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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Dorothy Hoffner was found dead by staff at the senior living community. She apparently died in her sleep.
The Australia Desk returns after a few months away, and much has happened, both in aviation circles and a little closer to home.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
We speak with a Curtiss P-40 Warhawk owner and pilot, and with an Assistant Chief Pilot at United Airlines.
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.
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.
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.
China reportedly flies an engine destined for the COMAC C919, the Airbus final assembly line in China delivers its first A321, a “Really Cool” airline is planned for Thailand, United and Archer plan eVTOL air taxi service in Chicago, still no permanent FAA Administrator, orders for the Osprey V-22 come to an end. Also, an Australia Desk report and interviews from the Point Mugu Air Show.
Jon Ostrower reports in The Air Current that there is footage on social media of what appears to be a test aircraft flying with the Aero Engine Corporation of China CJ-1000A engine. This is significant because that engine is planned to eventually replace the CFMI LEAP-1C engine currently used on the Chinese Comac C919, a single-aisle jet in the A320/B737 class.
Airbus has four A320 family final assembly lines: Hamburg, Germany; Toulouse, France; Mobile, Alabama; and Tianjin, China. The FAL in Tianjin was the first Airbus commercial aircraft assembly line outside Europe. Now Airbus has delivered the first A321neo aircraft assembled in Tianjin to China’s Juneyao Air. The aircraft is powered by Pratt & Whitney GTF engines.
The former CEO of Thai LCC Nok Air has been running a travel agency named “Really Really Cool.” Now Patee Sarasin wants to start a new airline named “Really Cool Airlines” with the tagline “We fly the future.” Their plan is to acquire four Airbus A350s by the end of 2023.
United Airlines and Archer Aviation plan to launch the first air taxi route in Chicago, between O’Hare International Airport (ORD) and Vertiport Chicago. Archer’s eVTOL aircraft will be used as part of their urban air mobility (UAM) network buildout. The company is focused on airport to city center routes. Archer plans to deploy 6000 aircraft By 2030.
The FAA has been led by an acting Administrator since March 2022. The White House had nominated Phillip Washington, the CEO of Denver International Airport, but Republicans and some other key senators opposed Washington. They say he is not qualified because of limited aviation experience. The agency is being led by an acting administrator, Billy Nolen, a pilot who has held safety jobs at three airlines.
The Point Mugu Air Show was held March 18, 19, 2023, at Naval Base Ventura County (NBVC), Point Mugu. This years event celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Navy at Point Mugu, and featured dual-premiere demonstration teams: the Blue Angels, and the Thunderbirds.
Brian Coleman attended the air show and recorded interviews with
Capt. Pap, a flight nurse with the Air National Guard.
After a busy couple of weeks, the guys are back in the studio as Grant recovers from another weekend of air show commentary duties, this time at Benalla, 130 miles north of Melbourne. We discuss the role these regional air shows play in terms of promoting the importance and fun of aviation in the community.
The Army’s fleet of MRH-90 Taipan helicopters has been temporarily grounded following an incident this week. The crew of a Taipan conducting a special forces training exercise off Jervis Bay, 200km south of Sydney, had to ditch their aircraft after it appeared to lose power. Only minor injuries were sustained by some onboard, and the aircraft was successfully recovered. An investigation is now underway.
Northrop Grumman Australia’s newly-modernised Brisbane Maintenance and Modification Centre (BMMC) has been officially opened; a major facility for the sustainment of the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) aviation capability. Northrop Grumman invested $20 million in the BMMC project.
The facility conducts continuous through-life support to RAAF fleets including its six KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft and 10 C-27J Spartan transport aircraft, and will provide jobs for around 100 people.
And across the Ditch in New Zealand, Bevan Dewes’ immaculately restored, former Royal New Zealand Air Force Harvard Mk.IIa (NZ1044) landed at its new home in Masterton, New Zealand on March 19th, 2023 following a three-year rebuild effort with Twenty24 Ltd, at Wanaka. Registered as ZK-OTU, the aircraft made its first post-restoration flight from Wanaka on March 10th.
