News, Ideas, Tips, Great Fixes ......

Got something on your mind? Throw it out.

If you think it's important...... post it.

"Serious Public Safety Risk" Substandard Manufacturing" On 787 Jets

From Zero Hedge

787Line_062824

"Serious Public Safety Risk": New Boeing Whistleblower Warns About "Substandard Manufacturing" On 787 Jets

 By Tyler Durden

In the first five months of this year, the Federal Aviation Administration received more than eleven times as many Boeing whistleblower complaints compared to all of last year. The surge in whistleblowers first came after the 737 Max mid-flight door plug blowout in January. The latest Boeing whistleblower was revealed on Wednesday, warning about 787 Dreamliners. 

Attorneys for Richard Cuevas, airplane mechanic and contractor for Boeing manufacturing partner Spirit Aerosystems, detailed in a statement on Wednesday that they filed complaints with the FAA and Occupational Safety and Health Administration, alleging that the mechanic "witnessed substandard manufacturing and maintenance processes on the 787 forward bulkheads, including critical drilling and sealant issues." 

"Cuevas complained that these safety issues, if unremedied, could compromise power and air pressure on the planes, creating a serious public safety risk," attorneys Debra Katz and Lisa Banks at law firm Katz Banks Kumin wrote in the statement. 

After he brought up these troubling concerns—initially with Spirit management and later with Boeing's ethics program—he was fired. A Spirit manager told him his termination was a "sign of the times." 

The lawyers continued, "Our client witnessed critical issues with the forward pressure bulkhead assembly on multiple planes that deviated from Boeing's specifications," adding, "He recognized the substandard work and expressed concern about his safety concerns, but Spirit and Boeing failed to stop the faulty manufacturing processes. Mr. Cuevas was fired when his manager found out that an employee complained about these issues, and suspected that employee was Mr. Cuevas." 

Here's a summary of Cuevas' technical allegations (courtesy of his lawyers):

Mr. Cuevas's complaints allege that Spirit made a range of manufacturing and assembly specification changes on the 787 forward pressure bulkhead without Boeing's permission. These allegations are different from previously reported issues with the forward pressure bulkhead in 2021. 

Mr. Cuevas alleges that Spirit deviated from Boeing's manufacturing specifications while drilling holes in the fasteners of the forward pressure bulkhead of 787s. Deviations from these specifications compromise the seal necessary to maintain air pressure during flight. Boeing requires fastener holes in this section of the plane to be drilled at .2475 inches, which provides a near-perfect "interference-fit" that best retains air pressure during flight. Instead of drilling at that size, Spirit workers were directed to drill holes using a .2495 drill bit, to clear excess paint from the holes and speed up a slow process. Mr. Cuevas alleges that this caused the interference fit to be compromised in Row 3 of these fasteners, which houses critical electrical components, risking power failure and depressurization inflight. Mr. Cuevas observed that Boeing conducted an unannounced inspection and identified 117 out of 200 improperly drilled holes on the bulkhead, but that it has yet to correct the issue. Mr. Cuevas witnessed these problems with three planes he worked on and believes that these issues may affect at least 10-12 planes either in production or already released to Boeing.

Mr. Cuevas also alleges that, because of the ethics investigation, Spirit had fallen behind schedule on its repairs, and therefore instructed workers to incorrectly apply sealants to the plane's bulkhead fasteners. Usually, the first layer of sealant on this section of the plane requires approximately 168 hours to cure. On occasion, Mr. Cuevas witnessed only a two-hour gap between applying the first and second layer of sealant, which caused bubbles to form between the two layers, disrupting the needed torque to keep the fasteners in place. Boeing noticed this issue during its inspections on one aircraft and asked Spirit to reapply the sealants. Mr. Cuevas, however, fears that this and other issues, like the lack of an interference fit due to improper drilling, will go undetected on other planes.

Responding to the complaint, Boeing told the local paper Seattle Times that Cuevas' concerns were investigated and that an engineering analysis "determined the issues raised did not present a safety concern and were addressed."

"We are reviewing the documents released today and will thoroughly investigate any new claim," Boeing said.

Boeing's list of problems appears to be growing weekly (from federal investigations to hearings on Capitol Hill to whistleblowers to mid-air mishaps). One of the last whistleblowers (still living), Sam Salehpour, a former Boeing engineer, warned lawmakers on Capitol Hill in mid-April about safety concerns for the 787 and 777 aircraft. 

Salehpour warned that the 787 Dreamliner fuselage was improperly put together and that the company "rushed to address the bottlenecks in production." The result, he warned, is "premature fatigue failure" on these planes. He noted, "They are putting out defective airplanes."

Meanwhile, outgoing Boeing's CEO Dave Calhoun apologized for the planemaker's recent series of safety failures in testimony delivered to a Senate committee last week. 

In markets, Boeing shares have been more than halved since peaking in early 2019 at $446 a share, which was around the time of the twin Max 737 crashes, killing 346 people. 

 

Continue reading
  168 Hits

Report Suggests Boeing 737 Max Left Factory Without Door Plug Bolts

From Zero Hedge

737Door_012924

As Alaska Airlines and United Airlines have resumed flying Boeing 737 Max 9 jetliners in recent days, a new report from The Wall Street Journal finds that the incident involving a door plug being blown off an Alaska Airlines flight over Portland earlier in the month was probably caused by the lack of bolts. This issue dates back to when the aircraft was manufactured.

According to people familiar with the matter, what's becoming apparent is that the most likely scenario is that Boeing employees failed to reinstall plug door bolts at the factory after opening or removing them during production.

