Gulfstream G650 (c/n 6013) N650PH operated by Gulfstream 650 LLC out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida arrives at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) following a short 19 mile flight (12 minutes) from John Wayne Orange County Airport (SNA/KSNA) on February 21, 2013.
Even though this G650 is one of the first G650 airframes to be built, it is the first time that it has visited Long Beach.
Swiss International Air Lines may finalize an order for six Boeing 777-300ER sooner than expected, an unnamed source told ATW. The aircraft would replace its fleet of 15 Airbus A340-300s.
CEO Harry Hohmeister told ATW in November the replacement decision was expected between April and November of this year. He also said the carrier preferred an aircraft size that offers more seats than its 228-seat A340-300.
However, the order also depends on “the economic development in our industry and when we can make real money again,” he said. Since it is such a large investment, “the price of the new aircraft will be an essential element of these talks.”
This would be the first Lufthansa Group member airline to order the 777-300ER. Austrian Airlines operates four 777-200ERs and plans to add one more Boeing 777 to its fleet in 2014 and one in 2015 to increase long-haul capacity around 25%.
G650 (c/n 6040) N640GA rests on the Gulfstream service center flight ramp on February 15, 2013. She arrived from Savannah-Hilton head International Airport (SAV/KSAV) on February 14, 2013 at approximately 18:40 pst.
One hundred years ago, the sound of an internal combustion engine in the sky was first heard in Alaska when James and Lilly Martin sold rides to Fairbanks thrill-seekers. James had built the biplane himself. Lilly was the first woman pilot in England. Alaskans thought the gizmo was a hoot, but no one seemed to grasp the commercial potential.
Within 20 years, the gizmo's ability to go places where there were no roads made it indispensable to life in the territory.
On Friday, the Anchorage Museum opened an exhibit titled "Arctic Flight: A Century of Alaska Aviation," a look at the lore and legacy of flying machines in the last frontier. The show isn't so much about the principles of flights, said Anchorage Museum curator Julie Decker, but "about how flight changed the way of life in Alaska."
"Arctic Flight" features a number of historic photos and films capturing how airplanes in Alaska went from a novelty to the workhorse of arctic exploration to military necessities to a commercial fact of life. It includes items from aircraft piloted in Alaska by Wiley Post, Roald Amundsen, Charles and Anne Lindbergh and pieces of equipment associated with Alaska's pioneer pilots, from a piece of Carl Ben Eielson's Hamilton Metalplane to Ellen Paneok's parka.
There's a shirt made from the skin of the Norge, the only dirigible to have gone over the North Pole, a section of the nose from the first DC-3 in Alaska and a wing from a warplane with Soviet markings that crashed near Fairbanks on its way to the Eastern Front.
Younger viewers may need to have some things explained, like the plumbers pot, a stove used to melt lead but adopted by bush pilots as a way to keep their oil and engines warm.
"I never saw so many plumber pots in my life until I came to Alaska," said Jeremy Kinney of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, co-curator of the exhibit.
The centerpiece of the exhibit is the beautifully restored Stearman biplane borrowed from the Alaska Aviation Museum. Getting it onto the third floor was a trick, said Decker. "We couldn't get it into the elevator," she said. "We had to rig it up the stairs."
In the section dedicated to Alaska's airlines, you can watch an ad for now-defunct Wien Airlines showing the Stearman in flight.
It may be the oldest aircraft in Alaska to remain in flying condition, but it's not entirely alone. Kinney marveled at the old planes he saw parked near Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport and at Lake Hood. "If you like old airplanes, Alaska is the place to see them," he said.
One of the themes of the exhibit is anthropological, said Kinney. "It illustrates how air travel became part of the life of a community. It's a pretty exciting example of how people see a tool and adapt it for their particular use."
And it raises question, said Decker, like: "Do we still not have roads because of the airplane?" Organizers were pondering how things may have shifted because of planes. On the one hand, they made travel between Alaska and the Lower 48 more practical and faster. On the other hand, Alaska remains a wilderness with scattered communities largely separated from one another, hobbled by distance and bad weather. One hundred years after the first flight in Fairbanks, perhaps there hasn't been that much change after all, Decker said.
Perhaps. But I once got drawn into an argument over what was the greatest invention of the 20th century. "The airplane" was my instant answer. Others said that was an old-fashioned choice. They thought cellphones, television or the Internet were surely more important.
I stand by my pick. Imagine for a moment a world in which powered flight never happened, either because it was physically impossible or because no one ever figured it out.
Now imagine what Anchorage and Alaska would look like in that flightless world.
(Mike Dunham - Anchorage Daily News)
Read more here: http://www.adn.com/2013/02/09/2783725/the-anchorage-museum-opens-a-major.html#storylink=cpy
Finnair reported a 2012 full-year net profit of €11.8 million ($15.9 million), reversing an €87.5 million loss in the prior year. Finnair said the performance demonstrated the success of its restructuring efforts.
