Don Hudson

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  1. Maybe its data on how many have read Adams' fine work!
  2. Hi vrefplus5, perhaps did you mean "NAT Tracks"? Either way; I thought it is interesting that the FlightRadar24 screen encompasses only 69 aircraft on the NAT Tracks at 0500Z, (top left blue-outlined box), which would be about 2hrs out for the earliest arrivals and perhaps 5hrs out for those further west. Normally such an image would show five times or more aircraft on the Tracks at that time.
  3. The other side of "grounded"...North Atlantic traffic, March 26, 2020, 0501Z...
  4. From AW&ST https://aviationweek.com/defense-space/supply-chain/nearly-50-years-apart-lockheed-bailout-resonates-during-boeing- Nearly 50 Years Apart, Lockheed Bailout Resonates During Boeing Crisis SHARE Steve Trimble March 24, 2020 C-5A Credit: U.S. Air Force An unexpected problem plunges a promising new airliner program into crisis mode, potentially dragging the world’s largest aerospace company down along with it. Billions of losses, meanwhile, pile up on another new aircraft created for the U.S. Air Force’s mobility fleet, thanks to the company’s risky strategy to bid low on a fixed-price development contract. In desperation, the firm’s executives come begging to Congress for a controversial loan guarantee, as whisperers on Wall Street wonder whether the company can survive. The company: Lockheed. The year: 1971. Over a century ago, Mark Twain observed that history doesn’t repeat, but it does rhyme. Many details divide the troubled stories of the L-1011, C-5A and Lockheed from over 49 years ago and today’s headlines about the 737 MAX, KC-46 and Boeing. With the request by Boeing for loan guarantees, the two sagas now uniquely converge. Last week, Boeing sought Congressional support for $60 billion in loan guarantees as a bailout for itself and its suppliers. Likewise, in 1971, a cash-strapped Lockheed pleaded to Congress to approve $250 million ($1.6 billion today) in loan guarantees. The main difference dividing the stories, of course, is a global health scare. The COVID-19 pandemic spread by the novel coronavirus has collapsed demand for air travel, jolting a formerly healthy airline industry into a sudden economic crisis. As airlines park fleets, the economic crisis expands to formerly thriving production lines of new aircraft, threatening manufacturers of commercial aircraft, engines and other subsystems. The COVID-19 crisis adds to mounting financial pressures on Boeing. The year-long grounding of the 737 MAX fleet to fix fatal design flaws added nearly $20 billion in unexpected costs. That comes on top of a four-year series of financial charges totaling nearly $4 billion related to errors and delays on the KC-46, a tanker aircraft designed and produced under fixed-price contracts awarded by the Air Force since 2011. Similar, self-inflicted errors 50 years ago had weakened Lockheed’s financial position, leading up to its bailout request. On Jan. 7, 1971, Aerospace DAILY described the company’s grim situation. Lockheed had underbid Boeing and Douglas in 1965 to claim a fixed-price, $1.9 billion contract from the Air Force to develop and produce the entire C-5A fleet. The terms of the contract shifted all of the financial risk to the contractor, and the C-5A proved significantly costlier than anticipated by Lockheed’s winning price. By early 1971, Lockheed faced a $1.8 billion cost overrun on the C-5A program, Aerospace DAILY reported. Adjusted for inflation, the equivalent amount today is $11.5 billion. Senior defense officials decided to intervene to spare Lockheed from insolvency and preserve the C-5A production line for the Air Force. Deputy Defense Secretary David Packard proposed to have the Pentagon cover Lockheed’s entire $1.8 billion cost overrun on the C-5A, with Lockheed required to repay only $200 million in installments. The agreement was finalized on Feb. 1, Aerospace DAILY reported the following day. Another financial crisis, however, was already brewing for Lockheed as the ink dried on the Pentagon agreement, and this time their top military customer would be powerless to help. On Feb. 4, 1971, Lockheed CEO Dan Haughton arrived in London. He was joined on the trip by Clarence “Kelly” Johnson, the founder of Lockheed’s already legendary Skunk Works. They had come to the UK for a scheduled quarterly update by Rolls-Royce, the engine supplier for the Lockheed L-1011 TriStar. Such routine progress reports seldom required the attendance of Lockheed’s top executives, but Haughton knew Rolls-Royce was in trouble. Three months earlier, Rolls-Royce reported serious technical problems with the development of the RB.211-22 engine for the L-1011. The financial cost to resolve the problems pushed Rolls-Royce to