Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

A toast to all for a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

Happy New Year
Michael Carter
Aero Pacific Flightlines, Editor and Chief

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Phoenix airport hopes to attract more airlines

The economy and other obstacles are hindering efforts to expand the repertoire of airlines at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport (IWA/KIWA), the airline's board of directors was told last week.

John Barry, Gateway's business-development director, said the airport and its partners are aggressively pursuing other airlines to join Allegiant Air, which has built its Gateway operations into a major success story.

So far, there are no takers. "We're getting very close," Barry said, but he offered no specifics.

It's not that Gateway lacks advantages, Barry said. It costs less for airlines to operate there, and passengers like its convenience and small-town feel.

But the big players see no reason to set up shop in east Mesa right now.

"All of the major carriers (at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport) see no benefit at this point in time to setting up an operation at Gateway because they'd just be robbing themselves of passenger traffic at Sky Harbor," Barry said. "So it's a challenge."

To Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, a member of the airport board, it's a worrisome one.

"As much as I love Allegiant," he said, "I'm still very concerned that we have all our eggs in one basket."

Smith said it's not a matter of Gateway robbing business from Sky Harbor.

For one thing, he said, Allegiant's business model attracts people who wouldn't be flying otherwise.

For another, well-run reliever airports "generally don't cannibalize major hub airports, they actually expand the market, which only benefits the major hub."

Barry said Gateway is roughly in the same stage of development as was LA/Ontario International Airport 30 years ago. "Look at them today," he said. "There's dual service, complementary service, both to LAX and Ontario."

But since that's unlikely here for the time being, Barry said Gateway is seeking smaller airlines that cater to leisure travelers, carriers not presently serving Sky Harbor and charter operators.

He said the airport continues to woo Virgin America of San Francisco, which serves destinations on the East and West coasts and in Mexico, and USA3000 of Philadelphia, which flies from the East and Midwest to Mexico and the Caribbean.

Lynn Kusy, airport director, said Gateway expects to handle about 80,000 passengers this month and approach 800,000 for the year. Monthly passenger counts continue to exceed year-ago numbers because Allegiant is steadily adding destinations from Mesa — 27 of them at this point.

(Gary Nelson - The Arizona Republic)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Photo of the Day / Desert Air DC-3C

Built in 1944, Douglas DC-3C (c/n 12857) N44587 is operated by Desert Air Transport Inc. based in Anchorage, Alaska. The aircraft is caught on short final to Rwy 14 at Ted Stevens International Airport (ANC/PANC) on April 30, 2008.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Merry Christmas 2010

I would like to wish everyone Happy Holidays and a Merry Christmas, hope each of you have a great day with family and friends.

Season Greetings
Michael Carter (Editor and Chief)
Aero Pacific Flightlines

Thursday, December 23, 2010

EP-80 spotted at San Bernardino International Airport

Totally Jacked Up Aircraft Photos Editor & Chief Darryl Bustamante captured this MD-83 (49789/1642) N789BV parked inside a hanger at San Bernardino International Airport (SBD/KSBD) this afternoon sporting EP-80 titles. It is operated by Dugan Kinetics NV LLC and is being used to test new enviromentally friendly and fuel saving thrust reversers. The aircraft was originally delivered to BWIA International Airways on October 20, 1989 as 9Y-THX "Sunjet Anguilla." It was WFU and stored at Lake City Municiple Airport (LCQ/KLCQ), Florida April 2003.

Singapore Airlines, Singapore - LAX A380 service to commence on March 27, 2011

Update to story reported here on December 6, 2010.

Singapore Airlines will begin to operate its daily Los Angeles-Tokyo Narita-Singapore service with an A380 beginning March 27, a move that will offer passengers 100 additional seats on each flight versus the 747 currently operating the route.

"The launch of our A380 to Los Angeles will bring our global flagship experience to this important market," Americas Regional VP C.W. Foo said. "With this new aircraft, we can now offer passengers connecting or departing via LAX our newest and most luxurious seat products across all cabin classes, as well as substantial improvements in the number of inflight entertainment options available."

SQ's A380 is configured with 12 private suites, 60 business-class seats and 399 economy-class seats.

Following investigations into the Rolls-Royce Trent 972 engine failure on a Qantas A380, SQ in November inspected all 11 of its Trent 970-powered A380s, and removed three aircraft from service for “precautionary engine changes”. In December, the airline performed another “precautionary engine change” after identifying a suspected faulty pipe.

(Christine Boynton - ATWOnline News)

Singapore Airlines looks to sell 4 777-300's to Transaero Airlines

Transaero Airlines is planning to purchase four more Boeing 777s from Singapore Airlines in 2011 and is increasing its commitment from nine to 12 747-400s, a spokesperson confirmed to ATW.

The SIA 777-300ERs, which will become the first of the type to join UN's fleet, will accommodate up to 373 passengers in a four-class configuration. They will be used on domestic and international routes.

In April, the Russian airline signed contracts for the acquisition of five 777-200ERs previously operated by SIA and nine ex-Japan Airlines 747-400s as part of its ongoing fleet development and modernization program. All five 777-200s have been delivered and the first ex-JAL 747-400 arrived this week. It is configured in two classes, with 12 seats in business and 509 in economy. The aircraft will be operated on high-capacity routes to leisure destinations.

UN will add 11 747-400s configured with 521 seats in 2011 and 2012. They will be integrated into its fleet on financial leasing contracts. “As we are phasing out our [four] -200s and we notice increasing demand on leisure destinations, we see the need for more 747-400s (compared to April) in this configuration,” the spokesperson said. Its other 747-400s offer a three-class configuration—first, business and economy—with a much lower seat density of 352 seats.

Transaero’s fleet now comprises 59 aircraft, including 14 747s, eight 777s, 12 767s, 22 737s and three Tupolev 214s. It is the only carrier in Russia and the CIS that operates 777 and 747 passenger aircraft.

The carrier is rapidly growing. Traffic for the first three quarters of 2010 increased 40.2% year-over-year to 21.54 billion RPKs while the number of passengers carried rose 32.2% to 5.6 million. It currently serves more than 100 routes in Russia, Europe, Asia, Africa and North and South America and added 18 new routes so far this winter schedule. It will launch a weekly Moscow Domodedovo-Rio de Janeiro flights in January.

(Cathy Buyck - ATWOnline News)

787 to return to the sky

Boeing planned to resume 787 flight testing late Thursday for the first time since a Nov. 9 inflight fire forced the grounding of the test fleet.

The manufacturer determined that a power panel in 787 flight test aircraft ZA002's aft electronics bay suffered a "failure" during the Nov. 9 flight, leading "to a fire involving an insulation blanket" that caused main cabin smoke necessitating an emergency landing and the suspension of all flight testing. Boeing said in a statement Thursday that it has "installed an interim version of updated power distribution system software and conducted a rigorous set of reviews to confirm the flight readiness of ZA004, the first of the six flight test airplanes that will return to flight."

The disruption of the flight testing program has led to wide speculation that first delivery of the 787 to ANA, currently scheduled for the 2011 first quarter, will be delayed yet again. Boeing VP and GM-787 Program Scott Fancher did not announce a new delivery schedule, explaining, "As we return to flight test and determine the pace of that activity, we remain focused on developing a new program schedule. We expect to complete our assessment of the program schedule in January."

He noted that initial flight tests will focus on the resumption of "a series of Boeing tests that remain to be completed in the flight test program. That testing will be followed later by a resumption of certification testing."

Boeing stated that it and Hamilton Sundstrand "completed testing of the interim software updates earlier this week. Verification of the system included laboratory testing of standalone components, integration testing with other systems, flight simulator testing and ground-based testing on a flight test airplane." It added that while the flight test fleet has been grounded, "the company continued ground testing as part of the certification program. Additional ground testing will be done by the company on the production version of the airplane to further verify performance of the changes being made."