Speaking to reporters and analysts, Finnair president and CEO Mika Vehvilainen described the results as “quite satisfactory” and a “solid business performance,” noting this is Finnair’s first full-year profit since 2007.
Vehvilainen will leave the airline Feb. 28 to take a new position as CEO of Finnish cargo and load handling specialist Cargotec.
Revenue rose 8.5% to €2.4 billion and the airline delivered an operating profit of €44.9 million, reversing a €60.9 million operating loss from 2011.
Traffic rose 9.5% to 23.6 billion RPKs on a 3.5% increase in capacity to 30.4 billion ASKs, producing a load factor of 77.6%, up 4.3 percentage points.
Yield rose 0.9% to 7.3 cents as RASK rose 7.7% to 6.49 cents and CASK rose 2.3% to 6.58 cents. CASK ex-fuel was 4.5 cents, down 3.6%. Finnair’s fuel bill for the year was €90 million higher than 2011.
In 2011, Finnair set a €140 million cost-savings target with the aim of achieving €80 million in 2012. However, Vehvilainen said the airline achieved €100 million of savings in 2012, leaving it with only €40 million of the original target for 2013.
“We are very satisfied with the restructuring. Finnair today is much more focused as an airline,” Vehvilainen said, referring to the outsourcing of non-core functions such as the sub-contracting of regional flying to UK carrier Flybe.
Late last year, Finnair added another €60 million to its target. Vehvilainen said the airline is still “planning and preparing” the details of this latest tranche of savings. He added that it should meet the €60 million target by the end of 2015.
He said sustainable profitability is “absolutely necessary” for Finnair’s Airbus A350 investment, which is “vital for a competitive future.” Finnair’s long-term objective is a 6% margin.
Finnair is forecasting increased turnover in 2013, but at a “more moderate rate” compared to the last few years; it predicts another year of profit this year.
Britain’s House of Lords has joined four airlines in lobbying the UK Treasury to consider abolishing Air Passenger Duty (APD).
A study commissioned by British Airways, EasyJet, Ryanair and Virgin Atlantic suggests that abolishing APD could boost UK’s GDP by “at least £16 billion [$25 billion) in the first three years and result in almost 60,000 extra jobs in the UK over the longer term.”
The study, Economic Impact of Air Passenger Duty,conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, said that getting rid of APD would pay for itself by increasing revenues from other sources such as income tax and value added tax. “This net benefit, even after allowing for the loss of APD revenue, would be almost £500 million in the first year” and would average £250 million a year annually over the period to 2020, according to the study.
The boost to GDP would come from extra investment by airlines and other aviation businesses; a net increase in inbound tourism; and higher business productivity over the medium term.
It said APD is a “substantial business cost,” equating to about £500 million a year for UK businesses overall, and could in effect “be regarded as a tax on exports.” It argued that APD was “at least as damaging to the UK economy” as corporation tax or fuel duty, but that while recent budgets stemmed rises in fuel duty and reduced corporation tax, APD had risen continually. “Since January 2007, APD has increased by up to 260% for short-haul flights and up to 360% for long-haul,” the report stated, pointing out that those figures relate to economy class and APD is double in premium cabins.
Last week, the House of Lords debated the issue and urged the Chancellor to undertake “a proper macroeconomic impact assessment into APD across the whole of the UK economy,” according to Adrian Palmer, who tabled the debate. He said, “There is a growing body of evidence that points to the profoundly damaging impact of APD on our economy.”
The Treasury expects to raise £2.9 billion from APD this year, and plans future rate increases, taking revenue to £3.9 billion by 2016/17.
American Eagle pilots have filed a formal objection to the capacity purchase agreement between American Airlines and Republic Airways. The pilots are represented by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA).
Under the proposed agreement, Republic would operate 53 Embraer E-175 aircraft under the American Eagle brand with service to start in June 2013 and increase through 2015. The agreement would extend through 2027.
According to ALPA, the proposed agreement would “severely divert the flying of large regional jets to a competitor and would needlessly undermine the value of American Eagle, threatening the livelihood of Eagle’s pilots and other employees at the airline.”
American Eagle, a wholly owned subsidiary of AMR Corp., has provided the substantial majority of regional flying for American Airlines, which is also an AMR subsidiary. AMR Corp. is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
“The Eagle pilots negotiated and approved a labor agreement that provides Eagle with market-competitive labor rates for the next eight years,” ALPA American Eagle chairman Tony Gutierrez said. “This potential deal signifies AMR’s huge and unnecessary commitment to a third-party company at the expense of its own employees. If this transaction is approved, it is unclear whether a viable number of large regional jet opportunities for American would remain available to Eagle,” he said.
