Thursday, June 30, 2011

New G550 arrives from Savannah

G550 (c/n 5337) N537GA arrived at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) from Savannah-Hilton Head (SAV/KSAV) this morning (June 30, 2011) at 10:07 PST as "GLF66," it was interesting though as flightaware indicated that it was a G-IV.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

VoltAir - Electric Airliner

(Fast Company)

VoltAir made a showing at the recent Paris Air Show, on the same stand as the incredible Concorde-of-the-future Zehst space plane, and though it looks much more conventional, it's almost (if not actually more) important for the future of travel. For though Zehst and other craft like it may shrink the globe with super-fast travel, it's aircraft derived from VoltAir that could change the world sooner. Because VoltAir is a zero-emissions airliner for the rest of us — an all-electric alternative to the planes you've always flown in.

VoltAir's magic is all about its pusher-prop ducted fan, and the electric motors that power it. The prop's design is a twin co-axial contra-rotating design, delivering excellent propelling power very efficiently. But what's truly clever are the engines, which would be made of high-temperature super-conducting materials. The engine would be bathed in liquid nitrogen, to drop its temperature to the right operating zone for the wiring which, unlike the copper wiring in a traditional motor, actually only works if cooled. Though this adds a structural burden to the design, it has one astonishing upshot: Superconducting motors would waste almost none of the electrical energy pushed into them, making the plane ultra-efficient.

The VoltAir makes use of plenty of other tricks in its design, though. The airframe would be made largely of composites which makes for incredible strength and significantly lighter weight. The wings use the same advanced curling wing tip that Boeing's employing on the 787 Dreamliner — they're better at preventing drag. And its unusual bullet-like shape means the drag vortices caused by the body itself is actually gobbled down by the pusher-fans, which also creates better aerodynamics.

The problem of recharging the thing — you can't have your electric plane plugged in for 16 hours after each flight — is also neatly solved with a trick of the battery design. They're mounted in the cargo hold, so they could be swapped in and out in the same way as a pallet of cargo is. This also has the side-effect of speeding up ground operations compared to refueling a conventional jet, and that saves money (though we do wonder if that amazing refillable rechargeable cell idea would be a better fit to the VoltAir design).

All of this is extremely plausible, even those novel batteries, and VoltAir is, in many ways, just a rethink of a small airliner. There's just one flaw: The tech to make the electric motors doesn't quite exist yet. It's not far off, though, and EADS — the designers of the plane — think it's possible they'll be available relatively soon (definitely sooner than the far distant first-flight of Zehst, for sure).

(Kit Eaton - Fast Company)

Virgin Atlantic pilot strike would damage carriers unique culture

Virgin Atlantic Airways founder and Virgin Group Chairman Richard Branson warned that a pilots' strike would leave "an indelible scar" on the airline, "impact customers' trust" and "damage the unique and friendly culture at Virgin Atlantic."

He called on the British Airline Pilots Assn., the union representing most VS pilots, to re-engage in talks with management to resolve the matter. BALPA is expected to announce dates for an industrial action Tuesday following a clear vote in favor of striking over pay. Results of a vote on a possible strike action were announced last week, with BALPA revealing that 97% favored a work action in balloting that featured a "massive" 94% turnout.

BALPA represents some 85% of VS's 750 pilots; it is the first time in the history of the UK airline that its pilots have voted in favor of industrial action over pay."Pilots do not want to strike and are hugely disappointed by the company's approach. There has been no UK pilot strike for 32 years. But there comes a time when even moderate people say 'enough'," BALPA General Secretary Jim McAuslan commented.

In an open letter to the pilots, Branson said he was "extremely sad" about the strike threat. While offering to meet them for private talks, he forewarned that the strike "will affect jobs and it will make it very difficult for the company to afford the current offer on the table."

He continued, "We are already losing business from this and are in danger of losing money again this year if the uncertainty of those travelling lasts much longer. Just look at what happened at BA over the last few years." He said he looked at the details of "your offer and believe it is fair. From the company's point of view possibly a little too fair! … Whilst on the subject of fairness I think it's worth you knowing I have taken no salary out of Virgin Atlantic since 2005.

Since Singapore Airlines bought into the company 10 years ago both of us have invested more money into the airline than we've taken out to deal with crises like 9/11 and to fund vital products and service innovation. Despite this I am still committed to continuing to support Virgin Atlantic through difficult times provided those difficulties are not self-inflicted."

(Cathy Buyck - ATWOnline News)

Boeing has commenced "final phase" of 787 flight test program

Boeing said it has started function and reliability testing and ETOPS demonstrations on the 787, noting it is entering the "final phase of flight testing prior to certification of the airplane."

VP and GM-787 Program Scott Fancher said, "The team has created a solid plan for accomplishing the hours and test points required for F&R and ETOPS testing in support of delivery to our customer ANA in the August to September time period."

F&R testing "simulates various normal and non-normal operations for the airplane, in a realistic airline-like flight environment," the manufacturer explained. "During ETOPS demonstrations the company validates the airplane's ability to safely divert for a variety of reasons, including long diversions with one engine shut down."

ANA is scheduled to conduct Dreamliner service readiness trials in Japan next week.

(Aaron Karp - ATWOnline News)

Texas to limit TSA security pat-downs

Legislation to make enhanced airport security pat-downs a crime if they involve touching a passenger's "private" areas was approved by the Texas House and Senate.

The moves came just days after the measure appeared dead when the House speaker called the provisions "unenforceable" and "an embarrassment to the state of Texas."

By passing the bill, the "Texas Legislature is not only telling the (Transportation Security Administration) to change their policies - we're telling the Obama Administration that we will not be intimidated and we will vigorously defend our Constitutional rights," Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, who presides over the Senate, said in a statement.

The two chambers passed similar measures as the special legislative session's conclusion on Wednesday approaches.

The measure died during the regular session of the legislature, which ended May 30, and Republican Governor Rick Perry added it to lawmakers' agenda for the special session.

