Friday, November 27, 2009

Avient adds MD-11F

Arrives at Miami International (MIA/KMIA) on a lovely afternoon.
(Photo by Eddy Gual)

Avient has added McDonnell Douglas MD-11F (48408/457) Z-BAV, ex N408SH to it's fleet. The aircraft was originally delivered to Korean Airlines as HL7372 on 01/25/1991. The MD-11 was converted to an MD-11F returning to the Cargo arm of Korean Airlines on 06/21/1995. It later served with Varig Log as PP-LGD until being WFU and STD.
**Update** Sadley this aircraft crashed on take-off Saturday November 28, 2009 at Shanghi Pudong Airport (SPD/ZSPD) as it was taking off. The aircraft reportedly rotated but never got airborne running off the end of the Rwy into a storage building and bursting into flames. 3 out of 7 crew members on board lost their lives.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving 2009

Myself and the entire staff at Aero Pacific Flightlines would like to wish everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving 2009.

Michael Carter - Editor

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

New G550 Arrives in Long Beach

(Photo by Michael Carter)

New Gulfsteam G550 N960GA (cn 5260) arrived on Nov. 24 from Savannh/Hiltonhead (SAV/KSAV) at 1207pm as "Gulf Test 79" and parked at the Gulfstream service center.

Korean Airlines G-IV arrives in Long Beach

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Korean Airlines G-IV (cn 1188) HL7222 arrived at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) Tuesday Nov. 24 at 0722am as KAL3017 from Honolulu International Airport (HNL/KHNL) and parked at the Gulfstream Service Center.

Antonov AN-124 Ruslan Visits Long Beach

Arrives in Long Beach on a gorgeous Fall morning.
(Photos by Michael Carter)

Antonov Airlines AN-124-100 Ruslan RA-82029 (19530502630) arrived in Long Beach (LGB/KLGB) on Tuesday Nov. 24 at 1000am from Houston Bush International (IAH/KIAH) operating as ADB218F. It is in Long Beach to pick up Airbus A350 parts that are locally manufactured.

The aircraft departed Nov. 25 at 0830am as ADB2254 bound for Gander International Airport (YQX/CYQX).

Gulfstream G650 Takes to the Skies

Gulfstream Aerospace, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics (NYSE: GD), today announced that its newest business jet and the flagship of its fleet, the ultra-large-cabin, ultra-long-range Gulfstream G650, successfully completed its first flight, today Nov. 25, 2009.

Flown by experimental test pilot Jake Howard and senior experimental test pilot Tom Horne, the G650 (cn 6001) "Gulf Test 21" took off from Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport at 1:41 p.m. local time today with flight engineer Bill Osborne on board. Because pilots were alerted to a slight vibration in a landing-gear door, they curtailed the testing regimen as a precautionary measure. The aircraft landed 12 minutes later.

“We are pleased to announce that the G650 successfully completed its first flight today,” said Pres Henne, senior vice president, Programs, Engineering and Test, Gulfstream. “Systems were fully operational. The aircraft achieved an altitude of 6,600 feet and a speed of 170 knots. Flight controls and characteristics performed as expected. We consider this flight a success and look forward to pursuing our full flight-test plan.”
(Photos by Gulfstream Aerospace)

Under its own power, the G650 rolled out of the Savannah manufacturing facility on Sept. 29, 2009. It remains on schedule for type certification by 2011, followed by entry-into-service in 2012.

The G650 offers the longest range at the fastest speed in its class. Powered by best-in-class Rolls-Royce BR725 engines, the business jet is capable of traveling 7,000 nautical miles at 0.85 Mach and has a maximum operating speed of 0.925 Mach. Its 7,000-nautical-mile range means the G650 can fly nonstop from Dubai to Chicago. With an initial cruise altitude of 41,000 feet at 0.85 Mach, the G650 can climb to a maximum altitude of 51,000 feet and avoid traffic and inclement weather.

With its all-new aerodynamically optimized wing, the G650 can meet the latest takeoff certification requirements. At maximum takeoff weight, the aircraft can depart from a 6,000-foot runway.

Passenger comfort is one of the G650’s main attributes. The aircraft features the largest purpose-built business-jet cabin, which leaves room for larger galleys and lavatories, and increased storage. The jet, which seats 11-18 passengers, also has 16 Gulfstream-signature oval windows that measure 28 by 20.5 inches, the biggest in the industry.

The G650 provides the most productive cabin environment. A cabin altitude of 4,850 feet at FL510 and 3,300 feet at FL410 reduces fatigue, increases mental alertness and enhances productivity. A quieter cabin allows for a better environment for conversation or relaxation.

The aircraft comes with the new Gulfstream Cabin Essential™ package, so a single-point failure will not result in the loss of functionality. That means a toilet always flushes; water is always available; and an entertainment source always works.

Additionally, the G650 features the PlaneView™ II cockpit, the most advanced flight deck in business aviation, and an Advanced Health and Trend Monitoring System (AHTMS) to support aircraft maintenance planning and enhance availability.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Gulf Air Special Livery Unveiled

(Photos by Gulf Air)
Gulf Air has unveiled a special livery on A320-214 (cn 4083) A9C-AD dedicated to the Bahrain International Air Show. The commemorative livery was designed by Bader Yousif Murad (above) and painted in Norwich, United Kingdom by Air Livery.

Platinum (IBC Airways) Saab 340 Visits Long Beach

Platinum (IBC Airways) Saab 340B N481BC turns onto Rwy 30 at Long Beach as it prepares to depart for Durango, Colorado.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Platinum (IBC Airways) Flt. CSQ481 a Saab 340B N481BC (cn 340B-274) arrived from Double Eagle li airport (AEG/KAEG) in Albuquerque, New Mexico on Thursday Nov. 19 at 12:50pm parking on the AirFlight ramp were it overnighted. The aircraft departed Friday Nov. 20 at 09:16am bound for Durango-La Plata County Airport (DRO-KDRO).