In December, the bankruptcy court approved a long-term collective bargaining agreement between ALPA and American Eagle that met cost-savings targets that Eagle management and AMR represented as necessary for Eagle to position itself as competitive in the regional airline industry.
Boeing has warned Norwegian Air Shuttle of possible delays in delivery of its first 787 due to problems with lithium-ion batteries and FAA grounding of the aircraft.
The low-cost carrier, which expected to receive the first two of eight 787-8s in late April and June, was scheduled to operate its first long-haul services from Oslo to New York and Bangkok in May. If the delay is confirmed, Norwegian said it would lease replacement aircraft for up to three months to ensure the new services went ahead.
“I fully understand that customers who have been looking forward to flying our Dreamliner during the first weeks are disappointed by today’s announcement,” Norwegian CEO Bjørn Kjos said. “We will, however, ensure that our passengers get to New York and Bangkok as smoothly and comfortably as possible. We will also give our customers the option to change their flights to a later departure free of charge. As one of Boeing's biggest customers in Europe, we expect that the aircraft manufacturer does everything in its power to get the aircraft ready for delivery as soon as possible,” he added.
“We deeply regret the impact the recent events have had on the schedule of Norwegian and their customers,” Boeing said in a statement. “We are staying in close communication with the airline as we work toward an approved means of compliance with the FAA Airworthiness Directive and develop a plan for resumption of 787 deliveries.”
Airbus is still comfortable about using lithium ion batteries on its A350 aircraft, which is under development, but has the option to return to conventional batteries, Airbus spokesperson Stefan Schaffrath told ATW. He said the manufacturer will carefully study recommendations that come out of the Boeing 787 investigation and evaluate whether it should be applied to the A350.
FAA and US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is conducting an investigation into the Jan. 7 Japan Airlines 787 fire in Boston and the All Nippon Airways (ANA) 787 “smoke event” that occurred Jan. 16. The ANA incident, which led to an emergency landing, is also linked to a damaged lithium ion battery.
FAA grounded the aircraft Jan 16. except for limited test flights to help determine why batteries failed and overheated on the two in-service Dreamliners.
Airbus, however, has said it is monitoring the investigation but so far sees no need to change its A350 design.
“We have studied the classical design of traditional batteries in the past. If … NTSB has doubts [about using lithium ion batteries], we still have all options open and can go back to the classical design,” Schaffrath told ATW. But he said this move will happen only if it “really becomes necessary.”
He said Airbus has a time advantage with the A350, which is due to enter service in the second half of 2014. “We still have some time for our first aircraft deliveries,” he said, adding there was no reason yet to discard future technology plans for using lithium ion batteries in aircraft.
Bloomberg has reported that Airbus is developing plans to use standard batteries in the A350 to avoid similar problems or certification issues. However, nickel-cadmium power sources are larger and heavier, weighing roughly twice as much as lithium ion and adding about 200 pounds to the aircraft, according to Bloomberg.
Airbus president and CEO Fabrice Brégier told ATW recently that he was “confident of what we have done so far. We bring more maturity for the A350.” Brégier said so far the tests of all A350 systems in the last year have looked good; however, the program—which is on-target for first flight by mid-year— remains “very challenging.”
Brégier told reporters last week that while the A350 has a “robust design,” there is nothing to stop the company from returning to a “classical plan” if necessary.
The latest C-17A (P-219) 10-0219 destined for the USAF and to be based at McChord AFB in Washington State took to the skies this afternoon at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) getting airborne at 15:22 pst.
U.S. agencies cleared Boeing Co to restart test flights of its grounded 787 Dreamliner in order to get more data on potentially faulty batteries, but they also demanded a closer look at how the batteries were approved, which may delay resuming delivery of Boeing's newest aircraft.
The 50 Dreamliners in service were grounded worldwide on January 16, after a series of battery incidents, including a fire on board a parked 787 in Boston and an in-flight problem on another plane in Japan. The groundings have cost airlines tens of millions of dollars, with no end in sight.
Late on Thursday, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said it would allow test flights, under more stringent rules, to monitor the batteries in flight. That followed an earlier, one-time flight to move a 787 from Texas to Washington state.
Earlier in the day, Deborah Hersman, head of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, said regulators must review the "special conditions" used in approving lithium-ion battery technology on the Dreamliners.
"There have now been two battery events resulting in smoke, less than two weeks apart, on two different aircraft," Hersman said. "The assumptions used to certify the battery must be reconsidered," she added.
Boeing investors took the news in stride, pushing shares slightly higher on the day. Analysts said the market was focusing on the wrong issue: the short-term question of fixing the battery, versus the longer-term prospect that the entire battery system might need to be approved again.
