Monday, February 28, 2011

The "Golden Age" of air travel

Check out the following link to yesteryear and how air travel used to be. Also take a look at the modern jet airliners, well they were when this was produced! Thanks to Steve Griffin for forwarding this to me, it is just to awesome. Enjoy everyone......Cheers Michael

Rising fuel prices make Southwest Airlines acquisition of AirTran imperative

Southwest Airlines Chairman, President and CEO Gary Kelly said Friday that rising fuel prices make the LCC's planned acquisition of AirTran Airways "absolutely imperative." Speaking at a hearing held in Milwaukee by the US Senate's subcommittee on antitrust, competition policy and consumer protection, Kelly said, "The economies of scale and the revenue synergies presented by this merger are a hedge against higher fuel prices."

Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.), chairman of the subcommittee, has said the panel "will carefully examine this proposed merger to determine whether air travelers will continue to see the low fares that they have come to rely on, especially in cities like Milwaukee where AirTran and Southwest are key competitors."

But Kelly asserted that neither carrier will be able to grow without the merger, a situation that would ultimately lead to less service for consumers. "High fuel prices have stymied growth in the airline industry and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future," he explained. "The AirTran acquisition is a strategic hedge to enable a resumption of growth by Southwest. Absent the merger, both carriers will be constrained and even hard-pressed to maintain current capacity levels."

While Congress often holds hearings on pending mergers, it has no formal role in approving the transactions. The SWA/AirTran merger, which the carriers expect to close in the second quarter, still requires US Dept. of Justice clearance.

(Aaron Karp - ATWOnline News)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Color video of P-47 bombing missions during WWII

The P47 training was done in Stratford. The pilots lived in barracks about a 1/4 to 1/2 mile beyond the airport fence (on the right) heading toward Lordship. The barracks were in dire condition and were finally torn down in the 1970s(?). They were built out of wood (pine) that was often used as porch siding and overlapped. It was only about 5/8" thick and about 5/16 " thick in the area that was being overlapped. The pilots in the winter must have been about as warm as they would have been in a tent. The P47 did not act like the other fighter planes and training to go operational was difficult. While training to go operational 19 pilots were killed throughout Connecticut and Long Island Sound.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Gulfstreams at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB)

G-IIB (c/n 95) N608CM on short final to Rwy 30 on February 23, 2011.

G-IISP (c/n 57) N605RA rolls for take-off from Rwy 30 on January 26, 2011.

February 23, 2011, G450 (c/n 4047) N664CP is captured as she taxies on "delta" towards a Rwy 30 departure (above), and rolling for take-off. (below)

G550 (c/n 5301) N550SA rolls to a stop as she holds short of Rwy 30 prior to departure on a pre-delivery test flight on February 22, 2011.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

As it is said "Payback is a Bitch" as the TSA is finding out

There might not be much you can do about rude or dismissive TSA agents on their home turf (i.e. the airport), but one Seattle restaurant has managed a little payback away from the terminal.

The Consumerist is reporting that the owner of a restaurant near the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport has implemented an official ban on all TSA agents. Noting that they have the right to deny service to anyone, one employee says, "we have posted signs on our doors basically saying that they aren't allowed to come into our business." What if a persistent (and hungry) agent ignores the sign? The staff ignores them until they give up and leave. Ouch!

Restaurant workers say that the majority of their customers agree with the policy and that they are simply giving the agents a taste of their own medicine.

"Until TSA agents start treating us with the respect and dignity that we deserve, then things will change for them in the private sector," says the employee.

(Megan Gibson - Time Magazine)

Air New Zealand posts big profit

Air New Zealand posted a 75% year-over-year improvement in net profit to NZ$98 million ($55.9 million) for the six months ended Dec. 31, 2010, on a 9% increase in revenue to NZ$2.23 billion. Expenses, including foreign exchange losses of NZ$75 million, climbed 11.4% to NZ$1.83 billion.

ANZ Chairman John Palmer attributed the profit to a lift in passenger numbers, cargo volumes and yields. Passengers carried climbed 7.8% to 6.7 million with ASKs increasing 2.7% to 16.8 billion while RPKs jumped 6% to 14.14 billion. Load factor lifted 2.6 points to 84.2%. Yield improved 7.2%.

ANZ CEO Rob Fyfe said that during the six-month period the airline saw initiatives come to fruition that have further strengthened its competitive position. In December, it took delivery of its first of five Boeing 777-300ERs fitted with “Cuddle Class” convertible economy class seat-beds and improved premium economy product.

Going forward, the airline warned of fuel volatility but is bullish on the successful implementation of initiatives across all facets of the business to enhance the ANZ passenger experience, product offering, network, technology, efficiencies and strategic position.

Separately, ANZ told Radio New Zealand that about 40 members of its 1,900-strong Christchurch staff is unaccounted for after the earthquake. Fyfe is leading a team going to homes to search for the missing staff.

(Geoffrey Thomas - ATWOnline News)

FAA approves Southwest Airlines/AirTran Airways marraige into one operating certificate

Southwest Airlines on Thursday took two steps toward completing its planned acquisition of Orlando-based AirTran Airways, receiving approval from US FAA on a plan to merge the two carriers' under a Single Operating Certificate and reaching agreement with the Southwest Airline Pilots Assn. on "a procedural framework" for eventually integrating the two pilot workgroups. SWA said the SWAPA board "unanimously agreed" to the accord.

SWA said it was informed by FAA that the regulator "has accepted the carrier's transition plan to combine the operations" following the closure of the transaction, which still must receive approval from the US Dept. of Justice and AirTran shareholders. SWA expects the merger to close in the second quarter.

SWA VP-Maintenance and Engineering Brian Hirshman said in a statement, "We consider this acceptance by the FAA as the first major milestone on the journey towards SOC," which the carrier aims to achieve in the 2012 first quarter. The plan accepted by FAA "outlines the methodology, processes, tools and timing to be employed to maintain the safety of [SWA and AirTran's] day-to-day operations during the transition period."

(Aaron Karp - ATWOnline News)

V Australia commences Middle East service

(Photo - V Australia)

V Australia, the long-haul arm of the Virgin Blue Group, launched its inaugural flight to Abu Dhabi-(Nadia) International Airport (AUH/OMMA) yesterday, becoming the first Australian carrier to operate to the Middle East in 20 years.
Pictured is the arrival of the Boeing 777-300ER at Abu Dhabi International Airport at 11.40pm GST last night. The Sydney-Kingsford Smith International (Mascot) Airport (SYD/YSSY) - Abu Dhabi service included Virgin Blue Group CEO and managing director John Borghetti and Etihad Airways CEO James Hogan, along with the Australian Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Doug Trappett.

The new V Australia Abu Dhabi service is a key part of the partnership between Virgin Blue Group and Etihad Airways which will see the airlines offer a total of 27 weekly services between Abu Dhabi and Australia - including double-daily services between Abu Dhabi and Sydney, daily Melbourne-Tullamarine Airport (MEL/YMML) - Abu Dhabi flights and six frequencies per week between Abu Dhabi and Brisbane (Eagle Farm) (BNE/YBBL).

"Since its launch in 2009, the award-winning V Australia service has provided a high-quality, competitive travel option for travellers on trans-pacific routes and we're very pleased to bring our service to Abu Dhabi," Borghetti says.

V Australia will operate three Sydney-Abu Dhabi services per week from February 2011 and three Brisbane-Abu Dhabi services per week by February 2012, using its fleet of three-class Boeing 777-300ERs.

