Thursday, July 9, 2009

Boeing 787 Performs first Taxi and High Speed Tests

Boeing 787 N787BA (ZA001) on the Rwy at Paine Field.
(Photos by T.C. Howard via Jim Goodall)

The 787 may still be weeks to months away from taking its first flight, but the new plane did get to stretch its legs a bit Tuesday.

Test pilots were taking the 787 for a low-speed taxi test around Paine Field's runway and taxi lanes. They were checking the steering and braking system, a Boeing spokesman told KOMO News. It's the first time the 787 has moved on a runway under its own power.

The 787 program has been beset by delays. Initially supposed to be delivered in the first quarter of 2008, the delivery schedule has been pushed back five times.

There were high hopes the plane would take its first flight in June, but the company announced it needs to reinforce small areas near the connection of the wings and fuselage before conducting the test flight.

A revised schedule for the flight, as well as first deliveries to customers, will not be announced for several weeks.
(KOMO 4 TV - Seattle)

China Eastern Airlines Benifits from China - Taiwan Accord

China Eastern Airlines A340-642 B-6055 (586) arrives in Los Angeles (KLAX) sporting "Better City, Better Life" titles.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

China Eastern Airlines will benefit the most from the agreement reached in April to expand significantly the number of flights permitted across the Taiwan Strait, according to a cross-strait distribution plan released this week by CAAC.

The Taipei-based Strait Exchange Foundation and the Beijing-based Assn. for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait signed the accord that increases from 108 to 270 the number of direct flights allowed beginning this month.

Under CAAC's plan, CEA is designated to operate 58 weekly flights to Taipei from Shanghai, Nanjing, Wuhan, Qingdao, Kunming, Xi'an, Hefei, Ningbo and Nanchang. CEA Board Secretary Luo Zhuping noted that the carrier's cross-strait routes are among its most profitable and have operated at 80%-90% capacity on average.

Air China was assigned 54 weekly flights to Taipei from Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Chongqing, Hangzhou, Tianjin and Guiyang. China Southern Airlines also was allocated 54 weekly flights to Taipei to be operated from Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xiamen, Dalian, Guilin, Shenzhen, Wuhan, Changsha, Haikou, Shenyang, Zhengzhou, Harbin and Guiyang.

Hainan Airlines and Shanghai Airlines each were allocated 20 weekly flights while Xiamen Airlines was given 22. Sichuan Airlines, Shandong Airlines and Shenzhen Airlines were granted 14 weekly flights each.

On the cargo front, Air China Cargo was assigned 10 weekly flights to Taipei from Shanghai and Guangzhou while CEA subsidiary China Cargo Airlines was assigned eight weekly flights from Shanghai to Taipei and China Southern was assigned 10 weekly flights from Guangzhou to Taipei.

(Air Transport World - ATWOnline

Horizon Air to operate seasonal service to Sun Valley

Horizon Air will operate winter season daily service to Sun Valley from Los Angeles, Boise and Seattle from Dec. 19 to March 21 with Q400s.

(Air Transport World - ATWOnline)

Alaska Airlines tests Continuous Approaches at SeaTac

Alaska Airlines 737-790 (30663/1386) N649AS smokes the mains at Long Beach (KLGB). (Photo by Michael Carter)

Alaska Airlines began testing continuous descent approaches into Seattle/Tacoma with a 737-700 using RNP technology on June 16 during a noncommercial flight. The carrier pioneered RNP in the 1990s for challenging approaches in Alaska. The current effort, dubbed Greener Skies, is being done in cooperation with the Port of Seattle, Boeing and FAA and also will involve regional affiliate Horizon Air. Horizon's Q400 fleet is being equipped for RNP as well.

Alaska Air estimates the procedures will cut fuel consumption by 2.1 million gal. annually and reduce carbon emissions by 22,000 tonnes, "the equivalent of taking 4,100 cars off the road every year." It also will "reduce overflight noise exposure" for an estimated 750,000 people. "With FAA approval, we hope the procedures will be available to all carriers and gradually integrated into the Seattle air traffic system," said VP Flight Operations Gary Beck.

