Thursday, May 25, 2017

Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-890(WL) (35183/2166) N568AS

Sporting the carriers special "Employee Powered" livery as it taxies to parking following it's arrival at Ted Stevens-Anchorage International Airport (ANC/PANC) on May 8, 2017.

(Photo By Michael Carter)

Atlas Air Boeing 747-87UF (37567/1476) N855GT


 
Rotates off and climbs from Rwy 33 at Ted Stevens-Anchorage International Airport (ANC/PANC) on May 3, 2017.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

City settles lawsuits challenging modernization projects at Los Angeles International Airport

The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday agreed to settle lawsuits brought by Culver City and Inglewood that alleged the potential environmental impacts of modernization projects at Los Angeles International Airport were not properly evaluated.

Officials said the settlements smooth the way for construction of ground transportation improvements, including a people mover in the central terminal area, a transportation center, a consolidated car rental facility and upgraded roads. All are part of a $14-billion modernization of the nation’s second-busiest airport.

“We’ve reached an important milestone with neighboring cities that share our vision to improve the passenger, employee and neighborhood experience by transforming LAX into a modern and efficient gold-standard airport,” said Deborah Flint, chief executive of Los Angeles World Airports.

Under terms of the agreement, Culver City and Inglewood will participate in planning future development at LAX and implement transportation projects that will be paid for by Los Angeles World Airports.

The airport department will give Culver City $2.71 million and Inglewood $14.9 million to implement an “intelligent” transportation system, which involves sophisticated information and communication technologies to move people safely and efficiently.

Such methods include variable message signs, traffic signal control systems, cameras to monitor roads and online information about road conditions, traffic congestion and available parking.

Inglewood will receive another $10.6 million from the airport to develop what’s known as a transportation demand management system, or TDM, to reduce travel demand or redistribute it over time or across the transportation system.

Both cities agreed to dismiss appeals of an earlier court decision in favor of Los Angeles.

“This was something that has held everyone at bay for so long, and it’s thrilling that we are all going to be cooperating again to make LAX safe, secure and convenient,” said Denny Schneider, president of the Alliance for a Regional Solution to Airport Congestion, which also had sued LAX.

In May 2013, Culver City and Inglewood became part of a group of local governments and community organizations that sued Los Angeles World Airports over the latest round of terminal additions, transportation projects and airfield work.

The most controversial proposal was a $652-million plan to move the northernmost runway 260 feet closer to homes in Westchester and Playa del Rey to make room for a center taxiway.

The cases alleged that the planning for the projects violated the California Environmental Quality Act by understating the potential noise, air pollution and traffic effects in nearby cities and neighborhoods.

In August 2016, the city settled the lawsuit brought by the Alliance for a Regional Solution to Airport Congestion. The agreement shelved the proposed relocation of the northernmost runway and called for a community park on the airport’s north side as well as additional passenger gates in the central terminal area to replace those that must be accessed by shuttle buses.

The settlement also provided for safety improvements to the airport’s two northern runways, additional air pollution monitoring and an ongoing dialogue about airport projects among LAX, the alliance and the surrounding community.


(Dan Weikel and Emily Alpert Reyes - Los Angeles Times)

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Air Force gives new life to the A-10 Warthog

(U.S. Air Force)

Retirement rumors have swirled around the US military's venerable close-air support aircraft for years, but the battle-tested, 1970's-era airplane will live to fight for at least the foreseeable future, according to the Air Force.


President Donald Trump's first full budget, which was released on Tuesday, outlines plans for the Air Force to maintain its fleet of A-10 Thunderbolts -- commonly known by their nickname the "Warthog" -- along with "Dragon Lady" U-2 spy aircraft despite previous plans to replace both aging platforms in coming years.


"There is not a retirement date for the U-2 in this budget," Maj. Gen. James Martin, the Air Force's deputy assistant secretary for budget, said during a budget briefing at the Pentagon on Tuesday. "We plan to keep that platform well into the future."


The Air Force also confirmed Tuesday that it plans to maintain the majority of its A-10 Warthogs in coming years despite past considerations of divesting the entire fleet.


An Air Force official said the A-10 fleet was being kept indefinitely, but in the future, some A-10 aircraft could be retired as other aircraft become operational.


Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain, who has worked for years to stop the Air Force's efforts to retire the A-10, said the Pentagon's decision was in part a recognition of the political landscape on Capitol Hill.


"It didn't matter what was in their budget, it wasn't going to be retired," the Arizona Republican said.


Lawmakers have wrestled with how to replace the A-10 for years -- a tall task due to the aircraft's continued proficiency despite making its first flight in 1975.


The Air Force had originally planned for its version of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to replace the A-10.

But unlike the multi-role F-35, the A-10 is the only airplane in the Air Force specifically designed for close-air support, a mission that has become urgent in the fight against ISIS, according to Air Force officials.


The A-10 is able to target enemy forces up close without risking friendly fire casualties because the pilots are flying slow enough to visually distinguish between enemy and friendly forces.

But while the first wave of F-35s are currently being deployed for combat, the program's history of delays and cost overruns has caused the Pentagon to consider extending the operational life of the A-10 to meet the demands of the counter-ISIS mission.


Rep. Martha McSally, R-Arizona, a retired Air Force pilot who was the first female fighter pilot to fly in combat, has led the charge in Congress to keep the A-10 in the air and has looked to the new administration to get the Pentagon on her side.


She lobbied Vice President Mike Pence on the issue when he came up to the Hill and she also talked to Trump about the Warthog's capabilities, as well as the culture around personnel recovery and close-air support, according to a House aide.


"She got him smart on the A-10 and its role," the aide told CNN.

Trump praised McSally and mentioned her work with the A-10 during an award ceremony for the military service academy football programs in the Rose Garden earlier this month.


The A-10 can carry up to 16,000 pounds of bombs and missiles and is armed with a powerful 30-millimeter, seven-barrel Gatling gun, which can fire depleted uranium bullets at 3,900 rounds per minute.Last year, then-Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said there were plans to defer the A-10's retirement until 2022, at which point it would be replaced by the F-35.

But the Air Force has refrained from giving an exact timetable for the aircraft to be put out to pasture, telling CNN that they will evaluate the way it maintains the A-10 as the years progress.


Capable of climbing to well over 70,000 feet, the U-2 spy plane is also widely considered an important asset in the effort to find and destroy senior ISIS fighters, safe houses and battle positions.

Nicknamed the "Dragon Lady" the U-2 is a Cold War-era plane that has been flying since the 1950s. But the planes have been modernized with new sensors and cameras, making them an important intelligence gathering asset.


The Air Force has extended the operational life of the U-2 indefinitely as well.


(Zachary Cohen and Jeremy Herb - CNN)

Core technology tests set to begin for PT6 replacement

Pratt & Whitney Canada will launch demonstration tests this year of engine core technology and advanced systems for a proposed 2,000hp engine designed to replace the most powerful versions of the venerable PT6 family.

The demonstrations will focus on technologies in development for the hot section of the engine as well as advanced electronic controls to manage the propellers and fuel injectors.

“What used to be a dream is going to be a reality very soon,” says Nick Kanellias, P&WC’s vice-president of marketing for general aviation.

P&WC has discussed such an engine for several years, but continues to stop short of a formal launch announcement.

If continued into production, the new 2,000hp-class powerplant would compete against a new single-engined turboprop engine in the same thrust class in development by GE Aviation for Textron Aviation’s new Cessna Denali. Featuring cooled turbine blades, a 16:1 overall pressure ratio and full-authority digital engine controls (FADEC), the GE Aviation design sets a new standard in the turboshaft engine market for general aviation.

P&WC has dominated the general aviation turboshaft market since introducing the PT6 in the early 1960s, and the company clearly will not allow GE’s recent venture into general aviation to remain unchallenged for long.