(Dominic Perry - Flight International News)

Paine Field to get relief

Boeing will open its 787 change incorporation facility later this month in San Antonio, Texas, easing overcrowding at its overflowing Paine Field site, as it begins a push to ready aircraft for delivery.

There are nearly 30 787s in various stages of completion at Paine Field as Boeing attempts to work through more than 140,000 open assembly jobs, say programme sources.

Among those is Airplane 23, the first production GEnx-1B-powered 787 and the first in the colours of Japan Airlines. Following its planned early-March first flight, Airplane 23, also known as ZA177, will ferry to Texas, activating the facility that is expected to employ at least 400 workers.

Initially the Boeing Aerospace Support Center at Lackland AFB in San Antonio was due to support refurbishment and change incorporation of only the first six test aircraft. This number was increased in early 2008 to "at least 20" 787s, according to officials in San Antonio.

However, as required change incorporation has expanded significantly in recent years, that figure is almost certainly set to rise. Further, company sources indicate that 747-8s will be refurbished in Texas as well.

In Everett, the amount of outstanding work continues to grow. Every other week sees the arrival of a new 787 airframe, although the rate of open job creation has slowed as shipsets arrive at a higher level of completion, say those inside the factory.

As it moves closer to extended twin-engine operations testing and system functionality and reliability validations later this year - a specific timeline of which has not been provided - 787 vice-president and general manager Scott Fancher says the specific delivery phasing of the first 787s has not yet been decided as early production aircraft are added to the test effort.

Guiding that selection is establishment of the final production configuration, which is driven by required design changes that come out of the flight-test programme.

However, programme sources suggest Airplanes 7 to 9, 23, 24 and 31 and on have been elevated in priority for delivery in 2011, with the remaining airframes between 20 and 29 to be mixed in as they are completed.

The first 787 will be delivered to Japan's All Nippon Airways in the third quarter, the first of an estimated 12 to 20 of the composite aircraft scheduled for hand over this year.

Inside Boeing's 787 final assembly line, part shortages and rework for parts such as flaps still continue, although the line is beginning to display elements of its originally intended sequence with production aircraft being powered on during assembly operations. Airplane 31, at factory position four, closest to the front hangar door, is set to be the first production 787 activated in flow.

Additionally, Fancher says the updated first production power panels - the by-product of the 9 November electrical fire - arrived in Everett from supplier Hamilton Sundstrand on the weekend of 12 February.

The company has also received the first "Package B" Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines as well, which required further updates following the August uncontained failure on the test stand in Derby, UK and engine surge in New Mexico in September.

As production has stabilised, Fancher says a clear picture of the programme's unit costs have emerged as it works to stand up its Charleston and Everett surge lines, as well as solidify its global supply chain: "We understand our financials quite well," he says.

Overall, Fancher says the company has completed 80% of the certification testing of the Rolls-Royce-powered 787s, and 60% on the General Electric-powered models.

Boeing has also expanded its lease from three to four hangars at Aviation Technical Services in Everett to perform rework and change incorporation as aircraft are readied locally for delivery.

(Jon Ostrower - Flight International News)

First Korean Air A380-861 emerges from paint shop

(Photo Korean Air)

Korean Air's first Airbus A380 has undergone painting in the Asian carrier's distinctive turquoise livery ahead of its delivery this year.

Korean Air is intending to deploy the aircraft on services from Seoul to Tokyo Narita in June, and has also identified Bangkok, New York and Los Angeles as other A380 routes to be operated this year.

The SkyTeam member airline is configuring the type with just 407 seats, including an all-business upper deck of 94 seats and a lower deck comprising 12 first-class and 301 economy-class seats.

Korean Air's A380s are powered by Engine Alliance GP7200 turbofans. The first aircraft will carry the Korean registration HL7611 (c/n 35) ex F-WWAT.

(David Kaminski-Morrow - Flight International News)

Boeing wins USAF KC-X tanker competition


Boeing claimed the KC-X contract on 24 February by easily beating the price of EADS North America’s proposal, according to US Air Force officials.

The success of the proposal based on the KC-767 Next Gen Tanker, which is to be renamed the KC-46A, seemed at odds with widespread buzz that the EADS KC-45 had gained an edge over Boeing on price.

“We are ready to build the KC-46A tanker now,” Dennis Muilenberg, chief executive of Boeing’s defence and space business, told reporters after the announcement.

Boeing’s actual offer came in lower than its competitor by more than 1%, or at least about $330 million, says Michael Donley, secretary of the air force.
That allowed the air force’s evaluation team to bypass a set of 96 non-mandatory requirements that would only have been triggered if there was less than a 1% differential between the two bids, Donley says.

The air force’s decision was met with “disappointment and concern” by EADS, which previously defeated a Boeing bid for the same contract in 2008. That award was later overturned after Boeing protested the outcome.

The USAF relaunched the competition in September, 2009 with a new acquisition strategy that forced the competitors into a pricing war.

EADS says its review of the air force’s decision “will take some time”. The KC-X bid offered the company an opportunity to establish a new manufacturing base in Mobile, Alabama, as well as forge a network of suppliers across the country. “We owe it to them to conduct a thorough analysis,” says EADS chairman Ralph Crosby.

Donley urged the losing bidder to respect the air force’s decision and allow the process to move forward.

“We hope that all parties recognise the thorough process and intense, multiple levels of review that have gone into this source selection and will respect this opinion and allow this important procurement to proceed unimpeded,” Donley says.

It is clear that Boeing had several advantages on price by offering the KC-767. The KC-45’s maximum takeoff weight is more than 25% heavier than the KC-767, and extra weight usually implies more cost to build.

Moreover, as a smaller aircraft the KC-767 is expected to burn less fuel in absolute terms. Rep Norm Dicks, a Washington-based Democrat, helped to improve this advantage by successfully pressing the USAF to increase the lifecycle measure for fuel burn from 30 years to 40 years.

“I think that’s an important part of the overall equation,” Muilenberg says.

However, EADS officials had become increasingly confident that the KC-45 would be competitive with Boeing's pricing on the KC-767. Last week, Crosby told reporters that he considered price an "opportunity" for EADS to win in the competition. He also indicated that EADS would protest only if the company discovered a signficant discrepancy between the evaluation criteria and the basis for contract award.

The air force intends to finalise a $3.5 billion contract to complete a system development and demonstration phase, which includes delivering four test aircraft. Boeing is required to deliver the first 18 KC-46As to enter service within six years of contract award. The production phase spans over 13 years for building all 179 aircraft.

Meanwhile, Boeing has confirmed that first flight is scheduled in 2015.

It remains unclear how much risk Boeing has accepted to meet the KC-X contract requirements. The company has never disclosed the exact configuration of the KC-767 New Gen Tanker airframe, nor its refuelling systems.

“We won’t be rolling out any of those” details in the near future, Muilenberg says.

The air force has been seeking to award a contract to replace its aging Boeing KC-135s for most of the last decade.

“I’m pleased at how this produced an outcome … that we will get about delivering a capability that’s long overdue,” Gen Norton Schwartz, chief of staff of the air force, “and we’ll stop talking about it.”

(Stephen Trimble -

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

APF Update

Hello All,

It's been several days since I last updated APF. This has been due to double shifts this past Sunday and Monday and not to mention a very sore lower back from picking up a very heavy stroller (Hum-Vee as I call them) last Friday while at work. I also have a bad cold so I guess you could say it's a double whammy! I hope to be feeling better tomorrow and get back to updating APF.


