Tag Archives: Southwest

651 Ingenuity Flies on Mars

Ingenuity becomes the first aircraft to make a powered, controlled flight on another planet. Also, green aviation initiatives from IAG, Southwest Airlines, and Universal Hydrogen; the F-15EX gets a new name; a museum reopens and a major GA event is canceled; a recap of the 2021 Sun ‘n Fun Aerospace Expo; and a Lego story.

Aviation News

Ingenuity Becomes the First aircraft to Fly on Another Planet

The NASA solar-powered Ingenuity Mars helicopter has become “the first aircraft in history to make a powered, controlled flight on another planet.” The first flight flew 3 meters above the Martian surface for 39 seconds. The second flight was 5 meters for 51.9 seconds. The third flight was also to 5 meters then Ingenuity flew downrange 50 meters reaching a top speed of 2 meters per second.

Ingenuity Mars helicopter gets official international call-sign

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has established official designations for Ingenuity and Wright Brothers Field where it operates from on Mars. The Ingenuity first flight has been given the IGY three-letter designator and the call sign INGENUITY. Wright Brothers Field is designated JZRO for Jezero Crater.

IAG to power 10 percent of its flights with sustainable aviation fuel by 2030

International Airlines Group (IAG) intends to purchase one million tons of sustainable jet fuel every year. This would lower annual emissions by two million tons by 2030. That’s the equivalent of taking one million European cars off the road each year. IAG encompasses British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus, Iberia Express, LEVEL, and Vueling. IAG plans to work with its suppliers so they can achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 for the products and services they provide to IAG. The company is investing US$400 million over the next 20 years and partnering with sustainable aviation fuel developers LanzaJet and Velocys.

Southwest Airlines Continues Its Support of Sustainable Aviation Fuel Research to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Southwest Airlines is supporting the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The NREL plans to utilize a biorefining process to develop low-carbon, low-cost, high-performance sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) created from wet waste, such as food. Southwest wants to be carbon neutral by 2050 and sees SAF as having an important role.

Universal Hydrogen raises $20.5m to accelerate hydrogen aviation

Universal Hydrogen secured $20.5m in new funding and is targeting 2025 for the first commercial regional aircraft flights. Investors include Fortescue Future Industries, Coatue, Global Founders Capital, Plug Power, Airbus Ventures, JetBlue Technology Ventures, Toyota AI Ventures, Sojitz Corporation, and Future Shape. Universal Hydrogen intends to build and test full-scale hardware for hydrogen commercial aircraft.

The F-15EX Has a New Name

At a rollout and naming ceremony at Eglin Air Force Base, the F-15EX was named the Eagle II.  The F-15C/D fleet is to be replaced by at least 144 F-15EXs. The older fleet has an average age of 37 years. Structural strain is becoming an issue.

Udvar-Hazy Center To Open May 5. Six Other Smithsonian Museums Plus The Zoo To Also Open In May!

The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center will reopen on Wednesday, May 5 – the 60th anniversary of the first U.S. human spaceflight by Alan Shepard. Timed entry passes will be required for all visitors and face coverings will be required for all visitors ages two and older. Some artifacts will not be on view and other restrictions apply.

Corona crisis forces Messe Friedrichshafen to cancel AERO 2021

Aero Friedrichshafen canceled for the second year in a row.

Mentioned

Sun ‘n Fun Aerospace Expo

Lego Boeing 747 Cockpit

Bye eFlyer 800 will fly you and 7 of your closest friends 500NM at 320 knots, or more with solar

Air Force unveils new mission statement

The Air Force released its new mission statement: ‘To fly, fight, and win…airpower anytime, anywhere.” This change emphasizes the primary competitive advantage and capabilities airpower provides to the nation and joint operations.

Video: “Weird Al” Yankovic – Mission Statement

645 Woman Aviator

The inspiring story of a legendary woman aviator and member of the “Mercury 13” who was also the first female FAA inspector and the first female investigator for the NTSB. Also, the AerCap/GECAS merger of aircraft leasing companies, the Dassault Falcon 6X first flight, FAA 2021 GA award winners, Buzz Lightyear’s mission with Southwest Airlines, and the serial stowaway.

Guest

Loretta Hall

Loretta Hall captured the memoir of the extraordinary woman aviator, Wally Funk, in Higher, Faster, Longer: My Life in Aviation and My Quest for Spaceflight.

Wally Funk was the first woman civilian flight instructor at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, the 58th woman in the U.S. to earn an Airline Transport Rating (in 1968), the FAA’s first woman operations inspector and Systems Worthiness Analysis Program specialist, and the first woman NTSB accident investigator. She was also one of the “Mercury 13,” hoping to become an astronaut.

Wally Funk

Loretta is a freelance writer and nonfiction book author. She’s a long-time space travel enthusiast and is currently a certified Space Ambassador for the National Space Society. Loretta has written eight books, including five on the history and future of space travel, one of which is The Complete Space Buff’s Bucket List: 100 Space Things to Do Before You Die.

Loretta has been interested in space travel since her teenage years when she followed the early NASA programs: the selection of the Mercury Seven astronauts, the suborbital and orbital missions of Mercury and Gemini, and the Apollo steps toward a moon landing. She has written eight books, including five on the history and future of space travel. Loretta loves finding ways to participate in space activities without being an astronaut. Her newest book was a cooperative effort to produce the memoir of Wally Funk, an icon in the fields of aviation and spaceflight.

