Tag Archives: United Airlines

735 Aircraft Automation

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

Guest

Robert Rose headshot.

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

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

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

He sees certification in three phases:

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

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

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

Aviation News

United Airlines celebrates historic first graduating class of Flight Academy Pilots

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

What’s next for the graduates?

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

NTSB Finds More Problems in Ethiopian 737 Max Final Report

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

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

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

Aspen Pilots Want to Improve Airport Safety Record

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

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

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

Southwest Airlines says travel disruptions could cost $800 million

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

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

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

Australia News Desk

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

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

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

Train simulation

Saber announces first projects to fly in Australian Astronaut Program

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

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

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

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

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

Mentioned

AutoGyro USA

Calidus Gyroplane on the tarmac.
2014 Calidus Gyroplane

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

Donate here: https://www.pofsantamaria.org/

Hosts this Episode

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

729 Airport Lounges

We speak with the operator of the world’s largest network of airport lounges. In the news, United’s order for Boeing planes, air travel trends for 2023, Boom Supersonic plans to develop its own engine, the U.S. Army selects the Bell V-280 over the Sikorsky/Boeing offering, and passengers are injured by turbulence on a Hawaiian Airlines flight.

Guest

Stuart Vella is Vice President of Commercial Development and Operations with the Plaza Premium Group (PPG), an award-winning leader in premium airport hospitality services. PPG operates the world’s largest network of airport lounges. In the U.S. the company operates the Plaza Premium Lounge at DFW Terminal E and recently opened a lounge at Orlando (MCO) Terminal C. Stuart has been in the hospitality industry for some 30 years and has an extensive travel background.

Stuart Vella
Stuart Vella

We talk with Stuart about airport lounges and making the travel experience less hectic. He explains how PPG was formed to cater to those without access to elite lounges. PPG offers lounges for all travelers, regardless of cabin class or airline. Customer demand is high for more lounge access not necessarily tied to an airline or credit card.

PPG owns the lounges they operate and offers full food and beverage service with production kitchens, full bars, showers, play areas for children, and quiet areas for business people. The benefits of each lounge are tailored to the demographics of travelers going through that specific airport.

We discuss the PPG pricing model, LEED ratings, and the “ALWAYS” meet and greet at DFW.

Plaza Premium Lounge Opens at Orlando International Airport

Plaza Premium Lounge Wins Skytrax Awards Six Years in a Row [PDF]

Airport lounge

Aviation News

United places order for 200 Boeing planes, giving two troubled jets a vote of confidence

The United order represents 35% of the orders received by Boeing commercial airplanes this year. The announced order includes 100 firm/100 option 787 Dreamliners and 56 firm 737 Max planes for delivery between 2024 and 2026. The airline also exercised options on 44 737 Max jets with delivery between 2024 and 2026.

3 air travel trends to watch for in 2023

Three trends are noted in a conversation with United’s Director of UK, Ireland, Israel and Off-line Sales:

  1. “Alternative” airports will increase in popularity
  2. Greener air travel will remain a top priority
  3. Travel will become a lighter-touch experience

Boom plans new Symphony supersonic engine design

Boom Supersonic could not get any of the major engine manufacturers to commit to developing an engine for them. Boom now plans to develop its own engine, called Symphony, a medium-bypass engine producing 35,000 pounds of thrust. Three partners were announced:

Boom Supersonic Symphony engine.
Symphony (conceptual render). Courtesy Boom Supersonic.

Kratos purchased Florida Turbine Technologies in February 2019 and formed the Kratos Turbine Technologies (KTT) division. KTT develops and produces small high-performance jet engines for cruise missiles and unmanned aerial systems (UAS).

A Reality Check On The Army Picking V-280 Valor Over SB>1 Defiant

U.S. Army’s fleet of UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters is to be replaced under the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft initiative, or FLRAA. The Army has chosen the Bell V-280 Valor tiltrotor over the Sikorsky/Boeing Defiant X, a compound coaxial helicopter based on Sikorsky’s X2 technology. The Army said the V-280 offered the “best value proposition” without providing any specifics.

Note: Paul Wilson, chief engineer for the Bell V-280 Valor program was our guest in Episode 576 Bell V-280 Valor.

Passengers and Flight Attendants Hit the Ceiling After Severe Turbulence Strikes Hawaiian Airlines Plane From Phoenix

The A330 flight from Phoenix to Honolulu encountered severe turbulence, injuring as many as 36 passengers, 11 seriously. The pilots declared an emergency following the incident due to the number of injuries and the plane was given priority clearance to land.

See inside of Hawaiian Airlines plane rocked by turbulence

David’s Christmas Story

Hosts this Episode

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

723 Boeing MoM

Boeing won’t pursue a new middle-of-the-market airplane, propellers for aviation sustainability, high-wall super suites, passenger detention, large PAX and weight and balance, a KC-46 Class A mishap.