After the child is over 44 pounds he or she no longer needs a safety seat on an aircraft and can safely use a regular seatbelt. The AmSafe Child Aviation Restraint System (CARES) device is FAA-certified for children up to 40 inches tall and weighing between 22 and 44 pounds.
Car seats made after 1985 are FAA-approved and will have a certification sticker attached to them. These car seats can be used on your flight, but there are exceptions. Children in car seats should sit in a window seat with the car seat secured to the seat itself. Your child should be in their seat during takeoff, landing, and turbulence.
Most safety seats that are approved for use in motor vehicles are acceptable for use in aircraft. The seat must have a solid back and seat, restraint straps installed to securely hold the child, and a label indicating approval for use on an aircraft.
When you travel with a child under 2 years old, you may choose to travel with the child on your lap (infant-in-arms) or travel with your child in an FAA-approved child safety seat. To use a FAA-approved safety seat, you must purchase a ticket for your child so they have a reserved seat.
Decarbonizing aviation with a Program Director from the International Council on Clean Transportation. Also, a venture capital fund to grow the availability of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF), the PT6 is 60 years old, GA aircraft shipment numbers for 2022, an AD for Continental engines, another close call at the airport, a plea to refrain from putting your pets through the TSA x-ray machine, and we wait to see if the DOJ will object to the Jetblue/Spirit merger.
Dan directs ICCT’s aviation and marine programs. In that capacity, he helps national and international regulators develop policies to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gases from planes and ships.
We discuss the function and leadership of the ICCT and look at solutions for decarbonizing aviation through technology and policy. Dan describes pathways to net zero by 2050, which include emission cuts from sustainable fuels, increased aviation fuel efficiency, carbon pricing, and a few modal shifts.
We consider how much it will cost to decarbonize aviation as well as regional differences in approach, such as surcharges and subsidies. Dan describes a way to integrate the different approaches across the global air travel industry.
Dan offers his thoughts on hydrogen as a fuel, and on the types of SAF: waste oils, other waste like agricultural or municipal solid waste, synthetic fuel like E-kerosene produced with renewable energy and captured carbon, and crop-based biofuels (from soybeans, palm oil, etc.)
Dan is an internationally recognized expert on measures to promote international transport’s fuel efficiency, control short-lived climate pollutants, and phase out the use of fossil fuels. Dan has helped design environmental policies at the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization and International Maritime Organization for over a decade. Dan holds a B.A. in Chemistry from the University of Minnesota at Morris and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering and Science from Stanford University.
A venture capital fund was created called the United Airlines Ventures Sustainable Flight Fund. Its objective is to invest in startup firms and technology that grows the availability of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). Initial investors providing more than $100 million are United Airlines, Air Canada, Boeing, GE Aerospace, JPMorgan Chase, and Honeywell. United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said “This fund is unique. It’s not about offsets or things that are just greenwashing. Instead, we’re creating a system that drives investment to build a new industry around sustainable aviation fuel, essentially from scratch.”
The Sustainable Flight Fund is not open to retail investors but United Airlines is offering 500 United MileagePlus frequent flyer miles to the first 10,000 customers who donate $1, $3.50, or $7 to the fund. Also, the United website and app will show customers booking flights the estimated carbon footprint of a particular flight.
In January, United Airlines, Tallgrass, and Green Plains Inc. announced a new joint venture – Blue Blade Energy – to develop and then commercialize a novel Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) technology that uses ethanol as its feedstock. If the technology is successful, Blue Blade is expected to proceed with the construction of a pilot facility in 2024, followed by a full-scale facility that could begin commercial operations by 2028. The offtake agreement could provide for enough SAF to fly more than 50,000 flights annually between United’s hub airports in Chicago and Denver.
