Tag Archives: United Airlines

801 Sullenberger Aviation Museum

Interviews and a tour of the Sullenberger Aviation Museum. In the news, Boeing delivers its quality improvement plan to the FAA, and United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby calls for more competition in the airline industry.

Sullenberger Aviation Museum

Sullenberger Aviation Museum logo.

The museum at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport in North Carolina has been reimagined with new interactive experiences for visitors. The centerpiece is the “Miracle on the Hudson” exhibition featuring the jet that landed safely in New York’s Hudson River in 2009 – US Airways Flight 1549.

The Sullenberger Aviation Museum (an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution) tells stories of innovation, hope, and heroism throughout the history of aviation, It seeks to inspire visitors of all ages to pursue their dreams and goals.

Sully Sullenberger next to Flight 1549 at the press event.
Sully Sullenberger next to Flight 1549

We spoke with:

Katie Swaringen, Vice President of Collections, took us on a walking tour of the museum and explained some of the interactive experiences.

Stephen Saucier, President and CEO of the Sullenberger Aviation Museum, describes the museum’s vision, the master planning process, and experience design with Freeman Ryan Design. The result meets the needs of the community (STEM education, access to careers, workforce development), the many sponsors and contributors.

Todd Giles, the CTO at Honeywell Aerospace Technologies, describes the company’s motivations for sponsoring the museum and the Maker Space. We talk about the Honeywell APU in Flight 1549 and touch on the SmartRunway and SmartLanding traffic awareness offerings to come, as well as new bizjet and eVTOL cockpits.

Inspire, educate, and elevate: The Miracle on the Hudson – The Sullenberger Aviation Museum takes flight in Charlotte

Video: The Sullenberger Aviation Museum takes flight in Charlotte

Aviation News

Boeing Gives F.A.A. Plan to Address Systemic Quality-Control Issues

In response to an FAA order, Boeing delivered a “comprehensive action plan” to address the airframer’s systemic issues. Boeing did not set a timeline to make changes. Boeing developed six metrics for tracking the plan’s progress.

Video: FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker holds a briefing to discuss Boeing’s safety issues — 5/30/2024

Scott Kirby Says It’s Time to End the Big Jet Airline Duopoly

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby says it’s time for more competition. From The Air Current.

Mentioned

Whirlwind – Wikipedia

Bristol Helicopters – Wikipedia

Iran President’s Crash Highlights Struggle to Upgrade an Aging Fleet – WSJ paywall

Japan Air Lines Flight 123 – Wikipedia

27th annual Spurwink Farm Fly-In promotional poster. Sunday, July 7, 2024.

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, Rob Mark, David Vanderhoof, and our Main(e) Man Micah.

800 Tail Strike

Airplane tail strike, miracle flights, 737 MAX Deferred Prosecution Agreement, the FAA Reauthorization Act, airport name changes, and fatal helicopter crash in Iran. Also, a report on the Valdez Fly-In and Airshow, and a scenic flight around Denali Mountain.

Aviation News

NTSB Releases Final Report Of United Airlines Boeing 737 Tail Strike In Houston

The NTSB report of the January 2024 tail strike says the 737-900ER touched down three times while landing. The aircraft’s aft fuselage “impacted the runway as a result of a delayed flare and subsequent nose-high pitch inputs.” The initial touchdown force was 1.87G and the second touchdown was 2.87G.

An article in SKYbrary states that “various studies by several of the major aircraft manufacturers have arrived at similar conclusions regarding the primary cause of tail strike. The most significant common factor is the amount of flight crew experience with the specific model of aircraft being flown.” Studies identified eight specific Causal Factors that greatly increase the risk of a tail strike:

During take-off:

  • Improperly Set Elevator Trim or Mis-Trimmed Stabiliser 
  • Rotation at Incorrect Speed
  • Excessive Rotation Rate
  • Improper Use of the Flight Director

During landing:

  • Unstabilized Approach
  • Excessive Hold-Off in the Flare 
  • Crosswinds
  • Over-Rotation During Go-Around

Over 65% of tail strikes occur during landings, while only 25% happen during takeoffs.

With One Simple Change, Southwest Airlines Will Deal Blow To Wheelchair Scammers, Unruly Passengers And Seat Savers

Southwest Airlines is considering implementing assigned seating, eliminating the need for passengers to board early to get a good seat. The change would address “the phenomenon of passengers faking disabilities to board early, end the practice of seat saving, and make it easier to identify unruly passengers on board.” Currently, Southwest is the only airline that doesn’t have passenger names and seat assignments on the flight’s manifest.

DOJ Takes Key Step to Hold Boeing Accountable for 737 MAX8 Crash Deaths

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has determined that Boeing breached the January 2021 Deferred Prosecution Agreement. The Clifford law firm (which represents families of the Boeing 787 MAX8 crash victims) says that Boeing could now face a criminal trial, although more action is needed from the DOJ.

Bipartisan FAA Reauthorization Act Signed Into Law

American Airlines Bus Service Connecting Wilmington Delaware Airport (ILG) to PHL to Start This Fall

The Delaware River & Bay Authority announced that American Airlines and its partner Landline Co. plan to launch a bus service between Wilmington Airport (ILG) and Philadelphia International Airport (PHL). Passengers flying out of Philly can park, check bags, and pass through security at the Wilmington Airport.

