Hang out together at Oshkosh this year?

Supposedly Sun n Fun was busy in 2021 (see “Sun ‘n Fun Aerospace Expo ticket pre-sales soar to record highs despite COVID”, for example). EAA AirVenture (“Oshkosh”) should also be packed. Folks who love aviation are apparently willing to accept the additional risk of leaving the house.

We’re staying on the field at the Hilton Garden Inn this year (“I know some people that know some people that robbed some people”), attending the Cirrus pilots’ dinner Monday evening (July 26), and bought a full-week pass to the EAA Aviators Club (chairs, A/C, food, phone charging, etc., right on the flight line for airshow viewing).

It would be great to see readers/commenters there! (sign up for the Cirrus dinner and Aviators Club now if you want to join; they both will probably sell out)

Note that EAA AirVenture is currently scheduled as a mask-optional event (EAA coronapanic page).

From 2019…

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Military aviation enthusiast book: Just Another Day in Vietnam

Just Another Day in Vietnam, by Keith Nightingale, a retired colonel who was there, is mostly about ground combat in the Vietnam War, 1967. However, I recommend it to anyone interested in aviation because the book explains the critical role played by the L-19 pilots, who would orbit for hours over a battlefield and were the only ones who could see enough to coordinate artillery and bombing runs that meant the difference between life and death. The book also will give you an appreciation for the importance of fighter-bombers and B-52s and a reminder that, without GPS, these machines all become useless in cloudy/foggy/rainy weather.

One thing that I got from the book was a vivid impression of the incredible physical discomfort of being a soldier in Vietnam. The heat, the humidity, the baking sun, and the bugs described will make you glad that you can sit in an air-conditioned apartment for a few years (depending on your governor’s orders/whim).

Separately, I think this is a great time to read about Vietnam. Before coronapanic, Americans were afraid to get into little piston-powered Cessnas and fly out to get a $300 hamburger, even if emergency landing fields and highways were available all along the route. Imagine the courage required to fly that unarmored mostly-unarmed (a few rockets and machine guns still qualify as “mostly peaceful” under current standards, right?) for hours over a jungle that offered no suitable cleared spaces in which to land and over a heavily armed enemy.

Also, as a Facebook hero previously noted

Of course, we can’t actually do this reassessment because doing so would admit that the last year was madness. The lockdowns are like Vietnam, the political and media establishment have so much invested in them, only a gradual drawdown will be permitted, regardless of the “science.”

(see Lockdown is our Vietnam War so it will end gradually?)

I think the Facebooker was on the right track. Let me repeat a comment that I made on We ran but could not hide: U.S. deaths in 2020 were 16 percent higher than in 2019, regarding how a majority of Americans could support lockdowns and masks despite the U.S. and other masked-and-shut nations having higher death rates than unmasked-and-open nations, e.g., Sweden.

I don’t think it is unprecedented. With a little perspective we can see that our war in Vietnam was a monumentally bad idea. Yet at the beginning of 1967 only 32 percent of Americans thought that we’d made a mistake by sending troops there. https://ropercenter.cornell.edu/blog/creeping-doubt-public-support-vietnam-1967 (the Gulf of Tonkin fraud perpetrated on the American people was in 1964 and we could say that the direct involvement of U.S. troops started then). By the fall of 1968, a majority of Americans thought our entry into the war was a mistake, but even at the bitter end 40 percent of Americans still thought it was a good idea! https://news.gallup.com/poll/18097/iraq-versus-vietnam-comparison-public-opinion.aspx

“According to the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association, a total of 11,846 helicopters were shot down or crashed during the war, resulting in nearly 5,000 American pilots and crew killed.” (source) Imagine the collective madness of a nation that just kept buying jet-powered helicopters and sending them to the other side of the planet to be destroyed, along with young American lives (far more American life-years lost to the Vietnam War than coronaplague due to the young average age of the 50,000+ American soldiers who were killed). For comparison, the debacle that we know as the Iraq War consumed only about 124 helicopters.

