Tag Archives: United Airlines

628 Cranky Flier

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

Guest

Brett Snyder, Cranky Flier.

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

Aviation News

United Airlines lowering requirements for ‘premier’ frequent flyer program

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

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

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

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

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

Virus Outbreak-Business Travel story

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

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

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

Lufthansa Predicts Immunity Passports In The Future

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

Listener Poll

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

Mentioned

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

623 Boeing 787 Dreamliner Move

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

Aviation News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Failure to Go Around Leads to Runway Excursion

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

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

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

Advanced Preflight After Maintenance

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

Resources:

Update on Flightradar24’s extended downtime

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

Mentioned

Listener Poll 623

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

Aviation Careers Podcast and the Aerospace Scholarships guide.

SUN ‘n FUN Holiday Flying Festival and Car Show

Last ever Airbus A380 superjumbo assembled in France

Airbus A380 Struggles But a Business Case Exists for Neo

Airbus debuts hydrogen net-zero concept aircraft for 2035 launch

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

Video: Coulson Aviation CH47

Video: Awesome Chinook helicopter firefighting system in action

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

622 Hypersonic Flight

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

Guest

Hypersonic researcher Dr. Chris Combs

Hypersonic researcher Dr. Chris Combs

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

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

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

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

Mach 7 Ludwieg tube

Mach 7 Ludwieg tube.

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

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

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

UTSA Hypersonics home page

@DrChrisCombs on Twitter

Aviation News

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

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

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

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

United Airlines pilot union voting to save thousands of jobs

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

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

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

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

Video: United – Using Antimicrobials To Keep Aircraft Surfaces Clean

Air Force reveals it secretly built and flew new fighter jet

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

Why JSX is Being Kicked Out of Orange County Airport

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

620 The Master Minimum Equipment List (MMEL)

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

Aviation News

Experienced crew struggled with instrument flight after 737 lost autopilots

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

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

United Eyes Extensive Furloughs

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

Austria Wants To Offload Its Unwanted Eurofighter Typhoons On Indonesia

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

USAF Looks to Address Pilot Shortage with New Programs

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

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

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

Airbus A220 Operators Told To Protect Avionics Against Rainfall

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

Starlux Airlines Plans Six More Flights To Nowhere

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

American Airlines Bans Wearing Too Much Personal Protection Equipment On Board

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

JetSuiteX banned at Orange Co Airport, Asks Customers for Help

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

Mentioned

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

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

When does flying become CO2-neutral?

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

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

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

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

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

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

619 Spending Too Much Time at Home

Some Boeing 787s are grounded due to structural problems, Rolls-Royce financials don’t look good, a positive TSA story, another virtual flight option, US DOE funding for electric aircraft technologies, Pipistrel to set electric aircraft world records, Elon Musk says 3-4 years for effective electric aircraft batteries, Spirit avoids layoffs, and $200 ticket change fees are dropped.

Some co-hosts know how to make a podcast producer laugh…

Aviation News

Boeing yanks eight 787s from service over structural issue

Boeing discovered “two distinct manufacturing issues” that impact the structural integrity of eight recently manufactured 787 Dreamliners. The deficiencies are associated with the joining of composite aft body fuselage barrels. Planes delivered to United, Air Canada, and Singapore were pulled from service.

Rolls-Royce Is Fast Becoming a British Calamity

Rolls-Royce just announced a 5.4 billion-pound ($7.1 billion) loss for the first six months of 2020. The company’s balance sheet shows liabilities exceeding assets by 8 billion pounds.

TSA Employee Rescues Bride’s Wedding Dress Left at Airport Security: She ‘Saved’ the Wedding

One day before her wedding, a bride and her family passed through Newark Liberty International Airport, but the mother accidentally left a roller bag with the bride’s gown (and hers) at the checkpoint. TSA administrative assistant Loletta Nathan-Gordon jumped into action and saved the wedding.

‘Airplane Mode’ will let you relive the monotony of economy class this fall

The Airplane Mode simulator from AMC Games will let you fly in real-time from New York City to Reykjavik or from New York City to Halifax, Canada. Not from the cockpit, but in the cabin. In coach. Expect delays, rude passengers, and screaming babies. You do get a window seat.