To make its way to Perry's desk, it needs one final vote from the House, and the House and Senate would have to iron out differences in their versions.

Speaker Joe Straus asked lawmakers to revise the House measure with the help of the Texas attorney general's office after Straus' comments sparked a firestorm from conservative and Tea Party activists who see the bill as a way to strike a blow against "federal government tyranny," as the bill's author Representative David Simpson, like Straus a Republican, said.

Federal officials had threatened to halt all flights out of Texas airports if the original bill were passed on grounds that they would not be able to certify that the flights were safe.

"We've been working with the Attorney General's office from the very beginning to ensure that the bill will accomplish our goal of stopping the humiliation of travelers while also maintaining language that will withstand judicial scrutiny," Simpson said in a statement.

The major change in the House's amended bill, Simpson said, is a requirement that the TSA agent have "reasonable suspicion" before conducting an enhanced pat-down, a less stringent standard than the "probable cause" in the original measure.

The requirement to have probable cause before frisking an individual caused concern among Texas police officers, afraid it would make it more difficult to conduct routine searches of suspects -- and not just in airports.

"We're concerned about the entire jump to probable cause," said Charley Wilkison, the chief lobbyist for the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, which represents police organizations. "We're concerned about officers not being able to do their jobs."

The revised House bill also includes a provision prohibiting prosecution of a TSA officer if the officer's actions are "pursuant to and consistent with the US Constitution."

Violation of the law would be a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail and a USD$4,000 fine.

Straus said he is now "satisfied with the House's efforts to pass legislation that lets Texans travel safely, protects the privacy of citizens, and enables law enforcement to do its job."

TSA officials have said on their blog that state may not regulate the federal government and that agents are "trying to work in partnership with the traveling public to make you safe on flights."


Boeing to receive FAA fine

US FAA proposed a $1.05 million civil penalty against Boeing "for allegedly failing to correct a known problem in production and installation of the central passenger oxygen system in" 777s.

The agency said it based the proposed fine "on inspections of nine newly assembled aircraft between April and October 2010. Inspectors discovered that spacers in the oxygen delivery system distribution tubing on the aircraft were not installed correctly. Improper installation could result in the system not supplying oxygen to passengers should depressurization occur."

FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt said the agency "has strict regulations when it comes to the maintenance and installation of aircraft systems that all manufacturers and operators must follow." Boeing has 30 days to respond.

(Aaron Karp - ATWOnline News)

New Boeing assembly line in Utah

Boeing opened a new assembly line in Salt Lake City, Utah, where it will make the vertical fin for its long-delayed 787 Dreamliner.

The line will be operated by Boeing Fabrication and will make vertical fins for planes built at Boeing's new 787 assembly plant in South Carolina.

Production on the new Salt Lake City line is set to begin in July. The plant plans to deliver its first vertical fin to Boeing South Carolina during the fourth quarter of 2011.

The 787 is about three years behind schedule, but is set for first delivery to All Nippon Airways in the third quarter of this year.


Monday, June 27, 2011

New Frontier A319 at Orange County

Frontier A319-112 (c/n 4254) N953FR is seen at John Wayne Orange County Airport (SNA/KSNA) on Sunday June 26, 2011 as it readies to depart for Denver (DEN/KDEN). This aircraft was originally delivered to Mexicana as N254MX on April 1, 2010.

(Photo by Michael Carter) 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

New UPS 767-34AF/ER

Friday June 17, UPS operated it's latest 767-34AF/ER (37866/1005) N344UP into Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) as "UPS2916 Heavy." The FAA issued the aircraft's certificate earlier in the day and was immediately put into service.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

"The Donald" brings his new 757 to Long Beach

Arriving Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) from San Jose International Airport (SJC/KSJC) on June 25, 2011 at 16:10 PST, Donald Trumps latest acquisition 757-2J4(ER) (25155/371) N757AF makes a special quest appearance in SoCal.

(Photo by Michael Carter)    

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

New G550 at Long Beach

Spotted new G550 (c/n 5335) N853GA at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) this afternoon (June 21, 2011). She arrived from Savannah/Hilton Head Internatioanl Airport (SAV/KSAV) on Monday June 20, 2011 at 09:10 PST.

Monday, June 20, 2011

First China Southern A380 emerges from paint shop

The first A380 for China Southern Airlines has been rolled out of the Airbus paint shop in Hamburg bearing the airline's distinctive livery.

The aircraft is the first of five A380s ordered by the airline. China Southern Airlines will become the seventh operator of the A380 when it takes delivery of its first aircraft in the second half of this year.

(Photo by Airbus)

Rolls-Royce to develope higher thrust engine for A350-1000 as Airbus pushes the aircrafts EIS back to 2017

Airbus pushed back EIS for the A350-1000 to 2017 from 2015 and unveiled a modified -1000 model featuring a higher thrust variant of the Trent XWB engine being developed by Rolls-Royce. Additionally, the company delayed A350-800 EIS to 2016 from 2014.

Addressing reporters Monday at the Paris Air Show, COO-Customers John Leahy noted the manufacturer has had "pretty good" success with A350-900 and -800 orders but has seen "softness" in -1000 sales. Orders for the -900, with a 2013 EIS, total 359 while commitments for the -800 number 140. Orders for the -1000 total just 74 and airlines have been asking Airbus to "give us more performance" on the model, according to Leahy. Whereas the prior version of the A350-1000 fell short of matching the 777-300ER in terms of performance, the new version will "surpass" the Boeing aircraft, Leahy claimed.

Rolls said the new version of the Trent XWB will deliver 97,000 lbs. maximum thrust. "The additional thrust will be achieved by the inclusion of new high temperature turbine technology, increasing the size of the engine core and advanced fan aerodynamics," it said. "This will help Airbus to offer increased range and capacity for the A350-1000." Importantly, the engine's fan size will not change, meaning Airbus won't have to make significant fuselage modifications.

With the new version of the A350-1000, "we end up with 600 miles more range," Leahy said. "That's an extra hour of flying." Airbus Executive VP-A350 XWB Program-Didier Evrad added, "We have more time to optimize the [-1000] and the market can wait a little bit for this enhanced aircraft." He noted that Airbus expects the A350-1000's first flight to take place in 2016.