(Air Transport World - ATWOnline)

UPS Plans more CO2 Emissions Cuts

UPS 747-44AF/SCD N572UP (35669/1396) arrives in Anchorage. (Photo by Michael Carter)

UPS said it has adopted a plan to cut the carbon dioxide emissions of UPS Airlines by an additional 20% by 2020 to bring its cumulative reduction to 42% compared to 1990 levels. The company said its jet aircraft "are the source of 53%" of UPS's total CO2 output. The delivery giant also operates fleets of trucks and vans and manages warehouses. It added that it intends to achieve the 2020 goal "by investing in more fuel-efficient aircraft types and engines, fuel-saving operational initiatives, and the introduction of biofuels."

Separately, UPS completed the first phase of expansion on its Worldport sorting facility at its Louisville hub. The complex's hourly sorting capacity has been increased 15% to 350,000 packages per hr. The expansion, to be fully completed by next year, will ramp up the high-tech building's hourly capacity to 487,000 pieces. The company said this week that the project is progressing under budget and "UPS will spend less than the anticipated $1 billion for the expansion."

(Air Transport World - ATWOnline)

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

BBJ visits Long Beach (LGB)

Rotates from Rwy 30. (Photo by Michael Carter)

Boeing BBJ 737-72T N50TC (29024/131) operated by the Tracinda Corportation passed through Long Beach this afternoon.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Mexican Carrier Aviacsa Grounded

Aviacsa 737-301 (23555/1428) XA-UGE climbs from Rwy 7L in Las Vegas. (Photo by Michael Carter)

It's been a rough go of things lately for Mexican carrier Aviacsa, which has been grounded by regulators for the third time in a month. The latest grounding is a result of $22 million in debt that Mexico says the airline owes for its use of the country's airspace, according to The Associated Press.

Mexico's Transportation and Communications Department issued a statement saying Aviacsa would be cleared to fly once it settles the debt. Aviacsa, however, says it is paying the debt and accused the government of launching a "new attack" on the company. AP notes Mexican regulators "suspended the airline twice last month after detecting irregularities in the maintenance of 25 planes. The airline resumed service after winning a court ruling overturning the orders. Aviacsa has a fleet of 26 planes serving 17 Mexican cities and Las Vegas."

(USA Today - Today in the Sky)

Saturday, July 4, 2009

US Airways A321-211 at Orange County Airport (SNA)

US Airways operated an A321-211 into Orange County Airport (SNA) this afternoon for the first time since the merger of America West Airlines and US Airways. Flt AWE1512 arrived from Phoenix at 14:57 PST and departed back to Phoenix at 17:22 PST as AWE940. The flights were operated with A321-211 N178US (1519).

Miami Air 737-81Q arrives in Long Beach

A second Miami Air (Biskayne) 737-81Q (30618/830) N732MA arrived at Long Beach (KLGB) at 08:08 PST as Flt. BSK501 from Norfolk Navel Air Station, Chambers Field (KNGU). Both flights arrived in Long Beach to carry out soccer teams that had played in a local tournament.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Miami Air 737-8Q8 arrives in Long Beach

Miami Air (Biskayne) 737-8Q8 N734MA (30039/701) Flt. BSK533 arrived at 13:14 PST following a short charter flight from Halsey Field (KNZY) in San Diego.

Airbus looks at Blackbox Flight - Data Downlink

Airbus is to examine downlink of flight-critical data, and other possible techniques, to explore whether vital information could be more easily retrieved in the event of an accident. The initiative follows the fatal loss of an Air France A330-200 over the South Atlantic on 1 June. Investigators are working with only limited information because neither flight recorder has been located.

There have been cases of other inquiries being hindered by flight recorders failing to function or sustaining damage to their recording media or solid-state electronics. Airbus says there are "various technical means" which are "principally available" to "reinforce" recovery of crucial data - among them, extended transmissions from aircraft, although the quantity of information on cockpit-voice and flight-data recorders would require substantial transmission bandwidth.