Air New Zealand Launch Customer for the Airbus wingtip "Sharklet"

Airbus has launched its new “Sharklet” large wingtip devices, specially designed to enhance the eco-efficiency and payload-range performance of the A320 Family. Offered as a forward-fit option, Sharklets are expected to result in at least 3.5 percent reduced fuelburn over longer sectors, corresponding to an annual CO2 reduction of around 700 tonnes per aircraft. The A320 will be the first model fitted with Sharklets, which will be delivered around the end of 2012, to be followed by the other A320 Family models from 2013. Air New Zealand is the launch customer for the Sharklets which are specified for its future A320 fleet.

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer, Rob Fyfe commented: “Air New Zealand recently decided to move to an all A320 fleet for narrow-body operations on domestic and short-haul international routes. The new Sharklets will enable our Airbus fleet to benefit from lower fuel burn and carbon emissions, both across Air New Zealand’s domestic network and especially on the longer trans-Tasman sectors.”

Airbus Chief Operating Officer - Customers, John Leahy said: “The eco-efficient A320 Family just keeps getting better. We are delighted that Air New Zealand recognises that our single-aisle Family will remain the most profitable product in its class for years to come.” He added: “Sharklets are not just part of Airbus’ response to addressing environmental issues and rising fuel costs, but they also enhance aircraft overall performance.”

It should be noted that the 3.5 percent efficiency improvement with Sharklets will be additional to the already positive effect of the A320 classic wingtip fence. Payload-range benefits include either a revenue payload increase of around 500kg or an additional 100nm range at the original payload. The Sharklet installation also keeps the A320 Family within the ICAO ‘Class C’ (wingspan less than 36m) and will result in higher available takeoff weights, notably from obstacle-limited runways. Moreover, where runway performance is not ‘limiting’, operators should profit from a reduction in average takeoff thrust (with consequent savings in engine maintenance costs by around two percent), while communities will also appreciate even lower takeoff noise. Other benefits are the enhanced climb performance and higher initial cruise altitude.

This latest development has been part of the larger continuous improvement programme for the A320 Family which is supported by an annual investment in excess of 100 million euros each year. To this end, Airbus has conducted a thorough campaign over several years to evaluate improved large aerodynamic devices – not only using Airbus’ company-owned A320 test aircraft, but also with its advanced computational-fluid-dynamics (CFD) simulation-tools.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

State of Kuwait G550

Taxies on "delta" towards a Rwy 30 departure.
Rotates from Rwy 30. (Photos by Michael Carter)

The first G550 (cn 5248) N748GA tbr 9K-GFA destined for the State of Kuwait performed a pre-delivery test flight from Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on Friday November 20.

Aircraft Spotting and Photo Story / USA Today November 12, 2009

My recent column highlighting some of the observation decks inside some North American airports prompted many readers to send along their favorite locations for spots outside airport terminals that offer great views of aviation activity. Many suggestions came from dedicated plane spotters, aviation enthusiasts and professional photographers, but some tips came from frequent travelers who just get a thrill from getting a good close look at jets as they take off and land.

Al Mueller, a retired travel agent from Guerneville, Calif., believes that "the very best close-up observation points are no longer accessible," perhaps because many spots near airports were declared off-limits after 9/11. Still, he's discovered that Bayfront Park in Millbrae is a great place to watch planes coming and going from San Francisco International Airport.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport doesn't have an official viewing area, but Joel Lesser, an Internet developer from Johns Creek, Ga., shared the locations of what he believes are "the best plane spotting locations at ATL that are legal to access." In addition to heading to the recycling center or sewage treatment plant near ATL, Lesser says many folks pay the hourly parking fee ($1/hour for the first 2 hours) just so they can plane-spot from the top floors of the airport's south and north parking garages.

Garage rooftops seem to be popular viewing spots at many airports around the country, but in Washington, D.C., the hands-down favorite spot to watch airplanes is at Gravelly Point, a park area about a mile from Reagan Washington National Airport. The park is officially part of the George Washington Memorial Parkway and Jesse Reynolds of the National Park Service explains that Gravelly Point is such a big draw because one side of the park is adjacent to the northeast boundary of the airport and "planes essentially fly right over the top of your head." That's the part that thrills Troy Barbour from Fairfax Station, Va. who works as a project manager for a global defense contractor. "After the planes pass over, you can hear the whooshing sounds of the wing vortexes swirling above you."

You may not be able to get that close to the airplanes at some of the other official and unofficial viewing spots listed below, but you should be able to get close enough to snap some great pictures.


While the reopening of the official outdoor viewing area on top of the Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport has been pushed back to at least the end of 2009, an unofficial airport viewing area at nearby Imperial Hill (officially Clutter's Park) remains open and as popular as ever. Located in the neighboring city of El Segundo, the park offers picnic tables and a great view of the southern portion of the airport. The In-N-Out Burger, at 9149 South Sepulveda Blvd., is also a popular LAX viewing spot (and while you're there you may as well sample the legendary burgers).


In addition to the observation gallery inside the terminal at Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport there's the outdoor Tom Dixon Aircraft Observation Area on Dorsey Road, along the airport's southern edge. The park has a playground, picnic tables, bicycle racks, and access to the 12.5 mile BWI Trail that encircles the airport.


At Raleigh-Durham International Airport's Observation Park, visitors can listen in on communications between the control tower and pilots from an elevated deck that looks out to the airport's longest runway, the new terminal and the general aviation area. Located near the air traffic control tower, about three-quarters of a mile from the terminals, the park also has a playground and a picnic area and is a popular spot for birthday parties and for people waiting to pick up arriving passengers.


Mike Lewis, a media planning supervisor in Chicago, has fond memories of the observation area alongside the main runway at the Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids, Mich. "It's more or less a parking lot with some picnic tables, but the proximity to the airport is great. I still try and go there any time I'm in Grand Rapids visiting family." Located about two and a half miles from the airport entrance, the observation area has portable restroom facilities, picnic tables, and air traffic control communications that can be picked up on the AM radio dial. But the real appeal? The viewing area is just 600 feet from the airport's main runway.