Friday, February 18, 2011

Boeing 787 and 747-8 freeze in Fairbanks, Alaska cold

Two brawny Boeing jets have made a big impression at Fairbanks International Airport during the past week.

The aerospace company is taking advantage of a February cold snap to test two of its newest aircraft, the Boeing 747-8 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner, in extreme weather conditions. The massive white airplanes — unadorned with any decorations except for a “747” and a “787” painted across their respective tailfins — have been a regular presence on the runway outside Alaska Aerofuel.

The jets have drawn gawkers for much of the past week. Alaska Aeofuel has handled logistics for the Boeing trip since the 747-8 arrived Thursday, and people have come with cameras since then to get a shot of the airplanes as they sit on the nearby runway.

A Boeing commercial aircraft spokesman couldn’t be reached to discuss the visit to Fairbanks, but a news release said the planes are in a three-stage safety testing regimen. After determining initial airworthiness and verifying the stability of the airplane, Boeing works to test its functionality and reliability.

That translates into cold-weather tests in locations like Fairbanks and hot-weather trials in Arizona, as well as takeoffs and landings at high-altitude airports. Over-speed conditions, hard landings and engine-out conditions also are tested, according to Boeing.

The 787 Dreamliner is dubbed a “super efficient airplane,” with some versions of the 186-foot-long plane capable of carrying as many as 290 passengers 8,500 nautical miles. Boeing said the plane will travel at speeds similar to the fastest modern wide-body jets, at Mach 0.85.

The concept has proven popular — 847 of the airplanes have been ordered by 57 customers, with a backlog value of $164 billion.

General Electric and Rolls Royce have developed engines for the 787 Dreamliner, which is being assembled at a plant in Everett, Wash. Boeing hopes the 787 Dreamliner will go into service later this year.

The 747-8 is the fourth generation of the 250-foot-long jet series, with a typical capacity of 467 passengers, 51 more than the current generation. Boeing also is trumpeting the efficiency of the 747-8, which it says will have the “lowest ton-mile costs of any freighter.”

Thirty-three of the passenger models of the Boeing 747-8 aircraft have been ordered, according to Boeing, along with 74 cargo versions. It expects to begin delivering the planes in mid-2011.

(Jeff Richardson - Fairbanks Daily News - Miner)

Japan's Skymark Airlines confirms order for 4 A380's

Japanese budget carrier Skymark Airline took a step towards launching a price war between Tokyo and Europe by confirming a USD$1.5 billion order for four A380 superjumbos from Airbus.

Japan's third-largest airline has said it plans to halve the regular price for business class tickets by competing with established Japanese and European rivals on the world's largest passenger plane, fitted out for business and economy.

Airbus said on Friday that Skymark had confirmed an order provisionally announced in November for four A380s at a signing ceremony on Thursday.

It did not give financial details. The A380 has a list price of USD$375 million but aircraft usually sell at a discount.

Chief executive Shinichi Nishikubo, who ran an internet service provider before going into the airline business, said in December that Skymark would start flights to London, Frankfurt and Paris from 2014.

Air France-KLM and Germany's Lufthansa already operate daily A380 services to Tokyo Narita.

Airline analysts say the low-cost airline will face aggressive competition from more established rivals.

The announcement came on the eve of a new, five-times weekly service between London and Skymark's home base of Tokyo Haneda to be operated by British Airways from Saturday.

BA operates daily from London to Narita using Boeing long-range aircraft, with the A380 also on order, and played down the threat of competition.

"We are one of the first European airlines to offer flights to Haneda and believe we offer very competitive business-class fares," a BA spokeswoman said.

Skymark will also compete with All Nippon Airways (ANA) and bankrupt flag carrier Japan Airlines.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Interesting bizjets at Long Beach today

G550 (c/n 5301) N550SA, ex N901GA arrives back in Long Beach on a gorgeous afternoon following a pre-delivery test flight.

BD700 Global Express (c/n 9153) N120AK operated by GC Air LLC, taxies to Rwy 30 for an afternoon departure.

Tracinda Corporations BBJ 737-72T (29024/131) N50TC rolls for takeoff on Rwy 30 bound for Van Nuys Airport (VNY/KVNY).

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

jetBlue introduces new tail livery at Long Beach Airport

(Photo jetBlue Airways)

JetBlue Airways yesterday (February 15, 2011) welcomed the arrival 'Building Blocks,' a one-of-a-kind livery designed by Long Beach airport operations crewmember Troy Bokosky, to its fleet. After more than 30,000 public votes, Troy's tailfin design was chosen from among the top five finalists in the airline's Crewmember Tailfin Design Contest as part of the JetBlue's 10th anniversary celebrations in 2010.

Airbus A320-232 (c/n 2177) N587JB, 'Blue Kid in Town,' was unveiled to crewmembers, customers and guests at Long Beach Airport. Troy and his father Doug Bokosky, also a JetBlue airport and ground operations crewmember in Long Beach, met the aircraft in Roswell, New Mexico at Dean Baldwin Painting, LP, JetBlue's paint services provider, to fly the plane home for the celebration and were greeted with a red carpet arrival.

"I am grateful that one of my tailfin designs was selected as the winner, and the fact that it was chosen as a finalist out of 300+ entries is rewarding itself," said Troy. "I attended Cal State University Long Beach and pursued a teaching credential in Art and Graphic Design. I wanted to design something that worked with our existing tailfins and would look good as a tie with my uniform. Thank you to my Long Beach and Los Angeles colleagues, family and friends for the support of Building Blocks!"

"We'd like to give a heartfelt thanks to every crewmember that entered the contest and congratulations to all of the finalists," said Jim Hnat, executive vice president of corporate affairs and general counsel for JetBlue. "The crewmember design contest was a collaborative effort shared between our crewmembers and our customers, and celebrates two of JetBlue's core values: fun and passion. We are excited to unveil Building Blocks today, to remind us of our foundation for the future."

Other one-of-a-kind liveries in JetBlue's fleet include: 'I Heart Blue York,' revealed last week and featuring JetBlue's co-branded trademark with New York State's iconic I LOVE NEW YORK tourism campaign and logo; JetBlue's 100th Airbus 320 "Blue 100," with a 100-themed tailfin; a unique 10-themed livery to signify the carrier's entry into its second decade; and JetBlue's two sports-themed aircraft, paying homage to the Real Salt Lake soccer team and the New York Jets. Each of JetBlue's remaining aircraft features one of nine existing tailfin designs. Repeated tailfins include: Barcode, Blueberries, Bubbles, Dots, Harlequin, Mosaic, Plaid, Stripes and Windowpane.

(jetBlue Airways Press Release)

jetBlue "I Heart Blue York" A320-232

(Photo jetBlue Airways)

JetBlue Airways, in partnership with Empire State Development (ESD), today immortalized its hometown status with the unveiling of Airbus A320-232 (c/n 2160) N586JB, aptly named "I Heart Blue York," featuring the airline's co-branded trademark with New York State's iconic I LOVE NEW YORK tourism campaign and logo. The newly branded aircraft was revealed to hundreds of crewmembers at JetBlue Airways' home base at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport by CEO Dave Barger on February 8, 2011.

