Briefing: September 2022



The Air Line Pilots Association says there is no pilot shortage, but instead is just a shortage of talent in the executive suites of the airlines. The union is particularly focused on upending Republic Airways’ attempt to gain an exemption to the 1500-hour experience minimum for new airline pilots for graduates of its in-house training program. Republic wants its students to get the same consideration as military pilots, who only need 750 hours to become first officers. ALPA also claims the pilot training pipeline is robust and pumping out more ATPs than ever. “So, although we don’t have a pilot shortage, we do have a shortage of airline executives willing to stand by their business decisions to cut air service and be upfront about their intentions to skirt safety rules and hire inexperienced workers for less pay,” the union said.


Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury says he thinks hydrogen will ultimately power commercial aviation out of the carbon-creation business. He told the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung that in the meantime sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) will help ease aviation’s climate impact. “SAF is the short-term solution, and for long-haul flights probably the long-term one, and it’s compatible with today’s aircraft technology,” he said. “But I also believe that hydrogen is the long-term solution to our net-zero goal and that we need to start now.” He said it will take 30 years before hydrogen starts making a dent in carbon emissions and that Airbus’s first hydrogen airplane will likely be a regional jet.


The Air Force has contracted a Boston tech start-up to create a semi-autonomous C-130J Super Hercules. Merlin Labs has created a system to convert existing aircraft into aircraft that fly themselves but have a pilot onboard in case something they didn’t think of comes up. The autopilot will already do most of the flying in modern aircraft but the Merlin system has artificial intelligence that allows it to have voice communication with controllers. One of the main jobs of the monitoring pilot will be to step in if a fast-talking controller flummoxes the AI.


One of the most highly respected pilots on the airshow circuit died in a crash in Idaho last summer because he didn’t remove the control lock before taking off. Dale “Snort” Snodgrass, who flew a variety of warbirds at airshows across the country, was killed at Lewiston Airport when his SIAI-Marchetti SM-1019B, a turboprop version of the Cessna 305A/0-1 Bird Dog, pitched up sharply, stalled, and rolled before hitting the ground. Snodgrass had only about 20 hours in the airplane but was well known for his thorough preparation and attention to flight safety details and the NTSB said in its final report that “…omission of the preflight control check was uncharacteristic given his extensive flight experience, and the reason it was not performed could not be determined.”


The Air Force wants to scrap almost 20 percent of its F-22s but Congress seems poised to block the measure. The Air Force says the 33 Raptors are early models and used mostly for training and other non-combat roles. It says they cost a lot to maintain and it would rather spend the money on new F-35s. They would also be cannibalized for parts to keep the rest of the frontline fighters flying. The House Armed Services Committee isn’t keen on the idea. Instead it wants to spend $1.8 billion to upgrade the 33 jets to the same standard as the rest of the fleet.


American Airlines has paid to reserve manufacturing slots for 50 Vertical four-passenger eVTOLs … The FBI targets wildfire drone violators … Van’s unveils new RV-15 high wing … The FAA is mandating fuel efficiency for new aircraft … Turkey is temporarily banning its airline pilots from working in other countries … President Biden has nominated Phillip Washington as new FAA Administrator … Signature has acquired TAC Air … See for breaking news in general aviation.


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