February 24, 2021

FAA Requiring B777 Pratt & Whitney Engine Inspections

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued an Emergency Airworthiness Directive that requires stepped up inspections of all PW4000-series engines that power Boeing 777 aircraft after the apparent fan blade failure on United flight 328 over the weekend. The impacted B777s will remain grounded until the inspections are completed.

Airlines will be required to use thermal acoustic imaging to inspect fan blades for metal fatigue before they are allowed to put the airplanes back into service. (Thermal Acoustic Imaging, by the way, was the name of our favorite band in high school.) It is unclear how long this process might take to complete.

The PW4000 engines were not a popular option on the B777, and the only current operators are ANA, Asiana, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, Korean’s subsidiary Jin Air, and United Airlines. United also has a substantial fleet of B777s powered by GE engines, so only a portion of its fleet will be grounded.

United says very few passengers will be impacted, but those that are will be rebooked and given two tickets to Thermal Acoustic Imaging’s next show.

Breeze is Declared Fit to Fly By DOT

Start-up Breeze Aviation Group, Inc. has proven that navigating the US Department of Transportation’s (DOT) start-up process is… a breeze. The airline has been found to be “fit, willing, and able” to fly up to 22 airplanes by the Department. There will be a 14-day objection period before the order is made final.

The DOT appears to have been in a hurry, making several mistakes in the show-cause order. For example, instead of Lukas Johnson being listed as Chief Commercial Officer, he is shown as Chief Operating Officer, as is Tom Anderson. We are assuming that this is a typo, and they are not being forced to battle to the death for this important position as a new strength requirement for receiving DOT sign-off.

Breeze has already taken delivery of its first Embraer aircraft, and it will operate those on point-to-point routes in the eastern US before it starts taking delivery of Airbus A220s. It can’t start flying yet, however. Despite receiving DOT approval, it still needs to acquire its Air Carrier Certificate and Operations Specifications from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Spirit Makes a Move on Milwaukee

Yesterday, it was Louisville that won the jackpot. Today, it’s Milwaukee — which as well all know is Algonquin for “the good land” — that will start seeing those bright yellow Spirit airplanes at its gates.

Spirit will launch daily flights to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Orlando beginning June 24, nearly a month after the same cities receive flights from Louisville. This will be the first nonstop to Los Angeles from Milwaukee since Southwest suspended its Saturday-only service at the onset of the pandemic. Both Southwest and Frontier currently serve the Milwaukee to Las Vegas and Orlando markets.

To celebrate, Spirit will begin selling cheese curds as part of its buy-on-board program. To prevent panic, all travelers departing Milwaukee will be charged a $4.99 “curd notification fee” so that materials can be distributed informing travelers that any squeaking onboard is from the curds and not from questionable maintenance.

Audit Shows Mexico City Airport Losses Over $16 Billion

Mexico City’s new airport was a third complete when the country elected new president Andrés Manuel López Obrador to office. One of his promises was to scrap the airport project despite the projected cost of $5 billion to do so. He kept his promise, but the cost — as I’m sure will be a shock to everyone — was far higher.

According to the Federal Auditor’s Office — which is naturally being denied by the president — halting the new airport’s construction is going to cost the country just over US$16 billion, or 232% higher than predicted. That’s about 325 billion Mexican pesos or, if you like really big numbers, more than 672 trillion Iranian rials.

Instead of creating a single, new hub to serve the capital city, a new plan was put into place to keep the current airport operating while building up nearby Toluca and Santa Lucía Air Force base into larger commercial operations as well. Aeroméxico was asked for comment but simply replied with 💸🤷.

Contour Denied Switch to Sacramento

Regional carrier Contour Airlines was denied a request by the Border Coast Regional Airport Authority in California to move its essential service from Crescent City Airport (CEC) in extreme northwest California from Oakland to Sacramento. Contour currently operates once-daily service between CEC and Oakland.

The airline wanted to swap its Oakland flight with Sacramento to take advantage of its recent interline agreement with American Airlines since American no longer flies to Oakland. You might think having connectivity throughout the American Airlines network would be appealing, but apparently a community poll stated a higher preference for Oakland over Sacramento by the decisive margin of 25.5% to 22.8%.

In other news, Crescent City has decided to begin paving streets with cotton candy and implement a 2 day workweek, because 31.2% of those polled thought it would be a good idea while only 29.6% thought it was a bad idea. And as we know, polls always know what’s best.

Airline Potpourri

  • Air France has a new safety video out and if you love the French, you’ll love this. If you don’t, you’ll probably just be surprised at how much time is spent talking about cigarettes.
  • Air Seychelles won’t have to pay Etihad anything this year as it works to extract itself from Etihad’s failed partner strategy. It is negotiating to become 100% locally-owned.
  • Brussels Airlines has released its summer plans, and service to New York and Washington/Dulles will resume on June 14 for the first time since the pandemic began.
  • Jet Airways continues to lurch closer to a restart in the back half of this year.
  • KLM has received its first of 25 firm orders for the Embraer E195-E2 aircraft. To celebrate, it appears to have found the thinnest seats on Earth.
  • Lufthansa and Embraer have now both confirmed they are in talks over a new aircraft order.
  • Norwegian has come to an agreement with Airbus that will see the airline not take delivery of its remaining 88 airplanes on order in exchange for letting Airbus keep the pre-delivery deposits plus an additional $850,000 and 3 tons of surströmming.

Beth’s Moment of Levity

Last night, I dreamed I was swimming in an ocean of orange soda, but it was just a Fanta sea.