Although details of the proposed engine design remain secret, Kannellias notes that P&WC has integrated FADEC into some versions of the PT6 already, while advanced versions of the same engine approach a 14:1 overall pressure ratio using single-crystal turbine blades.

Not surprisingly, P&WC is willing to make one promise about the potential new engine. P&WC president John Saabas says: “It will be very, very fuel efficient.”


(Stephen Trimble - FlightGlobal News / EBACE Show News)

Embraer wows visitors with two-person Lineage 1000E shower

Got a spare $55 million and a desire to take an in-flight shower with a friend? If so, Embraer is seeking a second customer for the Lineage 1000E to which it has added the extra luxury of a queen-size bed and two-person shower.

Embraer Executive Jets' vice-president of interior design, Jay Beever, created the shower with the aim of offering enough space to provide a “home-from-home” bathroom experience.

(Embraer)

The two-person shower – only one of which is in service, with an unnamed North American owner – is 40% larger than the single shower featured on some other Lineage 1000E business jets. It has a dedicated 30gal water tank – enough for a 40min shower – and a window, because “geographical awareness helps you balance”.

Embraer has borrowed an aircraft equipped with the shower from the factory to showcase it to EBACE visitors on the static display. “Everybody has been wowed by it,” says Beever.

While admitting that describing it as a two-person shower conjures up “exotic” images, Beever says the idea is “not to be racy” but to convey the point that it is more spacious than other onboard showers.


(Kerry Reals FlightGlobal News / EBACE Show News)

Bombardier Flies Green to EBACE

Bombardier Learjet 75, Challenger 350 and 650, and Global 6000 jets on show at Static SD15 were flown here using biofuels supplied by AEG Fuels.

The fuel was produced by AltAir Fuels, which starts with used cooking oils, and supplied by Netherlands-based SkyNRG to the KLM Jet Center in Amsterdam, where the business jets were fueled for their flights to Geneva.

AEG Fuels supply director Kyle O’Leary, Bombardier customer experience VP Jean-Christophe Gallagher and AEG Fuels business aviation EVP Greg Cox have all gone green.

“These sustainable fuels are produced from renewable resources and are considered ‘drop in’ fuels that blend with traditional fossil fuels without any equipment changes,” said AEG general aviation EVP Greg Cox.

“These biofuel-powered flights further demonstrate Bombardier Business Aircraft’s commitment to sustainability as an integral part of how it conducts its business,” said customer experience VP Jean-Christophe Gallagher.

“We hope that these flights will inspire other operators in this segment to start flying on sustainable aviation biofuel as well,” said SkyNRG CEO Maarten van Dijk.

AEG provides fuel at more than 2,700 locations worldwide.


(Aviation Week / EBACE Show News)

Cirrus Jet’s Road to Europe

Cirrus Aviation’s single-engine SF50 Vision Jet (c/n 0009) N124MW. Approximately 90 aircraft are on order for European customers.
(Cirrus Aircraft)

Cirrus Aircraft celebrated certification of its SF50 Vision Jet single here this week following an epic journey from the manufacturer’s U.S. factory.

The airplane, still wearing it's U.S. registration, arrived at Eelde Aerodrome, Groningen, Netherlands, this past Wednesday, at the end of a transatlantic flight via Goose Bay, Greenland, and Norway, on delivery to Europe’s largest service center for Cirrus Aircraft, General Enterprises Maintenance.

As many as six more will follow the same path before year-end.

These later aircraft will roll off the line more rapidly, thanks to Cirrus gaining an FAA production certificate for its Duluth, Minnesota, factory, earlier this month. Some 15% of the 600 order backlog is destined for Europe, the company says. Fifty will be built in 2017 and between 75 and 125 in 2018.


(Paul Jackson - Aviation Week / EBACE Show News)

GE’s ‘Printed Turboprop’ Will Run This Year

(GE)

The world’s most “printed engine,” GE’s new Advanced Turboprop in which additive manufacturing replaces 855 normally made parts with just 12 “printed” components, is on track to run for the first time this year. It will power Cessna’s new Denali aircraft.

“Everybody asks me what is the name of the new Advanced Turboprop,” says Brad Mottier, VP and general manager of GE Aviation’s business and general aviation and integrated systems operation. “And I tell them it’s ‘The Advanced Turboprop.’ ”

Interest in the new engine is running high, and GE is in talks with other civil and military airframe manufacturers for the ATP, which GE has designed to offer up to 20% better fuel burn and 10% more power than an equivalent-sized 800 shp to 1,650 shp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6.

It is, says Mottier, the first clean-sheet design turboprop in its class in more than 30 years – since Honeywell certified the TPE331 in 1965. GE Aviation has committed more than $400 million in development costs, as well as investing more than $1 billion on developing its additive manufacturing capabilities.

“We’ve built all of the additive manufacturing parts, and converted a test cell to run the engine at our turboprop center of excellence in Prague,” Mottier says. Production engines will be assembled and tested in a new factory being built there.

In an industry first for an engine this size, the ATP will feature a single-lever FADEC full authority digital engine control that will manage fuel flow, propeller pitch and speed as well as bleed valves and variable stators within the engine.

The result? Jet-like operability for the pilot, with a single “throttle” lever and built-in limit protections.


(John Morris - Aviation Week / EBACE Show News)

Leonardo Showcasing VIP Helicopters at EBACE

The A109SP GrandNew twin on show by Leonardo.
(Leonardo)

Leonardo is at EBACE to trumpet its claim to a leading position in the global VIP helicopter market with a 50% share in the multiengine segment.

Supporting hardware evidence is in the form of an A109SP GrandNew which, living up to its name, was only entered on the Swiss civil aircraft register on May 11 and delivered to Centaurium Aviation the next day. The all-black HB-ZNK will be operated by Mountainflyers for taxi services from Bern Airport.

This will be Bern’s first twin-engine-helicopter VIP transport service, capable of serving a range of routes across Switzerland and Europe. The aircraft features an exclusive six-seat VIP cabin and anticipates safety-enhancing requirements such as ADS-B Out.

Leonardo reports that approximately 370 helicopters of the Grand and GrandNew series have been ordered by nearly 230 customers in around 40 countries around the world. Derived from the former Agusta A109, the type continues to be the most successful VIP model in the company’s light twin range.

That said, the AW139 intermediate twin, AW169 and AW189, AW101 and forthcoming AW609 tiltrotor are also being offered with VIP and VVIP interiors.

In Switzerland, Leonardo has a fleet of approximately 20 executive helicopters of various types. The firm cites performance, cabin space and comfort, safety, and latest technology for all-weather capabilities, as prized qualities in the local market.

At previous air shows, Leonardo predecessors have exhibited some highly-customized solutions for VIP customers, drawing on in-house expertise as well as some prime aviation interior designers, leading fashion companies and young designers introducing solutions from other sectors.

To make helicopter flying more environmentally acceptable, reducing both noise and emissions, for example, the AW169 features a variable-speed main rotor with advanced, new design blades and even an “APU mode” to power main systems such as ECS and entertainment on ground using just one of the two engines – with rotors stopped.


(Paul Jackson - Aviation Week / EBACE Show News)

Swiss Pilot Pioneers Life-Saving Helicopter Technique

Claude Vuichard has an idea that he is convinced will save lives and dramatically improve safety for helicopter users: the problem is, he has to convince the world to reject 70 years of received wisdom.

Vuichard retired from the Swiss civil aviation authority in December, after a 35-year career in which he racked up more than 16,000 hours flying helicopters in mountain-rescue and other specialized roles. He developed a technique for recovering an aircraft when it enters vortex ring state conditions that worked even in mountains, where the conventional method will not help.

“The old technique was to reduce the power and leave the vortex by flying forward,” he says. “But you lose altitude quite a lot, and if you’re close to the ground, you have an accident. My technique allows you to go out of the vortex sideways, using the tail rotor for thrust.”