Chicago-Bound United Airlines Boeing 767 Diverts to Ireland After Passenger Gets Laptop Wedged Stuck in Business Class Seat

United Airlines flight 12 from Zurich to Chicago O’Hare was forced to make an emergency diversion to Shannon, Ireland after a passenger got their laptop stuck in a Business Class seat aboard the Boeing 767-300.

Two More Airports Are Fighting Over Using a City Name, This Time in Canada Where a Lawsuit Is Already Underway

Montreal-Trudeau International Airport (YUL) is suing Saint-Hubert Airport after the smaller airport decided to rebrand itself as Montreal Metropolitan Airport.

Valdez Fly-In and Airshow

Listener Brian and Cora attended the 2024 Valdez Fly-In and Airshow in Alaska and provided a trip report. The couple also took a scenic flight around Denali Mountain and the report highlights the unique experiences and stunning views.

The Valdez Fly-In and Airshow is an annual aviation event held at Valdez Pioneer Field Airport in Valdez, Alaska. Established in 2003, the Valdez Fly-In features world-class competitions, aerobatic displays, and a variety of activities for aviation enthusiasts and families alike.

Brian and Cora on the glacier.

Hosts this Episode

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

798 Satellite Communications

Satellite communications for aviation with the Executive Director of Aviation at Iridium Communications Inc. In the news, we’ve lost an aviation icon, a DOT Office of Inspector General report looks NextGen, an unruly passenger pays the price, a second Boeing whistleblower dies, the declining value of frequent flyer programs, and squawking the 7700 emergency distress code.

Guest

Logo of satellite communications provider Iridium Communications.

John Peterson is the Executive Director of Aviation at Iridium Communications Inc., a satellite communications company offering global voice and data coverage. John helps deliver Iridium’s safety, voice, and data solutions to pilots and operators. John is an aviation enthusiast and private pilot who has worked in the industry for 30 years in different roles, including engineering, product management, and leadership roles at Boeing, Collins, Gogo, and Honeywell.

Iridium provides an L-band service with signals that pass through weather effectively. The Ku-band and Ka-band frequencies used by others have higher data rates but are more susceptible to degradation caused by weather. Because of the L-band reliability, those frequencies are permitted for safety applications.

John explains that the infrastructure for ground-based communication is robust in the U.S., but not so over the ocean. Thus, satellite communications are necessary for flights over areas without ground stations.

We learn that the Iridium “legacy” satellites have a data rate of 2.4 kbps while the new Iridium Certus® satellites offer a faster 700 kbps. John explains the orbital planes of the Iridium Low Earth Orbit satellites and how data gets to ground stations via cross-links between satellites.

John tells us about GA applications for satellite communications and the value-added resellers. We also explore critical infrastructure support, narrow-band IoT (direct-to-device) technologies,  and how low-cost hand-held transponders could bring significant value to aviation.

Aviation News

Dick Rutan, co-pilot of historic round-the-world flight, dies aged 85

Dick Rutan was a USAF pilot, a Vietnam War veteran who flew 325 missions, and a test pilot. He flew the first unrefueled non-stop flight around the world with Jeana Yeager in the Rutan Voyager, designed by his brother Burt. Dick Rutan and Mike Melvill flew two Rutan Long-EZ kit aircraft around the world as the Spirit of EAA Friendship World Tour. Dick set the point-to-point distance record in a ground-launched, rocket-powered aircraft. He died from complications of Long COVID in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, on May 3, 2024. He was 85.

DOT Inspector General Report Faults FAA NextGen Progress

The Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), is a large-scale FAA initiative to modernize the U.S. National Airspace System (NAS). According to the FAA, “NextGen… has modernized air traffic infrastructure in communications, navigation, surveillance, automation, and information management with the aim of increasing the safety, efficiency, capacity, predictability, flexibility, and resiliency of American aviation. NextGen’s scope includes airport infrastructure improvements, new air traffic technologies and procedures, and safety and security enhancements.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) report says the NextGen air traffic management technology is not living up to FAA promises.

See: FAA’s Report on Air Traffic Modernization Presents an Incomplete and Out-of-Date Assessment of NextGen [PDF] from the OIG.

A United Airlines passenger got “belligerent” with flight attendants. Here’s what that will cost him.

A passenger from Chelmsford, England on a flight from London to Newark, New Jersey had a loud argument with his girlfriend. Then he started yelling at a flight attendant. Court documents indicate that he was verbally and physically aggressive. The TSA said, “When flight attendants asked [the man] to be quiet and attempted to calm him, he became belligerent, threatening, and intimidating towards them. He also said that he would “mess up the plane.” The man was restrained and the plane diverted to Bangor, Maine. On March 22, 2024, he pleaded guilty to one count of interfering with a flight crew and was sentenced to time already served and ordered to pay United Airlines $20,638.

Was Foul Play Involved in the Boeing Whistleblowers’ Deaths? People Are Definitely Worried About It.

A second Boeing whistleblower has died, in this case, the man was 45 and passed after becoming suddenly ill. Two months ago, another whistleblower was found dead in his truck from a gunshot wound.

The bad news about your airline points

It’s harder to gain status on Delta, Alaska has increased points needed for some destinations, American limited what tickets earn points (based on where you bought the tickets), some airlines stopped posting redemption charts so you don’t know what your points are worth, airlines sometimes charge more for “mileage multipliers” than what the points are worth, and some airlines charge a fee to transfer points.

