Tag Archives: TSA

794 SouthWings Environmental Flights

The SouthWings volunteer pilot organization uses aircraft for environmental monitoring and survey flights. In the news, the best-selling piston aircraft in 2023, student pilot statistics, around the world in a LearJet, an additional Las Vegas airport, skipping security at airports, failure to disclose flight deck features, and a Spirit Airlines order deferral.

Guests

SouthWings is a volunteer pilot organization that flies conservation groups, community groups, the media, and decision-makers on environmental monitoring and survey flights, as well as flights of persuasion, and media flights.

Volunteer pilots donate their aircraft, time, and money to fulfill the 130-150 flight requests received annually. The aerial perspective and photographs that these groups and individuals capture help to tell the story to those on the ground. 

SouthWings is a member of the Air Care Alliance, a nonprofit public service organization representing a nationwide network of volunteer pilot groups that are putting charitable aviation to use to meet all sorts of needs throughout this country. 

Chelsea Easter, SouthWings Director of Operations and Volunteer Pilot Engagement.

Chelsea Easter is SouthWings’ Director of Operations and Volunteer Pilot Engagement. A 2012 graduate of Auburn University, Chelsea began working in the fields of mental health and education, and then took a look into the nonprofit world and was introduced to SouthWings where, for the past four years now, she has been recruiting, onboarding, and working closely with their volunteer pilots.

Landon Thorne, SouthWings volunteer pilot and board member.

Landon Thorne is a SouthWings volunteer pilot who also serves on SouthWings’ board. Landon has been flying since his teens. He has a long career in private equity and venture capital investing, and he served as an officer in the United States Marine Corps Reserve, retiring in 2002 with the rank of Colonel. During his military career and many active duty deployments, he served in Vietnam, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. In Vietnam, he flew 163 missions as a back-seater in the Cessna O-1 Bird Dog and vowed that he would eventually own one of those wonderful airplanes. Today he flies N68VN, his fully restored Bird Dog painted in the colors of Marine Observation Squadron 6.

Video: SouthWings Overview

SouthWings 2023 Program Report

Landon Thorne's Cessna O-1 Bird Dog in the hangar.
Landon Thorne’s Cessna O-1 Bird Dog

Aviation News

10 best-selling piston airplanes in 2023

In 2023, piston airplane shipments increased 11.8% to 1,682 worldwide. Cirrus figures prominently in the top ten. See the 2023 General Aviation Aircraft Shipment Report [PDF] from the General Aviation Manufacturers Association.

More pilots in 2023

The FAA U.S. Civil Airmen Statistics shows that 69,503 student pilot certificates were issued in 2023, a 24% increase over 2022. The U.S. Civil Airmen Statistics is an annual study published for the benefit of the FAA, other government agencies, and industry. It contains detailed airmen statistics not published in other FAA reports. Statistics about airmen, both pilot and nonpilot, are obtained from the official airmen certification records maintained by the FAA. An active airman is defined as one who holds both an airmen certificate and a valid medical certificate. Active Civil Airmen Statistics are currently available in spreadsheet form for 2018 to 2023.

Learjet 36A Crew Departs Wichita For Record Round-The-World Flight

Four pilots and one observer departed on April 3, 2024, for a 60-hour, 11-stop, record-setting flight around the world. The “Century Mission” commemorates the first around-the-world flight 100 years ago. The flight is a fundraiser for the restoration of an historic 1964 Lear Jet Model 23, Serial 23-003 owned by the Classic Lear Jet Foundation. That was the first Lear Jet delivered to a customer.

Plans for new Las Vegas airport no longer up in the air

In the 1990s, a second airport serving Las Vegas, Nevada was considered. Sixteen candidate sites were considered. Now the Southern Nevada Supplemental Airport project is finally moving ahead into the environmental phase. The Clark County Department of Aviation (CCDOA) plans to go before the Clark County Commission to award bids for project contracts. Project completion is planned for 2037.

Hundreds of people bypassed parts of airport security in last year

The Transportation Security Administration says that since March 2023, there have been at least 300 instances of people bypassing parts of airport security. The TSA says these aren’t full security breaches – passengers who bypassed some checks went through others or were stopped. Since March 2023, 200 people bypassed “exit lanes” often marked with “no reentry” signs, and 80 people evaded the travel document checker.

Duckworth wants FAA to review Boeing’s failure to disclose flight deck features

Senator Tammy Duckworth feels there is a pattern of Boeing not disclosing 737 Max flight deck features to pilots. A recent example is the design of the cockpit door which opens automatically during rapid depressurization. Duckworth wrote in a letter to the FAA “Boeing’s failure to disclose this feature is chilling given its history of concealing 737 MAX information from pilots.”

Spirit Airlines to defer Airbus deliveries, furlough 260 pilots to save cash

To conserve cash, Spirit Airlines plans to furlough about 260 pilots starting September 1, 2024. Additionally, Airbus has agreed to delay aircraft deliveries scheduled from the second quarter of 2025 through 2026 to 2030-2031. Spirit says the aircraft pushout has a positive $340 million liquidity impact over the next two years. Deliveries scheduled for 2027-2029 are unchanged.