The lateral movement shifts the aircraft out of the downward phase of the vortex, through the upward phase, and away from the disturbed air. The vortex is exited within a second, without any significant loss of altitude.

In 2011, Vuichard flew with Robinson Helicopters’ chief safety instructor, Tim Tucker, who was impressed. The Vuichard Recovery Technique has been added to Robinson’s teaching materials; Tucker has advocated for the method with the U.S, FAA, which is evaluating it, and the Los Angeles Police Department, which has been using it since January.

Persuading every helicopter training course to rewrite its materials – and arguing for the reprogramming of every helicopter simulator, which he says do not accurately model vortex ring state conditions – is keeping Vuichard busy. He has set up a non-profit organization, the Vuichard Recovery Aviation Safety Foundation (www.vrasf.org) and is at EBACE, trying to win support for his technique, trying to save lives.


(Angus Batey - Aviation Week / EBACE Show News)

The Helicopter’s Image Must Be Improved Worldwide

The helicopter industry in Europe is facing many of the same issues that proponents are battling in the U.S. It would make sense for industry and user groups to work more closely on both sides of the Atlantic to counter the threats and unfriendly perceptions that are combining to limit the functionality of the helicopter.

On a recent research trip to the U.S., I found that three common issues top, or nearly top, concerns in Europe and the U.S.

• Drones, from the unregulated private sector through to the increasingly vocal and activist commercial sector, are already seeking airspace restrictions in order to fly beyond line of sight and in populated areas. And threatening to overtake the helicopter’s oft-touted versatility for urban transportation (if it ever were to be allowed) is the progress by such as Airbus and Uber in developing man-carrying drone-based systems for transportation in crowded cities.

• Increasing airspace, city planning and noise restrictions that have prevented the development of conveniently-located heliports in urban areas.

• Public acceptance of helicopters, which are often perceived as noisy, anti-social toys for the rich and famous.

All of us in the helicopter industry can tell stories about angry neighbors calling the police because a helicopter is swirling around their homes and disturbing them. But when that complainer is laying with a broken leg on the ski slope the helicopter can’t get there quickly enough.

I even know about doctors working in hospitals who complain about helicopter noise as soon as they leave work for the day and return to their urban homes. But Matt Zuccario, president of the U.S.-based Helicopter Association International, topped it all when he told me that the mayor of New York City had received so many complaints about sightseeing helicopters that he forced tour operators to reduce trips by 50% and completely cut out flights on Sundays. HAI calculated the moves would cost $50 million in revenues.

But let me describe what I saw just one weekend before. We were staying at a mountain lake in upper Bavaria and trying to enjoy the peaceful quietness of this wonderful alpine region. But we couldn't, due to the fact that a twisty, scenic road leading to the lake acts as a magnet for motorcyclists and hobbyist Schumacher race-car drivers. On this day there was even a vintage motorcycle competition adding to the noise of the normal Harley Davidson weekend rebels. It was one rolling thunder of "sound," louder than a dozen jackhammers. Of course plenty of exhausts were modified to be even more “powerful.” And the tourists? Were they moaning about the noise? No, most of them smiled, others were greeting the drivers and taking pictures.

Why is it OK for villages or cities to attract noisy car races, to drill holes in your exhaust to assure your machine can be heard kilometers away, and yet the noise from a helicopter is unacceptable?

It seems that helicopters are still seen as toys for wealthy people who want to avoid traffic jams when heading to their 65th floor office downtown or rushing to grab a lunch in Monte Carlo.

But in the German Helicopter Association we know better. We have created the slogan "bee of aviation" to illustrate the value of helicopters. Society would be much poorer without the multiple services performed by helicopters, however these are mostly unnoticed (and unheard), as the majority of our duties takes place over unsettled areas. Powerline inspection, marking forests, firefighting, offshore transportation are among the examples. But we are endangered.

First and foremost is the constant increase of restrictions and regulations because of the lack of public acceptance. Germany is a country of drivers, and automobile and motorcycle manufacturers have a positive image and a strong lobby. So we really do tolerate a lot from other industries.

Do I have to mention that Germany also is at the top in producing helicopters, but this isn’t of the same economic importance?

So how to improve the situation? We have to stress that helicopters aren’t fun toys for rich people but rather provide unrivaled services for society. We also have to make clear there is a real economic benefit from the use of helicopters.

Next time, when you overdo your downhill rush on the slopes and crash into the snow with one leg in front and the other behind, I hope the heliport at the nearby hospital hasn't been closed because the residents complained about the noise, leaving you to wait for the Bernhardiner dog to climb the mountain and rescue you with a barrel of brandy. Or that a drone will swirl by and ask whether you feel all right.


(Dr. Frank Liemandt - Aviation Week / EBACE Show News)

Airbus Unveils New Private Helo Brand

Dry ice and holograms were deployed in Palexpo yesterday as Airbus introduced Airbus Corporate Helicopters as a comprehensive vertical lift solution for high-net-worth individuals, corporations, or business aviation operators.

“We want to provide customers with an ownership experience that raises the bar,” Frederic Lemos, head of Airbus Helicopters’ private and business aviation division – and, from yesterday, the boss of ACH – told ShowNews. “We want to provide them with the highest level of proposals from end to end: from getting in contact with us, negotiating a helicopter, getting delivery, being supported, even in the re-sale of the aircraft after the time of ownership.”

As the number of billionaires around the world increases, Lemos says, the demand for high-specification, bespoke configuration private helicopters is increasing. But as the market grows, so do the demands of the customers.

“These customers are used to having five-star service in all they do in life,” he says. “We wanted a specific environment for this specific clientele.”

The ACH concept pulls together various teams and capabilities that already existed within Airbus Helicopters but organizes them in a way that is intended to optimize their relevance to the private helicopter owner.

“We have built up a multifunctional team called the ‘Dreamcatchers,’” Lemos said. “The word is self-explanatory. This team is composed of engineering, design and programs: they don’t engage with customers - they build the specification and the perceived quality. The design and perceived-quality team are working to create a quality gap between us and the competition.”

The ACH brand also includes a development of the established HCare support package, called HCare First. The combination of design, marketing and after-sales focus on the sector will, Lemos believes, result in happier customers – and increased sales.


(Angus Batey - Aviation Week / EBACE Show News)

ACJ: To Boldly Go – Infinito

Forget that ‘Top Gear’ stuff of car-versus-airplane; combine the best of the two. That’s what Airbus Corporate Jets has done in teaming with Italian hypercar Atelier Pagani Automobili to produce a new cabin design for the ACJ319neo, called Infinito.

Pagani’s team created the initial design, including its look and feel, while ACJ’s staff contributed their experience in aircraft design and compatibility.


(Airbus)

“Art and science can walk together hand in hand: this is the Pagani philosophy. The combination of state-of-the-art composite materials never used before in an aircraft, such as CarboTitanium, with the typical design language of Pagani Automobili, has always represented our signature.

“Applying our Renaissance touch into the wider spaces of Airbus corporate jet cabins is the beginning of an exciting new venture for us,” says Horacio Pagani, founder & Chief Designer of Pagani Automobili SpA.

Offering the widest and tallest business jet cabin, the ACJ320 family gives Pagnani latitude for innovation. “In bringing together the best of the supercar and business jet worlds, we enable an elegant and seamless link for customers of both, while bringing a fresh approach to cabin design and satisfying very demanding standards,” adds Airbus Corporate Jets Managing Director Benoit Defforge.

A novel feature of the Infinito cabin is its ‘sky ceiling’ display, which can bring a live view of the heavens above the aircraft into the cabin – or other images – creating a feeling of airiness and space. Infinity, in fact.


(Paul Jackson - Aviation Week / EBACE Show News)

PC-24 On Track; Beats Performance Figures

Extensive flight testing indicates that the twin-engine Pilatus PC-24 Super Versatile Jet will beat the performance figures originally announced by the Swiss manufacturer.

