Tuesday, October 16, 2018

New startup Genghis Khan Airlines formally signs for ARJ21s

ARJ21 being prepared for delivery to Genghis Khan Airlines.

New Chinese regional carrier Genghis Khan Airlines has formally signed a contract with the Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China (COMAC) for ARJ21 regional jets, confirming plans to begin flying early next year.

The first ARJ21 delivery is scheduled for the end of 2018, COMAC said, confirming an Aug. 21 ATW report.

In August, an industry source said the company had already placed the order, but the formal signing ceremony was held Oct. 15.

COMAC did not specify the quantity in its latest announcement, but Genghis Khan Airlines said it plans to have 25 ARJ21s in five years.

The new carrier is owned by companies of the central and Inner Mongolian provincial government. It will be based at Hohhot, the capital of Inner Mongolia.

Genghis Khan Airlines will be the second operator of the ARJ21 and the first that is independent of COMAC. Lead ARJ21 operator Chengdu Airlines is a subsidiary of the manufacturer. 

(Bradley Perrett - AviationWeek / ATWOnline News)

Aerion's supersonic business jet to meet U.S. noise standards

A Digital rendering of the Aerion AS2 Supersonic Business Jet is seen in this image provided by Aerion, October 15, 2018.

Aerion Supersonic, the developer of a $120 million supersonic business jet, said on Monday it would be able to take off and land without regulatory changes in the United States, a potential boost to efforts to bring back faster air travel.

General Electric's GE Aviation unit has completed initial designs for the new Affinity turbofan engine, which will be used in Aerion's AS2 jet, the companies said on the eve of the world's largest business jet show.

"We're on track to fly in 2023, and before that year is out cross the Atlantic at supersonic speed, which will be the first supersonic crossing since the Concorde's retirement 20 years earlier," Aerion chief executive Tom Vice said ahead of the Oct. 16-18 NBAA event in Orlando, Florida.

A push by U.S. start-ups Aerion, Boom Supersonic and Spike Aerospace to re-introduce supersonic passenger travel, for the first time since Anglo-French Concorde retired in 2003, has triggered a debate over noise even at the subsonic level.

Until now, supersonic designs have struggled to meet current subsonic noise standards due to engine constraints.

GE said the engine would enable supersonic flight over water and subsonic flight over land without regulatory changes.

"In the last 50 years, business aircraft speeds have increased by less than 10 percent," said GE vice-president Brad Mottier. The next step, he said, "is speed."

Honeywell Aerospace will develop the cockpit for the AS2 and is "talking with everybody that's making supersonic aircraft," Carl Esposito, president of the company's electronic solutions business, said in an interview.

(Allison Lampert - Reuters)

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Air Tahiti Nui Boeing 787-9 (39297/750) F-OMUA "Fakarava"

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Arrives at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on October 9, 2018 as she passes thru Southern California on her delivery flight which started this morning from the Boeing factory at Charleston Air Force Base/International Airport Charleston, South Carolina.

Operating as "Air Tahiti Nui 940 - THT940 / TN940" she departed Charleston at 11:59 EDT and arrived at Will Rogers World Airport (OKC/KOKC) Oklahoma City, OK at 13:04 CDT.

Following her visit to Oklahoma City, she departed at 14:40 CDT bound for LAX were she arrived at 15:14 PDT.

Air Tahiti Nui receives first Boeing 787-9


Air Tahiti Nui has received the first of four Boeing 787-9s it has on order, which will replace its ageing Airbus A340-300s.

The first aircraft F-OMUA (39297/750) "Fakarava" is being leased from Air Lease Corporation (ALC). Out of the four 787s the airline is planning to take, two are leased from ALC, while the other two are ordered directly from Boeing.

Boeing says each aircraft is configured with 294 seats across three classes: 30 business, 32 premium economy, and 232 in economy, and will operate to destinations such as Auckland, Los Angeles, Paris, and Tokyo.

"The Tahitian Dreamliner will make flying to one of the world's treasures an unforgettable experience, as we introduce new seats and a culturally inspired cabin on the 787. As we celebrate our 20th anniversary this year, the 787 Dreamliner will guide us towards another successful 20 years and beyond," says Michel Monvoisin, Air Tahiti Nui's chairman and chief executive.