Meanwhile, Evrad said the manufacturer is "heading toward the final assembly line by the end of 2011" for the static test A350-900.

(Aaron Karp - ATWOnline News)

Boeing starts strong at Paris Air Show

Boeing opened the Paris Air Show with some bold statements, such as a claim that its 747-8 Intercontinental had superior trip and seat-mile economics to the Airbus A380, and backed up its declarations by announcing a slew of new orders.

Addressing media at Le Bourget, Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Jim Albaugh said the manufacturer is the leader in every market segment but believes its seven-year backlog is too great. "We are working to bring this down to three to four years," he said. "We have [made plans to increase] the 737 rate to 42 a month, [increase] the 777 to 8.3 and will build the 787 to 10 a month. And we want to get that to 12. We have to be able to respond to our customers’ needs or they will be forced to make decisions they don't want to [make]."

Albaugh added that all of Boeing's numbers are in positive territory. "Our customers are blue chips, our margin is 7.2% and our backlog is $263 billion," he said.

Adding to the backlog Monday at the air show were Qatar Airways and Air Lease Corp. Qatar added six more 777-300ERs to bring its 777 commitments to 40, while ALC committed to 33 aircraft: 24 737-800s, five 777-300ERs and four 787-9s.

Looking to buttress its claim of better economics than the A380, Boeing announced orders for 17 747-8Is from two unnamed customers. This takes firm orders for the passenger version of the newest 747 model to 50.

Going forward, Albaugh said the manufacturer is receiving "strong interest" in the 787-10X, which will be a 5.5 meter stretch of the 787-9 with a capacity of between 290 and 330 passengers, about 40 more than the 787-9. Albaugh asserted that the 787-10X's economics are "brilliant," with operating efficiency 10% better than the A350-900 and 5% better than the A350-1000.

He reiterated that a decision on a 737NG replacement or re-engine would be made at the end of the year. Boeing VP-Business Development and Strategic Integration Nicole Piasecki said that the baseline Boeing would protect for a "737 replacement is 125 seats."

The company is looking at both single-aisle and twin-aisle models as a replacement for the 737. Answering a question from ATW, Piasecki said that even at 125 seats, a twin-aisle solution would work. Boeing VP-Advanced 737 Product Development Mike Bair said that a twin-aisle aircraft would reduce turn times, enabling airlines to add more sectors per day. The twin-aisle would only incur a fuel burn penalty of 2%-3% compared to a single-aisle, he added.

Piasecki told ATW that the twin-aisle option is getting strong support in Asia and China.

(Geoffrey Thomas - AtWOnline News)

Friday, June 17, 2011

India offically signs for 10 C-17As

Boeing announced that India’s Ministry of Defence has signed an agreement with the U.S. government to acquire 10 Boeing C-17 Globemaster III airlifters. The Foreign Military Sale -- approved by the U.S. Congress in May 2010 -- establishes India as the C-17's largest international customer.

According to the agreement, India will take delivery of its C-17s in 2013 and 2014.

"The C-17 will elevate India's leadership in the region," said Dinesh Keskar, president, Boeing India. "With its tactical and strategic capabilities, the C-17 fulfills India's needs for military and humanitarian airlift. The important transaction reaffirms our close relationship of several decades with India and also highlights our commitment to the strategic partnership between the two countries."

"This agreement is a reflection of the outstanding partnership India's Ministry of Defence has with the U.S. Air Force, which worked very hard to help India strengthen its airlift capabilities with the C-17," said Jean Chamberlin, vice president and general manager, Boeing Mobility. "The aircraft's ability to transport large payloads across vast ranges, land on short, austere runways, and operate in extremely hot and cold climates makes it ideal for the region."

Boeing will support India's C-17 fleet through the C-17 Globemaster III Sustainment Partnership, a proven multinational Performance-Based Logistics program. The GSP "virtual fleet" arrangement ensures mission readiness by providing all C-17 customers -- with varied fleet sizes -- access to an extensive support network for worldwide parts availability and economies of scale when purchasing materials.

"Boeing is pleased that the Indian Air Force (IAF) has selected the C-17 to support its airlift mission," said Mark Kronenberg, vice president of International Business Development for Boeing Defense, Space & Security. "We look forward to partnering with India as we move forward with the agreement's 30 percent offset program, which will help strengthen India's aerospace and defense capabilities."

During rigorous field evaluation trials in India in June 2010, the C-17 met all of the IAF's airlift requirements.

A tactical and strategic airlifter, the C-17 can land combat-ready troops in remote locations or airdrop them directly where needed. The C-17's ability to back up allows it to operate on narrow taxiways and congested ramps. With a maximum payload of 164,900 pounds (74,797 kg), the C-17 can take off and land in 3,000 feet (914.4 m) or less.

Boeing has delivered 232 C-17s worldwide, including 22 with international customers. The U.S. Air Force -- including active National Guard and Reserve units -- has taken delivery of 210 C-17s. Other customers include the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force, the Qatar Emiri Air Force, the Canadian Forces, the Royal Australian Air Force, the 12-member Strategic Airlift Capability initiative of NATO and Partnership for Peace nations, and the United Arab Emirates Air Force and Air Defence.

(Boeing Press Release)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

G550 N916GA takes to the skies

Gulfstream G550 (c/n 5316) N916GA tbr M-YBJK, performed a pre-delivery test flight from Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) today. Upon delivery the aircraft will be going to an Irish owner who I must say is getting a simply stunning aircraft. 

 Taxies to Rwy 30 for a 0917 PST departure.

Short final to Rwy 30 as it arrives back at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) at 1453 PST.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Republic Airways to reduce Frontier Airlines stake

Republic Airways plans to shrink its holdings in money-losing Frontier Airlines to a minority stake by the end of 2014 under a tentative agreement with Frontier pilots.

