An airline customer service story and a conversation with Brett Snyder, the Cranky Flier. In the news, the EPA is preparing a leaded aviation fuel proposal, a next-generation lav, restraints for infant safety inflight, Ryanair’s Learjets, the West Coast ground stop, lasers on aircraft, a TFR bust that involved an F-15C.
Brian Coleman and our Main(e) Man Micah discuss Brian’s airline customer service experience. He purchased a Premium Plus ticket, but the flight he took didn’t offer that class and the airline didn’t want to refund him the difference in the ticket price.
Separately, Brian had the opportunity to speak with Brett Snyder, the Cranky Flier, and get us caught up with all things Cranky.
EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan says, “EPA has been investigating the air quality impact of lead emissions from piston-engine aircraft near airports for years, and now we’re going to apply that information to determine whether this pollution endangers human health and welfare.” The EPA plans to issue a proposal for public review and comment in 2022. After evaluating comments on the proposal, the Agency plans to issue a final finding in 2023.
There is a “next-generation” of lavatories for the 737 family of aircraft, and it’s coming from Raytheon Technologies’ Collins Aerospace. The new lavatory is customizable and modular. A touchless faucet comes standard, with other touchless amenities optional. A “centralized computing system to optimize the passenger experience, improve airline operability and help pave the way for future technology integration.” The lav is expected to be available on new 737 airplanes beginning in 2025.
The FAA has received a proposal from FedEx Express to install a missile defense system on some of its aircraft. When detected, heat-seeking missiles would be intercepted by infrared lasers to throw them off course.
Benét Wilson, the Aviation Queen, joins us after a long absence. In the news, Boeing executives field questions about the 737 MAX, ghost flights in the EU, an Airbus class-action lawsuit, Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopters heading to Israel, bad behavior by both passengers and crew, a 5G deal is worked out, a pilot who refused to fly is awarded $2 million, and a plane crashes but then is hit by a train.
Guest (More like a returning co-host)
Benét J. Wilson, known as the Aviation Queen, is a senior editor at The Points Guy (TPG), which publishes hands-on advice to help readers maximize their travel experiences. This lifestyle media brand sees 10 million unique visitors a month and has a social media audience of over 3 million across Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Twitter. A staff of more than 100, including editors, writers and reporters, and a large pool of regular contributors, parses, analyzes, and reports on the world of points and miles.
Benét has been an Airplane Geeks co-host in the past and we’re happy to have this chance to get caught up. She brings a valuable perspective to the conversation.
At TPG, Benét does recruiting, handles internal training, and mentors interns and young writers. She does media appearances for TPG and brings her insights to the site with aviation and travel features. Benét is a veteran aviation journalist who has covered airports, security, and the airline passenger experience.
Dominic Gates reports on interviews with Boeing’s Commercial Airplanes CEO Stan Deal and Chief Engineer Greg Hyslop. Dominic summarized the strategy described by the executives: “hunker down, fix the litany of current problems and rely on a revamp of the company’s engineering culture to restore Boeing’s stained reputation.” He writes, “Both executives deflected or flatly refused to answer questions about the engineering design mistakes that led to the two fatal 737 MAX crashes that have so damaged Boeing’s image.”
The article mentions “Flying Blind: The 737 MAX Tragedy and the Fall of Boeing” by Peter Robison, our guest from Episode 683, but also notes that two major feature documentaries are set to air in 2022.
Airlines have to use 80% of their airport takeoff and landing slots or they lose them. Of course, losing slots is something an airline wants to never let happen unless that’s part of some strategic plan. So when demand falls off a cliff, airlines are forced to fly nearly empty planes. Or even empty planes. We’ve seen thousands of these “ghost flights” that are a huge waste of fuel and needlessly pump carbon into the atmosphere.
The rules were waived in early 2020, but the European Commission has been reinstating them. Starting December 15, 2022, the winter travel season threshold has been set to 50 percent. The FAA waived the U.S. slot rules early on in the pandemic and has recently extended them through March 2022.