(Not everyone American was swept up in this madness. See “‘I Ain’t Got No Quarrel With Them Vietcong’” (NYT, 2017) regarding Muhammad Ali, imprisoned for refusing to go.)

Just Another Day in Vietnam will remind you just how crazy ordinary people can get in the service of helping a comfortable politician achieve his/her/zir/their desired level of power. And there is a lot of good detail about aviation!

(Nit: the author sometimes seems to mix up the collective and the cyclic pitch controls on a helicopter. Collective controls climb/descent; cyclic controls pitch (airspeed) and bank. The throttle is in the pilot’s left hand on the collective (more of an on/off twist switch in a turbine helicopter). See the helicopter lecture (streaming free) from our MIT ground school for more.)

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Mars “helicopter” can make Robinson owners feel good?

The Ingenuity “helicopter” (would most folks call it a “drone”?) has done some hover work on Mars.

Cost? $80 million to buy and $5 million/year to operate (Wikipedia).

The goal is to fly up to 16′ vertically and 160′ laterally.

I’m wondering if Robinson R44 owners worldwide are rejoicing. This government project makes a $400,000 Raven I purchase, adjusted for distance traveled and heights achieved, seem quite reasonable, even if you’re paying hangar rent to Bill Gates’s Signature (the climate change expert is also the world’s biggest seller of Jet A fuel to Gulfstreams).

Also fun, below is a photo of the team. They appear to be young enough to have minimal personal risk from COVID-19, yet they’re afraid to sit together unmasked (i.e., less daring than customers of a sports bar in Florida or employees at a typical FBO). They’re watching TV while sitting in front of a “Dare Mighty Things” sign.

Speaking of daring, here’s a front door sign from a coffee shop in Jupiter, Florida this morning:

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Textbook soft-field landing

Happy Spring Flying Season! For those folks who use grass airports they presumably are likely to be wet and therefore will require a soft field landing. This is part of training for a Private certificate, but few of us get the opportunity to practice as paved runways are so common in the U.S.

For inspiration, consider this landing, filmed by a bystander, near St. Petersburg, Florida, in “Plane Forced to Land on Treasure Island Beach After Engine Dies” (scroll towards bottom of the page to see the smartphone video):

The Piper Archer II took off from Albert Whitted Airport in St. Petersburg and had been airborne about 15 to 20 minutes with the student in control when the engine quit, according to instructor pilot Jenna Dunay.

Dunay took the plane’s controls but could not restart the engine, she told Spectrum News. Dunay said she decided the plane would not make it back to the airport so she decided they had to land on the beach.

“I went for a walk down the beach and all of a sudden this plane is coming directly at me. I thought, ‘Man, that’s pretty low to be seeing the beach.’ It kept getting lower, literally coming right at me,” he described, saying that the plane was at least 300 yards away from him.

Thompson, who is visiting Florida with his business partners, said he saw one of the pilots getting out of the plane.

“She smacked down and she jumped out with bags in her hand. I thought maybe that’s what you guys do down here in Florida, but turns out it’s not common,” said Thompson…

From another TV station:

She was forced to land the plane behind the Bilmar Resort in Treasure Island. The pilot said she clipped a plastic pole with one of the wings while trying to avoid people on the sand.

“I don’t think I had time to be nervous,” Dunay said. “I just picked a part of the beach with the fewest amount of people, wide enough to where even if there were people we could avoid them.”

Dunay has been flying planes since 2017, and has been an instructor a little more than a year. She’s thankful, knowing it could have ended differently.

“I’m glad the sand was packed down well so it made for a better landing then if it was soft sand, so could’ve been worse but could’ve been better,” Dunay said. “It was muscle memory, didn’t need to look at the checklist, just ran through every possible thing and that’s all you can do.”