(Aaron Karp - ATWOnline News)

Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) celebrates groundbreaking for new terminal

As she celebrated the groundbreaking of Long Beach Airport's terminal project Wednesday Dec 22, City Councilwoman Rae Gabelich - a one-time opponent of the expansion - could not help but revel in the irony of this moment.

"Whoever thought that this moment was going to arrive and that we would all be sitting together beginning a celebration of a new day for the Long Beach Airport?" said Gabelich, who was part of LBHUSH2, a neighborhood group that represented residents living near the airport.

Then she and two other LBHUSH2 members presented to airport director Mario Rodriguez an unusual gift: a framed protest poster that read "Say No to Airport Expansion."

"Mario, this is to add to your wall in memory of a long journey," Gabelich said as Rodriguez accepted the gift with good humor.

To many of the 250 people present at Wednesday's ceremonial event, the gesture symbolized how long and how hard-fought the process was to bring about the highly anticipated airport modernization project.

Work will soon begin on the airport's new $45 million passenger concourse, set to open in 2013.

When completed, the terminal will feature a streamlined passenger screening area and a 34,750-square-foot boarding lounge with comfortable seating and upgraded concessions.

It also will include an atrium, garden and a rooftop solar display that will allow the airport to lower its power use by 13 percent.
Mayor Bob Foster spoke about how a new terminal will more comfortably accommodate the airport's 3 million annual passengers and provide as many as 350 local jobs.

"We want to give passengers a good experience and that will happen," Foster said. "And it will be good for the economy. It will enable us to have local hires, particularly local young people, so we can get them not only into a job but a career."

The project has been a decade in the making.

For years, the 1940s-era terminal designed for only 500,000 annual passengers strained to accommodate the

3 million people that now flow through it to fly on 41 daily commercial flights.

Several obstacles - a drawn-out battle over the size of the project and how it could affect the quality of life of neighbors living under the flight path and a lawsuit by the Long Beach Parent Teacher Association that feared the rise in noise and pollution levels - delayed the airport's modernization projects.

Several city officials credited Rodriguez for his role in moving the projects forward.

Wednesday's event comes about a year after city officials celebrated the groundbreaking of another airport project. Work is under way on a $58 million, 1,989-space garage project, which is expected to open by September - three months earlier than anticipated.

Foster acknowledged that the road to improving the airport was not easy.

"Look, despite what you see today, there was a lot of tension here," he said. "Neighborhoods were concerned about noise, and we wanted commerce to continue. You know it's a slow process and it's painful, but what you see here today is uniting community. ... It was worth waiting for."

(Karen Robes Meeks - Long Beach Press Telegram)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Virgin Blue - Air New Zealand alliance wins approval

Virgin Blue 737-76N (32734/1090) VH-VBM "Tassie Tigress" departs Perth (per/VPPH).
(Photo by Robbie Shaw)

Qantas’s market stranglehold in Australia is set for the most dramatic shakeup since the demise of Ansett in 2001 after the Australian competition regulator gave approval for Virgin Blue’s comprehensive alliance with Air New Zealand, reversing a draft decision rejecting the partnership and a draft tick for its tie-up with Etihad Airways. The two alliances underpin Blue makeover set to be unveiled next month.

Australian Consumer and Competition Commission Chairman Graeme Samuel said that the regulator was satisfied that the alliances will “likely benefit passengers in a number of ways including more choice of routes and frequencies, and potentially lower fares as a result of cost savings and efficiency improvements.”

Virgin Blue Group of Airlines CEO and MD John Borghetti, welcomed the separate decisions saying they were “truly game changing,” adding, “We are extremely pleased that the way is now cleared for us to create a truly global airline that not only offers a great product and service but also greater frequencies and great value for money fares.”

Starting in January, Blue will roll out a series of innovations that will reshape the airline with business class, new branding, larger aircraft, colour scheme, uniforms and onboard offering intended to reshape and reposition the airline.

The alliance with ANZ, which was initially rejected by ACCC, involves a coordinated approach to a range of issues including pricing, revenue management, schedules, capacity and routes flown.

However, Samuel warned that ACCC is still worried that the alliance may negatively affect competition on a number of routes between Australia and New Zealand. To counter this, it "imposed a number of conditions on authorization which are designed to address these competition concerns."

The Virgin Blue/Etihad alliance involves joint pricing and scheduling of services across networks and also an addition of capacity between Australia and Abu Dhabi. ACCC said it "considers that the [Etihad] Alliance is likely to promote competition and result in benefits for Australian consumers through new international services and increased online connections," Samuels said.

“The Etihad partnership will see us establishing an international hub in Abu Dhabi. This will allow us to offer corporate and leisure travelers a very attractive one-stop alternative to more than 14 destinations in Europe, plus the Middle East and Africa," Borghetti said. V Australia, VB’s long-haul airline, will commence direct services from Sydney to Abu Dhabi three times per week in February 2011 and three Brisbane-Abu Dhabi services per week by February 2012.

VB is awaiting a final determination from US regulators on its proposed alliance with Delta Air Lines. DOT tentatively disapproved the deal; however, the Australian government is now lobbying for approval on VB’s behalf. The ACCC has approved that tie up.

(Geoffrey Thomas - ATWOnline News)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Southwest Airlines to convert 20 -700 orders to -800s

Southwest Airlines Chairman, President and CEO Gary Kelly told the Wings Club in New York City that SWA has notified Boeing that it will “substitute 20 of its 737-700 orders for -800s,” with the first delivery scheduled for March 2012. The airline had made known its desire to add the larger type into its fleet of 737-700s, -300s and -500s but needed to get approval from its pilot and cabin crew unions first.

In a statement, the airline said it is "continuing to finalize discussions" with Boeing regarding "substitutions of the -800s for the -700 positions, and configuration and equipage options."

Kelly said the current plan is to take the 20 aircraft in 180-minute ETOPs configuration. The aircraft "would bring us to more distant markets like Hawaii, Cancun, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda," he said.

Regarding SWA’s pending acquisition of AirTran (ATW Daily News, Dec. 9), Kelly said it “boosts our profitability, which is key to resuming investment in our business,” and brings an “additional 38 cities” into the SWA network. Coupled with the 72 cities SWA serves today, Kelly noted this creates a “whole host of expansion opportunities simply by virtue of “connecting the two route networks together.” This can all be accomplished, he said, “without adding an aircraft or raising fares.”

Kelly also announced 10 additional daily nonstop flights from Newark Liberty with three daily nonstops to Baltimore/Washington International, three daily nonstops to Denver, two daily nonstops to Houston Hobby, and two daily nonstops to Phoenix Sky Harbor, beginning June 5, 2011. These cities join the previously announced nonstop service from Newarkto Chicago Midway with six nonstop flights, and St. Louiswith two nonstop flights—which begins March 27, 2011—providing Newarka total of 18 daily SWA departures. SWA acquired slots at EWR from United Airlines and Continental Airlines under an agreement between those carriers and the US Dept. of Justice.

(Linda Blachly - ATWOnline News)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

"Show me the money!" Airline baggage fee profits

U.S. airlines collect more than $4.3 billion in fees for checking baggage and changing tickets so far this year.

New data from the Transportation Department on Monday shows that Delta Air Lines Inc. collected the most, hauling in $1.26 billion in fees so far this year. For flights within the United States, Delta charges $25 for the first bag and $32 for the second. For U.S. flights to Europe, Delta doesn’t charge for the first bag but charges $55 for the second bag.

United Continental Holdings Inc., which is bigger than Delta by traffic, collected more than the $922 million.

Travelers paid more than $784 million for baggage and ticket changes to AMR Corp.’s American Airlines.

Southwest Airlines Co. does not charge to check the first two bags. But it has still collected $22.5 million in baggage fees this year for additional luggage.

(Associted Press)

Skywest CRJ's have tough November

In the month of November, SkyWest Airlines sustained substantial damage to three of its Bombardier CRJ aircraft, all of which were caused by ground handling incidents, and two of which occurred on the same day.