Lawyers for the Foundation for Investor Loss Compensation filed the class-action suit on behalf of “a hundred” institutional investors. They claim the investors suffered at least 300 million euros ($339 million) in damages when Airbus withheld information about corruption at the company, resulting in overpriced shares of Airbus SE. After a three-year investigation into bribery and corruption over sales practices, Airbus agreed in 2020 to a nearly $4 billion fine in a deal with French, British, and U.S. authorities. In that settlement, Airbus admitted it had paid huge bribes on an “endemic” basis to win contracts in 20 countries.
Under the agreement, Israel will purchase 12 Sikorsky CH-53K King Stallion heavy-lift helicopters. If the option for six more helicopters is exercised, the total deal could be worth $3.4 billion. The CH-53K is currently undergoing initial operational test and evaluation. Initial operational capability is scheduled for early 2023, with first deliveries expected in 2025.
The Brazilian flight attendant stole the identity of a boy who died in a car crash at age 4 in the 1970s. The man used the boy’s name when he applied for a US passport in 1998. In December 2020, the State Department flagged the passport renewal application for “various fraud indicators.”
A Canadian group chartered a plane to party in Mexico for the NewYear. Videos show the group flouting Covid-19 and safety rules. Sunwing Airlines flew the group to Cancún, and canceled the return flight to Canada after an internal investigation found that the passengers “exhibited unruly behavior and did not respect aviation or public health regulations.” Many passengers remained stranded in Mexico after at least three airlines said they would not fly them back.
AT&T and Verizon agreed to delay the rollout of C-Band 5G service two weeks – to January 19, 2022, absent any “unforeseen aviation safety issues.” The wireless carriers also agreed that the FAA would provide them “with a list of no more than 50 priority airports that they would propose to be subject to the C-Band exclusion zones.”
The FAA says fifty U.S. airports will have 5G C-band buffer zones when AT&T and Verizon switch on new 5G services. They include Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Chicago O’ Hare, Newark, JFK, LAX, Philadelphia, and 43 other airports. Airports with 5G Buffer [PDF]. The airports were selected based on traffic volume, number of low-visibility days, geographic location, and input from the aviation community.
A pilot with almost 50 years of experience refused to fly a private plane to the Caribbean because he felt it was unsafe. He notified his employer that he’d wait and check the weather the following day, and let them know what the situation was. When he did so, the pilot was told that the company had hired a temporary pilot who made the flight. A few days later, he was informed he had been fired. The jury awarded the pilot $1,990,833 which included $1.3 million in punitive damages.
A Cessna 172 went down on the railroad tracks at an intersection shortly after taking off. Then, about 20 minutes later, a Metrolink train crashed into it. The pilot had been pulled out and was taken to a hospital. There were no other injuries.
A former F-14 Naval Aviator communicates the military aviation experience through his novels, videos, and writing. In the news, the Rolls-Royce all-electric airplane appears to have set three world records, an F-35B crash, flight attendant bonuses for the holiday travel season, flying under the influence, and an open rotor engine demonstrator program. Plus, an Across the Pond segment.
Ward Carroll is a former F-14 Naval Aviator who spent 20 years as an F-14 Radar Intercept Officer. He is the author of the bestselling Punk trilogy about life in an F-14 squadron. Punk’s Fight, Punk’s War, and the new Punk’s Wing are widely considered to be realistic portrayals of naval aviators in the context of a techno-thriller.
In his novels, Ward creates characters that are recognizable as representatives of real people doing real jobs. As an example, through his female character, Ward confronts the issues surrounding the integration of women into the Tomcat community.
Ward’s YouTube channel has grown to be very popular and gets much of his focus these days. He talks, as he says, about “airplanes, music, and writing . . . but mostly airplanes.”
In our aviation news segment, Ward shares the perspectives of a Naval Aviator as we discuss the recent F-35B crash after takeoff from a British aircraft carrier.
Outside the Navy, Ward has extensive experience as a military journalist. He was editor of Military.com and Approach magazine, and writes for the US Naval Institute. Besides his passion for aviation, Ward is a lover of music and plays in the band MiLES FRoM CLEVeR.
