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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Daedalean AI-based flight control software for pilot assist and eventual autonomous flight, a Boeing 737MAX flight report, and a travel report on a trip to Germany.
Dr. Luuk van Dijk is CEO and co-founder of Daedalean, a Zürich-based startup developing flight control software for autonomous flight. The eventual goal is to create an AI pilot that measurably outperforms human pilots. Currently, Daedalean is working with regulators, leading aerospace manufacturers, and major eVTOL companies to test and certify the first machine learning-based sensor systems for guidance, navigation, and flight control.
Daedalean has created a pilot assist system that uses optical cameras for visual positioning without GPS, visual traffic detection without transponders or radar, and visual landing guidance without ILS. The Avidyne PilotEye system using Daedalean technology was introduced on the first day of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2021.
“Daedalean’s neural network functions by taking high-resolution video input extracted in real-time by high-resolution cameras and sends it through a Convolutional Neural Network, which determines whether the images captured by the cameras are part of cooperative or uncooperative traffic. The system can also be used to identify safe landing areas if the pilot encounters an emergency situation.”
Luuk holds a PhD in Physics (UvA, RuG) and previously held Senior Software Engineering positions at Google Zürich and SpaceX, where he worked on infrastructure, flight software, and machine learning projects, among others.
Brian’s Travel Experience
We have two travel experience reports for this episode. First. Brian Coleman talks with Micah about his recent 737MAX flight. Then we hear about Brian’s trip to Germany on United, where everything did not go according to Brian’s perfectly planned itinerary.
Mike Busch, founder and CEO of Savvy Aviation, talks about aircraft maintenance. Also, calling up the Civil Reserve Air Fleet, United Airlines says no duct tape, and unhappy Southwest Airlines pilots.
Mike Busch is the founder and CEO of Savvy Aviation, which provides aircraft maintenance services for the owner-flown General Aviation industry. The company offers professional maintenance management and consulting, a nationwide 24/7 breakdown assistance service, engine monitor data analysis, and predictive analytics.
Mike is a well-known aviation writer, teacher, aviation type club tech rep, aircraft owner advocate, and entrepreneur. He assists aircraft owners with their maintenance problems through his lectures, articles, and books. Mike is a National Aviation Maintenance Technician of the Year and previously appeared as our guest in Episode 446.
The Pentagon activated the Civil Reserve Air Fleet allowing commercial airlines to assist with the Afghanistan evacuation. Eighteen aircraft will be provided by American Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta Air Lines, Omni Air, Hawaiian Airlines, and United Airlines. This is the third activation in the history of the program and the Department of Defense stressed that the commercial aircraft will not fly into Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. Instead, they will be used to move passengers from temporary safe havens and interim staging bases.
United Airlines has informed flight attendants they should not use duct tape to subdue poorly behaved passengers. In a recent memo, the airline asks flight attendants to de-escalate the situation where possible, use designated items onboard, consult United’s safety manual for guidance, and file an incident report.
The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association says working conditions this summer have been unfair and has authorized members to hold picketing demonstrations. Complaints include forced additional days of flying, lack of hotel accommodation and transportation, and reshuffled flight schedules.
We talk with a company that provides educational jet fighter cockpit experiences. In the news, Amazon Air adds turboprops to the fleet, Boeing 777X certification, a new 4K Ultra HD flight data recorder, Virgin Galactic approval for commercial passenger space flights, and exiting the aircraft after the door closes.
Dewy Larson is the owner of DreamBIG Entertainment LLC, a company that gives you the opportunity to sit in the cockpit of a fighter jet. DreamBIG Entertainment travels exclusively within the United States, attending air shows, festivals, fairs, and other events. They share the history and the rare opportunity to experience fully restored A-7D Corsair II and F-18 Hornet cockpits.
The A-7 and F-18 Hornet cockpits tour the United States as a Mobile Interactive Aviation Museum. The DreamBIG experience runs from February to November and can be brought anywhere. For the latest schedule, visit the DreamBIG Entertainment LLC Facebook page.
Sources have told The Air Current that Amazon Air plans to add about 10 leased ATR 72-500 freighters to its fleet of Boeing aircraft. The company has a strategy to reach smaller communities with a one-day delivery service.
Boeing is trying to certify the 777X but the FAA has informed the company that it has concerns and Boeing may have to increase the number of test flights planned. That pushes certification more than two years, probably too late 2023. FAA concerns include an “uncommanded pitch event” in a Dec. 8, 2020 test flight, a critical avionics system that does not meet requirements, and late hardware and software changes in the flight controls.