"Gathering information from accidents is vitally important to further improve the safety of flying," says Airbus chief Tom Enders. "We will study different options for viable commercial solutions, including those where our experience with real-time data transmission from our own test aircraft could support the further development of such solutions."

Customer services chief Charles Champion and head of engineering Patrick Gavin are to lead the study. Airbus is intending to invite partners from various sectors to participate.

(Air Transport Intelligence News)

Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines want FCC wi-fi approval

Hoping to make in-flight broadband service "available to all of their passengers", Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines have urged the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to promptly approve Row 44's application to operate an aeronautical mobile-satellite service (AMSS) in the conventional Ku-band segment.

Row 44's system is currently being trialled on a handful of Boeing 737s operated by the two carriers. However, permanent authority is required for Alaska and Southwest to move forward with fleet-wide equipage.

In a joint letter filed on 1 July with the FCC, lawyers for Alaska and Southwest say the expeditious grant of Row 44's application for a permanent license "will generate enormous benefits, including substantial work for almost a dozen technology companies all over the United States at a critical time in our economy".

Additionally, they note, competing airlines "are moving forward with their own in-flight broadband services, and Southwest and Alaska Airlines need to move forward promptly with their own in-flight broadband offerings".

Aircell's air-to-ground (ATG) system, dubbed Gogo, is now installed on over 360 aircraft in the US fleet. The company's customers include AirTran Airways, Air Canada, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Virgin America. United Airlines is also scheduled to trial Gogo in the latter part of this year.

ViaSat, a competitor to Row 44, has long opposed the California-based firm's application, claiming interference issues. An 11 May 2009 test report from Row 44, however, demonstrates that its satellite broadband system can operate without causing interference to other satellite services, say lawyers for Alaska and Southwest. ViaSat, "has been doing everything it can to slow down or stop approval of Row 44's system, but the commission should not reward these anti-competitive efforts by further delaying a grant of Row 44's application", they say.

"The lone opponent to Row 44's application has presented no legitimate basis for further delay. Rapid action by the commission will set into motion the benefits for the economy, passengers and the airlines described above. Accordingly, Southwest and Alaska Airlines urge that the commission should move expeditiously to a grant of this application."

(Air Transport Intelligence News)

JetAmerica Delays Launch of Service

JetAmerica, the nation’s newest low fare indirect air carrier service that offers non-stop seats starting at $9 each way announces today it is self-imposing a 31 day delay of the launch of its first flights, which were originally scheduled for July 13, 2009 but are now slated to take-off on August 14, 2009.

“The delay is not as unusual as it sounds,” according to JetAmerica’s Vice President of Operations Brian Burling. “Historically many of the world’s most successful airlines and charter services have had to delay their launches.” The primary reason for the delay is due to unforeseen complications with landing and take-off time slots at Newark Liberty International Airport, New Jersey.

Burling says, February 2009, the Federal Aviation Administration advised us, through an intermediary, that our operations at Newark could be accommodated. “However, at about the same time JetAmerica started making national news with its $9 non-stop fares; when JetAmerica announced 60,000 website visitors; and sales in excess of 20,000 the FAA re-clarified its policy telling JetAmerica we would need to obtain slots,” according to Burling.

JetAmerica is sending out a blast e-mail today advising 6,486 passengers that booked flights from July 13 through August 13, 2009 that their credit card accounts will be fully refunded for all charges. The credits should appear on e-statements within seven to 14 days.

“Recognizing that this delay is an inconvenience; as a courtesy aimed at preventing erosion of consumer confidence, JetAmerica will offer passengers who were originally booked on flights from July 13 through August 13 special incentives to rebook on future flights when they call our reservations center,” says JetAmerica spokesperson Bryan Glazer. “These incentives include waiving the standard $10 reservations convenience fee. We will also waive the $20 fee for the first-checked piece of baggage and the $10 seat assignment fee,” says Glazer.

