Airlines, Airports and Airliners 28 March 2024

Compiled by Willie Bodenstein

This Week in Airliner, Airports and Airlines.

IATA Comments on SES2+ package deal: failure.
Boom Supersonic announces successful flight of XB-1 demonstrator aircraft.
Boeing finally settles lawsuit of deadly Spanair crash after 15 years of legal battles.
FAA Proposes $146,500 penalty against spirit airlines for alleged hazardous materials violations.
Boeing announces board and management changes.
Giant baby chicken lands at San José Mineta International Airport.
Newark Liberty International Airport's new terminal an awarded five-star rating from Skytrax.
Virgin Atlantic kicks off 40th birthday celebrations naming new aircraft after Sir Richard Branson.
Accidents and Incidents
Bonus video - JLPC Fly in September 2023


The International Air Transport Association (IATA) issued the following comment as the Council prepares to vote on amendments to the Single European Sky (SES) 2+ package that will gut its vision to modernize European air traffic management.

SES was meant to triple Europe's airspace capacity, cut costs in half, improve safety by a factor of 10, and improve environmental performance by 10%. The compromise that the Member States are expected to approve on Friday will prevent the SES from delivering on its promise, dent European competitiveness, and leave much-needed emissions savings unrealized.

“Failure. All we have to show for the years of SES2+ discussions to unite Europe's skies is a grubby deal that sells out to narrow national interests and creates a few useless jobs for bureaucrats supported by the European political elite. Oblivious to the consequences, those involved will no doubt soon be patting themselves on the back. Meanwhile travellers, the environment and airlines must prepare to pay with delays, higher costs and unnecessary emissions. It's a deal that should not be done,” said Willie Walsh, IATA's Director General.


Boom Supersonic, the company building the world's fastest airliner, Overture, today announced the successful flight of XB-1, the world's first independently developed supersonic jet, at the Mojave Air & Space Port in Mojave, California. Like Overture, XB-1 leverages state-of-the-art technologies to enable efficient supersonic flight including carbon fibre composites, advanced avionics, digitally-optimized aerodynamics, and an advanced supersonic propulsion system.

“Today, XB-1 took flight in the same hallowed airspace where the Bell X-1 first broke the sound barrier in 1947,” said Blake Scholl, founder and CEO of Boom Supersonic. “I've been looking forward to this flight since founding Boom in 2014, and it marks the most significant milestone yet on our path to bring supersonic travel to passengers worldwide.”

XB-1 was flown by Boom Chief Test Pilot Bill “Doc” Shoemaker, and Test Pilot Tristan “Geppetto” Brandenburg flew the T-38 chase aircraft which monitored the flight. XB-1 took off from the Mojave Air & Space Port and flew in the same airspace that hosted many historic first flights, including the flights of the Bell X-1, the North American X-15, and the Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird. XB-1 met all of its test objectives, including safely and successfully achieving an altitude of 7,120 feet and speeds up to 238 knots (273 mph).

“Everyone on the XB-1 team should be incredibly proud of this achievement,” said Bill “Doc” Shoemaker, Chief Test Pilot for Boom Supersonic. “It has been a privilege to share this journey with so many dedicated and talented professionals. The experience we have gained in reaching this milestone will be invaluable to Boom's revival of supersonic travel.”

Two decades after Concorde's retirement, the first flight of XB-1 marks the return of a civil supersonic aircraft to the skies and paves the way for the revival of mainstream supersonic travel. The XB-1 program provides the foundation for the design and development of Overture, while establishing a safety-first culture in engineering and manufacturing. XB-1 validates key technologies and innovations, including: Augmented reality vision system: Two nose-mounted cameras, digitally augmented with attitude and flight path indications, feed a high-resolution pilot display enabling excellent runway visibility. This system enables improved aerodynamic efficiency without the weight and complexity of a movable nose.

Digitally-optimized aerodynamics: Engineers used computational fluid dynamics simulations to explore thousands of designs for XB-1. The result is an optimized design that combines safe and stable operation at take-off and landing with efficiency at supersonic speeds.

Carbon fibre composites: XB-1 is almost entirely made from carbon fibre composite materials, enabling it to realize a sophisticated aerodynamic design in a strong, lightweight structure.

Supersonic intakes: XB-1's engine intakes slow supersonic air to subsonic speeds, efficiently converting kinetic energy into pressure energy, allowing conventional jet engines to power XB-1 from take-off through supersonic flight.