US Department of Energy: $33 Million for Carbon-Neutral Hybrid Electric Aviation

The U.S. Department of Energy announced $33 million in funding for 17 electric aviation projects. This is under the ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy) ASCEND (Aviation-class Synergistically Cooled Electric-motors with iNtegrated Drives) and REEACH (Range Extenders for Electric Aviation with Low Carbon and High Efficiency) programs.

Pipistrel Ready To Set 7 Electric Aircraft World Records

Pipistrel plans to fly its Velis Electro more than 700 kilometers from the Swiss Alps to the North Sea, and break 7 world records along the way: lowest energy consumption, highest average speed, highest flight altitude ever reached with an electric aircraft, fastest climbing performance, fastest average speed, smallest number of intermediate stops, and longest electrically flown route. Follow the flight on the website and Facebook.

Tesla’s Elon Musk says that batteries enabling electric aircraft are coming in ‘3 to 4 years’

Last year, when commenting on the need for increased battery energy density, Musk said that was 5 years off.  Tesla’s batteries were then achieving around 260 Wh/kg. He said around 400 Wh/kg was needed for aviation. Elon’s current prediction is now 3 to 5 years.

Spirit Airlines Strikes Deal to Avoid Pilot Furloughs

Spirit Airlines has used voluntary leave initiatives to minimize the number of pilot layoffs, limiting them to 117 pilot furloughs. Now the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) announced that almost half of Spirit’s pilots had agreed to work fewer hours each month, which let the airline cancel all 117 of its planned pilot furloughs. 

United says it will drop widely scorned ticket-change fees

United Airlines says it is dropping its $200 ticket change fee. January, it will let customers fly standby for free on other flights the same day as their booked flight. “When we hear from customers about where we can improve, getting rid of fees is often the top request,” United CEO Scott Kirby said in a video posted Sunday. See also: United Ditches Domestic Change Fees… Let the Games Begin.

Mentioned

Sci-Fi Short Film “The OceanMaker”

Inventing the Joint Strike Fighter, a Zoom meeting Saturday, October 10, 2020, with Dr. Paul Bevilaqua, Chief Engineer of the Skunk Works, Lockheed Martin Corporation.

Arsenal of Democracy – On Friday, September 25, 2020, approximately 70 World War II aircraft will fly over the Washington Mall.

615 Supersonic Commercial Aircraft

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

Aviation News

Boom, Rolls-Royce Partner On Supersonic Overture

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

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

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

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

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

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

United to drop contract with ExpressJet, dealing fatal blow

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

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

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

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

Pilots Who Flew With Discredited Examiner Face Reexamination

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

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

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

FAA gives preliminary approval on design fixes for 737 Max

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

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

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

There’s A Huge Surplus Of American Airlines Nuts

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

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

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

Mentioned

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

There is always a ham in the crowd…

613 A-10 Thunderbolt II

A former A-10 pilot who flew combat missions during Operation Desert Storm tells us about the A-10 from a first-hand perspective. Also, Boeing 737 MAX cancellations, airline layoffs and furloughs, Emirates plan for the A380, an American Airlines and JetBlue partnership, a bizarre Icelandair plan, aviation museums are re-opening, the B-52 Chrome Dome mission, a drive-in airshow, and thoughts on Urban Air Mobility.

Guest

Buck Wyndham is an Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University graduate who joined the Air Force to fly his dream airplane, the A-10 Thunderbolt II. He became one of the very first pilots to take the Warthog into battle and flew many missions during Operation Desert Storm. He went on to fly the T-38 Talon as an instructor for over seven years. 

Buck describes A-10 design and its mission as a ground support aircraft built around a 30mm rotary cannon. “The gun” is 21 feet long, weighs 4,000 pounds loaded, and can fire 70 rounds per second. Buck describes the physical sensations when firing the gun, and he tells us about the difference between air-to-air combat with fast jets and air-to-ground combat with an attack aircraft. He also explains A-10 maneuverability.

Hogs in the SandBuck’s new book, Hogs in the Sand: A Gulf War A-10 Pilot’s Combat Journal, is available in either hardcover or paperback. It’s a gritty, inside look at aerial warfare during Operation Desert Storm, but it is more personal and emotional than books of the same genre. It’s not the typical combat account. It includes that but also much more.