Flight Fleets Analyzer shows that the second 787-9 (42116/796) F-ONUI "Bora Bora" is scheduled to be delivered in December. The remaining two 787s on order will arrive in the first half of 2019. All four aircraft are powered by the General Electric GEnx 1B engines.
(Firdaus Hashim - FlightGlobal News)

Monday, October 8, 2018

Gulfstream G650 (c/n 6354) N654GA

Another new green G650 arrived at the Gulfstream Service Center at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on October 4, 2018 as "GLF64" from the factory at Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport (SAV/KSAV).

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Southwest capacity outpaces traffic for sixth straight month

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-8H4(S/W) (42534/6437) N8539V taxies to Rwy 30 at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on October 5, 2018.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

September marked the sixth straight month that Southwest Airlines saw capacity growth outpace revenue passenger-miles (RPMs), suggesting supposed short-term challenges that dragged down mid-year performance may be lingering, even as its revenue outlook remains solid.

The Dallas-based carrier increased its year-over-year ASMs by 6.8% last month, while RPMs grew 5.3%, it said Oct. 5. The September gap helped push year-to-date ASM growth past the RPM increase, 3.0%-2.8%.

Southwest’s third-quarter operation faced weather-related disruptions that forced it cancel more than 2,200 flights, primarily in the Denver, Baltimore/Washington DC and the Southeast US. That led it to cut its Q3 ASM growth forecast to 3.5%-4%, down from 4.5%-5%. It ended near the top of its guidance, at 3.9%, while RPMs rose 2.7%

Momentum generated during a strong first quarter (Q1) was interrupted by the April 17 inflight engine failure that left one passenger dead. Southwest suspended its marketing after the accident and reported a short-term decline in bookings, which helped contribute to a rare YOY decline in monthly RPMs.

The airline has also struggled to optimize its schedule and grow as planned following last year’s fast-tracking of Boeing 737 Classic retirements ahead of taking delivery of its first 737 MAX-family aircraft. Southwest ended the first quarter with a fleet of 717s, compared to 727 in the year-earlier period and 735 at the mid-point of 2017, just before the bulk of the Classic retirements. Even with fewer aircraft, first-quarter capacity grew 1.8%, because in part of the addition of early-morning and late-evening flights. Aviation Week Fleet Discovery shows the fleet count is now at 739, including 20 737-8s.

Speaking on the carrier’s second-quarter earnings call in July, Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said the accident-related headwinds had subsided, in part thanks to a rare summer fare sale. Fleet growth was helping with schedule optimization, with steady improvement expected through the third quarter as demand ramped up from the in-between, or shoulder, demand season to the summer peak season.

“[Our] flight schedule in Q3 is still somewhat sub-optimal, but the headwinds begin to subside in August as a percentage of shoulder flying begins to decrease as we overcome our fleet deficit,” Kelly explained. “The schedule impact in Q3 improved sequentially from Q2, but it’s still about a 0.5-point drag on Q3 RASM. And this penalty should subside wholly by Q4.”

Southwest increased Q2 ASMs 3.3%, while RPMs were up 2.2%.

While the fleet-related schedule issues could explain the weak third-quarter figures, they also may point to some larger issues, Delta Airport Consultants chief industry strategist Bill Swelbar said. The continued maturation of the US market makes finding new opportunities more challenging for everyone, he stressed.

Southwest’s Kelly acknowledged that market maturation in the current environment takes time, and the carrier prefers practicing patience over constantly shuffling its network in search of short-term winners.

“We have startup markets that sometimes will take several years before they reach the kind of maturity that we're satisfied with,” Kelly noted. “But I’ll tell you this, once we decide to put Southwest in a market, we are loathe to pull out. We have the overall cost structure and operating margins and balance sheet to be patient.”

Meanwhile, airlines continue to develop more sophisticated fare and product segments, giving them more flexibility to compete against lower-cost operators without completely wiping out their margins. While Southwest is now among the carriers with more advanced segmentation capabilities thanks largely to a new reservations system, it is merely catching up with most of its peers.

“The competition is smarter, whether it be the ULCCs or even the network carriers segmenting their product offerings and not ceding traffic to LCCs as they have in the past,” Swelbar noted.