Republic has a split operation in which it flies for hire by major airlines, and it also operates Frontier as its own airline. Frontier reported a pretax loss of $55.2 million in the quarter that ended March 31, an improvement from its loss of $70.4 million a year earlier. Republic's for-hire flying had a $17.6 million pretax profit in the most recent quarter.

Republic bought Frontier out of bankruptcy protection in 2009, and merged it with Midwest Airlines, a small Milwaukee-based airline. Frontier's main hubs are Denver and Milwaukee, where it faces tough competition from Southwest Airlines Co. and AirTran, which Southwest recently acquired.

In the tentative deal reached with Republic on Friday, Frontier pilots agreed to give up future pay raises, and accepted reductions in retirement plans and vacation. In exchange, they'll get a stake in Frontier. The size of that stake has not yet been determined, said Jeff Thomas, president of the Frontier Airlines Pilot Association. Pilots are expected to vote on the deal on Friday.

In addition to the pilots, Republic has agreed to try to find new Frontier investors, thereby reducing its holdings in Frontier to a minority stake by the end of 2014, according to a filing on Friday. Republic also said it will try to raise at least $70 million in debt or other financing, as well as add planes to Frontier.

Thomas said the pilots union would not be the majority shareholder. "We're pilots. We're smarter than buying airlines," he said, laughing.

He said trading give-backs on the pilot contract for a stake in the airline made sense. "We believe in the business, we're trying to build a foundation" for future profits, he said.

James Reichart, Republic's vice president of sales, distribution, and loyalty programs, said bankruptcy protection "is not something we're considering" for Frontier.

"We're doing the tough stuff to build a business that can generate positive returns, even at very high fuel prices," he said of Frontier.

Shares of Indianapolis-based Republic Airways Holdings Inc. surged 49 cents, or 11.6 percent, to close at $4.70 on the news.

Dahlman Rose & Co. analyst Helane Becker wrote that she expects the $70 million will be raised by borrowing against spare parts. She kept her "hold" rating on the shares because of concerns about the economy, volatile fuel prices, and short-term revenue issues. "Frontier is likely to flounder this year," she wrote.

(Joshua Freed - Huffpost Business)

Thai Airways to acquire 37 new aircraft

Thai Airways said on Monday its board had approved plans to acquire 37 new aircraft for THB118.6 billion baht (USD$3.9 billion) in 2011-2017.

The national carrier would purchase 15 aircraft for THB49.5 billion baht and would obtain 22 aircraft under an operating lease for about THB69 billion baht, using working capital, it told the stock exchange.

Under the plan, it would buy six Boeing 777-300ERs, with delivery in 2014 and 2015, four Airbus A350-900s for delivery in 2016 and 2017 and five Airbus A320-200s for delivery in 2014 and 2015.

It plans to lease six 787-8s to be delivered in 2014 and 2015 and two 787-9s for delivery in 2017 from International Lease Finance with rental terms of 12 years.

It would also obtain, for delivery in 2016 and 2017, six A350-900s from Aviation Lease and Finance and two from CIT Aerospace International with rental terms of 12 years.

An additional six A320-200s, with a 12-year term of rental, would be leased from RBS Aerospace for delivery in 2012 and 2013.

The procurement is part of its long-term plan to develop a modern, efficient fleet that would meet airline industry standards and help it stay competitive.

Thai Air, with a market value of USD$2.1 billion, is 51 percent owned by the Finance Ministry and competes with bigger rivals Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific Airways.

The airline has the ambition to become one of the top three airlines in Asia and among the top five airlines in the world both in terms of quality and service efficiency.


Sunday, June 12, 2011

ASKY Airlines eyes long-haul service

Ethiopian Airlines said that Lome-based ASKY Airlines, in which it now holds a 40% stake, is preparing to start long-haul operations.

"This is the next step, routes to Europe and to Johannesburg," Ethiopian CEO Tewolde Gebremariam told ATW on the sidelines of the IATA AGM in Singapore last week. "Maybe [ASKY] will get a 767 for these new operations … We are very close to" formally announcing the launch of long-haul ASKY services. ASKY operates three 737-700s and one Bombardier Q400.

Though ASKY is looking to spread its reach, Gebremariam noted that competition on routes between Africa and other world regions is fierce. International routes to/from Africa "have become overcrowded with many foreign airlines like Emirates or SkyTeam member carriers" attempting to gain market share. "Inner-African routes are still better business," he added.

ET and future Star Alliance partners Egyptair and South African Airways are evaluating whether to establish a carrier in Central Africa, Gebremariam said. There are six potential countries where the carrier would be based, he explained. "With our membership in Star, the alliance will become the dominant player in Africa before SkyTeam and Emirates," he predicted.

Regarding ET's network, the carrier will launch its second North American destination when it starts Addis Ababa-Toronto Pearson flights in December. Currently it serves Washington Dulles daily from Addis Ababa using a Boeing 777-200LR. The launch of ADD–Damascus service has been postponed until further notice owing to the unrest in Syria.

ET is expecting the delivery of two new 777 freighters on lease from GECAS by the end of 2012. Gebremariam noted that "15% of our business comes from cargo." He added that the carrier's passenger fleet modernization is proceeding smoothly. "Two of 10 new 737NGs [on order] just arrived and we have 12 A350s and 10 787s on order. The first 787 should be delivered in January [2012 and ET expects] to bring a total of four 787s into service next year."

ET currently operates 11 767-300s, with eight of the type slated for retirement by 2016. It also operates four777-200LRs, eight 757-200ERs, five 737-700s, five 737-800s and eight Bombardier Q400s.

(Kurt Hofmann - ATWOnline News)

French Government urges Air France to place Airbus order

French parliamentarians have launched a petition calling on Air France-KLM to place a USD$20 billion - USD$25 billion plane order with Airbus and not Boeing -- but airline officials said they would split the order.

Bernard Carayon, a member of President Nicolas Sarkozy's ruling conservative UMP party, who claims authorship of the popular term "economic patriotism" to defend French firms, said he had collected signatures from 102 members of parliament.