Currently, Buck is an A320 captain for a major US airline, and he is the Chief Pilot for Code 1 Aviation in Rockford, Illinois. Buck has written articles for Warbirds, Classic Jet Journal, and Warbird Digest. He enjoys flying vintage aircraft, building his RV-8, and working on his next book, a novel entitled Red Air.

The Hogs in the Sand website has information about the book, and also some good A-10 videos. Find more on the A-10 at the Hogs in the Sand Facebook page.

Aviation News

Boeing 737 MAX cancellations top 350 planes in first half of 2020

Sixty orders for the 737 MAX were canceled in June by airlines and leasing companies. Deliveries in the first two quarters of 2020 were down by 71% compared to the previous year.

Southwest Airlines Has Another Ominous Warning for Airlines

Southwest Airlines has never had an involuntary layoff or furlough. That might change this year. Southwest’s initial plans for 2020 suggested the airline expected a recovery by year-end and  Southwest originally planned to operate in November and December about as many flights as last year. However, in a letter to employees, Southwest acknowledged that this is becoming unlikely and they may see involuntary layoffs and furloughs.

American Airlines warns 25,000 employees about potential job cuts as coronavirus continues to sap demand

25,000 front-line employees, about 29% of American’s U.S. mainline workforce, were warned that they could be furloughed this autumn. As with other airlines, employees were advised to take early retirement packages or extended leaves. American’s revenue in June was down more than 80% versus a year ago.

Delta just gave United a stark lesson in pandemic business leadership

United Airlines has said that blocking middle seats is just PR. However, Delta Air Lines and Southwest “decided their customers would prefer those middle seats empty,” according to ZDNet. Delta is not raising ticket prices and CEO Ed Bastian says those empty middle seats are the “No. 1 reason” travelers are booking with Delta.

The president of Emirates says passengers will never again be as comfortable as they have been aboard the enormous discontinued Airbus A380

Only 251 A380s will have been delivered by Airbus when production stops in 2021. Emirates has about half of them and the airline’s president Tim Clark says they’ll bring them back into service: “Hopefully, we’ll see them flying for at least another 10 years. Unfortunately, it’s not being produced. So there’s nothing we can do about it. We’ll keep it going as long as we can.”

In a twist, American partners with JetBlue in bid for New York and Boston

American Airlines and JetBlue Airways have again formed an alliance where each can sell seats on the other’s flights. With this agreement, American stands to gain in JetBlue strongholds Boston and New York. JetBlue could benefit from American strength in the Midwest and Southeast. The deal is subject to regulatory approval.

Icelandair says it’s letting go of all its flight attendants — and shifting their duties to the pilots

Icelandair and its cabin crew have had a labor dispute and last Friday the airline said starting July 20 cabin crew employment would be terminated. The airline’s pilots would temporarily assume flight attendants’ roles. In May 2019, 419,000 passengers flew on Icelandair. In May 2020, just 3,100 flew the airline. But then on Sunday… Icelandair and flight attendants have struck a deal. Icelandair and the Icelandic Cabin Crew Association (FFI) reached an agreement and the announced firing of the flight attendants was rescinded.

Mentioned

Aviation News Talk YouTube channel

TABfabric Etsy shop for hand-made face masks. Proceeds go to the Pasadena Woman’s Shelter.

B-52 Stratofortress – US strategic bomber / Documentary US Air Force / WHD

Airshow London (Ontario) announced its 2020 air show will take place on September 12 and 13 as a drive-in format featuring a traditional three-hour air display. The airport grounds can accommodate close to 2500 cars with this socially responsible model. Guests will arrive with a pre-purchased ticket (1 ticket per vehicle) and be directed to park in their own 20 X 25-foot space to enjoy the show either inside or outside their vehicle. Guests can bring their own refreshments, listen to the show on their car radios, and utilize portable washrooms.

612 Difficult Times for Airlines

Airlines face downward booking trends and very large furloughs, flight training in a time of social distancing, airlines struggle to enforce face-covering policies, airports are responding to the pandemic, Boeing issues draft pilot training document for the 737 MAX, and Spirit Airlines steps up to help a family in need.