the brink of insolvency, but the UK government had agreed in November on a financial bailout, with £42 million advanced directly to the engine manufacturer and £18 million provided from a syndicate of 24 banks, Aerospace DAILY reported. In Feb. 1971, Lockheed’s UK-based liaison with Rolls-Royce was Alan Brown, who would later manage development of the F-117. In an oral history interview recorded in 2010 by the Huntington Library, Brown recalled the moment when he, Haughton and Johnson settled into a Rolls-Royce conference room in Derby. A Rolls-Royce engineer started delivering a routine update on the redesign of a turbine blade. Then, precisely as the clock struck 10 a.m., a man in a dark blue suit entered the conference room. “As of this moment Rolls-Royce is calling in the receivers,” the unidentified man announced to the room. “Our Lockheed people, Dan Haughton and Kelly [Johnson] and Willis Hawkins, turned around and looked at us with that, ‘Why the hell didn’t you know?’ expression on their faces. Because that was a part of our job—to know what was going on [at Rolls-Royce]—and we hadn’t a clue,” Brown recalled nearly 40 years later. The alarmed reaction by Lockheed’s senior executives was sensible. If the engine supplier for the L-1011 was bankrupt, the contract for the RB.211-22 engine would be nullified. Lockheed released a statement the following day: “We are now carefully studying the statement of the Rolls company which would repudiate the Rolls contract with Lockheed and the announcements of the withdrawal of government and outside financial support,” Aerospace DAILY reported on Feb. 5. The L-1011 had flown for the first time on Nov. 16, 1970, but it wasn’t scheduled to be introduced into service until later in 1971. Lockheed couldn’t afford to start over with a new engine supplier. The company already had $652 million tied up in development and production costs for the L-1011. Even receiving the C-5A bailout from the Pentagon, Lockheed’s liabilities still exceeded current assets by $38.5 million in mid-1971, according a 1972 report by the General Accounting Office (now called the Government Accountability Office, or GAO). Needing an emergency supply of cash, the company turned to the financial community. A consortium of U.S. banks considered Lockheed’s loan application, but decided it was too risky without a government backstop. That’s when Congress got involved. In 1971, Lockheed was already the Pentagon’s most significant supplier, with contractual commitments totaling $1.5 billion annually. In addition to the troubled C-5A, Lockheed also was supplying the armed services with C-130, P-3 and S-3A aircraft, plus the Poseidon, Polaris and Trident ballistic missiles. Tens of thousands of employees spread over congressional districts across the country also could lose their jobs. On Aug. 9, 1971, Congress passed the Emergency Loan Guarantee Act, which authorized a newly created Emergency Loan Guarantee Board to backstop up to $250 million in private loans to major businesses. Although the law allowed any large company to apply for loan guarantees, the legislators understood that the authority was created to support Lockheed, which, in fact, became the board’s only applicant. On Sept. 14, 1971, the Board agreed to guarantee up to $250 million in loans for Lockheed, according to the GAO report. As a result, the consortium of banks agreed to expand an existing credit line for Lockheed by that amount. In the end, the bailout proved to be a profitable investment for the government. In addition to preserving the company’s production lines and jobs, the loan guarantees generated $30 million in fees paid by Lockheed to the Treasury over the next six years. In 1977, Aviation Week reported the program had backstopped $245 million in loans to Lockheed, with a $60 million balance remaining. The Lockheed bailout of the 1970s proves a point learned later during the automotive company bailouts of the 2008 financial crisis and Great Recession: government bailouts, when properly designed, can be both lucrative for taxpayers and maintain critical manufacturing capability. Better yet, if you assume the innovations the companies achieved much later—Lockheed’s many leading-edge products today such as hypersonics, or Detroit’s push into electric cars—it is reasonable to draw a line back to the bailouts. The key, of course, is making sure the bailouts are properly applied—somehow, the bailout must be tied to the companies moving forward, not just paying off over-due bills. If Washington can again strike this balance with Boeing, another round of loan guarantees for the world’s largest aerospace company could be worth it. Steve Trimble Steve covers military aviation, missiles and space for the Aviation Week Network, based in Washington DC.
