Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Vacation Time!!

Greetings All, 

It is time for the end of summer break, so there will not be any updates for the next couple weeks while my wife and I enjoy a much needed hiatus as we sip wine in France.

Take care and Cheers

Michael Carter - Editor and Chief 
Aero Pacific Flightlines

Cessna 525 CitationJet Cj1 (c/n 525-0504) N9915Z

Operated by Go Far Aviation LLC (actual owner Dexter Holland, lead singer of the band "The Offspring"), this lovely 525 CitiationJet is captured on a very short final to Rwy 30 at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on September 13, 2016.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Monday, September 19, 2016

jetBlue Airbus A320-232 (c/n 1705) N534JB "Bada Bing Bada Blue"

Climbs from Rwy 12 bound for New York John F Kennedy International Airport (JFK/KJFK) on September 16, 2016.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Gulfstream G650 (c/n 6229) N629GA

Arrives at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) from Savannah-Hilton Head (SAV/KSAV) as "GLF65" at 12:11 PDT.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Embraer EMB-550 "Legacy 500" (c/n 55000007) N424ML

Operated by LH Aviation LLC, this lovely aircraft is captured on short final to Rwy 30 at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on September 19, 2016.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Aeromexico Boeing 737-852 (39944/4949) XA-AMM

Holding short of Rwy 25R at Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS/KLAS) wearing special markings promoting the carriers frequent flyer program "Club Premier" on September 18, 2016.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

JetBlue to Burn Renewable Biofuel Mix on Some New York Flights

JetBlue Airways Corp. will burn a mixture of biofuel and traditional jet kerosene on some flights at New York City-area airports under a 10-year purchase agreement designed to cut aircraft pollution and costs.

The airline will purchase more than 33 million gallons of blended fuel annually under the contract with S.G. Preston Co., a bioenergy company based in Philadelphia, JetBlue said in a statement Monday. It is the longest and among the largest of such agreements in the U.S. aviation industry, the New York-based carrier said.

United Continental Holdings Inc. and Southwest Airlines Co. have made similar arrangements to try to reduce jet emissions which, according to the United Nations, account for about 2 percent of the world’s greenhouse-gas output. A proposed climate accord that would limit global aircraft emissions may be completed at a meeting this fall of the UN’s aviation agency. The U.S. currently has no such standards.

“We are not going to sit around and wait for a legislator to tell us we have to buy a certain type of fuel that doesn’t exist on the market yet,” Sophia Mendelsohn , JetBlue’s head of sustainability, said in an interview. “We have to be proactive.”

New Refinery

The new fuel will be a mix of 30 percent propellant made from renewable plant oils and 70 percent jet kerosene. S.G. Preston is building a refinery to produce the biofuel, and JetBlue will begin using it in the first quarter of 2019. While the biofuel is competitively priced with traditional jet A kerosene, the program is expected to reduce the carrier’s fuel costs, Mendelsohn said. She declined to be more specific.

The portion of the fuel from plant oils is projected to cut emissions at least 50 percent per gallon. The reduction for the blended product is expected to be “a very good number,” she said, but was unable to provide a figure.

The amount to be purchased equals about 20 percent of the airline’s annual fuel use at John F. Kennedy International Airport and 4.7 percent of its total yearly consumption. About 20 percent of JetBlue’s daily flights originate at a New York metropolitan area airport, where the fuel will be used.

United in March began using sustainable biofuel on daily flights at Los Angeles International Airport under a three-year, 15 million-gallon agreement with AltAir Paramount LLC. Southwest and FedEx Corp. will use biofuel produced by Red Rock Biofuels LLC from forest waste. The Fort Collins, Colorado-based company expects to begin construction of its first refinery this year and to ship jet fuel starting in 2018, said Southwest, which will buy 3 million gallons a year.

(Mary Schlangenstein - Bloomberg)

Southwest Airlines rolls out Las Vegas service from Long Beach Airport

Taxies on "Lima" towards Rwy 30.