Loretta Hall and Wally Funk

Aviation News

This $30 Billion Deal Could Reshape the Aviation Industry

AerCap Holdings announced that it would acquire the GECAS (GE Capital Aviation Services) unit of General Electric in a $30 billion deal. This would consolidate the number one and number two commercial aviation financing and leasing companies, measured by the number of aircraft. The resulting business would be the largest customer for Airbus, Boeing, and the engine manufacturers.

Dassault’s Falcon 6X Makes First Flight

Dassault Aviation’s Falcon 6X long-range, ultra-widebody business jet’s first flight was made from the company’s facility at Mérignac, France, near Bordeaux, on March 10, 2021.  The 2.5-hour flight reached FL400 and a speed of 0.8 Mach and was dedicated to Olivier Dassault, who died in a helicopter accident on March 7, 2021.

2021 GA Award Winners Announced by FAA, Committee

The awards for National Flight Instructor, Aviation Technician, and FAASTeam Rep of the Year will be presented at EAA AirVenture at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, in July. The 2021 awards go to:

  • Ronald Jay Timmermans of Orlando, Florida, Certificated Flight Instructor of the Year
  • Michael Colin Dunkley of Coshocton, Ohio, Aviation Technician of the Year 
  • Adam Timothy Magee of Swisher, Iowa, FAA Safety Team Representative of the Year.

‘To infinity & beyond!’ Southwest Airlines reunites Buzz Lightyear with young passenger who left toy behind

After a young boy left his beloved Buzz Lightyear on a flight, a Southwest employee found it, located the family, and arranged for Buzz to return home.

Women’s History Month: A Look at Impactful Women in Aviation

Women Entrepreneurs in Aviation

These articles highlight just some of the amazing women who have had successful careers in aviation. They include

Mae Jemison, the first African American woman in space; Joan Higginbotham, who helped build the international space station and operated robotic arm; LeAnn Ridgeway, a Rockwell Collins executive leader (now Collins Aerospace); Susan Mashibe, Tanzania’s first female FAA-certified pilot and mechanic and owner of a private jet handling and hangar services company; Rachel King, the founder and owner of the Precision Approach aircraft washing service; and Steffany Kisling, founder of cabin attendant staffing company SkyAngles and SKYacademy, an online training platform for pilots, cabin attendants and aspiring crew.

Mentioned

#PaxEx Podcast 74: Ready to fly, but has COVID reset expectations?

Max Flight’s Aviation Podcast Directory

Airline Pilot Guy podcast

ABC7 Salutes: Filmmakers complete mission to make documentary honoring WWII heroes

Journey to Royal: A WWII Rescue Mission is a hybrid documentary and action film with painstakingly accurate recreations filmed using real planes (at the Palm Springs Air Museum and the March Field Air Museum) and recreated models. It is now available on streaming and cable platforms and on DVD.

The story takes place during the Second World War, the 4th Emergency Rescue Squadron was stationed on the Mariana Islands of the South Pacific. Its crews policed flight paths searching for B-29 bombers in jeopardy and downed airmen in need of rescue in the open ocean of this war-torn theatre.

View the trailer: Journey to Royal: A WWII Rescue Mission

World’s best airports for customer experience revealed

Support

You can support the Airplane Geeks podcast by making a donation.

644 Aviation Art Designs

MotoArt turns unused aircraft parts into high-end furniture and aviation art designs. In the news, Pratt & Whitney’s new hypersonic engine project, the AFRL autonomous Skyborg aircraft and the Boeing Loyal Wingman, Boeing criticizes the A321XLR, Qantas offers mystery flights, and the Southwest Airlines grant program.

Guest

Dave Hall is the co-founder and owner of MotoArt which sells high-end aviation-inspired furniture and aviation art designs constructed from genuine aircraft parts.

MotoArt aviation art designs.
Dave Hall

Dave is also the founder/owner of PlaneTags – collectible, three-inch oval-shaped luggage tags made from authentic aircraft skin. Each PlaneTag is laser etched with the aircraft’s schematic and serial / tail number and is attached to a baseball-type trading card containing the history of the aircraft.  PlaneTags allows collectors the opportunity to hold a piece of aviation history in their hands while simultaneously providing them with an educational experience for each aircraft offered. Nearly 100 different types of PlaneTags have been created to date and several years’ worth of aircraft are in the queue for future releases. PlaneTags fans can expect new releases each month.

Dave began his career working at his father’s fuel storage tank business and later moved on to marketing and selling high-end architectural signage for amusement parks and sports arenas. In 2001, he and former colleague Donovan Fell began creating sculptures out of vintage World War II propellers. The popularity of these sculptures prompted the two to form a partnership and together created MotoArt LLC, which introduced high-end aviation-inspired furniture and art designs constructed from genuine aircraft parts. Since its inception, MotoArt has created over 100 limited edition custom designs for both private and Fortune 500 clients.

Dave has graciously donated four PlaneTags to Airplane Geeks which we’ll be giving away to listeners in a random drawing. In addition, Dave is offering Airplane Geeks listeners a PlaneTags discount. Details in the podcast.

PlaneTags from MotoArt, aviation art designs.
PlaneTags giveaway.

Finally, the Pima Air & Space Museum is running a sweepstakes (open until April 9, 2021) where your donation enters you in a contest to win a $25,000 MotoArt gift certificate.