  5. For those directly affected by these very difficult decisions as well as those now looking over their shoulder... Having seen a bit of this in a previous life, this too, shall eventually pass to become a distant memory. Keep hope strong, keep optimism alive and most of all keep in "touch" with one another using the usual electronic means. Don
  6. Opinion: Rethinking ‘Shareholders First' Kevin Michaels March 11, 2020 Credit: Adrian825/iStock The recent passing of former GE CEO Jack Welch may represent more than the loss of the icon named Manager of the Century by Fortune magazine in 1999. It may also symbolize the passing of an era in capitalism—“shareholders first”—that Welch did so much to promulgate. What does this have to do with today’s aerospace industry? Plenty, as it turns out. Before the “shareholders first” mantra took hold in the 1990s, publicly traded companies considered four stakeholders in allocating capital: customers, local communities, employees and suppliers, and shareholders. Before Welch took over in 1981, GE publicly stated it valued workers and research labs before shareholders. After 20 nears of relentless focus on productivity, cost-cutting and shedding more than 100,000 jobs, GE’s market capitalization skyrocketed from $12 billion to an astounding $410 billion. Much of this profit growth was driven by financial services rather than traditional manufacturing. Encouraged by the late economist Milton Friedman and success stories such as GE, aerospace executives began to adopt “shareholders first” in the 1990s. McDonnell Douglas famously embraced this philosophy and focused on quarterly earnings while refusing to invest in new civil aircraft. Its CEO, Harry Stonecipher, eventually took the leadership helm at Boeing. Responding to the perception that he was only interested in making money, he responded, “You’re right, I am.” Employees were the first casualty, with unions weakened and raises curtailed. For example, until recently, Honeywell International imposed mandatory unpaid leave on its employees—while it was making 20% margins. As employees lost pace, so did local communities. In the early 2000s, the number of employees in low-wage countries became a key performance indicator. New aerospace clusters in places such as China, Eastern Europe and Mexico followed suit. The blind push to leverage labor-arbitrage has ebbed in recent years, but the compact of secure employment was violated, and employee morale suffered. A decade later, suppliers became the target of OEM supply chain cost-reduction initiatives with double-digit price reduction demands, longer payment terms, aftermarket royalty payments and other concessions. Market capitalization shifted from suppliers to the OEMs, while the lower tiers of the supply chain were bled of working capital. Today, many subtier suppliers are fragile, and their ability to invest in the future—let alone ride out a crisis like the 737 MAX production shutdown—is diminished compared to a decade ago. What about customers? On the one hand, brutal competition between Airbus and Boeing held jetliner prices relatively flat over the past 15 years. On the other hand, customer satisfaction in the aftermarket and customer support is suffering. In last year’s AeroDynamic Advisory/Aviation Week Network customer satisfaction survey, just one out of 41 OEMs received a positive net promoter score from airlines. The manifestation of the “shareholders first” philosophy is very negative for a long-cycle industry like aerospace, which faces enormous challenges—including sustainable development—that will require large sums of R&D. Boeing, for example, spent an average of $12.8 billion in share buybacks and dividends in 2018 and 2019, while averaging just $2.2 billion in R&D. This is not just a Boeing problem; it is a corporate America problem. In 2018, share buybacks and dividends for the S&P 500 were an astounding 109% of net income, according to The Wall Street Journal. This disparity points to another issue: Companies are taking on debt to fund shareholder generosity. This is not sustainable in the long run and leaves no capital to invest in customers, suppliers, employees or local communities. Contrast this behavior with OEM customer Delta Air Lines, which earned $6.5 billion in 2019. It shared $1.6 billion (16.7%) of that with employees—a record amount for a U.S. company. This translates into improved employee morale and in turn improved customer satisfaction, higher yields and growing market share. Don’t get me wrong. I am a pro-business, free-trade capitalist who depends on increasing stock prices to fund his retirement. Making money and rewarding shareholders is a good thing. However, our long-cycle, innovation-driven industry is clearly out of balance. “Shareholders first” needs to be replaced by a more balanced version of capitalism if the aerospace industry is to thrive in the long run. The change must originate not only from aerospace leaders, including the new CEOs of Airbus and Boeing, but also from the boards that evaluate them and set priorities. Kevin Michaels Contributing columnist Kevin Michaels is managing director of AeroDynamic Advisory in Ann Arbor, Michigan. https://aviationweek.com/aerospace/manufacturing-supply-chain/opinion-rethinking-shareholders-first?utm_rid=CPEN1000001138147&utm_campaign=23435&utm_medium=email&elq2=c981a8c0a5bd4022b553a6d2c7d7c94a