The third prototype, PO3, which conforms to production standard and is outfitted with a plush interior, is taking a break from certification tests to appear here at EBACE.

Pilatus chairman Oscar Schwenk professed himself pleased with the aircraft’s performance, but said no details would be released until the PC-24 receives EASA certification in the fourth quarter of this year. “So far, so good,” he said. “We are still of the opinion it will meet that schedule” although some tests for certification have to be repeated on the conforming airplane as they were conducted earlier on the first two non-production-standard prototypes.

Plans call for delivery of the first aircraft to a customer just two weeks after certification.

Amid much fanfare, Pilatus opened and closed the order book for the PC-24 at EBACE 2014, notching up 84 sales, or three years’ production. “We will open it up again after certification,” said Schwenk, “with proven performance figures.” Already a long line of potential customers is showing strong interest, even though production is sold out through the beginning of 2020.

While developing the airplane, Pilatus has also been expanding its factories and preparing to ramp up for production. A new factory in Colorado will install all interiors for the U.S. market, while new production facilities and tools in Stanz, Switzerland, will be gearing up. Manufacture of airplane parts has already begun.

Schwenk estimates that Pilatus has invested some $500 million in the PC-24 program, and another $300 million on production facilities. This has all been funded internally, he said.

One last piece in bringing the PC-24 into service is training pilots to fly them. Pilatus has appointed FlightSafety to provide simulators first in the U.S., then Stanz, and lastly, Australia.


(Aviation Week - EBACE Show News)

Jet Aviation Refurbished Its First Boeing Business Jet From 1999

At Jet Aviation, what goes around comes around – if it is a BBJ.

Basel-based Jet Aviation (Booth R134) has just redelivered a Boeing B737 after major refurbishment, but that’s not quite the dog-bites-man news it may seem for a well-known completions contractor. This is not just another BBJ – it is also the very first Boeing Business Jet that the company worked on, way back in 1999.

The low-hours machine had been languishing for some time before its current owner acquired it and commissioned Jet Aviation to undertake the nose-to-tail upgrade in conjunction with a scheduled C-1 maintenance inspection. Achieved without any structural changes, this involved the wood marquetry; all seats, sidewalls and carpets; and entire exterior repainting.

Jet Aviation also improved the soundproofing using its new targeted sound prediction technology, and implemented a number of service bulletins, including a Low Cabin Altitude modification.

Not forgetting the crew’s needs, the maintenance facility installed a new Rockwell Collins Venue cabin management system, activated Swift Broadband, upgraded the Future Aircraft Navigation System and configured ADS-B Out.

“As an old aircraft with old documentation, it was a challenging project that’s produced terrific results,” said Simon Koenig, Jet Aviation supervisor of maintenance interior design.

Showing no bias, Jet is also a factory-approved service center for Airbus, Bombardier, Dassault and Gulfstream. It has just completed an ACJ319 and an ACJ330 for Middle Eastern customer with down times of 10 and 14 months, respectively – and a custom-designed BBJ3.

Work is also just starting work on two medevac conversions of Embraers: a Legacy 600 and a 650.


(Jet Aviation)

(Paul Jackson - Aviation Week / EBACE News)

BBJ Max 7: Farther and Roomier

(Boeing)

Boeing Business Jets is showing a $200,000 model of the new BBJ Max 7 interior at EBACE. Paris-based Cabinet Alberto Pinto’s design takes full advantage of the extra 6 ft 4 in length of the Max 7 compared to the original BBJ.

Improvements include a forward VIP bedroom behind the crew rest compartment and additional storage closet space – sorely needed on the original BBJ. The 19-seat design also features two main cabin seating areas, plus a two room VIP compartment with self-leveling bed and lavatory with shower.

The BBJ Max 7 can fly up to 7,000 nm, opening up new city pairs such as Beijing and Acapulco, Dubai and Washington, and New York and Shanghai on virtually the same fuel as the original 6,200 nm BBJ. It has considerably more underfloor cargo bay volume available for baggage. Max 7’s CFMI Leap 1B engines are key to unlocking the improved performance potential of the new jet. They produce 2,000 lb more thrust than the CFM56-7BE turbofans on BBJ, yet they’re 14% more fuel efficient due to 20-year newer aerodynamics, much higher bypass and compression ratios, and higher operating temperatures.

(Fred George and Angus Batey - Aviation Week / EBACE News)

Cathay Pacific axes cargo director role as part of headquarter cull

Cathay Pacific has axed the cargo director role as it embarks on a cull of middle and senior management at its head office.

The Hong Kong headquartered airline today announced that a total of 600 “senior, middle management and non-managerial roles” at the group’s headquarters would be cut.

Around 190 management and 400 non-managerial roles will go, representing 25% of management and 18% of non-managerial positions respectively.

Part of the cull involves the restructuring of the cargo department, which will be “streamlined” through the removal of the cargo director role and the creation of a director of commercial and cargo position.

“The commercial and planning functions will report into the director commercial and cargo, and be overseen by the chief customer and commercial officer,” the airline group explained.

Cathay Pacific had only recently appointed a new director of cargo. In late April, the carrier announced that James Ginns would take over from Simon Large in the position from June 1.

The airline said cargo director designate, Ginns, will instead take up a UK-based role in the Cathay Pacific Group, meaning he has been moved on from the role before he had even started it.

"Over the weeks ahead we will be reviewing the cargo department structure to complete the organizational design process, and hope to announce any resulting changes and the completed new structure by the end of July," an airline spokesperson said.

"Underpinning this change is a need create a head office structure that is leaner, faster and more responsive to our cargo customers’ needs."

The reorganization of the airline had been expected after the carrier last year reported its first annual loss in eight years as it comes under pressure from low-cost rivals.

Rupert Hogg, chief executive, Cathay Pacific, said: “We greatly appreciate and respect our people’s dedication, hard work and achievements.

“However, we have had to make tough but necessary decisions for the future of our business and our customers.

“Changes in people’s travel habits and what they expect from us, evolving competition and a challenging business outlook have created the need for significant change.

“Our immediate priority is to support our colleagues affected by today’s announcement, and I’d like to thank them for all they’ve done for Cathay Pacific.

“As we look to the future we will have a new structure that will make us leaner, faster and more responsive to our customers’ needs.

“It is the first step in the transformation of our business. We want to invest in and improve the experience that we offer people in Hong Kong and around the world, to find new ways to give our customers what they really want and need.”


(AirCargoNews)

National Airlines and Navitrans in weekly Round-the-World 747-400F Service

US-based freighter operator National Airlines and charter company Navitrans USA are to launch a weekly scheduled Round-the-World (RTW) B747-400 freighter service, set to begin on June 1.

The RTW service and will operate year-round connecting several key global airports: Chicago (ORD), Liege (LGG), Heydar Aliyev International in Azerbaijan (GYD), Hong Kong (HKG), Narita (NRT), Anchorage (ANC) and back to Chicago.

The operation will be in addition to another twice weekly scheduled operation by the carrier exclusively for Navitrans between the US and China.

“We are very pleased and excited to start our co-operation with National and to expand our air charter supply chain,” said Chuanning (Martin) Zhu, president of Navitrans USA."

Bill Szymanski, the marketing manager of Navitrans USA, said: “This RTW route will connect five key gateways throughout North America, Europe, Mid-Asia and Far East in around 36 hours. With the dedicated B747-400F aircraft, Navitrans has positioned itself to meet importer’s and exporter’s needs all over the world.”

Navitrans has offices in Shanghai, Beijing, Chengdu, Zhengzhou, Hong Kong, Frankfurt, Moscow, and New York, with a total of more than 100 staff.

Mark Burgess, president of National Airlines, commented: “National’s global reach, ability and flexibility enabled us to customise the operation to meet the needs of Navitrans using our scheduled authorities and we are very excited to build on our relationship to launch this new routing.”