"When the Americans buy American, Europeans should buy European," said Carayon, whose list of signatories amounts to more than one in six members of the lower National Assembly.

Air France-KLM is negotiating with Boeing and Airbus and their engine makers after launching a tender for 100 mid-sized Airbus A350 or Boeing 787 jets to renew its long-haul fleet.

The order for the latest carbon-composite aircraft is seen as one of the biggest industry battles in the coming year.

Airline officials said the contract would be designed according to the needs of the group's two main networks and would probably be split between Boeing and Airbus.

"My view is that at some point in the future, both types of aircraft will be flying on both of our networks," Peter Hartman, chief executive of Dutch carrier KLM said.

Air France and KLM merged in 2004 to form Europe's largest airline by revenues but they kept separate networks and brands.

Historically, KLM has tended to buy Boeing aircraft and Air France has a mixed fleet with emphasis on Boeing for long trips.

Asked whether the Air France-KLM group would miss out on the best price by stating in advance that it was ready to split the order, Hartman said: "Half of 100 is still a lot of planes."

A final decision is not expected for several months.

Carayon's intervention is unlikely to have an immediate impact on the negotiations but is seen as an early warning of the potentially volatile backdrop to the deal as employment once again looks set to dominate French elections due in 2012.

Aerospace is a major source of high-tech jobs in France.

Aircraft industry executives say plane orders such as this one tend to trigger intense lobbying from both sides of the Atlantic, often dragging in the heads of respective governments.

The contest is also happening as the United States and European Union draw towards the close of the world's largest trade battle involving mutual allegations of aircraft subsidies.

Any sign of interference in the Air France-KLM deal will likely be seized on by Boeing as evidence of unfair competition.

The French government owns 15.7 percent of Air France-KLM and 15 percent of Airbus parent company EADS.

Airbus and Boeing are the world's only manufacturers of aircraft in the 250-300 seat class targeted by Air France-KLM. They face the threat of new competition from China, Canada, Russia and Brazil for their best-selling smaller models.

Airbus has sold 2,894 planes to North America in its 40-year history, according to data on the company's website. Over the same period, Boeing has sold 4,100 planes to Europe including to Air France and traditional Boeing buyer British Airways.


Friday, June 10, 2011

G-V (c/n 615) N318XX ex-N914J, rolls for takeoff on Rwy 30 this afternoon at 16:47 PST.
(Photo by Michael Carter) 

TSA antics continue....stay tuned!

Three dozen baggage screeners at Honolulu International Airport face being fired and another dozen face discipline for security lapses, the US Transportation Security Administration said on Friday.

The actions come after complaints late last year that scores of bags that passengers checked at the airport were loaded onto planes without being properly screened for explosives, a severe security breach at a time when al Qaeda militants have sought to attack the US aviation system.

"TSA holds its workforce to the highest ethical standards and we will not tolerate employees who in any way compromise the security of the traveling public," TSA Administrator John Pistole said in a statement.

TSA proposed removing the Honolulu airport's federal security director as well as the individual in charge of screening there. Those who received removal letters are put on administrative leave and have an opportunity to challenge it, according to TSA.

The agency has deployed additional screeners and management level staff to the airport until permanent replacements can be hired.

After complaints to TSA, investigators discovered that some checked baggage during one shift at one location during the last few months of 2010 were allowed onto flights without being properly screened.

Militants tied to Al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen have tried to send bombs aboard planes bound for the United States via Europe. A Nigerian man has been accused of trying to detonate a bomb hidden in his underwear on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit in 2009. That bomb failed to ignite fully.

Authorities last year also intercepted in Europe two bombs hidden in printer ink cartridges that were bound for the United States via commercial express delivery companies.


New 787 production facility opens in South Carolina

Boeing opened a new USD$750 million 787 Dreamliner final assembly plant on Friday in South Carolina, even though the federal government has complained the company located the plant in a non-union state.

The air of celebration at the plant in North Charleston masked the fact that the facility is at the centre of a major struggle between the administration of President Barack Obama, and big business and Republicans over US labor law.

"Boeing has just made a statement today," Jack Jones, vice president and general manager of Boeing South Carolina, said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony held on the tarmac outside the building in 95-degree heat.

"We believe that airplanes that are that vital and that important can be built outside the Puget Sound (in Washington state)," he said.

Boeing announced in October 2009 that it had chosen North Charleston as the site of its second final assembly plant for the 787, instead of Washington state where the company has built planes for decades.

Boeing has taken orders for more than 800 of its next generation 787 and plans to deliver the first to Japan later this year.

South Carolina, a right-to-work state, offered the company incentives and tax breaks that could add up to USD$900 million if Boeing hires at least 5,000 employees, former South Carolina Commerce Secretary Joe Taylor said on Friday.

But union workers in Washington, home of the primary 787 final assembly plant, accused Boeing of acting in bad faith. Boeing tried and failed to negotiate a "no-strike" clause in Washington state with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

In April, the National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint against the company, charging its decision to locate the plant in a non-union state retaliated against union machinists for previous strikes.

The complaint also claims Boeing violated federal labor law by transferring work from a union to a non-union facility. The board wants Boeing ordered to move the production line back to Washington.


Boeing responded that it is pro-growth, not anti-union. The company so far has hired 1,000 workers for the new 1.2 million square foot plant, which was finished six months ahead of schedule. Work will start in July on building three 787 wide-body planes per month.

"The world the NLRB wants to create with its complaint would effectively prevent all companies from placing new plants in right-to-work states if they have existing plants in unionized states," Boeing chief executive Jim McNerney wrote last month in The Wall Street Journal.

The first hearing in the labor board's complaint will be held on June 14 in Seattle.

Three days later, the Republican-led US House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will hold a hearing in North Charleston. Some members have expressed concern about the complaint's effect on economic recovery.

South Carolina Republicans on Friday expressed outrage at what they called an attack by the federal agency and a threat to industry and jobs in the state.

"We earned the right to build airplanes here and nobody's going to take that away from us," Senator Lindsey Graham said to cheers at the ribbon-cutting.