They pointed to the absence of markings on the door plug that would instruct factory workers to double-check if the bolts were in place and lapses in paperwork surrounding the factory's work on the doors.

When Spirit AeroSystems delivers the 737 fuselage to Boeing's Renton, Wash., factory for final assembly, the door plugs are installed. During the assembly process, the door plugs are removed and reinstalled. 

Boeing has yet to reveal how many factory workers handled the door plug. It's important to note that Spirit's factory in Malaysia makes the door. 

Last week, Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D., Ill.), chair of a Senate panel on aviation safety, met with Boeing Chief Executive David Calhoun about door plug woes. 

"It is going to show that there has been lack of documentation when it comes with how and when those pins were installed or removed and whether or not they were reinstalled or not," said Duckworth. 

She continued: "He assured me that they were going through that entire process to make sure that they are able to track on their aircraft when these things are happening."

Meanwhile, the Federal Aviation Administration has slapped Boeing with production limits on the jets amid an investigation into the door plugs. 

Continue reading
  1333 Hits

This Stock’s Grounded!

From The Daily Reckoning

737_011124

James Rickards

What happened to Boeing, the former gold standard of American industry? Nothing good, as I’ll show you today.

Simply put, Boeing isn’t the company it used to be.

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard about the Jan. 6 near crash of a Boeing 737 Max 9 operated by Alaska Airlines, after the fuselage door blew off the plane. That caused decompression and the use of emergency oxygen.

The door blew out because of a door-plug failure at about 16,000 feet. At that altitude, temperatures are freezing, and oxygen is quite low relative to sea level.

The oxygen masks deployed, and passengers were able to secure them and hope for the best as the pilots tried to land the plane safely.

An altitude of 16,000 feet is practically the highest altitude that the passengers and crew could have survived the ordeal. At altitudes of 20,000 or higher, the depressurization would have caused extreme instability and possibly crashed the plane.

It’s also likely that passengers and crew would have passed out before being able to secure the oxygen masks. At 30,000 feet, just slightly higher than the summit of Mount Everest, the plane certainly would have crashed.

Fortunately, the plane landed safely with only minor injuries despite badly shaken nerves.

A Double Disaster

The fuselage door detaching was not the only disaster that occurred in those frightening minutes. The depressurization also caused the cockpit door to blow open, which exposed the pilots to the extreme wind and noise going on in the back of the plane at a time when they were desperately trying to stage an emergency landing.

Cockpit doors have been required to be highly secure and open from inside the cockpit only since the 9/11 hijackings. This was an added shock to the pilots at a critical time.

Boeing later lamely explained that the cockpit door is supposed to blow open during an extreme depressurization incident. But they never put that critical detail in the operating manual, and the pilots on the Alaska Airlines flight had no idea that would happen. Neither did many experts and engineers who were consulted by the media.

This separate critical incident will only add to the scrutiny, liability and criticism that Boeing is now experiencing for what is seen as gross incompetence.

MORE Problems With This Plane?

The double-door blowouts on the 737 Max 9 were bad enough. Of course, this comes not long after the double crashes of Boeing 737 Max 8 planes in Indonesia in October 2018 and Ethiopia in March 2019. These were due to software flaws that put the planes into dives that pilots hadn’t been trained to counter.

Boeing’s global fleet of 737 Max 8 planes were grounded at that time. However, Boeing was seen as slow to respond after the first crash. It was really the airlines themselves that took the lead in grounding their own planes.

Boeing vowed internal investigations and improvements in quality control at that time. The flaws were subsequently corrected, but obviously problems remain. Here we are just five years later with another quality control fiasco grounding another fleet of aircraft.

The plane involved in the latest incident was basically brand-new. It wasn’t an older aircraft that experienced metal fatigue.

According to news reports, both Boeing and Alaska Airlines had some indications that there were difficulties with the door plugs on the fuselage door.

Since the 737 Max 9 is a relatively new model and the particular plane that suffered the door failure was, again, almost brand-new, engineers decided to ignore the warnings as just a kink that sometimes appears in new equipment and will self-correct or be easily adjusted.

This was not the case; the manufacturer and operator were both receiving warnings of a potential catastrophic failure that they chose to ignore.

Boeing has now grounded its entire global fleet of 737 Max 9s, about 170 aircraft in all.

When It All Started Going Wrong

Where did it all start going wrong for Boeing? You can trace the answer to its 1997 merger with rival aircraft manufacturer McDonnell Douglas. That changed Boeing’s culture, and for the worse.

Boeing was known for its strong emphasis on engineering and quality control. It was part of the company’s ethos.

McDonnell Douglas, on the other hand, placed special emphasis on cost cutting and financial innovations to improve its bottom line. It’s not that it completely neglected quality control or that it didn’t care about safety. Obviously, airplane manufacturers can’t afford to disregard them.

It’s just that it placed relatively greater emphasis on financial considerations than Boeing.

But after the merger, the McDonnell Douglas model began to encroach on Boeing’s traditional ethos. The engineering department was greatly reduced, for example, while the financial engineers went to work.

Starting in 2010, Boeing spent tens of billions on stock buybacks and other financial machinations to enhance its share price. At the same time, the company took on massive amounts of debt.

Boeing’s new CEO, Harry Stonecipher, even cited all this as a feature, not a bug. He was proud of it.

He said, “When people say I changed the culture of Boeing, that was the intent — so run like a business rather than a great engineering firm.”

What was the result? Safety issues that resulted in two crashes and the latest close call. As one Boeing engineer who worked on the 737 Max said in 2019:

This program was a much more intense pressure cooker than I’ve ever been in. The company was trying to avoid costs and trying to contain the level of change. They wanted the minimum change to simplify the training differences, minimum change to reduce costs and to get it done quickly.

