Tag Archives: USAF

658 Helping Youngsters in Aviation

We talk with Ellie Carter, Britain’s youngest solo glider pilot, and youngest single-engined PPL holder. Ellie has a passion for helping youngsters in aviation. In the news, the possibility of just one pilot on the flight deck for long haul flights, Airbus eyes an A350 freighter derivative, airlines struggle to meet the growing travel demand, a unique checked baggage item, a delay and possible price increase for the new Air Force One planes, the U.S. Air Force wants to know who would bid on a contract for the KC-Y bridge tanker, and an open rotor engine.

Across the Pond

Pieter Johnson welcomes Ellie Carter to Across The Pond. At age 14, Ellie became Britain’s youngest solo glider pilot and later went on to become Britain’s Youngest single-engined PPL holder, having soloed at 16. She is currently qualifying for her aerobatic and IFR ratings.

A STEM ambassador and Chair of the Light Aircraft Association’s Youth and Education Support Strut, Ellie has a passion for helping youngsters into aviation and has just completed her A-Level exams specializing in maths.

Ellie has been awarded the British Women’s Pilots Association, Hilda Hewitt Trophy, for her actions and her example, being an inspiration to her peer group. Most recently Ellie was awarded the Light Aircraft Association’s President’s Breitling Certificate for her work in promoting younger people in aviation.

Find Ellie on social media: Twitter, Instagram, and at the Youth Education branch of the Light Aircraft Association. Pieter can be found on Twitter and Aviation Xtended.

Aviation News

Cathay working with Airbus on single-pilot system for long-haul

Long-haul flights typically have three or four pilots, with two pilots on the flight deck. Airbus and Cathay Pacific are working on a system to allow only one pilot on the flight deck at cruising altitude on long-haul flights. 

Airbus Set to Move Ahead With A350 Freighter Within Weeks

Airbus is interested in competing in a market dominated by Boeing, and will reportedly be seeking board approval to proceed with an A350-based freighter. The modified A350-900 might be slightly longer than the passenger version and take four to five years from the launch date to enter service.

American Airlines asking Dallas-based employees to volunteer to work without pay as travel skyrockets

Travel demand is going up in the U.S. and American Airlines wants to be ready. A company memo is asking non-union employees to volunteer their help at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. The corporate scheduling, planning, and communications workers are being asked to work unpaid 6-hour shifts helping travelers in international terminals and other tasks.

TSA checkpoint travel numbers

The TSA reports 20221 traveler throughput by day compared to throughput for 2020 and 2021.

College student gets $20 to check pool noodle on Southwest flight

It started as a bet. The airline’s response is notable.

Delivery of new Air Force One planes could be delayed until 2025

Boeing has notified the US Air Force that the two 747-8 Air Force One aircraft could cost more than the $3.9 billion previously agreed to, and the planes could be delivered a year late, in 2025.

Air Force Begins Search For New Refueling Tanker as Lawmakers Push Airbus

The U.S. Air Force posted a Contracting Opportunity for new tankers. The “Sources Sought” request is “to determine if there exists an adequate number of qualified interested contractors capable of providing solutions to meet the requirement. The Government may use the responses to this Sources Sought for information and planning purposes.” The Air Force is looking for companies that can deliver approximately 140-160 Commercial Derivative Tanker Aircraft—at a rate of 12 to 15 per year—to supplement the Air Force Tanker Aircraft fleet at the end of KC-46A production, and bridge the gap to the next Tanker recapitalization phase.

Wild-Looking ‘Open Rotor’ Engine Could Cut Airliner Emissions by a Massive 20 Percent

A CFM design looks to address the noise issues of past oper rotor (or unducted fan) turbine engines.

Mentioned

American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic order e-air taxis from UK startup

Vertical Aerospace is an electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft (eVTOL) startup based in the UK. The company announced pre-orders for up to 1,000 of its electric VA-X4 vertical takeoff aircraft. American Airlines ordered between 250 and 350 aircraft, Virgin Atlantic ordered between 50 and 150, and aircraft leasing group Avolon ordered 310.

The VA-X4 seats 4 PAX and a pilot, with commercial flights expected in 2024. The aircraft can cruise at 202 mph, has a usable range of up to 120 miles, and is claimed to be 100x quieter than a helicopter thanks to the VA-X4’s distributed propulsion system.

Vertical plans to go public this year on the New York Stock Exchange via a SPAC merger (special purpose acquisition) in a deal valuing it at $2.2 billion. SPAC investors include American Airlines, Avolon, Honeywell, Rolls-Royce, and Microsoft’s venture capital fund M12.