Aviation News

Boeing: “We won’t contemplate a new airplane”

Concerning a Boeing MoM, president and CEO David Calhoun, said, “We won’t contemplate a new airplane; we won’t even put it on the drawing board until we know we’re capable of doing that. So this is strategy for us. Capabilities. And then there’ll be a moment in time where we’ll pull the rabbit out of the hat and introduce a new airplane sometime in the middle of next decade.”

Opinion: Could Propellers Help Solve The Sustainability Conundrum?

The global civil aviation industry has pledged to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 but new technologies will require billions of dollars in investment. Hydrogen, electric and hybrid propulsion, and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) have promise, but feasibility and cost-effectiveness concerns remain. But propfans and ducted propellers “might finally be ready for use.”

The Latest in Luxurious First-Class Airplane Suites: Building Up

First-class suites with doors first appeared on the Airbus A380 then spread to other widebodies offering luxury and some degree of privacy. How do the latest class of high-wall super suites from Emirates and Lufthansa deal with the cabin view requirements?

Flight Attendant Physically Detained Passenger Because They Thought He Had Taken a Photograph of Them

The crew didn’t like being photographed and detained a passenger when they believed he’d taken a picture of them.

United Airlines Is Blocking Seats Under New Weight Requirements Per Passenger

The FAA has increased the “standard” weight of men and women which impacts airplane weight and balance. United’s B757s are affected to the degree that at least six seats per flight will be blocked.

AMC Investigating Class A Mishap That Damaged KC-46 Boom, Fuselage

The Air Mobility Command is investigating a potential Class A mishap involving a KC-46 Pegasus tanker that left the plane’s boom and fuselage damaged.

Mentioned

Albuquerque Intl. Balloon Fiesta releases 2022 attendance totals

Pawn Stars at the American Helicopter Museum – Scheduled to air on the History Channel on November 16, 2022.

Eastern Airlines Flight 401 50th Anniversary Memorial Monument – Dedication December 29, 2022, at 1:00 pm. Contact flt401memorial@gmail.com for more information. For donations:

By check payable to National Air Disaster Foundation. Note on your check that it is for Eastern 401. 100% of your tax-deductible donation goes toward the memorial. Send your check to: National Air Disaster Foundation, 2020 Pennsylvania Ave NW, #315, Washington, DC 20006.

By credit card visit www.PlaneSafe.org and click Donation.

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, David Vanderhoof, and Max Trescott.

700 Flight Attendant

A former TWA flight attendant describes the freedom of air travel in a new memoir. In the news, Delta says it will pay flight attendants during the boarding process, a resurrected Jet Airways says it won’t hire male flight attendants, American Airlines fires some reserve flight attendants, a custom 747-8 with 42 hours goes to the boneyard, add fuel shortages to the list of summer air travel challenges, and the F-15EX program faces some headwind.

L-1011. Jon Proctor (GFDL 1.2 <http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html> or GFDL 1.2 <http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html>), via Wikimedia Commons
Lockheed L-1011-1 Tristar at St Louis Lambert-St Louis Int’l – KSTL, USA – Missouri, 2 April 1985. (Courtesy Jon Proctor)

Guest

Ann Hood, former TWA flight attendant.
Ann Hood

From the time she graduated college in 1978 until 1986, Ann Hood was a TWA flight attendant. In her new book Fly Girl: A Memoir she reveals how she went from being a small-town girl with big-time dreams to flying 35,000 feet up in the air.

In Fly Girl, Ann gives the reader a look at the freedom and love of life that aviation offered. She tells us how the job empowered her, despite its roots in sexist standards where stewardesses were part of blatant innuendo in airline marketing.

In our conversation, Ann describes how air travel was different in the 1970s and 80s when passengers dressed up for the flight and wrote letters onboard for the cabin crew to mail. Of course, the food served was something altogether different, even in coach. 

Book cover: Fly Girl, a Memoir.

Ann observes how life unfolds on the airplane, meaning that the passengers all have different life stories, emotional states, and reasons for traveling. Flight attendants learn how to understand that and be compassionate and respectful of the passengers. She also comments on the qualities of a really good flight attendant and talks about long layovers and the L-1011.

As a bestselling author, Ann has written 14 novels, a collection of short stories, some nonfiction, a book series for middle readers, and much more. Find her and where to buy Fly Girl at her website AnnHood.us.

Aviation News

Delta, facing a union drive, says it will start paying flight attendants during boarding

Delta is the only major U.S. airline whose flight attendants aren’t unionized. Delta has more than 20,000 flight attendants. The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) wants to change that and a union campaign is underway. Now Delta says that starting June 2, 2022, they will pay their flight attendants while the plane is boarding, upending the block-to-block standard. However, the pay will be half the hourly rate.

This Airline Won’t Hire Male Cabin Crew Because it Wants to Save Money On Hotel Rooms

India’s Jet Airways went out of business in 2019, but investors are trying to bring it back to life. They want to do everything they can to keep costs down, so they plan to have flight attendants share hotel rooms. That’s fine, as long as the roommates are of the same gender. Otherwise, the airline would have to pay for two rooms. Their solution is to start with a flight attendant staff of just one gender, only allowing males into the company once a certain operational scale is reached.