The most recent was a 23 November incident at the Salt Lake City International airport where a combination of an icy tarmac and an inoperative auxiliary power unit may have contributed to an incident that damaged a SkyWest Airlines CRJ700.

According to a preliminary report by the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), N614SK sustained "substantial damage to the lower fuselage structure and multiple belly stringers" by a tug being used for a pushback.

Delta Connection flight 4543 was scheduled to depart for Oklahoma City with 69 passengers and crew, none of whom were injured in the night time incident.

Flight and ground crew statements indicate that the first attempt to push the aircraft back from the gate was unsuccessful as the tug could not gain enough traction. NTSB notes that there was 1 inch of "ice and snow" covering the ground in the ramp area, and that both of the aircraft's engines were operating at the time because the onboard auxiliary power unit was inoperative.

Ground crews brought in a larger tug which was successful in moving the airplane, "however, during the push-back both the airplane and the tug began to slip", says the NTSB. "The tug continued to lose traction and subsequently 'jack-knifed,' breaking its tow-bar and colliding with the underside of the airplane's fuselage," the report states.

On 2 November a driverless pickup truck being operated by United Airlines ground crews caused damage to a SkyWest CRJ200 at the Chicago O'Hare international airport.

According to the NTSB's preliminary report, Flight 1020 (N709BR), with 34 passengers and three crew bound for Moline, Illinois, had pushed back from the gate at 10:27 am CDT and moved out of the immediate area to allow an inbound aircraft to access the gate when the incident occurred. There were no injuries.

"As the airplane began to move the flight crew saw the pickup truck moving on the ramp, so they stopped the airplane," says the NTSB. "The Ford Ranger pickup truck backed into the left side of the nose of the plane."

The driver told the NTSB that he had left the vehicle on the ramp with the engine running. "When he returned to where he left the vehicle, it was gone," the driver told investigators.

Also on 2 November a SkyWest CRJ200 (N454SW) on the ground at the Pittsburgh international airport received significant damage to its fuselage when a ramp agent drove a cart supplying the aircraft with high pressure ground air away from the aircraft without disconnecting the hose.

According to an NTSB report, the error tore the high pressure ground air receptacle from its access door and ripped an 0.3m (1ft) gash "up the side of the fuselage".

(John Croft - Air Transport Intelligence News)

Qantas, Sydney-LAX 380 operations a bust with Trent 900 powerplants

Qantas Airways will not be able to operate any of its Airbus A380s profitably on the Sydney-Los Angeles route if it uses its existing Rolls-Royce Trent 900 powerplants, says the carrier in a statement of claim against the engine manufacturer.

The carrier, which filed the claim in the Federal Court of Australia on 2 December, says each A380 would be able to carry only 80 passengers, instead of 450, on the route due to thrust limitations on the engines.

Qantas filed the claim almost a month after one of its A380s experienced an uncontained engine failure on 4 November, resulting in an emergency landing at Singapore. The court has granted the carrier an injunction, which allows it to pursue legal action against Rolls-Royce if a commercial settlement is not possible.

In its statement, Qantas alleges that it was advised by Rolls-Royce to not use any "mod B" or "mod C" Trent 900 engines if they had been operated more than 75 times at the maximum thrust level of 72,000lb.

Rolls-Royce, which recommended measures to "minimise the severity of engine operation", allegedly told the carrier that earlier "mod A" engines should not be utilised at all.

To keep to the thrust limitations, the carrier would have to ensure that its A380 aircraft carries a payload of no more than 30,000 kg if departing Los Angeles International Airport on runway 25L, or 20,000kg if departing the shorter 24L runway.

This would make it "uncommercial" for Qantas to operate its Trent 900 powered A380s on the route as "operation at that reduced level involves a reduction in carrying capacity such that typically only 80 passengers will be able to be transported", says the airline.

Before the 4 November incident prompted a grounding of Qantas' A380 fleet, a typical A380 flight operating from Los Angeles to Sydney or Melbourne carried up to 450 passengers and freight, it adds.

Qantas alleges that Rolls-Royce may have been "misleading or deceptive" in its representations when it proposed its Trent 900 powerplant to the carrier.

The airline says that the engine manufacturer had given the representation that "the A380 aircraft operated by Qantas could, if powered by Trent 900 engines, be operated regularly and reliably on Qantas' existing international routes (including the LAX routes) with a profitable payload and without the engines having to be replaced at any point before the end of the projected useful engine life".

Qantas says that in Rolls-Royce's engine manuals for the Trent 900, the "mod A" engine was listed as having a life cycle of 2000 flight cycles, and the "mod B" 14,800 flight cycles. The "mod C" variant was believed to have an unlimited life cycle, says the carrier.

Alleging that Rolls-Royce was negligent in its duties, the carrier says the engine manufacturer "ought to have known and understood that the most important aspect of the A380 aircraft economics was the payload that the A380 aircraft would be able to carry on the LAX routes".

When contacted for comment, a Rolls-Royce spokeswoman says: "We continue to work closely with Qantas on operational and commercial matters but it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage."

Qantas' spokesman says there is "no timeframe for when Rolls-Royce might provide further advice" regarding flights to Los Angeles. "We are keen to resume LAX flying, but will only do so once we are absolutely confident that it is safe to do so. Further information from Rolls-Royce will obviously be critical to that process," he adds.

(Ghim-Lay Yeo - Air Transport Intelligence News)

Photo of the Day / ANZ 777-219(ER)

Air New Zealand 777-219(ER) (29404/534) ZK-OKA arrives in Los Angeles on March 1, 2007 as the sun sets in the west. This lovely lady was delivered to the carrier on October 27, 2005.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

LAX "Heavies" 1

Emirates 777-31H(ER) (38984/861) A6-EGA departs LAX bound for Dubai.

All Nippon Airways (ANA) 777-381(ER) (34893/589) JA736A climbs from Rwy 25R bound for Narita.

Korean Air 777-3B5(ER) (37136/823) HL7784 soars over the "C" parking lot on short final to Rwy 24R.

United Airlines 777-222(ER) (30550/294) N217UA departs LAX bound for Japan.

Air Canada 767-333(ER) (25587/604) C-FMWY taxies at LAX sporting the carriers "Star Alliance" livery.

(Photos by Michael Carter

LAX "Heavies" 2

Cathay Pacific 777-367(ER) (36162/860) B-KPQ on short final to Rwy 24R.

Emirates 777-31H(ER) (38982/830) A6-ECX arrives in Los Angeles on a simply gorgeous morning in SoCal.

VAustralia 777-3ZG(ER) (37938/756) VH-VPD makes an early morning arrival following its long flight from "Down Under."

"Positive climb, gear up!" as Qantas A330-203 (892) VH-EBH departs LAX on a lovely morning.

Delta A330-323X (865) N821NW climbs from Rwy 25R.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

John Wayne Orange County Airport November Statistics

Airline passenger traffic at John Wayne Airport (SNA/KSNA) decreased in November 2010 as compared to November 2009. In November 2010, the Airport served 690,859 passengers, a decrease of 1.3% when compared to the November 2009 passenger traffic count of 700,223.

Commercial aircraft operations decreased 5.1%, while Commuter aircraft operations decreased 53.8% when compared to the levels recorded in November 2009.

Total aircraft operations decreased in November 2010 as compared to the same month in 2009. In November 2010, there were 14,941 total aircraft operations (take-offs and landings), a decrease of 15.8% when compared to 17,754 total aircraft operations in November 2009.

General aviation activity, which accounted for 54.4% of the total aircraft operations during November 2010, decreased 20.7% when compared to November 2009.

(John Wayne Airport - Press Release)

Westjet at Orange County

Canada's Westjet Airlines was at John Wayne Orange County Airport (SNA/KSNA) today performing the required noise tests prior to beginning service, no start of service date has been announced to my knowledge. Boeing 737-7CT (32766/1599) C-GWJF was utilized for the proving flights arriving from Calgary International (YYC/CYYC) at 08:47 as WJA8961.