In Las Vegas, it's a sure bet you'll get a great view of planes taking off and landing from the Sunset Viewing Area at McCarran International Airport. It's just south of the airport, off Sunset Road, and looks out to the airport's busiest east/west runways. Here again, visitors can dial up air traffic control chatter on the radio.


At Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, the airplane viewing area is officially called the Family Viewing Area, but you don't need to have kids in tow to enjoy the one-acre spot just east of the airport entrance. Located near the 9,000-foot east runway, the observation area has picnic tables and, according to airport's website, recommended viewing hours: mornings from 6 until 11 a.m.; mid-afternoons from 1:30-3 p.m.; and in the evenings starting at around 7:30 p.m.


At the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport you'll find the Ron Gardner Aircraft Observation Area on the west side of the airport, on the opposite side of the airfield from the terminals. Many people watch aircraft activity here from their air-conditioned cars, but if you roll down the windows you'll get to hear the communications between the pilots and the air traffic control tower from speakers installed at the site.


In 2008, Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport relocated its popular Founders Plaza observation point to a new and larger spot on the northwest quadrant of the sprawling airport grounds. The new location offers some spectacular views of aircraft traffic on the airport's west side and provides amenities that include picnic tables, telescopes, canopies and covered seating, display panels with historic information, parking for tour buses, and speakers broadcasting air traffic control communications.

Did we miss your local airport or favorite plane spotting spot?

There are loads of great airport viewing spots around the country and you'll find many of those official and unofficial locations listed in informal but information-packed "Spotting Guides" on the Web. Many of these sites are put together by individuals and clubs and offer detailed maps and directions, tips about parking, security and nearby amenities, and even helpful advice on what time to show up and what lens to use in order to take snap the best photos of the planes that will roar by.

(Harriet Baskas - USA Today /

Large Southwest Airlines Stock Purchase

This past week, private equity firm Blackstone Group, run by co-founder Stephen Schwarzman, bought a $7.8 million stake in Southwest Airlines Co. with the purchase of 809,700 shares.

First Flight of Boeing 787 by End of Year

With the clock ticking toward a December 31 deadline, Boeing executives said Friday the company is on schedule for the first test flight of its long-delayed and highly anticipated 787 Dreamliner.

Speaking on the sidelines of a groundbreaking in North Charleston, South Carolina, for Boeing's second 787 final assembly site, two local Boeing executives said first flight is in sight.

"Our plan is to fly by the end of the year and to deliver by the end of next year," said Marco Cavazzoni, general manager of final assembly and delivery at Boeing Charleston.

Tim Coyle, vice president of the Charleston site, agreed, saying that once static tests on the plane were complete, the 787 would be poised for its first test flight within weeks.

The 787 is two years behind its original schedule, due to a series of production setbacks and a strike last year. The company has said it would fly the plane in the fourth quarter of 2009 but has not set a date. Some speculation now centers on December 22.

Boeing delayed a scheduled test flight earlier this year to reinforce a side-of-body section. The company said last week that it has made the repair on the first plane.

The 787 boasts a revolutionary composite design that weighs less and is more fuel efficient that traditional aircraft. Boeing has 840 orders on its books, according to company data.

Boeing last month selected South Carolina as the site of its second 787 final assembly plant as it plans to increase production of the plane away from its traditional base in the Seattle area.

Boeing intends to finish construction of the assembly site by mid-2011 and complete three planes per month, Coyle said.

Boeing already owns a plant in Charleston that makes parts of the 787 fuselage. Boeing has said the Puget Sound area will remain the headquarters of its commercial planes.

The move to South Carolina, which had been expected for some time, is a blow for the Puget Sound economy, where Boeing is the major employer, labor leaders have said. But it is a major economic boon to South Carolina, where the jobless rate was 12.1 percent in October.

Boeing said the new assembly site would create about 1,000 direct manufacturing and flight line positions at Boeing Charleston. The company said that over time it would add several thousand jobs to the region by creating management, engineering and other support positions.

(Reuters - Airwise News)
(Alaska Airlines)

Alaska Airlines and Apolo Ohno unveiled a specially themed Boeing 737-800 adorned with a larger-than-life image of the celebrated speed skater and "Dancing With The Stars" winner. The unique design features the Seattle native on the aircraft's fuselage and invites travelers to "Follow Apolo" at as he pursues winter gold in Vancouver, British Columbia.

"Apolo is one of the most decorated Olympians in history, and we're thrilled to support him on his road to Vancouver," said Brad Tilden, Alaska's president. "The ‘Follow Apolo' jet will fly across our route system to build excitement for this great American athlete."

On, fans can track Ohno's quest to become the most decorated winter athlete in U.S. history, view behind-the-scenes training videos, sign up to receive e-mail updates from Ohno, and send questions to his blog.

"It's an honor to be featured alongside Alaska's trademark Eskimo and have the support of my hometown airline for the most important race of my life," said Ohno, after seeing the plane for the first time.

A team of Seattle-area youth speed skaters aspiring to follow in Ohno's path accompanied the athlete onboard the aircraft as it was unveiled at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The skaters are members of Pattison's Team Extreme and train at Pattison's West Skating Center in Federal Way, Wash., where Ohno trained as a teen.

A native of the Seattle area, Ohno began his speed-skating career at age 14 in Seattle and Vancouver. He went on to become the youngest skater to win a World Cup event title in December 1999. Ohno has since won 11 national champion, 18 world champion and five Olympic medals.

(Alaska Airlines - Press Release)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Horizon Unveils "Comfortably Cleaner" Q400

(Photo Horizon Airlines)

Horizon Air's newest Bombardier Q400, entering service this week, is sporting an eye-catching "Comfortably Greener" livery that spotlights the aircraft's lower environmental impact compared to similar-size jets.