In test runs, the Rolls-Royce “Spirit of Innovation” electric airplane has flown 387.4 mph (623 km/h). The company believes they have set three all-electric world records and await verification from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI): top speed over 3 km of 345.4 mph, top speed over 15 km of 330 mph, and time to climb to 3,000 meters of 202 seconds.
According to a company memo, JetBlue Airways flight attendants could earn a $1,000 attendance bonus if they don’t call out through early January. Meanwhile, if they meet attendance goals, Southwest Airlines will provide flight attendants and some other operations employees 120,000 points in the airline’s frequent flyer program. American Airlines flight attendants can earn pay bonuses for peak holiday trips as well as for meeting attendance goals through early next year. $1,000 bonuses are available to other staff and regional airline subsidiaries.
A 63-year-old United Airlines pilot was arrested after being found four times over the legal limit. After drinking whiskey at a Glasgow pub during a 2019 layover, the man became fall-over drunk. A concerned member of the public tipped off the airline with a Tweet. The pilot was sentenced to 10 months in jail.
GE Aviation and Safran launched the Revolutionary Innovations for Sustainable Engines (RISE) initiative in 2021. This open-fan demonstrator program anticipates a mid-2030s application. It could also feed technologies to the LEAP-1 turbofan engine. The open rotor design features a second stage of fixed variable pitch stators, a fan-drive gear system, a compact high-pressure core for increased thermodynamic efficiency, waste exhaust heat used to preheat combustion air, and ceramic matrix composites in the hot section.
Across the Pond
Aviation from the European perspective with Pieter Johnson.
A Boeing 787 Captain explains getting type-certified and his career journey. In the news, an MD-87 is destroyed but all aboard survive, Piedmont Airlines flight attendants authorize a strike, flight statistics comparing 2019 with 2020 and 2121, buying an airline flight from a vending machine, a protest by Alitalia flight attendants, and a proposed hypersonic passenger plane. Also, plane spotting at LAX and the new parking structure.
Arnie Quast is a new Boeing 787 Captain for United Airlines based at Chicago-O’Hare International Airport. He has been a pilot at United for 31 years, and has flown as a crewmember in just about every aircraft type United has in their fleet.
Arnie describes the process of becoming a Boeing 787 captain after flying Airbus equipment, including the vacancy bid openings and how seniority determines where a pilot fits on the bid. We look into the United training process in some detail, including computer-based training (CBT) modules, the training center, transitioning to the aircraft, and the role of the line check airman (LCA). Arnie tells us about systems training, classroom ground school, using the simulator, the systems knowledge validation (SKV) test followed by procedures training and procedures validation, as well as maneuvers training in the full flight sim, maneuvers validation, practice flights through line-oriented flight training (LOFT), and the type-rating check-ride supervised by a standards captain.
Arnie touches on flight security issues, engaging with passengers, and United’s Aviate pilot career development program that offers aspiring and established pilots pathways to a United flight deck.
Arnie began learning to fly when he was 15 years old at a central New Jersey airport and earned his private pilot license at age 17. After high school, he attended Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University where he earned the rest of his pilot ratings as well as a bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical Science. During his senior year at Embry-Riddle, Arnie worked for United Airlines as a Flight Operations Intern. That internship helped him get hired as a United pilot at age 23 and launched his career as an airline pilot.
An MD-87 attempted to take off from Houston Executive Airport but ran off the end of the runway, struck a fence and power poles, and burned. The eighteen passengers and three crew members were able to exit the aircraft after a flight mechanic opened the main cabin door and activated the evacuation slide. Video shows a puff of smoke at the tail of the aircraft and tire marks were found on the runway.
Flight attendants at American Airlines’ Piedmont Airlines regional carrier voted unanimously to strike. The Association of Flight Attendants-Communications Workers of America claims that flight attendants just starting have a base pay of $16,500 a year and 10-year veterans make only $28,000 a year. According to the union, the airline offered a small pay increase that was more than offset by higher health insurance premiums.
