Aviate participating Part 135 operator, or become a Fleet Technical Instructor at United to complete their training.
  • Aviate participants can expect to become a United pilot within about six years of graduating from United Aviate Academy.

NTSB Finds More Problems in Ethiopian 737 Max Final Report

The Ethiopian Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (EAIB) final report focuses on system failures, not the actions (or inactions) of the pilots. The NTSB and BEA believe the failure of the pilots to execute proper procedures was a contributing factor. Comments made by NTSB and BEA to that effect were not included in the EAIB final report. NTSB and BEA have gone on record to express their belief that the final report is deficient in this respect.

Boeing pleads not guilty to fraud in criminal case over deadly 737 Max crashes

Boeing pleaded not guilty to felony fraud in the recent arraignment in federal court. The families asked Judge O’Connor to impose certain conditions on Boeing as a condition of release, including appointing an independent monitor to oversee Boeing’s compliance with the terms of the previous deferred prosecution agreement, and that the company’s compliance efforts “be made public to the fullest extent possible.” Boeing and the Justice Department opposed the request and the judge did not rule on those at the time.

Aspen Pilots Want to Improve Airport Safety Record

The Aspen Airport (KASE) has been regarded as a dangerous airport. The Aspen Times called it “the most dangerous [airport] in the United States.” A number of jet and piston accidents have occurred there, some fatal. In December 2022, the formation of the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport FlightOps Safety Task Force was announced. The task force includes a dozen volunteer pilots

Transportation Department looking into whether ‘unrealistic scheduling’ played role in Southwest holiday meltdown

A Department of Transportation (DOT) spokesperson said, “DOT is in the initial phase of a rigorous and comprehensive investigation into Southwest Airlines’ holiday debacle that stranded millions … [and] probing whether Southwest executives engaged in unrealistic scheduling of flights which under federal law is considered an unfair and deceptive practice.”

Southwest Airlines says travel disruptions could cost $800 million

“In a …filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, [Southwest Airlines] estimated pretax losses from the disruption of $725 million to $825 million for the quarter. Of that, it expects to lose $400 million to $425 million in revenue directly from the flight cancellations.”

The Flight Tracker That Powered @ElonJet Just Took a Left Turn

ADS-B Exchange was purchased by Jetnet, which Silversmith Capital Partners own. Some people are expressing outrage and worry that ADS-B Exchange will lose its openness. Founder and president of ADS-B Exchange Dan Streufert was our guest in Episode 692.

Australia News Desk

Auckland floods: International flights resume at Auckland Airport, 600% increase in calls to Air NZ

This week we take a look across the Tasman Sea as New Zealand’s capital, Auckland, was hit with historic levels of flooding, leading to the temporary closure of their International Airport, leaving passengers from all corners of the globe stranded for many hours in the terminal, and saw a number of inbound flights diverted.

Steve’s a little tired after being recertified as an instructor…not for airplanes…but for trains.  We discuss the similarities in approaches to training between rail and aviation, including one of Steve’s more interesting sim sessions.

Train simulation

Saber announces first projects to fly in Australian Astronaut Program

Meanwhile, Grant’s literally over the moon following Saber Astronautics’ plans to send Australian tech to the International Space Station in coming years, including beer in a specially made zero-G bottle.  

Sydney Airport chaos as control tower incident triggers evacuations and grounds flights

Flights were temporarily halted in and out of Sydney Airport this weekend when the control tower had to be evacuated following the smell of gaseous fumes in the ventilation system.

And finally, we pay tribute to local aviation photographer Matt Savage, of Mach One Aeromedia, who passed away recently after a long battle with illness.  Matt was a man who shared our passion for aviation and was a big supporter of our work.  Though he left us way too soon, his skill with the lens will live on as a lasting legacy for all of us to enjoy. 

Plane in flight photograph by Matt Savage.
Image by Matt Savage – 2022

Mentioned

Air Traffic Out Of Control podcast.

AutoGyro USA

Calidus Gyroplane on the tarmac.
2014 Calidus Gyroplane

New aviation museum planned at the Santa Maria Airport ready to take off

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Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, Rob Mark, Max Trescott, and David Vanderhoof. With contributions by Grant McHerron and Steve Vischer.