The irony is that by attempting to cut costs, Boeing has suffered great costs.

Penny Wise, Pound Foolish

Legal liability will be enormous. Business losses will also be huge based on grounding the entire fleet, identifying the defects and repairing them on all of the existing planes as well as making assembly adjustments to any work in progress.

New safety protocols will have to be developed to make sure the problem does not reoccur, and pilots, crews and ground personnel will have to be retrained to look for future problems. The airlines will suffer losses from the groundings and will seek recourse from Boeing.

Boeing stock has fallen from $265 per share on Dec. 15 to $227 per share today (about a 15% decline in three weeks).

Has Boeing’s stock already taken its hit on this fiasco? The answer is no. The market price has adjusted somewhat but the investigations are ongoing, and the costs of responding are being grossly underestimated.

Markets can be partly efficient but are not highly efficient and sometimes get taken in by “all clear” narratives put out by Wall Street that are far from the truth.

This story has much longer to run, more negative facts will emerge, management changes are likely and the stock has much further to fall.

Continue reading
  1061 Hits

Boeing 737 Max 9 problems mount....

From Yahoo News

AnotherFuckUp

Boeing 737 Max 9 problems mount following Alaska and United Airlines incidents.

By Kate Murphy

On Monday, United Airlines said loose bolts and other "installation issues" were discovered on the door plugs of some of its fleet of Boeing 737 MAX 9 airplanes.

“Since we began preliminary inspections on Saturday, we have found instances that appear to relate to installation issues in the door plug – for example, bolts that needed additional tightening,” United said.

The mandated inspections come after the Federal Aviation Administration forced the grounding of Boeing 737 MAX 9 airplanes. Alaska Airlines and United are the only two U.S. airlines that use that particular model of the Boeing 737.

“Boeing 737-9 aircraft will remain grounded until operators complete enhanced inspections, which include both left and right cabin door exit plugs, door components, and fasteners,” the FAA said in a statement on Monday, adding that any issues found from the inspections must be corrected before the planes can go back into service.

The pause, which resulted in the cancellation of hundreds of flights, affected about 171 planes globally, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

On Friday, Alaska Airlines Flight 1282 had to make an emergency landing shortly after takeoff after a door plug blew out, leaving a large hole in the side of the plane as it climbed. The door plug has since been recovered and the National Transportation Safety Board launched an investigation over the weekend into what it called “an accident.”

Boeing’s shares tumbled as much as 9% as trading opened on Monday morning, the first business day since the incident.

No serious injuries

Incredibly, none of the 171 passengers and six crew members on board the flight from Portland, Ore., to Ontario, Calif., was injured.

The plane was climbing at about 16,000 feet when a panel on the plane’s fuselage was blown out.

No one was seated in 26A and 26B, where the door plug was located.

“We are very, very fortunate here that this didn’t end up in something more tragic.” NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy said over the weekend.

The airplane had not reached cruising altitude and the seat belt sign remained on to discourage passengers and crew members from walking around the cabin.

“Just from talking with everyone who was part of the interviews, it was described as chaos, very loud, between the air and everything going on around them,” Homendy said at a Sunday news conference. “And it was very violent when the rapid decompression and the door [plug] was expelled out of the plane.”

Some passengers were treated for minor injuries on board.

door1

 

What the investigation has uncovered so far

The lost door plug — which weighs 63 pounds and is 26 inches x 48 inches — was found on Sunday in the backyard of a Portland school teacher.

NTSB investigators will examine the plug to search for evidence about how it became dislodged and will compare it with the plane’s door plug on the other side.

The plane used for Flight 1282 had other issues. After a warning light signaling a pressurization issue went off during three previous flights, the plane had been restricted from longer routes to Hawaii that travel over open water. That restriction was put in place in the event the warning light reappeared so as to enable the plane to quickly return to an airport. The warning light had previously gone off on Dec. 7, 2023, and Jan. 3 and Jan. 4, just one day before the door plug flew off.

Alaska Airlines had ordered additional maintenance personnel to look at the pressurization warning light, Homendy added, but it wasn’t completed before Friday’s accident. Homendy acknowledged that the warning light issue may be unrelated.

An additional hurdle is that the investigators will not be able to rely on Flight 1282’s cockpit data recorder.

“The cockpit voice recorder was completely overwritten ... at two hours it re-records over it so we have nothing from the CVR [cockpit voice recorder],” Homendy told reporters, adding that it is “critical” to increase that recording time to 25 hours, the standard Europe and many other countries currently have in place.

While the Federal Aviation Administration has proposed a new rule to put that increase in place, it would only apply to newer flights. So the Alaska Airlines flight would not have qualified, Homendy said.

Two cellphones that appeared to belong to passengers aboard Flight 1282 were later recovered. One was found in a yard, and the other on the side of a road.

What’s next

In its investigation, the NTSB is expected to work with officials from Alaska Airlines, Boeing, the FAA and groups representing pilots and flight attendants.

“While we await the airworthiness directive inspection criteria from the FAA and Boeing, our maintenance teams are prepared and ready to perform the required inspections,” Alaska Airlines said in a statement. The airline said that cancellations will continue for the first half of the week and that passengers should check alaskaair.com for updates.

United Airlines also issued a statement on X and said they are working with customers affected to find them “alternative travel options” and advised them to check for updates at united.com or on the United app for the latest.

Meanwhile, Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun sent a companywide memo saying, in part, “When serious accidents like this occur, it is critical for us to work transparently with our customers and regulators to understand and address the causes of the event, and to ensure they don’t happen again. This is and must be the focus of our team right now.”