Flight Team Internship

This California Science Center project exposes disadvantaged students to the many possible careers in aviation. The project needs support from aviation companies.

Mentioned

Mach Speed: From Mach 1 To Mach 3 Speed and Beyond

Hosts this Episode

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

739 Decarbonizing Aviation

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

Guest

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

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

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

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

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

Logo for The International Council on Clean Transportation.

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

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

See also:

Aviation News

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

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

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

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

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

PT6 Reaches 60 Years, Pratts Fly a Billion Hours

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

GAMA: General Aviation Aircraft Shipments, Billings Improve in 2022

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

Source: GAMA Releases 2022 Aircraft Shipment and Billing Report

Airworthiness Directives; Continental Aerospace Technologies, Inc. Reciprocating Engines

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

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

Regional Jet Aborts Landing To Avoid Departing Flight At Burbank

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mentioned

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

https://youtu.be/E68rUBhuDTA

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

Hosts this Episode

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

681 Startup Airline Airbahn

New startup airline Airbahn, Boeing’s fighter bid is rejected by Canada, more on 5G and aviation signal interference, people try to bring the darndest things on airlines, what happens when you drop an iPhone from an airplane, an Australian water landing, A350 peeling paint, Airbus suggests a possible single-pilot freighter.

Aviation News

Airbahn: New SoCal-Based US Airline Startup

The CEO of Airblue (Pakistan’s second-largest airline) founded Airbahn in February 2018. The airline received a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for Interstate Air Transportation in October 2020 from the DOT. Airbahn has now taken delivery of its first Airbus A320 in the United States, an ex-Airblue plane now with registration code N786PB. Airbahn is currently hiring staff in California.

Airbahn logo

Based on their filing, Airblue will operate flights in the Western United States with service to mid-tier markets. Initially based at Long Beach Airport (LGB) or Orange County Airport (SNA), all planes and crews will return to base every day. Airbahn A320s will have 174 seats each, in a one-class configuration.

Boeing told its bid to sell fighter jets to Canada did not meet Ottawa’s requirements

According to sources, Boeing’s bid to replace Canada’s fleet of CF-18s with Super Hornets has been rejected. Bids were to meet requirements for missions at home and abroad, as well as for substantial Canadian economic benefit. Bids from Lockheed Martin (F-35) and Saab (Gripen) were accepted.

5G aviation fears: Mobile carriers propose to reduce power, especially near airports

First, we saw carriers delay 5G implementations one month to January. Now the mobile carriers are proposing a step further for six months: temporarily reducing base station power everywhere and limiting power near airports and heliports. This would give the FAA more time for further studies. The FAA hasn’t yet responded to the proposal.

4 things TSA really doesn’t want you to bring on an airplane

That would be guns and ammo, full-size hygiene products, alcohol, and fertilizer.

iPhone survives landing after pilot takes Airplane mode way too seriously

A pilot in Orlando dropped his iPhone onto the runway on takeoff, but the “Find My iPhone” app lead searchers right to it on the runway. Surprisingly, the phone was undamaged.

Video: Funny Exchange about an iPhone FOD on the runway!

Costly Airbus paint flaw goes wider than the Gulf

Airlines are discovering that A350 paint is blistering and peeling off, exposing the composite material underneath. On the orders of the Qatar Civil Aviation Authority, Qatar has grounded twenty of its 53 A350s. Airbus says it’s not a safety issue, but airlines want to know what’s happening.

Mentioned

US airman shot down over Romania in WWII is accounted for

Airbus CEO suggests A350 Freighter is a good candidate to implement single pilot operations

Two men escape serious injury after light plane crashes into ocean off Perth

Hosts this episode: Max Flight, Max Trescott, and Rob Mark.

661 Bambi Buckets for Aerial Firefighting

We learn about the Bambi Buckets carried by helicopters in aerial firefighting operations. In the news, the wreckage of the cargo jet that made a water landing is located, Richard Branson flies into space, the F-35A wins a Swiss competition and Germany buys the P-8A Poseidon, but China isn’t having a lot of success exporting their fighters, thoughts on supersonic transports, unruly passengers and defense training for flight attendants.

Bambi Buckets produced by SEI Industries Ltd.
The Bambi Bucket, courtesy SEI Industries Ltd.

Guest

Sergio Fukamati is the aerial firefighting director at SEI Industries Ltd., maker of Bambi Buckets. SEI Industries is an industrial fabric products manufacturer established in 1978 and best known for its Bambi Bucket Systems used in aerial firefighting operations worldwide. These lightweight, strong, and flexible firefighting buckets were first introduced in 1982 and since then have become a very successful firefighting tool. The Bambi Bucket is now used in over 115 countries by more than 1,000 helicopter operators.

Sergio has over 25 years of international business management experience. He is a professional engineer and a registered project management professional. Sergio has led the Aerial Firefighting Division at SEI Industries Ltd, in Delta, BC, Canada since 2017.