Huntsman spider drops on top of pilot

655 Bits & Pieces XXVIII

Avelo Airlines flight report, Redbird Flight Simulation, Nicki’s flying adventures, the covert Ravens program, the Commemorative Air Force, USAF Aerial Targets Squadron, the Flying Musicians Association, and a commentary about sustainable jet fuel.

Avelo Airlines

Brian Coleman recently flew on the new ultra-low-cost carrier Avelo Airlines and he describes his experience with Micah.

Redbird Flight Simulations

Reporter-at-large Launchpad Marzari visited Redbird Flight Simulations in Austin, Texas and spoke with Josh Harnagle, Vice President, Marketing.

Pilot Nicki

Max Flight caught up with Airplane Geeks contributor Nicki at the Sun ‘n Fun Aerospace Expo. She’s continuing to work towards her CFI and training other pilots, especially the disabled.

The Ravens

Also at the Sun ‘n Fun Aerospace Expo, Max talked with Sandy Sanderson about Project 404, the Ravens, a covert operation in Southeast Asia, and the Air America Association.

Commemorative Air Force

Launchpad Marzari spoke with Hank Coats, the CEO and president of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) and Nancy McGee, Vice President of Education about their new headquarters and the Henry B. Tippie National Aviation Education Center.

United States Air Force 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron 

Major Danny Gill with the United States Air Force 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron on the modified Dash-8 used to support live-fire weapons deployment.

Flying Musicians Association

Dennis Klotz and Trent McMillan represented the Flying Musicians Association at Sun ‘n Fun. Founded in 2009, this 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization is for pilots who are also musicians. They welcome all proficiency levels and musical genres.

Commentary on sustainable aviation fuel

In this opinion piece, Main(e) Man Micah tells us his views about sustainable fuel for aviation.

634 The F-35 Demo Team

An interview with an F-35 pilot from the United States Air Force F-35 Lightning II Demonstration Team, and an audio recording of her aerobatic performance.

F-35 Lightning II Demonstration Team aircraft in Lakeland, Florida. (Photo © Max Flight.)
F-35 Lightning II Demonstration Team in Lakeland, Florida. (Photo © Max Flight.)

This episode focuses on the United States Air Force F-35 Lightning II Demonstration Team that flew both days at the Sun ‘n Fun Holiday Flying Festival and Car Show held December 4-5, 2020 in Lakeland, Florida. That event included Central Florida Classic STOL qualifying and finals, a nighttime balloon glow, a car show, and an air show with the F-35, F-16, P-51, and the U.S. Army Special Operations Command Black Daggers.

We recorded an interview with F-35 pilot Kristin “Beo” Wolfe that was posted on Facebook Live. This podcast episode includes the audio from that conversation but we’ve compensated for some audio quality issues in the video.

In addition to the interview with Beo, we have a recording of her F-35 aerobatic performance at the Flying Festival. If you like the sound of a jet fighter on afterburner, you’ll enjoy this recording.

We captured Beo’s F-35 flight as a high-resolution binaural recording. You can listen with earbuds or a good home speaker system, but for the best effect, you’ll need high-quality headphones. Good headphones will reproduce the spatial perspective of the F-35 flight and produce a visceral feeling almost like being there.

Max Flight and F-35 demo pilot Kristin “Beo” Wolfe.

We’d like to thank the F-35 Demo Team for giving us access to pilot Kristin “Beo” Wolfe after her first flying performance of the weekend. And thanks to Beo for her time after a long day.

Mentioned

Sun ‘n Fun Aerospace Expo coming to Lakeland, Florida April 13-18, 2021.

625 Aerospace Internships

We talk with a co-founder of the Patti Grace Smith Fellowship which matches interns with aerospace companies. He’s also a former USAF combat pilot and an astronaut who flew on two Space Shuttle missions. In the news, EASA and the Boeing 737 MAX, the NTSB finds that alcohol caused a fatal accident, the U.S. Army plans to review its aviation fleet, expansion opportunities for budget airlines, and a dog evades capture at an airport for 12 hours.

Guest

Alvin DrewAlvin Drew Jr. is the Department of Defense Liaison at NASA Headquarters and a cofounder of the Patti Grace Smith Fellowship. That organization is designed for Black and African-American students who are looking for their first aerospace internship. Alvin is also a former USAF combat pilot and an astronaut with over 600 hours in space.