Aviation News

Pratt & Whitney Makes Hypersonic Revival As Pentagon Pushes Reuse

Pratt & Whitney has a secret development program to develop a low-cost, reusable hypersonic propulsion system. This is a capability high in priority for the U.S. Department of Defense. The program is called Metacomet and comes from Pratt & Whitney’s GatorWorks prototyping division in Florida. David Stagney, senior director of GatorWorks said, “The faster you go, the larger the propulsion system is relative to the vehicle and how much payload and fuel you can actually fit in. So, we have spent a lot of time going back to the fundamentals and thinking about how to solve that problem differently. We know the Air Force wants to go really fast. They also want to have some very low-cost solutions, and to be able to have a large quantity of vehicles.”

Boeing to base U.S. Air Force prototype on Australian pilotless combat jet

Boeing designed and manufactured the unmanned “Loyal Wingman” aircraft in Australia, which just completed its first flight. The US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Skyborg autonomous aircraft program has contracted with Boeing, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, and Kratos Defense & Security Solutions to develop the prototypes. Boeing says they are basing their bid on the Loyal Wingman. The technology will be tested during Orange Flag exercises this summer.

Boeing labels new Airbus jet a ‘potential hazard’ just days after being fined millions for safety oversights

The A321XLR gets additional range with a fuel tank that is moulded into the fuselage. Boeing has informed the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) that this design “presents many potential hazards.” EASA had already noted the design, saying “An integral fuselage fuel tank exposed to an external fire, if not adequately protected, may not provide enough time for the passengers to safely evacuate the aircraft.”

First there were flights to nowhere. Now there are ‘mystery flights.’

Qantas is launching three flights to unspecified Australian destinations. Passengers will have  “low-level scenic flybys of key landmarks” and land about two hours after departure. That will be followed by a day’s worth of activities on the ground. In order to know what to wear and pack, Qantas will give passengers clues about the destination.

Southwest Airlines donates 7,500 free flights for those in need of medical care

The airline’s Medical Transportation Grant Program is providing roundtrip flights for those in need of urgent medical care. Southwest awarded the tickets to over 75 nonprofit hospitals and medical transportation organizations. The airline valued the transportation at $3 million. To date, more than $38.6 million in free transportation has been provided since the program began in 2007.

Mike Collins

Rob Mark talks about the passing of Mike Collins, AOPA Technical Editor and Director of Business Operations. See Saying Goodbye: AOPA Loses Technical Editor Mike Collins.

Mentioned

Aerojet Rocketdyne

Air Care Alliance

AvGeekFests.com

Innovations in Flight Family Day and Outdoor Aviation Display

47th annual Sun ‘n Fun Aerospace Expo April 13-18, 2021. See SnF Covid policy.

Podcasting on a Plane, Episode 091, Remote View Flight Check with Rob Mark.

Airplane Geeks Listener Poll #643: Who would you like to see win the 2020 Collier Trophy?

Cat attacks pilots in cockpit, plane forced to make emergency landing

Trade group again names Portland’s jetport best in North America. Airports Council International recognizes the world’s best airports in customer experience with their annual Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Awards. The Portland International Jetport was named the best airport in North America for customer experience in its passenger class.

Airplane Flyover

633 Aviation Safety

A Congressional report is critical of aviation safety and the FAA, the Air Force flies an AI co-pilot, precision airdrops as a service, Antonov AN-124 cargo, Chinese SODramjet, world’s first female aeronautical engineer, airline emissions statistics, flying through smoke.

Aviation News

Boeing ‘inappropriately coached’ pilots in 737 MAX testing: U.S. Senate report

The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation released a Committee Investigation Report titled Aviation Safety Oversight prepared by the Committee Republican staff. In testimony, whistleblowers were critical of Boeing and the FAA.

The report says that concerning this year’s testing of the MCAS system, Boeing officials “had established a pre-determined outcome to reaffirm a long-held human factor assumption related to pilot reaction time … It appears, in this instance, FAA and Boeing were attempting to cover up important information that may have contributed to the 737 MAX tragedies.”

Southwest Airlines Allegedly Cut Corners, Pilots Struggled to Get Planes to Take Off

Southwest livery

In the same report, a whistleblower working as an FAA safety inspector at a Southwest base alleged that the airline’s Performance Weight and Balance System (PWB) was flawed. The PWB system was introduced in 2017 but Southwest removed safety buffers and some pilots reported difficulty getting airborne. A Southwest spokesperson said, “We discovered a discrepancy between data systems involving the weight of a number of aircraft earlier this year. Southwest took immediate actions to prevent a recurrence, which included notifying the FAA, correcting the data discrepancies, and launching a daily audit to review each of the impacted systems.”

Dash Systems raises $8M for precision-airdrops-as-a-service at distant or disaster-stricken destinations

Dash Systems wants to expedite the “middle-mile” with military-inspired airdrops. They say Land the package not the planeTM and seek to drop pallets of parcels (“pods”) at their penultimate destinations, no matter how inaccessible the location is. The pods have control surfaces and a tail kit, and a method of slowing down and landing.

Swirl-in Airlift: Irregular Antonov Flights Deliver Relief to Phoenix Laxative Factory

Ukraine’s Antonov Airlines has been operating curious flights between Mumbai and Phoenix. Three An-124s have completed the route so far, and a fourth is enroute. Many speculated what the cargo is, but JetTip uncovers the true mission:

“The avgeek rumor-mill provided some hints at its cargo, with people saying it was carrying silica, seeds, or medicine; the payload is tons and tons of psyllium (pronounced “si-lee-uhm”), a plant grown in India, whose primary use is as a fibrous laxative. Coincidentally, psyllium is the main ingredient in Metamucil, which is manufactured in Phoenix.”