SEI Industries – Pushing the Bambi Bucket Further

Video: Wildfires and Bambi Buckets

Video: CAL FIRE MV-22 Osprey Bambi Bucket Demonstration

Aviation News

Wreckage located of Boeing cargo jet that made emergency landing off Hawaii

Transair Flight 810 has been found on the seafloor at depths between 360 and 420 feet, about two miles off the shore. Parts of the Boeing 737-200 cargo plane were located using a Side Scan Sonar and Remotely Operated Vehicle. The wreckage is too deep for divers to recover the flight data and cockpit voice recorders and plans are being developed to recover the aircraft.

Richard Branson goes to space

Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson becomes the first billionaire to travel to space aboard a spacecraft he helped fund. Virgin Galactic’s VSS Unity space plane landed safely at Spaceport America. Branson announced a partnership with charity fundraising site Omaze where people can donate to the nonprofit Humanity for Space. The winner gets two seats on a Virgin Galactic commercial flight. See Win Two Seats on One of the FIRST Virgin Galactic Flights to Space.

Lockheed’s F-35 Topples Competition in Swiss Fighter Contest

Switzerland has chosen the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter in a $6.5 billion competition against Eurofighter, Dassault, and Boeing. The Swiss Federal Council said the F-35 offered the highest performance for the lowest price, although it noted that the F-35 did not achieve the best performance in the area of offsets.

Germany signs on for Five Boeing P-8A Poseidon Aircraft

This maritime surveillance aircraft sale is under the U.S. government’s Foreign Military Sales (FMS) process. The P-8A is used for anti-submarine warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and search-and-rescue operations.

The World Doesn’t Want Beijing’s Fighter Jets

China hopes to become a major exporter of fighter jets but hasn’t found much success. Most countries don’t want to partner with Beijing. Between 2000 and 2020, the United States exported $99.6 billion in military aircraft, Russia exported $61.5 billion, France exported $14.7 billion, while China exported only $7.2 billion worth of military aircraft.

Does Supersonic Flight Have A Future?

This audio report from NPR’s Hear & Now takes a look at supersonic aircraft being developed.

US to require airlines to refund fees on baggage if delayed

The US Department of Transportation plans to propose that airlines would refund baggage fees if they fail to deliver a passenger’s bag within 12 hours of touchdown for US flights, or within 25 hours after an international flight. Also, airlines would have to refund the fees charged for other services if the service was not provided.

TikTok video shows woman on American Airlines plane duct-taped to her seat after she tried to open the door mid-flight

Reportedly, the passenger attacked flight attendants and attempted to open the plane’s front door.

TSA will resume defense training for airline employees

Voluntary classes for airline flight crews were paused in 2020 due to the pandemic. Now the Transportation Security Administration says they will resume in July. The FAA says airlines have reported more than 3,000 incidents involving unruly passengers since January 1, 2021.

Mentioned

Episode 82 – Rainbows and Unicorns

توظيف الذكاء الاصطناعي برسم مستقبل النقل الجوي بأميركا [or David in the press.]

658 Helping Youngsters in Aviation

We talk with Ellie Carter, Britain’s youngest solo glider pilot, and youngest single-engined PPL holder. Ellie has a passion for helping youngsters in aviation. In the news, the possibility of just one pilot on the flight deck for long haul flights, Airbus eyes an A350 freighter derivative, airlines struggle to meet the growing travel demand, a unique checked baggage item, a delay and possible price increase for the new Air Force One planes, the U.S. Air Force wants to know who would bid on a contract for the KC-Y bridge tanker, and an open rotor engine.

Across the Pond

Pieter Johnson welcomes Ellie Carter to Across The Pond. At age 14, Ellie became Britain’s youngest solo glider pilot and later went on to become Britain’s Youngest single-engined PPL holder, having soloed at 16. She is currently qualifying for her aerobatic and IFR ratings.

A STEM ambassador and Chair of the Light Aircraft Association’s Youth and Education Support Strut, Ellie has a passion for helping youngsters into aviation and has just completed her A-Level exams specializing in maths.

Ellie has been awarded the British Women’s Pilots Association, Hilda Hewitt Trophy, for her actions and her example, being an inspiration to her peer group. Most recently Ellie was awarded the Light Aircraft Association’s President’s Breitling Certificate for her work in promoting younger people in aviation.

Find Ellie on social media: Twitter, Instagram, and at the Youth Education branch of the Light Aircraft Association. Pieter can be found on Twitter and Aviation Xtended.

Aviation News

Cathay working with Airbus on single-pilot system for long-haul

Long-haul flights typically have three or four pilots, with two pilots on the flight deck. Airbus and Cathay Pacific are working on a system to allow only one pilot on the flight deck at cruising altitude on long-haul flights. 

Airbus Set to Move Ahead With A350 Freighter Within Weeks

Airbus is interested in competing in a market dominated by Boeing, and will reportedly be seeking board approval to proceed with an A350-based freighter. The modified A350-900 might be slightly longer than the passenger version and take four to five years from the launch date to enter service.

American Airlines asking Dallas-based employees to volunteer to work without pay as travel skyrockets

Travel demand is going up in the U.S. and American Airlines wants to be ready. A company memo is asking non-union employees to volunteer their help at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. The corporate scheduling, planning, and communications workers are being asked to work unpaid 6-hour shifts helping travelers in international terminals and other tasks.