If the battery needs to be re-certified, "you're talking about changes to the 50 they've delivered, significant amount of engineering commitment on the 787-9. I see this as still having a significant amount of question marks," said Ken Herbert, an analyst at Imperial Capital in San Francisco.
Boeing shares are 3 percent higher since the 787 was grounded on January 16, despite the headaches it has caused the planemaker and the demands for compensation.
Even short sellers - investors who seek out shares that are likely to fall - have largely left the stock alone. According to Markit's Data Explorers, just 0.3 percent of shares available for borrowing were being used for short bets as of Wednesday.
"The market is focusing on the battery short circuit, which implies a simple fix," said Carter Leake, analyst at BB&T Capital Markets. "But they're missing the much bigger issue, which is the questioning of the certification process. Hersman is basically saying we're questioning the original certification altogether."
TIME TO RECONSIDER
The NTSB's Hersman mentioned nine so-called special conditions the FAA set in 2007 in approving Boeing's use of the battery, and its plan to allow the battery to burn itself out if it caught fire, because the risk was considered extremely remote.
Boeing's certification tests put the chances of smoke from a 787 battery at one in every 10 million flight hours.
"The 787 fleet has accumulated less than 100,000 flight hours yet there have now been two battery events," Hersman said.
The special conditions and the design assumptions are part of a broad review that the FAA launched last month, before the second battery incident. Hersman said the NTSB was not yet making any further recommendations.
Hersman also said on Thursday that the NTSB has isolated the source of a January 7 battery fire in Boston to one of the battery's eight cells, but still has not found the root cause of the fire.
The NTSB plans to issue an interim factual report in 30 days, though the decision of returning the plane to regular flight rests with the Federal Aviation Administration.
In a joint statement, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta reiterated that the FAA's comprehensive review was ongoing.
"We must finish this work before reaching conclusions about what changes or improvements the FAA should make going forward. The leading experts in this field are working to understand what happened and how we can safely get these aircraft back into service," they said.
In the meantime, analysts have expressed concerns about a build-up of inventory, soaking up several billion dollars of cash, as Boeing continues to produce the 787.
"For Boeing, it is encouraging to see that there has been concrete progress in the investigation but the (NTSB's) point that there is still a long road ahead ultimately appears more important," said Nick Cunningham, aerospace analyst at UK-based Agency Partners, an independent research firm.
As Hersman was addressing the news conference in Washington DC, the first 787 flight since mid-January left Texas, with no commercial passengers and a minimum crew, and landed safely in Washington with no visible issues. Ultimately scheduled for delivery to China Southern Airlines , the aircraft has not yet been handed over to the customer.
The FAA had approved the single flight separately from Boeing's request to run a series of test flights, placing a number of conditions, mostly having to do with testing and monitoring the plane's battery.
Later in the day, the FAA cleared Boeing to resume test flights, stating that their primary purpose "will be to collect data about the battery and electrical system performance while the aircraft is airborne."
Boeing said it would resume limited 787 test flights soon, without specifying a date, adding that it was "confident that the 787 is safe to operate for this flight test activity."
While the investigation continues, Boeing is pursuing a number of ways to mitigate and contain a fire, if one starts in the batteries, one source familiar with the probe told Reuters. Three or four approaches would be pursued to ensure the batteries did not breach their containment systems, even if they caught fire, said the source.
Southwest Airlines and Volaris will end their connecting partnership from 22 February.
Passengers were able to connect between certain Southwest domestic flights in the USA and certain Volaris flights to Mexico at designated connection airports, which included Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Oakland. The partnership was launched in late 2010 as a way to expand the former's solely domestic network into Mexico. Dallas-based Southwest says that the carrier's mutually agreed to end the relationship. Volaris did not respond to inquiries.
Expansion by Southwest-subsidiary AirTran Airways on routes to Mexico could have contributed to the end of the partnership. Southwest bought the carrier in September 2010 citing, among other things, its existing Caribbean and Latin America network as a reason for the merger.
AirTran flies to Cancun, Los Cabos and Mexico City from various US cities, and continues to grow in Mexico. It will begin new flights between Denver and Los Cabos on 10 March, and between Austin and Los Cabos on 2 June.
Volaris flies to Chicago Midway, Denver, Fresno, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Oakland, Orlando, Sacramento, San Diego and San Jose (California) in the USA.
As far as suggestions go, airline industry consultant Jay Sorensen realizes this one might not fly.
But as the economics of the airline industry continue to shift and Mitchell International Airport seeks to attract more passengers - and additional flights - Sorensen says he thinks it's time to talk about a new name for the airport.
"If we want to be a regional airport, we need to start thinking regionally," said Sorensen, who runs the Shorewood-based IdeaWorksCompany. And, he says, serious thought should be given to somehow including northern Illinois in a new airport name.