Mystery of Why Multiple Flights Over Belgium Suddenly Started Transmitting Emergency Distress Call in Quick Succession Has Been Solved 

At least four aircraft flying over Belgium squawked the 7700 emergency distress code at about the same time. Observers were curious about why, but the controller asked them to squawk 7700 when rerouting them through airspace where the military was conducting training.

Mentioned

Graphic for the Rockets and Rotors special exhibit at the American Helicopter Museum & Education Center.

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, Rob Mark, our Main(e) Man Micah, and David Vanderhoof.

793 Hypersonic Flight

Stratolaunch’s Talon A2 hypersonic vehicle, China’s C929 widebody passenger jet, Air Force One pilfering, Gulfstream G700 certification, Spirit Airlines’ credit boost, pilot disclosure of therapy sessions, United Airlines excess pilot capacity, and Frontier Airlines’ April Fool’s Day prank.

Aviation News

Stratolaunch Unveils Talon-A 2, Its Fully Recoverable And Reusable Hypersonic Vehicle

Stratolaunch Talon-A hypersonic test vehicle.
Talon-A hypersonic demonstrator, courtesy Stratolaunch.

Stratolaunch was formed in 2011 by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and Scaled Composites founder Burt Rutan to create an air-launched space transportation system. Scaled Composites built the Stratolaunch six-engine twin-fuselage carrier aircraft (“Roc”). A payload launch vehicle carried under the plane was to be released at high altitude and then flown into space. Paul Allen passed away in 2018 and the company was acquired in 2019 by Cerberus Capital Management.

Stratolaunch is working to advance hypersonic technology with the Talon-A, “an autonomous, reusable testbed.” The TA-1 flew on March 9, 2024, after it was released from the Stratolaunch, not quite reaching hypersonic speed. Now Stratolaunch has shown photos of the TA-2, designed to land at Vandenberg Space Force Base and be reused.

"Roc" in flight, courtesy Stratolaunch.
“Roc,” courtesy Stratolaunch

China’s home-grown C929 widebody passenger jet enters ‘crucial’ development stage amid Beijing’s aviation push

China’s commercial passenger aircraft strategy follows a path from the ARJ21 regional jet, to the C919 narrowbody, to the C929 widebody. The Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) marketing director said of the C929 that it’s in “a crucial stage in the development process” and that “the overall technical scheme of the aircraft has been determined.” Originally, COMAC was partnered with the Russian United Aircraft Corporation to build what was called the CR929. But Russia seems to have dropped out of the program.

The real D.C. crime wave

The press corps flying on Air Force One is leaving with more than they came with. Anything with the Air Force One insignia on it is being carried out. The plane can accommodate up to 76 passengers along with a crew of 26.

Gulfstream G700 Earns FAA Certification

The G700 is the largest business jet Gulfstream has made, and the fastest one it has ever certified. Compared to the G650, the G700 is 10 feet (3.0 m) longer with a top speed increased to Mach 0.935. It’s powered by improved Rolls-Royce Pearl 700 engines. Aerotime reports that Gulfstream expects to deliver some 50 G700s and a total of 160 jets across all types in 2024.

Spirit Airlines gets credit from International Aero Engines that will boost liquidity between $150 million and $200 million

Unscheduled engine removals and inspections for certain Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan engines are required in light of the contaminated powder metal problem. With its A320neo aircraft, Spirit Airlines is the largest operator of that engine in the U.S. Taking aircraft out of service has a financial impact. A deal has been struck where Spirit will get compensation via a monthly credit through the end of 2024. The airline says this will boost liquidity by between $150 million and $200 million.

Panel says FAA should end mandate pilots disclose talk therapy sessions

The FAA appointed an expert panel of aviation associations, pilot and air traffic controller organizations, academia, and medical professionals. They recommended that the FAA discontinue the requirement for airline pilots and air traffic controllers to disclose talk therapy sessions, saying “The FAA should develop a non-punitive pathway for reporting previously undisclosed mental health conditions, treatments, or medications.” The FAA is reviewing the recommendations.

United Airlines is asking pilots to take time off in May because of a shortage of new Boeing planes

United Airlines is experiencing new plane delivery delays and is asking pilots to volunteer to take time off in May. Fewer deliveries mean fewer flight hours which leads to overstaffing. In a note to pilots, United said it expects to make similar requests during the summer and possibly into the autumn. The Air Line Pilots Association said United is offering short-term leaves and unpaid time off, but they are not mandatory.

Frontier Airlines to Add Wide-Body Aircraft to its Fleet Starting in June; Route from New York-JFK to Bora Bora Will Kick Off the Ultra-Low Cost Carrier’s New Long-Haul Service Offering

The airline will add the aircraft to its fleet beginning in June 2024. The new planes will feature lie-flat seating, a chef-curated inflight menu, and free Wi-Fi for all passengers. Two weekly flights will depart from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York (JFK) to Mote Mute Airport in Bora Bora, French Polynesia (BOB) beginning June 1, 2024. On April 1, Frontier offered a one-day-only fare sale with flights to Bora Bora for $1.