  7. Strong...certainly appears so, but I thought only taildraggers did that...
  8. Further, from the Miami Herald: Top Atlas Air flight training directors retire as government crash investigation looms By Taylor Dolven February 22, 2020 06:30 AM Read more here: https://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/tourism-cruises/article240510511.html#storylink=cpy Nearly one year after Miami International Airport’s largest cargo airline Atlas Air crashed a plane killing three pilots, two top directors of the company’s training program in Miami suddenly retired this week. Fleet captain Joe Diedrich and training director Scott Anderson abruptly left the company Tuesday. An internal email titled “Miami Training Center: Organizational Update” from senior vice president Jeff Carlson announced their departures as retirements. The shakeup comes as the National Transportation Safety Board’s final report about the fatal Feb. 23, 2019, crash is pending and the company reported a deep earnings loss for 2019. The Atlas Air Flight 3591 crash happened as Diedrich was head of the Boeing 767 training program and Anderson was overseeing procedures, training and standards for the entire airline. After departing Miami, the plane full of Amazon shipments suddenly increased in power and pitched upward about 40 miles outside Houston, likely in reaction to an activation of the go-around switches. Thirty seconds later, the plane nosedived 6,000 feet down into Trinity Bay, killing three people: captain Ricky Blakely, 60, of Indiana; first officer Conrad Jules Aska, 44, of Miami; and Mesa Air pilot Sean Archuleta, 36, of Texas, who was riding as a passenger on the flight. Government crash investigators released a trove of documents in December showing that Blakely failed his proficiency test on the Boeing 767 in 2015 and was placed in a monitoring program “as a result of [his] repetitive need for additional training.” Blakely was removed from the monitoring program in February 2017. The documents also show that Atlas hired Aska despite his repeated training failures at other airlines. “If I had that information at the time we would not have offered him a position,” Anderson told investigators about Aska. At the time of the crash, Blakely had worked for Atlas since September 2015 and had 11,000 hours of flying time, 1,250 hours on the 767. Aska had worked for Atlas since July 2017 and had 5,000 hours of flying time, 520 hours on the 767. Atlas Air did not respond to requests for comment about the training directors’ retirements. A Miami Herald investigation found that pilots for Atlas Air repeatedly warned company executives in the years leading up to the 2019 crash that if they did not bolster the training program and hire pilots with more experience, a plane was going to crash. At a meeting with executives in Miami in 2017, a pilot who had been with the company for two decades described an “erosion of level of experience in the cockpit.” The training headquarters for MIA’s largest cargo airline Atlas Air is near the airport. At a meeting here in 2017, a pilot warned executives that unless they recruited more experienced pilots, a plane crash was imminent. Carl Juste cjuste@miamiherald.com Carlson, the senior vice president for flight operations, agreed with the captain’s assessment. “I worry about quotas on the flight deck,” he said, according to the recording obtained by the Miami Herald. “I’m not oblivious to any of that. ... We know experience level decreases over time. That’s a challenge for this group. ... Regardless of the experience, the bar never changes. And I just want to make sure that sticks in the back of your mind.” Since the crash, former CEO of the company William Flynn stepped down, and chief operating officer John Dietrich ascended to the role in January. On Wednesday, one day after the training directors’ departures, Dietrich announced a $293.1 million net loss for Atlas Air in 2019 and said the company has taken five of its Boeing 747 planes out of service due to a “softer market.” In 2018, the company reported a profit of $270.6 million. Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, formed in 2001, is the parent company of four cargo airlines — Atlas Air, Polar Air, Southern Air and Titan Aviation Leasing. Since 2010, the company’s fleet has grown from 29 planes to 123, boosted by contracts with Amazon and the U.S. Department of Defense. In its interim report on the crash released in December, the NTSB found that total average flying time for new hires at Atlas Air and Southern Air dropped to around 5,600 hours in 2018, compared to 7,303 hours in 2015. Two-thirds of pilots have been with the company for less than five years. The FAA requires that new hires have at least 1,500 hours.