Rob Hotchkiss, manager of charter sales at National Airlines, said: “Our entire team is very excited about this operation and we very much look forward to operating these scheduled flights for Navitrans along with developing new routes utilising National's authorities.”

National Airlines is a US Certified Air Carrier that has specialized in custom transportation needs for companies and governments for over 20 years. With its headquarters based in Orlando, Florida, National Airlines possess World Wide Operating Authority for both passenger and cargo aircraft.

National Airlines routinely flies from the US and Europe to the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Australia, as well as North and South America.


(AirCargoNews)

SIA Cargo to be "re-integrated" into the parent group

Singapore Airlines Cargo Boeing 747-412F (32900/1349) 9V-SFO taxies at Ted Stevens-Anchorage International Airport (ANC/PANC) on May 8. 2017.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

SIA Cargo is to be "re-integrated" into the parent airline, in a “business as usual” move intended “to improve efficiency through greater synergy with the wider SIA Group".

The wholly-owned cargo subsidiary of Singapore Airlines (SIA) will become the cargo division within the parent group and the transition is expected to be completed in the first half of 2018.

SIA Chief executive Goh Choon Phong said: “Cargo remains an important part of our business, and we remain committed to operating a fleet of dedicated freighter aircraft to carry specialised cargo and provide feed to the overall SIA Group network.”

SIA said in a statement: “It will be business as usual from a customer perspective, as there will be no change to SIA Cargo’s operations. Seven Boeing 747-400 freighter aircraft will continue to be operated, while the Cargo Division will continue to manage the passenger aircraft bellyhold space for SIA, SilkAir and Scoot.”

SIA Cargo was a division of the Asian mega-carrier until July 2001, when it became a separate company within the SIA Group. At the time, it was in the process of growing its fleet to up to 17 B747-400Fs, and it was “better suited to carry out its expansion as a standalone all-cargo airline”, said SIA.

The group statement continued :”The airfreight market has since seen structural change, however, and SIA Cargo’s freighter fleet has been ‘right-sized’ in recent years to the current seven aircraft while the proportion of revenue from passenger aircraft bellyhold capacity has increased significantly.

“Despite the smaller freighter fleet, SIA Cargo’s overall capacity, including that from passenger aircraft, still grew 4%-5% in each of the past two financial years.”

The majority of SIA Cargo’s nearly 900 employees will be retained in the new Cargo Division, said SIA, while some will be transferred to other SIA Divisions. For a group of staff for whom alternative job positions have yet to be confirmed, placement opportunities will be facilitated elsewhere within the SIA Group.

It continued: “The integration will provide new opportunities for staff development within the larger SIA organisation.”

SIA chief executive Phong added: “Re-integrating SIA Cargo as a Division within Singapore Airlines makes sense from a business standpoint. It will improve efficiency and offer greater flexibility for staff deployment by maximising synergies with the larger SIA business.

“Importantly, the Cargo Division will continue to provide high-quality products and services that customers have come to expect from SIA Cargo.”

The move is not expected to have a material impact on SIA’s financial performance in the 2017/18 financial year.


(AirCargoNews)

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Gulfstream (IAI) G150 (c/n 277) N636SF


Operated by Sanderson Farms Inc., this lovely aircraft arrives at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) this afternoon as we enjoy a simply gorgeous day here in SoCal.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Bombardiar Global 6000 (c/n 9659) N9TJ


Cardinal Associates LLC, operate this gorgeous Global 6000 which is captured taxing to and departing from Rwy 30 at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on May 23, 2017.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Dassualt Falcon 900B (c/n 178) N10AZ

Operated by Anschultz Corporation, this lovely aircraft is captured on a very short final to Rwy 30 at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on May 23, 2017.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Boeing lands $4.2 billion jet deal with rapidly expanding Chinese airline

China’s fast-growing Hainan Airlines said it is buying 19 Boeing passenger jetliners in a deal worth $4.2 billion.

The company described its plans in a filing with the Shanghai Stock Exchange, saying it needs more aircraft to meet skyrocketing travel demand among Chinese consumers.

Hainan Airlines, a unit of China's powerful HNA Group, said it would buy 13 Boeing 787 Dreamliners and six Boeing 737 Max 8 jets to help manage its continued “rapid growth” in China’s consumer travel market as middle-class incomes rise.

Hainan said it plans to issue $2.18 billion worth of corporate bonds to help fund the deal.

The Dreamliner deal is a welcome boost for slow Boeing widebody sales. Boeing makes Dreamliners in Everett and builds the smaller 737 jets in Renton.

Boeing declined to provide more information on the deal.

Chinese airlines have expanded their fleets and route networks in recent years as business booms. China will pass the U.S. and become the world’s largest air travel market by 2024, according to an International Air Transport Association forecast.

To meet surging demand, China is building 74 new airports by 2020, increasing the country's total number of airports to around 260, the Civil Aviation Administration of China has reported. At least 30 are already under construction, while another 40 will be built over the next three years.

Hainan Airlines and its owner HNA Group have been among the most aggressive players as it invests in U.S. companies and other foreign airlines in recent years. Earlier this month, Hainan said it applied to Chinese authorities for rights to fly to Zurich, Tehran, Sydney, Australia, and Tijuana, Mexico.

Last year, HNA paid $137 million to acquire eight Puget Sound-area golf courses.

In 2015 and 2016, HNA bought a stake in Azul, Brazil’s third largest airline, and also acquired Swiss airline catering company Gategroup Holding for $1.5 billion, and snapped up stakes in airlines Virgin Australia and TAP, the Portuguese national airline.

HNA's rapid expansion is raising questions in North America, including its increasingly heavy debts and how it is financing all its acquisitions, including a recent report in the New York Times.


(Andrew McIntosh - Puget Sound Business Journal)

Ryanair to Offer New York, Havana Links With Air Europa Deal

Ryanair will soon offer connections to destinations including New York and Havana, as the budget carrier widens its network of long-haul partners with a deal with Spain’s Air Europa.

In the first stage of the cooperation starting Tuesday, Ryanair customers can book Air Europa tickets to 20 cities in the Americas via the Dublin-based carrier’s website, the company said. The second phase will include connections between Ryanair’s flights to Madrid and Air Europa’s long-haul destinations, bringing the no-frills specialist’s strategy closer to network rivals.

The Irish carrier is tapping its dense European network with an eye to supplanting its legacy competitors’ often unprofitable short-haul operations designed to feed passengers to more lucrative long-distance routes. The Air Europa deal follows similar agreements with Aer Lingus and Norwegian Air Shuttle.

An increasing share of Ryanair’s passenger growth in the coming years will be from feeder deals, Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Leary has said. The airline expects to carry 200 million passengers by 2024 compared with 117 million last year, with about 10 percent of that expansion likely to derive from these types of partnerships.

In addition to offering Aer Lingus and Norwegian connections at Dublin airport as early as this summer, Ryanair has said it could operate feed arrangements with the likes of Deutsche Lufthansa, Italy’s Alitalia and Portugal’s TAP.

Air Europa, based in Mallorca, is Spain’s third-biggest airline after Iberia and Vueling. It is a member of the SkyTeam alliance with Delta Air Lines and Air France-KLM.

Ryanair last week formally started offering passengers connecting flights on its own network at Rome’s Fiumicino airport, another step the company’s taking away from its pure focus on point-to-point travel. That move, which the discounter previously shunned for the risk of over-complicating its schedule, brings Ryanair closer to conventional airline operations after decades of challenging rival network carriers with bargain basement fares.


(Thomas Gualtieri and Benjamin D Katz- Bloomberg Business News)

Coulson Group buys Southwest jets to make first-ever Boeing 737 firefighting tankers

A Northwest aerospace company has bought six Boeing 737 passenger jets from Southwest Airlines to convert them into aerial firefighting tankers.