American Helicopter Museum & Education Center

American Helicopter Museum & Education Center

Aviation News

United Airlines to lay off up to 36,000 U.S. employees in October as travel remains depressed

United Airlines sent employees a notice saying that 36,000 employees may be subject to involuntary furloughs. That would represent 45% of its U.S. front-line workers. Most of these (26,000) would be flight attendants and airport customer service and gate agents. Up to 2,250 pilots could be affected.

United Airlines Has a Huge Warning for Airlines

In mid-April, there were days when TSA checkpoint volume was only 4% of previous year levels. In May and June, the volume rose slightly and airlines started operating more flights. But now Covid-19 infections are spiking upward in many U.S. states and bookings are again dropping.

Redbird Connect Enables Virtual Pilot Proficiency Center

A few months ago, Redbird Flight Simulations started thinking about social distancing and flight training. They’ve developed a platform for flight instructors and their students that uses video conferencing technology and a web-based version of the Redbird Navigator flight simulator operating system.

Airline passengers find ‘creative ways’ to remove masks, American pilot says

Airline passengers are required to wear face coverings in flight, except when eating and drinking. Most do, but not everyone. Cabin crew have difficulty enforcing a mask policy since there is no Federal requirement, only a recommendation.

In July 2020, the U.S. Department of Transportation published a 44-page “Runway to Recovery” plan [PDF] subtitled “The United States Framework for Airlines and Airports to Mitigate the Public Health Risks of Coronavirus.”

Touchless: How the world’s busiest airport envisions post-COVID travel

DFW and American Airlines plan to roll out self-check-in for luggage and touchless restrooms at the airport. The airport is piloting three luggage self-check-in systems: Amadeus’s ICM, SITA, and Materna IPS. DFW is also testing new sanitization technology including ultraviolet light to kill germs before they circulate into the HVAC system.

You couldn’t even pay me to fly United or American Airlines right now, and here’s why

Delta and Southwest Airlines are still flying with reduced seating, but American and United have resumed booking middle seats.

American pilots review Boeing’s latest Max training draft

Boeing has a draft of its new 737 MAX pilot training document. The Allied Pilots Association (APA) representing American Airlines’ pilots has a copy and they say the document is vastly more thorough than previous drafts. The APA is generally pleased with it but some concerns remain. Boeing’s latest draft includes some 10 documents and 200 pages.

Spirit to the rescue: Airline sends emergency plane to bring stranded family home

A family was flying on Spirit Airlines from San Juan to Philadelphia when their 4-year-old daughter had a medical emergency. The plane diverted to Turks and Caicos so the girl could get medical treatment. (She’s fine.) But the family didn’t have the necessary documentation when they tried to leave the island. Plus international travel is shut down there. They were trapped but Spirit and others came to the rescue. 

Mentioned

EAA’s Spirit of Aviation Week™ – July 21-25, 2020.

Meet The Navy’s First Female African American Tactical Jet Pilot

Air Force Name Tapes Can Now Include Accent Marks and Hyphens

 

609 Airline Cash Flow

United leverages its MileagePlus program to improve its balance sheet, one study says the Amazon Air fleet will grow to 200 aircraft, a British aircraft carrier takes a step towards operational capability next year, and Southwest Airlines wants you to provide a “customer health declaration” at check-in. Also, the Finland fighter competition, flight sim hardware from Thrustmaster, and how old is too old to get your pilot’s license?

Aviation News

Surprising Statistics About United MileagePlus

United is mortgaging its frequent flyer program to raise $5 billion

Cash flow remains a major concern for airlines. United announced financing of $5 billion secured through the airlines’ loyalty program. It’s part of their plan to have $17 billion in liquidity by the end of September. CNN says that’s 3 times the cash they normally have on hand. United estimates the value of its Mileage Plus program as a standalone business at $20 billion.

Amazon Air Fleet to Grow from 39 to 200 by 2028

A report from Joseph Schwieterman and Jacob Walls of the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development predicts that the Amazon Air fleet will grow to 200 aircraft by 2028. The report, Insights into Amazon Air: 2020’s Transportation Juggernaut [PDF] was published on May 22, 2020.

