Tag Archives: United Airlines

642 Aircraft Line Maintenance

We examine aircraft line maintenance with a successful family-owned business. Also, two engine failures on commercial flights, testing single pilot aircraft with an eye toward future autonomous planes, a possible all new design for an F-16 replacement, and a mid-air wedding.

Guests

FEAM Maintenance/Engineering provides aircraft line maintenance engineering services for commercial aircraft operators through a wide network of line stations. They hold approvals for all current and next-generation aircraft, including B787 and A350 aircraft.

Fred Murphy is the founder and president of FEAM, the company that started in 1992 as Fred & Everett’s Aircraft Maintenance. Fred had a vision and he saw a niche for a 3rd party maintenance provider that could deliver high-quality maintenance at a reasonable cost. Now 29 years later FEAM has grown from zero to nearly $100 million in revenue projected for 2020.

Fred Murphy, founder and president, FEAM.

Prior to joining FEAM, Fred held various positions in maintenance/engineering departments at American Airlines, US Airways, FedEx and Trans World Airlines. Fred served in the US Air Force as a noncommissioned officer and holds an Associate Degree for Aircraft Maintenance Management. Fred also holds a Federal Aviation Administration airframe and powerplant license; Federal Communications Commission restricted radio operators license and a Federal Aviation Administration private pilot/ instrument rating.

Cam Murphy is the managing director of FEAM and is the second generation in his family business. Cam grew up in the business and his experiences include positions in almost every department, from janitorial services, stockroom clerk, to shadowing technicians on the flight line, and various management positions.

Cam Murphy, managing director, FEAM.

Cam joined the leadership ranks in 2010 with the vision of scaling the business. He and the team succeeded at that and what was once just two guys and a truck now employs about 1,100 technicians at 30 international airports. FEAM has maintenance certifications in the US as well as international certifications that include Korea, Singapore, Europe, Australia, Japan, and Bermuda.

Cam has an MBA in Aerospace and Defense, with a green belt certification for Lean Maintenance Repair and Overhaul from the University of Tennessee’s College of Business and Administration In 2017 Cam was awarded the Forbes 30 under 30 award, which recognizes 600 of the brightest young entrepreneurs, innovators and game changers in the US in 20 different industries.

Aviation News

United Flight Sheds Debris Over Colorado After Engine Failure

United Flight 328, a Boeing 777-200, experienced an engine failure shortly after taking off from Denver International Airport. Debris fell along the aircraft’s flight path. The plane returned to Denver. There were no injuries. United Airlines announced they will be grounding 24 Boeing 777 aircraft powered by Pratt & Whitney 4000 series engines, Japan’s Transport Ministry instructed Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways to ground the Boeing 777s in their fleet. The FAA issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive that would require immediate or stepped-up inspections of Boeing 777 airplanes equipped with these engines. Boeing recommends suspending operations of the 69 in-service and 59 in-storage 777s powered by Pratt & Whitney 4000-112 engines until the FAA identifies the appropriate inspection protocol.

Dutch probe shedding of 747 freighter engine parts over Maastricht

A Boeing 747-400 freighter taking off from Maastricht lost parts from one of its four engines. Two people were slightly injured, one went to the hospital. It appears to be a Longtail Aviation 747-400 converted freighter. The aircraft was originally delivered in 1991 to Singapore Airlines.

FedEx and Sikorsky quietly begin single-pilot tests for cargo airliners

An old ATR 42-300 turboprop owned by FedEx (N912FX) is undergoing trial flights around the Waterbury-Oxford airport in Connecticut. Autonomous and single-pilot technology for helicopters  and fixed wing aircraft is being tested.

Air Force Boss Wants Clean-Sheet Fighter That’s Less Advanced Than F-35 To Replace F-16

Some in the USAF are thinking about an F-16 replacement that could be an all-new fighter. If it goes forward, this would be a new “four-and-a-half-gen or fifth-gen-minus” fighter. The study would hopefully inform the Air Force’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget request.