Calhoun plans to hold an all-employee safety meeting on Tuesday at the 737 factory in Renton, Wash.

 

Continue reading
  1070 Hits

Fake Jet Engine Parts Supplied To Repair Shops.....

From Zero Hedge

engine_090123

Fake Jet Engine Parts Supplied To Repair Shops For Older Airbus And Boeing Planes

By Tyler Durden

European aviation authorities have flagged a London-based firm for supplying "unapproved parts" for jet engines on older Airbus SE A320s and Boeing Co. 737s. 

"Numerous Authorised Release Certificates for parts supplied via AOG Technics have been forged," the European Union Aviation Safety Agency wrote in a statement to Bloomberg

London-based AOG Technics sold CFM56 jet engine parts to third-party repair shops servicing older A320s and 737s. EASA said the parts had certificates the manufacturer could not authenticate or confirm "they were not the originator of the part." 

"Manufacturers and regulators sounded the alarm weeks ago, triggering a global scramble to trace parts supplied by AOG Technics and identify affected aircraft," Bloomberg said. 

EASA said the parts with "falsified Authorized Release Certificate" were for CFM56 engines installed on older narrow-body planes. The regulator has told airlines to quarantine parts that potentially could have fake documentation. 

"The documentation of parts is a very critical issue," said Klaus Mueller, a senior adviser at AeroDynamic Advisory and a former senior executive at MTU Aero Engines AG and Deutsche Lufthansa AG's maintenance arm.

Mueller said, "The industry is taking this topic very, very seriously."

This development is a significant headache for European airlines because how many parts with fake documentation AOG Technics flooded airlines with is still being determined. 

Bloomberg said CFM International, the GE-Safran manufacturing venture of the engine, has alerted customers and shops about the fake certification documents and unapproved parts for the CFM56s. 

EASA said if a part has falsified documentation, "then it is recommended that the part be replaced with an approved part." 

Yet more headaches for airlines operating older A320s and 737s because finding fake parts on their aircraft will take time. It also comes as aircraft parts are in short supply. 

Continue reading
  1218 Hits

Pilots Suspected of Being Unfit to Fly

From Sputnik International

UnitedAirbus_082823

Hundreds of US Airline Pilots Suspected of Being Unfit to Fly

MOSCOW (Sputnik) - About 600 US pilots licensed to operate passenger flights are under investigation for lying about their medical records, US press reported Sunday, citing officials and internal records.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been looking into 4,800 former military veterans turned airline and commercial pilots who might have submitted "incorrect or false information" as part of their medical applications, FAA spokesman Matthew Lehner admitted in a comment to the daily.

The pilots were red-flagged after investigators at the Department of Veterans Affairs cross-checked federal databases to discover aviators who were receiving veteran benefits for mental health disorders and other serious conditions, while hiding their true medical history from the FAA in order to continue flying.

While the FAA relies on screening to identify safety risks, the tests are often cursory and pilots are expected to self-report conditions that can otherwise be difficult to detect, such as depression or post-traumatic stress, The Washington Post cited physicians who conduct the exams as saying.

Officials told the newspaper they suspected many of the pilots under investigation of being either too sick to fly or defrauding taxpayers by exaggerating their disabilities to claim bigger benefits. The FAA disbursed $3.6 million starting last year to run additional tests on thousands of pilots deemed "potential risks."

Continue reading
  1255 Hits

The Most Flown Private Jet In The US Is...

From Zero Hedge

Phenom300

The Most Flown Private Jet In The US Is...

By Tyler Durden

In a rapid shift in private aviation among millionaires, cent-millionaires, and billionaires, Textron Inc.'s Cessna Citation, the most popular and most flown private jet in the US, which held that record for 15 years, has just been dethroned. 

Bloomberg reports new monthly flight data from the Federal Aviation Administration shows Brazil's Embraer Phenom 300, a medium-sized jet that seats around nine passengers, had 360,000 takeoffs and landings at US airports in the 12 months through August, 1,200 more than the Citation Excel family of jets. 

 

Chart_082623

 

Brian Foley, a private aviation consultant, said the biggest reason behind the surge in popularity of the Phenom 300 is fuel efficiency, which burns one-third less than the Citation Excel. He said cheaper fuel costs offset the Phenom 300's smaller cabin space.

For some context, at cruising speed, the two Pratt & Whitney turbofans of the Citation Excel burn around 225 gallons per hour of Jet A fuel. 

  

Citation Excel

 

Meanwhile, the Phenom 300 is around 158 gallons of Jet A fuel per hour. 

  

Phenom300_082623

 

Even though Phenom 300s are being flown more, Cessna still dominates private jet deliveries. 

  

Chart1_082623

 

Textron told Bloomberg, "One of every three business jets worldwide is a Cessna Citation, and product upgrades like these continue to give customers new reasons to choose us for our proven performance, leading technology and unmatched cabin experience." 

Despite the 'climate change' cheerleading, private jet demand soared to new heights in recent years, though mounting macro uncertainty and the highest interest rates in two decades led to a cooling in private jet flights earlier this year.

 

Phenom_082623

 

Continue reading
  567 Hits

The World’s Ten Busiest Airports

From Statista

atl_081923

The World’s Ten Busiest Airports - By Anna Fleck

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, U.S., was the world's busiest airport in 2022, with an annual footfall of some 93.7 million passengers. The figure is 24 percent higher than in 2021, but 15 percent lower than in 2019, the year before the pandemic. It is followed by Dallas-Fort Worth Airport, with 73.4 million travelers, and Denver Airport, with 69.3 million, according to data released by Airports Council International (ACI).

