Doctor Aviation shares his perspectives on the top aviation stories of 2019
Boeing 737 Max
Without a doubt the most publicized aviation story of 2019 was the fate of the Boeing 737 Max. This story actually began in 2018 with the crash of Lion Air 737 Max. Then in March, a second 737 Max crashed, this one an Ethiopian Air jet. That is when eyebrows really began to raise
One country and then another began to ground the aircraft. Finally, there was Canada and the United States, alone, still flying the craft, then just the United States. On March 18, 2019, President Trump brought an end by telling the FAA to ground the plane.
To be honest, the crashes and Boeing reaction have been surprising to this author. A summary is contained in Doctor Aviation’s May 20, 1998 blog. The 737 Max debuted in 2017 and was wildly popular. Boeing had hundreds of orders for the jet.
The investigation thus far has determined that the MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System) which is designed to aid the pilot, has, at times, fought the pilot’s attempt to control the aircraft. The report on the Lion Air crash outlines several factors in the accident. Boeing fix for the MCAS is still being tested.
To date, the FAA, nor any similar body across the globe has given the thumbs up to return the aircraft to the skies. This has resulted in the cancellation of hundreds of flights. So much so, that a pilot union in the United States has sued Boeing for loss of income. Ultimately, the grounding, and the handling of the whole process, cost the Boeing CEO his job. Meanwhile, the 737 Max remains on the ground.
On a more sentimental note, the Boeing 747 is nearing the end of its service life. Formerly, passenger jets on transoceanic flights were expected to have four engines for safety. Once regulations were relaxed and more powerful jet engines developed, the wide body two engine jet was preferred for its fuel economy. Doctor Aviation posted a video of El Al Airlines outlining the Boeing 747 on its last flight.
The Boeing 747 is not alone. The Airbus 380 will end production in 2021. The Airbus 350, with its two engines, will be the new workhorse for long flights in the Airbus.
Dayton Airshow 2019
Doctor Aviation attended the Dayton Airshow 2019. As always, it is wonderful to catch up with fellow aviators. The Thunderbirds did an exceptional job overhead.
Here Come the Drones
Amazon: I was first introduced to the company in the late 1990s when I received a flyer at the University of Washington, telling me that Amazon wanted to buy my used textbooks. Jeff Bezos started Amazon as a book selling company and it has now grown into much more. The behemoth has requested that the FAA allow the company to begin delivering packages by drone.
Fiftieth Anniversary of Apollo 11
The aviation world was pleased at the rousing response to the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11. Neil Armstrong passed from this earth in 2012. However, the second man on the moon, Buzz Aldrin, was on hand at the State of the Union Address, early in the year, to kick off the 50th Anniversary. Michael Collins, the third member of Apollo 11, was not as prominent in the coverage, consistent with his private image.
CBS, whose legendary anchor, Walter Cronkite helped make the Apollo 11 mission so popular, aired a special on July 20, the date that Armstrong first stepped on the moon. PBS ran multiple space specials over the summer. Many focused exclusively on Apollo 11. In the city of Cincinnati, the Museum Center features the Apollo 11 IMAX film alongside an impressive display of space flight. The entire state of Ohio was bragging on its native son, Neil Armstrong.