Even bringing up that topic is akin to throwing gasoline on a fire and then tossing in a stick of dynamite for good measure. There are folks around here who are repulsed by the notion that Milwaukee could be linked to northern Illinois by anything other than the interstate highway system.
"I know Milwaukee is going to have a real big issue with this, but I think it's kind of the elephant in the room that needs to be talked about," Sorensen said.
That's because growth in the airline business is tough to find these days. Airports generally take what they can get.
Among similar-size cities, Mitchell International has plenty going for it, industry analysts say.
The airport already has some of the lowest fares in the nation when measured against the 100 largest airports in the country, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
The airport also is served by the largest carriers in the country. You can go almost anywhere from Milwaukee with one stop. Mitchell's parking and convenience seem ahead of perennially congested O'Hare International in Chicago.
Some business travelers in Milwaukee, though, say it can be difficult to find a nonstop flight to various destinations around the United States.
The way to fix that is to add routes.
That won't happen without new passengers. Airlines these days are using the "butts in seats" business model in which they add flight service only if there is demand to support it.
It's been done before
That's where a regional approach for Mitchell might make sense, Sorensen said.
"Do we want to have more flights and more passengers at this airport? If the answer to that question is yes, then one of the things we need to do is tap into a larger market," he said.
That larger market is the northern suburbs of Chicago.
"I circle back to the question that needs to be answered. Do we want more flights here? Once you answer that question, it then begs a change to the brand that is being established by the airport," Sorensen said.
Changing airport names as part of a branding strategy is a trend seen from Tampa, Fla., to Bozeman, Mont., air industry consultants say. Consider:
A federal lawsuit was filed in November over airport names in Tampa.
Changing the airport's name has been an issue this year in Las Vegas.
In Bozeman, Mont., last year, the airport changed its name to Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport at Gallatin Field from simply being called Gallatin Field "to better compete with other airports that serve the (Yellowstone National) park . . . ," according to Jacob Kuipers, an economic policy consultant, who wrote about the topic on the travel industry blog The Cranky Flier. Bozeman is 90 miles from the park, the blog post says.
There are other examples that aren't necessarily new.
Baltimore-Washington International is in neither Baltimore nor Washington. It's in unincorporated Anne Arundel County, Md.
Cincinnati, Ohio's, airport isn't even in Ohio. It's in northern Kentucky and is known as Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International.
Kuipers also cites Fresno Yosemite International in California. The airport changed its name in 1996 from Fresno Air Terminal, according to the airport's website. It's a 1.5-hour drive to the south entrance of Yosemite from the airport, according to the National Park Service.
Such regional approaches to naming airports have been part of the industry for years.
"It's not uncommon at all," said Robert Mann of R.W. Mann, a New York airline industry consulting firm. "It's fairly widely employed."
These days, a key consideration is that the name of the airport - or brand - shows up in as many Internet searches as possible.
Mann says he understands the touchy nature of changing an airport's name.
"On the other hand, the practical issue from the airport's standpoint is you're trying to expand the image and hopefully the business," he said. "An easy way to do that is effectively using search engine optimization by incorporating a place name in your airport."
Sorensen says he isn't on a crusade. It's just business.
"When you are branding something, you have two choices: You can spend a godawful amount of money telling people what your brand is, and eventually the message will get through," he said. "The other method is name the thing (properly) to begin with something that perfectly conveys what it is."
A spokesman for Southwest Airlines, the dominant carrier at Mitchell International, said the airline doesn't have an opinion on airport names.
"We market Milwaukee as Milwaukee; we market Chicago as Chicago (Midway)," Southwest spokesman Brad Hawkins said in an email. "In both cases, we rely on the close-in convenience, cost advantage, and ease of airport experience in drawing people from the metro areas."
Nothing's ruled out
The powers that be around Milwaukee say they wouldn't rule out anything, including a name change for the airport, if it would increase air service in Milwaukee.
"It could make sense for the signage at the airport - 'Welcome to Milwaukee County' is too small of a welcome mat when the airport is a gateway to the 31st largest metropolitan area in the country," Tim Sheehy, president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, said in an email. "Toss in northern Illinois, and it grows even larger."
Sheehy points out that the airport runs on revenue from travelers, not from Milwaukee County taxpayers, "so no need to limit the geography to where the runway is."
Mitchell International is owned by Milwaukee County and is funded by the travelers and the airlines who use it.
The airport already is aggressively marketing to northern Illinois and northern Chicago, said Pat Rowe, airport marketing director, in an email.
"We know the most important factors in a passenger's buying decision are ticket price, flight schedule, parking cost and convenience, and that MKE is increasingly an option for northern Illinois travelers," she said.
Whether a change in the airport name would increase search engine optimization and would lead to more customer traffic "would have to be determined by a market study," she says.