TSA checkpoint travel numbers

The TSA reports 20221 traveler throughput by day compared to throughput for 2020 and 2021.

College student gets $20 to check pool noodle on Southwest flight

It started as a bet. The airline’s response is notable.

Delivery of new Air Force One planes could be delayed until 2025

Boeing has notified the US Air Force that the two 747-8 Air Force One aircraft could cost more than the $3.9 billion previously agreed to, and the planes could be delivered a year late, in 2025.

Air Force Begins Search For New Refueling Tanker as Lawmakers Push Airbus

The U.S. Air Force posted a Contracting Opportunity for new tankers. The “Sources Sought” request is “to determine if there exists an adequate number of qualified interested contractors capable of providing solutions to meet the requirement. The Government may use the responses to this Sources Sought for information and planning purposes.” The Air Force is looking for companies that can deliver approximately 140-160 Commercial Derivative Tanker Aircraft—at a rate of 12 to 15 per year—to supplement the Air Force Tanker Aircraft fleet at the end of KC-46A production, and bridge the gap to the next Tanker recapitalization phase.

Wild-Looking ‘Open Rotor’ Engine Could Cut Airliner Emissions by a Massive 20 Percent

A CFM design looks to address the noise issues of past oper rotor (or unducted fan) turbine engines.

Mentioned

American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic order e-air taxis from UK startup

Vertical Aerospace is an electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOL) startup based in the UK. The company announced pre-orders for up to 1,000 of its electric VA-X4 vertical takeoff aircraft. American Airlines ordered between 250 and 350 aircraft, Virgin Atlantic ordered between 50 and 150, and aircraft leasing group Avolon ordered 310.

The VA-X4 seats 4 PAX and a pilot, with commercial flights expected in 2024. The aircraft can cruise at 202 mph, has a usable range of up to 120 miles, and is claimed to be 100x quieter than a helicopter thanks to the VA-X4’s distributed propulsion system.

Vertical plans to go public this year on the New York Stock Exchange via a SPAC merger (special purpose acquisition) in a deal valuing it at $2.2 billion. SPAC investors include American Airlines, Avolon, Honeywell, Rolls-Royce, and Microsoft’s venture capital fund M12.

Huntsman spider drops on top of pilot

641 AOPA Events for 2021

The AOPA events planned for 2021, Bombardier ending Learjet production, United Airlines investment in eVTOL, VFR charts move to a 56-day production cycle, F-35A engine issues impact the demo team schedule, and a TSA agent saves the day for some confused passengers.

Guest

Chris Eads, AOPA Senior Director, Outreach and Events

Chris Eads is Senior Director, Outreach and Events for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). He’s a private pilot and an AOPA member since 2001. He began working for AOPA in 2013. Chris flies VFR all over the country both for fun and as a part of his role leading AOPA events and regional fly-ins.

We focus on AOPA’s thinking and plans for events late in 2021 and even into 2022. The organization has released plans for two 2021 Aviator Showcase events. Each showcase will be a single-day event designed to provide new product and aircraft information to pilots, aircraft owners, and prospective buyers.

Aviator Showcase at Manassas, Virginia
Aug. 27, 2021, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
At Manassas Regional Airport (KHEF), hosted by Chantilly Air Jet Center.

Aviator Showcase at Fort Worth, Texas
Oct. 1, 2021, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
At Fort Worth Alliance Airport (KAFW), hosted by Alliance Aviation Services.

These events will be one-day gatherings in an exhibit hall, with an aircraft sales display and technology-related seminars. Attendees will have the opportunity to meet with industry leaders in avionics and cockpit technology, flight planning, weather resources, aircraft manufacturing, and more.

To be sure AOPA is in alignment with current CDC guidelines at the time of the event, registration will open approximately 12 weeks prior to each event. Attendance will be limited according to CDC restrictions, and advance registration is required.

In addition to the two Showcases, AOPA is considering “pilot gathering air tours” for when the pandemic clears sufficiently. These would be similar to a barnstormer’s tour and include social functions, unlike the Aviator Showcase events.

Aviation News

Learjet, once the go-to private plane for celebrities, is ending production

Learjet, owned by Bombardier, will stop production later this year. Bombardier said it will concentrate on the Challenger and Global aircraft, which are more profitable. The company was started in 1962 by Bill Lear, with the first entry-into-service in 1963. The company was purchased by Bombardier in 1990.

Archer Aviation gets a $1 billion order from United Airlines, on the same day it announces a deal to go public

Archer Aviation Inc. announced that United placed an order valued at $1 billion for all-electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOL). United has an option to buy an additional $500 million worth of aircraft. Archer also announced its merger with Atlas Crest Investment Corp. which takes the company public and allows the public to invest in the urban air mobility (UAM) market. United Airlines plans to have a role in the UAM market with “last mile” transportation between airports and urban destinations using low-emission eVTOL aircraft.

VFR charts to go on 56-day publication cycle in 2021

The 56-Day Visual Charts notice [PDF] was published January 15, 2021 and takes effect February 25, 2021. In shortening the update cycle for VFR charts to match the dates on IFR charts, the FAA will now be updating all charts every 56 days.