The crew performed four round trip flights (Orange County to Orange County) between 09:30 and 1400 as WJA flights 8963, 8964, 8965, & 8966. Following the completion of the required tests, the aircraft departed Orange County at 14:38 bound for Calgary as WJA8979.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

New parking garage at Long Beach Airport on schedule to open 3 months earlier than planned

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Work is progressing faster than expected on Long Beach Airport's new $58 million parking garage, which is now expected to open by September 2011, three months earlier than anticipated.

The early finish date will save the city about $85,000 per month for round-the-clock shuttles carrying passengers to a leased remote parking lot, which costs the airport about $1.8 million annually.

Meanwhile, the new structure is expected to generate $350,000 for the airport per month, said Long Beach Airport Director Mario Rodriguez.

"So we're going to be saving a lot of money on those shuttles and the remote parking lease, which is leased from Boeing, and it's going to be a much-improved parking situation for passengers, who will be able to park just a few feet from the main terminal," Rodriguez said.

The project's contractor, ARB Inc. of Lake Forest, began work in December 2009 on roadway and infrastructure improvements, then began building the five-level, 1,989-space parking structure in April.

Solar panels are being integrated into the garage's superstructure.

Upon completion, engineers expect the new roadway to Lakewood Boulevard, coupled with more lanes in and out of the parking areas, to significantly ease traffic flow and passenger congestion around the airport.

The garage is also expected to accommodate the airport's growing passenger volumes, which have surpassed 3 million annually, more than double the figure just five years ago.

Work on the garage is supporting 450 jobs and is being financed wholly through airport bonds, passenger and parking fees and federal stimulus grants.
The airport has pledged to pay the bond off within 30 years and without pulling money from the city's ailing general fund, which supports public safety, libraries, street repairs and other critical needs.

The garage update comes as airport officials prepare to begin work on a new passenger concourse, runways, aircraft ramps and terminal modernization.

Those projects, with a combined cost of roughly $75 million, include simple upgrades like new paint, lights and restrooms, along with more complex environmental measures.

Solar panels, for example, will eventually provide between 15 and 20 percent of the airport's total power usage, while engineers will electrify airplane parking slots to allow jets to "plug in" after landing, eliminating the need for diesel auxiliary motors to handle such tasks as baggage handling and air conditioning.

By electrifying the slots, the level of toxic jet exhaust wafting into nearby neighborhoods and schools will be slashed.

(Kristopher Hanson - Long Beach Press Telegram)

Alaska Airlines unveils Portland Timbers theme aircraft

(Photo by Alaska Airlines)

The Portland Timbers and Alaska Airlines, official jersey partner of the MLS club, today unveiled the team's official uniforms, training wear and apparel line that will be featured during the Timbers' inaugural Major League Soccer (MLS) season in 2011.

The event, dubbed "Runway on the Runway," was held in the 64,000-square-foot hangar of Alaska Airlines' sister carrier, Horizon Air, at Portland International Airport. Timbers players and Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air employees revealed the team's official look to some 1,000 fans and supporters. To further mark the occasion, Alaska Airlines unveiled a specially-themed Boeing 737-790 (29752/350) N609AS emblazoned with "Proud Jersey Sponsor" alongside the team logo and iconic green, yellow and white Timbers scarf.

The team's primary jersey, produced by adidas, the official athletic sponsor and product supplier of MLS since the league's inception in 1996, features a Ponderosa green that pays tribute to the Timbers' rich history and exciting future in MLS. The body fabric, which prominently displays the Alaska Airlines logo and Timbers primary logo, is specially engineered with the Timbers signature chevron repeating down the middle, tying together the two shades of green that make up the body of the shirt. The classic look reflects the diversity of color one would see in a lush Oregon forest.

(Photo by Alaska Airlines)

The primary jersey also pays homage to the team's passionate supporter's group, the Timbers Army, and further celebrates the team's unique history with an axe prominently featured on the back of the neck and a subtle, lower-back emboss of a rising sun.

The white sleeves of the primary jersey provide a modern twist to the split-jersey design, while the jersey features adidas' FORMOTIONTM technology that allows maximum athletic movement as well as CLIMACOOLTM technology that combines moisture-wicking fabric and mesh construction in the player's highest heat zones to improve body ventilation and keep the athlete at optimum temperature. Piping around the shoulders and engineered rib give the jersey further definition.

The primary jersey can be worn with either white or dark green shorts, and the on-field look becomes complete with dark green socks that feature the Timbers axe.

The secondary jersey was inspired by the unrivaled passion and pride in Portland – the Rose City. Also featuring a similar split-jersey design and the familiar Alaska Airlines script, the secondary jersey features two shades of red, with the body fabric specially engineered by adidas with Rose City thorns repeating down the middle and a new Rose City logo badge prominently displayed opposite the team's primary crest on the front of the jersey.

The white sleeves again provide a modern element to the secondary jersey, while the "Rose City" verbiage on the back of the neck and printed thorn back-neck taping further call to its inspiration.

The secondary uniform is rounded out by white shorts with Rose City red adidas stripes and red socks that feature the "Rose City" verbiage.

In total, more than 30 pieces were unveiled at the runway event, including a team training jersey that will be used at Timbers training sessions, a full-zip jacket that will be seen in the stands during Timbers games, and a presentation suit jacket that will be seen on the sidelines during the team's inaugural MLS season in 2011.

(Alaska Airlines Press Release)

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Re-engining of 737NG still in the works

Boeing's customers may have given a tepid reaction to a 737 re-engining project, but behind the scenes the airframer has not slowed the pace on work to refine the design of an updated narrowbody.

A previously unreleased photo of the re-engined 737 being tested in a Qinetiq wind tunnel was presented in a public Boeing document on the US Federal Aviation Administration's website detailing the company's efforts to develop new quiet technology for its jetliners.

The image is the first visual clue to Boeing's thinking about how it might re-engine the 737. A key challenge is to gain enough ground clearance under the wings to accommodate the next-generation CFM International Leap-X or Pratt & Whitney PW1000G engines, which have a larger exterior diameter than the CFM56-7B powerplant currently available on 737s.

The wind tunnel model suggests Boeing may be able to buy extra ground clearance by moving the engines further forward, to tuck them up tighter to the wings, and also by lengthening the nose landing gear by some 200mm (8in) - a nose blister fairing to accommodate longer gear is clearly visible.

That approach would be similar to one taken by Airbus earlier this year when it needed to lift the nose - to level the floor - of its A330-200 when it developed the freighter variant.

However, Boeing sources indicate that new configurations undergoing wind-tunnel testing have done away with the blister fairing and its associated drag penalty, adding that only Leap-X configurations have been tested to date.

At the Zhuhai air show in November, 737 chief engineer John Hamilton said his team was considering moving some components from the forward electronics bay to the aft to help accommodate longer nose gear. Critically, he said, any design must maintain 430mm ground clearance to avoid contact with taxiway lighting.

The exact benefit of new engines is as yet unknown, but while some estimates envision a double-digit improvement in fuel burn, the overall operating cost reduction may end up in single figures.

(Jon Ostrower - Flight International)

Air Force releases AIB report on C-17A crash

The USAF has released the findings on the crash of C-17A (P-73) 00-0173 "Spirit of the Aleutians" based at Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage, Alaska. The aircraft was performing a training sortie in preparation for a flight demonstration during "Arctic Thunder" the AFB's public air show when it crashed on July 28th, 2010.

Follow the link below to my yahoo C-17A group for the full report and video of the crash.