It appears to be the first time that Boeing's single-aisle workhorse will be enlisted to fight wildfires from above, dumping 4,000 gallons of fire retardant chemicals at low speed and low altitude.

Coulson Group CEO Wayne Coulson says the converted Boeing 737-300 jets will dump 2,100 gallons per minute using systems the company originally developed for its fleet of four Lockheed C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft.

They'll also have room for 63 passengers, or enough for three strike teams of 20 firefighters each to drop at airports in fire zones.

The first of the jets is being repainted at an International Aerospace Coatings facility in Spokane. They'll roll out next week when the deal is formally announced.

Coulson said he decided to convert 737s after realizing that there wasn't a single C-130 available anywhere in the world to buy.

"So we looked at other planes and the 737-300 was a perfect fit for us," Coulson said. "We were lucky to get them, and since Southwest was the only owner, they're for the most part in platinum condition."

Coulson declined to say how much his contract aerial firefighting company paid for the airplanes.

"The six 737s were less than one C-130," Coulson said, laughing before adding, "What's expensive is getting the plane right with all the engineering work needed to modify our C-130 system for the 737."

He said Southwest sold the jets because the Federal Aviation Administration would not allow it to fly too many 737 variants at the same time, once it takes delivery of dozens of brand-new, fuel efficient 737 Max 8 jets.

Coulson Group's 200 staffers operate a fleet of C-130s and Sikorsky S-61 helicopters in Portland, Oregon, Port Alberni in British Columbia, and Melbourne, Australia. It operates an air tanker base in Reno, Nevada, and helps the U.S. Forest service and other countries combat wildfires during hot and dry summers.

The fleet won't be the first Boeing aircraft converted for firefighting. Colorado-based Global SuperTanker Services flies a converted Boeing 747-400 jumbo jet that can drop nearly 20,000 gallons of fire retardant.


(Andrew McIntosh - Puget Sound Business Journal) 

Zetta Jet Keeps Spreading Its Wings Across Continents

The Zetta Jet fleet has expanded to include a dozen Bombardier Global 5000s and 6000s and Challenger 650s. The Globals can accommodate up to 14 passengers, or be reconfigured to provide sleeping quarters for five to seven travelers.
 
In the above photo, Bombardier Global 6000 (c/n 9688) N688ZJ is seen at Ted Stevens-Anchorage International Airport (ANC/PANC) on May 8, 2017.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Since launching in August 2015, Singapoe-based Zetta Jet has quickly established itself as one of the fastest growing charter flight providers in the Asia Pacific region. Through its satellite base in Los Angeles, the privately owned operator also has extended its reach into the North American market.

But the long range of its Bombardier Global 6000 jets (6,213 nm/11,119 km) means that it also can connect travelers with Europe from major cities in China and from the U.S. That’s what has brought Zetta Jet to the EBACE show, where it has aircraft on the static display.

The most recent expansion came in late December when Zetta Jet agreed to merge with fellow Singapore private aviation company Asia Aviation Company, along with U.S. aircraft management specialist Advanced Air Management. The acquisitions will expand Zetta Jet’s international reach, as well as service offerings.

Zetta Jet has remained headquartered in Singapore and has merged operations with Asia Aviation Company under the core Zetta Jet Pte Ltd. brand. Advanced Air Management, which is based at Los Angeles-area Van Nuys Airport, will be renamed Zetta Jet USA. The group will expand its aircraft management portfolio under the name Zetta Jet Management.

Geoffery Cassidy will continue to lead Zetta Jet as managing director, based in Singapore, while Matthew Walter is to remain director of sales and James Seagrim director of operations. Walter and Seagrim are based in Zetta’s office in California. “The merger of both companies under Zetta Jet is a significant milestone, which will greatly strengthen our value proposition as the world’s first truly personalized private airline,” Cassidy commented last month.

Fast Fleet Growth

In less than two years, the company has expanded to a fleet of 12 Bombardier Global 5000s and 6000s and four Challenger 650s that are averaging 100 flight hours a month. The most recent addition to the fleet was a Global 6000 delivered on April 11 to its base in Los Angeles.

Asia Aviation, based at Seletar Airport in Singapore, provides a range of aircraft management, charter and flight department services. Advanced Air Management has concentrated on managing long-range business jets.

Back in early November 2016, Zetta Jet signed a $129 million deal to lease four Bombardier Challenger 650s from China’s Minsheng Financial Leasing, which bought the 12-seat twinjets from the Canadian manufacturer. The new aircraft, which will supplement its larger Bombardier Global 5000s and 6000s, are now being operated out of the company’s Van Nuys North American hub.

The Global 5000 and 6000 cabins can seat up to 14 passengers and can be reconfigured to provide beds for between five and seven people. The aircraft feature Rockwell Collins’s Venue cabin management system and Bombardier Wave wireless connectivity package, based on Honeywell’s JetWave hardware and Inmarsat’s Ka-band JetConnex service. The cockpit is built around Bombardier’s Vision flight deck with a synthetic vision system and MultiScan radar as standard equipment, as well as an optional enhanced-vision head-up display.

According to Zetta Jet, it is the only Part 135 charter operator approved by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to fly in the polar regions. This allows it to plan shorter routes for many flights between the U.S. and Asia, avoiding fuel stops.

The company also has made significant investments in the outfitting of its aircraft cabins. It recruits cabin crew from leading aviation and hospitality industry groups, providing training at Switzerland’s École hôtelière de Lausanne. Flight attendants use luxury products such as Christofle silverware, Hermès Egyptian linens and Salon champagne.

As well as offering individual flights, Zetta Jet customers can buy 100-hour blocks of charter time at discounted rates and guaranteed availability. This allows clients to switch between the Global 5000 and 6000 models.

In April, Zetta Jet announced a new partnership with safety and risk management specialist Medaire. The company’s fleet is now datalinked to Medaire’s medical, security and travel safety services around the clock. This includes technology that allows patients and crew who are unwell during a flight to be examined and cared for by a doctor on the ground.

(Charles Alcock - AINOnline News)

Airbus launches ACJ330neo into slow market

Airbus unveiled the A330neo as the latest member of the company’s line-up of wide-body corporate jets, offering 17.5% more range than the baseline version.

The re-engined A330-900 is now scheduled to enter commercial service in 2018, but Airbus is already looking for customers for the VIP version.

John Leahy, Airbus chief operating officer for customers, singles out the head-of-state and government delegation sector as a particular market opportunity for the ACJ330neo.

“The ACJ330neo offers an unbeatable combination of modern design, proven capability and productivity, as well as being part of the world’s best-selling wide-body family,” Leahy says.

The A330-900 has been delayed by the availability of Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines. Flight tests are expected to start later this summer.

The ACJ330neo will be developed from both the A330-900 and the smaller, but longer-range, A330-800 models.

When equipped with Trent 7000 engines, the ACJ330neo will offer 9,400nm (17,400km) range, a 17.5% increase over the baseline ACJ330, Airbus says.

The market for VIP wide-bodies has tailed off recently. Airbus delivered only one ACJ model last year – an ACJ330. Customers also took delivery in 2016 of only one wide-body Boeing Business Jet, a variant of the 777-300ER, according to data released by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA).

But BBJ deliveries picked up in the first quarter this year. Boeing delivered one each of BBJ derivatives of the 777-300ER, 787-8 and 787-9 up to 31 March, GAMA’s database shows. Airbus did not deliver any narrow-body or wide-body ACJs in the first quarter.

(Stephen Trimble - FlightGlobal News)

Dassault Falcon 8X performs longest flight yet

The Dassault Falcon 8X performed its longest flight to date earlier this month when a demonstration aircraft flew nonstop between Singapore and London.

The ultra-long-range jet has a range of 6,450nm (11,945km), which Dassault says enables it “to comfortably fly ultra-long intercontinental routes from Asia to Europe in a single hop”.