Horizon's 76-seat Q400 uses 30 to 40 percent less fuel and produces 30 to 40 percent less carbon emissions than comparable jet aircraft.

"At Horizon Air and its sister airline, Alaska Airlines, we're dedicated to reducing our impact on the environment," said Dan Russo, Horizon vice president of marketing and communications. "One major way we're doing that is by flying highly fuel-efficient aircraft."

The new Q400 is the first of two with the "Comfortably Greener" livery. The second will arrive in December.

In 2007, Horizon announced its intention to transition to a single fleet of Q400s, in large part because of the aircraft's greater fuel efficiency. Horizon is currently hoping to achieve a single-type fleet by the end of 2013. Presently, the airline operates 39 Q400s and 18 CRJ-700 regional jets.

Specifics: the Q400's environmental advantages

The Q400 aircraft exceeds not only current environmental standards but also anticipated ones related to carbon dioxide (CO2), hydrocarbon, nitrous oxide and smoke emissions. All are well below the levels mandated by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

For example, on a 500-nm or 575.4-mile trip, the Q400 aircraft emits 30 percent fewer emissions and rates among the lowest CO2-emitting aircraft on a per seat basis. Looked at another way, each Q400 aircraft produces 3,000 fewer tons of CO2 every year. Reductions are even higher on longer flights – up to 40 percent.

The Q400 is also known for producing less noise, a characteristic appreciated by the communities it flies over (in fact, the "Q" stands for "quiet"). The exterior noise level of the Q400 is 10 EPNdB (Exterior Perceived Noise in Decibels) lower than that of 70- to 80-seat jets.

Access photos of ‘Comfortably Greener' aircraft

Photos of the Comfortably Greener Q400 are available on the Image Gallery page of the Horizon Air Newsroom. Additionally, media are welcome to schedule their own photo or video shoot of the aircraft by contacting Horizon at 206-392-0296.

Horizon and Alaska's environmental commitment

Horizon's new "Comfortably Greener" aircraft is only one representation of the environmental commitment the airline shares with Alaska Airlines.

This summer Alaska Airlines began testing next-generation flight procedures at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac) that will allow the airline and Horizon to reduce their environmental impact during airport approaches. Dubbed "Greener Skies," the project in cooperation with the Port of Seattle, The Boeing Company and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is focused on using satellite-based flight guidance technology pioneered by Alaska Airlines to descend more efficiently and reduce aircraft fuel consumption, emissions and noise in the Puget Sound region. The airline is seeking FAA approval for the procedures, which could ultimately be used by all properly equipped carriers at Sea-Tac.

New U.S. Investers for Virgin America

Virgin America Inc., the low-fare airline backed by U.K. billionaire Richard Branson, expects an ownership shift of more than 10 percent under its plan to add new U.S. investors, Chief Executive Officer David Cush said.

A change of that size requires completion of the review under way by the U.S. Transportation Department, Cush said in an interview yesterday as Virgin America began service to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He wouldn’t detail the new lineup beyond saying that existing investors are “staying on.”

“I’m sticking with what I’ve said, that we’ll have these new investors by the end of the year,” Cush said.

Broader U.S. ownership may deflect claims by Alaska Air Group Inc. that Virgin America is violating laws capping foreign ownership of airlines at 25 percent. Virgin America has said its ownership structure hasn’t changed since it began flying in August 2007.

Branson’s Virgin Group Ltd. supplied 25 percent of the initial $177 million in startup funds for Burlingame, California-based Virgin America, along with a $53 million loan. The rest of the airline is owned by management, Black Canyon Capital in Los Angeles and New York-based Cyrus Capital Partners, Virgin America has said. It hasn’t given a breakdown.

Cush, 49, said Virgin America probably will add service to two new cities in 2010, including five or six flights a day to Chicago by May as gates become available, he said. The other city may come in the second half and be “somewhere where you can’t see the ocean” in the middle of the country, he said.

Under study are flights beyond the U.S. by 2011, likely to Toronto, Vancouver or Mexico, Cush said.

Branson’s Broadside

Branson joined Cush yesterday in Fort Lauderdale, where he renewed his criticism of American Airlines’ proposal for an antitrust agreement with British Airways Plc. Such an arrangement would be “two-faced” after AMR Corp.’s American objected to similar plans by other airlines, Branson said.

Regulators’ approval of a trans-Atlantic alliance for American and British Airways would be “madness,” said Branson, 59.

Branson’s Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd., which competes with American and British Airways, said last week that American CEO Gerard Arpey should be investigated by U.S. regulators after being “hypocritical” in his recent comments about aviation market dominance.

Virgin Atlantic has been lashing out at Arpey’s assertion that Delta Air Lines Inc. would find it difficult to win antitrust immunity for an alliance with Japan Airlines Corp., the Tokyo-based carrier that’s now in a marketing group with American.

(Mary Jane Credeur -

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Air Austral Orders Two Airbus A380 Aircraft

Air Austral is planning the first regular flights for more than 800 passengers after buying a budget version of the Airbus A380, the world's largest airliner, with economy seating throughout.

Reunion-based Air Austral confirmed an order for two superjumbos at the Dubai Air Show and said it would operate them between Paris and the French overseas department from 2014.

The deal will put the A380 into service as the industry's largest people carrier and comes 80 years after the first wood and canvas plane touched down on the Indian Ocean island after making the 9,300 kilometer (5,800 mile) trip from Paris in 10 days.

The A380 entered service in 2007 and is designed to seat 525 people in ordinary three-class seating or 853 people when its two floors of cabins are filled with economy seats -- giving it 8 times more capacity than Airbus's smallest model, the A318.

So far, buyers of the plane have focused on luring premium passengers with facilities from beds and showers in first class to a stand-up bar, with total seating of around 500 people.

Air Austral said its low-cost version would seat 840 people.