Photo of the Day / Centurion Cargo MD-11

Centurion Cargo MD-11(F) (48430/508) N985AR "Frank Fine" rests on the ramp at Zurich - (Kloten) (ZHR/LSZH) as it waits to have a cracked cockpit window fixed. The aircraft was originally delivered to Alitalia as I-DUPU "Antoni Vivaldi" on August 17, 1992.
(Photo by Adrian Arzenheimer)

Friday, December 10, 2010

Photo of the Day / VASP MD-11

VASP MD-11 (48744/592) PP-SPK taxies towards a Rwy 24L departure at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) in February 1998. This beautiful DAC "Heavy" was delivered to the carrier on November 17, 1995 ex DAC N6203U with whom it served until it was repossed by leasing company Golden Gate Leasing Ltd on April 25, 2000 WFU and stored at Victorville (VCV/KVCV) California. United Parcel Service (UPS) bought the aircraft on April 30, 2001 and converted it to an MD-11(F). This lovely lady still serves with UPS as N251UP.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Blue 1 MD-95 (717-200) now sports "Star Alliance" livery

(Photo by Nik French)

The latest MD-95 (717-200) to join the Blue1 fleet sports the carriers "Star Alliance" livery. Boeing 717-23S (55064/5037) OH-BLP is captured at Manchester International (MAN/EGCC) shortly after emerging from the paint shop.

The aircraft was originally delivered to Bangkok Air as HS-PGP "Samui" on November 10, 2000. It served with the carrier until being returned to the lessor and making it's way to Spanair as EC-KNE.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Original "Carter Gang" member spotted at Orange County

Original "Carter Gang" member Richard (Rick) Covington passed thru John Wayne Orange County Airport (SNA/KSNA) on Monday December 6. Rick is a flight attendant for Southwest Airlines and is also a fanantical airliner photographer and model airplane collector. Beware and keep on the look out for this charactor at your local airport.
(Photos by Michael Carter)

UPS operating A300F for extra holiday capacity

United Parcel Service (UPS) A300F4-622R (c/n 854) N165UP arrives in Long Beach (LGB/KLGB) on December 6. Even though the carrier currently has only one slot at Long Beach Airport, it is able to operate a second flight for extra holiday capacity. Normally UPS operates a single Boeing 767-34AF/ER having dropped one of its slots earlier this year.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Southwest Airlines acquisition of AirTran Airways still scheduled to close in early 2011

Southwest Airlines Senior VP-Finance and CFO Laura Wright told investors and media at the 2010 Hudson Securities Airline Conference Wednesday morning in New York that SWA’s proposed acquisition of AirTran Airways is on track to “close in the first half of 2011.”

Following the US Dept. of Justice’s second request Nov. 8, “we are working on fulfilling their information needs,” said Wright. She noted that SWA filed its S-4 Registration Statement with US Securities and Exchange Commission on Nov. 19. “Now what remains is to have the AirTran shareholders’ approval and receipt of DOJ and any other necessary clearances, plus the fulfillment of customary closing conditions,” Wright said.

After a record third-quarter net income of $195 million (excluding special items), Wright said that, assuming traffic and revenue trends continue, SWA expects “solid revenue improvement” in the fourth quarter. “We have strong December bookings and, excluding fuel and related taxes, we expect fourth-quarter 2010’s unit costs to increase, year-over-year, in the 6% range,” Wright said.

Looking to 2011, Wright said ASMs are forecast to be “up in the 8% range in the first quarter of 2011 and in the 5% range in the second quarter.”

(Linda Blachly - ATWOnline News)

New airline Alwafeer Air operating Hajj flights

New airline Alwafeer Air is operating Hajj Charter flights from Manchester International (Ringway) (MAN/EGCC).

The carriers first aircraft is Boeing 747-4H6 (27672/1091) HZ-AWA1 late of Malaysia Airlines 9M-MPI. The aircraft is captured on cold night at Manchester International (Ringway) (MAN/EGCC) recently resting in-between flights.
(Photos by Nik French)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Dog attacks passengers on US Airways flight

A small dog jumped out of its cage and bit two people aboard a Phoenix-bound US Airways flight on Monday, forcing the captain to make an emergency landing in Pittsburgh, an airline spokeswoman said.

The small dog, whose breed was not immediately known, bit a passenger and a flight attendant, Valerie Wunder, spokeswoman for US Airways said. The bite victims were treated by medical personnel at Pittsburgh Airport.

The dog owner opened the cage despite having been told not to, the spokeswoman said.

The captain of flight 522 from Newark to Phoenix carrying 122 passengers decided to divert the plane because he "wanted to make sure everybody was ok," Wunder said.

Wunder said she did not know if charges would be filed against the owner of the dog.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Singapore Airlines announces A380 service to LAX to commence next year

Singapore Airlines A380-841 (c/n 005) 9V-SKB departs London-Heathrow (LHR/EGLL) on October 29, 2008. (Photo by David Apps)

Singapore Airlines said on Monday it will deploy the Airbus A380 superjumbo on the Singapore-Los Angeles route beginning next year despite a controversy over the plane's engines.

Recent problems involving the Rolls-Royce engines on the biggest passenger carrier in the world have forced Australian airline Qantas to ground some of its A380 aircraft, preventing it serving the Sydney-Los Angeles route for the time being.

Both SIA, which currently operates 11 A380s and has another 9 on order, and Qantas are using Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines on their A380s. SIA currently does not use the A380 on the Singapore-Los Angeles route.

"This is a significant and smart move by the carrier (SIA), which will likely capitalize on the busy trans-Pacific route with its 471-seater A380," said Shukor Yusof, analyst at Standard & Poor's.

SIA said its A380 has been designed to seat 471 passengers in a three-class configuration, compared to 375 on its Boeing 747-400.

"This means that while there will be capacity growth, it will be incremental and sustainable for the airline," SIA said in a statement, adding that the route would start after the carrier receives its 12th A380 next year.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Visiting and Local "Carter Gang" members

Saturday November 27th was just a gorgeous day in Los Angeles with bright clear blue skies and a slight breeze keeping the temperature comfortably in the mid-60s. The above photo was taken in the late afternoon on the world famous El Segundo "Hill" which overlooks Los Angeles International (LAX/KLAX). Captured taking a break as we wait for the China Airlines Boeing 747-409 (33734/1353) B-18210 "Dreamliner" to depart are from L to R; Todd (LAX), Arnie (Germany), Ben (San Jose), Gerhardt (Germany), Jimmy (San Jose), and Doug (Long Beach).
(Photo by Michael Carter)

I am back!

I'm back after taking a couple days off to celebrate my 50th birthday on December 3rd.

As many of you know, I work for a large U.S. airline and will be working numerous long hours during the month of December. I will continue to make news and photo updates as time allows but bare with me if they are not on a daily basis.

Thanks again for taking the time to visit my site and if you have any suggestions please do not hesitate to pass them along.

Happy Holidays
Michael Carter
Aero Pacific Flightlines

Boeing 777-300ER upgrade slowed due to 787 problems according to Emirates, Clark

Emirates President Tim Clark told ATW he believes the Boeing 787 will be an outstanding aircraft but its current problems are slowing development of a 777-300ER upgrade sought by a number of airlines to meet the challenge of the Airbus A350-1000.

Clark, who has been a driving force behind an upgraded 777-300ER, told ATW that Boeing was “rightly devoting all its resources to getting the 787 into service.”

“I do not think they will be in a position to move on the 777 upgrade until they have the 787 problems behind them,” Clark said. “It must be so frustrating for them and I feel for them as does the industry. We need Boeing to get this right.”

Clark added that Boeing had been making good progress on the 777-300ER development to meet Emirates demanding goals of a 50 tonne payload from Dubai to Los Angeles.

“I know [our specifications are] a big ask but it will be an unrivaled aircraft if we get it,” he said, noting he called on manufacturers to focus on reliability as the number one criteria in aircraft design. “The knock on effect and cost is enormous of aircraft breakdowns and outweighs minor fuel savings,” Clark warned.

(Geoffery Thomas - ATWOnline News)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

FAA restores Mexico's safety rating

Mexico's top aviation safety rating has been restored because its airline oversight has improved, U.S. aviation officials said Wednesday.

A review last month by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration of Mexico's civil aviation authority found that it now complies with international standards, FAA said in a statement.

In July, FAA took the unusual move of downgrading Mexico's safety rating from Category 1 to Category 2. International aviation safety rankings have only two categories.

