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The DOJ wants to know how commercial airlines ended up with ‘thousands of bogus engine parts.’

Earlier this year, European regulators found that a London company called AOG Technics was using forged documents to sell thousands of uncertified engine parts that have been installed in older Airbus and Boeing jets.

Bloomberg reports that the US Department of Justice is now investigating the issue,

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The Biden administration earmarks $292 million to reduce US airplane emissions.

The FAA has announced that applications for the Fueling Aviation’s Sustainable Transition (FAST) grants are now open. It’s offering $245 million in funding for sustainable aviation fuel production and other infrastructure projects. The administration also approved $47 million in FAST grants for low-emission aviation technology projects.

Both blocks of funding are part of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. They’re supposed to “help aviation reach net-zero by 2050” as part of a goal Biden laid out by executive order in 2021. However, the UN recently said governments should move this goal forward by a decade.

“I’m flying off the wing of something that’s making its own decisions. And it’s not a human brain.”

...said an Air Force pilot quoted in a story about the challenges and realities of the Air Force’s Skyborg AI wingman program in The New York Times today.

It’s not quite that fake story about an AI drone killing its handler to circumvent its directives, but this passage tells a similar story about surprising, if less problematic, AI problem-solving:

In early tests, the autonomous drones already have shown that they will act in unusual ways, with the Valkyrie in one case going into a series of rolls. At first, Major Elder thought something was off, but it turned out that the software had determined that its infrared sensors could get a clearer picture if it did continuous flips.

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NASA’s electric plane project has been grounded.

In October 2021, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson told The Verge in an interview that NASA was “getting ready to fly” the electric X-57. Unfortunately it never will, reports Popular Science:

NASA said today in a conference call with reporters that it would not ever be flying its experimental electric aircraft, the X-57, citing safety concerns that are insurmountable with the time and budget they have for the project. The X-57 program will wind down without the aircraft ever going up into the sky. 

NASA said the fix would take too long to implement, but says the project’s game-changing lessons “have contributed to the industry.” The agency is currently working with Boeing on a more fuel-efficient aircraft design.

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Boeing acquires autonomous air taxi startup Wisk.

This was probably inevitable after Kitty Hawk, the ambitious “flying car” startup funded by Google co-founder Larry Page, shut down last year. Wisk was formed in 2019 as a joint venture with Kitty Hawk and aerospace giant Boeing, so without Kitty Hawk, Boeing had the choice to either cut off funding for Wisk completely or acquire the startup. It went with option B.

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“This is the nightmare scenario in American aviation.”

This breakdown of a near-collision between two planes in Austin is a hair-raising read. It is also a narrowly-averted disaster that has been predicted for the last 20 years.

Let’s prevent the next mass casualty event now, okay? Safety is a system, and the Austin airport needs better gear for flying in low visibility.

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If you’re supposed to be flying today, I’m very sorry.

Reuters reports that a whopping 3,900 US flights have been canceled today. That’s in addition to “nearly 2,700” flights that were supposed to take off yesterday.

Frustrated holiday travelers can thank severe winter weather conditions, which are currently moving through the midwest towards the northeast. Delays are likely “from Boston to D.C. Metropolitan area airports, Seattle-Tacoma and Portland International Airports and Aspen”, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said.

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Wow, something’s actually getting cheaper.

The TSA has announced that registering for PreCheck is getting $7 cheaper, letting you get or renew a five-year membership for $78.

In an age where seemingly everything is getting more expensive, it’s nice to see something actually going down in price. Still, I don’t think you should sign up — mostly because I love short PreCheck lines, and those will go away if more people have it.

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Pilots think 5G is messing with their planes.

Despite concerns about how C-band 5G would affect vital equipment on planes, the FAA has largely given AT&T and Verizon the thumbs-up to roll the tech out.

As this report from IEEE Spectrum points out, though, several pilots have blamed it for malfunctions. It’s possible they’re only noticing the issues because of the hubbub, but the article does a great job at explaining the reports.