Appareo announced a new 4K ultra-high-definition AIRS-400 Airborne Image Recording System (AIRS), equipped for cellular data offload. The unit captures pilot intercom system audio, ambient audio, and detailed flight data. Using internal inertial measurement units, AIRS-400 captures WAAS GPS (altitude, latitude, longitude, ground speed, vertical speed), attitude data (pitch, roll, yaw), rates of rotation, and acceleration data (G forces)
Airplane Geeks reporter-at-large Launchpad Marzari spoke with Chris Garberg, the president of Appareo Aviation.
With the upgraded space transportation operator license, Virgin Galactic could begin carrying paying passengers to space. It has been reported that Virgin Galactic currently has over 600 reservations for its planned commercial passenger space flights, with ticket prices running between $200,000 and $250,000.
A United Express flight operated by SkyWest Airlines was leaving the gate but a passenger apparently felt compelled to exit the plane. He tried to get into the cockpit, then opened the emergency door, which deployed the slide, and out he went. Man injured after jumping out of airplane at LAX.
World Championship Air Race is coming in 2022 and we speak with the series race director. In the news, Aerion’s supersonic intentions falter while Boom Supersonic flourishes, the 2020 Robert J. Collier Trophy winner is announced, the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A turns 60, and an American Airlines diversion due to lack of water.
Willie Cruickshank is Race Series Director for the World Championship Air Race (WCAR). Sanctioned by the FAI, the WCAR will consist of two series that run in parallel: GP1 contested by top-ranking teams, and GT contested by developing pilots. Willie explains how the series differs from similar races in the past, the teams and venues, and the aircraft that will compete. He also comments on how new propulsion technologies might be introduced. Racing is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2022.
Willie was an RAF fighter pilot for 26 years, retiring as a Group Captain. He went on to spend nine years as a display pilot with the UK-based Wildcat Aerobatics team before joining the Red Bull Air Race World Championship. As Head of Aviation and Sport for that Championship, he was responsible for all aspects of flying operations including flight safety, racecourse design, pilot training, and briefing. Now as a board director of WCAR, Willie oversees all operational aspects of the series.
Aerion announced on May 21, 2021 that “in the current financial environment, it has proven hugely challenging to close on the scheduled and necessary large new capital requirements to finalize the transition of the AS2 into production.” The AS2 was to be a business jet carrying 8-12 passengers at 1,000 mph.
United ordered 15 of the 88-PAX Overture, and has options for 35 additional planes. Boom CEO Blake Scholl Scholl said in a statement, “The world’s first purchase agreement for net-zero carbon supersonic aircraft marks a significant step toward our mission to create a more accessible world.” He told The Air Current that the estimated total investment required is $8B. Boom is planning test flights in 2026 and passenger service of the Mach 1.7 plane in 2029.
The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) announced that Garmin Autoland has been named as the recipient of the 2020 Robert J. Collier Trophy for “… designing, developing, and fielding Garmin Autoland – the world’s first certified autonomous system that activates during an emergency to safely control and land an aircraft without human intervention.” The Collier Trophy is awarded annually for “… the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America, with respect to improving the performance, efficiency, and safety of air or space vehicles, the value of which has been thoroughly demonstrated by actual use during the preceding year.”
The Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC) PT6A is a turboprop engine used in many aircraft. It was produced in variants from 500 to 1,940 shp. First flight was May 30, 1961, from Toronto’s Downsview Airport in a twin-engine RCAF Beech 18 Expeditor 3T that had the PT6 attached to the nose. The engine entered service in 1964.
When flight attendants realised there was no running water aboard an American Airlines flight to London Heathrow, the Boeing 777-300 returned to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport an hour and a half after departure.
Spurwink Farm Pancake Breakfast and Fly-In, at Spurwink Farm in Cape Elizabeth, Maine on July 11, 2021.
We explore the glass cockpit and the new book on the Garmin G3000 and G5000. In the news, the shape of the airline recovery, JetBlue scores London slots, Boeing gets a very large 737 MAX order, a special National Aviation Hall of Fame volunteer, an update on the Cessna SkyCourier, possible relief for Wichita aviation jobs, and a fun mod for Microsoft Flight Simulator.
Max Trescott’s G3000 and G5000 Glass Cockpit Handbook is a newly published resource for pilots flying with these Garmin flight decks for light turbine jets. The Garmin G3000 and G5000 are currently used in twenty-three aircraft models, with plans for adding more. Max describes glass cockpit hardware and software, and how the presentation of information differs from traditional cockpit gauges. We talk about reliability and lower maintenance considerations compared to steam gauges, weight advantages including paper document elimination, and the glass cockpit learning curve.
The G3000 and G5000 have nearly identical user interfaces, but the G3000 is designed for smaller and lighter Part 23 aircraft, while the G5000 is targeted to the Part 25 regulations which apply to larger aircraft, including the transport aircraft used by the airlines.