The Flightradar24 global flight tracking service tracks over 180,000 flights from more than 1,200 airlines, flying to or from some 4,000 airports around the world – in real-time. Their aggregate flight tracking statistics compare 2019 (pre-pandemic), 2020, and 2021 to date.
The LCC Peach Aviation marketing campaign has been a big hit. Last August, Peach launched a vending machine in Osaka that sells capsules with the name of a surprise destination and Peach points that can be used towards the cost of the flight. Peach has sold more than 3,000 capsules so far.
Alitalia is gone and was replaced by Italia Trasporto Aereo (ITA). Alitalia had huge debts which were written off in a deal between the Italian government and the European Commission. But an agreement with the unions wasn’t reached for ITA. Only 30% of the Alitalia workers were brought into ITA and the union says their wages dropped by 30%.
Atlanta-based startup Hermeus is thinking about hypersonic Mach 5 air travel. The company is testing an engine for small, unmanned hypersonic aircraft for the US Air Force. Hermeus believes the engine design could be scaled to a size that could power a passenger plane. Engine tests of a “Turbine-Based Combined Cycle (TBCC) engine started in February 2020 based on the existing GE J85-21 turbojet engine used on the F-5.
Our guest is Steve Hinton, the president of the Planes of Fame Air Museum. In the news, Delta Airlines signs a contract for sustainable aviation fuel, United Airlines decides to resume cargo-only flights, Qatar Airways profits were cut by Covid, and British Airways pilots may have the opportunity to fly for Qatar.
Steve Hinton is president of the Planes of Fame Air Museum and the owner of Fighter Rebuilders. Steve tells us about the living history collection of aircraft that is the museum, as well as the events held to create participation. Planes of Fame restores many warbirds to flightworthy condition and these are flown at demonstrations, airshows, and even in movies. A Bearcat and a Corsair were used in the production of the upcoming action war drama film Devotion.
Steve also works with the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation which celebrates U.S. airpower history and is a living memorial to those who have served in the U.S. Air Force. Heritage Flight demonstrations are flown around the world which pair modern aircraft with fighter aircraft from the past. Steve explains how the selected civilian pilots practice with the military pilots and he describes the challenges of flying old prop warbirds with modern jets.
After our conversation with Steve, Brian Finnegan joined us and he describes the history of Planes of Fame which was founded by Ed Maloney. Brian is the Director, Education Programs and Development at Planes Of Fame Air Museum.
Delta Airlines signed an agreement with Aemetis for sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). The 10-year contract is worth more than $1 billion for 250 million gallons of blended fuel. The fuel will be produced at the company’s Riverbank, California renewable jet/diesel plant from waste forest and orchard wood. Aemetis expects the fuel to be available in 2024.
United Airlines had just responded to a surge in passenger bookings by phasing out special freighter services. Now the airline will resume cargo-only flights using empty passenger planes. Passenger planes can be used for freight by simply using the cargo hold or carrying the freight in the passenger cabin. Some airlines just strapped items to seats and others removed the seats to make even more room.
According to an internal BA memo, up to 40 Boeing 777 Captains and First Officers have an opportunity to fly planes with Qatar for around six months during the London winter lull. Pilots would temporarily relocate to Doha and would retain their contracts and seniority. They would continue being paid by British Airways.
Those losses in revenue are a result of reduced demand for long-haul travel over the last fiscal year. However, Qatar reported an increase in earnings to $1.6 billion (before taxes and other costs) over the prior year. While the airline saved on jet fuel, it also reduced salaries by 15% and cut 13,400 employees from its workforce. Qatar had been the subject of a political embargo that kept them from flying in the airspace of Bahrain, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
The Head of Tiltrotor Marketing at Leonardo describes the world’s first commercial tiltrotor. In the news, a United stationary tail strike, Congress steps in on the controversial FAA flight training policy, DOJ files an antitrust suit over the American Airlines-JetBlue alliance, an industry-wide no-fly list is proposed, and Rolls-Royce wins the contract to re-engine the B-52 fleet.