The inaugural flight of the XB-1 demonstrator takes place as Overture continues to advance toward production, with a growing global network of Tier 1 suppliers and an order book including 130 orders and pre-orders from American Airlines, United Airlines, and Japan Airlines. Overture will carry 64-80 passengers at Mach 1.7, about twice the speed of today's subsonic airliners. Optimized for speed, safety, and sustainability, Overture is designed to run on up to 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF).


Boeing has finally settled for an undisclosed amount in the lawsuit that resulted from the deaths of 154 passengers and crewmembers in Spain over 15 years ago. The case was brought against Boeing as the manufacturer of the ill- fated plane through their acquisition of McDonald Douglas.

BCA argued that Boeing was aware of a mechanical defect that increased the risk of error during take-off but failed to apply a known fix to all of their planes. While there were initially several law firms involved in the litigation, only Brent Coon & Associates held out and fought for a trial for their clients. After all of the legal wrangling the Civil Courts in Spain finally allowed litigation to move forward to trial, 15 years after Spanair flight JK5022 crashed, killing 154 people.

Brent Coon, whose firm undertook representation early on in the initial lawsuit in California, finally feels like his clients have been vindicated. “We have been fighting the good fight for these victims and their families for well over a decade. It has been extraordinarily frustrating to see Boeing dodging accountability for so long, and to succeed in convincing our own judiciary that the victims would get a swift and fair trial in Spain. They knew that wasn't going to be the case, and showed their true colours once they obtained the rulings throwing everything back into the laps of the Spanish courts, which rarely deal with this type of complex litigation. We weren't surprised to see them undertake multiple protracted appeals of the trial court rulings to further delay the matter and wear down these families, who were already devastated by the loss of their loved ones and impatient to ride out appeal after appeal. But we have weathered all the storms and got a definitive trial date. This positioned us to negotiate a fair settlement of our claims and these families can finally have closure. Spanish government oversight of the airline industry is frankly pretty weak or this would likely not have been allowed to happen in the first place,” says Mr. Coon.

Ivan De Miguel Perez, Spanish counsel to the plaintiffs, had this to say: “These recent developments allowed us to see that justice is now finally available for the people we have represented for such a long time in a tragic accident that happened as a result of negligence on a massive scale. While the terms of the settlements are confidential, we believe that our clients are receiving the maximum amount they would have been awarded by the court under the laws applicable to these types of claims in Spanish law. It has been a pleasure working with Brent Coon & Associates as their Spanish local counsel and look forward to working again with such a dedicated team of lawyers and staff. They just don't give up”.


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposes a $146,500 civil penalty against Spirit Airlines of Miramar, Florida, for allegedly violating the Department of Transportation Hazardous Materials Regulations.

The FAA alleges Spirit employees offered five separate shipments containing compressed oxygen cylinders to FedEx for air transportation from Detroit to New York in August and September 2022.

FedEx employees in Detroit rejected one of the shipments because the box in which the compressed oxygen cylinder was packed was damaged, did not adhere to the Flame Penetration Resistance Test requirements, and was not properly marked or labeled.

All five shipments were offered by Spirit employees who had not completed required hazardous materials training in the use of United States Department of Transportation Special Permit, the FAA alleges.

Spirit has 30 days after receiving the FAA's enforcement letter to respond to the agency.


Boeing [NYSE: BA] President and CEO Dave Calhoun today announced his decision to step down as CEO at the end of 2024, and he will continue to lead Boeing through the year to complete the critical work underway to stabilize and position the company for the future.

Board Chair Larry Kellner has informed the board that he does not intend to stand for re-election at the upcoming Annual Shareholder meeting. The board has elected Steve Mollenkopf to succeed Kellner as independent board chair. In this role, Mollenkopf will lead the board's process of selecting Boeing's next CEO.

In addition to these changes, Stan Deal, Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO, will retire from the company and Stephanie Pope has been appointed to lead BCA, effective today.

"It has been the greatest privilege of my life to serve Boeing," said Calhoun in a letter to employees. "The eyes of the world are on us, and I know that we will come through this moment a better company. We will remain squarely focused on completing the work we have done together to return our company to stability after the extraordinary challenges of the past five years, with safety and quality at the forefront of everything that we do."