And, changing the name, much less adding northern Illinois to it, would be no easy undertaking, she says.
"The change from 'Mitchell Field' to 'Milwaukee County's General Mitchell International Airport' generated a great deal of public debate, as incorporating 'Chicago' undoubtedly would," Rowe said.
Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele said he would be open to anything that improves business at the airport.
"If someone in a research-based way could show definitively that airports changing their names have markedly and significantly (increased traffic) based solely on that change, I'd be kicking the door down" to change the name, he said.
"Now, I don't know if I could get my head around 'Milwaukee/Chicago' or 'Milwaukee/Sorry-Your-Bears-Lost-Again' International."
"If you put some sort of Illinois-ish thing in the name, people in Illinois might feel like they have more permission - or it was more of a normal, acceptable thing to do - to fly out of Milwaukee," he added. "I don't know. It seems like there has to be an easier way."
( Joe Taschler - Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel)
Aero Air of Hillsboro, Oregon, has purchased the air tanker operations of Butler Aircraft from Travis Garnick. Aero Air acquired Butler’s three DC-7 air tankers, support equipment, and spare parts in Madras, Oregon. They will take over the lease of Butler’s new city-owned hangar at the Madras Municipal Airport (map) as well as the contracts with the state of Oregon for the three air tankers.
The company did not have a contract with the US Forest Service for the DC-7s.
Kevin McCullough, now the President of Aero Air, and Jack Erickson, founder and former owner of Erickson Air-Crane, became co-owners of Aero Air in 1998 and since then have been growing the company. After Mr. Erickson sold Erickson Air-Crane to ZM Private Equity Fund in 2007, they began talking about getting into the air tanker business. A couple of years ago they decided to go with MD-87s and pulled together teams to develop a tank design and to handle obtaining the supplemental type certificate (STC) from the FAA.
Erickson Aero Tanker’s Tanker 105 MD-87 (53211/1874) originally delivered to Iberia as EC-636 "Ciudad de Logrono" on 6/28/1991 re-registered as EC-FFI on 8/26/1991 November 15, 2012 at Phoenix Goodyear Airport in Arizona.
(Photo by John Oram)
They have purchased seven MD-87s, most of them from SAS airlines, and the conversion process is 99 percent complete on one of them, Mr. McCullough told Wildfire Today on Tuesday. The parts for the others are being fabricated in Hillsboro where all of the conversion work will be done. The other six MD-87s are at Hillsboro, Phoenix Goodyear Airport in Arizona (map), and Madras. Some of them have already been painted at Phoenix Goodyear prior to beginning the other modifications.
After the conversions are complete, Aero Air will conduct all of their air tanker operations out of the facilities in Madras that were formerly owned or leased by Butler. That branch of the company will be known as Erickson Aero Tanker, and that is what is being painted in large letters on the MD-87s, similar to the style of the lettering on the DC-10 and 747 very large air tankers.
The 4,000-gallon internal tanks will rely on gravity, rather than pressurized air, to force the retardant out of the tank. An MD-87 can cruise at 504 mph and is powered by two rear-mounted jet, or turbofan engines. The company has secured a block of air tanker numbers from the USFS, 101 through 112 — which is more than seven, you’re thinking. Right. Mr. McCullough told us that their long term plans are to operate 12 to 15 MD-87s.
Technicians from the USFS’ San Dimas Technology and Development Center have been at Aero Air this week checking the design of the tank system to determine if it is in compliance with the very extensive and complex requirements for federally-contracted air tankers. Aero Air has already done a static test, expelling water from the tank while the aircraft is on the ground, but more are scheduled. In the Spring they hope to pass the airborne retardant drop tests where the retardant is captured in hundreds of cups arranged in a grid pattern on the ground. If the STC and the approvals from the Interagency Air Tanker Board have positive results, there may be at least one MD-87 dropping on fires next summer.
Assuming… that the U.S. Forest Service completes the evaluation of the proposals from air tanker companies for “next generation air tankers” and awards a contract to Aero Air. The company, along with three others, was notified last Fall that they were going to receive contracts, but before the contracts were actually awarded and signed, two companies that were not slated to get contracts, 10 Tanker Air Carrier and Coulson, protested, and the USFS halted the process.
Months later they started over, amending the request for proposal which then closed again in November. If the contracts had actually been awarded, Aero Air would have been expected to provide two MD-87s beginning in 2013. The other companies that almost got contracts were Neptune for BAe-146s, Minden for BAe-146s, and Aero-Flite for an Avro RJ85, a derivative of the BAe-146.
American Airlines and US Airways are reportedly nearing agreement on a merger, though nothing is finalized and neither company is commenting. No announcement is expected until next week.
