Friday, December 28, 2012

Boeing to keep 747-8I destined for Lufhansa as testbed aircraft

Lufthansa and Boeing have agreed that a 747-8 previously allocated for delivery to the airline will now become a dedicated test aircraft for a set of airframe, system and engine improvements due for delivery in late 2013.

The aircraft, Line Number 1435, first flew in April 2011 but has already been used for some upgrade testing and will now continue in this role rather than be refurbished for Lufthansa. The move, which was triggered by the need to flight test a revised tail fuel system for activation on later aircraft, means that Lufthansa’s firm order book backlog reduces from 20 to 19, though the airline hints that this may only be a temporary reduction.

Lufthansa is still scheduled to take five 747-8s as planned in 2013, and 10 more aircraft by the end of 2015 that will incorporate the lighter structure and improved systems and engines. The airline currently has four 747-8s in service.

Explaining the decision, the German carrier’s 747-8 chief pilot Elmar Boje says the extensive flight test modifications already made to the aircraft would mean that, even after post-test refurbishment, the unit would be a non-standard “white elephant” in the Lufthansa fleet. However, he adds the airline’s long-range fleet group is due to decide on adding additional aircraft by the third quarter of 2013, some of which could include 747-8s.

Although the decision effectively shrinks Boeing’s overall 747-8 backlog to 71, the manufacturer is putting a brave face on the move because a variety of upgrade testing, including the General Electric GEnx-2B performance improvement package (PIP), can now be bundled into one dedicated certification effort. “The plan was to use a 747-8F freighter for the PIP flight test, but when we de-activated the tail fuel we needed an -8 Intercontinental” to flight test the revised system, says 747 vice president and general manager Elizabeth Lund. “That’s when we started our conversation with Lufthansa.”

The aircraft, originally destined to be Lufthansa’s fifth 747-8, will be used for flight testing throughout 2013 and refurbished for onward sale in 2014 as either a standard airliner or for possible business jet modification.

“Lufthansa opted to take a new aircraft instead in 2014,” says Lund. “So as a result, we had to pull this one out and delay delivery to next year. Lufthansa reserves the right to add another at the end. We asked to use it, and it was already instrumented for tail fuel testing. So all in all it’s a good business decision by them,” she adds.

Improvements to be tested next year are concentrated on the upgraded engine configuration and tail tank fuel system, though also include updates to the flight management computer (FMC) to incorporate additional required navigation performance features and a ‘quiet climb’ function.

The FMC 3.0 load is scheduled for the end of 2013.

The 747-8 passenger model’s 3,300 gal. tailplane fuel tank was de-activated before the first aircraft entered service after analysis indicated that, under certain fuel load circumstances, the tail tank could induce flutter.

Re-activation of the tail fuel tank will provide added range and improve the aircraft’s performance says Lufthansa’s Boje. The extra weight of the fuel in the aft of the aircraft can be used to assist in trimming the 747-8 to lower cruise drag. The 747-8’s fuselage extension “tends to be nose heavy so we might gain performance,” he adds.

Lufthansa also plans to ask Boeing to study minor software changes to the fuel transfer system which would extend the length of time the fuel remains in the aft tank, which would increase the trim benefit.

(Guy Norris - Aviation Week)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
Michael Carter 
Aero Pacific Flightlines 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

G650 emerges from Paint shop at Long Beach Airport

This new G650 (VP-CNR) is captured undertow fresh from the Gulfstream piant shop at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) this afternoon (12/18/2012). I believe it is ex-N603GA (c/n 6034) but I have not confirmed this as of yet. 
(Photos by Michael Carter) 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Southwest Airlines announces new fees

Looking to increase revenue amid tough competition, Southwest Airlines has announced several fee changes, including higher charges for checking a third bag and for failing to cancel a ticket before missing a flight.

The Dallas-based airline — the nation's largest passenger carrier — will continue to charge nothing for the first two checked bags and for changing a flight after buying a ticket.

The changes, announced Friday during an investors' conference in New York, are expected to help the airline increase revenue from extra fees by $300 million annually. The changes are not expected to take effect until 2013.

 Southwest Airlines 737-7H4 (34592/1868) N230WN "Colorado One"
(Photo by Michael Carter)

 The fees for a third bag and for overweight or oversize bags will rise to $75 from $50. The charge for an "early bird" check-in that lets passengers board early increases to $12.50 from $10. The airline has yet to outline the fee for failing to cancel a restricted ticket before missing a flight.

Southwest has long billed itself as the airline that doesn't "nickel-and-dime" passengers with extra fees like many of its competitors. The world's largest airlines are expected to collect $36.1 billion in passenger fees in 2012 — including charges to check bags, buy food and drinks and use onboard wireless Internet.