F-35 Demo Team Forced To Cut Airshow Appearances Due To Fleet-Wide Engine Issues

Turbine blades in the Pratt & Whitney F135-PW-100 engine powering the F-35 are experiencing shorter than expected life. Some F-35As have been running close to design limits which is causing premature cracks in the turbine blade coatings. While not a flight safety issue, it is causing unscheduled engine removals. The depot system is apparently already backlogged, so this extra workload is adding to that problem. This impacts the available engine supply so the Air Force F-35 demonstration team is scaling back the number of air show appearances by about a third.

Wrong Portland: TSA officer helps family fly to correct coast

A family of three Spanish-speaking passengers landed in the wrong Portland airport – Oregon, not Maine. They were about 2,500 miles from where they wanted to be. A TSA agent escorted the family to a ticket agent, and learned the family only had $200. The agent personally provided the additional money that allowed them to book a flight to their correct destination.

Mentioned

Check Out These Stunning Images Of The Super Bowl’s Bomber Trio Flyover

Here’s why Army helicopters have Native American names

FAA Files Reveal a Surprising Threat to Airline Safety: the U.S. Military’s GPS Tests

Gerbino Flight Systems: Innovations in Flight

Gerbino rotorcraft by listener Harold.

636 Boeing Criminal Fine

Boeing agrees to pay a $2.5 Billion settlement for criminal charges relating to the 737 MAX MCAS system, the FAA issued final rules for supersonic aircraft testing, Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary says the government mismanaged travel restrictions, flight attendant unions are concerned about disruptive air travelers and the FAA responds with a stern warning, initial reports from the Sriwijaya Air flight SJ182 crash, and on a lighter note, the TSA celebrates agency canines in a 2021 calendar.

Aviation News

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

Boeing Reaches $2.5 Billion Settlement With U.S. Over 737 Max

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

Boeing entered into a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) in connection with criminal information that charges the company with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States. Under the terms of the DPA, Boeing will pay a total criminal monetary amount of over $2.5 billion:

  • A criminal monetary penalty of $243.6 million, 
  • compensation payments to Boeing’s 737 MAX airline customers of $1.77 billion, 
  • and the establishment of a $500 million crash-victim beneficiaries fund to compensate the heirs, relatives, and legal beneficiaries of the 346 passengers who died in the Boeing 737 MAX crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302.

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

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

Acting Assistant Attorney General David P. Burns of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

Aviation analysts react to Boeing criminal fine

Aviation consultant Scott Hamilton (our guest in episode 398) says the penalty is a “slap on the wrist.” He notes that Airbus paid nearly twice that for a bribery case and there were no fatalities involved there. Hamilton wants to see leadership changes at Boeing.

Charles Herrmann, a lawyer representing more than 50 families of 737 crash victims says the fine is appropriate. Boeing has already suffered financially and doesn’t need to be put out of business. “He blames Boeing’s problems on a change in culture that began when they moved headquarters to Chicago.”

See Jon Ostrower’s The Air Current piece Boeing’s MCAS on the 737 Max may not have been needed at all for many insights.

Individuals who believe they may be an heir, relative, or legal beneficiary of one of the Lion Air Flight 610 or Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 passengers in this case should contact the Fraud Section’s Victim Witness Unit by email at: Victimassistance.fraud@usdoj.gov or call (888) 549-3945.

FAA issues rules for supersonic jet flight testing in the US

Press Release – FAA Announces Final Rule to Facilitate the Reintroduction of Civil Supersonic Flight

On January 6, 2021, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued a final rule (PDF) to facilitate the safe development of civil supersonic aircraft. The government says the rule is intended to streamline the application procedure for special flight authorizations to operate in excess of Mach 1 over land in the United States by 

  • Amending the administrative requirements for a special flight authorization,
  • clarifying the information that is needed for submission,
  • and specifying the program office within the FAA that processes the applications.

Outside the special flight authorizations under this final rule, the FAA continues generally to prohibit civil supersonic flight over land in the United States. In place since 1973.

This item came to our attention through an issue of Starburst Weekly, the newsletter of Starburst, a global aerospace accelerator.

Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary says airline’s flights have collapsed from 2,000 a day to 10 but claims summer holidays WILL go ahead

From 2,000 flights per day to “ten or twenty” starting January 21, 2021 is an enormous drop. Covid reductions are catastrophic to the travel industry but O’Leary anticipates that with vaccine availability, by the summer air travel should rebound. He opined that the failure of the Government to end travel restrictions was “beyond him” and it is “one of the great contradictions of the Government’s mismanagement of the Covid travel restrictions.”

Flight attendant union wants pro-Trump rioters barred from flights

FAA chief issues stern warning to travelers after politically-motivated flight disruptions

The president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, Sara Nelson, (our guest in episode 545) said “The mob mentality behavior that took place on several flights to the D.C. area yesterday was unacceptable and threatened the safety and security of every single person onboard.”