After 22 years leading the charge as the number one airport for passenger volume, Atlanta's airport was pushed to second place in 2020 by Canton Baiyun International Airport, China. However, the Chinese airport fell to eighth place a year later and the U.S. airport once again topped the list.

As the following infographic shows, five of the top ten airports with the highest passenger traffic last year were in the United States. ACI highlights that all ten, representing 10 percent of global traffic, have a significant share of domestic traffic - the segment that has led the global recovery.

The total number of passengers worldwide in 2022 was estimated to hit nearly 7 billion, representing an increase of nearly 54 percent over 2021.

 

airports_081923

Continue reading
  605 Hits

US Pilot Shortage Might Not Be Resolved Until 2032

From Zero Hedge

pilot_080123

Air travel demand soared back to pre-Covid times during the Fourth of July holiday weekend. But with rising demand for air travel comes persistent flight delays and cancellations due to a pilot shortage. Some of the reasons for a pilot shortage have been a surge in early retirements during the pandemic, a mandatory retirement age of 65, a shrinking pool of potential pilots from the military, and a challenging value proposition for civilians to pursue a career as a pilot. 

We have told readers there's "no quick fix" to the severe pilot shortage. Airlines like American Airlines have seen flight disruptions this summer due to a lack of pilots. 

Current figures from the Federal Aviation Administration show the aviation industry is short 32,000 commercial pilots, mechanics, and air traffic controllers -- and the gap continues to expand by the year.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg told CBS News his office is investigating several airlines that book "unrealistic" scheduling by selling seats ahead of scheduling personnel to fly planes.  

"If you look at the delays, for example, that America experienced through last year in the summer 2022, a lot of that was driven by these companies not having the staff that they needed," Buttigieg said.

"This is not something that's going to be worked out overnight. It took years to get this way," he warned.

Wichita State University emeritus associate professor Dean Headley said, "The pilot shortage won't be resolved until 2032 or something like that." 

Headley said airlines can train 1,500 to 1,800 pilots a year but noted with a deficit of 17,000 pilots, "we can't catch up that quick." 

The current pilot shortage has forced commercial airlines to "cut back flights to smaller regional airports. So, people [who] are not at a major airport will find that their flight schedules have been reduced simply because they don't have enough people to put in an airplane to fly it somewhere," Headley explained

Besides a pilot shortage, the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Transportation revealed in early July there was also a severe shortage of air-traffic controllers. And just like pilots, it takes years to train air-traffic controllers. 

One airline lobbying group has asked Congress to allow just one pilot in the cockpit to alleviate the shortage. 

The shortages in pilots and air-traffic controllers won't be resolved anytime soon. No longer can airlines blame the "weather." 

 

Continue reading
  654 Hits

Legislation Increase.... Pilot Retirement Age to 67

From FlightGlobal

Pilots_072023

US House committee approves bill to hike pilot retirement age to 67

By Jon Hemmerdinger

A US lawmaking committee has approved a measure that would increase the USA’s mandatory airline-pilot retirement age, spurring criticism from pilot unions and earning praise from regional airlines.

The US House of Representatives’ transportation committee on 14 June approved the change, which would bump up the mandated retirement age of airline pilots in the USA from 65 to 67, according to reports.

Whether the measure, which passed by a narrow margin, will ultimately become law remains unclear.

It is part of a broader House bill to fund the Federal Aviation Administration after the agency’s current funding expires in October. The full US House is expected to vote on that broader bill in July, the committee says.

Meanwhile, a US Senate committee is expected today to vote on its own version of the funding bill. The chambers must then negotiate to finalise a single law.

But increasing the retirement age has strong support from the Regional Airline Association, a group whose members say they have been particularly hurt by an industry-wide pilot shortage.

A two-year bump in the required retirement age “will have an immediate, positive effect for small community air service”, the RAA says.

“Raising the pilot retirement age is the one solution that will have a near-immediate effect on the pilot shortage, allowing time for more long-term solutions to mature,” says the RAA. “It’s also the right thing to do for pilots who are today being pushed out of flight decks while they still have much to offer.”

US regional airlines have said too few pilots have forced them to ground hundreds of regional aircraft and cut air service to smaller communities. In the USA, airlines have about 490 regional jets (including Bombardier CRJs and Embraer E-Jets) in storage, and 1,340 in service, according to Cirium fleets data.

Airlines for America, the trade group representing large US airlines, declines to comment.

But US pilot unions are raising alarm. The unions have also denied the existence of a pilot shortage, saying airline mismanagement and low pay are keeping carriers from filling their ranks.

In a 14 June letter to lawmakers, Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) president Jason Ambrosi calls the retirement-age change “anti-union” and “politically driven”. ALPA says the measure will worsen a pilot-training backlog, put the USA out of step with international standards and erode aviation safety.

“There is an increased risk of cardiovascular issues, diabetes and cognitive decline with increasing age. It is imprudent for Congress to impose its own view on safety,” Ambrosi says.

The union, which represents pilots at numerous airlines, notes that existing ICAO standards call for retirements at age 65.

It says US pilots older than 65 years would be unable to fly some international flights, which are typically operated by widebody aircraft. As a result, such pilots would likely need to be retrained to fly narrowbody jets, which would “displace junior pilots” and create “a cascading training backlog”.

The Allied Pilot Association (APA), which represents pilots at American Airlines, likewise opposes increasing the required pilot retirement age.

“Safety considerations drove the establishment of the current international standard of age 65 mandatory retirement, and raising the pilot retirement age would introduce additional risk into commercial aviation,” says APA president Ed Sicher.