Pratt & Whitney Canada has accumulated one billion flight hours with the PT6 turboprop and turboshaft family. More than 64,000 PT6s have been produced since 1963 for more than 155 different aviation applications. Design work started in 1958, first run was February 1960, first flight was May 1961 on a Beech 18, and the engine entered service in 1964 on the Beech Queen Air.
The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) reports that business and GA fixed-wing shipments were up 6.5% in 2022 compared to 2021, billings were up 5.8%, and rotorcraft shipments and billings were up 7.5 percent and 6.8 percent, respectively.
“The FAA received a report of a quality escape involving improper installation and inspection of counterweight retaining rings in the engine crankshaft counterweight groove during manufacture. The FAA has also received reports of two ground engine seizures and one in-flight loss of engine oil pressure due to improper installation of the counterweight retaining rings during manufacture.”
“This AD requires inspection of the crankshaft assembly for proper installation of the counterweight retaining rings in the counterweight groove, and corrective actions if improper installation is found. The FAA is issuing this AD to address the unsafe condition on these products.”
A Skywest Airlines E175 (operating as United Express 5326) was cleared to take off at Hollywood Burbank Airport in California. Meanwhile, a Mesa Airlines CRJ-900 (American 5826) was on short final for the same runway.
According to the Aviation Safety Network report, “The air traffic controller cleared UA5326 to take off from runway 33 while the approaching CRJ-900 was around on short final to the same runway. The CRJ-900 discontinued the approach and initiate[d] a climb out. At the same time the ERJ-175 continued with its departure, which prompted a TCAS alert on the CRJ-900. The controller then instructed the CRJ-900 to turn… left. AA5826 circled and landed safely. UA5326 continued to the destiation.”
TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said, “We are seeing more people traveling with their pets and too many people are leaving them in the carrier case and sending them through the machine. No living creature, human or animal, needs to be exposed to X-rays they don’t need.”
The Justice Department’s antitrust division hasn’t yet made a decision to block the merger of JetBlue Airways and Spirit Airlines or let it proceed. The airlines maintain the merger would lead to lower prices.
The co-founder and CEO of Reliable Robotics explains how aircraft automation sets the path to bringing certified autonomous vehicles to commercial aviation. In the news, the first graduating class from United Aviate Academy, the NTSB and BEA comment on the Ethiopian Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau’s final report on the 737 Max crash, pilots working to make their airport safer, the government wants to know if the Southwest meltdown was caused by unrealistic scheduling, and ADS-B Exchange purchase by Jetnet.
Robert Rose is the co-founder and CEO of Reliable Robotics, a company that seeks to bring certified autonomous vehicles to commercial aviation. Their vision is to leverage aircraft automation to transform the way we move goods and people around the planet with safer, more convenient, and more affordable air transportation. The company is headquartered in Mountain View, California, and has a distributed global workforce.
Robert explains how incremental safety enhancements can lead to the long-term goal of remotely piloted aircraft. Reliable Robotics is developing a higher precision navigation system, followed by the capability for auto-land without airport infrastructure. From there, an auto-takeoff capability that includes takeoff rejection, and auto-taxi. Altogether, these significantly impact the safety of GA aircraft
Admitting that fully autonomous aircraft are not a near-term possibility, Robert says that aircraft automation takes us down the path to autonomous operation.
He sees certification in three phases:
Certification of a continuous engagement autopilot for the Cessna Caravan.
Certifying the management of contingencies outside the system’s control.
Certifying detect and avoid and the communication system with the pilot in a control center.
Robert’s engineering experience spans aerospace, self-driving cars, robotics, gaming, and consumer products. Prior to co-founding Reliable Robotics, he was the Director of Flight Software at SpaceX where he led the development of the onboard flight software for the Falcon 9 rocket and the Dragon spacecraft, resulting in the first commercial mission to the International Space Station. At Tesla, Robert was the Senior Director of Autopilot, Robert brought to market the first consumer automobile with fully unassisted self-driving capability. At X (Google’s skunkworks division), Robert led a team bringing advanced machine perception and manipulation technologies to large vehicles.