Wait, what?? OK…

“April Fool’s! We aren’t really going to add wide-body aircraft to our fleet, or lie-flat seating, or a chef-curated menu, or free Wi-Fi, or fly to Bora Bora. However, we are offering a one-day-only fare sale featuring flights for as low as $38, inclusive of taxes, fees and charges, on all international destinations Frontier serves, to places like Cancun, Montego Bay, Punta Cana, Los Cabos, Puerta Vallarta, St. Maarten, St. Croix, and more!”

Video: Frontier Airlines Auditions: Part 1

Mentioned

See Where Top Aviation Universities Rank – Flying Magazine August 2022

Hosts this Episode

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

792 Boom Supersonic XB-1 Demonstrator

The milestone reached by Boom Supersonic with their XB-1 demonstrator and the recent leadership changes at Boeing, including the resignation of CEO Dave Calhoun. Also, the FBI contacted the passengers of Alaska Airlines Flight 1282, quality issues with Boeing MAX jets, FAA oversight of United Airlines, engine issues with Pratt & Whitney, and the farewell tour of the A-10 demonstration team.

Aviation News

Boom Announces Successful Flight of XB-1 Demonstrator Aircraft

The XB-1 supersonic jet demonstrator flew from the Mojave Air and Space Port. Boom Supersonic calls it the world’s first independently developed supersonic jet. The XB-1 incorporates carbon fiber composites, advanced avionics, digitally-optimized aerodynamics, and an advanced supersonic propulsion system. Boom said the “XB-1 met all of its test objectives, including safely and successfully achieving an altitude of 7,120 feet and speeds up to 238 knots (273 mph). While XB-1 was in the air, the team performed an initial assessment of the aircraft’s handling qualities, including airspeed checks with the T-38 chase aircraft, and assessing the aircraft’s stability in the landing attitude (at a high angle of attack).”

Boom’s supersonic airliner Overture “…will carry 64-80 passengers at Mach 1.7, about twice the speed of today’s subsonic airliners. Overture is designed to run on up to 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).”

Video: Full Video: XB-1 Takes Flight

Boeing C.E.O. to Step Down in Major Reshuffle at Embattled Plane Maker

Boeing announced leadership changes:

  • CEO Dave Calhoun leaves at the end of 2024
  • Stan Deal, the head of Boeing commercial planes left immediately
  • Stephanie Pope, Boeing’s COO, replaces Stan Deal.
  • Board Chairman Larry Kellner will not stand for re-election.
  • Steve Mollenkopf was elected by the board to be the new chairman. He’s an electrical engineer by training and the former chief executive of Qualcomm.
  • The Board will choose the next Boeing chief executive.

Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 passengers receive FBI letter identifying them as the victims of a possible crime

Attorney Mark Lindquist represents passengers who were on Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 when the door plug blew out. He shared a letter from the FBI’s Seattle division under the Justice Department that he says was received by the passengers he represents. The letter says “I’m contacting you because we have identified you as a possible victim of a crime.”

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

The DOJ press release from 2021 describes the conditions of the Boeing deferred prosecution agreement. In part:

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

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

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

FAA wants inspections of Boeing Max planes for wiring flaws that could lead to ‘loss of control’

A recent FAA proposed airworthiness directive would require the inspection of about 207 737 Max airplane wings for wiring damage within three years. The Agency says an “unsafe condition” could result in a “loss of control” of certain Boeing 737 Max jets due to the “nonconforming” installation of spoiler control wires.

FAA to increase oversight of United Airlines after recent issues

Oversight of United Airlines by the FAA is increasing after recent incidents. The airlines vice president of corporate safety, Sasha Johnson said in a memo to employees that the “number of safety-related events in recent weeks have rightfully caused us to pause and evaluate whether there is anything we can and should do differently.”

The FAA will review some work processes, manuals, and facilities. Johnson said, “We welcome their engagement and are very open to hear from them about what they find and their perspective on things we may need to change to make us even safer.”

FAA responds to PW1100G ‘misaligned’ vane issue that caused a 2022 failure

Photo of a "blisk" by Olivier Cleynen - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30317852
A “blisk.” Image by Olivier Cleynen.

In 2022, the low-pressure compressor first-stage integrally bladed rotor (or “blisk”) in an Airbus A320neo engine failed, resulting in an engine shutdown. In a proposed rule, the FAA wants to require that airlines replace the rotor. Pratt & Whitney says “The [proposal] relates to a known issue that affected a limited number of engines and is unrelated to powder metal. The improved hardware has been deploying to the fleet over the past two years through previously released service bulletins.”

According to the FAA, a “misaligned” inlet guide vane ahead of the low-pressure compressor resulted in “aerodynamic excitement,” which caused the rotor to fail.

Improvements made by Pratt & Whitney include redesigns of the arm assembly and the first-stage integrally bladed rotor.

Why You’ve Never Been in a Plane Crash

Subtitle: The United States leads the world in airline safety. That’s because of the way we assign blame when accidents do happen.

Understanding the Boeing Mess

Mentioned

A-10 Demo Team Announces Its Final Year As The Warthog’s End Draws Near

A-10 Demo Team

Great Electric Airplane Race Preview

The Air Show podcast.

Hosts this Episode

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

785 The Boeing Company

Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems continue to dominate the news, along with 737 MAX certification, lap babies, the proposed JetBlue and Spirit Airlines merger, route growth at United Airlines and Breeze Airways, and the demise of the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter. Also, flight tests for the B-21 Raider and more favorite aviation movies.

