Pontifications: First flight nears for Berlin Airlift Foundation’s replacement airplane

The left wing of the Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation Douglas C-54E was impaled by a hangar beam during a tornado. Source: BAHF.

By Scott Hamilton

March 8, 2021, © Leeham News: The Berlin Airlift Historical Foundation appears to be weeks away from the test flight for the replacement of the Douglas C-54E that was badly damaged last year in a tornado.

The 76-year old airplane participated in the historic 1948 airlift that brough food, coal and other goods to West Berlin after the Soviet Union initiated a ground blockade. The Soviets tried to starve the West Berliners into submission and force the former World War II Allies (Britain, France and the US) to hand over occupation of West Berlin to the Soviets, who occupied East Berlin deep inside East Germany.

Related Links

Read more

Pontifications: Last production DC-6 destined to USA

By Scott Hamilton

Sept. 21, 2020, © Leeham News: A Texas man with an affinity for the Douglas DC-6 purchased the last production model, DC-6B that is still in its original passenger configuration.

The last Douglas DC-6 produced has been stored since 2010. It’s now owned by a Texas man. Source: DC-6 Association of Africa.

The DC-6B, delivered in the waning months of 1958, is the sister ship to the famous Red Bull DC-6B that continues to be flown occasionally at air shows.

This DC-6B, registration V5-NCG, has been stored in Namibia since 2010. It once was the presidential airplane for Yugoslav’s leader, Marshal Josip Tito. The plane was then donated to the Zambian government as the presidential aircraft for Kenneth Kuanda. This aircraft and the sister ship were purchased by Namibian Commercial Airlines (NCA). The sister ship, the second-to-the-last built, was sold to Red Bull. The proceeds were used to restore V5-NCG.

More recently, it served in tourist charter work. The aircraft has the original interior. This is a rarity in restored piston airliners.

James Mac Ivor owns Nighthawk Air Systems Inc. near San Antonio. COVID-19 delayed plans to return the airplane to the air. He also still must raise funds.

Read more

Pontifications: Recertification flights for Boeing 737 MAX appear close

By Scott Hamilton

June 29, 2020, © Leeham News: Boeing may be set to begin recertification flights of the 737 MAX as early as today, The Seattle Times reported last week.

Testing will take three days, if all goes well. But Boeing still has a lot of work to do to fully satisfy regulators.

According to The Times, Transport Canada and Europe’s EASA require additional modifications to enhance safety on the MAX. The additional changes may not be required for certification but must be done within a year, the paper reports. The MAX 10 must have the changes before it is certified.

Read more

Pontifications: Catching up on Odds and Ends-Alaska’s Airbus fleet, first E195-E2 delivery, Boeing’s MAX rebranding question

  • Take our Boeing 737 MAX rebranding poll at the end of this post.

Sept. 2, 2019, © Leeham News: It’s time to catch up on Odds and Ends.

Alaska Airlines

In its second quarter earnings call and 10Q Securities and Exchange Filing, Alaska Airlines said it was returning one Airbus A319 and two A320s off lease this year and next.

By Scott Hamilton

These airplanes are from its Virgin America acquisition, which introduced the Airbus family into the all-Boeing Alaska mainline operations.

Alaska officials have said several times they are evaluating whether to phase out all Airbuses and return to an all-Boeing fleet, or keep the Airbuses and operate a mixed fleet indefinitely.

I wondered if this was the start of the phase out.

“We are planning to return 1 A319 this year and 2 A320s next year at normal lease expiration,” Brandon Pederson, EVP and CFO of the company, wrote LNA.  “This is not part of a broader fleet  decision, nor a phase out of the smaller Airbus aircraft.  Leases on the remaining 50 A319/A320 aircraft in the fleet have varying maturities through 2025.”

Read more

Pontifications: Airbus-the First 50 Years

Book Review

By Scott Hamilton

July 8, 2019, © Leeham News: When a company authorizes or sponsors a book about some major event, the book is usually a puff piece meant for the coffee table in reception.

Airbus authorized the book, Airbus: The First 50 Years, but it’s no puff piece. It’s an honest, candid accounting of how the company came to be, navigating through country and corporate politics, face offs with rival Boeing, reporting the insider trading allegations and ending with the as-yet unfinished corruption scandal investigations.