"JetBlue's ceremonial first flight from JFK to Buffalo more than 10 years ago focused on driving tourism and business and delivering the best value and service in the skies across the Empire State," said Dave Barger, chief executive officer of JetBlue Airways. "Today's livery reminds us not only of our beginnings, but also of our future and our commitment to our home state as we begin a new decade of service to become Americas' Favorite Airline. New York is at the heart of JetBlue and JetBlue is at the heart of New York."

"JetBlue is an important economic engine for New York State," said ESD Executive Director Peter Davidson. "In 2009, the tourism industry generated $46 billion in spending, which resulted in over $6 billion in state and local taxes and supported more than 660,000 jobs. JetBlue's commitment to providing high quality, competitive airfares throughout New York helps to support continued economic growth in the state. In addition, the newly branded aircraft demonstrates the powerful marketing, sponsorship and branding opportunities created by the JetBlue and I LOVE NEW YORK partnership. Keep an eye out for co-marketing promotions, fare sales and I LOVE NEW YORK content on JetBlue seatbacks. We hope that the newly branded aircraft will encourage people to discover all that New York has to offer."

In addition, short films to promote tourism for New York State will be shown on JetBlue's in-flight seatback program this month. In partnership with ProMotion Pictures, New York State's iconic tourism campaign worked with teams of students at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts Graduate School of Film to create the films. The project had two goals: to support the arts in New York in recognition of the 50th anniversary of state funding for the arts and to create unique, branded entertainment for New York State tourism. To find out more and to view the films visit

Designed in collaboration with the logo's original creator, Milton Glaser, the co-branded trademark features a deliberate intersecting of the popular I LOVE NEW YORK phrase with the famous red heart and the JetBlue logo. The logo is placed on both sides of the aircraft's tailfin. When viewing the aircraft from its left side, the JetBlue logo appears prominently with the red heart. On the right side of the aircraft, the logo is rotated, showcasing the I LOVE NEW YORK logo more prominently. The aircraft is christened "I HeartBlue York," with the name characteristically placed on the fuselage below the cockpit. In keeping with JetBlue's new fuselage design, the enlarged JetBlue logo on the aircraft is entirely dark blue and featured prominently on an all-white fuselage.

Created in 1975, the I LOVE NEW YORK logo is an icon recognized around the world. While it has often been imitated, this is the first time the powerful logo has been adapted and co-branded for joint use with another entity, demonstrating the significant role JetBlue plays for travel and economic development throughout the State of New York. In 2010, JetBlue announced its intent to keep its corporate headquarters in New York City, with plans to relocate from Forest Hills to Long Island City by 2012. JetBlue will remain the only major commercial passenger airline with its headquarters in New York City and in New York State, giving the carrier a true dedication to and understanding of the market and the people who live and travel here.

(jetBlue Airways - Press Release)

Pratt & Whitney reports intial ground testing of the PW1524G now complete

Pratt & Whitney said it "successfully completed initial ground testing" on its first PW1000G series engine. The powerplant, which went through nearly 200 hr. of tests beginning last September at the company's West Palm Beach facility, is the PW1524G for the Bombardier CSeries.

"The engine continues to exceed our expectations," said VP-Next Generation Product Family Bob Saia. "We have already completed an unprecedented amount of testing on this first engine, including a full structural evaluation, performance, noise and emissions testing." This has validated "overall engine operational characteristics, including component design, rotor dynamics and engine fuel and lubrication systems," the company stated, noting that the first engine ran "nearly three times longer than Pratt's legacy experience" for a first engine test program. Assembly of the second and third development engines are nearing completion with the second to be mounted on Pratt's 747 flying testbed later this year following ground testing.

Engine certification and aircraft first flight are scheduled for 2012, with service entry in 2013. In addition to the CSeries, the PW1000 geared turbofan has been selected for the Mitsubishi Regional Jet, the Airbus A320neo and the Irkut MC-21.

(Perry Flint - Air Transport World)

C-17A action in Long Beach, California

C-17A (P-207) 09-9207 under tow to the C-17A flight ramp on January 25, 2011.

C-17A (P-207) 09-9207 arrives back in Long Beach following a pre-delivery test flight on January 25, 2011.

C-17A (P-208) 09-9208 performed engine runs today (February 16, 2011) on the old commercial blast fence.

C-17A (P-208) 09-9208 under tow back to the C-17A flight ramp following engine runs this afternoon on the old commercial blast fence.

C-17A (P-209) 09-9209 which is destined for McChord AFB is now on the C-17A flight ramp at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB).

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Domestic transcontinental air war heats up in Australia

Qantas A330-203 (c/n 892) climbs from Rwy 25R at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on December 1, 2010.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

In an effort to counter Virgin Blue’s new business class product on domestic Australian services, Qantas announced it will deploy internationally configured Boeing 747s and Airbus A330s with lie-flat beds on transcontinental routes to Perth. It will also provide additional flights and more spacious domestic A330s. Next week, Blue is expected unveil its new business class product aboard 737NGs and A330s to be added to the fleet from May. Those A330s will be deployed on transcontinental routes.

QF CEO Alan Joyce said the changes were a direct response to the growing demand for travel to Perth, particularly from business passengers. “Increasing the premium service we provide business customers flying from east to west will help further cement our position as the ‘Best for Business’ airline,” said Joyce, who noted that passengers in both cabins of the 747 between Perth and Sydney “will experience Qantas’ globally renowned international service.” He said that business passengers will experience the Skybed business class seats, and passengers in both cabins will have personal IFE options.

QF operates A330-300s, 767-300ERs and 737-800s on its major domestic routes and enjoys a virtual monopoly in the significant business class market, which is particularly strong on transcontinental routes to Perth owing to a resources boom in Western Australia.

QF is also adding more services to Perth, lifting capacity by 15% as well as upgrading aircraft types. It will offer 90% of services with widebody equipment from May. QF has also been upgrading its meal service on long-haul domestic flights to international standards.

(Geoffrey Thomas - Air Transport World)

Exterior polish could save Easyjet fuel by reducing drag

EasyJet is testing an acrylic exterior polish which aims to reduce fuel burn by smoothing the aircraft's surface, reducing the build-up of dirt and lowering drag.

The nanotechnology-based polymer fills minuscule grooves and pits in the top paint layer to prevent any collection of debris in these areas and create a smooth surface.

The liquid treatment is manually applied to aircraft's entire exterior surface and then polished. It is typically less than 1 micrometre (0.001mm) thick, although exposed areas such as leading edges have been given a thicker layer for greater durability.

The coating adds approximately 4oz (113g) to the aircraft's weight but its manufacturer says it could reduce the specific fuel consumption by 1-2%.

EasyJet has coated eight of its aircraft with the treatment and is undergoing a 12-month trial.

The coating has already been used on military aircraft in the USA. One objective of the easyJet trial is to assess the coating's durability on commercial aircraft, which typically build-up flight hours much faster than military aircraft.

The preparation process involves washing the aircraft with a dicarboxylic acid to cleanse the paint surface and charge it with a positive polarity. The final coating is negatively charged to ensure that it fills all areas of unevenness during the curing.

Easyjet declines to comment on the cost of applying the additional coating.

(Michael Gubisch - Air Transport Intelligence News)

Tax increase could hurt airlines

Dallas-based Southwest Airlines Co. and Fort Worth, Texas-based American Airlines Inc. ‎could be hurt by a proposed increase in passenger-ticket taxes being considered by President Barack Obama.

In Obama’s proposed fiscal 2012 budget, there will likely be a cut of $1.1 billion — or 31 percent — of federal grants for airport construction projects, according to media reports.