A Category 1 rating means the country's civil aviation authority complies with standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization, a technical agency of the United Nations for aviation. A Category 2 rating means a country either lacks laws or regulations necessary to oversee air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards, or its aviation agency lacks technical expertise, trained personnel, record keeping or inspection procedures.

Countries with air carriers that fly to the United States are required to meet international standards and recommended practices for aircraft operations and maintenance

The Category 2 rating usually is the province of poor developing countries, but the United States previously has downgraded other important allies, including Israel in December 2008. When the FAA takes such an action, it usually is the result of deficiencies in government regulation of aviation safety, rather than a judgment about an individual airline.

The action in July did not stop flights between Mexico and the United States, but it prevented Mexican airlines from expanding service to the United States.

FAA said that at Mexico's request it will continue to provide technical assistance to support and maintain the changes that have been made.

(Joan Lowy - Associated Press)

Southwest Airlines pilots approve 737-800 addition to fleet

Southwest Airlines' pilots ratified a tentative agreement to amend their collective bargaining accord to allow the carrier to add the Boeing 737-800 to its fleet. "With this positive vote, the pilots' current contract will also be extended by one year, becoming amendable August 2012, and will include the potential for wage rate increases based on the company's financial performance," the Dallas-based LCC said in a statement. The Southwest Airlines Pilots Assn. represents more than 5,600 SWA pilots.

The carrier said it will "now move forward finalizing discussions" with Boeing "regarding substitutions of the 737-800s for the -700 positions and configuration and equipage options." SWA flight attendants cleared the addition of the -800 last month. "Since we began evaluating the opportunity to introduce the Boeing 737-800 into our fleet, both our pilots and flight attendants quickly grasped the potential benefits along with the added operational complexities associated with this decision," Executive VP and COO Mike Van de Ven said.

(Aaron Karp - ATWOnline News)

Boeing and AirBridge Cargo discuss compensation for 747-8F delays

AirBridge Cargo Airlines told ATW it “hopes” that Boeing will not announce further delays to its 747-8 Freighter program and that it is in discussion with the manufacturer on compensation for the first set of delays. The Russian cargo carrier placed orders for five firm 747-8Fs in 2007 with purchase rights for a further five.

Deliveries of the new aircraft to ABC were to start at the end of 2009 at the rate of one a year. The first delivery was initially postponed to February 2011 and then to September 2011. Boeing in late September said the first 747-8F will not be delivered to launch customer Cargolux until "mid-year 2011," marking the third delay for the troubled program.

“We do expect Boeing to deliver those aircraft. We hope to receive the first aircraft they promised us for 2009 in September [2011] and a second one in December,” Director Network & Fleet Development Andrey Shumilin told ATW on the sidelines of the EU-Russia Air Transport New Horizons conference in Brussels this week. “We need the aircraft for our planned expansion. We [are] targeted to launch scheduled cargo flights to the USA next year, initially to Chicago.”

The new US routes will be operated with its current 747-400ERF fleet while the new 747-8Fs will be deployed on mature routes with established volumes and yield.

ABC has been expanding quite extensively, and this year launched several new routes and increased frequencies on existing routes. In April, it added a fifth 747-400F to manage the delay in the delivery of its first 747-8F. Its current fleet comprises 10 747s and it is in discussion to add an eleventh one.

(Cathy Buyck - ATWOnline News)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

This scary incident happened in May

An Indian co-pilot sent an international passenger jet into a terrifying nosedive when he adjusted his seat and accidentally pushed the control column forward, an official report reveals.

The clumsy officer then panicked and was unable to let the captain, who had gone on a toilet break, back into the cockpit as the plane plunged 2000 metres.

The captain only saved the Boeing 737 aircraft after using an emergency code to get through the cockpit door and take the controls back from the co-pilot, the report by India's Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) said.

The 25-year-old co-pilot told the inquiry he had "got in a panic situation, couldn't control the aircraft or ... open the cockpit door and answer the cabin call."

When the captain, 39, got back into the cockpit, he shouted, "What are you doing?" as cabin crew ordered the 113 terrified passengers to fasten their seatbelts.

The report said there was "complete commotion" in the cabin and that passengers were "very much scared and were shouting loudly" as the plane dived steeply and boxes and liquor bottles fell into the aisle.

The Air India Express flight was flying at 37,000 feet from Dubai to Pune airport, in western India, on May 26 when the near-disaster occurred. No one was injured.

According to the report, the nosedive was "due to the co-pilot adjusting his seat forward and inadvertently pressing the control column forward."

The plane fell 610m before the captain got back into the cockpit - and another 1520mt as he struggled with the panicking co-pilot.

"There was application of opposite force by pilot and co-pilot on control column," the report said.
It added that the co-pilot "probably had no clue to tackle this kind of emergency."

"Appropriate action shall be taken against the involved crew," it concluded.

After the incident, the captain tried to calm passengers by telling them that the aircraft had hit an air pocket.

Four days earlier, another Air India Express flight had crashed at Mangalore airport, killing 158 people. A leaked report blamed a sleepy pilot.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

John Wayne Orange County Airport October statistics

Airline passenger traffic at John Wayne Airport decreased in October 2010 as compared to October 2009. In October 2010, the Airport served 732,106 passengers, a decrease of 4.8% when compared to the October 2009 passenger traffic count of 769,373.

Commercial aircraft operations decreased 4.9%, while Commuter aircraft operations decreased 63.9% when compared to the levels recorded in October 2009.

Total aircraft operations decreased in October 2010 as compared to the same month in 2009. In October 2010, there were 16,753 total aircraft operations (take-offs and landings), a decrease of 12.9% when compared to 19,227 total aircraft operations in October 2009.

General aviation activity, which accounted for 57.4% of the total aircraft operations during October 2010, decreased 14.3% when compared to October 2009.

(JWA Press Release)

Aeromexico may buy rather than lease 10 737s

AeroMexico, the only major Mexican airline left flying, is weighing whether to buy 10 planes from Boeing instead of leasing them as it expects consumer demand for air travel to increase in the near term, the company's CEO said on Tuesday.

Chief executive Andres Conesa said that AeroMexico, benefiting from the demise of rival Mexicana, would consider buying new carriers over a period of three years starting in 2012.

AeroMexico had delayed receipt of 10 Boeing 737s as the domestic airline industry struggled with the effects of recession and the aftermath of the 2009 flu outbreak that scared tourists away from beaches and colonial towns across the country.

Boeing's 737s are among the newest additions to its short-to-medium range commercial fleet.

Conesa has forecast that AeroMexico could transport at least 13 million passengers next year, compared with close to 12 million expected for 2010.

AeroMexico became the only large Mexican airline in the skies after competitor Mexicana ceased operations in August under heavy debt and labour conflicts. Its affiliated carriers, Link and Click, also stopped flying.

While Mexicana could be revived by a relatively unknown boutique investment firm, no cash has been committed by the potential suitor.

Mexicana controlled many routes into the United States. But restrictions imposed on Mexico by US aviation authorities due to safety lapses mean domestic airlines are not able to take over those routes for now.

Conesa said AeroMexico, a member of the SkyTeam alliance, was evaluating new flights to Canada, Caracas, Panama, Madrid and Barcelona as the outlook for the industry improved.


Monday, November 29, 2010

Another new G550 arrives in Long Beach

New Gulfstream G550 (c/n 5306) N836GA arrived at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) Friday November 19, 2010 from Savannah-Hilton Head International (SAV/KSAV) and parked at the Gulfstream Service Center. (Photo by Michael Carter)

Lufthansa to commence passenger biofuel flights next year

Lufthansa is launching the world’s first scheduled commercial passenger flights using biofuel in the first half of 2011, with an IAE-V2500-powered Airbus A321.

In April 2011, LH will begin a six-month trial with an A321 on scheduled commercial flights on the Hamburg-Frankfurt-Hamburg route. Pending certification, one of the aircraft’s engines will use a 50-50 mix of biofuel and traditional kerosene. The primary purpose of the project is to conduct a long-term trial to study the effect of biofuel on engine maintenance and engine life.