American Airlines Sacks 50 Flight Attendants in Six Months For Going AWOL On Reserve Duty

When called, flight attendants on “reserve duty” have to be at work within two hours. If they are commuters (not living in the city of their assigned airport) they are expected to stay within two hours of travel to that airport. It seems some flight attendants were staying at their home location, betting they wouldn’t get called. The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) is warning its members that American is investigating no-show reserve flight attendants to see if they were AWOL. In an internal memo, the union told members, “During this investigation, they will pull all your travel benefits history, including past, current AA listings, travel, and other airlines. They will use other evidence to substantiate their claim that a Flight Attendant was not in a position to report within the contractual timeline.”

Royal Junk: Brand-New, Custom $300 Million Boeing 747-8 Arrives at Scrapyard

In 2012, a new Boeing 747-8 was delivered for the personal use of Saudi Arabian Prince Sultan bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. Before the full VIP refit was accomplished, the Sultan passed away and the jet was abandoned for a full decade. N458BJ only clocked 42 hours of flight time. Recently, the 747 was flown to Pinal Airpark in Arizona.

Video from BSL Planespotter 4K: Last flight of this white jumbo before its retirement B747-8JA | N458BJ | take off at Basel Airport

Could fuel shortages be the airlines’ next pandemic problem?

A number of factors have conspired to limit Jet-A availability at some airports, including weather and the process by which pipeline operators allocate pipe capacity to different fuel types.

Fuel Shortage Forces United Airlines to Cancel Johannesburg Flights

“We’re sorry to let you know that your flight has been canceled because of an airport-wide fuel shortage at Johannesburg Airport. We are closely monitoring the situation and we will resume operations as soon as possible.”

How Do Pipelines Work?

The F-15EX Program Is In Trouble

Officials in the U.S. Air Force are examining options for canceling the service’s new F-15EX Eagle II fighter program. Originally 144 aircraft were planned, but now the U.S Air Force is considering capping the program at 80 aircraft, making more funding available for the F-35A.

Mentioned

Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, October 1-9, 2022.

The Journey is the Reward

Brian’s notes to airline crews:

Brian's note card to airline crew.
Brian's note card to airline crew.

The Tesla is not trained to see airplanes.
What the eyes see (on the left) and what the Tesla sees (on the right). Courtesy Patrick Wiggins.

Archer and United Airlines Form Joint eVTOL Advisory Committee to Support Archer’s Future Airline Operations

Hosts this Episode

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

687 Airline Customer Service

An airline customer service story and a conversation with Brett Snyder, the Cranky Flier. In the news, the EPA is preparing a leaded aviation fuel proposal, a next-generation lav, restraints for infant safety inflight, Ryanair’s Learjets, the West Coast ground stop, lasers on aircraft, a TFR bust that involved an F-15C.

Brian Coleman and our Main(e) Man Micah discuss Brian’s airline customer service experience. He purchased a Premium Plus ticket, but the flight he took didn’t offer that class and the airline didn’t want to refund him the difference in the ticket price.

Separately, Brian had the opportunity to speak with Brett Snyder, the Cranky Flier, and get us caught up with all things Cranky.

Aviation News

EPA to Evaluate Whether Lead Emissions from Piston-Engine Aircraft Endanger Human Health and Welfare

EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan says, “EPA has been investigating the air quality impact of lead emissions from piston-engine aircraft near airports for years, and now we’re going to apply that information to determine whether this pollution endangers human health and welfare.” The EPA plans to issue a proposal for public review and comment in 2022. After evaluating comments on the proposal, the Agency plans to issue a final finding in 2023.

More information can be found at Petitions and EPA Response Memorandums related to Lead Emissions from Aircraft.

Boeing selects Collins Aerospace as next-generation lavatory supplier for the 737

There is a “next-generation” of lavatories for the 737 family of aircraft, and it’s coming from Raytheon Technologies’ Collins Aerospace. The new lavatory is customizable and modular. A touchless faucet comes standard, with other touchless amenities optional. A “centralized computing system to optimize the passenger experience, improve airline operability and help pave the way for future technology integration.” The lav is expected to be available on new 737 airplanes beginning in 2025.

Avelo looks to boost infant safety with Baby B’air

Unrestrained babies in flight is a serious safety issue and hazard and the NTSB has called for action for years. Avelo is now petitioning the Federal Aviation Administration for permission to use the Baby B’Air Flight Vest to restrain infants inflight.

The Story Of Ryanair’s 3 Learjets

Ryanair has a huge 737 fleet, about 450 in service along with 39 A320 aircraft operated by Lauda Europe. But they also lease three Learjet 45s to transport maintenance crew and parts.

What Caused The FAA To Issue A Brief Ground Stop On Monday?

The FAA issued a ground stop for all U.S. West Coast Flights that lasted 15 minutes. This was at the same time that North Korea was testing a long-range ballistic missile.