Commencing our takeoff roll.

 Short final to Rwy 30.

(Photos by Jason Jorgensen)

I did the inaugural Southwest Airlines flight between Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) and Las Vegas (LAS/KLAS) today, September 18, 2016. The flight (WN2138) was operated with Boeing 737-7H4 (36889/2679) N927WN. (I free-loaded on this flight as it was wide open).

We pushed 4 minutes early at 09:46 and were airborne at 09:56 and after 48 minutes in the air we touched down on Rwy 25L in Las Vegas at 10:44 blocking in at 10:47. I would be returning to Long Beach at 12:05 and this would be my aircraft for the return flight.

As I wondered around the gate area I ran across a couple folks that I had worked with at LAX (Kenny Jinbo) and SNA (David Tilbury) during my years with the carrier and it was so very nice to chat with each of them.

The return flight (WN6198) to Long Beach commenced boarding promptly at 11:35 and I was first to board behind the pre-boarding passengers as I used awards points and bought a ticket as the return flight was booked full and somehow I managed to get A1. We again pushed early at 12:02 and were off the deck at 12:16. A very short 40 minutes in the air, we touched down on Rwy 30 at Long Beach Airport at 12:56 and blocked in at 12:59.

Both flights were great and ran like clock work. It is to bad this service will only last until the first of next year as the 3 slots we are using for the flights go back to jetBlue at that point.

(Michael Carter - Aero Pacific Flightlines -Editor and Chief)

Airbus could be making some serious changes to its business

Airbus Group is in the midst of a period of financial uncertainty.

In July, the European aviation giant announced $1.5 billion in charges due to setbacks in the company's A350 airliner and A400M military transport programs.

In response, Airbus Group CEO Tom Enders will announce a major restructuring and cost cutting plan next month, the FT's Peggy Hollinger reported.

According to the FT, the plan will see Enders take tighter control over the Airbus' civil aviation subsidiary, which accounts for the majority of the group's income.

Further, Hollinger reported that Enders plans to streamline duplicate positions that exist within the mother company and its subsidiaries.

Airbus has struggled to ramp up development and production of its next generation A350 airliner. Even though the company remains committed to a goal of producing 10 of the wide-body jets per month by 2018, Airbus delivered just 12 A350s to customers over the first half of the year.

At the same time, the A400M military transport has beset by a series of technical issues and development delays. In June, the German government grounded two of its three A400Ms due to issues with the aircraft's drivetrain.

According to Bloomberg, the A400M is more than four years late and $5.6 billion over budget.

In addition to the charges, Airbus will also slow down production of the A380 superjumbo from 27 planes a year to 12 a year in 2018 to buy the sales team more time to secure orders.

Airbus representatives were not immediately available for comment.

(Benjamin Zhang - Business Insider)

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Why Nigeria's airlines are struggling to survive

Arik Air was forced to temporarily shutdown operations on Tuesday due to insurance problems. 
(Photo by Ben King)

Nigeria's aviation sector is in dismal shape right now.

A recession, combined with a shortage of dollars, high costs and scarce fuel supplies have created the perfect storm for the industry.

One domestic airline went bust at the start of the month and another has halted services, citing problems getting hold of foreign currencies. Major international airlines -- including United Airlines and Spanish carrier Iberia -- have stopped operating in Nigeria altogether.

On top of it all, a temporary shutdown this week by the country's largest airline -- Arik Air -- set off alarm bells.

Arik Air has since resumed operations after Tuesday's shutdown, and Arik's chairman was quick to point out that it was not due to wider problems in the sector. But he admits that business conditions are tough.

Johnson Arumemi-Ikhide, chairman of Arik Group, told CNNMoney that the shutdown, which left hundreds of passengers stranded, came after the airline's insurance expired.