Continue reading
  461 Hits

China Jet to Rival Airbus, Boeing.....

From Bloomberg

ChinaAircraft_052923

 

By Danny Lee

China Jet to Rival Airbus, Boeing Makes First Commercial Flight

A made-in-China aircraft to rival Boeing Co. and Airbus SE underwent its maiden commercial flight on Sunday, almost six months after being delivered to China Eastern Airlines Corp.

Flight MU9191 took off from Shanghai at 10:32 a.m. local time, China Eastern said on its Weibo account. The plane carried 128 passengers and landed safely at Beijing, People’s Daily said in a tweet.

The commercial debut marks a long journey for Commercial Aircraft Corp of China Ltd., or Comac as it is better known. The manufacturer first starting developing the narrow-body airliner in 2008 and production began in late 2011. But it wasn’t until September 2022 when the C919 received official certification to fly, marking the long end of flight testing and paving the way for Comac to start deliveries.

Read more: China Delivers First Homegrown Plane to Take On Boeing, Airbus

China Eastern is the C919’s launch customer, with an order for five. After the first jet’s delivery in December, the aircraft undertook a period of flight activities almost daily in order to satisfy a requirement for 100 hours of proving flights. But from Feb. 7 to May 17, China Eastern’s C919 hadn’t flown regularly for 104 days, FlightRadar24 data show.

China is angling to disrupt the dominance of Boeing and Airbus in commercial jetliner manufacturing. Both Airbus’s A320neo family and Boeing’s 737 Max jets have a full order book through to the end of the decade, meaning any carrier wanting narrow-body jets sooner may need to find an alternative.

Read more: China’s Rival Aircraft to Boeing, Airbus Jets Wins Certification

Comac has garnered more than 1,000 orders for the C919, though the majority aren’t confirmed and many are from Chinese aircraft lessors yet to place the jet with an airline.

Doubts remain over Comac’s ability to fulfill those orders. The Chinese manufacturer is also reliant upon foreign suppliers including General Electric Co., Honeywell International Inc. and, for the engines, CFM International Inc. — a venture between GE and France’s Safran SA.

Shanghai-based China Eastern, one of the country’s biggest carriers, said on its earnings call last week that it plans to bring all five C919s into its fleet in 2023.

The C919 remains certified only to fly within China, however, while European certification remains ongoing. Each C919 costs around $99 million, before customary discounts to airlines.

 

Continue reading
  529 Hits

Site Upgrade

From Mark

J4_031823

This weekend..... if all goes well, Rotate.Aero will be upgrading to Joomla 4.

Joomla is a CMS or Content Management System that is similar to Word Press.

Both have site interaction which utilizes databases for storage.

Upgrading to Joomla 4 will be quite a task, so for the next couple of days, no Forum or Blog entries will be made.

Thanks

 

Continue reading
  800 Hits

FAA Issues Rare "Call To Action" After Near Miss Incidents

From Zero Hedge

FedEx_021523

By Tyler Durden

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is assembling a team of experts to review a series of near-miss incidents and mishaps that could have sparked air disasters.

On Tuesday, FAA Administrator Billy Nolen penned a "call to action" memo that specified a team of safety experts will "examine the US aerospace system's structure, culture, processes, systems, and integration of safety efforts."

"We are experiencing the safest period in aviation history, but we cannot take this for granted," Nolen wrote. He added, "Recent events remind us that we must not become complacent."

His memo comes after a series of alarming incidents, including a United Airlines Boeing 777-200 that came within 800 feet of impacting the Pacific Ocean off Maui on Dec. 18, a computer 'glitch' that grounded all US flights on Jan. 11, a FedEx cargo jet that almost landed on a Southwest Airlines commercial plane at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Texas on Feb. 4, and a close call at York's John F. Kennedy International Airport on Jan. 16 when American Airlines plane crossed a runway when a Delta Air Lines flight was taking off.

Link to full memo: https://cms.zerohedge.com/s3/files/inline-images/faa_0.jpg?itok=PvXgRP6c

All this is happening as passengers had just overcome their fear of flying on Boeing 737 Max planes. These near misses and computer problems are very concerning.

The US has not had a major fatal air disaster since February 2009.

 

Continue reading
  852 Hits

Covid Vaccine - Southwest Pilots

From Steve Kirsch Newsletter

southwest_021323

Pilots are dying at Southwest Airlines at over 6X the normal rate after the COVID vaccines rolled out.

And disabilities are up 10X normal. I thought the vaccines were supposed to reduce death not increase it! I just asked the FAA for their comment, but no answer.

Please read more at link below:

https://stevekirsch.substack.com/p/pilots-are-dying-at-southwest-airlines

Continue reading
  661 Hits

Should you be concerned? Yes.

By Steve Kirsch

012223_1

The FAA has very quietly tacitly admitted that the EKGs of pilots are no longer normal. We should be concerned. Very concerned.

Long and informed article which is linked here. Please take the time to read it.

Continue reading
  833 Hits

Airlines Lobbying Congress To Allow Just One Pilot In The Cockpit

From Zero Hedge

121522_1

Airlines, in their infinite mission to balance costs, profits, and keeping planes full of passengers alive between two points, might be going a little too far in their latest attempt to cut back.

According to CBS Newsthe industry has been quietly lobbing Congress to allow them to use just one pilot in the cockpit instead of two, as is currently required by part 121 of the Federal Aviation Regulations.

The airlines claim it would quickly solve staffing issues caused by the ongoing pilot shortage, and say that technology has improved to the point where it would be perfectly safe to do so.