The mission of the Fellowship is to provide a pathway into successful aerospace careers and future aerospace industry leadership to people whose race and ethnicity has made them the subject of systemic bias. Participating companies identify internship opportunities and the Fellowship matches those with student candidates. Aerospace internship applications are being accepted this year through November 15, 2020.

In addition to hearing Alvin explain the Patti Grace Smith Fellowship, we are treated to some perspectives that can only come from an astronaut who has flown the Space Shuttle twice and visited the International Space Station.

Alvin graduated from the United States Air Force Academy, served as a combat rescue helicopter pilot, then transitioned into USAF special operations, where he flew 60 combat missions. Alvin went on to become a test pilot, and served in the U.S. Air Force’s Air Combat Command staff, retiring in 2010 as a Colonel. Alvin has more than 3,500 hours of flying experience and has piloted 30 different types of aircraft.  

Selected as a mission specialist by NASA, Alvin was initially assigned technical duties in the Astronaut Office Station Operations Branch. He served as Director of Operations at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Russia and logged more than 612 hours in space on STS-118 in 2007 and STS-133 in 2011. Alvin is the 200th person to walk in space. 

Alvin holds two bachelor’s degrees from the United States Air Force Academy as well as master’s degrees from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and the United States Air Force Air University. He is an active member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, and the American Helicopter Society.

Learn more about the Patti Grace Smith Fellowship at their website, and follow them on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Aviation News

Boeing Max Judged Safe to Fly by Europe’s Aviation Regulator

EASA is reviewing the documents for a draft 737 MAX airworthiness directive that it expects to issue in November. The organization is satisfied with the September test flights. After the draft is issued, there will be a 4-week public comment period. EASA wants a synthetic sensor added in addition to the two mechanical AOA indicators. Boeing says that will take 20 to 24 months, but EASA says, “Our analysis is showing that this is safe, and the level of safety reached is high enough for us. What we discussed with Boeing is the fact that with the third sensor, we could reach even higher safety levels.”

NTSB Points to Alcohol-Impaired Pilot as the Cause of Alaska Accident

In a 2019 accident near Girdwood, Alaska, a Piper PA22-150 impacted a 5,512-foot ridge about 15 feet below the peak. The ATP-rated pilot and three passengers died. The NTSB reported that both the pilot and the student pilot had elevated levels of alcohol in their bloodstream.

Army to conduct thorough review of aviation fleet in FY23

The U.S. Army is trying to balance funding for the current fleet vs. investments in future technology, including the Future Armed Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) and the Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA).

Budget airlines muscle into big airports as coronavirus creates new opportunities

In the past, some airlines would have liked to expand into new airports but their ability to do so was prevented by the lack of airport capacity. Now, with incumbent airlines cutting back on some routes, the door has opened for others to move in. At the Boyd Group International Aviation Forecast Summit this month, most estimates for when air travel will return to 2019 levels put that recovery in 2025 or 2026.

Dog Disrupts Airport For 12 Hours

Arriving at Pearson International Airport in Toronto from Spain, Crystal, a Spanish podenco, escaped from her crate. The podenco is related to the greyhound and is a fast runner. It took airport personnel 12-hours to chase Crystal down.

Eat at the Airport

Reporter-at-Large Launchpad Marzari speaks with Gate 12 Bar and Grill owner Cody Whitten for a live Eat at the Airport review from Easterwood Airport (KCLL) in College Station, Texas. Find more airport eating establishments at EatAtTheAirport.com.

Mentioned

Request for Feedback on the Standardization Community’s Interest in Developing Space Cyber Standards – The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is seeking information on efforts by members of the standardization community to develop space cybersecurity standards, or any plans to develop such standards.

Six Minutes to Freedom: An Evening with Kurt Muse – At the American Helicopter Museum, November 14, 2020. Hear the amazing story online or in-person of Kurt Muse, who was rescued from a Panamanian prison by American Special Operations Forces after being interrogated and confined by military dictator General Manuel Noriega. Muse will tell the story of his fight for freedom in Panama as the leader of a group of patriots broadcasting on The Voice of Liberty, an underground radio station; his harrowing interrogation and imprisonment; and his dramatic rescue by the elite Delta forces in Operation Acid Gambit. He will offer his presentation in front of the Museum’s Hughes MH-6J helicopter, which was recreated from parts of the helicopter that rescued him.

Powering a Sustainable Future, an Aerospace Industry Business After Hours Webinar at the New England Air Museum with Dr. Michael Winter, Senior Fellow, Advanced Technology, Pratt & Whitney.