Virgin Australia Hosts Mid-air Wedding on 737-8FE, VA841

The first mid-air wedding hosted by Virgin Australia took place on a flight from Melbourne to Sydney. The first kiss didn’t occur until after the 737 arrived at Sydney since the couple wore masks due to Covid protocols. “After five years of dating we wanted to elope, and thanks to Virgin Australia, we’ve done just that.” Passengers received a buttermilk biscuit wedding favour in the shape of a heart.

Mentioned

MRO Americas 2021, April 27-29, Orlando, Florida. #MROAM

2021 Aerospace Media Awards

Journalism & Aviation: A Complex Relationship, a webinar.

Podfest Expo

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.

632 Flight Training with Jason Miller

Guest Jason Miller produces flight training videos, a critically acclaimed podcast (The Finer Points), and now the Ground School flight training app. In the news, legend Chuck Yeager dies at 97, flight training restrictions due to Covid-19 and airline plans to transport vaccines, insurance rates for pilots, Designated Pilot Examiners, and a hydrogen fuel cell-powered research aircraft.

Guest

Jason Miller

Jason Miller is an award-winning CFI with more than 20 years of experience. He is the founder of the original flight training podcast, The Finer Points, and is the host of the fastest growing flight training channel on YouTube. He’s passionate about developing products that make a difference for real pilots in the real world and can be found online at learnthefinerpoints.com.

Video: Ground School Tour.

Aviation News

Yeager Leaves a Legacy of Speed

On December 7, 2020, Charles E. Yeager died of natural causes, at age 97. Besides breaking the sound barrier on October 14, 1947 in the Bell X-1, Yeager tested the YF-100 prototype of the F-100A, evaluated a Russian MiG 15 that had fallen into American hands, and on December 12, 1953, took the Bell X-1A to Mach 2.44 where he encountered “inertia coupling” at 76,000 feet. His skills were evident as he regained control at 25,000 feet.

Flight School Association of North America (FSANA)

FSANA says they are getting some reports of flight training restrictions and limitations that would limit in-person flight training. For example, Michigan has terminated all in-person collegiate instruction for at least a 3-week period. FSANA is also hearing concerns about crossing state boundaries for flight training and being subject to “return quarantines” due to state restrictions.

Potential insurance relief on the horizon for older pilots?

Many AOPA members are complaining that their premiums are spiking, coverages are being limited, and restrictions to just get covered are sometimes harsh—often with little to no explanation. “Not a day goes by that I don’t get a call about insurance rates,” says AOPA President Mark Baker. ow, AOPA’s strategic insurance partner AssuredPartners Aerospace, has teamed with an aviation insurer that will explore options for pilots up to age 79. This insurer will also offer potential coverage options for younger and newer pilots.

Flight School Association of North America (FSANA)

Although airman certification in the United States is conducted by the FAA, most of the actual certification of pilots is done by Designated Pilot Examiners (DPEs). They are certified as instructors, administer practical tests for airmen, and charge for their services. DPE’s serve at the pleasure of the FAA, meaning the FAA can revoke the privilege at any time, with or without need for cause. Recently, there have been two terminations of DPEs that have been reported in the press. FSANA is interested in the review process and termination, and/or appeal of such a termination process. Perhaps some additional transparency is needed.

Airlines Gear Up to Transport Vaccines That Could Revive Travel

US Airlines have been planning the distribution of Covid vaccine for months in anticipation of a huge demand for transport capacity. Airlines even are preparing to run vaccine-only flights. United says a single 777 can carry up to one million doses. Some vaccines need extreme cooling with dry ice – carbon dioxide – which is regulated by the FAA. United conducted some tests and asked the FAA to raise the limit so it could fly the Pfizer vaccine from Brussels to Chicago. The agency agreed, allowing the airline to carry up to 15,000 pounds of dry ice aboard a Boeing 777-224, compared with the previous limit of 3,000 pounds. See FAA Advisory Circular Re: Transporting Dry Ice [PDF].

Hydrogen-Powered HY4 Rolled Out

The HY4 research aircraft was shown by a consortium of European companies and organizations. Details are scarce, but the twin-boom HY4 looks like it is based on the Pipistrel Aircraft Taurus G4. The Taurus utilizes two electric gliders joined by a center section wing with an electric motor. The HY4 hydrogen drive uses a fuel cell powering a 160-HP electric motor. With a top speed of 108 knots, range is claimed to be up to 900 miles. Test flights began last month and more than 30 takeoffs and flights of up to two hours have been completed. See the HY4 website.