Graham said that the labor relations board is "stacked with union stooges" and called the Obama administration "schizophrenic" for recently nominating John Bryson, a member of Boeing's board of directors, as commerce secretary while a federal agency is suing the company.

Graham said he plans to block Bryson's confirmation by the Senate "until this administration says that Boeing is a good, ethical company."

A National Labor Relations Board spokeswoman declined to comment on Friday.

"A worker's right to strike is a fundamental right guaranteed by the National Labor Relations Act," the board's Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon said in April.

"We also recognize the rights of employers to make business decisions based on their economic interests, but they must do so within the law."

Boeing worker Jay Grave, who said he is on the team that will attach the wings to the planes, wasn't worried about his job. "I think there's enough work for everybody," he said on Friday.


Photo of the Day / USAF C-54D

This C-54D (10697/DC428) 42-75592 was delivered to the U.S. Army Air Force on May 3, 1945 and immediatly transferred to the U.S. Navy as R5D-3 Bua 56511. In 1962 it was converted to a VC-54S and served in this capacity until December 1970 when it was WFU and stored at Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona. The aircraft was sold out of storage on February 21, 1975 and saw numerous owners until being bought by the South Dakota Air & Space Museum in December 1995 and placed on perminate display at Ellsworth Air Force Base.

(Photo by Joe G. Walker)  

U.S. DOT reports drop in ramp delays

US Dept. of Transportation said there were only 20 tarmac delays of more than 3 hr. reported from May 2010 through April 2011 by the airlines that file on-time performance data with DOT, “dramatically diminished” from 693 in May 2009 through April 2010, according to its Air Travel Consumer Report. April was the 12th full month of data since the new, 3 hr.-rule went into effect.

“On the one-year anniversary of the tarmac delay rule, it’s clear that we’ve accomplished our goal of virtually eliminating the number of aircraft leaving travelers stranded without access to food, water or working lavatories for hours on end,” said US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “This is a giant step forward for the rights of air travelers.”

At the same time, DOT said the number of canceled flights with tarmac delays of more than 2 hr.—those most likely to be canceled to avoid violating the rule—increased “only slightly,” from 336 between May 2009 and April 2010 to 387 between May 2010 and April 2011.“These additional 51 cancellations compare to over 6 million flights operated by the reporting carriers in a given year,” said DOT.

For April, DOT said the nation’s largest carriers reported four flights with tarmac delays of more than 3 hr., up from no flights reported in March. According to BTS, the 16 carriers reporting on-time performance recorded an overall on-time arrival rate of 75.5% in April, down from 79.2% in March.

In April, the carriers reported that 7.57% of their flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 6.15% in March; 8.35% by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 7.41% in March; 5.68% by factors within the airline's control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 5.35% in March; 0.55% by extreme weather, compared to 0.32% in March; and 0.04% for security reasons, equal to 0.04% in March.

Hawaiian Airlines again led all carriers in April OTP with an on-time arrival rate of 94.1%. Alaska Airlines had an on-time arrival rate of 89.5%, followed by AirTran Airways at 82%.

The worst performers were ExpressJet Airlines at 68%, JetBlue Airways at 68.4% and Atlantic Southeast Airlines at 68.5%.

During April, DOT said the carriers canceled 2% of their scheduled domestic flights, compared to 0.7% in April 2010 and 1.3% flights with tarmac delays of more than 2 hr. in April, up from 12 in the year-ago month.

(Linda Blachly - ATWOnline News)

Alaska Airlines pilots get iPads

In a move to both enhance flight safety and reduce its impact on the environment, Alaska Airlines has begun distributing iPads to its pilots to replace up to 25 pounds of required paper flight manuals. The carrier said it has "been exploring the idea of an electronic flight bag for several years."

The 1.5-lb. iPads will be issued to all the carrier's pilots by mid-June, following a successful trial by 100 line and instructor pilots in conjunction with the Air Line Pilots Assn. this past winter and spring. "When the iPad hit the market, we took one look at it and said 'this is the perfect fit,'" said AS VP-Flight Ops Gary Beck.

The iPads will include the "GoodReader" app, loaded with PDF versions of 41 flight, systems and performance manuals, reference cards and other materials that can be updated with a tap of the screen. The iPad is stowed during takeoff and landing under US FAA regulations, as it is considered a Class 1 electronic device.

Along with the "GoodReader" App, the airline is also exploring the possibility of moving to electronic navigation charts on the iPad. Together, these two initiatives, which AS has dubbed, "Bye, Bye Flight Bag," could produce an estimated savings of 2.4 million pieces of paper. It expects project costs to be offset by “lower paper, printing and distribution expenses and reduced fuel consumption as some weight is removed from the aircraft."

(Christine Boynton - ATWOnline News)

AirAsia may announce large order at Paris Air Show

AirAsia could buy up to 200 Airbus planes in a landmark deal that is potentially set to dominate the Paris Air Show, industry sources said.

The Malaysian budget carrier has said it is considering buying at least 150 A320neo planes with fuel-saving engines as it expands operations in the face of high oil prices.

But negotiations span a range of planes from 150 up to 200 and that could trump a 180-plane provisional order from India's IndiGo as the largest single industry order by number of aircraft, industry sources said, asking not to be identified.

Such a deal would be worth USD$14 billion to USD$18 billion at list prices, depending on the exact model of aircraft involved, though big plane orders tend to generate significant discounts.

Airbus declined to comment. A spokesperson for AirAsia said talks were continuing.

Both sides hope to announce the deal at the Paris Air Show on June 20-26 but the size of the deal and its timing remain uncertain because of the sums involved, industry sources said.

AirAsia founder Tony Fernandes has set his sights on doubling the size of Asia's largest low-cost carrier to rival Southwest Airlines' more than 500 jets.

The plane order, if confirmed, could also give a much-needed boost to transatlantic consortium CFM International.

Industry sources say the Cincinnati-based company is the front-runner to win a lucrative contract for the planes' engines, breaking a drought of orders after rival Pratt & Whitney scooped up most orders for the A320neo.