Southwest Chief Commercial Officer Bob Jordan said the "no-show" fee will generate revenue and give passengers an incentive to call the airline before missing a flight so that Southwest can resell those empty seats.

"So it's a double win there," he said during the investors' conference. "We are still working through the changes but we have made the decision to do it."

(Hugo Martin - Los Angeles Times)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

 Taxies on "Lima" towards a Rwy 30 departure.
G550 (c/n 5338) N550AU rolls for takeoff on Rwy 30 at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) bound for Ted Stevens International Airport (ANC/PANC) in Anchorage, Alaska on December 11, 2012.
(Photos by Michael Carter) 
G550 (c/n 5408) N908GA arrived at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) at 09:06 pst from Savannah-Hilton International Airport (SAV/KSAV) on December 11, 2012.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Singapore Airlines sells 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic to Delta Airlines

Delta Air Lines will spend $360 million to acquire Singapore Airlines’ 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic Airways. As part of the deal, Delta and Virgin Atlantic will launch a transatlantic joint venture (JV).
“Virgin Group and [chairman] Sir Richard Branson will retain the majority 51% stake and Virgin Atlantic Airways will retain its brand and operating certificate,” Delta and Virgin Atlantic said in a joint statement.

The JV will operate on a “metal neutral basis,” the carriers said, adding that both airlines will share “the costs and revenues from all joint venture flights.” The statement continued, “The airlines will file an application with the US Department of Transportation for antitrust immunity, which will allow a closer relationship and coordination on schedules and operations. The transaction also will be reviewed by the US Department of Justice and the European Union's competition regulator and other relevant authorities.”

The airlines expect both the share purchase and JV to be in place by the end of next year.
“Our new partnership with Virgin Atlantic will strengthen both airlines and provide a more effective competitor between North America and the UK, particularly on the New York-London route, which is the largest airline route between the US and Europe,” Delta CEO Richard Anderson said.

Virgin Atlantic CEO Steve Ridgway stated, “This joint venture will deliver much more effective competition at [London] Heathrow. Both airlines are confident that the Department of Transportation will be as convinced as we are of the extensive consumer benefits arising from this joint venture.”
Branson said the agreement with Delta “signals the start of a new era of expansion, financial growth and many opportunities for our customers and our business.”

The two carriers said they will operate “a total of 31 peak-day round-trip flights between the UK and North America, 23 of which operate at London Heathrow. The enlarged network will benefit customers of both carriers by providing greater access to a broader network, improved connectivity
and convenient booking options.”

(Aaron Karp - ATWOnline News)

Corporate jet charter alliance announced at MEBA conference

AirClub, the world’s first corporate jet charter alliance, was announced yesterday at MEBA 2012 in Dubai. The alliance brings together eight of Europe’s business jet charter operators: ACM Air Charter, Air Alsie, Air Hamburg, Corporatejets, Flyinggroup, GlobeAir, Masterjet and PrivatAir.

Between them they operate 106 aircraft, covering a wide spectrum of range and payload capabilities, from the Beechcraft King Air to a VIP Boeing 757. “We will combine the strength, purchasing power and expertise of some of Europe’s leading players within the industry to provide clients with premium service, top aircraft availability and flexibility, as well as the highest possible standard of safety and comfort,” said PrivatAir’s Christian Hatje, who is chairman of AirClub.

For the eight charter operators, which will retain their independence, the alliance will allow them to upgrade their customer service and widen the type of service they can offer. From a purchasing point of view, the alliance membership gives them greater strength, particularly in the areas of fuel provision, insurance and spares.

Having now established the alliance, the priority is to get an online booking service up and running early next year. Following this, AirClub will look at an alliance-wide jet card, although jet cards from any of the eight members can now be used across the alliance.

(Aviation International News)

American Airlines takes delivery of it's first 777-323(ER)

American Airlines took delivery of its first Boeing 777-323(ER) (31543/1053) N717AN yesterday (12/11/2012) as part of the carrier's fleet modernization program and global network strategy.

The delivery makes the Dallas / Fort Worth, based carrier the first US airline to add the 777-300(ER) to its fleet.

American plans to put the aircraft into service early next year on it's Dallas/ Fort Worth (DFW/KDFW) - Sao Paulo - Guarulhos International (Cumbica) (GRU/SBGR) route. 

American will introduce a new livery on the aircraft which was delivered plain white. 

 (Michael Carter - APF Editor)

Friday, December 7, 2012

First Indian Air Force C-17A

The first Indian Air Force C-17A (F-253/IAF-1) CB-8001 is bathed in the bright white light of the flight ramp flood lites on December 7, 2012 just hours after emerging from the production hanger at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB).
(Photo by Michael Carter)