3 min read

Aviation Industry Updates: March 29, 2022


Boeing Pushed FAA To Relax 737 MAX Certification Requirements For Crew Alerts

  • In 2014, Boeing convinced the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to relax the safety standards for the new 737 MAX related to cockpit alerts that would warn pilots if something went wrong during flight, according to documents reviewed by the Seattle Times.

  • Seeking an exception, Boeing relied on a special FAA rule to successfully argue that full compliance with the latest federal requirements would be “impractical” for the MAX and would cost too much.
  • “They went through the process and weren’t required to step up,” said an FAA safety engineer familiar with how the waiver request was handled and who asked for anonymity because he spoke without agency authorization.
  • During the two fatal MAX crashes that killed 346 people, pilots struggled to understand the cascade of warnings in their cockpits. Last week a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report on those crashes highlighted the crucial role that crew alerting systems play when pilots face an in-flight emergency.
  • The Seattle Times reviewed the relevant parts of the document that Boeing submitted to the FAA to win its exception. They show the federal regulator struck out four separate clauses that would be requirements for any new jet being produced today.
  • Following the MAX crashes, such rulings are likely to come under tougher scrutiny in the future.
  • Boeing declined to comment on the details in this story. The FAA said in a statement that the MAX complies with the “applicable” regulations, then listed some of the criteria under which exceptions from full compliance are granted.

Seattle Times

Alaska Goes All-In On Boeing


  • Alaska Airlines said Thursday that it was accelerating its plans to simplify its fleet, becoming an all-Boeing operator at the mainline level by the end of 2023 and sticking entirely with Embraer E-175 jets at regional subsidiary Horizon Air.
  • “As the fleet grows to 400 aircraft by mid-decade, these [changes] will [result in] operational simplicity, flexibility and scalability, better fuel efficiency and reduced maintenance costs,” the airline wrote in the update.
  • Alaska currently operates 40 Airbus A320-family aircraft, according to Airfleets.net, including 30 Airbus A320ceos and 10 A321neos — about 20% of its fleet. Alaska Airlines acquired the planes via its 2016 acquisition of Virgin America.
  • The new timeline would shave several years off Alaska’s plan to shift the entirety of its mainline operation to Boeing’s 737 narrow-body platform. The airline had previously planned to phase out the A320ceos by the end of 2023, although it had not announced its intentions for the leased A321neo fleet.
  • The airline has outstanding orders for 71 Boeing 737 Max aircraft, according to Boeing, including the -8, -9, and -10 variants.
  • Horizon, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Alaska Air Group, currently has 32 De Havilland Canada Dash 8-Q400 propeller aircraft, in addition to its fleet of 30 E-175s, according to Airfleets.

The Points Guy

Even Discount Airfares Are On The Rise


  • Travelers can expect higher airfares this spring and summer, even on discount airlines.
  • Frontier Airlines CEO Barry Biffle told CNBC’s “Closing Bell” Friday that bookings and what travelers are paying for tickets as well as add-ons like baggage fees are the highest in the pandemic.
  • “Even with the high fuel prices we believe we can be profitable this summer,” Biffle said.
  • Jet fuel, generally airlines’ biggest expense after labor costs, has jumped 80% so far this year in the U.S. to the highest levels since 2008 in March as Western nations imposed sanctions on Russia in protests of its attack on Ukraine.
  • “We’ll have to gently raise our fares,” Biffle said.
  • Denver-based Frontier Airlines doesn’t hedge fuel by locking in prices using futures contracts. Some big U.S. carriers like American Airlines abandoned fuel-hedging programs after oil prices cratered in 2014. Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines continue to hedge, however.
  • Airlines are also struggling to ramp up staffing in a tight labor market. During the pandemic, a $54 billion federal aid package prohibited U.S. carriers from laying off staff, but carriers urged thousands of employees to take early retirement or other optional packages.


Weekly TSA Numbers

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The Pilot Network Conference

  • TPNx is the annual networking conference that is part job fair, part mastermind, and part hangar party; it is all opportunity for us as aviation professionals. This is our chance to bring the companies that support and employ us to come together for a weekend of synergy!
  • Tickets: We are limiting this event to 400 tickets on Saturday and 400 tickets on Sunday. You are welcome to attend for a single day, or both (add each day to your cart separately for purchase).
  • Dates: 23-24 April 2022
  • Location: Orlando International Airport (MCO), C Terminal
  • Dress Code: Casual (no suits allowed). Look nice but be comfortable. Polo Shirts and jeans are recommended.
  • Spouses: We encourage spouses to attend. Companion ticket information will be emailed to you.
  • Resumes & Published Application: Highly encouraged if interested in a 1-on-1 meeting with Airline Recruiters.


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