When glass-is-half-empty types write the headline: “Small plane crashes into pole during emergency landing on Florida beach” (minimal damage to a 41-year-old airplane, N82746, that is worth less than a lot of new cars and hitting a pole is what’s significant about this event?).

The track, from FlightAware:

A good reason to take a longer parental leave? (“Third day back at work after maternity leave”)

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If it takes weeks of paperwork to get across a border, what’s the point of a supersonic airliner?

Some of my aviation friends are excited about “Aerion is working on a Mach 4+ supersonic airliner for 50 passengers”:

Aerion is looking beyond the 2027 launch of its AS2 supersonic business jet for the ultra-rich, to something for the rest of us. The AS3TM, if it gets built, would be a 50-passenger supersonic commercial airliner capable of speeds over Mach 4.

That’s at least twice the maximum speed of the venerable Concorde, and represents a ground speed somewhere over 3,000 mph (4,800 km/h). That would mean LA to Tokyo in under three hours, according to Aerion, instead of nearly 12 hours on today’s airliners.

The AS3TM would have a range around 7,000 nautical miles (12,964 km, 8,055 miles). If that’s a genuine, usable range figure and doesn’t include mandated fuel reserves, it’s enough to handle most long-haul routes outside the top 10 longest flights in the world. Aerion eventually wants to let people travel between any two points on the globe in three hours or less.

I don’t get it. If we assume that Covid variants are with us forever, thus rendering vaccines only partially effective, then coronapanic will be with us forever, thus rendering borders mostly closed except to those with a lot of patience for paperwork, time for testing, etc. If you have several weeks to spare on the paperwork effort, why don’t you have a few extra hours to stretch out in the First Class cabin of a big Airbus or Boeing?

Maybe this could be useful for the super-rich? If a rich guy/girl/other bought a Boeing Business Jet or Airbus Corporate Jet, why wouldn’t he/she/ze/they buy an AS3 in executive configuration when it is time to go supersonic?

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How to run a quota-based operation in a transgender-friendly manner?

Pilot friends are still talking about the new United Airlines training operation in which half of the slots are reserved for people who fall into one or more victimhood categories (white women, Black men, anyone “of color”, etc.; see Fly the Quota Skies).

I’m a little confused as to how this can operate in a world where we recognize that gender ID, and therefore victimhood group membership, is fluid, transitory, and unmoored to our DNA and anatomy.

Suppose that Larry Localizer identifies as a “white male” through age 18. She decides, shortly before applying to train/work at United Airlines, that Loretta Localizer is a better fit for her current gender ID. If questioned, Loretta says “I am large, I contain multitudes [of gender IDs].” Loretta qualifies under whatever reduced standards United has for the “quota half” of the pool and is admitted. When she arrives on campus, however, she says “Call me Larry. I experienced some gender dysphoria over the summer and now I identify as a man.”

Now United’s carefully chosen mixture of trainees is messed up due to an excess of student pilots identifying as white males. I can see how a skin color-based quota system could work, assuming that applicants are denied the use of makeup or tanning beds, because United could apply an objective test with a color temperature meter. But how does a quota system based on gender ID work at an employer that #FollowsScience regarding LGBTQ?

United Airlines supports the “Transgender Law Center”, from which they might be hearing if they were to terminate Loretta/Larry due to her/his/zis/their gender fluidity.

Related:

  • “What it means to be gender-fluid” (CNN): For some people, gender is not just about being male or female; in fact, how one identifies can change every day or even every few hours. Gender fluidity, when gender expression shifts between masculine and feminine, can be displayed in how we dress, express and describe ourselves. [and how we apply for jobs at United!] Everyone’s gender exists on a spectrum, according to Dot Brauer, director of the LGBTQA Center at the University of Vermont. Progressive gender expression is the norm for the university, which offers gender-neutral bathrooms and allows students to use their preferred names.
  • “What Does It Mean to Be Gender Fluid? Here’s What Experts Say” (Health.com, reminding us to listen to “experts”): Because gender fluidity means not having a fixed, single sense of your gender, that gender could shift over time—during the course of a day, weeks, months, or years. “Whatever form gender fluidity takes, it is important to remember that it is a valid gender identity. It is not being flaky or ‘going through a phase,’” says Eckler. “So many other aspects of ourselves ebb and flow and shift that it only makes sense that our gender can, too.”
  • Facebook uses a Malibu-flying engineering manager to promote careers in engineering… (in which Facebook sends a pilot who identified as a “man” for 51 years to show teenagers identifying as “women” how easy it is to succeed in the world of nerds)
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Success story for general aviation: transporting plague-ridden 2-year-olds