Obama may also suggest the passenger facility charges included in airline ticket prices be increased from $4.50 a flight segment to as much as $7 to recoup lost revenue and bring in $1.3 billion more for projects annually, according to the report.

There’s been two decades of burdensome taxes on airline carriers, placing purchasing airline tickets in the same taxed category as alcohol and tobacco, said Jean Medina, an Air Transport Association spokeswoman.

The proposed increase on passenger-ticket taxes would further penalize passengers and airlines, she said.

“Passengers are already overburdened and this will discourage them from purchasing airfare and will hurt the airline industry that drives the economy and jobs,” Medina said.

The airline industry accounts for $1.1 trillion in annual economic impact and 11 million jobs, she said.

(Candace Carlisle - St. Louis Business Journal)

United Airlines grounds 757 fleet for computer modification

United 757-222 (25276/396) N542UA departs Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on February 12, 2011 sporting the "Farewell Season the Oprah Winfrey Show" livery.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

United Airlines has decided to voluntarily ground its Boeing 757-200s to ensure compliance with an Airworthiness Directive (AD).

The Flightglobal ACAS fleet database shows that currently United operates 96 of the type.

The AD requires a modification to the air data computer system, which involves installing certain new circuit breakers, relays and related components and making various wiring changes in and between the flight deck and main equipment centre.

The reference number of the AD is 2004-10-05.

(FlightGlobal News)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Boeing Introduces 747-8I to the World

(Photo by Boeing)

Boeing on Sunday rolled out the 747-8 Intercontinental in Everett in front of 10,000, employees, government officials, customers, partners and suppliers.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Jim Albaugh said the aircraft "features the latest in innovative technologies—applying many of the breakthroughs also found on the 787 Dreamliner. We think our customers will value the low operating costs and passengers will enjoy the comfort of the striking new interior."

Lufthansa and Korean Air are the only airline customers for the 747-8I, for which Boeing has received 33 firm orders. It has 76 firm orders for the 747-8 Freighter, with delayed first delivery of the -8F now slated for "mid-year 2011". The 747-8 fuselage is 250 ft.-2 in. (76.3 m.) long, or 18 ft.-4 in. (5.6 m.) longer than the 747-400. Boeing has said the -8I can accommodate 467 passengers in a typical three-class configuration.

First delivery of the -8I to a VIP customer is expected late this year (ATW Daily News, Oct. 15, 2010). Executive VP-LH Group Fleet Management Nico Buchholz said in a statement that LH will be "welcoming this new aircraft to our fleet next year."

BCA VP and GM-Aircraft Programs Pat Shanahan said the -8I will "give operators an airplane perfectly suited for long, heavily traveled routes around the world."

Boeing claims that the -8I will have the lowest seat-mile cost of any large commercial aircraft, with 12% lower costs than its predecessor. Compared to the 747-400, the -8I will have 16% better fuel efficiency, 16% less carbon dioxide emissions per passenger and generate a 30% smaller noise footprint, the manufacturer stated.

The 747-8 program is the first fuselagestretch of the original 747 model rolled out in 1970. Since 1966, Boeing has sold 1,525 747s.

(Geoffrey Thomas - Air Transport World)

LAN continues fleet renewal as it orders three Boeing 767-316/ER's

LAN 767-352/ER (26261/575) CC-CDM climbs from Rwy 25R at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on February 12, 2011.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Chile's LAN said on Tuesday it has signed a contract with Boeing to buy three 767-316ER planes for USD$510 million as part of its long-term fleet strategy.

The Chilean carrier has said it plans to invest more than USD$4 billion to renew its fleet between 2011 and 2013, increasing it to 185 planes from 131.

The planes are scheduled for delivery in July, August and September of 2012, LAN said in a statement to the local bourse regulator.

LAN, which posted a 50 percent increase in profits in the fourth-quarter, aims to become one of the world's top carriers by purchasing Brazil's TAM.

Shares of LAN have risen sharply since it announced in August the merger plans, which is pending approval from authorities in both countries. A Chilean antitrust tribunal has opened a probe into the operation that could delay or even block the merger bid.

Industry analysts say LAN is effectively buying the Brazilian airline as the Cueto family, LAN's main shareholder, is set to emerge with the controlling stake in what would be one of the world's top carriers.


Friday, February 11, 2011

LV Air to call Las Vegas its home

LV Air will be Las Vegas' newest airline that will fly non-stop from JFK Airport in NYC to Las Vegas' McCarran Airport in 2011. The company plans to charter four wide body aircraft to Las Vegas daily.

In-flight offerings include inter-seat texting; inter-seat video, wireless ipads, club music, mood lighting and true-to-life holographic safety briefings from Las Vegas celebrities . Deluxe Snack Packs will be offered on board and supplied by Las Vegas restaurants.

The First Class Cabins of each aircraft will be fully-sponsored. The sponsor will design the cabin d├ęcor, carpet, uniforms, meals, blankets, pilows and seating upholstery. First-class seats will fully recline similar to those of international flights.

LV Air hopes to pick up pent up demand from the nearly 20,000 seats "per day" currently missing from the Las Vegas market since 2008

Single Destination business model:

LV Air will serve only Las Vegas. No other destination will be offered.

The company plans to utilize a smart phone based reservation platform: "The website is planned to be the most in-depth and intelligently designed product offering of the Las Vegas market ever seen. The shopping cart is expected to be a full "concierge" experience whereas customers can reserve seats, purchase deluxe meal packs, In-flight ipads, rooms, limo service, show tickets, tours and club outings as well as specifically tailored packages by frequent Las Vegas celebrities sold as a package experience. As easily accessed from a Smart Phone as the company's own site" says Marketing Officer Sean Smith. "There are excellent product offerings in Las Vegas, the only competitive disadvantage our beautiful city has, is air lift, That will change when we return to what made this city memorable, unique offerings and a customer focused Vegas flavor of service, that's what LV Air will bring to the table. After customers experience flying LV Air, flying any other airline will seem like a visit to Grandma's house," says Smith.

"It's been a collaboration of very hard working and smart people who have identified a solution to the Las Vegas lift issue. We're working 14-hour days to make this happen in the shortest time possible so that we can put Las Vegans back to work"…he said.

A Focused Product:

LV Air plans to work with nine select hotel-casino properties in Las Vegas to offer a one-of-a-kind experience to customers by consolidating the strength of its nine properties.

LV Air preferred hotel-casino partners will allow customers to have the following inclusive services:

1. "Straight to room" baggage service

2. "Front Desk" check-in for flight departures

3. 24/7 concierge line

4. 24/7 smart phone accessible limo service between properties

5. Smart Phone RFID (recognition software) for VIP treatment ( as guest approaches 100 ft. guest photo will display on front desk/ limousine/ club host display for immediate recognition)

6. Consolidated buffet pricing

7. Consolidated show pricing

8. Restaurant seating preference

9. Night Club booth preference and fixed entry and bottle pricing

10. Auto reminders, upgrade opportunities and last minute offerings on smart phones daily to all customers traveling on site and outbound

National marketing and brand design will be handled by New York Advertising Firm, The Gotham Group Inc. known for its successful campaigns for Maybelline, Denny's and "A hallmark of the Gotham culture is our challenger mentality. In our own business we frequently take on bigger, more established (and often more complacent competitors). We never take anything for granted and we win by not only being smarter, but by trying harder and digging deeper than anyone else. In LV Air, we recognize a fellow challenger brand. A group of people that's ready to provide a better product and experience by taking on entrenched organizations, entrenched processes and entrenched perceptions. And we're excited by the opportunity to partner with them and shake up the airline industry," says Nick Johnson, Chief Marketing Officer/Managing Partner.