The company had to scramble to get chartered planes for its passengers on Tuesday, and then scheduled additional flights on Wednesday to get operations back to normal.

Arumemi-Ikhide dismissed reports that the company was experiencing financial difficulties.

"Arik is profitable. It's not as profitable as the hard work we put in, but we made around $6 million to $7 million [last year]. When you look at our assets, cash and everything, we are positive. The issue of bankruptcy doesn't come to mind at all."

But Arumemi-Ikhide said Nigeria's capital controls, which restrict the flow of U.S. dollars within the country, hurts airlines. Essentially, some sectors have easier, cheaper access to dollars than the airlines. This has forced Arik to buy dollars through unofficial channels at a higher exchange rate.

In June, under pressure from low oil prices that have slammed Nigeria's export revenues, the central bank devalued the naira.

That in turn led to a further drop in the flow of U.S. dollars into the country as investors feared instability.

The currency crisis isn't the only problem. Profits in the notoriously tough airline industry are "thin" partly due to expensive fuel prices and scarce supplies, said Arumemi-Ikhide.

Additionally, poor infrastructure is an issue: Many runways are in bad repair, and it can be difficult for passengers to reach airports in the evenings.

"There's a need for the government to address some of the issues if they want the industry to survive," he said. "All the airlines are struggling."

Nonetheless, Arumemi-Ikhide said his company had a strong line of credit and was on track for an initial public offering in 15 months.

(Stephanie Busari - CNN Money)

Friday, September 16, 2016

US Air Force Grounds F-35s It Just Declared Ready for War

On Aug. 2, the Air Force said 10 F-35s at Hill Air Force Base in Utah were ready for war. Forty-four days later, those planes have been grounded in the latest embarrassing setback for the most expensive project in Pentagon history.

The problem: “peeling and crumbling insulation in avionics cooling lines inside the fuel tanks,” Air Force officials said in a statement on Friday afternoon. “Engineers with the F-35 Joint Program Office and Lockheed Martin and Hill Air Force Base maintenance Airmen have conducted inspections of eight aircraft and are currently developing procedures to resolve or mitigate the issue prior to release of affected production aircraft to the field and the return of affected operational aircraft to flight operations.”

The grounding order affects 57 aircraft, some of which belong to Norway, officials said. Fifteen of them are operational jets, the 42 others are in various states of production.

The grounding interrupts a general wave of progress for the $400 billion program, which made its debut at the Farnborough Air Show in England this summer and has been getting rave reviews from pilots. (In 2014, an engine fire caused the previous high-profile grounding and scotched the plane’s first planned trip to Farnborough.)

This new restriction is sure to cast a shadow over next week’s annual Air Force Association convention, where military leaders were expected to praise the aircraft’s latest achievements.

A spokesman for Lockheed Martin, the maker of the plane, said the 42 jets on its production line would be fixed before they’re delivered.

“This is not a technical or design issue,” Michael Rein said in an email. “It is supply chain manufacturing quality issue. It will likely require depot-level maintenance to address the corrective actions for the 15 jets in the field.”

The problem only affects the A model of the F-35, not the Marine Corps’ short-takeoff-and-vertical landing planes or the Navy’s carrier-capable aircraft.

“The root cause of the problem was determined to be use of nonconforming material for the tubing insulation and improper manufacturing processes during fabrication of the cooling lines,” the F-35 program office said in a statement. “The nonconforming material that was used is not compatible with fuel, causing degradation of the insulation and resulting in it falling off the tubing.”

(Marcus Weisgerber - Defense One News)

Las Vegas lands first-ever airline route to mainland China

It’s official: Las Vegas is getting its long-desired airline route to China.

Hainan Airlines will begin flying from Las Vegas on Dec. 2, launching three weekly flights to Beijing on Boeing 787 Dreamliners. The carrier announced its intention to operate the flights earlier this year, but received the needed regulatory approvals this week.