There's language in a new bill now introduced in Congress — the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill — asking the Federal Aviation Administration to reconsider part 121 and to allow the use of a single pilot operation, first in cargo aircraft. 

Not surprisingly, airline pilots are loudly protesting this idea, claiming that it would diminish a safety discipline and culture that has been responsible for the safest 25 years in commercial aviation in the history of aviation. Pilots unions argue it's all about the airlines saving money and could compromise safety. -CBS News

 Unions have pointed to several examples of emergency situations in which two pilots were necessary - such as the "Miracle on the Hudson," when pilots Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger and Jeffrey Skiles worked together to glide a US Airways flight down to New York's Hudson river after it hit a flock of Canadian geese on takeoff, saving all 150 passengers and crew.

Meanwhile, 10 days ago an American Eagle flight from Chicago to Columbus had an emergency when one of the two pilots became incapacitated. The co-pilot was able to gain control of the plane, declare an emergency, and safely land back in O'Hare.

The pilot later died at the hospital. 

Continue reading
  1007 Hits

LAST 747 TO BE DELIVERED IN OCTOBER......

From Airline Ratings

747_082422

LAST 747 TO BE DELIVERED IN OCTOBER TO ATLAS AIR

By Geoffrey Thomas

The last Boeing 747 will be delivered in October to Atlas Air bringing the curtain down on the production of the world’s most iconic commercial jet.

The last 747, a -8F is the 1574th built of a production run that has spanned 55 years.

Atlas Air, the world’s largest operator of the 747 has 57 of the giant jets in both freighter (52) and passenger configurations (5).

It is just over 50 years since the 747 entered service with Pan American on a flight from New York to London.

But the first passenger service got off to a rocky start with engine problems and was delayed by six hours and a substitute 747 was used.

The birth of the 747 was also rocky and was to bring dark clouds to the leaders in commercial aviation at the time and almost bankrupted all three.

Ironically, the 747 wasn’t supposed to carry passengers for very many years as the world looked to supersonic travel with the Boeing SST and the Concorde.

747_082422static

Giving life to the aircraft that changed the world was a challenge that brought the world’s largest aerospace company, Boeing, the then biggest engine builder Pratt, and Whitney and the legendary Pan Am to their knees.....

Please visit Airline Ratings for the complete article.

 

Continue reading
  1022 Hits

FedEx Asks FAA Permission To Add Missile-Defense System .....

From Aerotime.Aero

missiledefense_011822

FedEx Asks FAA Permission To Add Missile-Defense System To A321 Freighter.

By Gabriele Petrauskaite

American cargo airline FedEx is seeking permission from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to install a laser-based missile-defense system on its cargo aircraft.

In the filing dated January 7, 2022, the Department of Transportation of the Federal Aviation Administration confirmed that FedEx had asked permission to modify the Airbus A321-200 aircraft by installing the system.

In the document, the FAA stated that FedEx applied for a specific type certificate, which would allow the company to modify the commercial transport-category plane in October 2019. At the time, FedEx asked permission to install “a system that emits infrared laser energy outside the aircraft,” the FAA filing reads.

There have been a number of incidents in recent years where civilian planes have been targeted by man-portable air defense systems. As a result, laser-based missile defense systems began to be installed on aircraft in order to protect them against heat-seeking missiles.

However, the FAA shared safety concerns about the implementation of such a system.

“The FedEx missile-defense system directs infrared laser energy toward an incoming missile, to interrupt the missile’s tracking of the aircraft’s heat. Infrared laser energy can pose a hazard to persons on the aircraft, on the ground, and on other aircraft. The risk is heightened because infrared light is invisible to the human eye. Human exposure to infrared laser energy can result in eye and skin damage, and affect a flight crew’s ability to control the aircraft,” the American aviation body explained.

It continued: “Infrared laser energy also can affect other aircraft, whether airborne or on the ground, and property, such as fuel trucks and airport equipment, in a manner that adversely affects aviation safety.”

The FAA, which is the largest transportation agency in the US, also outlined that it could approve design features on the Airbus A321-200 jet and allow FedEx to install the modifications if the system is equipped with “means that prevent the inadvertent activation of the system on the ground”. The company will also need to ensure that the operating the system during the flight does not pose a risk to other aircraft or people.

In the meantime, the FAA is also required to place the laser system safety-related information at the location of the laser installation as well as to provide necessary instructions and warn over hazards associated with exposure to laser radiation.

“The airplane flight manual supplement (AFMS) must describe the intended functions of the installed laser systems, to include identifying the intended operations and phases of flight. The AFMS must state: CAUTION: The operation of the installed laser system could pose a significant risk of injury to others while in proximity to other aircraft, airports, and populated areas,” the FAA determined.

However, FedEx does not currently operate any Airbus A321-200 jets. The recent FAA filing could imply that the airline is planning to purchase aircraft of this type.

 

 

Continue reading
  1652 Hits

Former Boeing Pilot Involved in Max Testing Indicted

From The Associated Press

DeathTrap_111221

DALLAS (AP) — A former Boeing pilot was indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury on charges of deceiving safety regulators about the 737 Max jetliner, which was later involved in two deadly crashes.

The indictment charges Mark A. Forkner with giving the Federal Aviation Administration false and incomplete information about an automated flight-control system that played a role in the crashes, which killed 346 people.

Prosecutors said that because of Forkner's alleged deception, the system was not mentioned in pilot manuals or training materials.

An attorney for Forkner did not immediately respond for comment. Boeing and the FAA declined to comment.

Forkner, 49, was charged with two counts of fraud involving aircraft parts in interstate commerce and four counts of wire fraud. Federal prosecutors said he is expected to make his first appearance in court on Friday in Fort Worth, Texas. If convicted on all counts, he could face a sentence of up to 100 years in prison.