Aviation News

Boeing, not Spirit, mis-installed piece that blew off Alaska MAX 9 jet, industry source says

Wichita-based Spirit AeroSystems builds the 737 fuselage for Boeing. A person familiar with the situation says the door plug was removed by Boeing, and then reinstalled on the 737.

127 Days: The Anatomy of a Boeing Quality Failure

In The Air Current, Jon Ostrower reconstructs the journey of fuselage 8789 from Spirit AeroSytems to Alaska Airlines. It’s an insightful look at the relationship between Boeing and Spirit AeroSystems.

Opposition grows to Boeing 737 MAX 7 safety exemption

Boeing wants an exemption to certify the 737 MAX 7 and MAX 10, despite problems with the engine anti-ice system.

Video: United Airlines CEO: Boeing’s 737 Max-9 grounding is ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’ for us

NTSB Urges Parents Not to Fly With Children on Laps After Alaska Incident 

At a recent press conference, NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy said “We would urge passengers to put their children under two in their own seat, in an FAA-approved car seat, so they are secure and safe in case something like this happens.” Currently, the FAA allows children under the age of two to be held in an adult’s lap.

Boeing CEO to meet with senators scrutinizing 737 MAX 9 blowout

Dave Calhoun has been meeting with U.S. senators to answer their questions about the 737 MAX 9. After meeting with Calhoun, U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth said he “offered no assurance” that Boeing would withdraw its exemption request for the 737MAX 7 jet. 

Boeing Whistleblower: Production Line Has “Enormous Volume Of Defects” Bolts On MAX 9 Weren’t Installed

JetBlue casts doubt on its merger deal with Spirit Airlines after judge rules against merger

JetBlue Airways has informed Spirit Airlines that the merger agreement might be terminated. JetBlue feels some conditions of the merger agreement can not be met while Spirit says there is no basis for terminating the merger agreement.

United Airlines To Launch First-Ever Route From Washington DC To Alaska

Breeze Airways Adds Three Airports, 11 Routes To Network

After Three Years on Mars, NASA’s Ingenuity Helicopter Mission Ends

On April 19, 2021, the Ingenuity Mars Helicopter made history by becoming the first craft to achieve powered, controlled flight on another planet. After sustaining rotor blade damage, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson announced that the Ingenuity mission had come to an end after  72 flights.

Ingenuity Mars Helicopter sitting on the surface of Mars.
This view of NASA’s Ingenuity Mars Helicopter was generated using data collected by the Mastcam-Z instrument aboard the agency’s Perseverance Mars rover on Aug. 2, 2023, the 871st Martian day, or sol, of the mission.

For more information about Ingenuity, see https://mars.nasa.gov/technology/helicopter.

Mentioned

Do Electric Aircraft Face Lapse Rate Challenges?

B-21 Raider Flight Testing Now Underway

Hosts this Episode

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

774 Why Flying is Miserable

We talk with the author of Why Flying is Miserable: And How to Fix It. In the news, the NTSB comments on the increase in near-miss aviation incidents, the FAA will appoint an ARC to examine pilot mental health, an NTSB preliminary report on the Hawker/Cessna collision, cargo pilots are offered $250,000 to go regional, and United adjusts their frequent flyer program.

Guest

Ganesh Sitaraman, author of Why Flying is Miserable: And How to Fix It.
Ganesh Sitaraman

Ganesh Sitaraman is a policy expert, Vanderbilt law professor, and the author of the book titled Why Flying is Miserable: And How to Fix It. The book was written to stimulate conversation about the state of air travel in the U.S. and what might be done to make it serve more Americans, more efficiently, with fewer federal bailouts and headaches.

Why Flying is Miserable takes the reader through the history of the U.S. airline industry and how deregulation has brought us to where we are today. In the early years of flight through the 1930’s, policies were defined by the needs of airmail. Then in the 1930s to the 1970s, airlines were regulated largely under a public utility model, ultimately through the Civil Aeronautics Board. This regulated oligopoly was changed to a free market model with deregulation in 1978. The resulting unregulated oligopoly resulted in cutthroat competition in the 1980s which led to consolidation without regulation.

Ganesh describes why flying is miserable for the flying public and miserable for the industry itself. With no changes, another bailout situation will present itself sooner or later, he argues.

Why Flying is Miserable: And How to Fix It book cover

Ganesh offers some reform principles that consider the dynamics of the industry and the goals of a national airline policy: no more flyover country, no bailouts or bankruptcies, and fair and transparent prices. He offers some creative and thought-provoking approaches to achieve those principles.

Ganesh is director of the Vanderbilt Policy Accelerator for Political Economy and Regulation. He’s the author of numerous books, previously a senior advisor to Elizabeth Warren for her presidential campaign, and is a member of the Administrative Conference of the United States and the FAA’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee

Follow Ganesh on X (Twitter) at @GaneshSitaraman. Why Flying is Miserable: And How to Fix It is available wherever books are sold, as an Audible Audiobook, and on Kindle.

Aviation News

NTSB chair says US near-miss aviation incidents ‘clear warning sign’

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chair Jennifer Homendy told a U.S. Senate aviation committee that the increase in near-miss aviation incidents is a “clear warning sign that the U.S. aviation system is sharply strained.” Homendy stated the need for “more technology for runway and cockpit alerting… We cannot wait until a fatal accident forces action.”