The Queen of the Hurricanes drove a Model A Roadster

Elsie MacGill is reported to be the world’s first female aeronautical engineer. Born in Vancouver in 1905, she wore leg braces because of polio. At one point she was told she’d never walk again. In 1938 she became the chief aeronautical engineer at Canadian Car and Foundry (Can Car) in charge of the design and construction of the Maple Leaf II training biplane, the world’s first aircraft designed and built by a woman. MacGill retooled the Can Car factory to mass-produce the Hawker Hurricane, and she was responsible for coming up with a winterized version with skis. Elsie MacGill died in 1980, at the age of seventy-five. She was posthumously inducted into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame in 1983. 

The Experimental Engine That Could Get Us Anywhere in the World in 2 Hours

The Chinese have developed and demonstrated a Standing Oblique Detonation ramjet engine, or SODramjet for hypersonic propulsion at Mach 16. It’s an old concept that utilizes shock waves produced in the engine. The Chinese demonstrator reached Mach 9 in a wind tunnel. See The criteria for hypersonic airbreathing propulsion and its experimental verification in the Chinese Journal of Aeronautics.

Air Force U-2 Surveillance Plane Flies First Mission with AI Copilot

The U.S. Air Force flew a U-2 Dragonlady reconnaissance aircraft with an artificial intelligence system as the co-pilot. Going by the call sign ARTUµ (pronounced R-2), the algorithm took control of the sensor systems after take off in an exercise that simulated a missile strike. As the pilot flew the U-2, ARTUµ controlled sensors and navigation and watched for enemy launch weapons.

Countries Ban U.K. Flights Amid Mutant Coronavirus Concerns

Flights between the U.K. and a number of other countries are being banned after a new, more contagious coronavirus strain was detected.

Mentioned

Facebook’s artificial intelligence robots shut down after they start talking to each other in their own language

Flying Dirty: Why Airlines Emissions Rise Even When They Try to Cut

631 Airlines Plan 737 MAX Return to Service

US airlines are releasing plans for the 737 MAX return to service, pilots are being advised to hold off participation in clinical vaccine trials, Southwest Airlines warns of its first-ever furlough, in-flight cell phone calls are off the table at the FCC, a final rule is announced for traveling by air with service animals, and the Paris Air Show is canceled for 2021.

Aviation News

US airlines detail plans for resuming Boeing 737 Max flights

In the US, the 737 MAX is operated by American Airlines, United, and Southwest. Those airlines are already making return to service announcements and passengers who don’t want to fly the MAX can change flights without penalty. American starts service on December 29, 2020, between New York LaGuardia and Miami, United service starts first quarter 2021, and Southwest service starts in the second quarter of 2021.

Post-crash recovery: How one airline plans to restore confidence in the Boeing 737 MAX

American Airlines COO David Seymour says, “We didn’t intend to be first to put the Max back in the air. But the only way to truly build confidence is by flying it. You don’t build that back by sitting on the ground.” American Airlines TechOps said it will take six to eight days to make each aircraft compliant with the new requirements for MCAS software updates (which take six hours) and flight control system re-wiring. That will be followed by a two-hour Operational Readiness Flight (ORF).

AA Reviewing Whether Pilots Can Take COVID Vaccine

Should commercial pilots take the Covid vaccine when it becomes available? Can they and still keep their medical? The FAA is waiting for the outcome of the upcoming meeting of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee. The Air Line Pilots Association is telling its members to not take part in clinical trials for vaccines.

Southwest Airlines warns it could furlough 6,800 employees to cut costs

If they occur, these would be the first furloughs ever for Southwest Airlines. The number amounts to 12% of the airline’s staff. Southwest says negotiations with labor unions to cut costs have produced a “lack of meaningful progress.”

FCC Walks Back Plan To Allow In Flight Cell Service

The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) is no longer going to look into a ruling that would allow passengers to make in-flight cell phone calls on domestic United States flights. 

The FCC said, “The record is insufficient to determine any reasonable solution that would strike an appropriate balance of competing interests.  There is strong opposition to the Commission’s proposals from many commenters in this proceeding, including our nation’s airline pilots and flight attendants.”

U.S. Department of Transportation Announces Final Rule on Traveling by Air with Service Animals

The U.S. Department of Transportation is revising its Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA) regulation concerning the transportation of service animals by air. The final rule defines a service animal as a dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a person with a disability. An emotional support animal is no longer considered to be a service animal. The final rule will be effective 30 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register.

Cancellation of the 2021 edition of the Paris Air Show [PDF]

“In light of the uncertainty linked to the current COVID-19 health crisis, the Paris Air Show organization has made the decision to cancel the 2021 edition of the show, which was scheduled to take place from 21 to 27 June 2021. The next edition of the Paris Air Show will be held in June 2023, at a date that will be announced shortly. Exhibitors will receive a full refund of all sums already paid and the Paris Air Show will take full financial responsibility for this decision.”

Airplane Geeks Listener Poll 628 

Do you intend to fly to a vacation destination in 2021? 50% said Yes, 16% said No, and 34% said Maybe.
Do you expect to fly for business in 2021? 41% said Yes, 36% said No, and 23% said Maybe.