Airplane Geeks Listener poll #625

Video: Space Shuttle Launch Audio – play LOUD (no music) HD 1080p

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.

610 Air Cargo

An air cargo pilot joins us to talk about Boeing freighters. Also, the American Airlines recovery plan that includes more growth than that of other mainline carriers, an Allied Pilots Association proposal where the government would buy middle seats to facilitate social distancing in flight, a Lufthansa bailout by the German government, an Italian ban on luggage in overhead bins, changing airline contracts of carriage, and the United States Air Force plan for some F-22 Raptors.

Guest

Miami Rick flew 777 freighters with LAN and was also a passenger pilot on the 767 and 757. Several years ago he moved on to fly air cargo on the 747, including the 747-8 and the Dreamlifter. Rick recently transitioned from the right seat of the 747 to the left seat of the 767 freighter. Rick is a regular host on the Airline Pilot Guy Show where he refers to his current airline as “Acme-Giant.”

Aviation News

Why American Airlines Is Growing Twice As Fast As Delta And United

Adjusted for blocked middle seats, American Airlines is restoring 55% of domestic seat capacity in July, compared to 30% for United and 21% for Delta. American CEO Doug Parker said, “The big hubs win. We are absolutely benefitted by the fact that two of the three biggest hubs on earth are ours, which are Dallas/Fort Worth and Charlotte.”

Henry Harteveldt of Atmosphere Research Group said, “It’s a vacuum cleaner strategy. They just want to suck up whatever traffic is out there. It’s very risky but there’s a reward.”

United doesn’t buy American’s strategy, telling employees, “Some of our competitors are flying a bigger July schedule than we are, by selling extremely low-priced tickets, and wasting money.”

American Airlines pilots union wants the government to buy middle seats

The Allied Pilots Association (APA) proposed that the government buy seats so that no passenger has to “sit next to a stranger.” The APA white paper Safe Essential Air Transportation Seating (SEATS) [PDF] states, “Under SEATS, the government would purchase enough seats on each flight to eliminate the need for any passenger to sit next to a stranger. Thanks to uniform social distancing, passengers would be encouraged to fly more, airlines would be encouraged to operate more flights, and the government would ensure the preservation of critical transportation infrastructure and associated jobs.”

Also, “…SEATS would build on the success of the CARES Act by addressing both economic and health concerns, with the pace of the airline industry’s recovery determining its duration and level of support. The SEATS concept could be an effective strategy standing alone, and could also be integrated with any forthcoming infrastructure or additional stimulus bill similar to the CARES Act.”

‘We simply don’t have any money.’ Lufthansa shareholders approve $10 billion bailout

Lufthansa shareholders voted overwhelmingly to take a $10 billion bailout from the German government. The deal gives the government a 20% stake in the airline. Current shareholders will see the value of their holdings diluted. Billionaire businessman Heinz Hermann Thiele, Lufthansa’s biggest single stock owner, had been against the deal, saying the value of his own holding would drop 15%. But he relented at the 11th hour.

Cabin luggage ban on flights to and from Italy

All luggage is now banned from overhead bins on planes in Italy. Handbags and other items that fit under the seat in front are allowed. Everything else has to be checked. The Italian National Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC) says “as far as hand luggage is concerned, passengers are allowed to bring on board only luggage small enough to be placed under the seat in front of the assigned seat. For health reasons, the use of overhead lockers is not allowed under any circumstance.”

Airlines seek to block consumer lawsuits

Airlines have canceled many flights due to COVID-19, and the Department of Transportation has warned them they must offer refunds to passengers when requested. Rather than offer passengers cash refunds, airlines have preferred to give them electronic vouchers or credits to be applied to future travel. The result has been a number of consumer lawsuits.

It is reported that American Airlines and British Airways recently revised their contracts of carriage. American’s contract of carriage requires customers to waive their right to participate in a class-action lawsuit against the airline. British Airways requires Executive Club loyalty program members to defer to binding arbitration rather than engage in lawsuits. Frontier and Spirit Airlines already had clauses in their contracts of carriage that prohibit class-action lawsuits.

Air Force’s Reforge Plan Could Put Some Older F-22s in ‘Red Air’ Role

The Air Combat Command wants to cut pilot training time. Gen. Mike Holmes, head of Air Combat Command, signed off on a strategy known as “Rebuilding the Forge,” or “Reforge.” earlier this month. Under the plan, the Air Force looks to reduce the time it takes to train a skilled fighter pilot to about 22 months, half of what it normally takes. They are looking to take some of the Formal Training Unit F-22s (which are used for fundamental skills training) and put them in a combat-coded configuration. With that, more aircraft would be available for pilots to get operational experience earlier in their careers.