The daily flights are part of the ‘burnFair’ project to study the long-term impact of sustainable biofuels on aircraft performance. Airbus’ role is to provide technical assistance and to monitor the fuel properties. The biofuel will be supplied by Finland-based Neste Oil, a fuel refining and marketing company that has cooperated with Lufthansa for many years, LH said. Certification of its biofuel is expected in March 2011.

LH Chairman and CEO Wolfgang Mayrhuber said that during the six months trial, LH will save around 1,500 tonnes of CO2 emissions. "Lufthansa will be the world’s first airline to utilize bio-fuel in flight operations within the framework of a long-term trial. This is a further consistent step in a proven sustainability strategy, which Lufthansa has for many years successfully pursued and implemented," he said. The project will cost LH an estimated €6.6 million ($8.74 million).

(Kurt Hofmann - ATWOnline News)

Qantas A380s return to the skies

Qantas returned two of its six Airbus A380s to service on the Sydney to London route after some engine changes. The airline is limiting take-off thrust to 70,000 lb. instead of the 72,000 lb. for which the engine is certified.

The return to service of VH-OQF and VH-OQE comes a week ahead of the release of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s preliminary report on the uncontained failure of the No. 2 Rolls-Royce Trent 972 engine on Nov. 4 after take-off from Singapore.

Last week, EASA issued a new Emergency Airworthiness Directive on the Trent 900 series engine, which supersedes the Nov. 11 AD that retains the inspection of the air buffer cavity but also focuses on "the oil service tubes within the high pressure and intermediary pressure structure."
Qantas will not return the A380s to transpacific flights for the time being, as take-offs from Los Angeles sometimes require maximum thrust. The airline is due to receive three more A380s before Dec. 31 and all are fitted with upgraded engines.

(Geoffrey Thomas - ATWOnline News)

LAN agrees to purchase Aries Colombia

LAN Airlines said it signed a definitive agreement to purchase 98.94% of Colombia's Aires for $12 million in cash and the assumption of $100 million in net liabilities including $18 million of bank debt. In October LAN announced that it would be taking over Colombia's second largest domestic airline, which has a 22% market share.

"This transaction will provide the opportunity for an affiliate of LAN to participate in the Colombian passenger market, one of the largest markets in South America, thus allowing for LAN and its affiliates to continue strengthening their regional presence," LAN said in a statement issued late last week.

Santiago, Chile-based LAN already operates affiliates in Argentina, Ecuador and Peru and plans to merge with Brazil's TAM under a single holding company next year. It also launched a Colombian cargo affiliate, LANCO, last year. President and COO Ignacio Cueto said LAN will be "elevating even further [Aires's] safety, quality and service standards" and predicted passengers would "benefit from the changes that will gradually be incorporated to the Aires operations."

LAN said that in "the medium term," Aires "will evaluate the expansion of international passenger operations and the advantages of any synergies it may obtain from…LANCO." It added that the LAN/Aires integration process "may involve certain operational changes such as itinerary modifications and efficiency improvements" but "will not interfere with the continuity of current operations of Aires."

(Aaron Karp - Air Transport World / ATWOnline News)

China Eastern may cancel 787 order

China Eastern Airlines is considering canceling its order for 15 Boeing 787s owing to the aircraft program's continuous delays, according to a CEA insider. "Most probably we [will] cancel," the source told ATW. "We are negotiating with Boeing about choosing [a] replacement aircraft type…now."

The cancellation would be another blow for the troubled Dreamliner program, on which flight testing was indefinitely suspended following a Nov. 9 inflight fire that began as either a short circuit or an electrical arc on the P100 electrical panel, according to Boeing. The manufacturer is widely expected to delay first delivery to ANA, currently slated for the 2011 first quarter, by another six to nine months.

On Nov. 24, Boeing said it was developing "minor design changes" to power distribution panels on the 787 and updates to the systems software that manages and protects power distribution on the airplane. It added that a revised 787 program schedule "is expected to be finalized in the next few weeks."

Bernstein Research has moved its projection for the first delivery of the 787 back six months to August 2011 and forecasts that Boeing will only deliver eight aircraft in 2011 instead of the 29 it had planned. Bernstein believes that Boeing will deliver 61 787s in 2012, 78 in 2013 and 107 in 2014.

CEA placed its Dreamliner order in 2005. Its wholly owned subsidiary, Shanghai Airlines, also has nine 787s on order; it is unclear whether CEA will cancel SAL's 787 orders if it decides to axe its own.

CEA is planning an aggressive expansion of international services starting next year, and had planned to facilitate the growth in part through the addition of the 15 Dreamliners. It ordered 16 Airbus A330s at the end of last year to ensure it could expandeven if the 787s arrived later than expected. The A330s are expected to be delivered from 2011-2014. CEA General Manager Ma Xulun told ATW the carrier will operate the aircraft on routes to Europe.

(Katie Cantle - Air Transport World / ATWOnline News)

Hawaiian Airlines to add six more A330 aircraft

Hawaiian Airlines has placed a firm order for an additional six Airbus A330-200s. The long-range, widebody twinjets will join Hawaiian's fleet of three A330s and an existing backlog of seven A330-200s and six A350 XWBs.

The carrier became an Airbus operator for the first time earlier this year.

Hawaiian's A330-200s seat 294 passengers in a two-class configuration. The six additional aircraft will be powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines.

"These additional widebody A330s will give us more flexibility to pursue domestic and international expansion opportunities, replace our existing Boeing 767 fleet and improve our ability to compete profitably in the coming years," says Mark Dunkerley, Hawaiian Airlines CEO.
(ATI News)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Lynden Air Cargo at LAX

Delta Airlines hired Lynden Air Cargo to transport a Boeing 767 engine to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on November 27. Lockheed L-100-30 (L-382G) (c/n 382-4676) N406LC is captured at 14:49 parked on the Delta Airlines maintenace ramp on a lovely Saturday afternoon.
(Photo by Michael Breckshot)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

jetBlue "New York Jets" A320 visits Long Beach

A320-232 (c/n 3622) N746JB "I Love New YorK" taxies towards a Rwy 30 departure.

Rolling for take-off on Rwy 30 bound for San Francisco International Airport (SFO/KSFO) as JBU1440 at 16:01 PST.
(Photos by Michael Carter)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

I would like to wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving hope everyone has a great day and don't stuff yourself just the Turkey.

Michael Carter
Aero Pacific Flightlines

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pilots plan strike vote at Evergreen International Airlines

Crew members at Evergreen International Airlines Inc., the global air-cargo company based in McMinnville, plan to vote whether to strike after negotiating for six years without a contract.

Pilots and flight engineers are scheduled to start voting Dec. 1 on whether to approve a strike if negotiations fail, said Tawnya Burket, a spokeswoman for the Air Line Pilots Association, International. A strike would be a first at Evergreen, a subsidiary of privately held Evergreen International Aviation Inc. "Pilots are nearing their limit of frustration and dissatisfaction with management, even as they continue to provide exemplary professional service," said a statement released Wednesday by the union. A company representative declined to comment.

Evergreen flies Boeing 747 freighters around the world from hubs at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport and California's Travis Air Force Base. Other Evergreen subsidiaries run farms, vineyards and a museum, organize airport logistics and maintain, repair, buy and sell aircraft.

Evergreen Airlines employs about 76 captains and equal numbers of first officers and flight engineers, according to the union. Union leaders declined to disclose salaries.

After losing a contract to a competitor, Evergreen was scheduled in September to finish flying wings and fuselages for Boeing's forthcoming 787 Dreamliner jetliner to final assembly in Everett, Wash. Evergreen used specially modified 747s called Dreamlifters for the high-profile job. Boeing chose New York-based Atlas Air Inc. to take over the job.

Evergreen crew members turned down a tentative pact in August that would have largely renewed a collective bargaining agreement in place since 1999, the union said.

The strike ballot will open Dec. 1 and close Jan. 7. An affirmative vote would authorize declaration of a strike once the pilot group gets permission to do so from the National Mediation Board.