"We are convinced that airplanes with good priced tickets will help explode traffic figures," founder and president Gerard Etheve said after announcing the deal Tuesday.

The economy end of the airline market has performed relatively better during the financial crisis, but revenues everywhere have been battered by recession this year.

The budget version of the A380 aims at tapping growth in China, India and demand from airlines flying aging Boeing 747s on high-density routes in markets such as Japan, where rival Boeing dominates air travel.

Boeing's 747-400D, a version of the jumbo jet built for the Japanese domestic market, carries up to 660 people in one class.

Etheve said the airline he founded in 1975 had paid less than the USD$660 million list price for two Airbus A380s.

The aircraft was tested for the ability to evacuate over 800 people in cabin emergency tests before entering service.

Air Austral's planes will be powered by engines from the Engine Alliance, a joint venture between General Electric and Pratt & Whitney.

The A380 deal includes options for a further two A380s to either serve future Caribbean routes or more flights to La Reunion.

(Airwise News - Reuters)

Allegiant Air to Buy 2 MD-83 Aircraft

On November 10, 2009, Allegiant Air, LLC, a wholly owned operating subsidiary of Allegiant Travel Company, entered into a contract to purchase two MD83 aircraft for cash. The purchase is expected to close in January 2010 and the Company expects to place these aircraft into service before the end of first quarter 2010.

(Yahoo - Finance)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

C-17A Delivered to Charleston AFB

Boeing delivered a new C-17A (F-213/P-191) 08-8191 to Charleston Air Force Base this morning. The aircraft departed Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) at approximately 08:15 bound for it's new home.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

jetBlue and Lufthansa Commence Codeshare Flights

JetBlue Airways and Lufthansa launched codeshare operations yesterday at New York JFK and Boston. Passengers originating in 13 JetBlue destinations currently have access to transatlantic flights on LH out of JFK and BOS, with more cities set to come online next year, the airlines said.

(ATWOnline News)

Republic Moves Frontier Heavy Maintenance to Milwaukee

Republic Airway Holdings, wooed by some $27 million in tax credits offered by the state of Wisconsin, will pack up and move its heavy maintenance and some administrative jobs from Denver to Milwaukee.

The job transfers will include 220 from Frontier Airlines' DEN maintenance base and 120 positions from its Las Cruces, N.M., call center. About 250-300 Republic flight crew members also will be based in Milwaukee, a company spokesperson told ATWOnline yesterday. "We don't have an exact number or breakdown of what those new positions might be. This process will take into next year to complete," the spokesperson said.

Republic said the move from Denver will preserve more than 700 jobs in Milwaukee and eventually will add up to as many as 800. It also will help further operation consolidation following Republic's acquisition of Frontier and Midwest Airlines. "Our expansion in Milwaukee sends an important message to our current and future frequent flyers and to the local and state communities about our dedication to remain Milwaukee's hometown airline," Republic President and CEO Bryan Bedford said. Midwest will expand its schedule out of MKE with flights to Raleigh-Durham starting April 1 and to San Francisco on April 19.

When Republic's acquisition of Frontier was finalized in October, Bedford told ATW, "Frontier Airlines has no place to go and we're not leaving Denver. There is nothing that would cause Frontier to capitulate." At the same time, he acknowledged that he was seeking concessions from DEN, through either rent adjustments or tax breaks, to offset what he considered the high price of doing business in Colorado.

The Denver Business Journal reported last month that the city and state offered a package of tax credits and financial incentives to Republic but that they would apply only if it increased the base of 4,000 Frontier workers. At that time, government officials expressed concern that 900 maintenance, customer relations and headquarters positions could be relocated.

(Sandra Arnoult - ATWOnline News)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

United Airlines Suspends Alledged Drunk Pilot

United Airlines has suspended a pilot who was arrested in London on suspicion that he was about to fly a Boeing 767 with 124 passengers while drunk, the airline said Tuesday.

The incident occurred on Monday before flight UA949, which was bound for Chicago and would have carried 124 passengers and 11 crew. The passengers were accommodated on other flights.

The 51-year-old pilot, whose name was not released, was arrested at London's Heathrow Airport and freed on bail pending the results of alcohol tests, London Metropolitan Police spokesman Simon Fisher said.

Fisher declined to give further information.

United said the pilot has been suspended.

"Safety is our highest priority and the pilot has been removed from service while we are cooperating with authorities and conducting a full investigation," UAL spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said.

"United's alcohol policy is among the strictest in the industry, and we have no tolerance for violation of this well-established policy," she said.

In another incident involving airline safety recently, the pilots of a Northwest Airlines jet became distracted and overshot Minneapolis-St. Airport by 150 miles (240 km) last month.


ANA Anounces Long-Haul Service Enhancements

ANA yesterday unveiled a series of long-haul service enhancements dubbed Inspiration of Japan that will be available beginning next February on 777-300ERs flying from Tokyo Narita to North America and Europe. First class will feature 1-2-1 seating with privacy partitions, 23-in. LCD screens, new decor and bedding, "refined" a la carte menus and touchscreen ordering starting in April. ANA's first class lounge at NRT will be upgraded in February and passengers will have access to a single check-in point (personal, luggage and security) by fall. Cabin upgrades will be available from Feb. 20 on flights to New York JFK and to Frankfurt and London Heathrow by the March 31 end of the fiscal year. Other routes will come online afterward.

The upgraded business cabin will feature staggered 1-2-1 seating, 17-in. LCD screens, lie-flat seats with aisle access and on-demand a la carte catering. Both premium cabins will feature warm-water bidets. New premium economy seats will have 42 in. pitch and will be arranged in a 2-4-2 configuration. They will feature large, movable dividers, 12-in. screens and noise-canceling headphones. Economy seating will be 2-4-3. Seats will have 34 in. pitch with 10.6-in. monitors. Power outlets, USB ports and new bedding will be available across both economy classes.