FAA statement on West Coast ground stop for some airports

FedEx Express Seeking Permission to Install Missile Downing Lasers to Some of its Aircraft

The FAA has received a proposal from FedEx Express to install a missile defense system on some of its aircraft.  When detected, heat-seeking missiles would be intercepted by infrared lasers to throw them off course.

Passengers Behaving Badly

2021 was the worst year on record for unruly airplane passengers in the US, FAA data confirms

Miami-Bound Passenger Storms Cockpit in Honduras, Causing Flight Delay

Three Long Island Women Indicted for Assaulting a Delta Airlines Security Officer at JFK Airport

Mentioned

Same model, different scales at the American Helicopter Museum:

David’s photos from a TFR bust and an F-15C orbiting the airfield.

Aviation News Talk 216: Learjet Crash update, PIREPS made simple with Virga App + GA News.

James GoPro Aviation YouTube Channel.

Wizz Air urges EU to keep ‘use it or lose it’ airport slot rule

Airlines square off with the EU and one another over ‘ghost flight’ controversy

US expected to be short 12,000 pilots by next year

Delta Drops Degree Requirement For Pilots

NASA may need more astronauts for space station, moon missions, report says

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, Rob Mark, David Vanderhoof, Max Trescott

686 The Aviation Queen

Benét Wilson, the Aviation Queen, joins us after a long absence. In the news, Boeing executives field questions about the 737 MAX, ghost flights in the EU, an Airbus class-action lawsuit, Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopters heading to Israel, bad behavior by both passengers and crew, a 5G deal is worked out, a pilot who refused to fly is awarded $2 million, and a plane crashes but then is hit by a train.

Guest (More like a returning co-host)

The Aviation Queen, Benét J. Wilson.
The Aviation Queen

Benét J. Wilson, known as the Aviation Queen, is a senior editor at The Points Guy (TPG), which publishes hands-on advice to help readers maximize their travel experiences. This lifestyle media brand sees 10 million unique visitors a month and has a social media audience of over 3 million across Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Twitter. A staff of more than 100, including editors, writers and reporters, and a large pool of regular contributors, parses, analyzes, and reports on the world of points and miles.

Benét has been an Airplane Geeks co-host in the past and we’re happy to have this chance to get caught up. She brings a valuable perspective to the conversation.

The Points Guy logo.

At TPG, Benét does recruiting, handles internal training, and mentors interns and young writers. She does media appearances for TPG and brings her insights to the site with aviation and travel features. Benét is a veteran aviation journalist who has covered airports, security, and the airline passenger experience.

Aviation News

Hoping for recovery, Boeing bosses look to the future, deflect questions on the MAX crashes

Dominic Gates reports on interviews with Boeing’s Commercial Airplanes CEO Stan Deal and Chief Engineer Greg Hyslop. Dominic summarized the strategy described by the executives: “hunker down, fix the litany of current problems and rely on a revamp of the company’s engineering culture to restore Boeing’s stained reputation.” He writes, “Both executives deflected or flatly refused to answer questions about the engineering design mistakes that led to the two fatal 737 MAX crashes that have so damaged Boeing’s image.”

The article mentions “Flying Blind: The 737 MAX Tragedy and the Fall of Boeing” by Peter Robison, our guest from Episode 683, but also notes that two major feature documentaries are set to air in 2022.

Airlines push the E.U. to ease airport rules as Omicron rages.

Airlines have to use 80% of their airport takeoff and landing slots or they lose them. Of course, losing slots is something an airline wants to never let happen unless that’s part of some strategic plan. So when demand falls off a cliff, airlines are forced to fly nearly empty planes. Or even empty planes. We’ve seen thousands of these “ghost flights” that are a huge waste of fuel and needlessly pump carbon into the atmosphere.

The rules were waived in early 2020, but the European Commission has been reinstating them. Starting December 15, 2022, the winter travel season threshold has been set to 50 percent. The FAA waived the U.S. slot rules early on in the pandemic and has recently extended them through March 2022.

Airbus faces $339 million class action suit in the Netherlands, lawyers say

Lawyers for the Foundation for Investor Loss Compensation filed the class-action suit on behalf of “a hundred” institutional investors. They claim the investors suffered at least 300 million euros ($339 million) in damages when Airbus withheld information about corruption at the company, resulting in overpriced shares of Airbus SE. After a three-year investigation into bribery and corruption over sales practices, Airbus agreed in 2020 to a nearly $4 billion fine in a deal with French, British, and U.S. authorities. In that settlement, Airbus admitted it had paid huge bribes on an “endemic” basis to win contracts in 20 countries.

US, Israel finalize deal for 12 heavy-lift helos, two KC-46s

Under the agreement, Israel will purchase 12 Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopters. If the option for six more helicopters is exercised, the total deal could be worth $3.4 billion. The CH-53K is currently undergoing initial operational test and evaluation. Initial operational capability is scheduled for early 2023, with first deliveries expected in 2025.

A veteran flight attendant worked for United for 23 years using a false identity, federal court complaint says

The Brazilian flight attendant stole the identity of a boy who died in a car crash at age 4 in the 1970s.  The man used the boy’s name when he applied for a US passport in 1998. In December 2020, the State Department flagged the passport renewal application for “various fraud indicators.”