HY4 – 2020 6th Generation, courtesy H2FLY.

631 Airlines Plan 737 MAX Return to Service

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

Aviation News

US airlines detail plans for resuming Boeing 737 Max flights

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

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

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

AA Reviewing Whether Pilots Can Take COVID Vaccine

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

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

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

FCC Walks Back Plan To Allow In Flight Cell Service

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

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

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

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

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

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

Airplane Geeks Listener Poll 628 

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

Mentioned

Obituary: Ralph Weymouth

628 Cranky Flier

Brett Snyder, the Cranky Flier, returns as our guest. In the news, United changes its MileagePlus frequent flyer requirements, Costco is selling private jet program memberships, Korean Air and Asiana merge, the outlook for business aviation, Covid testing at the airport, and an “immunity passport” proposal.

Guest

Brett Snyder, Cranky Flier.

Brett Snyder is the president of Cranky Flier LLC. He’s passionate about airlines and has been since he was a child. Brett’s main activity is centered around the Cranky Flier blog and the Cranky Concierge air travel assistance service. He also produces the Cranky Talk podcast and the Cranky Daily which offers the day’s top five airline stories. The Cranky Network Weekly is the newest member of the Cranky family with expert analysis of strategic US airline network changes.

Aviation News

United Airlines lowering requirements for ‘premier’ frequent flyer program

For 2021, United Airlines reduces the requirements for MileagePlus premier status, and offers bonus points in some cases.

Korean Air to take over rival Asiana in $2.2bn buyout

Korean Air owner Hanjin Group announced it will acquire Asiana Airlines. This would make Korean Air one of the world’s largest airlines. Hanjin said the deal will “stabilize the Korean aviation industry, which is suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Costco selling $17.5K private jet membership that lasts 1 year

Multinational Costco is a retailer that operates membership-only warehouse clubs. They are offering a $17,499.99 one-year membership to a private jet charter company Wheels Up.

Virus Outbreak-Business Travel story

According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, business travel represented 21% of the $8.9 trillion spent on global travel and tourism in 2019. Business travel revenue is down 85% at Delta Air Lines, but CEO Ed Bastian thinks a “new normal” for business travel might be 10% to 20% lower than in the past, and he believes it will come back faster than many people think.

United Airlines Becomes First Airline to Integrate State of Maine Testing on arrival into Travel Experience

Maine currently has some tough requirements for those who travel to that state. According to the government Covid-19 travel page, “It is mandated that all out-of-state travelers coming into Maine, as well as Maine residents returning to Maine, complete a 14-day quarantine upon arrival,” although this can be modified after passing a virus test. 

Lufthansa Predicts Immunity Passports In The Future

Future air travel restrictions could change with the availability of vaccines. Governments are already discussing the concept of an “immunity passport” for people who are vaccinated or otherwise immune. Meanwhile, airlines have been putting testing solutions in place for their customers.

Listener Poll

Airplane Geeks Listener Poll 628: Do you intend to fly to a vacation destination in 2021? Do you expect to fly for business in 2021?

Mentioned

Video: Worst Place To be a Pilot Season 1 Episode 1 HD from the UK mini-series Worst Place To Be A Pilot.

623 Boeing 787 Dreamliner Move

Boeing decides to move 787 Dreamliner production to South Carolina, the FAA Administrator flies the 737 MAX, Germany halts its heavy-lift helicopter procurement, airlines offer Covid-19 testing to passengers, furloughs after the CARES Act expired, go-arounds and accidents, a fast electric airplane from Rolls-Royce, advanced preflight after maintenance, and Flightradar24 DDoS attack.

Aviation News

Report: Boeing to move all 787 Dreamliner production to S.C.; WA governor responds

Boeing made their decision, and all assembly of the 787 Dreamliner will be consolidated in South Carolina. Production of the 787 will end in Washington state. Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Stan Deal said the move to consolidate the work in North Charleston, S.C., will be done by “mid-2021, according to our best estimate.”