“Family catches private flight to Austin with pilot friend after getting booted off Southwest plane when their two-year-old couldn’t keep his mask on” (Daily Mail):

A family kicked off a Southwest flight after their two-year-old could not keep his face mask on turned to Facebook to complain and were offered a private flight by a family friend.

He said his family woke up at three in the morning to prepare for their flight out of Denver, Colorado.

‘I practiced with him at least two or three times at the house and every time he threw it off, but I figured that [Southwest] would work with us on the plane because he’s two,’ Michelle Harvey said.

FOX 7 reports that Peck flew his twin-engine airplane to Denver, picked up the family, and flew them to Austin at no charge.

There are already pilot groups for flying medical patients (Angel Flight and PALS), dogs (Pilots N Paws), sea turtles (Turtles Fly Too; see also Merry Christmas to the Sea Turtles and Merry Christmas (again) to the Sea Turtles). If we assume that coronapanic never ends and that recalcitrant toddlers remain recalcitrant, could it be time for a new volunteer pilot group for transporting families who don’t want their trip to turn into a mask fight? Light planes are at their best when some of the seats are occupied by children (reasonably low in weight despite one or more years of lockdown, unlike their adult counterparts).

Readers: What should the group be called? Winged Unmasked Brats (“WUB”)? Terrible Twos Take To The Skies (“TTTTTS”)?

As Joe Biden is discovering, sometimes it is best to put children in a cage…

And, in case anyone wants to see just how effective masks (for which we will fight to the death, if necessary), lockdowns, and vaccines are against our viral nemesis, here’s Sweden (unvaccinated, unmasked, unlocked) versus Israel (fully vaccinated (older/vulnerable), masked, and locked-until-recently; source):

From the above, applying the principles of coronascience, we can infer that masks, lockdowns, and vaccines work so well that applying these interventions in Israel stops a plague 2000+ miles away in Sweden.

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Book review: Ferry Pilot

FERRY PILOT: Nine Lives Over the North Atlantic, by Kerry McCauley, is about taking transoceanic trips in planes that were engineered for $50 hamburger missions (now $500 thanks to the inflation that the government tells us does not exist…). These planes might have only one piston engine, one alternator, one battery, one attitude indicator, etc. In other words, many single points of failure and each point reasonably likely to fail during a 10-hour leg.

The book opens by quoting Marco Polo: “An adventure is misery and discomfort, relived in the safety of reminiscence.”

Icing is a persistent enemy:

The turbulence started almost immediately. I tightened my seat belt and concentrated on the instruments in a futile attempt to keep the plane on its assigned heading and altitude. Shortly after entering the clouds, a frosty haze of ice started building up on the windshield. I looked out the side window and I saw that a layer of rime ice was building up on the leading edge of the wings and the landing gear. Picking up ice really got my attention because encountering icing conditions in a small plane like the Cessna 182 is considered an emergency situation because the anti-ice systems are almost nonexistent. They consisted of a heated pitot tube to keep the flight instruments functioning and a windshield defroster that will do next to nothing in heavy ice. I wondered if I could open the side window and scrape at it with my fingernails if the ice got too thick. As ice accumulates on the leading edge of the wings, the airflow gets disturbed, reducing their ability to produce lift. Add to that the increased weight of the ice itself accumulating on the exposed sections of the airframe and it doesn’t take long before the plane is going down, whether you like it or not. And if your windshield is still iced over when you break out of the clouds then you won’t be able to see anything as you try to pick out a place to crash. I don’t know, maybe it’s less scary that way. As I penetrated deeper into the clouds the layer of ice continued to build. Normally, the correct response to flying into icing conditions would be to immediately turn around. But I decided to keep going. I figured if the ice got too bad I could just descend to the warmer air over the Mediterranean where the ice would melt quickly. (Okay, “should” melt quickly.) It was a plan. Not a great plan, but a plan.