Kellner has served on the Boeing Board for 13 years and served as its chair since late 2019. As chair, he oversaw the establishment of a new board aerospace safety committee, and during his tenure led the recruitment of seven new independent directors, bringing deep engineering, safety, manufacturing and aerospace expertise to Boeing's board.

"Boeing plays an essential role in our world, and serving this company, and our people, has been a true honor," said Kellner. "After over a decade on the board and several years as its chair, I have been considering the right time for a transition of leadership on our board, and have been discussing that subject with Dave and the board in conjunction with Dave's own planning about his succession timeframe. I want to thank Dave for his tremendous leadership of our company, and I know he will finish the job this year that he started in 2020 to position Boeing, and our employees, for a stronger future. With Dave's decision to step down as CEO at the end of this year, now is the right time for a transition to my successor. Steve is the ideal next leader to take on the role of board chair, and it is important that the CEO selection process be led by a new chair who will stay at the helm as a partner to the new CEO. With a strong board, an excellent management team and 170,000 dedicated Boeing employees, I am fully confident in our company's future."

Mollenkopf has served on the board of directors since 2020. He was previously CEO of Qualcomm. He has bachelor's and master's degrees in electrical engineering.

"I am honoured and humbled to step into this new role," said Mollenkopf. "I am fully confident in this company and its leadership - and together we are committed to taking the right actions to strengthen safety and quality, and to meet the needs of our customers. I also want to thank both Larry and Dave for their exceptional stewardship of Boeing during a challenging and consequential time for Boeing and the aerospace industry."

Pope has been serving as chief operating officer of Boeing since January of this year. Previously, she was president and chief executive officer of Boeing Global Services, where she was responsible for leading the company's aerospace services for commercial, government and aviation industry customers worldwide. Prior, she was chief financial officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, and has held positions in every Boeing business unit. She begins her role as President and CEO of Commercial Airplanes immediately.


In a homage to its origins, San José Mineta International Airport (SJC) has introduced a larger-than-life feature to its recently launched "Baby Chickens Take Flight at SJC" 75th Anniversary campaign. The installation, a 10-foot-tall inflatable baby chicken, has found a home in the Terminal B Baggage Claim area.

San José Municipal Airport recently opened its runways to commercial air service, with an official dedication ceremony and its inaugural flight. This first arriving flight carried seven human passengers and 2,550 baby chickens, with only the latter deplaning in San José.

To honour this milestone, the Airport recently launched a 75th anniversary campaign featuring baby chickens that has already captured the attention and hearts of passengers traveling through the Airport. This latest installation will provide another way for travellers to celebrate with SJC in a fun and unique way.

In conjunction with the arrival of the new larger-than-life display, SJC has announced the "Pic with a Baby Chick” Sweepstakes. Participants are encouraged to take photos with any of the baby chicken displays throughout the Airport and share them on social media using #sjc75 and #PicWithABabyChick for a chance to win an exclusive commemorative 75-year anniversary swag pack. Details and sweepstakes rules are available here.

"I'm excited to be joining SJC in the midst of commemorating a significant milestone in the Airport's history," said SJC Director of Aviation Mookie Patel. “We've come a long way from welcoming 2,550 baby chickens on opening day to more than 12 million humans last year, but we're as focused as ever on delivering the same convenient and reliable airport experience that City leaders set out to do in 1949.”

The inflatable baby chicken complements other festive decorations including over 1,000 baby chicken window clings and four 7-foot-tall standees installed throughout the terminals. The displays create a fun backdrop for passengers to capture memorable selfies.


The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and Munich Airport NJLLC, the operator of Newark Liberty International Airport's new Terminal A, announced today that Terminal A was given a prestigious five-star rating by Skytrax, the preeminent aviation industry ratings firm. The rating was awarded following a detailed audit of the terminal's facilities, operations, and provision of customer service.

The coveted rating confirms Terminal A's outstanding world-class quality. Completed in 2023, Terminal A now joins LaGuardia Airport's Terminal B as the only two airport terminals in North America awarded the highest rating by Skytrax.

The Skytrax ratings are considered a global benchmark of airport excellence, based on a detailed audit and an assessment of an airport's product and front-line service standards. The five-star terminal rating recognizes airport terminals that provide exceptional standards of facilities and staff service to customers across all front-line areas of the airport environment.

