Saturday, September 28, 2013

LOT Polish Airlines gives Boeing until years end to settle on 787 compensation to avoid law suit

Boeing Co. has been given until the end of the year by Polish National airline LOT to settle on compensation revolving around its 787 Dreamliner faults before the airline pursues court action, Reuters reports.
LOT CEO Sebastian Mikosz told newspaper Dziennik Gazeta Prawna on Thursday that if the two sides are unable to agree on compensation, LOT would be forced to move the dispute into legal proceedings. ”We are holding negotiations because Boeing is our very important partner and we are ready to take any steps possible within the bounds of the law to defend the interests of the company,” Mikosz told the Polish publication.

The news comes as earlier this week LOT explained that it had to delay some of its Dreamliner flights when check-ups revealed that two planes were missing gas filters. The cost of temporary replacement plane rentals, along with a list of other compensation claims, are estimated at about 100 million Polish zlotys ($32 million). However, LOT spokeswoman Barbara Pijanowska-Kuras told the Times that the gas filter issue represented ”no threat to flight safety” as each engine has two filters.

Boeing spokesman Doug Alder Jr. explained, “No other 787s in the worldwide fleet are impacted.” He continued, “Boeing is conducting a thorough review of the cause of this and will implement the appropriate changes to ensure it does not happen again.”

LOT is one of 13 airlines that fly the 787, which has been touted as an industry game-changer given its use of lighter materials and new engines. Boeing has promised that the airplanes will result in 20 percent savings in fuel compensation over previous models along with a 20 percent decrease in emissions.

The jetliner is the first in the industry to be made from composites and also features rechargeable lithium ion batteries.

Despite the cost-saving potential of Boeing’s new airplane, the manufacturer has been bogged down by a variety of technical setbacks. An issue with the manufacturer’s lithium ion batteries earlier this year resulted in a temporary grounding of all planes when a battery caught fire on an All Nippon Airways flight in January.

Then, in July, a fire broke out on a 787 that was parked at London’s Heathrow Airport — an incident whose cause has not yet been determined. This situation with LOT is just one more hurdle for Boeing to get over as it works to keep its reputation from crumbling.

(Thomas Mentel - The Wall Street Cheat Sheet)

Shoddy workmenship to blame for Southwest 737-300 in-flight upper fuselage tear in 2011

A National Transportation Safety Board report blames shoddy workmanship for an in-flight tear in the roof of a Southwest Airlines plane in 2011.
The Boeing 737-300 was en route from Phoenix to Sacramento, Calif., on April 1, 2011, when a 5-foot-long gash opened in the fuselage. Air rushed in, oxygen masks dropped from the ceiling and a flight attendant fainted, breaking his nose, as the pilots made a rapid descent and an emergency landing at Yuma International Airport.
The NTSB's findings, released Friday and first reported by The Seattle Times, say that when the jet was assembled in 1996, two panels appeared to have been misaligned, and many rivet holes were drilled incorrectly. The agency said it showed "a lack of attention to detail and extremely poor manufacturing technique."
Hidden cracks began emanating from the rivet holes soon after the plane entered service and had been growing slowly ever since, the NTSB said.
It isn't clear whether the work was done at initial fuselage assembly at Boeing's plant in Wichita, Kan., which is now Spirit AeroSystems, or during final assembly in Renton, Wash., the report said. At the time, Boeing only kept manufacturing records for up to seven years.
In an emailed statement Saturday, Boeing said it's dedicated to the safety of its planes and that it provided technical assistance to the NTSB investigators. The company pointed out that inspections on other 737s found no similar damage — suggesting the problem was isolated.
The NTSB said it couldn't determine why Boeing's quality-assurance protocols failed to discover the shoddy work, but concluded that in light of the one-off nature of the problem, it is "unlikely that there was a systemic (quality assurance) error at the Boeing facilities."
The NTSB report also addressed the injury suffered by the flight attendant, who told investigators that despite being trained to put on his oxygen mask immediately, he thought he "could get a lot more done" before putting on the mask. Instead, he tried to make a call or a public announcement to the passengers first, quickly passed out and broke his nose.
An off-duty airline employee flying as a passenger passed out while trying to help the flight attendant and suffered a cut above his eye.
The NTSB report notes that people can lose consciousness in as little as six seconds in the event of a rapid de-pressurization of an airplane cabin.
At the time, the incident raised questions about whether aging jets might be more susceptible to metal fatigue earlier than previously thought. But Hans Weber, an aviation technical expert, president of Tecop International in San Diego, told The Seattle Times that the NTSB analysis dispels that concern.
"The workmanship was just terrible," Weber said. "This has nothing to do with a typical fatigue fracture due to aging."