After being in icing conditions for fifteen or twenty minutes the wings had picked up about two inches of bumpy rime ice. The 182 had been slowed by twenty-five knots, but so far I was able to hold altitude. Suddenly, there was a sharp BANG from the front of the plane followed by intense vibration. … After landing I inspected the front of the aircraft and discovered the source of the vibration. The cone-shaped spinner attached to the propeller had a two-inch strip of metal missing around the edge of the propeller. The damage was probably caused by ice building up unevenly on the spinner, causing an imbalance. When it finally let go, it took some metal with it. I felt bad about the damage.

Flying over the maximum design weight is conventional.

At 25 percent over maximum gross weight, the heavy Cessna didn’t exactly leap into the muggy night air.

A night flight over the Sahara Desert doesn’t go as planned due to the failure of the single alternator:

I trimmed up the plane, engaged the autopilot, made a few navigation notes, then took out a Tom Clancy novel and tried to get comfortable. I was feeling fat, dumb and happy. A condition that lasted for about three hours. I was just starting to get into the groove of an all night flight when out of the corner of my eye I saw an ominous red light wink on. Curious, I leaned forward and read the words LOW VOLTAGE under the glaring red light burning on the instrument panel.

I pulled back on the yoke, climbing for a better look, and there laid out in front of me was what I’d been praying for all night, the city of Abidjan. I yelled out in joy at my luck. I’d flown 1800 miles over Africa, at night, with no electrical power and still managed to somehow find my way.

(Our hero author had been reduced to using dead reckoning, a compass heading, and a flashlight to see the attitude indicator (“artificial horizon”) for hour after hour.)

He ends up having to fly through a lot of thunderstorms, either because he’s already three-quarters across the Atlantic Ocean or because he’s over some African nations without good aviation infrastructures (GPS was new at the time that he was doing his flying and the Africans did not operate their VORs consistently).

“In reference to flying through thunderstorms; “A pilot may earn his full pay for that year in less than two minutes. At the time of incident he would gladly return the entire amount for the privilege of being elsewhere.” – Ernest K. Gann

My mood darkened as I stared out at the impressive light show laid out in front of me. I didn’t bother looking at the map for an escape path. I needed to go east and the storms were in my way. As I approached the storm wall I felt tiny and insignificant, like an ant at the base of a skyscraper. The boiling mass of dark gray towered above me, topping out at 40,000 … feet? … 50? … higher? The tops didn’t matter to me. I was heading for the middle. Tightening my seat belt I studied the flashing clouds, looking for a weakness. Not seeing any breaks in the wall I picked an area with the least amount of flashes, kicked off the autopilot and dove in. Strong turbulence slammed into the plane as soon as I penetrated the cloud wall, tossing me around like a rag doll. A strong downdraft made it feel like a trapdoor had opened beneath me. The little Cessna lost a thousand feet of altitude in just seconds. Loose items floated around the cockpit as I shoved the throttle to the stops and hauled back on the yoke trying to arrest the uncontrolled descent. In spite of my efforts I was still going down at fifteen hundred feet per minute. Then just as suddenly, an updraft grabbed the plane and pushed me down in the seat as the altimeter spun back the other way. This cycle repeated several times while lightning flashed around me like a crazy strobe light show. The sound in the cockpit was deafening as heavy rain pelted the windshield and airframe. I slowed my airspeed down as much as possible to prevent structural damage. (The words “in-flight breakup” echoed in my mind.) Holding a heading was impossible. Suddenly, I burst out of the clouds and found myself in clear air with massive thunderheads towered above me on all sides. The difference was incredible. One minute I was desperately fighting for control of the plane in severe turbulence, the next minute the air was smooth as glass.