Hainan’s Beijing flights will give Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport its first-ever regularly scheduled nonstop route to mainland China, a destination that accounts for one of the fastest-growing segment of visitors to Las Vegas, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The Associated Press continues that theme, writing the new flights come as Las Vegas and Asian investors "are going all in on Chinese tourism as some of Las Vegas’ latest developments on and off the Strip target Chinese nationals and Chinese-Americans."

The Beijing service becomes Las Vegas’ second regularly scheduled route to Asia. Korean Air also flies from the city to its hub near Seoul.

For Hainan Air, Las Vegas continues a recent growth spurt for the carrier in the United States. The airline also has launched new routes from cities like Boston, Seattle and San Jose, Calif., during the past few years.

Hainan Air’s 213-seat Dreamliners are configured with 36 full flat-bed business-class seats in a 2-2-2 layout and 177 coach seats in a 3-3-3 layout.

(Ben Mutzabaugh - Today in the Sky / USA Today)

Los Angeles here we come as Austrian Airlines adds its first-ever route to U.S. West Coast

(Austrian Airlines)

Austrian Airlines will make Los Angeles its newest U.S. destination. The carrier will begin flying from the city on April 10 with service to its hub in Vienna.

Austrian will offer up to six flights a week during its summer schedule on Boeing 777 aircraft. The California-bound flight is scheduled for 12 hours, 30 minutes while the return to Austria is scheduled for 11 hours, 55 minutes.

The Los Angeles route -- Austrian's first-ever to the West Coast of the United States -- furthers a recent U.S. expansion by Austrian. It has also added service to Chicago O’Hare, Miami and Newark Liberty since the beginning of 2013.

“After Chicago, Newark and Miami, Los Angeles is now the fourth new flight destination and the so far biggest leap into the USA,” Andreas Otto, Austrian’s Chief Commercial Officer, says in a statement. “We will fly to the West Coast with our existing fleet and are already very excited about this new venture. Initially, the Los Angeles-Vienna route will be served seasonally in the summer 2017 flight schedule.”

Los Angeles will become Austrian’s sixth destination in the United States and its seventh in North America. Its others are Chicago O’Hare, Miami, New York JFK, Newark, Toronto and Washington Dulles.

Austrian expects “about two-thirds” of the passengers using its Los Angeles-Vienna route to connect to other destinations via its Vienna hub.

Austrian is part of the Lufthansa group that includes not only Lufthansa, but also Swiss International Air Lines and Eurowings. The Lufthansa Group also owns a minority stake in Brussels Airlines.

(Ben Mutzabaugh - Today in the Sky / USA Today)

Deer Jet Boeing 787-8 BBJ (35309/143) 2-DEER, ex N28MS

Seattle-Boeing Field (BFI/KBFI) being prepared for her delivery flight sporting her fresh new livery.  

Southern California Logistics Airport (VCV/KVCV) on August 10, 2016 wearing her original livery as she waits to enter the paint shop.

Deer Jet took delivery of  Boeing 787-8 BBJ on September 14, 2016. She had arrived at Boeing Field the previous day September 13 after receiving a modified livery and the addition of titles at the Boeing paint facilities at Victorville.

She departed Boeing Field at 12:05 PDT as "2DEER" bound for Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK/ZBAA) and her new home. 

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Emirates Boeing 777-31H(ER) (42338/1433) A6-EPS

Captured departing Boeing-Paine Field (PAE/KPAE) on September 14, 2016 on a pre-delivery test flight as "BOE660."

(Photos by Michael Carter)  

Ex Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-490 (28885/2891) N788AS

Departs Boeing-Paine Field (PAE/KPAE) on September 14, 2016 as "ASA9466" bound for the aircraft storage facilities at Southern California Logistics Airport (VCV/KVCV) to await her final fate.

(Photos by Michael Carter) 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Black pilots allege racial discrimination at United Airlines

Black pilots are alleging they’re flying through unfriendly skies at United Airlines.