Local marketing and client rewards development will be handled by Trialogue Direct, a spinoff of SKG Advertising in Las Vegas.

The airline hopes to expand flights based upon demand. "We're in no rush to expand," says Smith, "the goal is to fill Las Vegas hotel rooms with players, conventioneers and vacationers from the Northeast by drawing a straight line between the customer at his home to the casino floor and then back again…that's going to require our partners to get involved in our success and vice versa. Our flights may not be the lowest priced, but definitely the most exciting to Las Vegas."

LV Air represents a collaboration between two private companies, Perpetual Group LLC based in Las Vegas and Park Avenue Investors Group in New York.

(KTNV News - Las Vegas)

Air Cargo Management Group remains cautious on continued air cargo growth despite positive gains

Cathy Pacific Cargo 747-467F/SCD (32571/1271) B-HUO climbs from Rwy 25R at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on February 10, 2011.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Air Cargo Management Group said a "great deal of uncertainty" remains regarding international air cargo demand going forward despite the fact that 2010 international airfreight traffic exceeded 2007, when the industry's prior peak traffic performance was achieved.

In its latest "International Air Freight and Express Industry Performance Analysis," ACMG cautioned that the "extreme volatility in recent years" make predictions difficult. Nevertheless, it said, "Assuming no major economic shock, ACMG predicts that we are entering a more 'normal' period." Managing Director Robert Dahl stated, "History would indicate roughly 6% annual growth in FTK demand [in 2011], but ACMG believes the maturity of the airfreight market will produce somewhat lower growth in the range of 4.5%-5.5% per year going forward."Boeing predicted in its World Air Cargo Forecast released last autumn that international FTKs will grow at an annual average rate of 5.9% through 2029.

"The past three years have been a veritable roller coaster ride for the industry," Dahl commented. "A run-up in fuel prices in 2008 put a damper on expansion, and the financial crisis that began in September of that year triggered the worst recession in 50 years. Airfreight suffered badly, including a period of 12 consecutive months with declining traffic, culminating in an overall airfreight traffic decline of 11% in 2009."

ACMG estimated that the international air cargo and express industry (airlines, freight forwarders and express operators) generated approximately $66.3 billion in revenue in 2009, down nearly 25% from 2008. Industry revenue for 2010 is expected to have increased "at least 20% based on improvements in both traffic and yield," ACMG said.

Dahl continued, "Few anticipated the speed of the recovery, with some market participants reporting by mid-2010 that air freight traffic had returned to pre-recession levels … We enter 2011 thankful for the recovery, but with a great deal of uncertainty about what will happen next."

ACMG said the global freighter fleet currently stands at 1,623 units, up about 4% from 2009, but down about 10% from a peak in 2007. It said international express volumes grew 12.5% over mid-2009 levels to reach 2.25 million shipments per day in 2010. "The increase in express volume in 2010 follows a modest 1.4% gain in 2008 and a 6.9% drop in 2009."

Despite the fact that express shipments "represent a growing share of total international airfreight tonnage," ACMG concluded that the express sector is "unlikely to achieve a dominant position in the international market as they succeeded in doing in the US domestic airfreight market."

(Aaron Karp - ATWOnline News)

Volaris appoints new CEO

Volaris A319-132 (c/n 3491) N503VL "Melissa" sports this very colorful special livery as she arrives at LAX on February 10.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Volaris, Mexico's No. 3 airline, has selected a seasoned executive to head the company's board amid local media reports that the carrier could go public this year.

Volaris appointed Gilberto Perezalonso to replace Pedro Aspe as chairman of the board, the company said in a release late on Thursday. It mostly operates domestic routes but also flies to California and Chicago.

Aspe, Mexico's former finance minister and a partner in investment fund Protego, resigned from his post with Volaris but will remain as honorary president of the company.

Perezalonso was behind broadcaster Grupo Televisa's financial overhaul in the late 1990s which included slashing thousands of jobs to cut costs. His tight grip pulled Televisa out from one of its worst crises and cemented its lead as Latin America's top producer of Spanish-language television content.

Nicaragua-born Perezalonso also held a top post at one of Mexico's main supermarket chains and was a chief executive for AeroMexico, Mexico's biggest airline, a few years ago.

His appointment comes after Volaris, which local media have reported could pursue an initial public offering this year, lost two of its founding investors: Carlos Slim, the world's richest man, and Televisa's chief executive Emilio Azcarraga Jean.

Slim and Azcarraga sold their respective 25 percent stakes in Volaris in the third quarter of 2010 to a group of investors, including a US-based venture capital firm.

Volaris faces strong competition from Interjet, which has expanded in recent months to take advantage of the demise of airline Mexicana after the troubled carrier stopped flying in August due to deep financial troubles.

Interjet said recently it was considering selling a stake to a foreign partner or listing its shares on the local stock market to boost growth.

Last month, the company signed a USD$650 million contract with Superjet for 15 aircraft that will add to its existing Airbus fleet.

AeroMexico has about 47 percent of the domestic market, followed by Interjet with around 20 percent and Volaris with 16 percent.

Mexicana's future is still unclear as it has yet to reveal which new investors will inject fresh capital to kick-start the company. Mexico's labour minister, Javier Lozano, told a radio station on Friday that Mexicana would start selling tickets again by the end of month.


Boeing still considering new version of 737

Boeing is still leaning toward building a new version of its narrow body 737, and the new plane would outperform Airbus's competing A320neo, Boeing chief executive Jim McNerney said.

"We're going to do a new airplane that will go beyond the capability of what the NEO can do," McNerney said.

He reiterated that Boeing is still making its decision on whether to rebuild its 737 or simply put new fuel-efficient engines on the existing model. A redesigned plane would produce better fuel savings, but would take longer to bring to market.

McNerney repeated that Boeing's major customers prefer to hold out for a new plane, saying it may be possible to bring it to market before 2020, which is earlier than some in the industry had expected.

Boeing has said it aims to have a decision by mid-year.

Boeing rival, Airbus, rolled the dice last year on a re-engined version of its A320, which offers 15 percent fuel savings over the current model.

McNerney said the upgraded A320 would close the value gap between the A320 and the 737, and it may put new pressure on Boeing's margins.

"They're going to want to come out five years later with a leap ahead or a leap-forward product," Wedbush Securities analyst Kenneth Herbert said of Boeing.

Boeing and Airbus are engaged in a poker game for control of a market worth an estimated USD$1.7 trillion over the next 20 years.

The plane makers have occasionally been accused of bluffing in order to wrong-foot their opponent, with Boeing trumpeting a fast passenger jet called the Sonic Cruiser before switching to the 787 Dreamliner in 2003.

But Boeing has spoken with increasing consistency of its preference for a new single-aisle plane while Airbus sales chief John Leahy insisted earlier this week that the European company's preference for a quicker but more modest redesign with new engines was "not a feint."

But not everyone is convinced that Boeing will redesign the 737.

"They have said all along that they will explore all options, re-engine being one of them," said Alex Hamilton, managing director of EarlyBirdCapital. "I think they have to re-engine."


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Today 02/09/2011 at Victorville (VCV/KVCV) Pt 1

Ryan International Airlines McDonnell Douglas MD-82 (49233/1203) N932RD is captured at (VCV/KVCV) on a gorgeous February morning.