Since entering service last October the 8X has undergone a number of upgrades, most recently including approvals to operate flights in severe crosswind conditions and at the restrictive London City airport.

The 8X will also provide in-flight connectivity to passengers through Inmarsat’s JetConneX Ka-band satellite-based high-speed broadband service. Honeywell’s JetWave antennas can be installed on all in-production Falcon Jet aircraft, including the 8X.

Initial installations are already under way, with first deliveries scheduled to begin in the summer. JetWave will also be available as a retrofit on in-service aircraft and as an upgrade option on aircraft already equipped with other satellite communications systems.

“The smooth introduction of our new Falcon 8X, combined with its reinforced operational capabilities, suggests it will be a big success in the marketplace,” says Dassault Aviation chief executive Eric Trappier. “This bodes well not only for the future of the programme but, most importantly, for the operational benefits it will bring to our customers.”

(Kerry Reals - FlightGlobal News)

Pilots want raise as Amazon ramps up Prime Air

Amazon is risking another brand-bruising delivery debacle as it ramps up its Prime Air program in the face of a pilot shortage, the union for the pilots said Monday.

Scores of contract Amazon cargo pilots plan to descend on Amazon’s annual meeting in Seattle on Tuesday to let Chief Executive Jeff Bezos and other brass know of the impending problem — and to put pressure on their employers to raise their pay.

The pilots, who deliver Amazon goods via a contract the Seattle company has with their cargo airlines, have been without a contract for several years.

The low pay has resulted in dozens of pilots exiting the cargo airlines for better paying jobs at passenger airlines, the union claimed.

The pilots — who are employees of two cargo companies, Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings and Air Transport Services Group, of which Amazon has warrants to buy up to a 20 percent stake — warn that the retailer could face a delivery crisis like the debacle several years ago when Christmas presents arrived late.

Amazon was forced to refund shipping charges and gave out $20 gift cards to its unhappy customers.

The pilots are represented by the Teamsters and have been in contract negotiations with the airlines for several years.

Other airlines, including big passenger carriers, pay pilots as much as 60 percent more than Amazon’s two contract airlines, the union claimed.

At least one regional passenger airline, Air Wisconsin, is wooing pilots with a $39,000 first-year bonus — roughly 80 percent of first-year total compensation, according to a statement it made in February.

“Air travel is expanding rapidly but the number of available pilots has not kept pace,” said David Harris, senior editor of Cargo Facts and Cargo World.

Amazon is the cargo companies’ biggest customer and will contract 40 planes by 2018 for its Amazon Prime Air services.


Amazon, in a statement, said it is “pleased” with the airlines’ ability to service its Prime Air service.

(Lisa Fickenscher - New York Post)

Ethiopian Airlines' Business-Class Goals Hit by Airbus Delay

Ethiopian Airlines was betting Airbus’s new A350 wide-body would help it lure lucrative business-class passengers away from the likes of Emirates, but nagging delivery issues are putting Africa’s largest carrier behind schedule.

The airline won’t receive 10 new planes by the end of June as planned, with some coming as late as next year, Thomas Gabreyohannes, the carrier’s director for Germany and central Europe, said in an interview. Ethiopian is counting on the A350s to increase sales of premium tickets, similar to the boost it saw after becoming the first African airline to fly Boeing’s 787 long-haul Dreamliners.

“When we received the Dreamliner, our business-class traffic jumped,” Gabreyohannes said in Frankfurt. “We hope the A350 will have the same impact.”

The delay represents a stumbling block for state-owned Ethiopian, which despite regional political unrest and violence, is increasingly challenging bigger rivals that have extensive African routes. Ethiopian has built one of Africa’s rare corporate success stories with the continent’s only consistently profitable airline shuttling passengers from around the world to more than 50 African cities in addition to dozens of destinations in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, mimicking models like that of Dubai-based Emirates.

Ethiopian now has four of the twin-aisle A350s and was expecting another 10 by the end of next month. According to the new schedule, four will arrive by the end of this year and the remaining six in 2018.

Airbus, which declined to comment on Ethiopian’s timeline, so far has delivered 81 of the jets -- typically used on long-distance flights -- and expects this year’s A350 handovers to beat last year’s 49. Assembly has been hampered by a shortage of seats and other interior fittings supplied by Zodiac Aerospace.
‘Huge Pressures’

Ethiopian currently serves London and Frankfurt daily with its A350-900 variant, and also takes the aircraft on shorter routes from Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa to Mumbai and Dubai. The new planes may be used to expand services to Beijing, and Paris is among new destinations under consideration, Gabreyohannes said.

The carrier has not yet decided if it will also buy the larger A350-1000, and is still weighing which model to use for short-haul services. Bombardier Inc.’s Q400 and C Series and models from Embraer SA are still in the race, Gabreyohannes said.

Founded in 1945, Ethiopian ranks as Africa’s biggest carrier by passenger traffic, ahead of South African Airways, EgyptAir, Royal Air Maroc and Kenya Airways, according to the International Air Transport Association.

While outbreaks of violence around ethnic conflicts and human-rights protests have claimed hundreds of lives in Ethiopia in the past year, the airline’s growth plan is intact. Capacity rose more than 15 percent in the six months through Dec. 31, and revenue by passenger kilometers, a measure for demand, also gained about 15 percent, Gabreyohannes said. The airline expects similar increases for its fiscal year ending June 30.

“There was some slowness in demand particularly from Africa that has recovered,” he said. “Demand is good now, but there is huge pressure on yields due to the highly competitive prices.”


(Richard Weiss - Bloomberg Business News)

Monday, May 22, 2017

Isle of Man Registry Turns 10 With 1,000th Aircraft on the Books

Virgin Galactic Dassault Falcon 900EX (c/n 205) M-VGAL "Galactic Girl" captured at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on May 17, 2017.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Here at the EBACE show this year, the Isle of Man Aircraft Registry (Booth T50) is celebrating 10 years since it was created. The UK Crown Dependency was a true innovator in providing private aircraft owners with a more convenient registration option, and some other jurisdictions have since tried to follow suit.

Today, the Isle of Man is close to registering its 1,000th aircraft. The registry is under the leadership of director of civil aviation (DCA) Simon Williams, but the credit for its launch back in 2007 goes to Brian Johnson, the former head of the flight operations inspectorate at the UK Civil Aviation Authority. Johnson is now technical director with offshore registration consultancy Estera Aviation (Booth T50), and, ahead of this week’s show, he shared his account of how the registry got started.

In 2005, the Isle of Man government, after many years’ negotiations, had received permission from the UK Department of Transport to establish its own aircraft registry (IOMAR)It hoped the service would provide a new business opportunity for the island's private corporate services sector and be as successful as the existing ship registry, which includes many super yachts. As a contracting state to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the UK would be ultimately responsible for IOMAR’s regulatory standards, in the same way the UK is responsible for its overseas territory registries in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands.

The Isle of Man government recruited Johnson from his CAA post at London’s Gatwick Airport to become DCA and oversee the creation of the new registry. As a professional pilot, he had experience flying corporate aircraft.

“I had experience of the industry and new ideas for ways we could improve the registration process and regulatory support for corporate aircraft,” he told AIN. “My mission statement would be ‘safety with service’ and it still is for IOMAR.”

The last new aircraft registry to be established had been started many years previously. In 2006, the offshore registries of Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and Aruba were the major options available to high-net-worth individuals and international businesses.

“Traditionally, most owners registered their aircraft in their home country, but offshore registers offer some unique advantages,” Johnson explained. “They are all customer-focused as they do not have a large home aircraft market. And if you wish to travel the world, particularly in politically sensitive countries, an offshore registration provides total confidentiality and carries no political bias. For pilots with popular ICAO licenses, all offshore registers will validate flight crew licenses to fly their registered aircraft.

Before IOMAR could be established, the Isle of Man government’s legal team had to amend the air navigation order and other associated legislation. While this was being done, Johnson wrote a policies and procedures manual with a view to streamlining the registration process. The new air navigation order took effect on May 1, 2007, and that’s when IOMAR was officially born.