‘I Like What I See’: FAA Chief Flies 737 Max, But Not Ready To Recertify Plane

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson (a former Delta Air Lines pilot) flew the 737 MAX. At a news conference, Dickson said, “I completed a number of test profiles today to examine the functionality of the aircraft and I liked what I saw, so it responded well. I did two landings and also some air work maneuvers over about a two-hour period… and I felt prepared. I think most importantly, I felt that the training prepared me to be very comfortable.”

Germany Axes Plan To Buy Either Sikorsky CH-53K Or Boeing CH-47 Helicopters

In what was called “a surprise development,” Germany decided not to replace the German Luftwaffe’s aging CH-53G series helicopters with either the CH-53K King Stallion or the CH-47F Chinook. The reason: both heavy-lift helicopters are too expensive.

Here are the U.S. airlines offering COVID-19 testing to travelers

JetBlue has partnered with Vault Health to provide at-home saliva tests to customers “wanting peace of mind and those who must secure a negative COVID-19 test result before entering certain states and countries or in order to avoid certain mandatory quarantines.” United Airlines will offer testing for customers traveling from San Francisco International Airport to Hawaii beginning Oct. American Airlines will offer pre-flight testing to travelers at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport going to Hawaii starting on Oct. 15.

Black Thursday Has Arrived: It’s Bad, But Not As Bad As Feared

The CARES Act has expired and while thousands were furloughed, others have negotiated new agreements with airlines or are in the process of negotiating new deals.

Failure to Go Around Leads to Runway Excursion

The August 15, 2019 crash of Dale Earnhardt Jr’s Cessna Citation Latitude at Elizabethton, Tennessee (0A9) followed “an unstable VFR approach, a poorly executed landing, and a botched go-around attempt.”

Rolls-Royce Thinks It’s Developing The Fastest Electric Airplane In The World

The concept includes a 500hp motor, and “a battery with enough energy to supply 250 homes.”  Rolls-Royce is ground testing the technology on a full-scale replica of the plane’s core. Project partners include YASA, a British electric powertrain company, and electric aviation startup Electroflight. Rolls-Royce said, “The first flight is planned for later this year and we are aiming to beat the current all-electric flight world record early next year.”

Advanced Preflight After Maintenance

General Aviation fatalities have occurred after in-flight emergencies that have been the direct result of maintenance personnel who have serviced or installed systems incorrectly. The General Aviation Joint Steering Committee (GAJSC) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) say that a significant number of those fatalities could have been avoided if pilots conducted more thorough preflight inspections of aircraft that have just been returned to service.

Resources:

Update on Flightradar24’s extended downtime

Flightradar24 experienced a sustained Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack that resulted in extensive downtime. “We are continuing to do everything possible to mitigate the effects of the attack and to harden our systems to reduce the likelihood of future attacks making our services unavailable.”

Mentioned

Listener Poll 623

Whirly-Girls New Instrument Rating Scholarship for Female Aviators for 2021

Aviation Careers Podcast and the Aerospace Scholarships guide.

SUN ‘n FUN Holiday Flying Festival and Car Show

Last ever Airbus A380 superjumbo assembled in France

Airbus A380 Struggles But a Business Case Exists for Neo

Airbus debuts hydrogen net-zero concept aircraft for 2035 launch

Video: How Delta Fixes $32 Million Jet Engines | Big Business

Video: Coulson Aviation CH47

Video: Awesome Chinook helicopter firefighting system in action

Jet World Record Project – A video report from KTVN, the CBS affiliate in Reno, Nevada on the TS-11 project to rebuild the airplane. See also Renegade Jets.

622 Hypersonic Flight

We explore hypersonic flight and the research being conducted at the University of Texas at San Antonio. In the news, federal aid for the airlines suffering under the pandemic, treating aircraft interiors with anti-microbial spray, a secret Air Force fighter jet is revealed, and more on JSX and Orange County Airport.

Guest

Hypersonic researcher Dr. Chris Combs

Hypersonic researcher Dr. Chris Combs

Christopher S. Combs, Ph.D. is the Dee Howard Endowed Assistant Professor in Aerodynamics at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) Department of Mechanical Engineering. He currently leads a group of graduate and undergraduate students studying problems related to hypersonic aerothermodynamics. Chris is also leading the construction of a Mach 7 wind tunnel facility at UTSA. His primary area of research interest is in the development and application of non-intrusive laser-based measurement techniques for compressible flows. 