Despite the capacity/traffic imbalance, Southwest has expressed confidence in its RASM outlook. A Sept. 12 investor update highlighted “continued passenger revenue momentum during third quarter 2018 with solid bookings and strength in close-in yield trends.” The carrier in late August changed its early-check-in fee structure, adding higher-priced options. It expects to generate $70-$80 million in Q3 pre-tax revenue from the move.

(Sean Broderick - AviationWeek / ATWOnline News)

Hawaiian closes GEnx purchase and services deal for 787s

Hawaiian Airlines has finalized deals with General Electric to purchase at least 20 GEnx engines to power its Boeing 787-9s, and to have GE maintain those engines.

The purchase, finalized in a definitive agreement reached by the companies on 1 October, also gives Hawaiian options to purchase another 20 GEnx and "a number of spare engines", Hawaiian says in a regulatory filing.

Also on 1 October Hawaiian signed a flight-hour services deal with GE Engine Services, under which GE will maintain Hawaiian's GEnx for 10 years. The agreement could be extended for six years after that, Hawaiian adds.
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The Honolulu-based airline estimates that the combined deals, including all options, could cost $1.7 billion.

Hawaiian ordered 10 787-9s earlier this year, saying at the time that it had selected GEnx engines to power the aircraft. Airlines can also purchase 787s with Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 powerplants.

The airline does not hold options for any more aircraft, according to FlightGlobal's Fleets Analyzer database.

Hawaiian expects to begin receiving its 787-9s in 2021, it says.

Airlines have chosen GEnx to power about 60% of the in-service and on-order fleet of 787s, Fleets Analyzer shows. Rolls-Royce holds 30% share of those aircraft, while engine choices on 10% of that fleet remain undisclosed, data shows.

(Jon Hemmerdinger - FlightGlobal News)

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Aruba Airlines Airbus A320-232 (c/n 573) P4-AAC "Tio Elias"

Captured on short final to Rwy 30 at Miami International Airport (MIA/KMIA) on February 8, 2017.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Originally delivered to Air Macau as CS-MAD on February 27, 1996 she served with the carrier until being leased to Ryan International Airlines as N573DC on February 12, 1999.

Returning to Air Macau as B-MAD on December 15, 2000 the carrier operated her until early 2003 when the aircraft was leased to Sichuan Airlines as B-6025 on April 1, 2003.

Beginning on June 30, 2010, Hebei Airlines leased the aircraft from Sichuan Airlines and operated it until returning the A320 to Sichuan Airlines on July 11, 2011.

Sichuan continued operating the aircraft until returning it to International Lease Fiance Corporation (ILFC) on February 20, 2013.

On July 19, 2013 Aruba Airlines put the aircraft into service and operated it until it was withdrawn from use (WFU) on February 28, 2017 just 20 days after the above photo was taken. The aircraft was then stored at Phoenix-Goodyear Litchfield Municiple Airport (GYR/KGYR) on March 11, 2017 and later scrapped in October 2017.

Monday, October 1, 2018

United adds Boeing 787s and expands U.S. coast-to-coast routes

United Airlines said on Monday it placed an order for nine more Boeing 787 wide-bodies and is also increasing its coast-to-coast flights between New York and Los Angeles and San Francisco.

The third-largest U.S. carrier's order brings Boeing's total 787 orders for 2018 to 105 aircraft, already surpassing the 94 orders it received in all of 2017, a source familiar with the deal said.

The expanded routes are part of United's plans to increase its capacity for this year by around 4.5 percent to 5 percent, a quicker growth rate than other airlines in the industry.

Reuters reported in May that United was in talks with plane makers Airbus and Boeing over the purchase of wide-body, long-haul passenger jets to replace a fleet of 50 Boeing 767 aircraft.

United said on Monday it was increasing flights between New York and Los Angeles and San Francisco to 27 daily flights. Its new 787-10 jets, the newest and longest variant in Boeing's Dreamliner family, will enter service early next year.

The carrier said it would be the first North American airline to operate the 787-10 Dreamliner on select flights between those cities.