Mentioned

Dawn FlightOnly if you love gliders, or really have nothing better to do.

608 Aviation Oxygen Systems

The president and CEO of Aerox Aviation Oxygen Systems explains the role of onboard aviation oxygen and gives us an update on the New England Air Museum and Patient Airlift Services. In the news, current industry troubles are having impacts on flight safety, a Twin Otter and an MV-22 Osprey meet on the tarmac, a lawsuit is filed over the October 2019 fatal crash of a Collings Foundation B-17G bomber, and a Senate bill might change Air Force plans to retire some legacy aircraft.

Guest

Scott E. Ashton is president and CEO of Aerox Aviation Oxygen Systems, which designs and manufactures aviation oxygen systems and accessories. Scott is an aerospace industry executive with more than 25 years of experience working for such leading companies as Sikorsky, General Electric, and Goodrich.

Scott describes the types of aviation oxygen systems and their importance to pilots for safety and comfort. We look at the associated accessories, such as cannula, masks, and the regulators that need to be assembled without the presence of any oil or petroleum products. Scott talks about steel vs. Kevlar oxygen bottles, pressure test requirements, lifespan, and refilling.

Scott currently serves as the president and board member of the New England Air Museum, based in Hartford, Connecticut. He tells us about the gradual re-opening process, starting with outside exhibits and open hangar doors, leading up to the opening of the indoor exhibits. A new women in aviation exhibit is being constructed, and a Redbird flight simulator is coming to augment the STEM program.

Scott is also on the Board of Patient Airlift Services, a charitable organization that arranges private air transportation at no cost for individuals requiring medical diagnosis, treatment or follow-up, and for humanitarian purposes. That operation was temporarily shut down during the pandemic.

Scott began his career at General Electric as an engineer and served in both engineering and business development capacities in both GE Aircraft Engines and Corporate Aircraft Finance.

He joined forces with Don Burr, the founder of Peoples Express, and Bob Crandall, then recently retired Chairman of American Airlines, to help launch Pogo, the world’s first large scale attempt at solving the urban air mobility challenge.  

In 2011 Scott became the president of Sikorsky’s helicopter fractional ownership and MRO business, Associated Aircraft Group (AAG). In 2018 he shifted his career to entrepreneurship and joined a small family-owned repair station as president (Corporate Services Supply & Manufacturing) specializing in the repair and overhaul of corporate aircraft and helicopter engine and airframe accessories. In 2020, Scott purchased Aerox Aviation Oxygen Systems and became president and CEO.

Scott is an ATP and has ratings in airplanes, seaplanes, gliders, helicopters, and is a Certificated Flight Instructor, with more than 2,600 hours of flight time.

Aviation News

FAA warns of tail strikes, off-course flying by near-empty jets

In May 2020, the Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST) issued more than 50 warnings to carriers about things that need to be watched carefully. The pandemic-inspired industry turmoil has opened opportunities for safety lapses.

CAST was founded in 1997 to develop an integrated, data-driven strategy to reduce the commercial aviation fatality risk in the United States and promote new Government and industry safety initiatives throughout the world.

The organization includes members from the FAA, NASA, Transport Canada, the unions (ALPA, NATCA, APA), and industry (airframers, A4A, ACI-NA, GE Aviation), as well as observers (EASA, IATA, ICAO, NTSB) and others. CAST aims to reduce the U.S. commercial fatality risk by 50 percent from 2010 to 2025.

Twin Otter v Osprey… Both Lose

On May 30, 2020, a DHC-6 Twin Otter and a USMC MV-22 Osprey collided on the ramp at Brown Field Municipal Airport, a California airfield close to the US-Mexico border. The Osprey had been on a training mission and parked at Brown. The Twin Otter started up and taxied under power into the MV-22. The Twin Otter’s right engine was left hanging from its mount. Both propellers were bent, and there was damage to the nose, right windscreen, and right windscreen frame. The Osprey’s left propeller was damaged, as was the left engine compartment, wing, and landing gear. The right engine propeller blade impacted the ground.