American Airlines dangles a $250,000 bonus to lure pilots from FedEx and UPS to fill job shortage that has led to canceled and delayed flights

American Airlines regional carrier PSA Airlines is reportedly offering cargo pilots a $175,000 bonus in the first paycheck, with an additional $75,000 after one year. As the airline cancels flights due to staffing shortages, FedEx and UPS are experiencing reduced demand and flight cuttings. So those carriers are encouraging their pilots to consider the American offer.

Hawker Crew Ignored Instructions from ATC in Houston Bizjet Collision

As previously reported, the left wing of a Hawker 850 (N269AA) hit the vertical stabilizer of a Cessna Mustang (N510HM) landing on a crossing runway at Houston Hobby Airport (KHOU). According to the NTSB preliminary report:

HOU has intersecting runways, and the local controller had instructed the crew of N269AA [Hawker] to line up and wait (LUAW) on runway 22. The crew of N269AA said in a post-accident interview that they believed they heard that they were cleared for takeoff when they took off. The collision between the two airplanes occurred at the intersection of the two runways.

N269AA was in the takeoff roll on runway 22 when the flight data/clearance delivery controller alerted the local controller about N269AA’s movement, and at 1519:47 the local controller stated “november nine alpha alpha, stop, hold your position.” There was no response from the crew of N269AA, and at 1519:53 the local controller again stated, “alpha, alpha, hold your position, stop,” to which there was still no response.

The flight crew from N269AA stated in their post-accident interview they had a rudder bias alert, and a pitch trim alert which they had to resolve as they were in the takeoff roll.

NTSB

HOU tower is equipped with an Airport Surface Detection Equipment – Model X (ASDE-X) system that the FAA describes as “a surveillance system using radar, multilateration and satellite technology that allows air traffic controllers to track surface movement of aircraft and vehicles. It was developed to help reduce critical Category A and B runway incursions.”

ASDE X collects data from 

  • Surface surveillance radar located on top of the air traffic control tower and/or on a remote tower
  • Multilateration sensors located around the airport
  • Airport Surveillance Radars such as the Mode S
  • Automatic Dependent Surveillance — Broadcast (ADS-B) sensors
  • Terminal automation system to obtain flight plan data.

By fusing the data from these sources, ASDE-X can determine the position and identification of aircraft and vehicles in the airport movement area, as well as aircraft flying on final approach to the airport. Thirty-five major airports have received ASDE-X.

FAA Naming Panel to Address Pilot Mental Health Issues

The FAA says it is appointing a Pilot Mental Health Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC). The committee will provide recommendations on breaking down the barriers that prevent pilots from reporting mental health issues to the FAA. FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker said, “Mental health care has made great strides in recent years, and we want to make sure the FAA is considering those advances when we evaluate the health of pilots.”

The FAA said it would also work to address uncompleted recommendations from a July inspector general’s office report on pilot mental health, which found the FAA’s “ability to mitigate safety risks is limited by pilots’ reluctance to disclose mental health conditions.”

Source: FAA to Appoint Rulemaking Committee to Examine Pilot Mental Health.

In addition, the FAA will work with the ARC to address open recommendations from the July 2023 DOT Office of Inspector General report on Pilot Mental Health Challenges, which found that the agency has “comprehensive procedures to evaluate pilots’ psychological health.”

FAA fact sheet on pilot mental health oversight, Pilot Mental Fitness.

United Airlines tweaks frequent flyer program to reward credit card spending 

UA says they won’t change overall requirements for elite frequent flyer status in 2024. Instead, the airline will give customers 25 qualifying points for every $500 they spend on co-branded credit cards. United will also lift caps on credit card spending that can qualify for elite status. Presently, customers earn 500 points for every $12,000 spent.

Australia Desk

The Indo-Pacific International Maritime Exposition (IndoPac 2023) was held between November 7th and 9th in Sydney, and Grant was in attendance, gathering content for Australian Defence Magazine.  We take a brief look at the expo, particularly in terms of a focus on maritime aviation and defence.

Indo Pacific International Maritime Exposition

Local company Rosebank Engineering has secured a contract for RAAF F-35 component maintenance, activating their wheel & brake repair depot, east of Melbourne.

Rosebank Engineering activates F-35 repair depot

The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) this week celebrated 30 years of operations at RAAF Base Pearce in Western Australia, conducting lead-in and advanced training for their military pilots.  The Australian Defence Force enjoys a close working relationship with the Singaporeans not only at Pearce but in several other aspects of training including CH-47 Chinook training at the Army Aviation Regiment’s base at Oakey in Queensland.

The RSAF Commemorates 30 Years of Training in Pearce, Australia

And speaking of maritime topics, what exactly was Steve eating for lunch that has Grant so concerned?  Tune in to find out!  Anchors away….

Mentioned

Frank Borman (left) and Rob Mark (right) at the airport.
Frank Borman and Rob Mark.

Video: Stackhat (Australian ad – 1988)

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, Rob Mark, and Brian Coleman. Contribution by Grant McHerron and Steve Visscher.