(Tracy Rucinski and Eric M. Johnson - Reuters) 

Thursday, September 27, 2018

jetBlue Airbus A320-232 (c/n 3811) N779JB "Bluericua"

Dedicated to Puerto Rico, jetBlues latest special liveried aircraft arrives at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) this afternoon (September 27) lighting up the sky with this absolutely gorgeous blue airplane,

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Southwest Is the Latest Airline to Add Free Messaging on Flights

Southwest Airlines is now offering free in-flight messaging to passengers, USA Today reported. So the next time you need to send a message to friends or family while you’re in the air, you no longer have to have that internal debate as to whether it's worth paying for the in-flight Wi-Fi.

Passengers can of course still purchase Wi-Fi on Southwest flights; the price is $8 for the duration of the flight for web browsing, email, and social media (but not video streaming).

At the moment, the free messaging is not available on all Southwest flights. If your flight does not offer the complimentary service, there is a charge of $2 per day, per device. Messaging on Southwest works with WhatsApp, Viber and iMessage, but not SMS messages. To see if free messaging is available on your flight, you can check Southwest's in-flight entertainment portal, according to CNBC.

Other airlines, like Delta, Alaska Airlines, and United also offer free messaging, though services vary across carriers. Free messaging is typically only available on flights with Wi-Fi, and may or may not include certain apps.

(Andrea Romano - Travel+Leisure) 

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

jetBlue Airbus A320-232 (c/n 2970) N648JB "Hasta La Vista"

This is the second aircraft to sport the "jetBlue Vacations" livery. She is captured taxiing to then rolling for takeoff on Rwy 30 at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) bound for Salt Lake City (SLC/KSLC) on September 25, 2018.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Monday, September 24, 2018

Singapore Airlines welcomes first A350-941(ULR) into its fleet

Launch customer Singapore Airlines took delivery of its first Airbus A350-941(ULR) (c/n 222) 9V-SGA on September 22, the first of seven the carrier has on order. The aircraft will be placed into service Oct. 11 operating nonstop service between Singapore Changi Airport (SIN/WSSS) and New York Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR/KEWR), the world’s longest route, average flying time 18 hr. 45 min.

The aircraft has a range of approximately 9,700 nautical miles and is configured in a two-class layout, consisting of 67 business and 94 premium-economy seats.

Following Newark, Singapore Airlines will commence service on two additional nonstop transpacific routes to Los Angeles (LAX/KLAX) and San Francisco (SFO/KSFO).

Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong said the A350-941(ULR) will “bring more convenience and comfort to our customers and will enable us to operate ultra-long-range flights in a commercially viable manner. It will help us boost our network competitiveness and further grow the Singapore hub.”

At present, only two carriers are operating the A350-941 on scheduled services into Los Angeles (Delta Airlines and Hong Kong Airlines) so we are very much looking forward to seeing this aircraft here in Los Angeles!

(Michal Carter - Editor, Aero Pacific Flightlines)

India’s SpiceJet takes Bombardier’s first 90-seat Q400

Indian LCC SpiceJet has taken delivery of the first 90-seat version of Bombardier’s Q400 turboprop, the manufacturer said Sept. 21.

The entry of the extra-capacity aircraft into commercial service is a milestone for Bombardier’s Q400 program and gives the Canadian manufacturer a needed boost since the July turnover of the CSeries jet program to Airbus. The 90-seat version of the Q400 was certified by Transport Canada in early August.

SpiceJet is the launch customer for the 90-seat Q400, having firmed an order in September 2017 for 25 of the type, with options for an additional 25.

SpiceJet’s order remains Bombardier’s largest single booking for Q400 aircraft to date, valued at $1.7 billion total. The 90-seat version offers 15% more passenger capacity, and a 15% reduction of seat costs, compared to the standard 78-seat configuration, according to Bombardier Commercial Aircraft SVP-commercial Colin Bole.

“The 90-seat option demonstrates the increased profitability potential this unique turboprop has to offer,” Bole said, an opinion seconded by SpiceJet chairman and MD Ajay Singh. “The additional seats and performance improvements will result in substantial reduction in unit costs,” Singh said. “[With it] we will be able to address our market needs in the regional space.”

Additional improvements for the Q400 include an in-progress 2,000-lb. payload increase, as well as an expansion of the Q400’s A and C check maintenance intervals from 600 to 800 hours and 6,000 to 8,000 hours, respectively.

Bombardier is looking to develop a trend among some carriers—like Ethiopian Airlines and Canada’s WestJet—to work the Q400 into mainline schedules, leveraging the aircraft’s 360-kt maximum cruise speed on routes that cannot support mainline narrowbodies, or on routes that require more frequency instead of higher-capacity aircraft.