On an American Airlines flight to Dulles International Airport, passengers shouted and cursed at each other. The flight attendant had to turn up the cabin lights and ordered passengers to return to their seats. On a Delta Air Lines flight carrying Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, some passengers started chanting “traitor.” Alaska Airlines banned 14 passengers on a Washington D.C.-Seattle flight.

in a statement, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said.“The FAA will pursue strong enforcement action against anyone who endangers the safety of a flight, with penalties ranging from monetary fines to jail time.” Passengers can face fines of up to $35,000.

The message here is clear: Do what the crew tells you to do and don’t argue. It doesn’t matter what the issue is, or if you are right and somebody else is wrong. Do what the crew says or you face serious consequences.

The Sriwijaya Air Crash: A Brief Rundown of What We Know

Sriwijaya Air Flight SJ182: Hope for survivors fades as plane wreckage found off Indonesian coast

Indonesian LCC Sriwijaya Air flight SJ182 with 62 people on board (50 PAX, 12 crew) crashed into the water off the Indonesian coast about five minutes into its flight. Four minutes after departing Jakarta, the Boeing 737-500 lost over 10,000 feet of altitude in less than a minute. Bad weather was reported in the area. Some wreckage and human remains have been found. A navy ship detected the emergency signals from the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder.

TSA’s 2021 dog calendar stars airport pups. Here’s how to get a free copy

The Transportation Security Administration has more than 400 canine teams at airports around the country. Now you can see photos and learn fun facts about thirteen of the dogs with the 2021 TSA Canine Calendar [PDF]. For each dog, you’ll find the dog’s name, breed, airport, handler, favorite treat and favorite toys.

Pipistrel G4
Pipistrel G4

Mentioned

Wendover Airfield

Wild Nevada – Episode 411: Wendover to Elko, a PBS video that aired in 2018.

The Pentagon Has 6 Months to Disclose What It Knows About UFOs

619 Spending Too Much Time at Home

Some Boeing 787s are grounded due to structural problems, Rolls-Royce financials don’t look good, a positive TSA story, another virtual flight option, US DOE funding for electric aircraft technologies, Pipistrel to set electric aircraft world records, Elon Musk says 3-4 years for effective electric aircraft batteries, Spirit avoids layoffs, and $200 ticket change fees are dropped.

Some co-hosts know how to make a podcast producer laugh…

Aviation News

Boeing yanks eight 787s from service over structural issue

Boeing discovered “two distinct manufacturing issues” that impact the structural integrity of eight recently manufactured 787 Dreamliners. The deficiencies are associated with the joining of composite aft body fuselage barrels. Planes delivered to United, Air Canada, and Singapore were pulled from service.

Rolls-Royce Is Fast Becoming a British Calamity

Rolls-Royce just announced a 5.4 billion-pound ($7.1 billion) loss for the first six months of 2020. The company’s balance sheet shows liabilities exceeding assets by 8 billion pounds.

TSA Employee Rescues Bride’s Wedding Dress Left at Airport Security: She ‘Saved’ the Wedding

One day before her wedding, a bride and her family passed through Newark Liberty International Airport, but the mother accidentally left a roller bag with the bride’s gown (and hers) at the checkpoint. TSA administrative assistant Loletta Nathan-Gordon jumped into action and saved the wedding.

‘Airplane Mode’ will let you relive the monotony of economy class this fall

The Airplane Mode simulator from AMC Games will let you fly in real-time from New York City to Reykjavik or from New York City to Halifax, Canada. Not from the cockpit, but in the cabin. In coach. Expect delays, rude passengers, and screaming babies. You do get a window seat.

US Department of Energy: $33 Million for Carbon-Neutral Hybrid Electric Aviation

The U.S. Department of Energy announced $33 million in funding for 17 electric aviation projects. This is under the ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy) ASCEND (Aviation-class Synergistically Cooled Electric-motors with iNtegrated Drives) and REEACH (Range Extenders for Electric Aviation with Low Carbon and High Efficiency) programs.

Pipistrel Ready To Set 7 Electric Aircraft World Records

Pipistrel plans to fly its Velis Electro more than 700 kilometers from the Swiss Alps to the North Sea, and break 7 world records along the way: lowest energy consumption, highest average speed, highest flight altitude ever reached with an electric aircraft, fastest climbing performance, fastest average speed, smallest number of intermediate stops, and longest electrically flown route. Follow the flight on the website and Facebook.

Tesla’s Elon Musk says that batteries enabling electric aircraft are coming in ‘3 to 4 years’

Last year, when commenting on the need for increased battery energy density, Musk said that was 5 years off.  Tesla’s batteries were then achieving around 260 Wh/kg. He said around 400 Wh/kg was needed for aviation. Elon’s current prediction is now 3 to 5 years.

Spirit Airlines Strikes Deal to Avoid Pilot Furloughs

Spirit Airlines has used voluntary leave initiatives to minimize the number of pilot layoffs, limiting them to 117 pilot furloughs. Now the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) announced that almost half of Spirit’s pilots had agreed to work fewer hours each month, which let the airline cancel all 117 of its planned pilot furloughs. 