770 Boarding the Airplane

The airline boarding process, Leap-1A engine compressor stalls, the $19 billion Kennedy Airport transformation project, SpaceX Starlink Internet connectivity on planes, an update on the oldest skydiver, another Australia Desk report, and great listener mail.

Photo of man boarding United Air Lines Boeing 247 airplane.
Boarding a United Air Lines Boeing 247.

Aviation News

Check your group: United Airlines to reintroduce window, middle aisle boarding this month – saves 2 minutes!

United economy passengers might benefit from a boarding process where passengers with window seats get on first, then the middle seat passengers, and finally the aisle seats. The airline thinks this will shorten boarding by two minutes.

According to the airline, beginning October 26, 2023, boarding will take place in this order:

  • Preboarding: Customers with disabilities and unaccompanied minors, active duty military, Global Services members, families with children under two, and Premier 1K members
  • Group 1: United Polaris business, United first, United business, Premier Platinum, Premier Gold and Star Alliance Gold
  • Group 2: Premier Silver, Star Alliance Silver, Chase, and certain other credit card holders and paid Premier Access
  • Group 3: Window seats, exit row seats and non-revenue passengers
  • Group 4: Middle seats
  • Group 5: Aisle seats
  • Group 6: Basic economy on domestic flights and those between the U.S. and the Caribbean or Central America excluding Panama City and San Salvador

Leap-1A compressor-stall problem prompts FAA to propose inspections

After reports of three high-pressure compressor stalls resulting in aborted take-offs, and two stalls resulting in turnbacks, the FAA released a proposed rule that would require increased inspections of CFM International Leap-1A turbofans. The stalls were “induced by high levels of non-synchronous vibration” and involved wear on the engines’ number three bearing spring finger housings.

The Wikipedia Compressor Stall page provides more information on this topic.

Why Tugboats Are Key to the $19 Billion Overhaul of Kennedy Airport

Kennedy Airport is undergoing a $19 billion transformation project. Under the public/private redevelopment program, John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) will get two giant new terminals, expansion and modernization of existing terminals, streamlined roadways, and local retail and dining. See A New JFK for the latest information.

Hawaiian now planning Starlink service entry in early 2024

In addition to personal services, SpaceX’s Starlink offers commercial connectivity options: fixed, mobile, maritime, and aviation.  According to the Starlink website, the aviation package is available for Gulfstream and Bombardier jets. In April 2022, Hawaiian Airlines announced that the airline would fit Starlink to its A321neos, A330s, and future Boeing 787-9s. Now the airline says that this has been pushed back to early 2024.

104-year-old skydiver dies days after jump that could put her in the record books

Dorothy Hoffner was found dead by staff at the senior living community. She apparently died in her sleep.

Australia Desk

The Australia Desk returns after a few months away, and much has happened, both in aviation circles and a little closer to home.

Steve Visscher at the hospital.
Steve Visscher

Steve returns to the microphone following his recent journey with open heart surgery, the result of a heart attack in early September.  The aviation podcast community was so generous in their support during this time, and we take a moment to speak to that and express our appreciation.

For those who may be interested, Steve chronicled his experience in a blog, which can be found at http://proceedaspect.com 

In aviation news this week, Qantas has been transporting Australian citizens out of Israel on behalf of the federal government, due to the escalating conflict there.  At the time of recording, one 787 flight had been completed, while a second was aborted due to security concerns.  That flight was rescheduled. The 787s take passengers to London and then on to Australia using A380s.

Statement on Second QANTAS Assistance Flight

Former Air New Zealand CEO Christopher Luxon is now the country’s Prime Minister following this weekend’s elections, following a shift into politics in recent times.  The news comes as the nation’s flag carrier experiences financial stresses due largely to the escalating price of fuel, exacerbated by ongoing wranglings with Pratt & Whitney over engine issues, and a post-covid travel credit hangover. 

Air New Zealand Growth Boosted By Long Haul Demand

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority is on a recruitment drive, offering multiple aircrew roles on their Dash 8 and Challenger 604 fleet.  Find out more here:

Recruitment Seminars

An Australian man is at the centre of a recent incident which resulted in a Scoot 787 flight from Singapore to Perth being turned around and given an RSAF F-15 escort back to Changi.

Australian man charged with making bomb threat on Scoot flight

The team at Paul Bennet Airshows have had a grand time at the recent Australian Aerobatic Championships, held at Narromine in New South Wales.  Paul took out the Freestyle Championship, while many other team members swept the awards categories as well.

Hunter locals soar to victory at aerobatic championships

Paul Bennet Airshows
Image courtesy Paul Bennet Airshows.

Mentioned

Your Pizza Shop, 1200 8’th Ave SW, Largo, Florida. Join Brian and Micah for a meetup on Sunday, November 12, starting at 4 p.m.

Successful A330 MRTT flight test campaign for F-15 fighters automatic refueling

Listener Michael’s RC Aircraft

This is just a small sampling of the foam, balsa, and fiberglass electric-powered radio-controlled aircraft that Michael has built. When he’s not working on models, Michael is a helicopter pilot and flight test engineer.

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, Brian Coleman, David Vanderhoof, Max Trescott, and Rob Mark. Contribution by Grant McHerron and Steve Visscher.