A group of 18 black pilots are calling on federal officials to investigate what they allege is a pattern of discrimination that has tarnished everything from hiring to promotions, according to a statement from the group, called The United Coalition for Diversity. The pilots claim that United has an “utter lack of diversity at the management level” and has systemically kept black employees from entering the managerial ranks.

The claim may focus on alleged problems at one airline, but women and men of color have made few inroads with the profession. Ninety-seven percent of aircraft pilots are white, while compared with just 80 percent of all occupations. Only about 5 percent of commercial airline pilots are women. One researcher, looking at data from 1966 to 2003, found that desegregation hadn’t progressed since 1980.

“It is time for all pilots to be provided with equal opportunities, regardless of the color of their skin,” Brian R. Mildenberg, the attorney for the pilots, said in a statement. “According to the coalition pilots, the executive leadership of United Airlines has failed over the years to integrate the airline and remedy the serious concerns of racial discrimination against black pilots that have plagued United for more than two decades.”

United said the claims are “as baseless today as they were four years ago when they were originally filed,” referring to lawsuits previously filed by the pilots. “We are very proud of our diversity record and programs – as an example 5 of our 8 chief pilots at our hubs are people of color and women (including 3 African Americans),” a spokeswoman said in an email.

She added, “So, this is clearly just an attempt by the plaintiffs’ attorneys to try to put pressure on United to settle these meritless claims.”

The coalition is pointing to a 40-year old case as failing to provide meaningful change. In 1976, United entered a consent decree with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission over diversity. As part of the agreement, United provided more than $1 million in back pay and agreed to hire minorities and women into upper-level jobs including pilot and management roles.

While that should have helped minorities and women climb through the ranks, the coalition is alleging that the white pilots reacted to the consent decree by creating a “secret, racist organization called “the Vault,” which they claim was geared to keeping black pilots from advancing at United.

“White pilots have disparagingly referred to African-American pilots as ‘consent decree hires’ and ‘equal opportunity hires’,” the coalition alleges.

Black pilots claim they were subjected to racist photos and messages, such as one that showed a black man lynched by white supremacists with the words “How to move up in seniority at United Airlines.”

United’s current new pilot recruitment classes are predominately white, the group said. The coalition is asking for Congress and the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate hiring, training, and promotion at United Airlines.

(Aimee Picchi - Moneywatch / CBS News)

Singapore Air Won’t Extend Lease on Airbus A380 Jet in 2017

Singapore Airlines Ltd. said it won’t extend the lease on its first A380 super-jumbo jet, a move that is set to test second-hand demand for the world’s biggest commercial aircraft.

The carrier, the first operator of the Airbus Group SE plane, will see the contract expire in October 2017 and doesn’t plan to exercise an option to extend it, Singapore Air said in an e-mail Wednesday. The airline’s first five A380s are on 10-year leases, and a decision on the other four planes will be made later, it said.

Airbus has said demand for A380s has fallen far short of its original projections, forcing the company to drastically cut output earlier this year. The jet-maker has said it sees a second-hand market for the plane as major carriers including Emirates and Singapore Air come to the end of their initial lease terms, potentially offering low-cost Asian airlines an option of flying more people on six- to eight-hour routes.

In May, aircraft-leasing firm Doric said the company and fellow owner Dr. Peters Fund KG of Germany are preparing for a possible return and needed refurbishment of the five A380s from Singapore Air starting next year, reserving time in paint shops and exploring the availability of hundreds of replacement seats.

Airbus shares fell 0.5 percent to 53.53 euros as of 10:52 a.m. in Paris. Singapore Air gained 0.4 percent to S$10.55 as of 4:55 p.m. in the city state.

Demand for the A380 has dwindled in recent years with the introduction of more nimble twin-engine jets. While Emirates has ordered more than 140 of the planes and has about 80 in services, only two other operators, Singapore Air and Australia’s Qantas Airways Ltd., have bought 20 aircraft or more.