(ATWOnline News)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Special New AirTran Liveries make Aircraft Spotting Fun Again!

Airtran 717-231 (55058/5017) N936AT, ex TWA N401TW, now wears the colors of the Indianapolis Colts and is captured departing Atlanta-Hartsfield International Airport (ATL/KATL).

AirTran 717-2BD (55009/5010) N946AT sports the livery of the Baltimore Ravens.

AirTran 717-2BD (55043/5131) N891AT looks spectacular in the livery of the Atlanta Falcons.

AirTran 717-231 (55077/5038) N927AT, ex TWA N2410W sports "Mark on AirTran" titles.

AirTran 717-231 (55069/5019) N935AT, ex TWA N402TW displays special "Orlando Makes Me Smile" markings.

(All Photos by Christopher Weyer)

IPO in Mexicana Airlines Future?

Grupo Mexicana, one of Mexico's two leading airline companies, hopes to seek an initial public offering in coming years if market conditions are favorable, Chief Executive Manuel Borja said Monday.

"Raising capital on public markets is within our medium-term objectives," Borja told reporters after Mexicana's induction into the Oneworld airline alliance.

"I would expect there to be opportunities--and it's a little premature to say- -but in one or two years we could be accessing capital markets," he said.

Borja said that Mexicana, which was controlled by the government until being sold to private investors in December 2005, was adversely affected this year by the local A/H1N1 influenza outbreak as well as the global economic crisis.

Volatility in financial markets has also made an IPO unappealing for the company.

"At the moment we're not working on this specific plan because we don't think the conditions are there," Borja said.

Borja added that Mexicana's membership in Oneworld is expected to increase the company's international passenger traffic by 5%-7%.

With Mexicana, the Oneworld alliance will extend to 750 airports in nearly 150 countries, generating about $100 billion in total annual revenues, according to a Oneworld press release.

(Paul Kiernan -

Alaska Airlines Begins New Hawaii Service from Oakland

Alaska Airlines on Monday announced new service between Oakland and Hawaii.

Alaska said it started service Monday between Oakland and Kahului, Hawaii, on the island of Maui, with four flights a week. The airline said it will start three weekly flights between Oakland and Kona, on the island of Hawaii, beginning Tuesday.

Seattle-based Alaska Airlines will operate the flights with Boeing 737-800 aircraft with room for 16 passengers in first class and 141 in coach.

(Associated Press)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Indian Air Force Closer to C-17A Order

Russia's eclipse and the US' rise in the Indian militarywill soon stand out in the air force's transport division.

Sources said the government is moving in to seal yet another government-to-government deal with the US for a military purchase. They are ordering ten C-17 Globemaster transport aircraft.

The deal is worth over $2 billion (Rs10,000 crore). When inducted, C-17 Globemaster would replace the Russian-made IL-76 as the biggest transport aircraft of India. C-17, a Boeing product, can carry almost 80,000 kg, against IL-76's 50,000 kg.

Sources said the C-17 deal was discussed and "almost finalised" at a recent meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council, under the defence minister, and the deal could be signed in a few months.

Globemaster can be operated by just two pilots and another crew, whereas the much smaller IL-76 needs a crew of six. Comfort levels, too, are dramatic. The deal finalisation comes even as the air force readies to induce six C-130J Super Hercules transport planes, that can carry a payload of 20,000 kg, in 2011.

Presently, the IAF's fixed-wing fleet comprises 20 Russian made IL-76 and over a 100 AN-32s. The Globemaster and C-130J are set to significantly alter Russian dominance.

Meanwhile, US firms are making an aggressive pitch to corner contracts for transport helicopters, dominated by Russians all these decades. Boeing today said it submitted two proposals to the IAF this week -- the AH-64D Apache and the CH-47F Chinook for attack and heavy-lift helicopter operations.

(Josy Joseph - DNA)

Fitch Ratings Withdraws Implied "A-" on Long Beach Airport

Fitch Ratings has withdrawn its implied 'A-' long-term rating on Long Beach Airport, California (LGB or the airport). The rating withdrawal is in conjunction with the assignment of an 'A-' rating to the following bonds:

--Long Beach Airport Bureau (CA) senior airport revenue bonds, series 2009A;

--Long Beach Airport Bureau (CA) senior airport revenue refunding bonds, series 2009B.

The bonds are being issued under a new master senior trust indenture and are secured by net revenues generated at the airport, including transfers which are not to exceed 25% of annual debt service on the outstanding bonds. Bond proceeds will be used to fund the construction of a parking garage, refund a portion of the department's outstanding subordinate commercial paper notes, refund all of the airport's 1993 certificates of participation (COPs), and fund reserve accounts. The Rating Outlook is Stable.

The 'A-' rating reflects the airport's location and the underlying demand within the greater Los Angeles air trade service area, favorable enplanement trends even in the current economic downturn, strong financial performance supported by diverse business lines, and low cost facilities for passenger airlines. The airport's passenger base is 98% origination and destination (O&D), exhibits solid and growing demand for air passenger service to a considerable mix of both business and leisure destinations, and the airport has an adequate balance sheet characterized by a low debt burden and solid liquidity levels. Credit concerns include the higher than average carrier concentration level (79% by JetBlue Airways), near term additional leveraging in order to support JetBlue's airline operations, a competitive region served by multiple airports, increased dependence on passenger facility charge (PFC) revenues to cover future debt service, and the overall current state of the airline industry and regional economy.