Delta 767-332 (23435/162) N121DE is now a resident of of Victorville (VCV/KVCV).

A prof shot of 747-446 (26344/929) N344NA, ex Japan Airlines JA8902 as she now spends her days in Victorville awaiting a new owner.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Today 02/09/2011 at Victorville (VCV/KVCV) Pt 2

Boeing 767-238/ER (23306/125) N250MY late of MAXjet Airways now spends it's days in storage at Victorville (VCV/KVCV).

All Nippon Airways (ANA) A320-211 (c/n 219) JA8389 is seen at Victorville (VCV/KVCV) being prepared for storage.

British Airways 747-436 (25406/895) G-BNLU "City of Bangor" is now in storage at Victorville (VCV/KVCV)

This unidentified Cathay Pacific 747-467 is slowly being parted out to keep other 747-400's flying.

This unidentified Northwest (Delta) 757-251 is captured at Victorville (VCV/KVCV) as she is prepared for her new Delta livery to be applied.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

National Airlines gains DOT approval for international passenger charter flights

National Airlines, a wholly owned subsidiary of National Air Cargo Holdings, is pleased to announce that the U.S. Department of Transportation has granted new international passenger charter authority allowing National to expand its global reach.

"This authority represents a very significant milestone in National's two-track strategy to augment and modernize our already substantial international cargo carrying capacity with market-leading international passenger charter operations," Steven Harrison, president, National Airlines said. "Ours is an ambitious plan, and I'm extremely proud of our team's world-class performance in safely bringing it closer to fruition."

The United States Department of Transportation Office of the Secretary, Washington, D.C. issued a foreign charter certificate of public convenience and necessity to National Air Cargo Group, Inc. d/b/a National Airlines. This order authorizes National to engage in foreign charter air transportation of persons, property and mail in addition to the domestic and international all-cargo transportation offered for twenty-five years.

The order was issued by Susan L. Kurland, Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs, and approved by the White House.

National Airlines is currently undergoing FAA certification for Boeing 757-200 passenger operations. When complete, National intends to offer worldwide passenger charter services with its B757-200 aircraft. The newly outfitted modern cabin has 152 extended comfort coach seats and 12 business class seats. This effort represents the next step of National's ambitious business plan whereby it is augmenting its DC-8 fleet with 747-400 freighter operations, 757-200 passenger operations and 757 -200 Combi (10 pallet positions and 46 passengers) worldwide. National's a-la-carte catering choices provide flexible business or leisure cuisine to our guests intent on personal and responsive long range, intercontinental charter service.


Global bizjet market "recovering nicely" according to Gulfstream

G550 (c/n 5271) N971GA tbr CN-AMS taxies at Long Beach prior to departing on a pre-delivery test flight. (Photo by Michael Carter)

Gulfstream said the global business jet market was recovering nicely, particularly outside of North America led by long-range jets.

"The demand for long-range jets remains robust because of the rapid expansion of global business ties," Roger Sperry, Gulfstream's senior vice president, international sales, said at a media briefing ahead of the biennial Indian air show in the southern city of Bangalore.

The show takes off against a backdrop of stepped-up arms spending and rapid growth in civil aviation in Asia's third-largest economy.

The business jet market took a hard landing in 2009, when demand tumbled after five years of annual delivery increases as companies clamped down on spending in the uncertain economy.

Gulfstream expects to produce 90 large-cabin jets and 15-20 mid-cabin jets in 2011, compared with the mid-90s it produced in 2010.

The large-cabin aircraft market recovered from the economic crisis sooner than the mid-cabin market, and is back at pre-recession levels, Sperry said.

Sperry was also very optimistic about growth opportunities in India citing the growing number of high-net-worth individuals and rapid economic growth.

Demand is being driven by increasing affluence in the economy, which is expected to grow 8.6 percent in the year ending in March.

However, business jet penetration in India still remains relatively low -- the country has an installed base of 125 aircraft. Gulfstream has about 20 aircraft in service in India.

The Indian business jet fleet is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 13 percent over the next 10 years, and 325 deliveries are expected throughout the next 10 years, according to a market forecast by Bombardier.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

South African Airways welcomes A330-200 into its fleet

South African Airways has become the latest operator of Airbus’ eco-efficient A330 family. The A330-200 is the first of six to be delivered to Aircastle Limited during 2011, all of which will be leased to South African Airways.

Seating 36 passengers in business class and 186 in economy, the aircraft will feature the latest in-flight entertainment and will be used primarily on long haul routes from the airline’s bases in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

The new A330 will join South African Airlines existing Airbus fleet of 11 A319s, 14 A340-200/300s and 9 A340-600s enabling the airline to reap the benefits of Airbus’ unique cockpit and operational commonality. This allows airlines to use the same pool of pilots, cabin crews and maintenance engineers, resulting in operational flexibility and significant cost savings.

“With the new A330s South African Airways continues to modernize its fleet, ensuring we meet our customers’ expectations. Simultaneously, the new A330s will provide savings and efficiencies to support our profitability and growth strategies,” explained South African Airways CEO, Siza Mzimela.

(Airbus - Press Release)

El Al to add Boeing 737-900ER to fleet

Israeli airline El Al airline said it was buying four new Boeing 737-900ER planes with option for two more jets of the same type.

The value of the deal for up to six aircraft is between USD$215 million - USD$320 million, a company statement said on Tuesday.

El Al, which operates an all Boeing fleet, owns 14 737 aircraft and with the purchase it will raise its short- and medium-haul fleet to 18 planes.

El Al said it has another option to purchase two more Boeing aircraft.

The new aircraft are set to replace El Al's fleet of medium-haul 757 airliners which the company plans to phase out gradually, the statement said.

El Al chief executive Eliezer Shkedi said the company was continuing to replenish its fleet. He added that the purchase was intended to meet the growing customer demand on various routes and would allow the company to improve its quality of service.


Monday, February 7, 2011

FAA says new warning system to be installed on 737 classic airliners

The US FAA has finalised a rule that requires operators of 741 older generation US-registered Boeing 737s to install new warning systems within three years.

"We are issuing this [airworthiness directive] to prevent failure of the flight crew to recognize and react properly to a valid cabin altitude warning and takeoff configuration warning horn, which could result in incapacitation of the flight crew due to hypoxia and consequent loss of control the aircraft", says the FAA.

The AD, which requires installation of new warning lights in the centre cockpit console of some aircraft and activation of cabin altitude warning and takeoff configuration warning lights in other aircraft, is linked to the 2005 crash of a Helios Airways Boeing 737-300.

In that crash, the aircraft climbed to its cruising level without automatic cabin pressurisation selected and the pilots misinterpreted the cabin pressure alert when it operated.

The aircraft flew its programmed route from Cyprus to Greece on flight director/autopilot with all passengers and crew on board unconscious from hypoxia, crashing in an uninhabited area near the approach to Athens airport when the fuel was exhausted.

(John Croft - Air Transport Intelligence News)

No last minutes changes for EADS tanker bid

Airbus chief executive Tom Enders said the European plane maker's parent company EADS would not improve its bid to build a fleet of US Air Force aerial tankers.

"It is not our style to make hectic corrections at the last minute," Enders said in an interview on the sidelines of a security conference in Munich.

Enders said EADS had made a very good offer for the contract, that also made economic sense, whereas competitor Boeing had announced "last changes" to its bid.