The indictment charges that he hid information about a flight-control system that activated erroneously and pushed down the noses of Max jets that crashed in 2018 in Indonesia, and 2019 in Ethiopia. The pilots tried unsuccessfully to regain control, but both planes went into nosedives minutes after taking off.

Forkner was Boeing's chief technical pilot on the Max program. Prosecutors said that Forkner learned about an important change to the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System flight-control system in 2016, but withheld the information from the FAA. That led the agency to delete reference to MCAS from a technical report and, in turn, it didn’t appear in pilot manuals. Most pilots didn’t know about MCAS until after the first crash.

Prosecutors suggested that Forkner downplayed the power of the system to avoid a requirement that pilots undergo extensive and expensive retraining, which would increase training costs for airlines. Congressional investigators suggested additional training would have added $1 million to the price of each plane.

“In an attempt to save Boeing money, Forkner allegedly withheld critical information from regulators,” said Chad Meacham, acting U.S. attorney for the northern district of Texas. “His callous choice to mislead the FAA hampered the agency’s ability to protect the flying public and left pilots in the lurch, lacking information about certain 737 MAX flight controls."

Forkner told another Boeing employee in 2016 that MCAS was “egregious” and “running rampant” when he tested it in a flight simulator, but he didn't tell that to the FAA.

“So I basically lied to the regulators (unknowingly),” Forkner wrote in a message that became public in 2019.

Forkner, who lives in a Fort Worth suburb, joined Southwest Airlines after leaving Boeing, but left the airline about a year ago.

Chicago-based Boeing agreed to a $2.5 billion settlement to end a Justice Department investigation into the company's actions. The government agreed to drop a criminal charge of conspiracy against Boeing after three years if the company carries out terms of the January 2020 settlement. The settlement included a $243.6 million fine, nearly $1.8 billion for airlines that bought the plane and $500 million for a fund to compensate families of the passengers who were killed.

Dozens of families of passengers are suing Boeing in federal court in Chicago.

Crash investigations highlighted the role of MCAS but also pointed to mistakes by the airlines and pilots. Max jets were grounded worldwide for more than a year and a half. The FAA approved the plane for flying again late last year after Boeing made changes to MCAS.

 

Continue reading
  1482 Hits

FAA Launches New Safety Probe Into Boeing......

From Zero Hedge

boeing_082421

FAA Launches New Safety Probe Into Boeing As Employees Complain About Pressure To Cut Corners

By Tyler Durden

The FAA isn't done punishing Boeing for the oversights (later revealed to be systemic) that led to the devastating crashes of two Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets, killing roughly 350 passengers and crew.

According to a WSJ report, the FAA is launching a "broad review of how Boeing employees handle safety matters" after several company engineers told the agency they had faced "undue pressure" to skirt over them.

The FAA survey, conducted this year, revealed that 35% of a small sample of certain Boeing employees reported problems including pressure and hurdles to transparency, according to an Aug. 19 agency letter to Boeing that was obtained by WSJ. Some surveyed employees, who are part of a group empowered by the agency to assist with its work, said they encountered difficulties in being transparent with regulators.

As WSJ explained, aviation regulators have long relied on engineers to act on the agency's behalf when performing certain tasks, especially when it comes to signing off on safety assessments. Any lapses in Boeing's safety overviews should have been anonymously reported to the agency. Yet, as we learned more than 18 months ago, engineers working on the 737 MAX 8 resented their managers, and privately complained to one another about the shortcomings of their oversight - without ever saying a word to the FAA.

According to the letter seen by WSJ, the survey indicated that some 35% of the small sample of Boeing employees surveyed complained to the agency that their work environment "does not support independence" of those who are empowered to act on the agency’s behalf, according to the letter, which was signed by Ian Won, acting manager of the FAA’s Boeing oversight office in the Seattle area.

In the aftermath of the 737 MAX 8 crashes (which famously led to the plane being grounded for more than a year) WSJ's reporting revealed that the FAA had effectively let Boeing regulate itself following an unprecedented incidence of "regulatory capture."

Yet, now we're learning that the "problems cited by Boeing employees in the survey 'indicate the environment does not support independence' of those who are empowered to act on the agency’s behalf, according to the letter, which was signed by Ian Won, acting manager of the FAA’s Boeing oversight office in the Seattle area."

In the survey, the employees complained about pressure that sometimes came from management, and sometimes came from fellow engineers.

The two-page letter came with excerpts from interviews with Boeing employees. The employees, who were quoted anonymously, told the FAA that the pressure they felt wasn’t necessarily overt and could also come from the engineering ranks pushing to stay on schedule.

"I feel undue pressure but I stand up to it," one Boeing employee was quoted by the letter as saying.

The FAA letter said that "Boeing’s company culture appears to hamper" its FAA-empowered employees "from communicating openly with the FAA." The letter cited one Boeing employee who told the agency: "I am very aware that my bringing up issues is not appreciated."

A Boeing spokesperson said the company "takes these matters with the utmost seriousness" and is working to bolster the independence of its employees who work on the FAA's behalf.

"We have consistently reinforced with our team that delegated authority is a privilege and that we must work every day to be trusted with the responsibility," she said. Boeing has directed that its FAA delegates "must be accorded the same respect and deference that is shown to our regulator."

Unfortunately, the problems cited by the August letter are all too familiar: they're the same issues that were identified by an internal company report that was obtained by Congress during its investigation into the two deadly crashes, which took place in October 2018 and March 2019.

Continue reading
  1514 Hits