HMS Queen Elizabeth ready to conduct carrier strike operations

After a six week test, the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth takes the next step toward operational capability in 2021 when it could deploy with two frigates, two destroyers, a nuclear submarine, as well as support vessels. The ship will also carry 24 F-35B jets, including US Marine Corps aircraft, in addition to a number of helicopters. The recent training demonstrated that carrier jets could be ready to take off on short notice and provide combat air patrols.

See also, Why Britain needs aircraft carriers and The Aircraft Carrier We Need.

Southwest now requires a ‘customer health declaration’ from passengers before flying

Southwest Airlines announced they’d require a “customer health declaration” from customers at online check-in. Customers must acknowledge an awareness of Southwest’s face covering policy and confirm they do not have symptoms of COVID-19. Also that they have not been diagnosed with or exposed, to COVID-19 in the 14 days prior to travel, and they do not have a fever when they travel. The declaration will appear during the online check-in process via the Southwest app, Southwest.com, SWABIZ.com, and the carrier’s mobile website. This is consistent with the recently published Southwest Promise.

Airlines ban alcohol on planes in response to Covid-19

A number of airlines are suspending all or part of their alcoholic drinks service in response to Covid-19.

Finding Finland’s next fighter jet: HX challenge

Under its HX fighter program, the Finnish Air Force plans to replace its F/A-18 C/D Hornet aircraft. Competing for the buy are Eurofighter, Boeing, Dassault, Lockheed Martin, and Saab.

Mentioned

EAA membership

Brian.

Thrustmaster revealed their new range of flight sim hardware, officially licensed by Airbus and designed for integration in civil aviation games including X-Plane 11 and Microsoft Flight Simulator. The range includes a modular sidestick, a dual thrust lever throttle with add-on modules, the Officer bundle pack (sidestick + throttle), and an all-new metal desk clamp.

RenegadeAV8R S2 EP24 – USAF Thunderbird #8 FLACK Promo

6-Year-Old Genius Kid Becomes Etihad Airways Pilot for a Day

Learn to Fly, Live your Dream and Get a Pilots’ License! –  eBook by Max Trescott. [PDF]

SkyVector Areonautical Charts

AirNav Airport Information

Wallingford Sign

604 Aircraft Storage

The chief commercial officer of one of the largest aircraft maintenance, storage, and reclamation operations explains aircraft storage in light of the large number of airplanes taken out of service. In the news, members of the new Women in Aviation Advisory Board are announced, the fatal Canadian Snowbird crash, the Cessna SkyCourier first flight, airline passenger policies for wearing masks, and Airbus looks to a downsized future.

Guest

Scott Butler

Scott Butler, chief commercial officer, Ascent Aviation Services.

Scott Butler is chief commercial officer of Ascent Aviation Services, one of the largest aircraft storage, maintenance, and reclamation operations in the world. Ascent provides fully integrated aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), line maintenance, storage, reclamation, paint, and interior services to owners, operators, and lessors of wide-body, narrow-body, and regional aircraft.

Ascent Aviation Services currently operates two maintenance facilities in southern Arizona that cover more than 1,250 acres and house 5 hangars.  Now managing over 400 aircraft, the company is a Class IV 14 CFR Part 145 certified Repair Station and maintains approvals and certifications from regulatory authorities globally, including FAA, EASA, BDA/AMO, TCCA, NCAA, and 2-REG.

Aircraft parking and storage are regulator-approved maintenance programs. Scott explains the categories of aircraft storage and describes aircraft preparation and maintenance while in storage:

  • Active parking for aircraft that could be activated within days and put into revenue service quickly. Maintenance includes running the engines, inspections, periodic ops checks, etc.
  • Short-term parking, usually for 1-3 months. Maintenance includes short-term engine and controls preservation, disconnecting batteries, and covering tubes and sensors. Activation might take a few days or a week.
  • Long-term storage, perhaps for up to a year, with an option for storage exceeding one year. Maintenance includes full engine preservation (“pickling”), fluid draining, use of preservation oil, corrosion protection coverings, sealing the landing gear, and animal protection.

We also talk about the reasons for parking or storing aircraft, and the types of aircraft now being stored. Ascent also performs dismantling operations and they are even using drones for dent mapping. Scott comments on the outlook for freighter and specialty conversions, and changes to how cargo is being moved.