“Five stars are reserved for the best of the best, but we expected nothing less for Newark's Terminal A,” said Port Authority Chairman Kevin O'Toole. “We set out to raise the bar with Terminal A, from its soaring architecture to its streamlined design to its engaging local art. This stellar evaluation from the aviation industry's preeminent rating organization proves we've accomplished exactly that, giving New Jersey a magnificent gateway that is taking its rightful place among the world's best.”

“This rating from Skytrax puts Newark's Terminal A in rarified air,” said Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton. “Skytrax has awarded five stars to just three airports or airport terminals in North America, and our facilities account for two of them - LaGuardia's Terminal B and Newark's Terminal A. We're delivering world-class facilities that befit this world-class region, and we're proud to add this Skytrax rating as the latest validation of our effort.”

The 1 million-square-foot Terminal A opened in phases throughout 2023 as airport operations migrated from the 50-year-old former Terminal A. The $2.7 billion project represented both the Port Authority's largest ever single investment in New Jersey and the state's largest design-build project. The terminal served 15 million passengersin its first year, greatly outperforming yearly passenger totals from the previous Terminal A.

The facility features state-of-the-art passenger amenities, local artwork, a children's play space, digital technology and dozens of local dining and retail options. Other unique passenger amenities include a sensory room that offers travellers with disabilities and their families a calm space away from the bustle of the airport, and a children's lending library curated by a local fifth grader.


In the year that Virgin Atlantic turns 40, the airline will pay homage to its founder, Sir Richard Branson, by naming its latest state of the art aircraft in his honour. Ruby Rebel, registration G-VSRB, will salute Sir Richard and mark 40 years of Virgin Atlantic shaking up the travel industry.

The airline's fifth Airbus A330neo, which will enter service from May, will also feature a brand-new flying icon, inspired by Sir Richard and the rebellious spirit that's always driven Virgin Atlantic to do things differently.

The icon, whose features are inspired by Holly Branson, include nods to Sir Richard's career and famed business ventures throughout its design, such as Virgin Records pin badges, a Tubular Bells charm bracelet, a Virgin Galactic rocket on the belt's buckle and a Virgin Voyages anchor on icons boot. Another bracelet featuring the letters J, S, and H have been designed as a sweet gesture to his wife Joan and children Holly and Sam. The icon's punk styling reflects the airline's iconic Vivienne Westwood uniform, which is still rocked by its cabin crew today.

Ruby Rebel symbolises Virgin Atlantic's desire to do things differently, beginning in June 1984, when its first aircraft, Maiden Voyager, departed London for New York, bringing a flash of red to the skies. The airline's focus has always been to deliver the best customer experience in a brilliantly different way. From being the first airline to introduce seat back TVs, the Premium cabin and fleet wide Wi-Fi, to flying the first world's first Pride flight and the first 100% SAF transatlantic flight, Virgin Atlantic and its people continue to challenge the status quo.

Russia, Irkutsk region: Flight SU6879, a Boeing 737-800, was en route over the Irkutsk region when the crew reported a suspected fuel leak, issued a PAN signal and decided to divert to the alternate airfield Chita Kadala Airport (HTA/UIAA). The crew shut down engine No.1. At 8:30 Moscow time, the plane landed safely on one engine. After inspection by technical specialists, the aircraft was removed from flights.

Mexico, City-Benito Juárez International Airport (MEX/MMMX): An Aeromexico Boeing 737 MAX 8, suffered a wing tip strike during an attempted landing on runway 05R at Mexico City-Benito Juárez International Airport (MEX). A go-around was performed and the aircraft eventually landed at 20:10 UTC. The aircraft suffered damage to the left-hand ventral strake of the split scimitar winglet.

USA, East of Boston, MA: An American Airlines Airbus A319-112, reportedly suffered an engine failure after take-off from Boston-Logan International Airport, MA (BOS). The flight contacted Boston Departure, stating they had an issue and wanted to level off at 6000 feet, which was approved by the controller. The flight then made PAN-PAN-call stating they had a 'minor engine problem' and their intention to return to Boston for a precautionary landing. Boston Departure then requested the flight to contact Boston Approach. AA1146 then reported everything was fine and that they wanted the engine checked due to a possible compressor stall and smell of smoke. The flight returned to land back at BOS, 20 minutes after take-off.

USA, East of San Jose del Cabo: Southwest Airlines flight WN3007, a Boeing 737-8H4, reportedly suffered an engine failure after departure from San Jose del Cabo Airport (SJD). The flight returned and landed safely back at SJD 28 minutes after take-off.

JLPC Fly in September 2023

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