CFM is a joint venture between General Electric and France's Safran.

Many aircraft offer a choice of engines. These are included in the aircraft list price but in practice are sold directly to airlines by the engine makers.


CO/UA CEO hopes for fully combined ops by year end

Combining operations of United Airlines and Continental Airlines is on track and should be completed by year's end, the company's chief executive said.

Jeff Smisek told shareholders that United Continental Holdings is moving toward a single designation by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The companies closed their USD$3.17 billion merger last October, hoping that the combination with sprawling domestic and international route networks will attract lucrative corporate travel contracts.

United hopes to realize more than USD$1 billion in annual revenue benefits and cost savings by 2013.

A central focus of integration is combining work groups at the two carriers, including pilots who picketed the company's annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday.

Efforts at reaching a joint pilot contract are "nowhere near on schedule" and until a deal is done "this merger cannot be considered anything close to a success," said Wendy Morse, chairman of United's chapter of the Air Line Pilots Association.


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

U.S. Government DC-9-33F visits Long Beach Airport

Douglas DC-9-33F (47410/480) N45NA operated by the United States National Nuclear Security Administration turns onto Rwy 30 at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on June 7, 2011 as it prepares to depart at 09:22 PST.

The aircraft was originally delivered to Martinair Holland as PH-MAR "Jean Monnet" on April 19, 1969. It was sold back to Douglas on November 10, 1982 and re-registered as N909DC until being leased to the United States Navy as 162753. The current operator bought the aircraft on November 27, 2003 re-registering it to its current registration.
 (Photo by Michael Carter) 

New G550 arrives from Savannah

G550 (c/n 5333) N833GA arrives at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) as "GLF85" following a flight from Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport (SAV/KSAV) at 09:45 PST.
(Photo by Michael Carter) 

German G550 at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB)

 Taxies on "Delta" towards a Rwy 30 departure.

G550 (c/n 5302) D-ASAF operated by Daimler Chrysler Aviation GMBH Stuttgart, rolls for takeoff on Rwy 30 at 14:53 PST bound for Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX).
(Photos by Michael Carter)

Monday, June 6, 2011

Things are getting fishy on jetBlue flights from Anchorage

Up to 8,000 pounds of salmon, halibut and other perishables have joined passengers on JetBlue Airways' new daily flights from Anchorage(ANC/PANC), Alaska, to Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB).

But travelers concerned about touching down reeking of fish need not worry; seafood and other cargo are making the 2,300-mile trek stashed far below passenger decks in crates of ice, giant coolers and pallets.

The new freight service represents a partnership between JetBlue, Lynden International, Northern Air Cargo and Alaskan businesses looking to ship their wares to the Lower 48.

The JetBlue service, which began in late May and is scheduled to continue through at least Sept. 5, is helping alleviate a drop in flights from Anchorage in recent years, a decline blamed largely on the stumbling economy.

The first three flights carried several thousand pounds of Copper River Salmon and Alaskan Halibut - two of the globe's most highly prized seafoods.

And those figures are expected to climb in coming weeks as the peak catching season approaches.

"As the fishing season gets into full swing, we expect those volumes to increase substantially," said Carl Shipsky, JetBlue's manager of system cargo sales. "We're looking forward to serving our (Anchorage) customers and becoming an increasingly significant part of the supply chain to the fishing industry in Alaska."

Indeed, the potential market is huge

Americans consumed about 300,000 metric tons of salmon in 2010, though much of it came from so-called salmon farms, or artificially produced lakes.
The Alaskan Copper River variety is a highly prized catch, and with North Atlantic halibut supplies depleting rapidly, the North Pacific variety is in greater demand than ever.

Ron Beach, a logistics manager with a seafood shipment company called Movers, told the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce that existing carriers had reduced flights, making the JetBlue connection all the more important.

Shipping frozen fish by ocean carrier from Alaska can take more than a week, and those varieties tend to sell for markedly less on the wholesale market.

JetBlue said it plans to ship up to 3.6 metric tons of seafood and other commercial cargo per southbound flight, though the number may vary depending on several factors.

"The (3.6 limit) are our per-flight goal numbers, but it depends heavily on our passenger and baggage load numbers, and on weather," said Mateo Lleras, a JetBlue spokesman.

Northbound flights are also expected to carry commercial cargo, but not anywhere near the volumes of goods headed south.

"The northbound lanes aren't utilized as heavily as the southbound lanes," Lleras said.

He said cargo in both directions is largely open to any business - large or small.

"We're open to accepting any type of cargo as long as it's not labeled as a hazardous material, dangerous good or (certain) personal effects," Lleras said. "But JetBlue transports any type of cargo for many different customers" unless prohibited by law.

The Alaska-Long Beach shipments represent JetBlue's growing interest in freight movement across the country. The airline has expanded to 33 the number of cities it offers cargo deliveries, while passenger routes are available to 65 cities.

The airline's fleet of Airbus A320 jets have up to 1,320-square-feet of cargo space for luggage and additional goods, less than the competitor Boeing 747, but enough to carry 2.5 tons to 3 tons per trip, said Edward McDonald, cargo system manager for JetBlue.

But pilots and air-traffic personnel ultimately call the shots on what does or doesn't get loaded.

"The available capacity is based on passenger and baggage load numbers, but also factors like weather," Lleras said.

Authorities hope the commercial cargo aspect to the new Long Beach-Anchorage route encourages JetBlue to expand their service beyond Sept. 5.

The Alaskan Chamber of Commerce notes thousands of Alaskans travel to Southern California during the long winter months for vacations and business purposes.

(Kristopher Hanson - Long Beach Press Telegram) 

Hughes Air West / USMC F-4B "Phantom" collision 40 years ago today

Check out the link below as it goes to a very nice website dedicated to a mid-air collision which occurred here in Southern California 40 years ago today between a Hughes Air West DC-9-31 (47441/503) N9345 and a USMC F-4B Phantom (151458).