766 Air Travelers with Disabilities

The Chief Strategy Officer of a global airline holding company talks about the challenges faced by air travelers with disabilities and how to address them. In the news, the DOT is considering increased passenger compensation for delays, a private company offers luxury terminal services, the outlook for the air traffic controller shortage looks bleak, the NTSB finds that posting to social media was the probable cause of a fatal plane crash, and a small Hawaiian airline plans to add electric ground effect “seagliders” to its fleet.

Guest

Michael Swiatek is the Chief Strategy Officer of ABRA Group, a global airline holding company that owns Avianca, the largest airline in Colombia, and GOL Airlines, which is the largest airline in Brazil.

Mike Swiatek

Mike is on a mission to improve the experience for air travelers with disabilities: making it more affordable, easier, and with better service. Being legally blind, Mike has had unique life experiences that have impacted his outlook and career journey.

Mike describes the four primary disability categories: visual, hearing, mobility, and neurodiversity. He explains how disability pain points were identified by examining the Avianca customer journey map. Such points can be addressed in five possible ways: awareness, training, process change, digital technology, and hardware.

As a blind person, Mike developed several “superpowers” that have benefitted his life, both professionally and otherwise. We learn about those and consider related topics, like how to best interact with people with disabilities.

Mike was formerly the Chief Strategy and Planning Officer at Avianca, where he transformed the airline’s positioning through alliances, network expansion, and inclusivity initiatives. He’s held senior roles at a number of other airlines, including IndiGo Airlines and Qatar Airways.

Aviation News

United CEO says higher compensation for delays would make flying less safe

United Airlines holding company CEO Scott Kirby said that a plan being considered by the Transportation Department could cost the industry “a god-awful amount of money.” The DOT is considering increasing payments to passengers for disruptions under airlines’ control, such as for hotels, transportation, meals, and re-booking. Kirby said, “We should never risk changing the safety culture in aviation. I do not want a pilot, I do not want a mechanic, thinking about the extra cost of delay when they’re thinking about a decision.”

For $4,850, You Can Now Bypass TSA Lines at Atlanta’s Airport

Private Suite, or PS as it is now known, operates from private terminals at Los Angeles International Airport and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, away from the public terminals at those airports. PS calls its service “a back door to your commercial aircraft, private TSA and Customs clearance, luxury spaces, and white-glove service before and after your flight.” Customers can get private suites with plush furniture, snacks, and beverages. PS offers fast, private TSA screening and chauffeured travel directly to the aircraft door.

Secretary Buttigieg Warns of a Lengthy Air Traffic Control Staffing Shortage

Airline executives raise alarm that air traffic controller shortage will continue disrupting flights for years

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg says the air traffic controller shortage “…is going to be a journey, especially when you factor in attrition, to get to levels we want to see. I think it’ll be a while before we’re at levels we’d like to see.” Across the U.S., air traffic controller levels are at about 81 percent of the need. That’s about 3,000 controllers short. In the New York market, staffing is only 54 percent of what is needed. Industry executives are looking at this as a 5-year problem.

NTSB Says Snapchat Post Resulted in Fatal Crash

“Distracted piloting” during a low-level pipeline patrol flight was the probable cause of the Cessna 182 striking a radio tower guy wire, killing the pilot.

Electric Seagliders Could Come To Hawaii As Soon As 2026

Mokulele Airlines may add electric REGENT seagliders to its fleet, which fly port-to-port about 60 feet over the water. The airline currently serves residents of Molokai and Lanai. Mokulele’s parent company is Southern Airways, which was acquired by Surf Air Mobility in July 2023. Surf Air is a Los Angeles-based electric air travel company and traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

Video: REGENT Seaglider Achieves First Flight

Mentioned

The Journey Is The Reward podcast, Episode 41 Stuttering… A Live Show!

Portland pilot who helped guard Maine’s coast honored 80 years after World War II

One Mile in Five: Debunking The Myth and Snopes: Interstate Highways as Airstrips.

Washington State Airport Restaurants [PDF]

Outstanding Aviators

Bradford Camps, Munsungan Lake

Hosts this Episode

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

762 A Curtis P-40 Pilot and a United Assistant Chief Pilot

We speak with a Curtiss P-40 Warhawk owner and pilot, and with an Assistant Chief Pilot at United Airlines.

Guests

Thom Richard is a Curtiss P-40 Warhawk owner and pilot. A photo Warhawk Shootout was recently held at the American Dream SkyRanch (18SC) private strip, which is home to Warbird Adventures, a vintage aircraft flight school offering private pilot, aerobatic, and tailwheel training. Warbird Adventures also provides flights in WWII aircraft.

Curtiss P-40 Warhawk

Brian and Micah talked with Thom about warbirds, the P-40 in general, and the very interesting history of the P-40 that Thom owns. The P-40, by the way, is the only aircraft that flew in every single theatre of the war every single day. Thom describes the acquisition and restoration of his aircraft and his aviation school.

See Warhawk Shootout! Warbird Adventures to Host P-40 Photo Event in Warbird News.

United Airlines logo

Capt. Chris Dowell is Assistant Chief Pilot at United Airlines. Chris describes his career progression as a pilot and explains the role of the assistant chief pilot. He talks about customer service, substance abuse, and pilot training. Also, what a check airman looks for in a new pilot, and how new pilots today are different from those in the past with all the technology and automation now available. Chris comments on Captain/First Officer teamwork and CRM.

Hosts

Brian Coleman and our Main(e) Man Micah.