Chris explains why Mach 5 is used as the definition of hypersonic flight, the heating effect at that speed on materials, and the unique chemistry of the air. He tells us about the Mach 7 wind tunnel (a Ludwieg tube) that UTSA is building to study the aerodynamic effects of fast-moving objects. Those include destructive shock waves and boundary layer flows.

We look at the rate of data sample collection in the tunnel and the type of sensors used, which include non-intrusive diagnostic techniques rather than intrusive probes. Interestingly, laser light can be used to probe the chemistry of a molecule and measure temperature and pressure.

Chris also considers likely future hypersonic applications in space and with the military. Commercial applications remain interesting, but far in the future.

Mach 7 Ludwieg tube

Mach 7 Ludwieg tube.

Prior to starting at UTSA, Chris worked as a Research Assistant Professor at The University of Tennessee Space Institute. He holds a BS degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Evansville and a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin.

Chris has extensive experience in investigations of hypersonic flow physics, with over 50 technical publications in this field and over $10M in research funding from various organizations including NASA, USAF, US Navy, and DARPA. 

Chris active with the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), and the American Physical Society (APS) and is a member of the AIAA Aerodynamic Measurement Technology Technical Committee, the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce Aerospace Committee, and the Dee Howard Foundation Education Advisory Council.

UTSA Hypersonics home page

@DrChrisCombs on Twitter

Aviation News

Airline CEOs meet with White House in last-minute plea for more coronavirus aid

Under the CARES Act, $25 billion in federal aid was available to the airlines. That Act expires September 30, 2020, and most airline CEO’s want another round. So do the unions.

Delta says it won’t furlough most workers thanks to buyouts and shorter schedules

Shorter work schedules, voluntary leaves of absence, and buyouts and early retirement packages helped Delta avoid most furloughs.

United Airlines pilot union voting to save thousands of jobs

United Airlines pilots union leaders approved the Pandemic Recovery Tentative Agreement in early September, and the full union membership ratified the TA.

United Airlines using giant robots to coat planes with germ-killing spray

The MicroSonic NovaRover machine sprays the anti-microbial chemical Zoono Microbe Shield that “forms a long-lasting bond with surfaces and inhibits the growth of microbes.” United will use the 100-pound robot at 10 U.S. airports. United said the NovaRover “is designed to apply a super fine mist… that coats all surfaces in a 12-foot radius with a single spray.”

UA Press Release: United Adds Antimicrobial Spray to Already Extensive Cabin-Cleaning Measures

Video: United – Using Antimicrobials To Keep Aircraft Surfaces Clean

Air Force reveals it secretly built and flew new fighter jet

The full-scale flight demonstrator was built under the Air Force’s Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) classified program. Air Force acquisition head Will Roper said the jet could move into production “pretty fast” and “We are ready to go and build the next-generation aircraft in a way that has never happened before.” Roper would not give any details of the aircraft. The NGAD was designed and tested digitally before it was actually built.

Why JSX is Being Kicked Out of Orange County Airport

Previously, JetSuiteX (or JSX) announced it was told that it was no longer welcome at John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California. Cranky Flier uncovers what’s really behind the story.

620 The Master Minimum Equipment List (MMEL)

A 737 crew couldn’t properly hand fly the airplane after autopilot failures, and we discuss the Master Minimum Equipment List. Also, airline furloughs loom, unwanted Austrian Eurofighter Typhoons, Air Force efforts to produce more pilots, an engine shutdown due to rain, commercial flights to nowhere, too much PPE isn’t allowed on American Airlines, and an airport throws out an operator.

Aviation News

Experienced crew struggled with instrument flight after 737 lost autopilots

The Lithuanian carrier Klasjet 737-500 departed Madrid Barajas for Kaunas on April 5, 2019, with the captain’s autopilot inoperative. That’s permitted under the minimum equipment list regulations because the officer’s autopilot was working. However, the FO’s autopilot failed 2 minutes after take-off. The pilots had difficulty flying the plane, with large altitude and pitch variations, several go-arounds, flight below the required minimum, and failure to follow ATC instructions.