Scott is an aviation professional with more than 10 years in the aerospace industry. Prior to joining Ascent Aviation Services as CCO, he was the Director of Sales for Zodiac Aerospace, owned by Safran since February 2018 and offering aerosystems, cabin interiors, and seats.

Scott has held leadership positions in program management, engineering and operations management at TE Connectivity and Rockwell Collins. He holds a degree in Aviation Human Factors and Aerospace Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Aviation News

US aviation industry leaders appointed to Women in Aviation Advisory Board

The Women in Aviation Advisory Board (WIAAB) was established in October 2019 under the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018. The FAA states, “The objective of the Women in Aviation Advisory Board (PDF) is to develop and provide independent recommendations and strategies to the… FAA to explore opportunities for encouraging and supporting female students and aviators to pursue a career in aviation, with the objective of promoting organizations and programs that are providing education, training, mentorship, outreach, and recruitment of women for positions in the aviation industry.”

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao announced the appointment of 30 board members. Former U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson will serve as chair of the board. She’s currently President of The University of Texas at El Paso. See Women in Aviation Advisory Board Membership (PDF).

CAF member who died in Snowbird plane crash identified

One of the Canadian Snowbirds planes crashed in Kamloops, BC. The team was on a tour of the country under Operation Inspiration, similar to the U.S. tour of the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds. The Royal Canadian Air Force CT-114 Tutor with Captain Richard MacDougall and Captain Jennifer Casey on board had just lifted off when something went wrong. Captain Casey was killed and Captain MacDougall sustained serious but not life-threatening injuries. The plane crashed into a house in a residential neighborhood.

Cessna SkyCourier Successfully Completes First Flight

In March 2020, the Cessna SkyCourier successfully completed initial ground tests. Now the first flight of the prototype Cessna 408 SkyCourier twin-turboprop has been accomplished lasting 2-hours and 15-minutes. A common platform will support various configurations, including a 6,000-pound payload freighter, a 19-seat passenger version, and a mixed passenger/freight combination. FedEx is the launch customer for the SkyCourier, with 50 firm and 50 option orders. It will have a maximum cruise speed of 200 ktas and 900-nm range.

U.S. airlines tell crews not to force passengers to wear masks

Southwest memo says it will not deny boarding if customers don’t wear masks

American Airlines’ policy says customers “may be denied boarding” for not wearing a mask. United’s policy allows boarding in most cases, but the policy states, “there could be an isolated situation where a customer may be denied boarding as a last resort.” JetBlue says, “Customers who refuse to comply with our policy will be denied boarding.” Southwest policy says wearing a mask is a “requirement,” but a memo obtained by CNN states, “We will not deny boarding solely based on a Customer’s refusal to wear a face covering.” and… “You are expected to inform Customers of our face covering requirement but are not expected to be the enforcers — ask the Customer to comply with wearing a face covering if they are able.”

American told its pilots, “Once on board and off the gate, the face covering policy becomes more lenient. The flight attendant’s role is informational, not enforcement, with respect to the face covering policy… Bottom line to the pilots: a passenger on board your aircraft who is being compliant with the exception of wearing a face covering is NOT considered disruptive enough to trigger a Threat Level 1 response.”

Airbus to be ‘resized,’ could cut output again – sources

Airbus executives were told to “face reality” and that Airbus may not survive without change. “Radical,” “proactive,” and urgent steps are needed, particularly if the pandemic produces a second wave.

Boeing CEO: It could take 3 to 5 years for airline industry to return from ‘apocalyptic’ state

In an edited interview, Boeing CEO David Calhoun was asked on NBC television “do you think there might be a major US carrier that may have to go out of business? He responded, “I don’t want to get too predictive on that but yes, most likely. Something will happen when September comes around.”

Delta to retire Boeing 777s as pandemic dims outlook for international travel

Delta Air Lines said it will retire its fleet of Boeing 777s. Also that this fall it may have 7,000 too many pilots. Long-haul international travel is not expected to recover quickly. Delta’s daily cash burn is down to $50 million a day. CEO Ed Bastian said “Our principal financial goal for 2020 is to reduce our cash burn to zero by the end of the year, which will mean, for the next two to three years, a smaller network, fleet, and operation in response to substantially reduced customer demand.”