  9. https://www.seattletimes.com/business/boeing-fixing-new-software-bug-on-737-maxkey-test-flight-nears/ Delays in 737 MAX certification flight may push off Boeing’s goal to win approval by midsummer Feb. 21, 2020 at 5:13 pm Updated Feb. 21, 2020 at 8:26 pm By Dominic Gates Seattle Times aerospace reporter The critical flights on the updated Boeing 737 MAX that must be flown by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) pilots before the plane can be certified again are now unlikely to happen before late April, according to two people familiar with the details. The delay of more than a month from recent plans means that Boeing’s publicly announced goal of winning FAA approval to fly the plane again by “midsummer,” previously considered a very conservative schedule, now looks tight and could slip further. One person with close knowledge of the required steps said that after the certification flight, assuming all goes well, it could take up to a further 60 days for regulators to complete the remaining steps in the process, which would push out the ungrounding of the aircraft to late June at the earliest. A person who is familiar with Boeing’s internal efforts, however, expressed hope that the jetmaker can still meet its target schedule: “I think we’re still within the midyear ungrounding estimate. So middle/late summer,” said the second person. He added that the midsummer target had “a lot of margin built in to deal with emergent issues” like those that have recently arisen. Still, it was just over two weeks ago that FAA Administrator Steve Dickson told reporters in London that a MAX certification flight could occur “in the next few weeks.” Since then, that schedule has clearly slipped considerably. Software and wiring fixes pending Before a certification flight can happen, Boeing must have at least one MAX aircraft ready with all the final fixes and software updates installed. Among the issues to be resolved first are a faulty cockpit indicator light and a decision on whether Boeing must rewire some of the flight control wiring bundles to comply with safety regulations. During flight tests of the upgraded MAX flight control system this year, an indicator light erroneously came on in the cockpit indicating that the horizontal tail of the jet — the stabilizer that controls the aircraft’s nose-up or nose-down pitch — was “out of trim,” meaning out of position to maintain the pitch the pilot has commanded. Boeing initially dismissed this as merely a nuisance light that would require a simple software patch and wouldn’t cause a delay. However, engineers have now established that the problem is trickier to fix than first thought. It stems from a small disagreement between the angles of the two parts of the stabilizer on either side of the tail. Unlike in the original MAX system design, the upgraded MAX now uses both of the plane’s two flight computers to compare data from the two sides of the airplane. The computers note the discrepancy between the angles and the software logic triggers the light. Collins Aerospace, a unit of United Technologies headquartered in West Palm Beach, Florida, makes the flight control software to Boeing’s specifications. Boeing has tasked Collins with fixing the software, but it’s turning out to be more work than is suggested by the term “patch.” “We feel good about the software fix to correct it,” said the person familiar with Boeing’s internal efforts. “It will just take some time.” The other unresolved issue is that the flight control wiring in the MAX does not meet the latest safety regulation that was introduced to prevent electrical shorts. Boeing missed this during original certification. It has proposed to the FAA that it be allowed to leave the wiring as is, based on the safe history of the earlier 737 NG model, which has the same wiring. But the person familiar with the required steps to certification said “Boeing has a daunting task in making a case that they don’t have to rewire the airplanes.” The second person, the one familiar with Boeing’s internal efforts, said that a certification flight “is likely in April or May” and that rather than any specific issue, the delay is due to “the overall work on the system safety analysis” (SSA). The SSA requires detailed analysis of all the possible system failures and estimating a probability for each. The painstaking work of combing through the potential faults and their probabilities is taking a lot of time, he said. “I don’t ascribe it to stab trim-out light or wire bundles specifically,” the second person said. “This is the most scrutinized plane system, probably ever. Issues that in the past or on any other plane … would be done in service are being asked to be resolved now,” before being allowed to fly again. Final hurdles After successful FAA certification flights are completed, the MAX must then pass a series of further milestones before it can fly again, a process estimated to take 45 to 60 days. After the certification flights, the Joint Operations Evaluation Board (JOEB), which comprises the FAA’s Flight Standardization Board (FSB) and officials from foreign regulators in Canada, Europe, and Brazil, will meet to evaluate minimum pilot training needs. The FSB will issue a report that will be made available for public review during a comment period expected to be about 15 days. Additionally, the FAA will review Boeing’s final design documentation, which also will be reviewed by the multi-agency Technical Advisory Board (TAB). After all these FAA technical reviews are complete, Administrator Dickson has said he won’t give the final clearance for the MAX to fly until he has flown it himself and is “satisfied that I would put my own family on it without a second thought.” For now, Boeing’s target for that remains midsummer. Airlines will need another month at least after that to train their pilots and get their first MAX jets out of storage and readied to fly. American and Southwest this month removed the MAX from their flight schedules until mid-August. United Airlines has pushed out the MAX until early September. Dominic Gates: 206-464-2963 or dgates@seattletimes.com; on Twitter: @dominicgates.
  10. Apropos the subject on how to train pilots, there is in my view an excellent insight on PPRuNe, to which, with the Mods' kind permission/understanding, I will take the opportunity afforded by the above subject, to provide a link. I think this contributor has provided one of few keys into achieving a good balance between mere technical proficiency and becoming a professional airman in full sense of the term. Here is the link: https://www.pprune.org/rumours-news/629449-pegasus-accident-saw-just-reported-11.html#post10682528
  11. Schooner69, Wolfhunter, I understand from these discussions that slowing to a hover is not the thing to do either, because it is very difficult to hover in manual flight without a horizon...true?
  12. On a number of levels, that's a really sad photograph.