“One requirement that I had always felt could be improved was the reduced vertical separation minimums (RVSM) approval,” Johnson explained. “I organized an airspace specialist to write a standard RVSM manual, which meant as long as the crew had received RVSM training and the aircraft was technically compliant, the day it was registered it could receive an RVSM approval. This saved weeks of writing, reviewing and correcting manuals and ensured accuracy and compliance. We confirmed the manual was always up to date and re-issued when required. Uniquely, we had very quickly raised standards, ensured compliance, and reduced cost and unnecessary workload for our operators. We later added more standard operational approval manuals, always with the aim of improving regulatory safety standards.”

M For Manx

In a stroke of good fortune, Johnson was able to secure the letter “M” as the official registration prefix for the new registry. It turned out that the UK had been allocated M in 1947, after Spain had changed their prefix from M in 1933, to EC for España Civil. “My confidence [on discovering the availability of the prefix] was now growing rapidly as everything was falling perfectly into place. I traveled back to the island [from a meeting in London] thinking of all the registrations we could allocate beginning with M. M-YJET, M-AGIC, M-YWAY were some of the earliest, and the registry is now full of unique registrations chosen by aircraft owners.”

From the outset, the Isle of Man government made it clear that it didn’t want the aircraft registry to be seen as a flag of convenience. Accordingly, Johnson was given a brief to run it on a not-for-profit basis to avoid the impression of a conflict of interest. This meant that registration charges were quite competitive, and by the end of its first year IOMAR had 51 aircraft on its books—well ahead of target.

Three new offshore aircraft registries have been established in the last few years in San Marino, Guernsey and Jersey, but IOMAR is now the world’s sixth largest registry for business aircraft.

(Ian Sheppard - AINOnline News) 

Southwest Airlines Gets Serious About Hawaii

Flights to Hawaii are starting to move towards the top of Southwest Airlines' list of future growth opportunities.

For years, Southwest Airlines has been talking about Hawaii as a future market for growth. However, it has never been the carrier's top priority. In recent years, there have always been more compelling or time-sensitive opportunities to soak up Southwest's capacity growth.

That's starting to change. At Southwest Airlines' annual meeting last week, CEO Gary Kelly indicated that entering the Hawaii market is now a "high priority" for the company.


Southwest's attention has been elsewhere

Ever since it added Boeing's 737-800 to its fleet five years ago, Southwest Airlines has highlighted Hawaii as a potential new destination. Yet the carrier has instead pursued a series of one-off opportunities to grow in capacity-constrained markets since then.

In 2014, as part of the American Airlines-US Airways merger, Southwest acquired slots at LaGuardia Airport in New York and Reagan Airport near Washington, D.C. Putting those slots to use was a key growth priority for 2014.

In late 2014, Southwest Airlines' home airport -- Dallas Love Field -- opened up to longer-haul domestic flights, after years of being limited to short-haul routes. This represented an even bigger opportunity, driving the bulk of Southwest's 2015 capacity expansion.

For the past two years, international markets have been the key growth driver. Southwest opened an international terminal in Houston in late 2015 and it is scheduled to open a new one in Fort Lauderdale, Florida this summer. These cities are becoming Southwest's two main international gateways, although the carrier operates international flights from some other cities, too.


Hawaii comes into focus

In contrast to the recent past, Southwest doesn't have any well-defined growth plans for 2018 and beyond. As a result, Hawaii seems to be rapidly moving up management's priority list.

Southwest Airlines will start adding the 737 MAX 8 to its fleet later this year. The MAX 8 will have more range and be more fuel efficient than any of the aircraft in Southwest's current fleet, making it an ideal plane for flying to Hawaii.

That said, Southwest is in the midst of retiring the last of its older "Classic"-series aircraft. As a result, its fleet size is scheduled to increase just 3% from the beginning of 2017 to the end of 2018. Additionally, there is a lengthy certification process for operating long over-water flights, like the ones from the West Coast to Hawaii. Southwest hasn't even begun that process yet. Both of these factors suggest that Hawaii flights won't launch until 2019 -- or even 2020.

Should Hawaiian Airlines be worried?

Not surprisingly, shares of Hawaii-focused airline company Hawaiian Holdings fell last Wednesday, following Kelly's comments about Southwest Airlines expanding to Hawaii. However, while Southwest's entry into the Hawaii market could cause some short-term disruption, it isn't likely to hurt Hawaiian Airlines' positioning in the long run.

Southwest hasn't said yet which bases it might use to fly to Hawaii. However, it's reasonable to expect that it would be interested in Hawaii flights from many of Hawaiian Airlines' 10 destinations in the western U.S.: Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Oakland, California, San Jose, California, Sacramento, California, Portland, Oregon, Seattle, Las Vegas, and Phoenix. (The latter two would probably be feasible only with the smaller and longer-range 737 MAX 7, though.)

In the biggest cities (Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle), Hawaiian already faces lots of competition. It has still managed to generate a consistent revenue premium thanks to its good service and unique focus on providing Hawaiian-style hospitality onboard.

Competition is lower on Hawaiian Airlines' routes from cities like Oakland, San Diego, San Jose, and Sacramento -- all of which are prime candidates for Southwest service to Hawaii. That said, by the time Southwest would be ready to launch service to Hawaii, Hawaiian will probably have switched to its new A321neo fleet on these routes.

Indeed, the A321neo will be critical to Hawaiian's ability to fend off new competition from Southwest Airlines. It will be roughly comparable to Southwest's 737 MAX 8 fleet in terms of unit costs. The A321neos will also include 16 first class seats and 45 extra-legroom economy seats, boosting their revenue potential.

Southwest Airlines is likely to see strong demand for its flights to Hawaii, whenever they take off. It is the No. 1 carrier in many West Coast cities, which means that it is starting with a large base of frequent fliers and can also offer lots of connecting options. Nevertheless, Hawaiian Airlines' unique in-flight experience, its premium seating options, and the low costs of its new A321neo fleet will help it remain strongly profitable on West Coast-Hawaii routes.


(Adam Levine-Weinberg - The Motley Fool)

The Airbus A380 superjumbo is the next big thing in private jets

The Airbus A380 has officially found a new lease on life as an ultraluxurious private jet.

On Monday, Sparfell Partners announced at the European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition that it would sell secondhand Airbus superjumbos as head-of-state aircraft.

The Geneva-based firm also announced that it would work with London's Winch Design to create the A380 private jet's opulent interior.

While Sparfell confirmed that the A380s were used, it declined to disclose their source.

According to Flight Global, Sparfell's superjumbos are believed to be the four early-build A380s coming off lease from Singapore Airlines.

Sparfell's ad on Avbuyer.com indicates the planes were built in 2007-08 with Rolls-Royce engines and a seating configuration in line with that of Singapore Airlines.


A rendering of the Airbus A380's interior.
 (Winch Designs)

Sparfell also declined to say how much it cost to convert the aircraft, but a company representative told Business Insider that the converted A380s would cost less than a comparable new ultra-VIP transport.

The announcement represents the beginning of a new phase for the iconic but slow-selling aircraft. With the earliest-production A380s expected to enter the secondhand market over the next few years, the market for ultraluxe executive jets may be a viable channel for these planes. Until now, most industry observers looked toward high-density, low-cost, long-haul carriers or bargain-hunting mainline carriers as potential secondhand customers.


(Winch Design)

The A380 as a VIP transport is not a new idea. Unfortunately for Airbus, few have been willing to take on the world's largest airliner as a private jet.

In 2007, Saudi Arabia's Prince Alwaleed bin Talal ordered such an aircraft. However, the proposed aircraft never came to fruition, and the order eventually was struck from the Airbus order book.


(Sparfell Partners)

(Benjamin Zhang - Business Insider)