For an example of an MMEL, see Master Minimum Equipment List (MMEL) for the Cirrus SF50 Vision Jet. [PDF]

United Eyes Extensive Furloughs

United Airlines plans to furlough 16,370 employees as early as October 2020: 6,920 flight attendants, 2,850 pilots, 2,260 airport operations personnel, 2,010 mechanics, and 1,400 in management. American and Delta have also announced plans to reduce their workforces beginning Oct. 1.

Austria Wants To Offload Its Unwanted Eurofighter Typhoons On Indonesia

The Austrian defense minister said she plans to hold talks that aim to sell the country’s Eurofighter Typhoons to Indonesia. Indonesia is interested in buying the 15 Typhoons, the only fighter jets the Austrian Air Force has. We discuss why Austria wants to get rid of the fighters and wonder why anybody would want them.

USAF Looks to Address Pilot Shortage with New Programs

Earlier this year, the Air Force told Congress that the service had a shortage of about 2,100 pilots, 10% of the pilots it needs to execute the National Defense Strategy. Air Force initiatives to address the shortage include the use of simulation, reality (VR), and artificial intelligence (AI) programs. A new $38 million Virtual Test and Training Center (VTTC) at Nellis Air Force Base (AFB), NV will be used for joint-aerial combat training.

U.S. Air Force Trains Robotic Dogs to Scout Battlefields

The Department of the Air Force, the U.S. Northern Command, and the U.S. Space Command just performed a field test of the Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS). The ABMS is a digital battle network system that collects, processes, and shares data among U.S. and allied forces. In addition to shooting down a cruise missile with a hypervelocity weapon, the Air Force tested the Vision 60 quadrupedal robots developed by Ghost Robotics.

Airbus A220 Operators Told To Protect Avionics Against Rainfall

Rain entered an A220 through the main cabin door and overflowed the drains. Then during taxi the water dripped into the avionics bay below and tripped a circuit breaker, causing an engine shutdown. A220 operators have 12 months to modify the drain tubing.

Starlux Airlines Plans Six More Flights To Nowhere

Last month, Taiwanese carrier Starlux Airlines flew a “flight to nowhere” so passengers could “pretend to go abroad.” The flight flew over the Pratas Islands in the northern part of the South China Sea. This was such a success that Starlux plans more of these flights in their Airbus A321neos.

American Airlines Bans Wearing Too Much Personal Protection Equipment On Board

American Airlines sent a memo to its customer care agents about “Prohibited Personal Protection Equipment (PPE).” Several “recreational” PPE items are banned from flights: personal face/body tents, personal face/body pods, personal air purifiers/refreshers, and Ozone generators. Under the Weather sells a variety of these body pods.

JetSuiteX banned at Orange Co Airport, Asks Customers for Help

According to JetSuiteX, John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California told the company that they were “no longer welcome” at Orange County Airport. No reason was given. JetSuiteX provides “hop-on service” from FBO’s with 19 Embraer ERJ-135 and -145 jet aircraft configured for 30 passengers. Customers received communications from JetSuiteX asking them to write to the Orange County Board of Supervisors.

Mentioned

Prototype of the ‘Flying-V’ plane built by KLM that burns 20% less fuel than traditional aircraft takes to the skies for the first time and TUDelft Flying-V.

“The Flying-V is a design for a highly energy-efficient long-distance aeroplane. The aircraft’s design integrates the passenger cabin, the cargo hold and the fuel tanks in the wings, creating a spectacular v-shape. Its improved aerodynamic shape and reduced weight will mean it uses 20% less fuel than the Airbus A350, today’s most advanced aircraft.”

When does flying become CO2-neutral?

The German Aerospace Center (DLR) has some concepts for “an aircraft that flies as climate-friendly as it is economical and is ready for operation by 2040… This aircraft should be able to carry at least 70 passengers for a distance of up to 2,000 kilometers.”

Calling all pilots! Corps to give up to $210,000 for Marine pilots to re-up

The Marine Corps will give out an aviation bonus of up to $210,000 for select pilots willing to extend their service commitment by up to six years, according to a new administrative message.