William M. (Bill) Sunick is Head of Tiltrotor Marketing at Leonardo. Their AW609 is the first commercial tiltrotor to enter the market and the world’s first pressurized cabin tiltrotor. The AW609 is well-positioned to serve a number of markets, including VIP, corporate, search and rescue, emergency medical services, and offshore energy exploration, as well as government roles.
Bill describes how the AW609 tiltrotor was designed to commercial standards, and how it offers the speed, range, and altitude of a fixed-wing turboprop airplane with the vertical take-off and landing versatility of a helicopter. We learn that the lower vibratory environment and pressurized cabin of this tiltrotor offer advantages for medical flights. Bill explains the FAA certification requirements for this aircraft, which falls into the new Powered Lift category.
Bill is responsible for the development of marketing and business strategies that create new opportunities, shape emerging markets, and influence customer thinking and actions. Prior to joining Leonardo Helicopters, Bill held numerous leadership positions at The Boeing Company within Strategy, Marketing, Sales, Market Development, and Engineering. He was also a member of the Presidential Helicopter team while at Sikorsky Aircraft in 1992.
Bill’s educational background includes a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Drexel University and a master of business administration degree in Marketing from Saint Joseph’s University.
A United Airlines Boeing 737-900ER experienced a “stationary tail strike” on the ground at Lewiston (LWS Idaho) after a flight from LAX. United explained:
United flight 2509 flying from Los Angeles, California to Lewiston, Idaho landed without incident. Due to a shift in weight and balance during the offloading process, the tail of the aircraft tipped backward. No injuries were reported among our customers, crew or ground personnel. The return flight was on a different aircraft as originally planned.
The U.S. House of Representatives approved a bipartisan amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that clarifies that a flight instructor providing student instruction, flight instruction, or flight training shall not be deemed to be operating an aircraft carrying persons or property for compensation or hire. If passed, this would reverse the FAA’s recent flight training policy for certain types of aircraft.
The DOJ claims the American Airlines-JetBlue Northeast Alliance eliminates competition in New York and Boston and harms air travelers nationwide:
The U.S. Department of Justice, together with Attorneys General in six states and the District of Columbia, sued today [September 21, 2021] in the District of Massachusetts to block an unprecedented series of agreements between American Airlines and JetBlue through which the two airlines will consolidate their operations in Boston and New York City. The civil antitrust complaint alleges that this extensive combination, which they call the “Northeast Alliance,” will not only eliminate important competition in these cities, but will also harm air travelers across the country by significantly diminishing JetBlue’s incentive to compete with American elsewhere, further consolidating an already highly concentrated industry.
American Airlines CEO Doug Parker said, “They’re wrong and we’ll prove it. It’s entirely pro-competitive.” Parker argued that the alliance allows the two airlines to compete against Delta and United, which are largely entrenched in the Northeast market, while American and JetBlue would otherwise not be able to mount enough of an offense on their own.
Delta is suggesting a national “no-fly” list (different from the government’s No-Fly List, which is terror-based). Delta’s own blacklist includes more than 1,600 people. A Delta VP said their list doesn’t work if the person can just hop on another carrier.
In this deal, Bamboo Airways will purchase nearly $2 billion worth of General Electric GEnx engines to power Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. The Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 and General Electric GEnx-1B compete on the 787. Bamboo will operate its Dreamliner fleet on non-stop routes between Vietnam and the United States.
The U.S. Air Force selected Rolls-Royce’s North American division to re-engine the fleet of B-52H bombers with F130 engines. The Drive reports: “Rolls-Royce’s new contract from the Air Force is valued at $500,870,458 over the next six years but could grow to over $2.6 billion if all of its options are exercised.” Work will be performed at the Rolls-Royce facility in Indianapolis and is expected to be completed by September 2038.
Daedalean AI-based flight control software for pilot assist and eventual autonomous flight, a Boeing 737MAX flight report, and a travel report on a trip to Germany.
Dr. Luuk van Dijk is CEO and co-founder of Daedalean, a Zürich-based startup developing flight control software for autonomous flight. The eventual goal is to create an AI pilot that measurably outperforms human pilots. Currently, Daedalean is working with regulators, leading aerospace manufacturers, and major eVTOL companies to test and certify the first machine learning-based sensor systems for guidance, navigation, and flight control.