“There’s been a change in the Q400 marketplace in the last few years,” Bombardier Commercial Aircraft VP & head of marketing Patrick Baudis said in May. “Airlines were operating turboprops in isolation mode, which doesn’t take advantage of the Q400’s capabilities. Now, some are fully integrating the Q400 operations into a jet operation. That changes the dynamic.”

The expanded Q400 gained a second customer in recent weeks, as China’s CIB Leasing converted half of its standing order for 10 CRJ900 jets to five 90-seat Q400s in early September.

In its most recent Q series program status report, from June 30, Bombardier reported a backlog of 56 Q400s, for customers including Angola’s Air Connection Express, South Africa’s CemAir, Canadian aerial firefighting company Conair, Ethiopian Airlines, Philippine Airlines, Kazakhstan regional carrier Qazaq Air and SpiceJet.

(Mark Nensel - ATWOnline News)

KLM cuts two African routes to add Las Vegas service

Dutch SkyTeam carrier KLM will stop services to Freetown in Sierra Leone and Monrovia in Liberia from summer 2019, freeing up capacity for 3X-weekly flights between Amsterdam and Las Vegas.

“In order to open Las Vegas as a new destination, changes had to be made to KLM’s network. KLM was forced to revise its portfolio of destinations sooner than expected partly because of Schiphol’s slot restrictions.

From March 29, 2019, KLM will stop flying to Freetown in Sierra Leone and Monrovia in Liberia. While the Freetown/Monrovia route launched in 2017 would have previously been given more time to grow in terms of performance, KLM is now compelled to deploy its fleet and slots differently,” KLM said, announcing the cuts.

Air France will continue to operate a direct service to Freetown from Paris Charles de Gaulle.

In place of the two West African links, KLM is adding 2X-weekly Las Vegas from June 6, 2019, building to 3X-weekly on July 2, 2019.

“Las Vegas will become KLM’s 18th North Atlantic destination,” KLM president and CEO Pieter Elbers said.

He added the new route will increase access to US west-coast connecting flights.

The route will be served by 294-seat Boeing 787-9s, with 30 seats in world business class, 45 in economy comfort and 219 in economy.

“The new KLM flights will extend Air France-KLM’s transatlantic network and strengthen its joint venture portfolio with Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines,” KLM said.

(Victoria Moores - ATWOnline News)

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Airbus Mobile delivers first biofuel-powered A321 to JetBlue


Airbus sent JetBlue Airways’ latest A321ceo off on its delivery flight Sept. 19 from Mobile, Alabama, with 15.5% renewable jet fuel onboard, continuing a trend the manufacturer started with its Toulouse delivery flights two years ago.

The JetBlue delivery and four others slated for the rest of the year will help Airbus determine what its next steps are for expanding its biofuel-supply options at Mobile. The manufacturer expects to offer the option to more Mobile customers as well as to align itself with Southeastern US biofuel suppliers in other way.

“It is an opportunity to work closely with local stakeholders to scale-up production and the commercialization of sustainable aviation fuels in the region,” Airbus New Energies head Frederic Eychenne said. “We are actively seeking ideas to leverage Airbus’ strategy into opportunities for new economic development in Alabama.” Air BP supplies Airbus with the biofuel—a hydroprocessed esters and fatty acids (HEFA) fuel based on used cooking oil—for its Mobile operations.

The flight marked the first time a JetBlue aircraft was powered using biofuel, but the airline has grand plans. In 2016, it cut a 10-year deal with biofuels provider SG Preston to supply the carrier with HEFA-based fuel. Deliveries are slated to start next year.

New York-based JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes indicated the carrier’s work with Airbus could expand beyond customer-acceptance and delivery flights.

“Our goal is to serve as a market-maker for renewable jet fuel, creating demand and therefore supporting supply,” Hayes said. “We’re working closely with Airbus to set up infrastructure for more options in the southeast region.”

Airbus’ customer-delivery flights using biofuel were launched based on an idea from Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific in 2015. The program was up and running a year later and is now available to any Toulouse delivery customer. Airbus plans to expand the biofuel-delivery option to its Hamburg production site soon.