"We certainly want a contract, not a strike," said William Fink, a flight engineer who chairs Evergreen's branch of the pilots union.

(Richard Read - The Oregonian/Business News)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Qantas will return two A380s to the skies this week

Qantas will resume flying Airbus A380 superjumbos this week on a limited basis, giving Airbus and engine maker Rolls-Royce a confidence boost after an engine failure crippled a jet with 466 people aboard this month.

Europe's aviation safety authority EASA also chipped in with some positive news, lightening its compulsory inspection regime for the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine, after one such engine partially disintegrated on a Sydney-bound Qantas flight on November 4, forcing the plane to make an emergency landing in Singapore.

Qantas will put two of its six A380s in the air from Saturday but the others will take "some time" to return, pending engine fixes, and the A380 will stay off routes to Los Angeles, among the its most lucrative, the airline said on Tuesday.

"Out of abundance of caution we've taken 16 engines that we regard as having a bigger likelihood of having a problem on them and as a consequence those engines will be modified...," Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce told a news conference.

"This is a worldwide fleet issue so it's not just engines Qantas has, it's engines that other operators also have and this is an issue that will have to be resolved for all of the other operators," he added.

Still, the Qantas move to put the A380 back in the sky and the EU's new directive are welcome news for Airbus whose much-delayed EUR€12 billion (USD$16.3 billion) A380 program has struggled to attract airlines in some key markets, including the United States and Japan.

Rolls-Royce concluded the incident was caused by an oil fire but that the issue was confined to a specific component. It has since been pushing to find a fix and replace faulty engines with new turbines.

That conclusion prompted the EU to implement inspection measures, which analysts said were so time consuming they could take planes out of rotation every ten days or so, costing airlines revenue.

However, citing progress in the analysis, the EU will no longer require airlines to conduct extensive ground idle runs and turbine blades checks inside the engines -- a time consuming check.

Qantas replaced two engines on the first aircraft that will return to service, but declined to detail other engine changes, saying these had not been finalized.

The first A380 will be reassigned from the Los Angeles route and will enter service on the Sydney-London route on Saturday.

Singapore Airlines, the biggest operator of Rolls-Royce powered Airbus A380s, has already replaced engines on three aircraft and said it remained in compliance with air safety directives.


Qantas declined to discuss the earnings impact of the A380 disruption but analysts said it would be modest but noticeable.

"Together with the likelihood of ongoing disruptions through mid-December, we have estimated incremental costs of around AUD$20 million (USD$19.8 million)... along with an around 1 percent decline on mainline international capacity for the first half of 2011," Macquarie said in a note.

Brokerage CLSA cut its fiscal 2011 earnings estimate for Qantas, given the airline was running with smaller capacity and therefore missing out on last-minute bookings, which were usually higher-margin fares.

"While the airline is squeezing everyone onto flights that have existing bookings, Qantas is missing the higher yields from selling last-minute seats for rack-rate fares," it said.

Qantas is also keeping the A380 off the high-margin Los Angeles routes -- which require use of maximum certified engine thrust -- as a precaution. These are the longest routes served by an A380 and require the plane to be fully laden with fuel, which in turn requires higher thrust for take off.

Joyce said Qantas was not yet discussing compensation issues with Rolls-Royce.

"Our priority is to get all of the aircraft back in the air... and when the time is appropriate, we will have the dialogue with Rolls-Royce."

On top of the two aircraft returning to service, Qantas will take delivery of two new Airbus A380s before year-end, giving it four superjumbos for the busy Christmas and southern hemisphere summer holiday season.

Joyce last week estimated Rolls-Royce might have to replace 40 engines globally, or about half the engines currently in service on the A380.


Monday, November 22, 2010

In-flight 787 fire reportedly caused by a misplaced tool

The fire on a Boeing 787 Dreamliner test flight two weeks ago resulted from a short circuit caused by a tool mistakenly left in an electrical equipment cabinet on the plane, according to French newspaper La Tribune.

In an article on Monday, the paper said that while the misplaced tool was the cause of the fire, engineers are trying to find a way to prevent it from happening again. La Tribune attributed the information to "industry sources."

A Boeing spokeswoman declined to comment on the accuracy of the report, saying the investigation is ongoing.

"The investigation is not complete. Anything indicating cause or next steps is just speculation at this point," she said.

The French report said contractor Hamilton Sundstrand, a unit of United Technologies that provides electrical components, was likely one of several manufacturers involved.

Hamilton Sundstrand said it was "offering full support of the investigation and assisting Boeing."

Boeing halted test flights on the long-delayed 787 following the November 9 fire, which caused an emergency landing of the plane in Laredo, Texas.

The company has not said whether the fire would affect its plans to make first delivery of the light-weight, carbon-composite plane to the first customer in the first quarter of 2011.

The delivery is already nearly three years behind schedule. Some aviation experts believe there could be another delay of a few months to a few years.

"We think it is probably a positive if the source of the fire can be traced to an errant tool, rather than a system design issue," said Robert Stallard, analyst at RBC Capital Markets, said in a research note.


USAF delays decision on new Tanker

The US Air Force delayed the award of a long-awaited tanker plane contract until early next year and disclosed a document mixup that could fundamentally change the potential USD$50 billion rematch.

It said it had earlier this month inadvertently sent rival bidders Boeing and EADS a limited amount of identical information about each other's offer.

The contract award was to have been made by December 20, after two bungled efforts to replace Boeing KC-135 tankers, which are on average 50 years old. The Air Force has called the refueling plane its highest acquisition priority for nearly a decade.

The selection was being postponed because certain aspects of the competition were taking longer than originally expected, Colonel Les Kodlick, the Air Force director of public affairs said.

He said the delay was unrelated to the "clerical error" that improperly disclosed the confidential information.

But the mistake could open the way to purchasing aircraft from both bidders as a way to avoid a protest by the loser. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has opposed a split buy, partly because of the added expense of using two aircraft types.

EADS, headquartered in Paris and Munich, is battling for an important beachhead in the United States, the world's most lucrative arms market.

The tanker aircraft are used to refuel fighters and other planes in flight, a key to projecting US power worldwide.

Chicago-based Boeing has argued that its tanker is an "all-American" choice compared with the rival Airbus A330 offered by EADS, Airbus's corporate parent.


Kodlick said both companies immediately recognized the clerical error and contacted the Air Force.

"The Air Force has analyzed the information that was inadvertently disclosed and has taken steps to ensure that both competitors have had equal access to the same information," he said.

The effort to pick a winner will continue, Kodlick added. "Currently, we expect the award to occur early next year," he said. He declined to be drawn on which month was now the target date.

Boeing and EADS declined to comment.

Richard Aboulafia of the Teal Group aerospace consultancy in Fairfax, Virginia said the data mixup removes any doubt that there would be formal protests by whichever company loses.

"It may have been an honest mistake, but partisans on both sides have used whatever means are at their disposal to claim that they were at a disadvantage," he said.

"Even if this didn't happen, it would still be very difficult to successfully and conclusively award a contract to one side," Aboulafia said. "More than ever, it looks like a dual source buy may be the only way forward."

Scott Hamilton, managing director of Leeham, an aerospace consultancy in Issaquah, Washington, said: "This could force yet a fourth round to remove any question of possible impropriety."

The current competition is in many ways a rerun of 2008, when the Air Force awarded a 179-plane deal to EADS' North American unit teamed with Northrop Grumman, only to have it overturned on appeal from Boeing.

The US Government Accountability Office found the Air Force had made enough mistakes in judging the rival bids to have changed the outcome, a finding that led to the rematch.

An initial effort to lease and then buy 100 modified Boeing 767 tankers collapsed in 2004 amid a scandal that sent the Air Force's former second-ranking arms buyer and Boeing's ex-chief financial officer to prison for corruption.

Former Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne suggested this week buying tankers from both teams to rigorously test them and maintain competitive pressure "to bring their very best product to test."