Daedalean has created a pilot assist system that uses optical cameras for visual positioning without GPS, visual traffic detection without transponders or radar, and visual landing guidance without ILS. The Avidyne PilotEye system using Daedalean technology was introduced on the first day of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2021.
“Daedalean’s neural network functions by taking high-resolution video input extracted in real-time by high-resolution cameras and sends it through a Convolutional Neural Network, which determines whether the images captured by the cameras are part of cooperative or uncooperative traffic. The system can also be used to identify safe landing areas if the pilot encounters an emergency situation.”
Luuk holds a PhD in Physics (UvA, RuG) and previously held Senior Software Engineering positions at Google Zürich and SpaceX, where he worked on infrastructure, flight software, and machine learning projects, among others.
Brian’s Travel Experience
We have two travel experience reports for this episode. First. Brian Coleman talks with Micah about his recent 737MAX flight. Then we hear about Brian’s trip to Germany on United, where everything did not go according to Brian’s perfectly planned itinerary.
Mike Busch, founder and CEO of Savvy Aviation, talks about aircraft maintenance. Also, calling up the Civil Reserve Air Fleet, United Airlines says no duct tape, and unhappy Southwest Airlines pilots.
Mike Busch is the founder and CEO of Savvy Aviation, which provides aircraft maintenance services for the owner-flown General Aviation industry. The company offers professional maintenance management and consulting, a nationwide 24/7 breakdown assistance service, engine monitor data analysis, and predictive analytics.
Mike is a well-known aviation writer, teacher, aviation type club tech rep, aircraft owner advocate, and entrepreneur. He assists aircraft owners with their maintenance problems through his lectures, articles, and books. Mike is a National Aviation Maintenance Technician of the Year and previously appeared as our guest in Episode 446.
The Pentagon activated the Civil Reserve Air Fleet allowing commercial airlines to assist with the Afghanistan evacuation. Eighteen aircraft will be provided by American Airlines, Atlas Air, Delta Air Lines, Omni Air, Hawaiian Airlines, and United Airlines. This is the third activation in the history of the program and the Department of Defense stressed that the commercial aircraft will not fly into Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. Instead, they will be used to move passengers from temporary safe havens and interim staging bases.
United Airlines has informed flight attendants they should not use duct tape to subdue poorly behaved passengers. In a recent memo, the airline asks flight attendants to de-escalate the situation where possible, use designated items onboard, consult United’s safety manual for guidance, and file an incident report.
The Southwest Airlines Pilots Association says working conditions this summer have been unfair and has authorized members to hold picketing demonstrations. Complaints include forced additional days of flying, lack of hotel accommodation and transportation, and reshuffled flight schedules.
We talk with a company that provides educational jet fighter cockpit experiences. In the news, Amazon Air adds turboprops to the fleet, Boeing 777X certification, a new 4K Ultra HD flight data recorder, Virgin Galactic approval for commercial passenger space flights, and exiting the aircraft after the door closes.
Dewy Larson is the owner of DreamBIG Entertainment LLC, a company that gives you the opportunity to sit in the cockpit of a fighter jet. DreamBIG Entertainment travels exclusively within the United States, attending air shows, festivals, fairs, and other events. They share the history and the rare opportunity to experience fully restored A-7D Corsair II and F-18 Hornet cockpits.
The A-7 and F-18 Hornet cockpits tour the United States as a Mobile Interactive Aviation Museum. The DreamBIG experience runs from February to November and can be brought anywhere. For the latest schedule, visit the DreamBIG Entertainment LLC Facebook page.
Sources have told The Air Current that Amazon Air plans to add about 10 leased ATR 72-500 freighters to its fleet of Boeing aircraft. The company has a strategy to reach smaller communities with a one-day delivery service.