JetAmerica, a Part 380 indirect air carrier, subcontracting aircraft from Miami Air International, still intends to provide Boeing 737-800 big jet, roundtrip, non-stop flights starting on August 14, 2009 from Lansing, Michigan; Melbourne-Vero Beach, Florida; South Bend, Indiana; and Toledo, Ohio to New York-Newark Liberty International Airport, New Jersey. JetAmerica is also flying roundtrip flights between Toledo and Melbourne-Vero Beach and Minneapolis-St. Paul; and from Lansing to Melbourne-Vero Beach.“Initially, JetAmerica planned to fly 34 weekly flight segments starting on July 13, 2009. On August 14, 2009 the number of flights is still slated to expand to 40 per week. There are no immediate plans to change our flight schedules,” according to Burling.

JetAmerica Chief Executive Officer John Weikle says, “We feel terrible for the folks who booked with us for travel during the July 13 - August 13 timeframe, but the FAA’s change in the slot policy for indirect air carriers is beyond our control. We are working hard to obtain all the slots we need as soon as possible.”That FAA’s policy change was not brought to the carrier’s attention until after it had already made millions of dollars in sales, according to JetAmerica.

JetAmerica’s successful business model is based on flying big jets and offering non-stop, low fare flights in cities where passengers are currently forced to travel on turbo prop planes and small commuter jets. They must make connections, endure long layovers and pay extremely expensive airfares to travel to high demand destinations such as New York and Florida. JetAmerica is offering fares 50 to 70 percent less than other carriers flying similar but indirect routes.

“People should not be quick to jump to negative conclusions about JetAmerica,” warns Burling. “I am particularly referring to internet bloggers and naysayers who are predicting the worst.” is still active and customers can still book online reservations.
Burling concludes, “The overwhelming customer demand for these flights that we experienced so far shows just how underserved these markets are and how much people want to fly JetAmerica.”

(JetAmerica - Press Release)

First Southwest aircraft goes south for Maintenace

Southwest Airlines, the nation's leading discount carrier flying only domestic routes, has begun heavy maintenance of some of its Boeing 737 fleet in El Salvador, company executives said Thursday.

Under agreements with its Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA), Southwest on Wednesday flew its first 737 to Aeroman, an El Salvador-based maintenance, repair and overhaul facility. The MRO is at El Salvador International Airport, outside the capital of San Salvador. The flight originated in Houston, company officials said. Southwest spokesman Fred Flaningan said the downtime could be 30 to 40 days per aircraft.

Southwest, which flies 539 Boeing 737s, also maintains aircraft at an in-house facility at its base at Love Field in Dallas and at three third-party MROs: ATS in Everett, Wash.; AAR in Indianapolis, Ind.; and PEMCO in Tampa, Fla. Although company executives and industry analysts said Aeroman is well qualified to perform Southwest's heavy maintenance, the fact the carrier is outsourcing maintenance to a foreign MRO is at odds with its offbeat, independent image, officials said.

"This is a competitive business," said Michael Boyd, president of Boyd Group International, an Evergreen, Colo., airline consultant. "Southwest is under tremendous cost and revenue pressure, and they are going to look at places that can do the work most inexpensively. "But just because the work is being done in El Salvador doesn't mean it won't be done well. I'm not worried about Southwest not vetting these people — they didn't get them out of the Yellow Pages." Louie Key, national director of AMFA, the union representing Southwest's aircraft mechanics, said the four-year contract ratified by the membership in January permits Southwest to outsource to foreign MROs no more than "four lines of maintenance."

A line of maintenance is a nose-to-tail aircraft overhaul in a particular hangar, he said. "Previously, there were no limitations," Key said. "We were between a rock and a hard place." The AMFA contract also specifies Southwest must retain its in-house maintenance facilities at Love Field, Midway Airport in Chicago, Houston's William P. Hobby Airport and Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport. Southwest's recent offer of an early-buyout program for veteran employees is indicative of the cost pressures in the airline industry, Key said. "It's all about cost per available seat-mile," Key said. "Now that they are maturing as a company, their cost per available seat-mile is getting up there with the legacy carriers."