(Sean Broderick - Aviation Week)

Vista Global acquires XOJET

Thomas Flohr’s Vista Global has acquired XOJET, the third largest US business jet charter operator by flight hours.

Vista Global says that the acquisition of XOJET will allow it to expand further in the US. It launched VistaJet in America in September 2013.

“The journey started when I first saw an opportunity in the fragmented and inconsistent offering across the industry. Vista Global’s mission is to provide customer-centric solutions for every segment of business aviation and today’s announcement is a major step in that direction,” said Thomas Flohr, Vista Global founder and chairman. “This acquisition is the perfect addition to our global business. XOJET’s strength in North America and its reputation for offering great value perfectly complement VistaJet and the other businesses in the group.”

XOJET’s largest shareholders were TPG, one of the world’s most-successful aviation investors, and Mubadalla, the sovereign wealth fund of Abu Dhabi. Although TPG was the largest shareholder, Mubadalla financed the fleet and held significant amounts of XOJET debt.

XOJET will continue to operate independently, under a new joint venture company, with control and leadership remaining in US hands to meet airline ownership regulations. The carrier has a fleet of 44 business jets, which includes 27 Cessna Citation Xs.

Corporate Jet Investor understands that 10 companies were originally interested in acquiring the company, with a final round of bidding including three companies. Shareholders first held talks during the 2017 NBAA convention.

“I am incredibly proud to be making today’s announcement which will see our company become part of a fantastic family of brands.” said Bradley Stewart, chairman & CEO, XOJET. “Becoming part of Vista Global will enable XOJET to achieve our dream of becoming a truly global business, providing us with the very best technology and infrastructure. I believe that Vista Global and XOJET are fundamentally aligned in our commitment to serving clients. I am looking forward to working with the Vista Global team and its companies in the future.”

The price has not been announced with the deal expected to close during the third quarter of 2018.

Jefferies was the financial advisor to Vista Global, with Latham & Watkins legal advisors. Perella Weinberg Partners advised XOJET.

ARGUS says that XOJET flew 46,739 flight hours in the first six months of 2018. GAMA Aviation (which operates for itself and for Wheels Up) flew 72,885 hours followed by Executive Jet Management with 58,305 hours.

(Alud Davies - Editor-at-large Corporate Jet Investor)

Monday, September 10, 2018

JetBlue's founder explains why his new airline bought the $300 million Airbus jet that others don't want


The Airbus A330neo is expected to enter service later this year with launch customer TAP Air Portugal.

Airbus has struggled to find buyers for the next-generation variant of its workhorse A330 airliner.

TAP co-owner and JetBlue founder David Neeleman told Business Insider that the plane's price, performance, and cockpit commonality with other Airbus products sealed the deal for the A330neo.

The Airbus A330-900neo lists for $296.4 million.

The Airbus A330neo is Europe's answer to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Like the Dreamliner, it's a ready-made replacement for the aging Boeing 767 and older Airbus models likes the A330ceo and A340. But unlike the Boeing 787, the A330neo has not had the sales success of its US rival with just 224 orders on the books. In comparison, Boeing has taken nearly 1,400 orders for the Dreamliner.

Launched in 2014, the A330neo is a next-generation development of the airframer's long-time workhorse A330ceo wide-body twinjet. However, the A330neo has been beset by delays concerning its Rolls-Royce engines and overshadowed by its flashier carbon composite sibling, the A350XWB.

This fall, the Airbus A330-900neo is finally expected to enter service this fall with launch customer TAP Air Portugal.

So why has Portugal's national airline gone with the A330neo instead of the A350 or Boeing Dreamliner?

(David Slotnick - Business Insider)

According to the TAP's co-owner and serial airline entrepreneur David Neeleman, it came down to the company's familiarity with Airbus, how well the A330neo fit with its route network, and finally price.

"We were already kind of with Airbus so it's harder to make the switch," the JetBlue founder told us in a recent interview.

TAP currently operates an all-Airbus fleet headlined by the A320 family and the A330ceo.

"Airbus is really good at cockpit commonality, so when we go to train a pilot between an A320 and an A330, it's a pretty easy step up," he added.

That effectively put the Boeing Dreamliner out of contention. But what about the A350?