Mentioned

Obituary: Ralph Weymouth

629 Boeing 737 MAX Return to Service Airworthiness Directive

We talk with an Air Traffic Controller at London Heathrow who also acts as deputy manager of the ATC team for the RIAT airshow. In the news, FAA airworthiness directive permits the Boeing 737 MAX to return to service, Delta and tariffs on Airbus aircraft, Gatwick slot usage and planned labor action at Heathrow, speed dating in the air, Norwegian Air Shuttle troubles, autonomous airplane tugs, and a F/A-18C Hornet goes into the National Air & Space Museum.

Guest

Adam Spink has been an air traffic controller at the Heathrow Airport tower for 22 years. He’s also an instructor, examiner, and supervisor. Adam’s main job is in the Procedures and Development office working on new procedures and equipment.

Adam explains aircraft wake turbulence and the Time Based Separation (TBS) used at Heathrow to increase the aircraft landing rate, including the implications for air traffic controllers when planes are separated by time instead of by distance. See: New separation standard permanently adopted over the North Atlantic.

We also learn how the environmental aspects of aviation fit into key performance measures and controller metrics that include reduced emissions.

In addition to his job as a NATS controller at Heathrow, Adam acts as deputy manager of the ATC team for the Royal International Air Tattoo airshow (RIAT) held at RAF Fairford in the UK. He’s a member of the UK Air Transport Confidential Human Factors Incident Reporting Programme (the equivalent of NASA ASRS), and a member of various international working groups on low visibility ops, satellite-based navigation, and radar systems. Adam speaks about human factors at various medical school/medical university courses.

Find Adam on Twitter and Instagram.

Aviation News

U.S. lifts Boeing 737 MAX flight ban after crash probes, tough hurdles remain

On November 20, 2020, the FAA issued AD 2020-24-02, Airworthiness Directives; The Boeing Company Airplanes [PDF] superseding Airworthiness Directive 2018-23-51, which applied to all Boeing Company Model 737-8 and 737-9 (737 MAX) airplanes. AD 2018-23-51 required revising certificate limitations and operating procedures of the Airplane Flight Manual (AFM) to provide the flight crew with runaway horizontal stabilizer trim procedures to follow under certain conditions. 

The new AD requires installing new flight control computer (FCC) software, revising the existing Airplane Flight Manual to incorporate new and revised flight crew procedures, installing new MAX display system (MDS) software, changing the horizontal stabilizer trim wire routing installations, completing an angle of attack (AOA) sensor system test, and performing an operational readiness flight.

Southwest deploys team to bring 737 MAX jets out of desert

Southwest Airlines has 34 Boeing 737 MAX jets in storage in Victorville, California. The airline sent a team of mechanics to start the process of bringing its jets out of storage. 737 MAX flights at Southwest should resume the second quarter of 2021. There will be no re-booking charge for passengers who are uncomfortable flying on the MAX.

European regulator to lift Boeing 737 MAX grounding in January

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) executive director said the 737 MAX is safe to fly.  “We wanted to carry out a totally independent analysis of the safety of this aircraft, so we performed our own checks and flight tests. All these studies tell us that the 737 MAX can return to service. We have started to put in place all the measures. It is likely that in our case we will adopt the decisions, allowing it to return to service, sometime in January.”

Delta Skirts Trump Tariffs by Sending Airbus Jets on World Tour

As part of the Boeing/Airbus subsidy battle, tariffs were placed on European-built Airbus aircraft in October 2019. Delta has taken delivery of seven planes since then, but instead of flying them to the United States, the airline based them overseas, avoiding the tariff because they weren’t imports. In a statement to Bloomberg News, Delta said “We have made the decision not to import any new aircraft from Europe while these tariffs are in effect. Instead, we have opted to use the new aircraft exclusively for international service, which does not require importation.”

Suspension of airport “80/20” slot usage rule to last till end of March 2021 – Gatwick not happy

Until March 2020, European regulations required that an airline use 80% of its landing slots or they were lost. But because of the huge drop in travel demand, the rule was suspended for six months, then extended for another 6 months, to 27th March 2021. Gatwick airport wants the old slot rules reinstated before summer 2021.

Heathrow Staff To Strike For 4 Days In December

London’s Heathrow Airport wants to cut costs by reducing wages. The large Unite trade union says the airport plans to fire some 4,000 workers, then rehire them at lower wages. 85% of the union membership voted in favor of strikes in protest.

Airline offers speed-dating on dead-end ‘flight to nowhere’

Taiwanese carrier EVA Air and travel experience company are offering flights called “Fly! Love Is In the Air!” Twenty men and twenty women will depart from Taipei, fly around the island for three hours, return to the airport, and pairs will then enjoy a two-hour date. Seating on the plane is by random draw, but mingling is allowed. Food is prepared by a Michelin-starred chef.

Norwegian Air Is the Latest Trans-Atlantic Carrier to File for Bankruptcy in 2020 Due to Covid-19

Norwegian Air Shuttle has filed for protection from creditors in Ireland.

Autonomous Electric Tow Tugs Could Cut Handling Costs

Californian start-up Moonware says the aviation industry is stagnant. They want to do something about that. Moonware says they are “building an AI-powered fleet management network and subsequently deploying autonomous & electric vehicles to fundamentally reshape airport operations.” The company is developing a family of autonomous electrically powered tow tugs for aircraft ground handling.

National Air and Space Museum Welcomes Blue Angels’ F/A-18C Hornet

The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum has brought a Blue Angels’ F/A-18C Hornet BuNo 163439 into the collection. This is the first “Blue Angels” aircraft and the first F-18 the museum has acquired. 