Understanding systems is critical. When he can’t transfer fuel from the ferry tank that has replaced the back seats, he is able to figure out the problem and move 90 gallons of 100LL with lung power.

The owner was colorful:

On the leg from Bangor to Goose Bay, I heard two Canadian pilots from Quebec speaking French on the frequency Pete and I were using. The Canadian pilots were having a nice long conversation that was, I have to admit, kind of annoying. I knew if they were bugging me they had to be driving Pete crazy. One of the first things I learned about Pete was that there was a long list of things he hated: the FAA, customs officials, female pilots, stupid people, and, strangely enough for the owner of an international ferry company, foreigners, especially the French. … “Hey, why don’t you two learn to speak English?” Pete said over the radio. “FUCK YOU!” One of the French speaking pilots replied. Without missing a beat Pete replied, “Good! You’re learning!”

He describes the famous NDB approach to Narsarsuaq, Greenland:

The minimums:

Not for the faint of heart! (The GPS-based procedure is easier, but still gets one down only to 1700′ over the airport; a standard instrument approach at a flatland airport goes down to 200′ above the runway.)

Even though this was my tenth trip to Narsarsuaq, and Pete’s umpteenth, we were still slightly unsure if we’d picked the correct fjord until we saw the familiar sunken ship halfway in that marks the correct path.

#StopEskimoHate

After checking in to the Hotel Narsarsuaq, with its huge Polar Bear statue in the lobby, we headed to the Blue Ice Café for dinner. The food was fantastic and seeing that we were only flying about four hours to Iceland the next day, Pete and I decided to stick around and shoot a few games of pool. Meanwhile, the bar started filling up with local Inuit men and women. About ten o’clock the party started to get a little rowdy, and the Danish workers who were in the bar got up and left. The two airport employees we were talking to told us that they never stayed at the bar very late because the Eskimos who frequent the bar had a tendency to get roaring drunk, and fights broke out almost every night.

I can recommend FERRY PILOT: Nine Lives Over the North Atlantic to anyone who flies little planes (and the book is included for Kindle Unlimited subscribers). If you’re a Cirrus pilot you’ll gain a better appreciation for the redundancy that we do have: two alternators, two batteries, two or three attitude sources, a parachute.

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Fly the Quota Skies

(those who identify as) White males need not apply… “United Sets New Diversity Goal: 50% of Students at New Pilot Training Academy To Be Women and People of Color”:

United Airlines, the only major U.S. airline to own a flight school, will begin accepting applications today as it embarks on an ambitious plan to train 5,000 new pilots by 2030, at least half of them women and people of color. Backed by scholarship commitments from United Airlines and JPMorgan Chase, United Aviate Academy will create opportunities for thousands of students, including women and people of color to pursue a career as a commercial airline pilot, one of the most lucrative careers in the industry.

In addition, for those United Aviate Academy students who may need additional financing, United has partnered with Sallie Mae to offer private student loans to ensure that no highly-qualified, highly-motivated, eligible applicants will be turned away solely because they can’t afford to enroll. United Aviate Academy expects to enroll 100 students in 2021.”Over the next decade, United will train 5,000 pilots who will be guaranteed a job with United, after they complete the requirements of the Aviate program – and our plan is for half of them to be women and people of color,” said United CEO Scott Kirby. “We’re excited that JPMorgan Chase has agreed to support our work to diversify our pilot ranks and create new opportunities for thousands of women and people of color who want to pursue a career in aviation.”To break down the financial barriers that limited access to the airline pilot career path for generations of women and people of color, United has committed to fund $1.2 million in scholarships. The airline’s credit card partner, JPMorgan Chase has also committed $1.2 million to support women and people of color who are accepted to United Aviate Academy.”We are proud to partner with United to support the Aviate Academy’s mission to enable thousands to pursue their dream as a commercial airline pilot,” said Ed Olebe, President of Chase Co-Brand Cards. “Investing in this program directly aligns with our efforts to advance racial equity by expanding career development opportunities and making tangible progress in a field where women and people of color are underrepresented.” United will leverage its long-standing relationships with a variety of organizations, including the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals, Sisters of the Skies, the Latino Pilots Association and the Professional Asian Pilots Association to help identify and steer highly qualified, diverse candidates to the United Aviate Academy.