In the first quarter, Southwest's cost per available seat-mile was 9.96 cents, up 2.8 percent from 2008's first quarter. American Airlines, which has twice as many employees as Southwest's 35,000 workers, had a cost per available seat-mile of 11.8 cents in the first quarter, down 6.5 percent from last year's first quarter. Southwest's fuel hedging also is hurting its bottom line, Boyd said. Southwest saved several billion dollars this decade by buying forward fuel contracts at low prices. But the fuel-hedging contracts began to turn against the Dallas carrier when oil prices plummeted in mid-2008. As a result, Southwest had to write down the value of its hedges, leading to losses in 2008's third and fourth quarters.

Aeroman, San Salvador, El SalvadorEstablished: 1983 as subsidiary of TACA, El Salvador’s national airline. Certified: 1992 by Federal Aviation Administration as commercial aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul base. Also certified by the Authority of Civil Aviation of El Salvador and by the General Directorates of Civil Aviation in mexico, Guatemala, Costa rica, Panama, Ecuador, Peru and Jamaica. Facilities: 294,541 square feet of hangar, shop, administration and storage space.

Two hangars capable of enclosing six narrowbody commercial aircraft at same time. Employees: 1,500 aviation maintenance technicians, engineers, support and administrative workers. Capabilities: heavy airframe maintenance; six-year and 12-year maintenance; structural modifications and repairs; aging fleet service bulletins and modifications; avionics modifications; and in-flight entertainment system installations and modifications.

Engine overhaul and repair of General Electric/Snecma (France) CFm56; Pratt & Whitney JT8D; International Aero Engines V2500 and rolls-royce rB211. Aircraft serviced: Airbus A320; Boeing 727, 737, 757 and 767.

Customers: JetBlue Airways, US Airways, Southwest Airlines and Central and South American airlines

(Tulsa World)

Delta Begins Los Angeles - Sydney Service

July 1st, Delta Airlines commenced new service between Los Angeles (LAX) and Sydney Australia (SYD) with it's new Boeing 777-232(LR) aircraft.

Flight 17 departs LAX at 10:35pm arriving in Sydney at 06:35am.

Flight 16 departs SYD at 09:35am arriving in Los Angeles at 06:10am

Delta Airlines Adds to it's MD-90 Fleet

Delta Airlines will add three MD-90-30 aircraft later this year to it's fleet. Delta Along with Alaska Airlines was the launch customer for the MD-90-30 and originally had 30 aircraft on order but cancelled the remaining 15 orders when it made the decision to purchase the Boeing 737-800. Alaska Airlines cancelled it's 20 aircraft order as well choosing to go with the Boeing 737-700.

It has been rumored for sometime that Delta was looking to pick-up used MD-90's (originaly from Chinese airlines) and it has now become reality as they plan to get three that were last operated by Swiss airline Hello. The aircraft involved are as follows:

N917DN (53552/2163) ex-HB-JIA / originally delivered
03/29/1997 to KTHY as TC-KTA

N918DH (53553/2165) ex-HB-JIB / originally delivered
03/29/1997 to KTHY as TC-KTB

N919DN (53576/2195) ex-HB-JIC / originally delivered 09/23/1997 to AMC Aviation as SU-BMQ (this is one of only three MD-90-30ER's that were built).

The aircraft are scheduled to enter service with Delta early next year. The first aircraft is now at Victorville, California (VCV) being readied for return to service.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

JetBlue Sponsers Soccer (Football) Team

Taxies to Rwy 30 as it prepares to depart.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

JetBlue A320-232 (3811) N779JB "Real Blue" sports a commemorative livery dedicated to the Salt Lake City "Real" a local soccer team that the carrier now sponsers. The aircraft was captured as it prepared to depart Long Beach (KLGB) on July 2.