Mentioned

Save Whiteman airport, a change.org petition.

Dobbins Reservists Tie the Knot Aboard a C-130

624 Aircraft Cybersecurity

The GAO issues aircraft cybersecurity recommendations, the Southwest pilot’s union balks at a pay cut, some think commercial aviation hasn’t seen the worst of it yet, Congress looks to establish the National Center for the Advancement of Aviation, Singapore Airlines has a new use for idled A380 aircraft, the Boom Supersonic XB-1 demonstrator rolls out, and an all-electric airplane racing league is announced.

Aviation News

Computers Aboard Airliners Vulnerable to Hacking, Watchdog Says

On Oct 9, 2020, the Government Accountability Office issued a report, FAA Should Fully Implement Key Practices to Strengthen Its Oversight of Avionics Risks. The GAO says, “Airplane manufacturers have cybersecurity controls in place and there haven’t been reports of successful cyberattacks on commercial airplane IT systems to date. But evolving cyber threats and increasing connectivity between airplanes and other systems could put future flight safety at risk if the FAA doesn’t prioritize oversight… We recommended that the FAA strengthen cybersecurity oversight for airplanes.”

Listen to the GAO podcast episode Watchdog Report, Protecting Air Travel from Cyberthreats.

Southwest pilots’ union pushes back on 10% pay cut proposal

Southwest Airlines has never had a furlough and the company is trying to avoid that for 2021. Management proposed a 10% pay cut for pilots, but the pilot’s union is balking. The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association is concerned that the across-the-board reduction and force majeure clauses could allow the airline to furlough pilots anyway.

Winter is coming for the world’s airlines

Bloomberg says that “the worst period for the aviation industry is probably ahead of it, rather than behind.” Carriers have been using their bank balances, government bailout money, and some cost-cutting measures. But the cash is dwindling.

‘The worst is not behind any airline’: Qatar Airways CEO warns more collapses coming for industry

Forty-three commercial airlines have folded so far this year. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) expects the industry to burn $77 billion in cash in the second half of 2020. 

Momentum grows for creation of National Center for the Advancement of Aviation

Two bipartisan bills have been introduced in the U.S. Congress that would create a National Center for the Advancement of Aviation (NCAA). One in the House and one in the Senate. The NCAA “would create an independent center to facilitate collaboration among commercial, general, and military aviation sectors to address the mounting workforce challenges facing the industry.” More than 130 organizations [PDF] representing all segments of aviation support the legislation, including AOPA.

See: H.R.8532 – To establish the National Center for the Advancement of Aviation

Grounded airline planes turned into pop-up restaurants sell out in 30 minutes

Singapore Airlines converted two Airbus A380 planes parked at Changi Airport into restaurants. Reservations for October 24th and 25th sold out in 30 minutes.

Boom Rolls Out Its XB-1 “Baby Boom” Supersonic Demonstrator Jet

Boom Supersonic is working toward the 55-seat supersonic airliner called the Overture. A step in that development is the XB-1 supersonic demonstrator aircraft, frequently called the “Baby Boom.”

Video: XB-1 Supersonic Rollout, hosted by Boom Founder and CEO Blake Scholl.

All-electric aircraft racing league announced

An all-electric aircraft racing league is being formed and they plan to start racing in 2022. Air Race E says pilots will fly in fields of eight electric-powered aircraft, wingtip-to-wingtip, at 280 mph 10 meters above the ground, over a 1.5-kilometer oval circuit. Twelve teams have formed from nine countries: the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Norway, Ukraine, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

Mentioned

New England Air Museum, restoring the Burnelli CBY-3.

Redbird Migration 2020, a free virtual flight training conference Wed, Oct 21, 2020, 09:00 AM – Thu, Oct 22, 2020, 05:00 PM, America/Chicago Time.

AvGeekFests.com

The Learjet Diaries by Greg Madonna.

Kilborn by Wayne Hughes.

Phil’s Airline Fleet News

NBAA honors pilots who landed Citation after dual flameouts

614 Choosing a Flight School

An aviation climate control proposal from the EPA, an update on airline furloughs, questions about fighter pilot’s flying experience, Airbus’ autonomous A350, Delta Airline’s fleet simplification, and the Garmin outage that lasted for days. Also, an Australia News Desk from the boys down under, a special discount code for our listeners, and advice on choosing a flight school.

Aviation News

US Says it Will Adopt Global Climate Standards for Aviation

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed new aircraft emissions regulations that some are criticizing and others are applauding. The proposal adopts 2017 emissions standards from the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Boeing and the Airlines for America trade group welcomed the proposal. Environmental groups and the EPA itself said the proposed regulations would have no meaningful effect.

Southwest Airlines Will Not Furlough Workers On Oct. 1

Southwest CEO Gary Kelly announced that the airline will not furlough or lay off any workers on Oct. 1, 2020. Kelly said, “We have no intention of seeking furloughs, layoffs, pay rate cuts or benefits cuts through at least the end of the year… I can’t guarantee it will never happen, especially during these dark pandemic times. I can promise you it will be the last thing we do to keep Southwest financially healthy and viable.”

American Airlines’ Grim Warning To Flight Attendants

American Airlines says it has over 20,000 more employees than it will need later this year. The airline has been trying to entice employees to accept voluntary leaves of absence or early retirement, but the acceptance numbers are lower than American wants to see.