Earlier in his career, he developed three Game of the Year award-winning titles as a Game Engine Programmer at Sony PlayStation. Robert holds a B.S. in Computer Science, a B.S. in Computer Engineering, and an M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Oregon State University.
United Aviate Academy graduated the first 51 student pilots out of what United hopes will be 5,000 by 2030. United is the only major U.S. airline to own a flight school. Nearly 80% of this inaugural graduating class is made up of women or people of color. The airline hopes that at least half of the graduates will be women or people of color. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says only 5.6% of pilots are women and 6% are people of color.
What’s next for the graduates?
Some will work as Certified Flight Instructors at the academy and build their hours toward 1,500 required flying hours
Others will build hours at participating flight schools or universities, including Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Purdue University and Hampton University.
Graduates are encouraged to eventually fly for a United Express carrier, take on leadership roles at an Aviate participating Part 135 operator, or become a Fleet Technical Instructor at United to complete their training.
Aviate participants can expect to become a United pilot within about six years of graduating from United Aviate Academy.
The Ethiopian Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (EAIB) final report focuses on system failures, not the actions (or inactions) of the pilots. The NTSB and BEA believe the failure of the pilots to execute proper procedures was a contributing factor. Comments made by NTSB and BEA to that effect were not included in the EAIB final report. NTSB and BEA have gone on record to express their belief that the final report is deficient in this respect.
Boeing pleaded not guilty to felony fraud in the recent arraignment in federal court. The families asked Judge O’Connor to impose certain conditions on Boeing as a condition of release, including appointing an independent monitor to oversee Boeing’s compliance with the terms of the previous deferred prosecution agreement, and that the company’s compliance efforts “be made public to the fullest extent possible.” Boeing and the Justice Department opposed the request and the judge did not rule on those at the time.
The Aspen Airport (KASE) has been regarded as a dangerous airport. The Aspen Times called it “the most dangerous [airport] in the United States.” A number of jet and piston accidents have occurred there, some fatal. In December 2022, the formation of the Aspen/Pitkin County Airport FlightOps Safety Task Force was announced. The task force includes a dozen volunteer pilots
A Department of Transportation (DOT) spokesperson said, “DOT is in the initial phase of a rigorous and comprehensive investigation into Southwest Airlines’ holiday debacle that stranded millions … [and] probing whether Southwest executives engaged in unrealistic scheduling of flights which under federal law is considered an unfair and deceptive practice.”
“In a …filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, [Southwest Airlines] estimated pretax losses from the disruption of $725 million to $825 million for the quarter. Of that, it expects to lose $400 million to $425 million in revenue directly from the flight cancellations.”
ADS-B Exchange was purchased by Jetnet, which Silversmith Capital Partners own. Some people are expressing outrage and worry that ADS-B Exchange will lose its openness. Founder and president of ADS-B Exchange Dan Streufert was our guest in Episode 692.
This week we take a look across the Tasman Sea as New Zealand’s capital, Auckland, was hit with historic levels of flooding, leading to the temporary closure of their International Airport, leaving passengers from all corners of the globe stranded for many hours in the terminal, and saw a number of inbound flights diverted.
Steve’s a little tired after being recertified as an instructor…not for airplanes…but for trains. We discuss the similarities in approaches to training between rail and aviation, including one of Steve’s more interesting sim sessions.
Meanwhile, Grant’s literally over the moon following Saber Astronautics’ plans to send Australian tech to the International Space Station in coming years, including beer in a specially made zero-G bottle.
Flights were temporarily halted in and out of Sydney Airport this weekend when the control tower had to be evacuated following the smell of gaseous fumes in the ventilation system.
And finally, we pay tribute to local aviation photographer Matt Savage, of Mach One Aeromedia, who passed away recently after a long battle with illness. Matt was a man who shared our passion for aviation and was a big supporter of our work. Though he left us way too soon, his skill with the lens will live on as a lasting legacy for all of us to enjoy.