Major General Charles Bolden Honored with 2020 Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy [PDF]

The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) announced that Major General Charles Bolden USMC (Ret.) has been selected as the recipient of the 2020 Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy for “…his impassioned commitment to public service in aviation and aerospace as an aviator, astronaut, and leader and his dedication to excellence for the advancement of all humanity.”

Charlie appeared as our guest in Episode 316 – NASA’s Aeronautics Research, September 2014. His blog from his days at NASA is still online.

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.

615 Supersonic Commercial Aircraft

Boom Supersonic and Virgin Galactic supersonic commercial aircraft eye Rolls-Royce engine technology, China’s AG600 large seaplane, United’s ERJ-145 regional jets to CommutAir, pilot re-examinations, Boeing’s quarterly loss and good 737 MAX news, airline passengers and booze, the growing stockpile of airline nuts, and Allegiant Air’s clever “work from Vegas” packages.

Aviation News

Boom, Rolls-Royce Partner On Supersonic Overture

Boom Supersonic and Rolls-Royce announced they are exploring a Rolls-Royce propulsion system on Boom’s Overture supersonic commercial aircraft. The companies will investigate if an existing engine architecture can be adapted for supersonic flight. The smaller Boom XB-1 supersonic demonstrator is expected to roll out on Oct. 7, 2020.

See the Boom press release: Engine Studies Advance Program Development and Focus on Sustainability and the outstanding XB-1 progress animation.

Virgin Galactic Unveils Mach 3 Aircraft Design for High Speed Travel, and Signs Memorandum of Understanding with Rolls-Royce

Virgin Galactic Holdings wants to create a supersonic commercial aircraft and just unveiled its initial design of a Mach 3 airplane. The company’s manufacturer of advanced air and space vehicles, The Spaceship Company (“TSC”), announced the first stage design scope and also the signing of a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Rolls-Royce to collaborate in designing and developing engine propulsion technology for high-speed commercial aircraft.

Virgin is targeting a Mach 3 certified delta-wing aircraft, with a capacity for 9 to 19 people at an altitude above 60,000 feet, that is able to incorporate custom cabin layouts, and use sustainable aviation fuel.

The FAA’s Center for Emerging Concepts and Innovation will work with Virgin Galactic to outline a certification framework.

United to drop contract with ExpressJet, dealing fatal blow

United Airlines plans to move its 50-seat United Express Embraer ERJ-145 planes operated by ExpressJet to regional carrier CommutAir, which would become United’s sole ERJ-145 operator. Operations are being consolidated as United looks to be a smaller airline as a result of the pandemic. United says, “This transition will take a number of months.”

The World’s Largest Seaplane Pulls Off Its First Waterborne Flight

The AG600 “Kunlong” is China’s first seaplane and the world’s largest seaplane. The AG600 just had its first takeoff from the ocean, followed by a 31-minute flight. The plane, which did fly from a reservoir in 2018, can carry 50 passengers up to 2,700 miles. It has a 128-foot wingspan and a length of 121 feet. Maximum takeoff weight of 53.5 tons. Power comes from four WJ-6 turboprops.

Video: China’s AG600 amphibious aircraft completes first sea surface flight

Pilots Who Flew With Discredited Examiner Face Reexamination

The FAA has notified some pilots that they may have to be re-examined because of problems with the work of a specific examiner.

Boeing’s revenue plunges 25 percent as long-term effects of pandemic take hold

Shipments are down and so is Boeing’s second-quarter profit.

FAA gives preliminary approval on design fixes for 737 Max

Welcome news for Boeing. A few details need attention and the FAA will proceed with a 45-day public comment period.

Most airlines aren’t serving booze during the pandemic. Passengers are (illegally) bringing their own

Some people just need a drink when flying, but it’s against regulations for a passenger to bring their own.

There’s A Huge Surplus Of American Airlines Nuts

Fewer people are flying and the stockpile of airline nuts is growing. Order yours now for an at-home experience.

Viva Las remote office? Allegiant Air to pitch ‘work from Vegas’ travel packages to boost bookings

Allegiant Air has a brilliant idea to provide you with a “work at home” experience in Las Vegas.

Mentioned

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

There is always a ham in the crowd…