The aircraft faced a further setback when Qantas said in August it is deferring deliveries of eight A380s it has on order. Malaysia Airlines Bhd. said last week it is in talks with carriers in China and other countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations about offloading its six A380s because the giant double-deckers are no longer needed in the fleet.

(Anurag Kotoky - Bloomberg Business / Technology News)

Boeing imposes overtime pay limits for 80,000 workers

Boeing is clamping down on overtime pay for 80,000 of its workers in the United States, beginning in mid-October, to cut costs as jet sales slow.

The company announced the new policy in an email to all U.S. employees on Wednesday, Boeing communications director Chaz Bickers said, even as chief executive Dennis Muilenburg was in California telling investors at a conference that "on balance, the aerospace marketplace is looking solid and growing."

Boeing will limit paid overtime for U.S.-based salaried exempt, non-union workers, beginning Oct. 14, to what the company email described as "mission-critical or production-critical work only."

The Chicago-based company won't say how much it hopes to save thanks to the move, but Bickers said "improving competitiveness across the company allows us to compete and win when there’s immense pressure in the marketplace."

The email described the overtime limits as "another step in the company’s efforts to improve our affordability and competitiveness so that we can better position ourselves to grow sales to customers with the innovative products and services they need."

"More sales will allow us to invest in future products and create more work for employees who make the world’s best airplanes," the email added.

The company-wide policy affects about 80,000 salaried, exempt Boeing employees based across the U.S.

Salaried exempt employees are those who receive an annual salary, and are not entitled to overtime pay under federal or state law, the email said.

The company, which employs almost 160,000 around the world, could not immediately say how many workers in the Puget Sound will be affected.

But the pay of union-represented Boeing employees in the region and elsewhere will "remain in line with current collective bargaining agreements," the Boeing spokesman said.

The policy does not affect non-exempt, non-union employees who are covered by overtime pay rules set by federal and state law.

(Andrew McIntosh- Puget Sound Business Journal)

Hong Kong Airlines buys 9 Airbus aircraft for $2.31 bn

Hong Kong Airlines said Thursday it had bought nine Airbus aircraft for a catalogue price of $2.31 billion, seeking to bolster its Asian network as an expanding Chinese middle class takes to the skies.

The Hong Kong-based airline, which serves a wide range of mainland Chinese cities as well as international routes, said the nine A330-300 aircraft would cover a wide range of destinations in Asia.

"Today's announcement underscores our plan to operate an extensive regional network in Asia," Hong Kong Airlines president Zhang Kui said in a statement published Thursday.

"The A330's flexibility also allows us to further deploy these aircraft to some long-haul routes in the future," Zhang said.

Hong Kong Airlines was established in 2006 and operates an all-Airbus fleet made up of 11 A320s and 22 A330s.

Its international destinations include Bangkok and Osaka, and it will be launching a route between Hong Kong and Auckland, New Zealand in November of this year.

The purchase comes as China was on Tuesday predicted to become the world's first trillion-dollar aviation market, with mainland Chinese residents travelling by air in ever greater numbers.

China is expected to add more than 6,800 new aircraft to its commercial fleet worth $1.03 trillion by 2035, US manufacturer Boeing said in its annual China Current Market Outlook Tuesday.

Passenger traffic is estimated to increase 6.4 percent annually in China over the next 20 years as the country reforms its economy to rely more on consumption and the service industry to drive growth, Boeing said.

A quarter of Boeing's deliveries over the last three years were to Chinese airlines, it says.

Boeing, maker of the 737 MAX and 787 Dreamliner, competes with Europe's Airbus for global dominance in the aircraft market.

Airbus in March started construction on a new facility to deliver wide-body planes in China while Boeing has reportedly submitted to the Chinese government plans for a factory in the eastern province of Zhejiang. 

(AFP News / Yahoo Business News)