The Wall Street Journal reported that, under the deal now being negotiated by top executives from both carriers, American’s creditors would end up owning around 72% of a merged carrier while US Airways’ shareholders would control around 28%. However, the newspaper, citing confidential sources close to the talks, cautioned that the deal could still fall through.
The Dallas Morning News reported that a merger announcement is likely next week with US Airways chairman and CEO Doug Parker becoming CEO of the merged company. American chairman, president and CEO Tom Horton reportedly would serve as non-executive chairman, though perhaps not long-term. The newspaper also cautioned the situation is “fluid” and final details have not been firmly agreed.
Neither of the company’s boards of directors has voted on the merger yet.
Dallas/Fort Worth-based American has been operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection since November 2011. Phoenix-based US Airways is the result of a 2005 merger between America West Airlines and the former US Airways, which itself went through a Chapter 11 reorganization.
Calgary-based WestJet posted a 2012 net profit of C$242.4 million ($242.8 million), up 63% from C$148.7 million net income in 2011. Its fourth-quarter net income leapt 71.3% to $60.9 million, on 10.1% higher revenues and a 54.6% lift in operating income.
During the year it added 13 new interline partnerships and is preparing to launch WestJet Encore, a regional turboprop airline, in the second half of 2013. It will announce the carrier’s first route schedule Feb. 11. In 2013 the carrier plans to evolve two to four interline agreements into new codeshares and pursue “a handful” of new interline relationships.
“Our positive momentum continues into 2013 as we launch WestJet Encore, add to and evolve our airline partnerships,” WestJet president and CEO Gregg Saretsky said.
The Canadian carrier’s full-year revenue lifted 11.6% year-over-year to C$3.4 billion, on an 8.4% rise in expenses to C$3.05 billion. Operating profit jumped 46.5% to C$375.7 million.
Saretsky said the fourth quarter “was an incredibly tough quarter operationally.” The carrier experienced “significant weather events,” at key domestic and international airports including 227 weather-related flight cancellations in December, compared to 45 in the year-ago month. These weather events contributed to a 13.9 point decline in its fourth-quarter on-time performance to 64%.
Full-year traffic lifted 8.1% to 18.26 billion RPMs on 4.1% growth in capacity to 22.06 billion ASMs, producing a load factor of 82.8%, up 3.1 points. Yield grew 3.2% year-over-year to C$0.188. RASM was up 7.1% year-over-year to C$0.155 and CASM rose 4.1% to C$0.138.
In the 2013 first quarter, WestJet said it expects moderate RASM growth and margin expansion. For the full-year, it forecasts CASM, excluding fuel and employee profit share, to increase 2%-3% year-over-year.
Aer Lingus reported a 2012 net profit of €34.1 million ($46.1 million), down 52% from €71.2 million in 2011.
The Irish flag carrier said the results were affected by €26.5 million of exceptional items and that operating profit before exceptionals was up 40.7% at €69.1 million. Those exceptional items include the costs of defending itself against Ryanair’s third attempt to take over the airline.
Passenger numbers from its mainline operations inched up 1.5% to 9.65 million, but revenue for the year grew 8.2% to €1.39 billion.
Load factor was up 2.1% to 77.7% and average yield increased 7% to €120.15. Long-haul yields remained particularly strong, up 9.6%, while short-haul yields were up 3.8%.
Aer Lingus CEO Christoph Mueller described 2012 as “an excellent year.” The airline has pursued what it describes as a “value carrier” business model with low-cost, short-haul services. It has a more traditional model on its long-haul sectors, which are focused heavily on the US.
“We believe in our new business model,” Mueller said. “Our positioning at the center of the market is allowing us to take market share from the legacy carriers as well as the pure low-cost and regional carriers.”
“In 2012, we continued to build our network of strong industry alliances, completing agreements with Etihad Airways and Air Canada. We have also extended our franchise agreement for Aer Lingus Regional services with Aer Arann.”
He added that 2013 will be a year of growth.
“We will grow our North Atlantic services by 15% this year and deploy four short-haul aircraft in a cooperation with Virgin Atlantic out of London Heathrow.”
“We will also fly one Airbus A330 aircraft during the next three winter seasons on behalf of a major European tour operator, which will improve aircraft utilization in the low season.”
G650 (c/n 6035) N880MD captured on the Gulfstream Service Center ramp at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on February 6, 2013. Sharing the ramp was G650 (c/n 6037) N637GA which is still wearing it's ambetrech finish.
Japan Airlines said it would talk to Boeing about compensation for the grounding of the 787 Dreamliner, adding that the idling of its jets would cost it nearly USD$8 million from its earnings to the end of March.
JAL said robust demand on European, North American and Southeast Asian routes would help offset the impact of the 787's grounding, and it increased its annual operating profit forecast by almost 13 percent.