United Airlines Forces Out Flight Attendant For Her TikToks

The woman posted around 20 videos wearing her uniform, in violation of company policy. She’s now interviewing at other airlines. It’s important to know your employer’s social media rules.

Airlines Strand Passengers Who Partied on Flight Without Masks

A Canadian group chartered a plane to party in Mexico for the NewYear. Videos show the group flouting Covid-19 and safety rules. Sunwing Airlines flew the group to Cancún, and canceled the return flight to Canada after an internal investigation found that the passengers “exhibited unruly behavior and did not respect aviation or public health regulations.” Many passengers remained stranded in Mexico after at least three airlines said they would not fly them back.

Biden hails 5G wireless deal averting aviation safety crisis

AT&T and Verizon agreed to delay the rollout of C-Band 5G service two weeks – to January 19, 2022, absent any “unforeseen aviation safety issues.” The wireless carriers also agreed that the FAA would provide them “with a list of no more than 50 priority airports that they would propose to be subject to the C-Band exclusion zones.”

Fifty US airports to have buffers when telcos turn on new 5G services

The FAA says fifty U.S. airports will have 5G C-band buffer zones when AT&T and Verizon switch on new 5G services. They include Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Chicago O’ Hare, Newark, JFK, LAX, Philadelphia, and 43 other airports. Airports with 5G Buffer [PDF].  The airports were selected based on traffic volume, number of low-visibility days, geographic location, and input from the aviation community.

Boone County Jury Awards Nearly $2 million to Pilot Fired for Refusing to Fly in Unsafe Conditions

A pilot with almost 50 years of experience refused to fly a private plane to the Caribbean because he felt it was unsafe. He notified his employer that he’d wait and check the weather the following day, and let them know what the situation was. When he did so, the pilot was told that the company had hired a temporary pilot who made the flight. A few days later, he was informed he had been fired. The jury awarded the pilot $1,990,833 which included $1.3 million in punitive damages.

Plane crashes in Los Angeles County, then is hit by train

A Cessna 172 went down on the railroad tracks at an intersection shortly after taking off. Then, about 20 minutes later, a Metrolink train crashed into it. The pilot had been pulled out and was taken to a hospital. There were no other injuries.

Video: Train smashes into crashed plane seconds after pilot is rescued

Mentioned

The Journey is the Reward – Brian T. Coleman and Micah Engber plan to document Brian’s quest to achieve lifetime United 1K status.

Art For Bricks: Exclusive Brick Mosaic Art for everyone 

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, David Vanderhoof, Max Trescott, Brian Coleman, Benét Wilson.

680 F-14 Tomcat

A former F-14 Naval Aviator communicates the military aviation experience through his novels, videos, and writing. In the news, the Rolls-Royce all-electric airplane appears to have set three world records, an F-35B crash, flight attendant bonuses for the holiday travel season, flying under the influence, and an open rotor engine demonstrator program. Plus, an Across the Pond segment.

Guest

Ward Carroll, F-14 Tomcat Naval Aviator

Ward Carroll is a former F-14 Naval Aviator who spent 20 years as an F-14 Radar Intercept Officer. He is the author of the bestselling Punk trilogy about life in an F-14 squadron. Punk’s Fight, Punk’s War, and the new Punk’s Wing are widely considered to be realistic portrayals of naval aviators in the context of a techno-thriller.

In his novels, Ward creates characters that are recognizable as representatives of real people doing real jobs. As an example, through his female character, Ward confronts the issues surrounding the integration of women into the Tomcat community.

Ward’s YouTube channel has grown to be very popular and gets much of his focus these days. He talks, as he says, about “airplanes, music, and writing . . . but mostly airplanes.”

In our aviation news segment, Ward shares the perspectives of a Naval Aviator as we discuss the recent F-35B crash after takeoff from a British aircraft carrier.

Outside the Navy, Ward has extensive experience as a military journalist. He was editor of Military.com and Approach magazine, and writes for the US Naval Institute. Besides his passion for aviation, Ward is a lover of music and plays in the band MiLES FRoM CLEVeR.

Find Ward at his YouTube channel. The Punk’s books are available on Amazon.com and on the U.S. Naval Institute website.

Video: The Real Truth About F-14 Tomcats and the Achille Lauro Hijacking

Mentioned: C.W. Lemoine’s YouTube Channel

Aviation News

Rolls-Royce says its all-electric aircraft ‘is world’s fastest’

In test runs, the Rolls-Royce “Spirit of Innovation” electric airplane has flown 387.4 mph (623 km/h). The company believes they have set three all-electric world records and await verification from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI): top speed over 3 km of 345.4 mph, top speed over 15 km of 330 mph, and time to climb to 3,000 meters of 202 seconds.

Video: Rolls-Royce | Spirit of Innovation – the world’s fastest all-electric aircraft

The ‘Spirit of Innovation’ is part of the ACCEL (Accelerating the Electrification of Flight) project and is based on the Nemesis NXT airframe.