The Stable Outlook reflects LGB's positive enplanement performance contrasted by other airports within the region that are reporting double digit declines, a manageable capital plan projecting healthy debt service coverage ratios including the issuance of additional bonds, and the continued presence and commitment of JetBlue to maintain a stable schedule of service at the airport. The Outlook also captures LGB's ability to maintain a low cost per enplanement over the next three to five year period, ensuring its low cost position in the Los Angeles air basin. Significant downward pressure on the rating could materialize if JetBlue were to shift operations to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) or cease service. LAX is currently undergoing a large capital plan to improve operating efficiency, possibly becoming a more attractive location for the carrier. In addition, the airport's current rates and charges methodology allows carriers to quickly change the level of capacity offered given the absence of signatory carrier status, Majority-In-Interest terms, and other standard provisions contractually obligating carriers to pay debt service costs. Should other airline carriers not backfill service, the airport would face a meaningful higher cost structure and smaller enplanement base. Fitch notes that historical responses to changes in capacity have been positive. In 2006, the demand for service at the airport demonstrated its resilience as American Airlines retrenched and ultimately ceased service. Slot vacancies were reallocated to interested carriers and enplanements quickly returned to near historic levels.

The airport recently approved its five year capital improvement plan (CIP), which focuses on both the construction of a parking garage and permanent terminal improvements, as well as the rehabilitation of the airport's runways, taxiways, and other infrastructure from 2009 through 2013. The total cost of the CIP is currently estimated at $220 million, of which approximately 38% will be funded from bond proceeds over the next two year horizon. The series 2009A bond proceeds will fund construction of Phase I of the parking structure, which will provide an additional 1,990 parking spaces and is expected to be completed in August 2011.

Terminal improvements are also expected to be debt financed in the near term (fiscal year [FY] 2010). The $44.2 million improvement project, including design costs, will construct permanent facilities for passenger holdrooms, restrooms, concession opportunities, and consolidate passenger screening into one central location. Approximately 80% of PFC revenues would be eligible to service the related debt for the terminal, and management intends to support the 2010 terminal bond issue by a pledge of PFC revenues equal to 125% of PFC funded debt service, allowing the airport to maintain competitive airline rates and charges throughout the forecast period. Other CIP projects will be contingent on the availability of grants, and will be funded through a mix of PFC, AIP, and internal airport funds.

The airport projects marginal enplanement growth of 1.1% from FY 2009 through FY 2015, reflecting limitations on air carrier activity as a result of the noise ordinance. This is also consistent with the airport's historical enplanement growth of 1% on average annually. Including the proposed 2010 bonds, the debt service coverage ratio (DSCR) is expected to dip from a high of 3.95 times (x) in FY 2010 to a low of 1.75x between FY 2013 and FY 2015, including the use of rolling coverage and PFC revenues to support PFC eligible debt service. Without the use of rolling coverage, DSCR is projected to be approximately 1.5x. Cost per enplanement (CPE) levels are forecasted to remain competitive through FY 2015, reaching a high of $6.56 from $5.49 in FY 2009, which largely reflects management's intention to raise rates and charges only on an inflationary basis. Fitch believes the diminution in debt service coverage is a risk; however, the airport's low cost structure and healthy liquidity levels partially mitigate this trend to some degree. In FY 2009, the airport reported 225 days cash on hand (DCOH) and retains an internal target goal to strengthen cash reserves to 300 DCOH over the next five years.

The airport is located between major business and tourist destinations between Los Angeles and Orange Counties, with convenient access to the major freeway links in Southern California. Long Beach Airport is owned by the City of Long Beach. The mayor and the city council of Long Beach serve as the board of directors and set policy for the airport. The airport director and airport staff oversee day-to-day operations.

The application of the following criteria was used to derive the rating of the above referenced bonds:

--'Rating Criteria for Infrastructure and Project Finance', dated Sept. 29, 2009;

--'Airports Rating Criteria Handbook for General Airport Revenue, PFC and Letter of Intent Bonds' dated March 12, 2007.

Both are available on the Fitch Ratings web site at ''.

Additional information is available at

United Airlines to Begin Africa Service

United Airlines will launch its first flights to Africa next spring when it begins serving Accra and Lagos daily from Washington Dulles. It also announced extension of its daily IAD-Kuwait City 777 service to Bahrain and a new Chicago O'Hare-Brussels flight. The daily IAD-Accra-Lagos flight will commence May 2 and be operated by a 767. The KWI-BAH leg will begin April 2, while the ORD-BRU 767 service will launch on March 28. UA currently serves BRU from IAD.

(ATWOnline News)
Midwest Connect (Republic Airways) ERJ-190-100LR (19000154) N161HL arrives in
Los Angeles on November 4, 2009.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Republic Airways Holdings felt the pinch of rapid expansion in the third quarter, reporting net income of $3.3 million, an 80.8% drop from $17 million earned in the year-ago period.

Republic owns Republic Airways, Shuttle America, Chautauqua Airlines, Midwest Airlines, Frontier Airlines and Lynx Aviation. Midwest, Frontier and Lynx were acquired during the third quarter. Revenue fell 6.7% to $359.6 million while expenses were down 0.6% to $323 million. The operating loss of $32 million was about level with the $32.5 million deficit suffered last year.

Chairman, President and CEO Bryan Bedford told ATWOnline in September that he expected to see a drop in earnings over the next few quarters because of the acquisitions. "You will see our earning diminished as we go through all the integration issues. Our belief is that the integration will be completed by March 2010," he said.

During the third quarter, flying was reduced when 22 aircraft that had been flying for Continental Airlines under a fixed-fee agreement were removed from Republic's operation. Of those, 17 were returned to the lessor, three were subleased offshore and two are expected to be subleased in the 2010 first quarter.

Republic's nine-month surplus of $19.5 million represented a 70.2% drop from $65.5 million in the year-ago period.

(Sandra Arnoult - ATWOnline News)

V Australia May Order more Boeing 777's

V Australia 777-3ZG(ER) (37940/801) VH-VPF on
short final to Rwy 24R at Los Angeles (LAX/KLAX) on November 4, 2009.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

V Australia, the international arm of Virgin Blue, is understood to be close to announcing an order for 777-200LRs for new nonstop Sydney-New York JFK and Perth-London Heathrow service beginning in 2011.