The trans-atlantic rivals have been locked in a bitter battle for the job, worth up to USD$50 billion, which calls for 179 new planes to start phasing out Boeing-built tankers that average about 50 years old.

Boeing and EADS must submit their final proposal revisions, also known as "best and final offers," for the aerial tankers by February 11 after separate meetings with US Air Force officials on Monday, February 7.

"Our offer was made a while ago," Enders said.

Air Force officials say they expect to award a contract to either Boeing or EADS in early 2011, but industry executives and analysts say the losing bidder is likely to file a protest, which could delay procurement of the planes for years.

Industry executives say a contract award Pentagon officials. That could delay the news until early March.

This is the Air Force's third attempt since 2001 to start replacing the fleet of KC-135 tankers.


UA/CO to cut 500 jobs at Houston

United Continental on Monday said it would cut up to 500 jobs at the Houston headquarters of Continental Airlines, which merged last year with United Airlines.

The cuts would be management and salaried positions. United Continental has about 6,000 such jobs and more than 80,000 employees worldwide.

Spokeswoman Julie King said some employees had already accepted voluntary exit incentives and that the total number of job cuts could be less than 500.

"It's difficult to determine the exact number of affected employees, because the process is tied to the needs of each department," King said.

Chicago-based United bought Houston-based Continental last year for USD$3.17 billion in an all-stock transaction.

Headquarters for the merged company is in Chicago, but the airline has said it would maintain a significant corporate presence in Houston, where Continental Airlines was headquartered.

The combined airline is integrating its largely unionized work force.

Chief executive Jeff Smisek told employees when the merger was announced last year that there would be "some reductions in the salaried and management workforce" at both companies.

He said the rank-and-file staff would see little impact on their numbers.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

The problems of outsourcing on the 787 program

This is very good look into the outsourcing problems that has stung Boeings 787 program, I hope you find it as interesting as I did.........Michael

In a late January appearance at Seattle University, Boeing Commercial Airplanes Chief Jim Albaugh talked about the lessons learned from the disastrous three years of delays on the 787 Dreamliner.

One bracing lesson that Albaugh was unusually candid about: the 787's global outsourcing strategy — specifically intended to slash Boeing's costs — backfired completely.

"We spent a lot more money in trying to recover than we ever would have spent if we'd tried to keep the key technologies closer to home," Albaugh told his large audience of students and faculty.

Boeing was forced to compensate, support or buy out the partners it brought in to share the cost of the new jet's development, and now bears the brunt of additional costs due to the delays.

Some Wall Street analysts estimate those added costs at between $12 billion and $18 billion, on top of the $5 billion Boeing originally planned to invest.

Interviewed after the Seattle U. talk, Albaugh avoided directly criticizing the decisions of his predecessors.

The 787 outsourcing strategy was put place in 2003 by then-Boeing Chairman Harry Stonecipher, who was ousted in 2005, and Commercial Airplanes Chief Alan Mulally, now chief executive at Ford.

"It's easy to look in the rear-view mirror and see things that could have been done differently," Albaugh said. "I wasn't sitting in the room and I don't know what they were facing."

And yet, at least one senior technical engineer within Boeing predicted the outcome of the extensive outsourcing strategy with remarkable foresight a decade ago.

Albaugh and other senior leaders within Boeing may be belatedly paying attention to a paper presented at an internal company symposium in 2001 by John Hart-Smith, a world-renowned airplane structures engineer.

Hart-Smith, who had worked for Douglas Aircraft and joined Boeing when it merged in 1997 with McDonnell Douglas, was one of the elite engineers designated within the company as Senior Technical Fellows.

His paper was a biting critique of excessive outsourcing, a warning to Boeing not to go down the path that had led Douglas Aircraft to virtual obsolescence by the mid-1990s.

The paper laid out the extreme risks of outsourcing core technology and predicted it would bring massive additional costs and require Boeing to buy out partners who could not perform.

Albaugh said in the interview that he read the paper six or seven years ago, and conceded that it had "a lot of good points" and was "pretty prescient."

In his talk at Seattle U., the first specific lesson Albaugh cited as learned from the 787 debacle seemed to echo Hart-Smith's paper.

Albaugh said that part of what had led Boeing astray was the chasing of a financial measure called RONA, for Return on Net Assets.

This is essentially a ratio of income to assets and one way to make that ratio bigger is to reduce your assets. The drive to reduce RONA thus spurred a push within Boeing to do less work in-house — hence reducing assets in the form of facilities and employees — and have others do the work.

Hart-Smith argued that it was wrong to use that financial measure as a gauge of performance and that outsourcing would only slash profits and hollow out the company.

Reached by phone in his native Australia, where at 70 he is now retired, Hart-Smith said he'd heard in recent months on the grapevine from former colleagues that senior executives at Boeing Commercial Airplanes have been reading his paper.

"I'm glad they got the message," Hart-Smith said. "It took far too long."

After he presented his paper at a company symposium in 2001, he received hundreds of supportive e-mails from engineers and lower-level managers, he said.

But a senior executive present at the symposium spent a half-hour after his presentation attacking the paper, and afterward Boeing leadership ignored Hart-Smith.

He had hoped to join the 787 program but wasn't permitted to do so. He felt sidelined, he said.

In Hart-Smith's analysis, the seeds of Boeing's outsourcing ideas grew out of the McDonnell aircraft business, which focused on military-airplane programs. On the military side of the business, the U.S. government was the major, often the only, customer and it funded development costs in full.

"The military approach didn't require you to risk your own money," Hart-Smith said. "That was the McDonnell Douglas mentality."

He blamed that attitude for the major outsourcing on the MD-95 and proposed MD-12 programs, the failure of which led to the decline of Douglas' commercial-airplane business in California.

The same ideas were transferred to Boeing with the McDonnell Douglas merger and led directly to the 787 outsourcing strategy, he said.

Taken to its extreme conclusion, Hart-Smith said mockingly, the strategy of maximizing return on net assets could lead Boeing to outsource everything except a little Boeing decal to slap on the nose of the finished airplane.

Though most of the profits would be outsourced to suppliers along with all the work, and all the company's expertise would wither away, the return on investment in a 25-cent decal could be 5,000 percent.

Has Boeing belatedly seen the light and embraced Hart-Smith's analysis?

Clearly the 787 has brought a serious rethink at the top.

"We went too much with outsourcing," Albaugh said in the interview. "Now we need to bring it back to a more prudent level."

That likely includes building the horizontal tails of the next version of the Dreamliner, the 787-9, in the Seattle area. And for the next all-new airplane that Boeing will build, Albaugh vows that "we can do things differently and better."

"Doing the new airplane the way we did this one is not what we want to do."

But the rethink may not be as radical as Hart-Smith would like.

In his paper he wrote that while some selective outsourcing is necessary, Boeing should keep most of the work it has traditionally done in-house.

Albaugh balked at going that far.

"I haven't said keep most of the work in-house," Albaugh said. "I still believe we need to make sure we try to access the best technologies and capabilities that are available around the world."

And despite what Hart-Smith has heard on the grapevine, no one from Boeing's leadership has actually called him up to talk about his analysis.

Hart-Smith retired from Boeing in 2008. He still presents engineering papers at academic conferences around the world.

Yet that startlingly prescient 2001 paper focused on business economics. Where did a structures engineer get that kind of expertise?

"It's common sense," Hart-Smith said.

(Seattle Times Business Staff - Seattle Times)