United says it will drop widely scorned ticket-change fees

United Airlines says it is dropping its $200 ticket change fee. January, it will let customers fly standby for free on other flights the same day as their booked flight. “When we hear from customers about where we can improve, getting rid of fees is often the top request,” United CEO Scott Kirby said in a video posted Sunday. See also: United Ditches Domestic Change Fees… Let the Games Begin.

Mentioned

Sci-Fi Short Film “The OceanMaker”

Inventing the Joint Strike Fighter, a Zoom meeting Saturday, October 10, 2020, with Dr. Paul Bevilaqua, Chief Engineer of the Skunk Works, Lockheed Martin Corporation.

Arsenal of Democracy – On Friday, September 25, 2020, approximately 70 World War II aircraft will fly over the Washington Mall.

599 One Less Than 600

An aviation and space reporter helps us understand the current state of the aviation industry and where it might lead. We also bring you an inside look at how an article for an aviation magazine is produced.

Guest

Tom Risen is a Space and Aviation Reporter based in Washington, DC. He’s been covering the latest news and writing analysis about how airlines and aerospace manufacturers are adapting to the quarantine measures to slow the spread of Coronavirus.

Tom is co-authoring a book about government oversight, he is the web editor and reporter for Future Flight News, and Tom was formerly technology and business reporter at U.S. News & World Report, and a staff reporter for Aerospace America.

Aviation News

Boeing to restart limited local work on jets

Boeing says they’ll recall about 2,500 employees out of the 30,000 employees impacted by the shutdown. The recalled workers will support defense programs like the Navy’s P-8 and the Air Force KC-46 tanker, and also maintenance operations for 737 MAX jets stored at Moses Lake. Employees will be provided with personal protective equipment and enforce social distancing measures.

Airbus cuts production by a third as airlines struggle

In response to airlines suspending orders, Airbus cut its production. The company said it delivered 122 planes in the first quarter, with 60 remaining undelivered. 55 were delivered in February, 36 in March.

The ancient computers in the Boeing 737 Max are holding up a fix

Boeing 737 MAX jets have two independent flight controlled computers: the Collins Aerospace FCC-730 series computers, first built in 1996. These use single-core, 16-bit processors. They have limited compute power, but they are reliable.

Treasury Department says larger airlines need to compensate taxpayers for coronavirus aid as talks drag on

More than 230 applications from air carriers for payroll grants have been received by the Treasury Department. United, Delta, JetBlue, Spirit and others have applied for the aid. The Treasury Department said that it would not require applicants seeking $100 million or less to provide compensation. Officials have said the compensation could include stock warrants and or other financial instruments.

This will lead to airline bankruptcies’ — flight attendant union furious with Treasury bailout offers

Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants union and our guest in Episode 545 said, “This will lead to airline bankruptcies. The Treasury Department is destabilizing the industry, not helping save it.” The Treasury Department decided to make 30% of each cash grant offer a low-interest loan payable to the federal government. Nelson says Congress earmarked the money to immediately pay airline workers. If it’s turned into a loan, the airlines may choose not to take it.

Nearly 13,500 American Airlines pilots and flight attendants agree to voluntary leave or early retirement

The voluntary leave or retirement would occur in April or May, 2020. The Association of Professional Flight Attendants said about 7,960 members signed up for voluntary leave or early retirement out of 25,300 total. About 7,200 flight attendants signed up for three-, six- or 12-month leaves and about 760 will take early retirement.

TSA screens fewer than 100K travelers for 2 days in a row, hits ‘record low’ as coronavirus outbreak continues

This is about 96 percent lower than the same time last year. Then TSA screened more than 2 million passengers each day.

FedEx Puts Parked Jets Back in Service to Meet Asia Cargo Surge

FedEx plans to add 150 flights over the next month to ferry masks, protective suits and other health-care supplies to the U.S. from Asia.

Air Canada Removes Seating From 777s To Increase Cargo Capacity

Air Canada is pulling the 422 seats out of three of their 777-300ER aircraft so they can use the planes for cargo.

Alaska Airlines’ Creative New “Tag” Flights

Government aid under the CARES Act requires US airlines to avoid involuntarily furloughs or employee layoffs, and continuing service to all existing markets. Alaska Airlines is creating tag flights. For example, instead of flying from Seattle to Dallas and from Seattle to Houston, Alaska will fly from Seattle to Dallas to Houston.

The Impact of Coronavirus on Airport Planning and Design

HOK says they don’t foresee the need to make significant physical changes to terminals in response to COVID-19 because passenger terminals have been designed to be open and flexible. Thermal scanners and handheld thermometers for traveler screening are easily accommodated. But airports might look at “more comprehensive passenger wellness screening solutions.” We may also see “additional medical clinics within airports for use by passengers as well as airport and airline employees.”

This Man Owns The World’s Most Advanced Private Air Force After Buying 46 F/A-18 Hornets

The remaining Royal Australian Air Force legacy Hornets are coming back to the US to become civilian aggressors. The surplus RAAF F/A-18 Hornets are to be used in a contractor adversary air support role.

Positive Airline Stories

United Airlines Partners with Governor Newsom to Fly Medical Volunteers to California to Fight COVID-19

United Airlines has partnered with California Governor Newsom to provide free, round-trip flights for medical volunteers traveling to California to help in the frontline fight against the COVID-19 crisis. If you are interested in volunteering or learning more about the program, visit California Health Corps.