F-35 From The Carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth Has Crashed Into The Sea

The pilot safely ejected from the F-35B (the STOVL version) in the eastern Mediterranean shortly after takeoff from the Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth. See: Probe after British F-35 fighter crashes in Mediterranean.

Other F-35 crashes:

JetBlue dangles $1,000 attendance bonuses for flight attendants ahead of holiday rush

According to a company memo, JetBlue Airways flight attendants could earn a $1,000 attendance bonus if they don’t call out through early January. Meanwhile, if they meet attendance goals, Southwest Airlines will provide flight attendants and some other operations employees 120,000 points in the airline’s frequent flyer program. American Airlines flight attendants can earn pay bonuses for peak holiday trips as well as for meeting attendance goals through early next year. $1,000 bonuses are available to other staff and regional airline subsidiaries.

A 63-year-old United Airlines pilot was arrested after being found four times over the legal limit. After drinking whiskey at a Glasgow pub during a 2019 layover, the man became fall-over drunk. A concerned member of the public tipped off the airline with a Tweet. The pilot was sentenced to 10 months in jail.

RISE Tech Plan Could Feed CFM Leap-1 Upgrades Through 2020s

GE Aviation and Safran launched the Revolutionary Innovations for Sustainable Engines (RISE)  initiative in 2021. This open-fan demonstrator program anticipates a mid-2030s application. It could also feed technologies to the LEAP-1 turbofan engine. The open rotor design features a second stage of fixed variable pitch stators, a fan-drive gear system, a compact high-pressure core for increased thermodynamic efficiency, waste exhaust heat used to preheat combustion air, and ceramic matrix composites in the hot section.

Across the Pond

Aviation from the European perspective with Pieter Johnson.

Two Vickers Varsity T Mk 1 aircraft – Copyright BAE Systems and Ron Smith

Trusted Traveler Programs

Our Main(e) Man Micah recently wrote a piece for Johnny Jet explaining the five Trusted Traveler Programs available in the USA through Homeland Security, and an announcement about NEXUS appointments:

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

676 Boeing 787

A Boeing 787 Captain explains getting type-certified and his career journey. In the news, an MD-87 is destroyed but all aboard survive, Piedmont Airlines flight attendants authorize a strike, flight statistics comparing 2019 with 2020 and 2121, buying an airline flight from a vending machine, a protest by Alitalia flight attendants, and a proposed hypersonic passenger plane. Also, plane spotting at LAX and the new parking structure.

Guest

Arnie Quast is a new Boeing 787 Captain for United Airlines based at Chicago-O’Hare International Airport.  He has been a pilot at United for 31 years, and has flown as a crewmember in just about every aircraft type United has in their fleet.

Boeing 787 captain Arnie Quast.

Arnie describes the process of becoming a Boeing 787 captain after flying Airbus equipment, including the vacancy bid openings and how seniority determines where a pilot fits on the bid. We look into the United training process in some detail, including computer-based training (CBT) modules, the training center, transitioning to the aircraft, and the role of the line check airman (LCA). Arnie tells us about systems training, classroom ground school, using the simulator, the systems knowledge validation (SKV) test followed by procedures training and procedures validation, as well as maneuvers training in the full flight sim, maneuvers validation, practice flights through line-oriented flight training (LOFT), and the type-rating check-ride supervised by a standards captain.

Arnie touches on flight security issues, engaging with passengers, and United’s Aviate pilot career development program that offers aspiring and established pilots pathways to a United flight deck.

Arnie began learning to fly when he was 15 years old at a central New Jersey airport and earned his private pilot license at age 17.  After high school, he attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University where he earned the rest of his pilot ratings as well as a bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical Science. During his senior year at Embry-Riddle, Arnie worked for United Airlines as a Flight Operations Intern. That internship helped him get hired as a United pilot at age 23 and launched his career as an airline pilot.

Aviation News

NTSB: Plane that ran off runway in Brookshire had not flown in 10 months

An MD-87 attempted to take off from Houston Executive Airport but ran off the end of the runway, struck a fence and power poles, and burned. The eighteen passengers and three crew members were able to exit the aircraft after a flight mechanic opened the main cabin door and activated the evacuation slide. Video shows a puff of smoke at the tail of the aircraft and tire marks were found on the runway. 

Hundreds of American Airlines Regional Flight Attendants Vote to Strike, but Walkout Still Distant

Piedmont Airlines flight attendants at PHL unanimously vote to authorize a strike

Flight attendants at American Airlines’ Piedmont Airlines regional carrier voted unanimously to strike. The Association of Flight Attendants-Communications Workers of America claims that flight attendants just starting have a base pay of $16,500 a year and 10-year veterans make only $28,000 a year. According to the union, the airline offered a small pay increase that was more than offset by higher health insurance premiums.

Flight tracking statistics

The Flightradar24 global flight tracking service tracks over 180,000 flights from more than 1,200 airlines, flying to or from some 4,000 airports around the world – in real-time. Their aggregate flight tracking statistics compare 2019 (pre-pandemic), 2020, and 2021 to date.