Fighter Pilots Warn Of Newly Trained Pilots’ Lack Of Actual Flying Experience

We’ve recently seen a number of military aviation accidents. A team of senior U.S. Air Force officers has been speaking to pilots and aircrew to see if there are common factors. They find that experienced pilots worry about possible cuts in flying hours and increased use of simulators.

Airbus Completes Autonomous Airliner Experiment

Since 2018, Airbus has flown an A350-1000 autonomously 500 times. The airplane is fitted with image recognition technology that uses external cameras. The software processes the images and controls the flight.

Delta Air Lines: Fleet Simplification Will Be A Game Changer

Delta had announced a fleet simplification strategy last December. At the beginning of 2020, Delta operated 20 different aircraft models in multiple configurations, with two more scheduled to join the fleet in 2020 (the Airbus A220-300 and A321neo). Delta has now accelerated its simplification strategy.

FAA warns of Boeing 737 double-engine power loss (EAD)

The FAA issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive (EAD) for Boeing 737 Classic and NextGeneration aircraft in storage. The bleed air fifth stage check valve on CFM56 engines stored for seven or more days could exhibit corrosion that could lead to an engine shutdown. Perhaps even a double-engine shutdown. This follows four single-engine 737 shutdowns during flight.

Garmin Aviation App And Services Down in Ransomware Attack

On Jul. 23, 2020, Garmin experienced a major outage attributed in the press to a ransomware attack. The FlyGarmin app for pilots using Garmin GPS based instruments and navigation equipment was affected, as was the Garmin Pilot app and Garmin aviation and navigation watches.

Mentioned

QANTAS Boeing 747 VH-OEJ “Wunala” Final Walkaround at LAX

For a limited time, PilotPartner.net is offering a discount code for Airplane Geeks listeners. The code “airplanegeeks18” will get you an 18-month membership for the price of 12 months. Ken from PilotPartner was our guest in Episode 432.

Delta CEO: Navigating the Coronavirus Crisis – Boss Files with Poppy Harlow

As the coronavirus pandemic ravages the airline industry, Delta CEO Ed Bastian says he is leading the company through a defining moment. He opens up about how Delta is navigating the crisis, mandating masks on all flights, and blocking middle seats. He also pledges as CEO to stand against racism and is committed to promoting more African-American executives throughout the company.

613 A-10 Thunderbolt II

A former A-10 pilot who flew combat missions during Operation Desert Storm tells us about the A-10 from a first-hand perspective. Also, Boeing 737 MAX cancellations, airline layoffs and furloughs, Emirates plan for the A380, an American Airlines and JetBlue partnership, a bizarre Icelandair plan, aviation museums are re-opening, the B-52 Chrome Dome mission, a drive-in airshow, and thoughts on Urban Air Mobility.

Guest

Buck Wyndham is an Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University graduate who joined the Air Force to fly his dream airplane, the A-10 Thunderbolt II. He became one of the very first pilots to take the Warthog into battle and flew many missions during Operation Desert Storm. He went on to fly the T-38 Talon as an instructor for over seven years. 

Buck describes A-10 design and its mission as a ground support aircraft built around a 30mm rotary cannon. “The gun” is 21 feet long, weighs 4,000 pounds loaded, and can fire 70 rounds per second. Buck describes the physical sensations when firing the gun, and he tells us about the difference between air-to-air combat with fast jets and air-to-ground combat with an attack aircraft. He also explains A-10 maneuverability.

Hogs in the SandBuck’s new book, Hogs in the Sand: A Gulf War A-10 Pilot’s Combat Journal, is available in either hardcover or paperback. It’s a gritty, inside look at aerial warfare during Operation Desert Storm, but it is more personal and emotional than books of the same genre. It’s not the typical combat account. It includes that but also much more.

Currently, Buck is an A320 captain for a major US airline, and he is the Chief Pilot for Code 1 Aviation in Rockford, Illinois. Buck has written articles for Warbirds, Classic Jet Journal, and Warbird Digest. He enjoys flying vintage aircraft, building his RV-8, and working on his next book, a novel entitled Red Air.

The Hogs in the Sand website has information about the book, and also some good A-10 videos. Find more on the A-10 at the Hogs in the Sand Facebook page.

Aviation News

Boeing 737 MAX cancellations top 350 planes in first half of 2020

Sixty orders for the 737 MAX were canceled in June by airlines and leasing companies. Deliveries in the first two quarters of 2020 were down by 71% compared to the previous year.

Southwest Airlines Has Another Ominous Warning for Airlines

Southwest Airlines has never had an involuntary layoff or furlough. That might change this year. Southwest’s initial plans for 2020 suggested the airline expected a recovery by year-end and  Southwest originally planned to operate in November and December about as many flights as last year. However, in a letter to employees, Southwest acknowledged that this is becoming unlikely and they may see involuntary layoffs and furloughs.

American Airlines warns 25,000 employees about potential job cuts as coronavirus continues to sap demand

25,000 front-line employees, about 29% of American’s U.S. mainline workforce, were warned that they could be furloughed this autumn. As with other airlines, employees were advised to take early retirement packages or extended leaves. American’s revenue in June was down more than 80% versus a year ago.

Delta just gave United a stark lesson in pandemic business leadership

United Airlines has said that blocking middle seats is just PR. However, Delta Air Lines and Southwest “decided their customers would prefer those middle seats empty,” according to ZDNet. Delta is not raising ticket prices and CEO Ed Bastian says those empty middle seats are the “No. 1 reason” travelers are booking with Delta.