India closer to C-17A purchase

Looks like we are getting closer to seeing an Indian Air Force C-17A. This has certainly been a very long process, but it will mean folks at the Douglas plant (I know it's Boeing now, but I grew up here in Long Beach so it will always be Douglas (DAC) to me) here in Long Beach will remain employeed and aircraft manufacturing here in SoCal will continue on. 

India's Cabinet has approved a proposal to buy 10 American C-17 military aircraft for more than $4 billion, the largest defense deal between the two nations, a defense official said Monday.

The deal requires the aircraft maker, Boeing Co., to invest 30 percent of the $4 billion in defense-related industries in India, said the official, who could not be named because he wasn't authorized to discuss the subject.

The approval comes after Boeing and another American defense manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, were rejected for an $11 billion deal to supply 126 fighter jets for the Indian air force.

The agreement to purchase the 10 heavy-lifting aircraft must be signed by both governments before the manufacturer begins to deliver the planes, said Rahul Bedi, a New Delhi-based analyst for the independent Jane's Information Group.

The Long Beach-built C-17 is a large transport aircraft and is used to airlift tanks, supplies and troops as well as to perform medical evacuations. It is capable of operating from basic airstrips.

Since 2002, New Delhi has become a closer strategic and military ally of Washington following decades of hostile relations during the Cold War-era when it was a close Soviet partner, Bedi said.

So far, the largest Indian defense deal with the United States has been the purchase of eight Boeing P-8 I long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft for $2.1 billion in 2009.

(Muneeza Navqi, Associated Press)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

New Italian G550

On Thursday June 2, Gulfstream G550 (c/n 5314) N834GA tbr I-ADVD took to the skys above Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on a pre-delivery test flight. Destined for an Itailian customer, this beauty has one of the more destinctly individual liveries seen here at Long Beach in a while on a new Gulfstream. 

 Taxies to Rwy 30 prior to departure.

 Kicked in the side by a nasty crosswind on short final to Rwy 30.

 This is one sweet G550!

Smokes the mains on Rwy 30.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Evergreen International Aviation sells Evergreen Maintenance Center

Laboring under a difficult debt load, landing it on a national credit watch list, McMinnville-based Evergreen International Aviation has liquidated a major asset for the second time in recent months.

The diversified aviation company announced Tuesday the sale of the Evergreen Maintenance Center, which covers 200 million square feet of Southern Arizona desert, to Relativity Capital, a private equity firm with more than $200 million under active management. Terms were not disclosed.

The move follows Evergreen’s September divestiture of its UAV, or unmanned aerial vehicle business, to the VT Group, a division of the multibillion-dollar British firm Babcock International Group PLC. Terms of that transaction also went undisclosed.

The center, located near the Pinal County community of Marana, specializes in the maintenance, repair, renovation and storage of commercial cargo and passenger aircraft. It is capable of housing up to 400 planes at a time for commercial airlines, cargo carriers, leasing companies and government agencies, making it the largest such facility in the world.

The site began life in the early stages of World War II as an Army Air Corps base. Later, during the Vietnam War, it served as home base for CIA aviation operations around the world.

The facilities include the Pinal Air Park, which features three hangars and a runway substantial enough to accommodate the largest, heaviest Boeing 747 in current service. Evergreen — which provides air cargo, ground support, aerial firefighting and helicopter services through its various divisions — took over in 1975.

Evergreen, which operates a multimillion-dollar fleet of 747 cargo carriers, has struggled with debt load off and on for years.

Standard & Poor’s, one of the two leading national credit rating services, downgraded the company’s bond rating to B in early 2008 and placed it under a credit watch.

In the interim, Evergreen’s financial situation has worsened to the point where Standard & Poor’s renewed its warning on Dec. 9, 2010. In the process, the agency dropped Evergreen’s credit rating to CCC, just a notch above the bottom rating of D on a scale peaking at AAA.

S&P promised an increase to B- if the company succeeded in efforts to negotiate a $320 million loan and $10 million revolving credit agreement to pay off bank debt and provide liquidity. But it issued a cautionary credit watch report last month, saying Evergreen had still not succeeded in closing a deal and suggesting prospective terms might not be as promising as it had hoped in December.

Evergreen officials did not return calls seeking comment.

When S&P first placed the company on its credit watch list, Chief Financial Officer John Irwin, a 20-year company veteran, dismissed it out of hand.

“We are not in any way concerned about it,” he said. “We are not concerned about the future of the company.”

But the Chicago-based Boeing Co. dealt company prospects a severe blow in April 2010 when it shifted its lucrative Dreamlifter jumbo freighter contract from Evergreen to archrival Atlas Air. Evergreen had held the contract for five years and had made investments based on the expectation of a series of five-year renewals.

Evergreen responded by filing a suit alleging the action would cost it $175 million in profit. It accused Atlas and Boeing of colluding, with future aircraft purchases serving as the incentive.

Shortly after selling off its drone business last fall, Evergreen hired the investment banking giant Goldman Sachs to help it refinance outstanding debt and purchase new aircraft for its fleet. When that still hadn’t happened in December, Standard & Poor’s downgraded Evergreen’s credit and termed any investment in the company “extremely speculative.”

In an April 18 update, S&P said, “The company has not yet completed the refinancing and is still negotiating with lenders.” It warned, “We believe that the structure and terms of the proposed refinancing are in flux and may differ from the proposal we reviewed in December 2010.”

But none of that was reflected in the company press release announcing the sale.

In the release, company founder and chairman Del Smith was quoted as praising the crew at Marana for the quality of its work and promising Evergreen would continue having its maintenance work done there.

Joyce Johnson-Miller, co-founder and senior managing director of Relativity Capital, joined in lauding the operation. She also pledged the private equity firm’s continued support to Evergreen “through its long-term growth.”

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Photo of the Day / Challenger 850

Bombardier CL-600-2B19 Challenger 850 (c/n 8095) C-FUQY taxies at Farnborough (FAB/EGLF) on June 3, 2011. (Photo by James Mepsted)