This Japanese Airline is Selling Flights to Surprise Destinations Out of Vending Machines

The LCC Peach Aviation marketing campaign has been a big hit. Last August, Peach launched a vending machine in Osaka that sells capsules with the name of a surprise destination and Peach points that can be used towards the cost of the flight. Peach has sold more than 3,000 capsules so far.

Watch: Ex-Alitalia Flight Attendants Strip Off Uniforms in Flash Mob Protest

Alitalia is gone and was replaced by Italia Trasporto Aereo (ITA). Alitalia had huge debts which were written off in a deal between the Italian government and the European Commission. But an agreement with the unions wasn’t reached for ITA. Only 30% of the Alitalia workers were brought into ITA and the union says their wages dropped by 30%.

Why a Mach 5 passenger plane is a crazy idea that might just work

Atlanta-based startup Hermeus is thinking about hypersonic Mach 5 air travel. The company is testing an engine for small, unmanned hypersonic aircraft for the US Air Force. Hermeus believes the engine design could be scaled to a size that could power a passenger plane. Engine tests of a “Turbine-Based Combined Cycle (TBCC) engine started in February 2020 based on the existing GE J85-21 turbojet engine used on the F-5.

LAX, Mayor Garcetti Announce Opening Of $294 Million Economy Parking Structure

Plane spotters at LAX.

Brian Coleman attended the event and speaks with:

Mentioned

Honoring the legacy of the WASP, November 11, 2021, at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, in Dayton, Ohio.

96-year-old World War II Veteran granted dream flight in 1920s airplane

Veteran’s Last Patrol

Twin Cities Man Accused Of Operating Private Airport In Field Behind His Home

This Is The Most Incredible Tour Of A B-52 Stratofortress We Have Ever Seen

Erik Johnston’s Youtube channel

673 Planes of Fame

Our guest is Steve Hinton, the president of the Planes of Fame Air Museum. In the news, Delta Airlines signs a contract for sustainable aviation fuel, United Airlines decides to resume cargo-only flights, Qatar Airways profits were cut by Covid, and British Airways pilots may have the opportunity to fly for Qatar.

Guest

Steve Hinton is president of the Planes of Fame Air Museum and the owner of Fighter Rebuilders. Steve tells us about the living history collection of aircraft that is the museum, as well as the events held to create participation. Planes of Fame restores many warbirds to flightworthy condition and these are flown at demonstrations, airshows, and even in movies. A Bearcat and a Corsair were used in the production of the upcoming action war drama film Devotion.

Steve also works with the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation which celebrates U.S. airpower history and is a living memorial to those who have served in the U.S. Air Force. Heritage Flight demonstrations are flown around the world which pair modern aircraft with fighter aircraft from the past. Steve explains how the selected civilian pilots practice with the military pilots and he describes the challenges of flying old prop warbirds with modern jets.

After our conversation with Steve, Brian Finnegan joined us and he describes the history of Planes of Fame which was founded by Ed Maloney. Brian is the Director, Education Programs and Development at Planes Of Fame Air Museum.

Learn more at the Planes of Fame Air Museum website, follow them on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

Aviation News

Delta purchases more than $1 billion Worth of Sustainable Aviation Fuel

Delta Airlines signed an agreement with Aemetis for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). The 10-year contract is worth more than $1 billion for 250 million gallons of blended fuel. The fuel will be produced at the company’s Riverbank, California renewable jet/diesel plant from waste forest and orchard wood. Aemetis expects the fuel to be available in 2024.

United is Restarting Cargo-Only Flights Because the Delta Variant is Having Such a Big Impact On Bookings

United Airlines had just responded to a surge in passenger bookings by phasing out special freighter services. Now the airline will resume cargo-only flights using empty passenger planes. Passenger planes can be used for freight by simply using the cargo hold or carrying the freight in the passenger cabin. Some airlines just strapped items to seats and others removed the seats to make even more room.

British Airways Boeing 777 Pilots Will Go On Secondment to Qatar Airways Over The Winter

According to an internal BA memo, up to 40 Boeing 777 Captains and First Officers have an opportunity to fly planes with Qatar for around six months during the London winter lull. Pilots would temporarily relocate to Doha and would retain their contracts and seniority. They would continue being paid by British Airways.

Qatar Airways says losses reach $4.1 billion amid pandemic

Those losses in revenue are a result of reduced demand for long-haul travel over the last fiscal year. However, Qatar reported an increase in earnings to $1.6 billion (before taxes and other costs) over the prior year. While the airline saved on jet fuel, it also reduced salaries by 15% and cut 13,400 employees from its workforce. Qatar had been the subject of a political embargo that kept them from flying in the airspace of Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Massive oil spill off Orange County coast shuts down beachfronts, air show

How a burst oil pipeline brought a halt to an air show.

Mentioned

New Tuskegee Airmen Exhibit at the American Helicopter Museum.