Besides being a host on this podcast, Max Trescott produces the Aviation News Talk podcast which focuses on General Aviation news, general tips for pilots, and technical details on glass cockpits and flying GPS approaches. The show features listener questions and occasional interviews. He’s the 2008 National CFI of the Year, and a Cirrus Platinum CSIP.
American Airlines direct bookings are up 150-400% over 2020, and close to 2019 levels. Domestic load factors were 80% recently and all planes will be flying in May, 2021. Do leisure travelers believe the pandemic is over?
Since business travel isn’t indicating anything like a V-recovery, airlines want to capture the leisure travel recovery. The new United routes include “flights from Cleveland (CLE), Cincinnati (CVG), Columbus (CMH), Indianapolis (IND), Milwaukee (MKE), St. Louis (STL), and Pittsburgh (PIT) to a variety of coastal destinations, from Portland, Maine (PWM), to Pensacola, Florida (PNS).” These are point-to-point, non-stop routes that avoid hubs with service by the Bombardier CRJ550. The routes begin May 27, and will operate through Labor Day Weekend. See: With business travel lagging, Portland lands direct flights to cities around the U.S.
JetBlue plans to launch transatlantic service this year with Airbus A321LR aircraft. In it’s summer 2021 schedule report, Airport Coordination Limited included allocated 270 slots to JetBlue for flights to and from London Heathrow (LHR) airport. 180 slots are for flights to New York-JFK and 90 slots for service to Boston. The slots phase in over time and expire on Oct. 30, 2021.
The National Aviation Hall of Fame (NAHF) in Dayton announced that volunteer Alice Griffin celebrated her 100th birthday on March 28, 2021. She was asked if she had any words of wisdom to share and replied, “Work hard, don’t take anything for granted, and give ten percent of your salary to charity.” The National Aviation Hall of Fame was founded in 1962 and is located adjacent to the National Museum of the United States Air Force.
The Aviation Manufacturing Jobs Protection Act was swept into the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, the COVID-19 relief package signed into law. It is a $3 billion public-private partnership where the federal government contributes 50% of the compensation for eligible employee groups, as long as the company commits to continuing employment of those workers. The funding is available until Sept. 30, 2023, but an employee group cannot receive the federal money for more than six months.
Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 allows you to add things as modifications. YouTube and TikTok poster donut_enforcement has added the Ever Given cargo ship that has been stuck in the Suez Canal and completely shut down ship movement.
In early April, 2021 the Mars Ingenuity helicopter will attempt the first-ever powered flight on Mars. Join this interactive webinar to hear team members describe how they will support the helicopter when it takes to the skies. Monday, April 5 at 10:30 a.m. PDT / 1:30 p.m. EDT
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We learn about aeronautical charts produced by the FAA’s Aeronautical Information Services team. In the news, the NTSB will decommission the TWA Flight 800 reconstruction, Collier Trophy finalists announced as are Flying Magazine Editors’ Choice Awards and FAA General Aviation Awards, Boeing fined by the FAA, United orders the Boeing 737 MAX, Delta plans to reactivate pilots, Icelandair flies to Antarctica and back.
Katie Murphy is a Supervisory Aeronautical Information Specialist in the FAA’s Aeronautical Information Services Visual Charting Team. Katie has worked with both VFR and IFR charts for over 17 years and is a self-proclaimed “map geek.”
Aeronautical Information Services (AIS) is the authority for the development of aeronautical charts and services. They are also the authoritative government source for collecting, storing, maintaining, and disseminating aeronautical data for the U.S. and its territories.
The lease is expiring on the National Transportation Safety Board training facility and the NTSB plans to dispose of the TWA Flight 800 reconstruction. With advances such as 3-D scanning, the need for large-scale reconstruction in teaching investigative techniques is less relevant.
The Collier Trophy Selection Committee will meet virtually in June and the winner will be announced publicly following the selection. The formal presentation of the Collier Trophy will take place when health and safety protocols allow.
In 2015, Boeing paid a $12 million fine and pledged to implement and improve several certification processes to further enhance the airworthiness and continued compliance of all Boeing Commercial Aircraft products. The settlement agreement resolved multiple pending and potential enforcement cases.
Now, the FAA has assessed $5.4 million in deferred civil penalties against The Boeing Company for failing to meet its performance obligations under the 2015 settlement agreement. Boeing also agreed to pay $1.21 million to settle two pending FAA enforcement cases.
FAA says, “Boeing missed some of its improvement targets, and …some company managers did not sufficiently prioritize compliance with FAA regulations.”
The 20 year old Boeing 767-300 is currently flying between Iceland and Antarctica via South Africa. The 767 has a crew of 20 people, including six pilots, 13 flight attendants, and one mechanic. The roundtrip journey covers over 20,000 miles.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.