Alaska Airlines to host a job fair for Ravn employees, outlines plans in response to RavnAir’s suspension of service

RavnAir Group was a regional airline serving small Alaskan communities. They’ve ceased all operations but Alaska Airlines says they will maintain service to its destinations, start some summer seasonal service sooner, work to develop service to communities in the Aleutian Islands, and Cold Bay.

American Airlines Raises $2 Million for American Red Cross COVID‑19 Relief Efforts

The carrier and its customers raised more than $1 million for the American Red Cross in the first 24 hours of the campaign.

Interview

Flying MagazineA few months ago, Airplane Geeks reporter-at-large Launchpad Marzari tagged along with Rob Mark, senior editor at Flying Magazine, as Rob was writing an article about the Texas Aircraft Colt LSA for the magazine. We get a “behind the scenes” look at what is involved in producing an article for an aviation magazine. That piece became the cover story for the May 2020 issue.

Mentioned

Planes of Fame Airshow T-shirts

RenegadeAV8R Radio Show

Stay at home air show

Short Final: Hostile Target

Rafale Ride Leads To Inadvertent Ejection By Overstressed Passenger

543 Aviation Career Opportunities

Carl Valeri talks about aviation career opportunities, including the current employment outlook, some industry trends, and the wide availability of scholarships. We look at the Boeing acquisition of ForeFlight, the crash of an Ethiopian 737 MAX 8, FOD on new KC-46 tankers, a pilot who left his handgun on the plane, and a passenger with an RPG. We also talk about this year’s SUN ‘n FUN week-long fly-in and air show.

Guest

Carl Valeri, aviation careers expert

Carl Valeri

Carl Valeri is a flight instructor and airline pilot. He hosts the Aviation Careers Podcast and the Stuck Mic AvCast and you’ll find him on SUN ‘n FUN Radio. Carl also coaches the Polk State Flight Team.

Carl tells us about the current state of aviation employment opportunities, including the shortage of pilots, flight attendants, mechanics, managers, ground support personnel, office support, and many others. He also explains the current lack of instrument flying skills, building hours to meet the airline transport pilot requirement, airline pilot starting pay and first-year bonuses, as well as the trend of conditional hiring, the E-3 visa program, and the inclusion of rotor pilot hours in total time.

In addition to the podcasts, Carl provides career counseling as well as an extensive directory of scholarships that are available for people who want to get into an aviation career, or who want to advance their ratings.

As is the case every year, Carl will be managing SUN ‘n FUN Radio at the SUN ‘n FUN International Fly-In and Expo April 2-7, 2019 in Lakeland, Florida.

Mystery Aircraft

Carl sent us a photo asking David to identify the aircraft. Can you?

Of course, David knew right away what this is. Answer below.

Aviation News

Boeing Acquires ForeFlight

Flight planning company ForeFlight joins Jeppesen in Boeing’s Digital Solutions and Analytics group, part of Boeing Global Services. ForeFlight products are used by individual pilots, professional flight crews, flight departments, and others. Boeing VP Ken Sain said, “This acquisition… expands Boeing’s rapidly growing, unparalleled digital services portfolio which will enable us to compete and win in the $2.8 trillion, 10-year services market.”

See also the Boeing press release, the new joint website, and from AOPA Live Boeing acquires ForeFlight – Interview with CEO Tyson Weihs.

Ethiopia, China, other countries ground Boeing aircraft after devastating crash

An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 bound for Nairobi, Kenya crashed six minutes after takeoff from the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa. All 157 people on board Flight ET-302 were killed. Many countries initially responded by grounding the 737 MAX fleet.

Reports: Air Force won’t accept more KC-46 tankers until they’re cleaned of debris

In response to Foreign Object Debris (FOD) found by the U.S. Air Force in Boeing’s delivered KC-46 tankers, the aircraft are no longer being accepted by the government.

Pilot left gun behind in the cockpit of a Delta plane

The handgun was found by an airline ground worker. Delta has not identified the pilot and won’t say what action it will take against the pilot.

TSA agents find rocket-propelled grenade launcher in luggage

The unassembled parts of the launcher and a replica grenade were found in a checked bag at Lehigh Valley International Airport in Allentown, Pennsylvania. The owner told officials he thought he could bring the non-functioning launcher in his checked bag. The items were confiscated.

Mentioned

Women Take Flight, at the New England Air Museum, Saturday, March 9, 2019.

SUN ‘n FUN, April 2 – 7, 2019, Lakeland, Florida.

Aviation News Talk Podcast #101: Emergency Landing: Controller Talks Down Student Pilot After Oil Covers Windshield

F-35 Demo Team, including 2019 schedule.

New York International Air Show, August 24-25, 2019 at New York Stewart Int’l Airport.

Bjorn Moerman Photography. Excellent aviation images.

Mystery Aircraft

David knew immediately this is the Bell P-63 King Cobra. He also sent along photos of a few museum examples:

Credit

Outtro by Bruno Misonne.