672 Leonardo AW609 Tiltrotor

The Head of Tiltrotor Marketing at Leonardo describes the world’s first commercial tiltrotor. In the news, a United stationary tail strike, Congress steps in on the controversial FAA flight training policy, DOJ files an antitrust suit over the American Airlines-JetBlue alliance, an industry-wide no-fly list is proposed, and Rolls-Royce wins the contract to re-engine the B-52 fleet.

AW609 Tiltrotor
Leonardo AW609 Tiltrotor, courtesy Leonardo.

Guest

William M. (Bill) Sunick

William M. (Bill) Sunick is Head of Tiltrotor Marketing at Leonardo. Their AW609 is the first commercial tiltrotor to enter the market and the world’s first pressurized cabin tiltrotor. The AW609 is well-positioned to serve a number of markets, including VIP, corporate, search and rescue, emergency medical services, and offshore energy exploration, as well as government roles.

Bill describes how the AW609 tiltrotor was designed to commercial standards, and how it offers the speed, range, and altitude of a fixed-wing turboprop airplane with the vertical take-off and landing versatility of a helicopter. We learn that the lower vibratory environment and pressurized cabin of this tiltrotor offer advantages for medical flights. Bill explains the FAA certification requirements for this aircraft, which falls into the new Powered Lift category.

Bill is responsible for the development of marketing and business strategies that create new opportunities, shape emerging markets, and influence customer thinking and actions. Prior to joining Leonardo Helicopters, Bill held numerous leadership positions at The Boeing Company within Strategy, Marketing, Sales, Market Development, and Engineering. He was also a member of the Presidential Helicopter team while at Sikorsky Aircraft in 1992.

Bill’s educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Drexel University and a master of business administration degree in Marketing from Saint Joseph’s University.

Aviation News

United 737 Tips on its Tail During Offloading

A United Airlines Boeing 737-900ER experienced a “stationary tail strike” on the ground at Lewiston (LWS Idaho) after a flight from LAX. United explained:

United flight 2509 flying from Los Angeles, California to Lewiston, Idaho landed without incident. Due to a shift in weight and balance during the offloading process, the tail of the aircraft tipped backward.  No injuries were reported among our customers, crew or ground personnel.  The return flight was on a different aircraft as originally planned.

See Boeing Tail Strike Avoidance for takeoff and landing risk factors.

House Passes Amendment to Reverse FAA on Flight Training Policy

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a bipartisan amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that clarifies that a flight instructor providing student instruction, flight instruction, or flight training shall not be deemed to be operating an aircraft carrying persons or property for compensation or hire. If passed, this would reverse the FAA’s recent flight training policy for certain types of aircraft.

Justice Department Sues to Block Unprecedented Domestic Alliance Between American Airlines and JetBlue

DOJ filed an anti-trust suit challenging the American Airlines-JetBlue alliance

American and JetBlue strike back against DOJ complaint over Northeast alliance

The DOJ claims the American Airlines-JetBlue Northeast Alliance eliminates competition in New York and Boston and harms air travelers nationwide:

The U.S. Department of Justice, together with Attorneys General in six states and the District of Columbia, sued today [September 21, 2021] in the District of Massachusetts to block an unprecedented series of agreements between American Airlines and JetBlue through which the two airlines will consolidate their operations in Boston and New York City. The civil antitrust complaint alleges that this extensive combination, which they call the “Northeast Alliance,” will not only eliminate important competition in these cities, but will also harm air travelers across the country by significantly diminishing JetBlue’s incentive to compete with American elsewhere, further consolidating an already highly concentrated industry.

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said, “They’re wrong and we’ll prove it. It’s entirely pro-competitive.” Parker argued that the alliance allows the two airlines to compete against Delta and United, which are largely entrenched in the Northeast market, while American and JetBlue would otherwise not be able to mount enough of an offense on their own.

Airlines Weigh Unruly No-Fly List

Delta is suggesting a national “no-fly” list (different from the government’s No-Fly List, which is terror-based). Delta’s own blacklist includes more than 1,600 people. A Delta VP said their list doesn’t work if the person can just hop on another carrier.

Vietnam’s Bamboo Airways to sign $2 bln deal with GE for engines on Boeing jets

In this deal, Bamboo Airways will purchase nearly $2 billion worth of General Electric GEnx engines to power Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. The Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 and General Electric GEnx-1B compete on the 787. Bamboo will operate its Dreamliner fleet on non-stop routes between Vietnam and the United States.

Rolls Royce Will Provide Long-Awaited New Jet Engines For The B-52 Bomber Fleet

The U.S. Air Force selected Rolls-Royce’s North American division to re-engine the fleet of B-52H bombers with F130 engines. The Drive reports: “Rolls-Royce’s new contract from the Air Force is valued at $500,870,458 over the next six years but could grow to over $2.6 billion if all of its options are exercised.” Work will be performed at the Rolls-Royce facility in Indianapolis and is expected to be completed by September 2038.

Mentioned

Tuskegee Airmen Exhibit at the American Helicopter Museum.

Honeywell and Wood introduce groundbreaking technologies to support efforts toward carbon-neutral sustainable aviation fuel

Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge