The issue is “near the nose on certain 787 Dreamliners in the company’s inventory of undelivered airplanes,” The FAA said. The problem was discovered during an inspection of Boeing’s 787 manufacturing, the administration said.
“Although the issue poses no immediate threat to flight safety, Boeing has committed to fix these airplanes before resuming deliveries,” the FAA added.
The air regulators said it “will determine whether similar modifications should be made on 787s already in commercial service” after a review of data.
Boeing declined to comment to Reuters. The airplane firm has around 100 undelivered 787s in inventory.
Boeing suspended deliveries of the 787 in May after the FAA raised concerns about its proposed inspection method. The administration said it was “waiting for additional data from Boeing before determining whether the company’s solution meets safety regulations.”
In September, the FAA said it was investigating manufacturing flaws involving some 787 Dreamliners. Boeing said in August airlines operating its 787 Dreamliners removed eight jets from service because of two separate manufacturing issues.
When consumers turned to Amazon to buy more goods during the pandemic, Amazon turned to aircraft storage facilities in the desert to buy more cargo planes.
The rise of pandemic online shopping and e-commerce caused a cargo industry boom in the past year. While passenger airlines found themselves with too many airplanes, cargo airlines had too little and went shopping for planes being stored in the American Southwest.
“80% of all the stored aircraft worldwide are stored basically in the Southwest,” Scott Butler, chief commercial officer for Marana, Arizona-based Ascent Aviation Services, told Insider. Ascent is responsible for storing most of the aircraft at Pinal Air Park in Marana on behalf of airlines and aircraft leasing companies.
They’ve also been veritable shopping malls for cargo carriers and startup airlines looking to purchase planes on the cheap.
Between 40 and 50 aircraft left Marana bound for cargo airlines since the start of the pandemic, with Boeing’s 737-800 and 767-300ER being the most popular. Aircraft sales didn’t occur straightaway after March as airlines contemplated whether to hold on to the planes until aircraft values recovered from the nosedive they took in the pandemic’s early days.
“[Airlines] didn’t want to sell an aircraft that had multiple years of use left,” Butler said, “but as pandemic dragged on, the need to convert assets into cash became necessary.”
Once purchased, the former passenger jets still need to be converted into freighters, a process that’s only performed in a handful of facilities around the world. And there is a backlog of aircraft waiting to be converted.
Conversions take between 90 and 120 days, depending on the aircraft, and can cost between $13 and $14 million for a Boeing 767-300ER, almost the cost of a second-hand 767 itself. There is a wait, though, and Israel Aerospace Industries’ Yossi Melamed told Insider in February that the firm is booked through 2022.
Some cargo carriers that had planes stored in Marana were quick to get them flying again. Atlas Air was one that reactivated four Boeing 747-400F cargo planes to handle the increase in demand, Air Cargo News reported.
“We had three 747-400s on-site for National Airlines for an extended period of time and when cargo picked up last year, they put them back into service,” Butler said, adding that it wasn’t a cheap endeavor to restore the planes to flying service but the airline likely saw more value in having the planes flying than sitting on the ground.
The modern-day gold rush in the Arizona desert, however, has largely dried up as Marana’s best aircraft have been bought off. But that doesn’t stop airlines from trying.
“I get calls, still, from people looking for cargo aircraft in the desert and they just don’t exist right now,” Butler said. “Anything that has storage capacity, has some good engines on it, and has some time on it left, [cargo operators] are utilizing the aircraft far more than passenger operators were.”
A Boeing 737-200 cargo plane with just two pilots on board made an emergency landing in the ocean off the coast of Honolulu, Hawaii early Friday morning, officials said.
Transair Flight 810 – operated by Rhoades Aviation, Inc – was forced to land in the water at around 2:30 a.m. local time, the Federal Aviation Administration confirmed in a statement to Insider, after having trouble with both of its engines.
The emergency landing took place two miles from Kalaeloa Airport.
“The pilots had reported engine trouble and were attempting to return to Honolulu when they were forced to land the aircraft in the water,” the FAA said.
Both pilots have been rescued by the US Coast Guard.
“The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate,” the agency added.
Air traffic control had cleared the Boeing 737-200, operating as”Rhodes Express 810,” for takeoff from Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport on Runway 8R minutes before the incident occurred. Flightradar 24 data then shows the aircraft making an immediate right turn from the runway, climbing to an altitude of 2,000 feet.
Confusion ensued as air traffic control appeared to miss multiple calls from the aircraft attempting to declare an emergency after experiencing engine issues, according to air traffic control recordings reviewed by Insider.
“Rhodes 810, radio check, how do you read?” pilots asked Honolulu Tower after not hearing a response to their emergency call. Air traffic control had also been communicating and servicing other aircraft throughout the emergency, the recordings show.
Another Rhodes Aviation aircraft sharing a similar callsign was on approach to land, further complicating the airwaves. Pilots didn’t immediately return to the airport and kept flying away from Honolulu, stating that they needed to “run a checklist” and would stay around 15 miles from the airport.
“When you get a chance, can I get a nature of the emergency, I know you said an engine out, – which one? – how many souls on board and fuel?” air traffic control asked the aircraft as part of standard protocol.
But by the time the aircraft requested to head back to Honolulu airport, they had lost sight of the airport and needed air traffic control to provide vectors. Pilots anticipated losing both engines after the operating engine showed signs of overheating, which would’ve decimated the aircraft’s ability to maintain viable altitude and speed to land safely at Honolulu or any airport if too far from shore.
“Proceed direct to the airport and you are cleared to land any runway,” air traffic advised.
“Will you let the Coast Guard know, we can’t maintain altitude,” one pilot told air traffic control.
“Rhodes Express 810, the Coast Guard is on their way,” air traffic control said and then suggested a diversion to nearby Kalaeloa Airport, only three miles away. Pilots turned the aircraft in a likely attempted to land at Kalaeloa Airport but couldn’t maintain altitude and was forced to land in the water.
The entire flight, from takeoff to the emergency water landing, lasted less than 15 minutes.
The Boeing 737-200 involved was 46 years old and had started its life flying for Pacific Western Airlines in Canada, according to Planespotters.net. After numerous stints in Canada and Malaysia, it found its way to Hawaii flying for Transair in July 2014.
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Workhorse, the Loveland, Ohio-based electric-vehicle maker, has become a retail favorite among other auto manufacturers, like Lordstown Motors and Canoo.
Shares of the plane-maker have rallied more than 12% so far this year.
Inside the new aircraft will also be a brand-new entertainment suite for passengers with seat-back screens at every seat. More than 2,800 selections of movies, television shows, music, podcasts, and games will be available through the seat-back systems in a 180-degree reversal from United’s previous strategy of relegating entertainment to mobile devices via streaming.
United’s first class seats will see 13-inch high-definition screens while economy seats will have 10-inch screens. In-seat power will also be offered through USB charging ports under the screens and standard power outlets under the seat.
Mood lighting will be standard on the aircraft for a futuristic look that creates an ambience to match the time of day. Flyers also won’t have to stress about finding a home for their carry-on bags as larger overhead bins will be installed that United CEO Scott Kirby says will be able to fit “100%” of bags.
A total of 178 new aircraft with the new interiors will be added to United’s fleet by the end of 2023. Existing aircraft will also be upgraded to the new standard through 2025 with the majority of United’s fleet being upgraded by the end of 2023.
Regional aircraft including the Embraer E175 or Bombardier CRJ550 fleet will not see the interior upgrades but United is planning to use more “‘mainline” Boeing and Airbus aircraft on North American routes that will have the entertainment upgrades.
United’s plan will better position the carrier to compete with Delta and will give the airline a leg up on American. Delta is the only airline among the “big three” US international carriers to offer seat-back screens on the majority of its Boeing and Airbus single-aisle aircraft, with the exception of the Boeing 717.
“United, with today’s announcement, is certainly eroding some of the product features that Delta has such as in-seat entertainment,” Henry Harteveldt, travel analyst and cofounder of Atmosphere Research Group, told Insider, noting that Delta had similarly retrofitted most of its aging narrow-body Airbus and Boeing aircraft with new interiors that include television screens.
United will also quickly surpass American Airlines in the in-flight entertainment realm by offering seat-back screens. American shares United’s former thinking that streaming entertainment is the way forward and does not include seat-back screens on many of its domestic narrow-body aircraft.
Beyond in-flight entertainment and power, United will also offer more flights on aircraft equipped with first class and extra-legroom “EconomyPlus” seats, to the tune of 75% more premium seats per departure compared to present levels.
At least 200 of United’s 50-seat aircraft will also be retired and replaced with larger jets with more premium seating. The move follows an industry trend of retiring the smallest regional aircraft that don’t feature first class cabins.
“United was very clear that it is going to compete not necessarily by having the most first-class seats on a domestic narrow-body aircraft, but certainly they’re going to compete with having what appears to be more extra-legroom seats on their planes,” Harteveldt said. “And that I think could be a very, very successful strategy.”
Boeing just put another milestone between it and the grounding of its 737 Max.
The first 737 Max 10 successfully took to the skies on June 18 for its maiden aerial journey.
The Max 10 is the fourth and largest Max variant to take flight but the first new model since the Federal Aviation Administration ungrounded the aircraft family in November.
Boeing test pilots flew the plane, still designated as “experimental” until its official certification, from the manufacturer’s 737 production plant at Renton Municipal Airport near Seattle to nearby Boeing Field.
Though the straight line distance between the two airports is five miles, the test flight took the long way around Washington and even performed a touch-and-go landing at Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake, Washington.
Take a closer look at the Boeing 737 Max 10.
Boeing is entering a new realm with the Max as it’s not only the largest Boeing 737 Max but the largest Boeing 737 family member to be built by Boeing since the product line’s inception in 1964.
Until now, each 737 Max aircraft has had a previous generation counterpart. The Boeing 737 Max 8 has the 737-800, the 737 Max 9 the 737-900, and the 737 Max 7 the 737-700.
But the Max 10 is in a league of its own as there’s no Next Generation equivalent. It’s closer in size to the Boeing 757-200 with a difference in length of only 10 feet and four inches.
In terms of length, Boeing’s latest jet comes in at 143 feet and eight inches, enough to seat up to 204 passengers in a two-class configuration and 230 in a single-class configuration. Its size does come with tradeoffs, however, most notably in range.
The Max 10 can fly up to 3,300 nautical miles when equipped with an auxiliary fuel tank, making city pairs such as New York-Dublin, Ireland; London, UK-Dubai, UAE, and Hong Kong-Perth, Australia feasible under the right conditions.
The smallest Max 7, for comparison, can fly a greater range of 3,850 nautical miles.
The Max 10, as the largest variant, competes against Airbus’ A321neo aircraft. Airbus already has a head start on Boeing as it began delivering the A321neo in 2017. And so far, it has a flawless track record.
On July 7, 2017, a routine Air Canada flight from Toronto to San Francisco nearly ended in disaster when the Airbus A320 almost landed on a taxiway instead of a runway.
A total of four aircraft were on the taxiway and thousands of lives were in jeopardy. Many potential incidents still come down to pilot error, despite massive strides in aircraft technology.
Honeywell Aerospace is one of the companies trying to stop such incidents by increasing automation in the cockpit and developing new technology to aid pilots. One such system is “SmartLanding and Smart Runway,” part of Honeywell’s “Runway Awareness and Advisory System,” or RAAS.
The system recognizes which runway, or taxiway, a pilot is aiming for even when the aircraft is miles away from the airport.
After engineers create the program, hours of actual flight time are required to test it in real-world conditions. I rode along on Honeywell’s Boeing 757 flying “testbed” to see the technology in action.
This Boeing 757 is the largest aircraft in Honeywell’s ever-growing fleet of testbed aircraft.
The 38-year-old plane started its life as an airliner flying for Eastern Airlines and found its way to Honeywell in 2005 for a second life.
A variety of Honeywell technology is tested onboard the aircraft that’s contributed to greater levels of safety in the aviation industry. Weather radar, in-flight WiFi, traffic collision and avoidance, ADS-B, and data link systems are just a few of what this aircraft tests.
This plane can also test new aircraft engines. A mount of the side of the fuselage holds the engine while systems inside the plane monitor its performance during flight.
Engines with thrust levels as great as 16,500 pounds can be tested on the aircraft. Each engine manufacturer has its own testbed aircraft for this very purpose.
A safety briefing is conducting before each flight where the pilots and onboard engineers will review the plan for each flight, including what is to be tested and which maneuvers will be performed in the process.
Our flight was going to be testing the Smart Runway and Smart Landing system at two airports in Northern Arizona: Flagstaff Pulliam Airport and Prescott Regional Airport.
The plan was to test the system by making four approaches in total, each intentionally unstable or to an incorrect runway to see how the system would respond.
Also being tested on the aircraft was Honeywell’s single-antenna radar altimeter, a simplified radar antenna system meant to improve accuracy and reduce costs for airlines and aircraft operators.
Stepping onto the plane, I quickly realized that this was unlike any Boeing 757, or any passenger airliner, that I’ve ever been on. Most of the passenger seats had been ripped out and many of the aircraft’s panels removed.
Massive computer testing stations replaced the passenger seats in order to collect data and monitor the onboard systems being tested.
A light crew of only three engineers was on board for this test run.
Captaining the aircraft was Joe Duval, Honeywell’s chief test pilot, an industry veteran with thousands of hours in the cockpit.
We departed Phoenix and headed north towards Flagstaff. Just off the left-hand side of the aircraft were the red rocks of Sedona, Arizona.
Flagstaff airport soon came into view and Duval planned his approach. The Honeywell flight team has a saying that they have to get really good and bad landings to test these kinds of systems.
“Approaching 03,” the system informed Duval a few miles from the runway’s threshold. This simple warning alone could’ve prevented the Air Canada incident before it even became an incident.
Duval continued approaching the runway with a higher than normal rate of speed. “Too fast, too fast,” the system warned as Duval neared the runway.
Once it became clear there was no way to land safely, the message “unstable, unstable” came from the system. A pilot, at that point, would know to abandon the approach or risk damage to the aircraft.
Duval increased the thrust and discontinued the approach, performing a “go-around” maneuver.
The second approach simulated landing at a high speed with no flaps. We approached the runway again but this time, the system warned “flaps, flaps!” in tandem with a message on the primary flight display.
Duval continued the approach, however, to continue to test the system. Once more, the system gave its final “unstable, unstable” and Duval performed the go-around maneuvers.
For the final approach into Flagstaff, Duval performed the approach at a higher altitude than normal.
This time, the system warned “too high, too high,” and a message flashed on the primary flight display. Being too high on the approach could mean landing further down on the runway and possibly overshooting it.
Duval once more abandoned the approach and performing a go-around.
Next on the list was Prescott, where Duval would simulate landing on a runway too short for his Boeing 757.
Approaching Runway 21R, it was immediately clear to all that the Boeing 757 could not handle the runway. But pilots can get confused at nighttime or in bad weather conditions.
Knowing that the runway was shorter than normal, the system informed Duval that the amount of runway available was only 4,846 feet long.
“Caution, short runway, short runway!” the system blared as Duval intentionally lined up for Runway 21R.
Soon after, “too fast, too fast” and “unstable, unstable” warnings blared and Duval once more increased the throttle for a go-around.
If he’d actually set it down on the runway, it’s questionable whether the aircraft would have been able to stop before reaching the other end. This Boeing 757 definitely would not have been able to take off from the runway in the event of an accidental landing.
A similar incident occurred in 2013 when a Boeing 747-400LCF Dreamlifter accidentally landed at Colonel James Jabara Airport in Wichita, Kansas instead of McConnell Air Force Base.
And while Duval was having fun in the cockpit, engineers in the back were collecting data on the Smart Landing and Smart Runway system, as well as the single radar altimeter system.
Back on the ground in Phoenix, Honeywell maintains a veritable airline full of test aircraft.
The newest arrival is a Gulfstream G550 painted in Honeywell’s red-and-white livery. Honeywell and Gulfstream frequently team up for innovative cockpit designs, including the Symmetry cockpit powered by Honeywell’s Primus Epic avionics.
Other aircraft include an Embraer E175…
Beechcraft King Air 200…
And Falcon 900EX, to name a few.
They’ll all test the next-generation of aircraft technology but the Boeing 757 is the only aircraft large enough to test engines.
Travel is surging in the US and airlines are once again faced with shortages, but it’s more than just pilots this time.
Many US carriers shed older aircraft from their fleets in a cash-saving effort during the worst times of the pandemic. At the time, vaccines a distant dream and travel demand wasn’t expected to rebound for years.
“The airlines were being forced to make very complex decisions under enormous pressure,” Henry Harteveldt, travel industry analyst and cofounder of Atmosphere Research Group, told Insider. “Key among them is: How do you bring your costs down to survive an approximately 96% decline in demand?”
“We don’t feel like we have enough airplanes for 2022 and 2023, and that’s just doing what you know us to be famous for,” Gary Kelly, Southwest’s chief executive officer, CNBC, referring to its current business of mostly domestic flying.
Now that demand is ramping up, airlines might find themselves without enough planes to keep up and Southwest isn’t the only airline that shed planes during the pandemic. Delta Air Lines similarly parted with three fleet types including the McDonnell-Douglas MD-80/MD-90, Boeing 737-700, and Boeing 777-200 series of aircraft.
Those aircraft now sit in storage facilities and bringing them back into service would be too great of an expense for airlines, according to Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis for Teal Group. New builds from manufacturers, including the Boeing 737 Max and Airbus A220, are preferable but come at a slower rate.
The aircraft shortage is also compounded by the age-old pilot shortage, with not even pilots to fly the ambitious schedules that airlines have set. American Airlines saw the impacts of over-scheduling in mid-June when hundreds of flights were canceled in a single weekend thanks to a combination of labor shortages and severe weather.
“The pilot shortage that loomed over the industry in 2019 may have abated slightly, but it hasn’t gone away,” Harteveldt said.
Airlines moved to shed staff last year, including pilots and flight attendants, through buyouts and voluntary separation programs in a bid to lower costs. But just like with aircraft, some may have parted ways with too many now that demand is rebounding.
“Perhaps they had lost more pilots and flight attendants than they otherwise would have wanted and as a result, that may have reduced their ability to scale up their flying as demand returned,” Harteveldt said.
Shortages stemming from massive staff reductions also could’ve been avoided since airlines were the recipients of three rounds of federal stimulus money.
“I think that the airlines would probably admit – privately if not on the record – that perhaps they should have been less aggressive in encouraging employees to the pilots and flight attendants to take buyouts and leave the company when the government was going to cover 70% of those employees’ wages,” Harteveldt said.
Airline schedules are now highly unreliable and travelers booking flights should be prepared for unexpected changes or cancellations. Changes to airline schedules can occur anytime and travelers should frequently be checking their bookings to see if changes have occurred.
Boeing Co. is behind schedule on two new Air Force One aircraft, which could mean the upgraded VC-25B planes will not be delivered until 2025, according to service officials.
Testifying before the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, Darlene Costello, principal deputy assistant secretary for Air Force acquisition, technology and logistics, revealed that the service is reviewing the aerospace and defense company’s request to delay the delivery by at least a year.
The aircraft were originally scheduled for delivery at the end of 2024.
Boeing has told the service it needs to tack on an additional 12 months “beyond their original schedule,” Costello told lawmakers, adding that the service must agree to the new terms.
“As soon as we get the updated schedule, we’ll determine if we have to adjust our baseline or schedule,” Costello said.
To make up for unforeseen costs related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Boeing said it may ask the service to pay more for the planes. The original $3.9 billion deal for the modified 747-8 airliners was set in 2018. The company has not asked for additional funding yet, Costello said; a dollar amount was not disclosed.
Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Connecticut, expressed concern that the delivery delay might also create unforeseen costs to keep the current VC-25A aircraft – introduced in 1990 – flying longer.
“We may need to put in one more maintenance cycle for that aircraft, depending on the timing,” Costello replied.
Lt. Gen. Duke Richardson, the Air Force military deputy for acquisition, earlier this year acknowledged that the new Air Force One aircraft would be late because of a dispute with one of the suppliers remaking the aircraft’s interior.
“Boeing is working hard. They’ve got another supplier identified, [and] we’re going to transfer as much of the work on the interiors as possible,” Richardson said during the annual McAleese conference in May.
Boeing in April canceled its contract with GDC Technics, a Texas-based company, to redesign the state-of-the-art “flying White House,” stating that GDC failed to “meet contractual obligations” regarding work deadlines.
The subcontractor then filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and claimed Boeing was responsible for the program’s mismanagement, according to court documents filed in San Antonio and reported by The Wall Street Journal.
Boeing estimates GDC’s delays and problems related to the pandemic cost it $318 million in building the VC-25Bs, the company said in an earnings call in April.
Boeing began modifying the aircraft last year. The planes were originally ordered for the Russian airline company Transaero in 2013, DefenseOne reported in 2017. The company never delivered the jets to the now-defunct airline and instead put them in storage.
The Air Force One news comes after the service shelved plans to replace another high-profile executive aircraft: its small fleet of C-32s, or enhanced Boeing 757s, typically used to transport VIPs such as the vice president.
While the C-32 will remain in the fleet, the Air Force will not pursue investment in the airframe beyond already planned modifications, according to the service’s fiscal 2022 budget request. DefenseOne was first to note the service put off purchasing another Air Force Two aircraft.
Instead, remaining funding for the C-32 program was recently “applied to the evaluation and maturation of advanced high speed transport scale aircraft,” the budget request states.
The Pentagon last year awarded three companies contracts to begin prototyping a supersonic aircraft that could someday carry the president and other officials around the world in half the time. But until then, the C-32 – flying since 1998 – will press on, officials have said.
Former President Donald Trump announced in a press release Friday that he’s fixing his private plane ahead of future rallies.
“Many people have asked about the beautiful Boeing 757 that became so iconic during the Trump rallies,” Trump said. “It is now being fully restored and updated and will be put back into service sometime prior to the end of the year.”
CNN previously reported that one of the plane’s pricey Rolls Royce RB211 Turbofan engines was broken and had been removed from the plane awaiting repairs, which could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Trump said the plane will soon be brought to a service facility in Louisiana for inspection and repairs, including updated Rolls-Royce engines, as well as a new paint job.
“When completed, it will be better than ever, and again used at upcoming rallies!” Trump said in the statement.
Trump frequently used the plane a prop for rallies during his 2016 presidential campaign.
During his presidency, Trump traveled on Air Force One.