We speak with the operator of the world’s largest network of airport lounges. In the news, United’s order for Boeing planes, air travel trends for 2023, Boom Supersonic plans to develop its own engine, the U.S. Army selects the Bell V-280 over the Sikorsky/Boeing offering, and passengers are injured by turbulence on a Hawaiian Airlines flight.
Stuart Vella is Vice President of Commercial Development and Operations with the Plaza Premium Group (PPG), an award-winning leader in premium airport hospitality services. PPG operates the world’s largest network of airport lounges. In the U.S. the company operates the Plaza Premium Lounge at DFW Terminal E and recently opened a lounge at Orlando (MCO) Terminal C. Stuart has been in the hospitality industry for some 30 years and has an extensive travel background.
We talk with Stuart about airport lounges and making the travel experience less hectic. He explains how PPG was formed to cater to those without access to elite lounges. PPG offers lounges for all travelers, regardless of cabin class or airline. Customer demand is high for more lounge access not necessarily tied to an airline or credit card.
PPG owns the lounges they operate and offers full food and beverage service with production kitchens, full bars, showers, play areas for children, and quiet areas for business people. The benefits of each lounge are tailored to the demographics of travelers going through that specific airport.
We discuss the PPG pricing model, LEED ratings, and the “ALWAYS” meet and greet at DFW.
The United order represents 35% of the orders received by Boeing commercial airplanes this year. The announced order includes 100 firm/100 option 787 Dreamliners and 56 firm 737 Max planes for delivery between 2024 and 2026. The airline also exercised options on 44 737 Max jets with delivery between 2024 and 2026.
Boom Supersonic could not get any of the major engine manufacturers to commit to developing an engine for them. Boom now plans to develop its own engine, called Symphony, a medium-bypass engine producing 35,000 pounds of thrust. Three partners were announced:
Kratos purchased Florida Turbine Technologies in February 2019 and formed the Kratos Turbine Technologies (KTT) division. KTT develops and produces small high-performance jet engines for cruise missiles and unmanned aerial systems (UAS).
U.S. Army’s fleet of UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters is to be replaced under the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft initiative, or FLRAA. The Army has chosen the Bell V-280 Valor tiltrotor over the Sikorsky/Boeing Defiant X, a compound coaxial helicopter based on Sikorsky’s X2 technology. The Army said the V-280 offered the “best value proposition” without providing any specifics.
The A330 flight from Phoenix to Honolulu encountered severe turbulence, injuring as many as 36 passengers, 11 seriously. The pilots declared an emergency following the incident due to the number of injuries and the plane was given priority clearance to land.
Concerning a Boeing MoM, president and CEO David Calhoun, said, “We won’t contemplate a new airplane; we won’t even put it on the drawing board until we know we’re capable of doing that. So this is strategy for us. Capabilities. And then there’ll be a moment in time where we’ll pull the rabbit out of the hat and introduce a new airplane sometime in the middle of next decade.”
The global civil aviation industry has pledged to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 but new technologies will require billions of dollars in investment. Hydrogen, electric and hybrid propulsion, and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) have promise, but feasibility and cost-effectiveness concerns remain. But propfans and ducted propellers “might finally be ready for use.”
First-class suites with doors first appeared on the Airbus A380 then spread to other widebodies offering luxury and some degree of privacy. How do the latest class of high-wall super suites from Emirates and Lufthansa deal with the cabin view requirements?
Eastern Airlines Flight 401 50th Anniversary Memorial Monument – Dedication December 29, 2022, at 1:00 pm. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. For donations:
By check payable to National Air Disaster Foundation. Note on your check that it is for Eastern 401. 100% of your tax-deductible donation goes toward the memorial. Send your check to: National Air Disaster Foundation, 2020 Pennsylvania Ave NW, #315, Washington, DC 20006.