Looks like those who identify as Asians are “pilots of color” who can get in under this quota-based admissions system. This is good news considering that United has a Black Lives Matter pin for employees, but not a #StopAsianHate pin:

United thought that I would be thrilled to hear about this and emailed me, a loyal Mileage Plus member, this afternoon so that I would be sure not to miss it in the media.

This photo of an executive in the office is a good reminder to wear masks, but if Jessica is concerned about contracting coronavirus, why did he/she/ze/they go to work to begin with? He/she/ze/they is not a mechanic, pilot, flight attendant, or ramp worker. Why can’t he/she/ze/they work from home and #StopTheSpread?

(photo of Boston’s Logan Airport by Tony Cammarata, May 2020, from our Robinson R44 helicopter; your humble author at the controls)

Related:

  • “Pilot Sues Airline For Emotional Distress After Mechanical Failure Led To PTSD” (Plane & Pilot): A former QantasLink pilot is suing the regional carrier to the tune of $780,000 for suffering and damages from a case of PTSD she says was caused by a 2018 mechanical failure of one of the Boeing 717’s engines, which resulted in the shutdown of the engine and an emergency landing. … The plane landed without incident, and no one was injured. … She’s the first woman of color to wear a Qantas uniform, and she has received numerous awards for her work in aviation. She said recently, acknowledging the recognition she had earned for her historic place in Australian airline history, that her advice for younger Australians was, “People still stop me to congratulate me at how proud they are to see female pilot, let alone one of colour. My response is the same ‘Action Inspires Action’—you can achieve your dreams, too. Be the best possible human you can be.”
  • Does the United Airlines incident support Cicero’s point of view regarding wage labor?
  • Commercial flights during Coronapanic: a mostly mask-free experience
  • My visual approach, and Asiana’s (explains the havoc that a newbie can wreak in airline operations)
  • once an race-based hiring program is in place, the general public may use it to explain accidents. An ar15.com forum message: “I found the reason for the crash. Affirmative Action hire strikes again.” (regarding the loss of Atlas Air 3591, a Boeing 767 lost to spatial disorientation, more typically suffered by novice Private-rated pilots)
  • A simpler way for an American to obtain the spending power of an airline pilot, from the Massachusetts chapter of Real World Divorce: “There are a lot of women collecting child support from more than one man,” Nissenbaum noted. “I remember one enterprising young lady who worked as a waitress at Boston’s Logan airport. She targeted three airline pilots, had a child by each of them, and back then was collecting $25,000 in tax-free child support from each pilot. Of course, instead of serving food and beverages, she did have to care for those children.”
  • “United Airlines Fined $49m Over Fraud On Postal Service Contracts” (Simple Flying, February 27, 2021): The DOJ documents states that instead of providing USPS accurate delivery scans based on the shipment of the mail, United submitted automated delivery scans “based on aspirational delivery times.” These scans did not correspond to the actual transportation of the mail, as mandated by the contracts. Therefore, since there was no movement of the post, the Chicago-based carrier was not entitled to payment. However, it still secured payments of millions of dollars from USPS.
  • “United Found Willful in Age Discrimination” (Law Week Colorado)
  • “United Settles Charges in Case of Flight Route to Benefit Public Official” (U.S. SEC): According to the SEC’s order instituted today, United reinstated a nonstop flight between Newark, N.J., and Columbia, S.C., at the behest of David Samson, the then-chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey who sought a more direct route to his home in South Carolina. … the SEC’s order finds that United officials feared Samson’s influence could jeopardize United’s business interests before the Port Authority, including the approval of a hangar project to help the airline at Newark’s airport. The company ultimately decided to initiate the route despite the poor financial projections. The same day that United’s then-CEO approved initiation of the route, the Port Authority’s board approved the lease agreement related to the hangar project. United employees were told “no proactive communications” about the new route. … The route ultimately lost approximately $945,000 before it ceased again roughly around the time of Samson’s resignation from the Port Authority.
  • database of $144 million in fines imposed by the Federales against United, divided into fraud, employment discrimination ($48.8 million, even though, as demonstrated by this new program, sometimes discrimination is good!), aviation safety violation ($22 million), aviation consumer protection violation, etc.
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Could we revive family four-seat aircraft with crummier jet engines?