The president of Emirates says passengers will never again be as comfortable as they have been aboard the enormous discontinued Airbus A380

Only 251 A380s will have been delivered by Airbus when production stops in 2021. Emirates has about half of them and the airline’s president Tim Clark says they’ll bring them back into service: “Hopefully, we’ll see them flying for at least another 10 years. Unfortunately, it’s not being produced. So there’s nothing we can do about it. We’ll keep it going as long as we can.”

In a twist, American partners with JetBlue in bid for New York and Boston

American Airlines and JetBlue Airways have again formed an alliance where each can sell seats on the other’s flights. With this agreement, American stands to gain in JetBlue strongholds Boston and New York. JetBlue could benefit from American strength in the Midwest and Southeast. The deal is subject to regulatory approval.

Icelandair says it’s letting go of all its flight attendants — and shifting their duties to the pilots

Icelandair and its cabin crew have had a labor dispute and last Friday the airline said starting July 20 cabin crew employment would be terminated. The airline’s pilots would temporarily assume flight attendants’ roles. In May 2019, 419,000 passengers flew on Icelandair. In May 2020, just 3,100 flew the airline. But then on Sunday… Icelandair and flight attendants have struck a deal. Icelandair and the Icelandic Cabin Crew Association (FFI) reached an agreement and the announced firing of the flight attendants was rescinded.

Mentioned

Aviation News Talk YouTube channel

TABfabric Etsy shop for hand-made face masks. Proceeds go to the Pasadena Woman’s Shelter.

B-52 Stratofortress – US strategic bomber / Documentary US Air Force / WHD

Airshow London (Ontario) announced its 2020 air show will take place on September 12 and 13 as a drive-in format featuring a traditional three-hour air display. The airport grounds can accommodate close to 2500 cars with this socially responsible model. Guests will arrive with a pre-purchased ticket (1 ticket per vehicle) and be directed to park in their own 20 X 25-foot space to enjoy the show either inside or outside their vehicle. Guests can bring their own refreshments, listen to the show on their car radios, and utilize portable washrooms.

609 Airline Cash Flow

United leverages its MileagePlus program to improve its balance sheet, one study says the Amazon Air fleet will grow to 200 aircraft, a British aircraft carrier takes a step towards operational capability next year, and Southwest Airlines wants you to provide a “customer health declaration” at check-in. Also, the Finland fighter competition, flight sim hardware from Thrustmaster, and how old is too old to get your pilot’s license?

Aviation News

Surprising Statistics About United MileagePlus

United is mortgaging its frequent flyer program to raise $5 billion

Cash flow remains a major concern for airlines. United announced financing of $5 billion secured through the airlines’ loyalty program. It’s part of their plan to have $17 billion in liquidity by the end of September. CNN says that’s 3 times the cash they normally have on hand. United estimates the value of its Mileage Plus program as a standalone business at $20 billion.

Amazon Air Fleet to Grow from 39 to 200 by 2028

A report from Joseph Schwieterman and Jacob Walls of the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development predicts that the Amazon Air fleet will grow to 200 aircraft by 2028. The report, Insights into Amazon Air: 2020’s Transportation Juggernaut [PDF] was published on May 22, 2020.

HMS Queen Elizabeth ready to conduct carrier strike operations

After a six week test, the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth takes the next step toward operational capability in 2021 when it could deploy with two frigates, two destroyers, a nuclear submarine, as well as support vessels. The ship will also carry 24 F-35B jets, including US Marine Corps aircraft, in addition to a number of helicopters. The recent training demonstrated that carrier jets could be ready to take off on short notice and provide combat air patrols.

See also, Why Britain needs aircraft carriers and The Aircraft Carrier We Need.

Southwest now requires a ‘customer health declaration’ from passengers before flying

Southwest Airlines announced they’d require a “customer health declaration” from customers at online check-in. Customers must acknowledge an awareness of Southwest’s face covering policy and confirm they do not have symptoms of COVID-19. Also that they have not been diagnosed with or exposed, to COVID-19 in the 14 days prior to travel, and they do not have a fever when they travel. The declaration will appear during the online check-in process via the Southwest app, Southwest.com, SWABIZ.com, and the carrier’s mobile website. This is consistent with the recently published Southwest Promise.

Airlines ban alcohol on planes in response to Covid-19

A number of airlines are suspending all or part of their alcoholic drinks service in response to Covid-19.

Finding Finland’s next fighter jet: HX challenge

Under its HX fighter program, the Finnish Air Force plans to replace its F/A-18 C/D Hornet aircraft. Competing for the buy are Eurofighter, Boeing, Dassault, Lockheed Martin, and Saab.

Mentioned

EAA membership

Brian.

Thrustmaster revealed their new range of flight sim hardware, officially licensed by Airbus and designed for integration in civil aviation games including X-Plane 11 and Microsoft Flight Simulator. The range includes a modular sidestick, a dual thrust lever throttle with add-on modules, the Officer bundle pack (sidestick + throttle), and an all-new metal desk clamp.

RenegadeAV8R S2 EP24 – USAF Thunderbird #8 FLACK Promo

6-Year-Old Genius Kid Becomes Etihad Airways Pilot for a Day

Learn to Fly, Live your Dream and Get a Pilots’ License! –  eBook by Max Trescott. [PDF]

SkyVector Areonautical Charts

AirNav Airport Information

Wallingford Sign