Nicola Clark, the aerospace reporter for the International Herald Tribune, did a superb job up to her usual reporting standards while avoiding the puff pieces that usually come with an authorized book.

Read more

How Boeing named, promoted the MAX in early days

Subscription Required

Now open to all readers

May 16, 2019, © Leeham News: As a Congressional investigation into the Federal Aviation Administration’s oversight and certification of the Boeing 737 MAX development ramps up, LNA dipped into its archives to review what the company was telling the public.

The MAX was hastily launched in July 2011, when American Airlines informed Boeing it was about to place a record-setting order for nearly 500 airplanes. Airbus was lined up to snare it all with the A320ceo and neo families unless Boeing could make a credible offer.

Within 48 hours, Jim McNerney, then-CEO of Boeing, made the decision to launch the re-engined design of the 737. This later was branded the MAX.

It was a plane Boeing designed but didn’t want to build.

Once launched, Boeing had to play catch up to Airbus, which had a seven month lead with its neo. The public messaging was long on bashing the A320. There were few technical details presented in public, but the basis for what’s become in focus today after two fatal crashes was there.

  • Boeing promoted commonality between NG and MAX.
  • Making a virtue of basic design.
  • Integrating the larger engines.
  • Promoting the same simulators.

Read more

Everett-based DC-3 leaves Saturday for D-Day, Berlin Air Lift celebrations

May 9, 2019, © Leeham News: D-Day is June 6, 1944. The start of the Berlin Air Lift is June 24, 1948.

The Historic Flight Foundation (HFF), located at Paine Field, Saturday afternoon embarks on a multi-week trip from Paine to England in its historic Douglas DC-3.

This Douglas DC-3, owned by the Historic Flight Foundation, saw service in World War II in the Pacific theatre. It leaves Saturday for Europe to participate with about 30 other DC-3s/C-47s in ceremonies for the D-Day invasion of Europe and the Berlin Air Lift. Photo by Scott Hamilton.

The trip includes 54 flying hours, event and rest stops along the way and rendeveouing with 30 more DC-3s/C-47s, D-Day events in France and Air Lift events in Berlin.

HFF’s DC-3 didn’t participate in the European theatre of war, but it is an historical airplane. It was in the Pacific theatre, operated by CNAC, a Chinese airline in which Pan American World Airways had a financial interest. The airplane is decked out in period Pan Am colors.

  • 9am Saturday, May 11, HFF has a “fly day” as a prelude to the 3pm departure of the DC-3 for Europe. Static and aerials displays are planned. Rides are possible. HFF is on the west side of Paine Field, with the entrance on Bernie Webber Drive.

For HFF founder John Sessions, this trip is especially significant. He was nearly killed in the crash of another HFF plane he was piloting last August at the Abbottsford Air Show. His left leg was amputated below the knee.

Now fitted with a prosthetic lower leg and foot, Sessions returned to flight status just a week ago after going through flight testing, including on the DC-3.

Read more

Pontifications: Which airplanes are revolutionary or evolutionary?

By Scott Hamilton

Feb. 18, 2019, © Leeham News: Last week’s column about the revolutionary Boeing 747 prompted some Twitter interaction asking what other commercial airplanes might be considered “revolutionary.”

I have my views. Let’s ask readers.

There are also three polls below the jump in addition to the usual comment section. Polling is open for one week.

Read more

Pontifications: The 747 revolutionized air travel

By Scott Hamilton

Feb. 11, 2019, © Leeham News: Few airplanes truly can be called revolutionary. Most are evolutionary.

The Boeing 747 was one of those that falls into the former category.

Just as the Boeing 707 revolutionized air travel, so did the 747.

The spaciousness and, after a period of engine difficulties, the economics put the 747 into a class by itself.

Read more

Bjorn’s Corner: Pitch stability, Part 4

By Bjorn Fehrm

December 14, 2018, ©.Leeham News: Last week we introduced a horizontal stabilizer to make our DC-9 like aircraft stable in pitch. We got a pitch moment curve which was forcing the nose down of the aircraft if there was an increase in Angle of Attack (AoA) of the aircraft. Should the angle of attack decrease from a trimmed position, the aircraft would put the nose up to correct the disturbance. The aircraft is stable in pitch.

Now we take a closer look at how such a horizontal stabilizer is made and why.

Figure 1. The pitch moment coefficient curve of an earlyDC-9 candidate. Source: Stanford University.

Read more