Boeing is trying to certify the 777X but the FAA has informed the company that it has concerns and Boeing may have to increase the number of test flights planned. That pushes certification more than two years, probably too late 2023. FAA concerns include an “uncommanded pitch event” in a Dec. 8, 2020 test flight, a critical avionics system that does not meet requirements, and late hardware and software changes in the flight controls.
Appareo announced a new 4K ultra-high-definition AIRS-400 Airborne Image Recording System (AIRS), equipped for cellular data offload. The unit captures pilot intercom system audio, ambient audio, and detailed flight data. Using internal inertial measurement units, AIRS-400 captures WAAS GPS (altitude, latitude, longitude, ground speed, vertical speed), attitude data (pitch, roll, yaw), rates of rotation, and acceleration data (G forces)
Airplane Geeks reporter-at-large Launchpad Marzari spoke with Chris Garberg, the president of Appareo Aviation.
With the upgraded space transportation operator license, Virgin Galactic could begin carrying paying passengers to space. It has been reported that Virgin Galactic currently has over 600 reservations for its planned commercial passenger space flights, with ticket prices running between $200,000 and $250,000.
A United Express flight operated by SkyWest Airlines was leaving the gate but a passenger apparently felt compelled to exit the plane. He tried to get into the cockpit, then opened the emergency door, which deployed the slide, and out he went. Man injured after jumping out of airplane at LAX.
World Championship Air Race is coming in 2022 and we speak with the series race director. In the news, Aerion’s supersonic intentions falter while Boom Supersonic flourishes, the 2020 Robert J. Collier Trophy winner is announced, the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A turns 60, and an American Airlines diversion due to lack of water.
Willie Cruickshank is Race Series Director for the World Championship Air Race (WCAR). Sanctioned by the FAI, the WCAR will consist of two series that run in parallel: GP1 contested by top-ranking teams, and GT contested by developing pilots. Willie explains how the series differs from similar races in the past, the teams and venues, and the aircraft that will compete. He also comments on how new propulsion technologies might be introduced. Racing is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2022.
Willie was an RAF fighter pilot for 26 years, retiring as a Group Captain. He went on to spend nine years as a display pilot with the UK-based Wildcat Aerobatics team before joining the Red Bull Air Race World Championship. As Head of Aviation and Sport for that Championship, he was responsible for all aspects of flying operations including flight safety, racecourse design, pilot training, and briefing. Now as a board director of WCAR, Willie oversees all operational aspects of the series.
Aerion announced on May 21, 2021 that “in the current financial environment, it has proven hugely challenging to close on the scheduled and necessary large new capital requirements to finalize the transition of the AS2 into production.” The AS2 was to be a business jet carrying 8-12 passengers at 1,000 mph.
United ordered 15 of the 88-PAX Overture, and has options for 35 additional planes. Boom CEO Blake Scholl Scholl said in a statement, “The world’s first purchase agreement for net-zero carbon supersonic aircraft marks a significant step toward our mission to create a more accessible world.” He told The Air Current that the estimated total investment required is $8B. Boom is planning test flights in 2026 and passenger service of the Mach 1.7 plane in 2029.
The National Aeronautic Association (NAA) announced that Garmin Autoland has been named as the recipient of the 2020 Robert J. Collier Trophy for “… designing, developing, and fielding Garmin Autoland – the world’s first certified autonomous system that activates during an emergency to safely control and land an aircraft without human intervention.” The Collier Trophy is awarded annually for “… the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America, with respect to improving the performance, efficiency, and safety of air or space vehicles, the value of which has been thoroughly demonstrated by actual use during the preceding year.”
The Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC) PT6A is a turboprop engine used in many aircraft. It was produced in variants from 500 to 1,940 shp. First flight was May 30, 1961, from Toronto’s Downsview Airport in a twin-engine RCAF Beech 18 Expeditor 3T that had the PT6 attached to the nose. The engine entered service in 1964.
When flight attendants realised there was no running water aboard an American Airlines flight to London Heathrow, the Boeing 777-300 returned to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport an hour and a half after departure.
Spurwink Farm Pancake Breakfast and Fly-In, at Spurwink Farm in Cape Elizabeth, Maine on July 11, 2021.