First NATO C-17A takes to the skies

NATO C-17A 08-0001 (F-207) on short final to Rwy 30 as she returns from her first flight July 1, 2009.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

The first C-17A 08-0001 (F-207) destined for NATO, departed Long Beach (LGB) as "Boeing 207 heavy" at 1315 PST on her first pre-delivery test flight returning to Long Beach at 1851 PST.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The second ARJ21-700 takes to the skies

Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac) today had the first flight of the second ARJ21-700 regional jet aircraft to be produced.

"The aircraft took off at 1121 at Dachang airport, Shanghai and landed at 1222 at the same airport," Comac says in a statement to ATI. "The whole flight lasted 61 minutes," it says, adding that the aircraft rolled out of Comac's aircraft assembly plant at Dachang on 1 June.

The aircraft first taxied on 19 June, says Comac which refers to it in the statement as AC102.
A Comac official in Shanghai confirms AC102 is the second ARJ21-700 to be produced.
The very first ARJ21-700 produced had its first flight on 28 November last year.

Chinese carrier Kunpeng Airlines will be the first to receive the ARJ21 and an official at that airline told ATI in May it would receive the aircraft in late 2010.

(Air Transport Intelligence News)

Volaris Commences Los Angeles (LAX) Service

Mexican low-cost carrier Volaris plans to initially operate six flights on five transborder routes this year as it prepares to launch more US service and begin codesharing with Southwest Airlines next year.

Volaris' first international flight landed in Los Angeles yesterday from the carrier's Toluca hub. Volaris COO Andres Fabre says the carrier will serve Los Angeles from Toluca once per day and will launch service to Los Angeles from Guadalajara today 1 July with two daily frequencies, up from an initial plan of only one.

Fabre says Volaris now plans to launch service to Oakland on 16 July with one daily flight from both Guadalajara and Toluca. Volaris was initially planning to begin both these routes at the beginning of July but Fabre says the carrier has "decided to split up" the Los Angeles and Oakland launches.

Fabre adds Volaris is also now planning to launch in August one daily flight from Tijuana to Oakland. He says this service will be "a funnel flight" with most passengers connecting in Tijuana to one of seven domestic destinations throughout Mexico. "We'll provide one-stop connections from Oakland to deep in Mexico," Fabre said on the sidelines of the Low Cost World conference in Miami. He adds in Guadalajara and Toluca Volaris will also connect US passengers to some destinations such as Cancun but Tijuana will offer more connections.

Volaris earlier this year applied to the DOT for rights to service Los Angeles and Oakland as well as Fort Lauderdale in Florida. Fabre says Volaris looked at five US cities but decided for the first year to focus only on Los Angeles and Oakland.

He says Volaris plans to later launch service to Fort Lauderdale and the other two cities it was considering as part of a plan to serve 10 to 12 US cities within three years. Fabre wouldn't disclose what the other cities are but says they are all focus cities of Southwest Airlines.
He says Volaris is looking at all of Southwest's focus cities except Dallas Love and Houston Hobby, which is currently restricted to short-haul domestic services. "We hope that will change in the future so we can go to Love and Hobby," Fabre says.

Southwest and Volaris announced last November plans to begin codesharing in 2010. Southwest said last month the carrier still planned to begin placing its code on Volaris' US services in 2010 despite the postponement in placing its code on transborder services operated by Canadian low-cost carrier WestJet from 2009 to 2010. "We're always talking," Fabre says of Volaris and Southwest. "There's no specific date. We just have a 2010 timeframe."

He adds Volaris still expects to be Southwest's second codeshare partner after WestJet. Showing their commitment to the codeshare, Southwest executives will participate at a ceremony in Los Angeles commemorating Volaris' first route. Fabre says Southwest and Volaris are both now working on upgrading their reservation systems to support the launch of the codeshare in 2010. He says Volaris is "now in the middle of switching" its reservation system from Navitaire Open Skies to Navitaire New Skies.

While New Skies has the codeshare functionality Volaris needs to begin carrying Southwest's code on connecting services within the US, Fabre says Volaris is also now considering switching to another reservations system with better codeshare functionality. "We're analysing our options," he says. "We're analyzing to see if Navitaire is a good option."

(Air Transport Intelligence News)