As noted in Testing the first jets, the early jet engines were designed to last 25-35 hours (Germany’s) or 125 hours (England’s). Today’s jet engines rely on exotic materials and precision manufacturing so that they are almost 100% guaranteed to run 5000+ hours between major service events and the components will usually last at least 12,000 hours. Great for airlines and busy charter operators, but the typical private pilot with a family airplane flies only about 100 hours per year. Why does he/she/ze/they want to pay $500,000 to $1 million for an engine that is good for 50+ years of flying?

I wonder what would happen to the cost if we relaxed the reliability and service life specifications to be comparable to what we expect from a high-power piston engine, i.e., about 2,000 hours of operation and a failure every 50,000 hours. We can use parachutes for backup, like the Cirrus Vision Jet already does, or a second engine, if we’re making a “new Baron.”

Weekend pseudo-warriors of the sky who fly the L-39 are accustomed to overhauling the Ivchenko AI-25 engine every 1000 hours ($220,000, so about $220/hour, which would not completely change the economics of flying a Baron or a Cirrus). So that might be an example of what I’m talking about, but at a much higher level of power (blast a 10,000+ lb. aircraft to 400 knots).

I wonder if what we have now is an example of the best being the enemy of the good, leaving us with Wright Brothers-style piston engines in any aircraft that costs less than $1 million. Even a crummy turbine would have many advantages in terms of weight, smoothness, and, probably, reliability.

If the Germans could make a 35-hour jet engine at a reasonable cost in the early 1940s, with all of our modern technologies for machining, 3D printing, ceramics, etc., shouldn’t we be able to make a 2,000-hour turbine engine at a reasonable cost today?

From Oshkosh, 2003, a Sikorsky S-39, one of 21 built (1930s) and ripe for a turboprop conversion!

Related:

  • Jetcat, which makes turbojet engines for radio-controlled aircraft. The company is in Germany and the expected hours of operation between overhauls is 25 hours, same as on the Me 262! (though the hobbyists say that the engines can easily run for 100 hours)
  • Jet Central, a Mexican company that makes similar 25-hour turbines for the RC world.
  • Someone who wouldn’t like the reduced reliability goal… “Pilot Sues Airline For Emotional Distress After Mechanical Failure Led To PTSD” (Plane & Pilot): A former QantasLink pilot is suing the regional carrier to the tune of $780,000 for suffering and damages from a case of PTSD she says was caused by a 2018 mechanical failure of one of the Boeing 717’s engines, which resulted in the shutdown of the engine and an emergency landing. … The plane landed without incident, and no one was injured. … She’s the first woman of color to wear a Qantas uniform, and she has received numerous awards for her work in aviation. She said recently, acknowledging the recognition she had earned for her historic place in Australian airline history, that her advice for younger Australians was, “People still stop me to congratulate me at how proud they are to see female pilot, let alone one of colour. My response is the same ‘Action Inspires Action’—you can achieve your dreams, too. Be the best possible human you can be.”
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