"The A350 is a good airplane, but it's kind of too much airplane for us," Neeleman said. "One of the advantages of the A350 is its range. You can go 16 or 17 hours on and we didn't need that range."

Many of the A350's customers find the plane's nearly 10,000-mile range to be invaluable for ultra-long-haul routes connecting Asia with Europe and North America. However, TAP's route network is designed to connect Portugal with North America and the country's former colonies. For example, TAP's non-stop service between Lisbon, Portugal, and Sao Paulo, Brazil is one of the airline's bread and butter routes. It's also one of its longest routes at just over 10 hours while covering around 5,000 miles. Thus, the A330-900neo's 8,300 miles range will more than suffice.

And then there's the issue of money.

The A330-900neo lists for $296.4 million while the comparable A350-900 costs $21 million per plane.

"We actually had an order for 12 A350s, but we needed more airplanes," Neeleman said.

According to Neeleman, the A330neo boasted all of the fuel-saving features of the A350, including next-generation engines, new avionics, and optimized aerodynamics, but comes at a much lower price.

"It kind of did everything we needed based on the money we had to spend so we ended up going with the A330neo," he said.

In 2015, TAP replaced the A350 order with a deal for 14 A330neos.

The A330neo has netted 224 orders from airlines around the world headlined by Malaysian low-cost carrier AirAsia X as its largest customer with 66 on order. The A330neo's only US airline customer is Delta with 25 orders on the books.

Earlier this year, American Airlines and Hawaiian Airlines both canceled Airbus orders in favor of the Boeing Dreamliner. Hawaiian's defection to the Boeing camp is particularly painful for Airbus because it was the last airline with orders for the smaller variant of the A330neo, the A330-800neo.

According to Hawaiian Airlines CEO Peter Ingram, the A330neo's lack of sale was one of the reasons why the carrier opted to go with the Boeing.

"Unfortunately, the A330-800 has not proved to be as popular in the marketplace," Ingram said in an interview with Business Insider earlier this year. "But for us, it doesn't make sense to remain committed to an airplane that had the risk of not being sufficiently accepted in the marketplace in the future."

(Benjamin Zhang - Business Insider)

Boeing rolls out its first 777X widebody, but it will never fly


Boeing has built and rolled out its first 777X wide-body from its factory in Everett last week, but it will never actually fly.

Instead, the first of the Chicago-based jet maker's largest and most advanced airplane ever built will undergo 12 months of "static" testing and verification of load-bearing parts in its airframe and wings.

The first test aircraft, featuring wings made by its new automated composite wing center, will be followed by four more 777Xs being produced for full Boeing flight testing.

The sixth jet produced by the line will be used for structures fatigue testing, Boeing Vice President of Global Brand Marketing Jerry Verghes said on his LinkedIn page.

"It's an exciting time for us and for the passengers of our customers — All Nippon Airways, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Etihad, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways and Singapore — as the world's longest (252 feet) and widest (235 feet) commercial jet airplane comes to life," Verghes wrote.

The 777X was introduced at the Dubai Airshow in 2013. It has since garnered 326 orders.

Boeing said last summer it is on schedule to deliver the first 406-seat 777X in 2020.

Cowen aerospace analyst Cai von Rumohr said in a recent report that Boeing's 777X spending will increase this year and next as it prepares for flight tests and delivery of the aircraft to the first customers.

"777X/777 cash drain will increase in 2019 but should be comfortably outweighed by potential plus swings elsewhere," von Rumohr said, adding that higher revenues should be generated by increased 737 and 787 passenger jet production, in addition to higher 767 Freighter production.

Boeing says the 777X aircraft's windows will be 30 percent larger than those on rival Airbus A350 jets and sit higher on the fuselage.

The 777X will also be the first commercial airplane with touchscreen technology in the cockpit. Folding wingtips will allow it to use wide-body gates at major airports, despite its larger size.

Boeing gave its most devoted aviation enthusiasts a tour of the new 777X aircraft in a video available online.

"The static tests really represent the home stretch of our program," Boeing 777X program test leader Doreen Bingo said in that video.

(Andrew McIntosh - Puget Sound Business Journal)

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Skechers USA Inc. Bombardier Challenger 604 (CL-600-2B16) (c/n 5482) N581TS

Captured on short final to Rwy 30 at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on September 6, 2018.
(Photo by Michael Carter)