"Rather than negotiations with Boeing, the important thing now is getting the 787 flying again safely as soon as we can," said JAL's president Yoshiharu Ueki. "However, when the situation has settled down we can and are preparing to begin those talks."
Rival All Nippon Airways, which has more 787s than JAL, said last week it would seek compensation from Boeing once the amount of damages was clearer.
JAL raised its operating profit forecast to JPY¥186 billion (USD$2 billion) for the year to end-March, from a previous estimate of JPY¥165 billion. It predicted the impact on its earnings from the grounding of the 787 at around JPY¥700 million for the rest of this fiscal year.
All Boeing's 787s are out of action as investigators in Japan and the United States try to find the cause of two recent incidents with the plane's lithium-ion batteries - a battery fire on a JAL 787 at a US airport and an emergency landing by another plane on a domestic ANA flight after battery problems triggered a smoke alarm.
US officials said late last week they were making progress in their investigation into the battery fire at Boston airport.
Russia may soon crack down to stop boozy flights after a spate of brawls involving drunken passengers.
State television on Monday broadcast amateur footage of several drink-soaked punch-ups after a plane made a forced landing in Uzbekistan on the way to Thailand on Sunday because a Russian had attacked other passengers.
The footage included shots of a man butting a steward during one flight and a fight among passengers waiting for the toilet during another. In a third incident, a man was tied to his seat and his mouth taped shut after passengers got fed up with him.
A senior member of the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, said the assembly could soon draw up legislation to ban duty-free alcohol and cigarettes being brought on board planes, even in sealed bags.
"We would like to prepare it (the legislation) before the end of this session," Interfax news agency quoted Vitaly Yefimov, the first deputy chairman of the Duma's transport committee, as saying.
"Changes are needed to end such uproar on planes. It's a direct threat to flight security," he said, without giving any other details of the Duma's plans.
Russian television said that only in one recent case had a Russian passenger faced criminal charges for violent behavior on board a plane. Several others had been fined, it said.
Flights on Russian airlines are generally much more comfortable these days than in Soviet times, when passengers often had to fight their way to the front or back of the plane through thick cigarette smoke.
But alcohol consumption per capita in Russia is the fourth highest in the world, according to World Health Organization figures for 2011, and passengers often enjoy an onboard tipple.
A Sunwing flight from Halifax bound for the Dominican Republic was forced to land in Bermuda Friday night because three passengers refused to stop smoking on the plane, CBC News has learned.
The Bermuda police service said they were called to the airport around 9:55 p.m. local time to meet Sunwing flight 454, which was on its way to Punta Cana. Police said they boarded the plane and arrested the three smokers. "It appeared to be a father, a mother and a son. The parents appear to be in their 50s. The son, I believe, is around 22 or so," said acting Insp. Paul Simons. Dave Shellington's wife was on the plane. He said she texted him to tell the story. "They were smoking in the plane's washroom and when they came out they got into a little bit of an argument with the attendants. They couldn't say where they put their cigarette butts and that caused a bit of a commotion, I guess. From there it kind of escalated with the father, the mother and the son," said Shellington He said his wife said there was a lot of screaming and swearing. Simons said he couldn't confirm the family's nationality or if they had also been drinking, but said they were co-operative when they were removed from the plane by police. They were taken to the police station and have since been released on bail. The flight was grounded overnight and the crew and passengers were put up in a hotel. "The flight was also grounded so that a Canadian-trained mechanic could inspect the aircraft for undetermined reasons," Simons said. The flight was rescheduled to leave on Saturday. The family has been ordered not to leave the island and their passports and travel documents have been seized by the Bermuda police. They have not been officially charged.
The super-midsize Gulfstream G280 recently set 15 new city-pair speed records as part of the company’s reliability demonstration program, the Savannah, Ga.-based aircraft manufacturer announced today. To date, the G280 has established 22 speed records since setting its first in May.
The 250-hour internal testing program, one of the most extensive voluntary reliability programs ever implemented by Gulfstream, was intended to enhance fleet reliability, augment pilot training and improve customer readiness. This demonstration program incorporated pilot check rides, APU maintenance, engine run qualifications, technical operations, publication validations and basic servicing and handling at typical FBOs, according to Gulfstream product support president Mark Burns.
Of the 15 new city-pair speed records set as part of the program, Gulfstream said the most notable were flights from Aspen, Colo., to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and from Honolulu to Savannah. The G280 flew the 1,640 nm from Aspen-Pitkin County Airport to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in three hours 21 minutes, for an average cruise speed of Mach 0.84. It flew 4,124 nm from Honolulu to Savannah in eight hours 19 minutes at an average speed of Mach 0.80.
The city-pair speed records have been certified by the U.S. National Aeronautic Association and have been forwarded to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale in Switzerland for approval as world records.