Boeing CEO testifies before Congress and prosecutors ask for criminal charges, investigators look into a low-altitude Southwest flight and an activist investor wants Southwest CEO out, NTSB released a close-call preliminary report, and Cirrus won’t approve a certain 100LL fuel. Also, an Australia Desk report, the E-3 AWACS jet, and a Triphibian.

Aviation News

Boeing CEO grilled at Senate hearing: ‘The problem’s with you’

Boeing CEO David Calhoun testified at a two-hour Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations hearing. Calhoun admitted that whistleblowers were retaliated against. Subcommittee chair Sen. Richard Blumenthal stated “After whistleblower John Barnett raised his concerns about missing parts, he reported that his supervisor called him 19 times in one day and 21 times another day. And when Barnett asked his supervisor about those calls, he was told, ‘I’m going to push you until you break.’”

Blumenthal said that in his opinion, the Department of Justice should criminally prosecute Boeing for violating its 2021 deferred prosecution agreement. The DOJ has until July 7, 2024, to decide how it will act.

Video: Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun testifies before Senate committee on safety issues — 6/18/2024

Victims’ Attorney Asks DOJ To Fine Boeing; Prosecute Executives

In his 32-page letter to the DOJ, Professor Paul Cassell of the S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City asks for $24 billion in fines, that part of the $24 billion fine should be used for “corporate compliance and new safety measures,” that a corporate monitor is appointed to review the safety measures and “to direct improvement as appropriate.” Also that the DOJ prosecutes former Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg and other “responsible corporate executives.”

Exclusive: US prosecutors recommend Justice Dept. criminally charge Boeing

U.S. prosecutors asked Justice Department officials to bring criminal charges against Boeing for violation of the deferred prosecution agreement.

Federal officials are investigating a Southwest Airlines low flight over Oklahoma City suburbs

A Southwest Airlines plane triggered an automated low-altitude alert nine miles out from the Oklahoma City airport. Flightradar24 shows the plane descending to about 525 feet AGL over Oklahoma City suburbs. Air traffic control asked, “Southwest 4069, low altitude alert. You doing OK?” The pilot responded, “Yeah, we’re going around.” The air traffic controller responded telling the pilot to maintain 3000 feet. Federal officials are investigating.

Southwest’s Diehard Fans Don’t Want Airline to Change

Activist hedge fund company Elliott Investment Management has taken a $1.9 billion stake in Southwest Airlines and wants to oust the airline’s CEO Robert Jordan. Elliott says Jordan “has delivered unacceptable financial and operational performance quarter after quarter and Jordan and former CEO Gary Kelly (currently the executive chairman) “are not up to the task of modernizing Southwest.” Elliott wants to replace Jordan and Kelly with outsiders and make “significant” changes to the board of directors with others who bring airline experience.

NTSB Releases Preliminary Reports On Two Airline Close Calls

In April 2024, a Swiss Air A330 aborted its takeoff from Runway 4L at JFK after they saw taxiing traffic on the runway. One controller cleared the Swiss flight for takeoff, and a ground controller cleared four other airplanes to cross the same runway. In February 2023, TCAS (traffic/collision alert system) issued “resolution advisories” over an inbound Mesa Airlines Bombardier CRJ900 and a SkyWest Embraer EMB-170 at  Hollywood-Burbank Airport. The two aircraft came within 1,700 feet of each other.

Cirrus: G100UL Use May Void Warranties

GAMI Responds To Cirrus G100UL Service Advisory

General Aviation Modifications Inc. has invested in developing an unleaded, high-octane fuel that could replace leaded avgas in piston airplanes. Cirrus has tested G100UL fuel in SR20, SR22, and SR22T aircraft, but the result is mixed. Cirrus says “While some aspects of the initial Cirrus testing of the GAMI G100UL fuel are encouraging, other areas, including materials compatibility, remain inconclusive. At this time, Cirrus does not approve the use of GAMI G100UL fuel in Cirrus SR Series airplanes.” See Transition to Unleaded Fuel and Use of Non-Cirrus Approved Fuel in SR Series Aircraft [PDF].

Australia Desk

Grant and Steve return for an Australia Desk report, the first for 2024, and much has happened in the first half of the year on the Australian aviation scene.

Sadly, in a case of “we told you so”, new LCC entrant Bonza Air has ceased operations after 15 months, entering into voluntary administration on April 30th.  Despite numerous reports of a buyer being found for the group, lessors had repossessed the company’s 737 MAX8 aircraft, the last of which departed Australia on June 5th.

Bonza joins a long list of failed operators who’ve tried to enter the local airline market, only to find that hype, spin, and fancy PR only go so far before the financial realities of operating in an ultra-competitive aviation environment begin to take their toll.  Previous entrants include Compass, Air Australia, JetGo, Impulse (which morphed eventually into Jetstar), OzJet, and most notably (but for perhaps a wider range of issues) Ansett.

But fear not!  As cringe-worthy as the infantile branding of Bonza was, Grant shakes Steve to his boots with news of a possible new contender under the name Koala Airlines.  Oh, dear….

Bonza owes money to almost 60,000 customers, hundreds of staff, and 120 suppliers, court hears

Koala Airlines

In defence news, the RAAF has taken delivery of its first MQ-4C Triton aircraft; the first of four on order which will be based in northern Australia at RAAF Base Tindal, and operated remotely from RAAF Base Edinburgh in South Australia by 9 Squadron.

9SQN had been stood down since 1989, following the transfer of Australia’s Blackhawk fleet to the Army, and has now been reactivated in this new RPAS role.  The squadron enjoys a rich history however, dating back to its inception in 1939.

First Australian Triton lands at Tindal

No. 9 Squadron RAAF

Plane Crazy Down Under


Familyfest Boeing/Leonardo MH-139A Grey Wolf Helicopter

MVP Aero Model 3 Amphibious Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) –  A prototype “triphibian” light-sport aircraft.

Promotional poster for the Spurwink Farm Fly-In.

Hosts this Episode

Max Flight, David Vanderhoof, Max Trescott, our Main(e) Man Micah, and Rob Mark.

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