CEO Brett Godfrey is in the final stages of negotiations with Boeing for an order of up to 70 aircraft that will include six 300-seat 777-200LRs, 737-800s and 737-900ERs for fleet replacement and expansion (ATWOnline, Sept. 22).

In February on the delivery of the airline's first 361-seat 777-300ER, Godfrey and Virgin Group Chairman Richard Branson, the airline's largest shareholder, discussed major hub plans for Australia including the use of Perth for routes to the UK and South Africa.

V Australia has four 777-300ERs in service and a further three on order with seven options. In April it delayed two 777-300ERs because of the slowdown in air travel, with the fifth and sixth pushed back from 2010 to 2011 and 2012. Virgin Atlantic Airways had planned to launch LHR-Perth flights with 270-seat 787-9s in 2014 but the aircraft are now more than two years late.

Depressed aircraft prices are affording Virgin Blue an opportunity to fast-track expansion plans and tap into a resurgence in Australia's resource sector. In September it announced it was buying another 50 737s to update and expand its regional short-haul fleet but ATWOnline now understands from Brisbane-based sources that the total purchase will be for 70 aircraft and possibly may include 787s as well. Godfrey said at the time that it was "a great time to buy" and that "we don't want to miss the opportunity."

Over the past six months the global Virgin group of airlines has been working to improve synergies to offer passengers around-the-world fares and seamless transfers between the constituent carriers.

(Geoffrey Thomas - ATWOneline News)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Alaska Airlines Charter to Grand Canyon

Alaska Airlines 737-890 (35184/2192) N569As taxies to Rwy 30 at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) as it prepares to depart for the Grand Canyon Airport (GCN/KGCN).
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Alaska Airlines Flt "ASA9790" arrived from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) at 07:51am to operate a special charter flt to the Grand Canyon. After taking on it's load of passengers and fuel the aircraft departed at 09:04 bound to the Grand Canyon Airport (GCN/KGCN) as "ASA7690.

AirTran Partners with SkyWest Airlines at Milwaukee

AirTran Airways stepped up the competition at Milwaukee (MKE/KMKE) yesterday, announcing a new marketing partnership with SkyWest Airlines under which the regional will operate five 50-seat CRJ200s under its own brand and livery to six destinations out of General Mitchell International starting Dec. 4.

It will be the first time that SkyWest has operated as a branded carrier, with revenue from ticket sales through AirTran shared on a prorated basis. "This unique partnership and expanded service is an exciting next step for our Milwaukee focus city," AirTran Senior VP-Marketing and Planning Kevin Healy said. "We are delighted to make new and interesting destinations available to our customers and now offer more choices than ever to, from and through Milwaukee to the rest of the country."

Since failing in its bid two years ago to take over Milwaukee-based Midwest Airlines, AirTran steadily has increased its presence at the airport. The SkyWest partnership will offer thrice-daily nonstop service to Akron/Canton, Des Moines and Omaha and provide AirTran customers with additional frequencies to Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and St. Louis. Pittsburgh and St. Louis will be the first destinations, starting Dec. 4, and SkyWest will be operating 18 daily flights from MKE by Feb. 11, when it begins serving Des Moines and Omaha.

It is not the first time AirTran has forged a partnership with a regional carrier. The LCC entered a short-lived agreement with Air Wisconsin, which was to furnish feed by operating CRJ200s to AirTran's Atlanta hub. It ended in 2004 when AirTran officials decided that its 717s offered lower seat-mile costs than regional jets. The 717 would be used for "market development" before being replaced by 737s, officials decided.

SkyWest currently operates five CRJs out of MKE as a regional partner of Midwest, which was acquired earlier this year by Republic Airways. A SkyWest spokesperson told ATWOnline that its relationship with Midwest is in the process of "winding down and will end in January."

AirTran also will increase its own flying from MKE, with twice-daily flights to Dallas-Fort Worth set to start April 6, a daily seasonal flight to San Diego beginning May 27 and a third daily service to Washington National starting April 6.

Late yesterday the AirTran MEC of the Air Line Pilots Assn. said it was "deeply concerned that our management is outsourcing flying, even while the company's mainline growth has been stagnant for the past two years." It argued that "outsourcing flying to a regional carrier runs the risk of diminishing the travel experience in the eyes of our customers, and goes directly against the business model that has made this company a success."
(Sandra Arnoult - ATWOnline News)

FAA Denies Curfew Restrictions at Burbank Airport

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) denied an application from the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority to institute a nighttime curfew on air traffic at Bob Hope Airport in Burbank (BUR/KBUR). The authority had sought permanently to ban operations from 10 p.m. to 6:59 a.m. local time except for law enforcement, medical flights, emergencies, etc. Passenger airlines currently observe a voluntary curfew during those times, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In an Oct. 30 letter to airport authority Executive Director Dan Feeger, FAA Acting Associate Administrator for Airports Catherine Lang said the evidence submitted supported "two of six statutory conditions that must be met before the FAA can approve your restriction." However, all six must be met. She noted that "the issues and history precipitating the proposed noise restriction date back almost 40 years when a City of Burbank ordinance imposing a nightime curfew at BUR was struck down by the Supreme Court." At the time the airport was owned by Lockheed, which subsequently sold it to the newly created airport authority. The proposed curfew was opposed by air cargo and express operators including UPS, which operates four weekly flights into the airport that would be impacted by the curfew.

(AirTransport World - ATWOnline)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Miami Air Operates Charter Flight to Long Beach

Miami Air 737-81Q N733MA (30619/856) captured on short final to Rwy 25L at (LAX/KLAX) as it arrives from Long Beach (LGB/KLGB).
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Miami Air delivered the National Hockey League (NHL) Nashville Predators to Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) today arriving from Nashville, Tennessee (BNA/KBNA) at 11:19am as "Biscaynne 387," and parking at the Signature Flight Center. The aircraft departed at 12:58pm as "Biscaynne 549" bound for Los Angeles Internatioanl Airport (LAX/KLAX).