Lawsuit filed over fatal crash of WWII-era airplane

The Collings Foundation B-17G bomber crashed at Bradley International Airport in October 2019, killing seven people. A lawsuit has been filed by survivors and the families of those killed against the owners and operators. The 200-page lawsuit includes allegations such as:

  • An engine inspection would have shown that some parts were worn beyond repair.
  • The passengers were not given proper safety instructions (two were seated on the floor of the aircraft)
  • “Neither the Pilot in Command, nor any of the other crew members, informed the passengers of the flight’s peril, advised them what to do or instructed them to brace for a crash. The passengers were left to presume what was happening.”
  • The flight’s departure was delayed by 48 minutes as the “crew struggled to start the engines”
  • Unbeknownst to the passengers, the two engines on the right hand of the plane experienced roughness the day prior to the crash.
  • “The crash and subsequent collision were violent” and “It ejected many of the passengers from where they were sitting and turned unsecured cargo into dangerous projectiles.”
  • A couple on board were able to pull themselves out of the wreckage through a shattered window in the rear of the cockpit. They fell onto the deicing tank below the plane and sustained “serious and permanent injuries.”

Senate defense bill limits Air Force’s aircraft retirement plans

In the Air Force’s fiscal 2021 budget request, the service proposed retiring a number of its B-1 bombers, A-10 Warthog attack planes, RQ-4 Global Hawk surveillance drones, KC-135 and KC-10 tankers, and C-130H planes. However, the Senate Armed Services Committee’s proposed FY21 National Defense Authorization Act limits the cuts proposed by the Air Force.  The SASC’s defense bill “establishes a minimum number of aircraft for each major mission area … and prohibits the divestment of aircraft until the minima are reached to ensure that Air Force can meet [National Defense Strategy] and combatant command requirements,” SASC said in a summary of the bill.

The bill “increases funding for critical capabilities that will help the United States maintain air superiority in contested environments, including Systems of Systems Technology Integration Tool Chain for Heterogeneous Electronic Systems (STITCHES) and advanced air-to-air weapons.”

Mentioned

13 Minutes to the Moon, Season 2: The Apollo 13 story

Who is that masked man?…

Masked Max Trescott

Masked Max Trescott

607 Spirit of Aviation Week

The EAA plans for Spirit of Aviation Week, their big virtual aviation event. Also, Boeing customers defer 737 MAX orders, WOW Air plans to return as a cargo airline, and commercial pilots might seek refuge with the U.S. Air Force. Plus, a new AusDesk from the boys down under!

Aviation News

EAA Spirit of Aviation Week coming July 21-25

The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) is celebrating the aviation community virtually this July 2020. Over the course of 5 days, EAA Spirit of Aviation WeekTM will include streamed and on-demand content with a focus on education, information, and entertainment. Planned events include presentations, forums, discussions, historical and archival content, homebuilding workshops, pilot proficiency and learning to fly, a virtual exhibit space, features from air show performers, and more. The dedicated event website is https://eaatogether.org/. Use the hashtag #EAAtogether.

Boeing Preserves 737 Max Orders After Cancellations Surge; Hedge Fund Buys Debt

Boeing saw 150 737 MAX cancellations in March 2020 and 108 more in April, but now instead of canceling orders customers are deferring delivery. Boeing says it doesn’t expect any more cancellations. Japanese aircraft leasing company SMBC Aviation Capital is deferring delivery of 68 Max jets by four years to 2025-2027. Lessor AerCap is deferring the delivery of 37 aircraft from 2021-2022 to 2023 and later.

WOW Air Becomes A Global Cargo Airline Based In West Virginia

WOW Air liquidated in 2019, but the name was purchased and West Virginia businesswoman Michele Ballarin planned to re-launch WOW in October 2019 as an ultra-low-cost carrier, then as a cargo airline, then something called WOW Air Italy. Now WOW Air announced on Facebook that they’d become a cargo airline based in Martinsburg, West Virginia:

WOW Worldwide Cargo Hub Launches operations in Martinsburg, West Virginia [MRB]

WOW carGO is proud to announce the commencement of worldwide cargo operations from its US base in the capital region on the East Coast at Martinsburg. The facility is 100,000 SF of hangar and warehouse with 25,000 SF of administrative offices for global dispatch operations.

We are WOW!

Air Force Preparing for Furloughed Commercial Pilots to Request Return to Duty

Air Force pilots are asking to stay past their original retirement or separation dates, given the prospects for commercial pilots. Also, the USAF is preparing for an October 1 surge of commercial pilots requesting a return to active duty. That’s when the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (or CARES Act) expires.

Australia News Desk

Steve Visscher and Grant McHerron return with a special AusDesk. As always, the boys make us laugh as they cover the aviation news Down Under.