(Gene Johnson - Associated Press)

Friday, September 27, 2013

Hush kits quiet the critics, while other upgrades add the latest bells and whistles.

Gulfstream G-III (c/n 343) N221CM arrives at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB).
(Photo by Michael Carter)

In this age of $7-a-gallon Jet A fuel, what would you call someone who buys a 12-­passenger airplane that burns more than 550 gallons an hour? Crazy? Masochistic? How
That’s what Vann White calls the owners of the Gulfstream IIIs managed by his company, Nonstop Aviation, in Boca Raton, Florida.
Gulfstream made 202 GIIIs between 1979 and 1987. A descendant of the legendary GII, the GIII features the same virtually indestructible, loud and fuel-thirsty Rolls-Royce Spey turbofans bolted on the back. Fill up the seats (12 to 19, depending on cabin configuration) and you can fly more than 3,000 nautical miles at 45,000 feet at speeds up to 500 knots. Depending on load and conditions, the GIII can generally use 5,000-foot runways and it climbs at a brisk 3,800 feet per minute.
The 1950s-designed Spey was one of the first turbofans to enter wide military and civilian service. It proved more economical than the “straight pipe” turbojet engines of the day and, at 11,400 pounds of thrust each, the engines give the 69,700-pound GIII plenty of reserve power, even at high altitudes.
The two Speys drink an average of 556 gallons per hour, or about 20 to 25 percent more than the engines on a 1990s-vintage GIV. Reflecting the durability of their airliner heritage, the Speys have a time-between-overhaul (TBO) limit of 8,000 hours. ­(A business jet’s fanjet engine typically has a TBO of 3,500 to 5,000 hours.)
The GII and the GIII appear similar until you look closely. The GIII weighs 69,700 pounds, 7,700 more than its predecessor. It has a more aerodynamic windshield and radome, a two-foot-longer fuselage, a six-foot-longer wingspan and a tweaked wing design that reduces high-speed drag.
Factory-installed winglets—decidedly new technology in 1979 but now commonplace—reduce drag and increase fuel efficiency.
The GIII shares the rugged construction of the GII. That is to say, it is overbuilt. The GII was designed by Grumman, the company that made carrier-based naval aircraft, including the F-14 Tomcat.
In 1978, Grumman sold its Gulfstream division, which subsequently passed through three civilian owners. General Dynamics, another defense contractor, owns it today. A lot of this carrier-based durability made its way into the GII and later the GIII.
One of Nonstop Aviation’s GIII ­owners bought his 9,500-hour aircraft out of a bank repossession after it had been idle for almost 30 months. Even after repeating many of the required maintenance inspections just to be extra cautious, the company found few problems—unusual for an aircraft sitting fallow for so long.
Nonstop stripped the airplane down to bare metal and looked at everything, including the inside of the fuel tanks. “This tells you how well it was built, considering this is a 30-year-old airplane,” White says. “This airplane is not prone to have a lot of problems. It’s a great airplane.”
IDG Interiors in suburban Atlanta gutted the airplane and replaced the interior. The six-month refurbishment incorporated a paint job, a galley installation and addition of all the latest bells and whistles to the cabin, including LED lighting, Wi-Fi  and a touch-screen entertainment system.
Nonstop overhauled all the flight controls. “We were able to get parts all the time and were not restricted to one vendor like you are with other Gulfstream models,” White says. During what amounted to a $3.5 million restoration (including the aircraft purchase price, which was in the range of $500,000 to $750,000), Nonstop partnered with Quiet Technology Aerospace (QTA), maker of engine noise-reduction hush kits for the GII and GIII, and holder of an FAA Part 145 repair station certificate.
QTA has sold 92 hush kits to date, approximately 60 percent of them for the GIII. The kits enable older aircraft to meet the stringent anti-noise standards that have been adopted by most airports. The kits cost $800,000, which includes installation and overhauling of thrust reversers, says QTA vice president Ben Brown, an expert on maintenance of used Gulfstreams. Installation takes about a week.
A competing kit from Hubbard Aviation Technologies also sells for less than $1 million, but includes a different style cascade thrust reverser. Hubbard, which claims its kit is quieter than QTA’s, has sold a handful of them to date.
Partly because of the Speys’ thirst, some operators are scrapping their GIIs and GIIIs, driving down the price of used models. Today a used GIII runs $750,000 to $1.8 million, according to White, who says that “most of the parts on the GII are common to the GIII.” (Gulfstream built 258 GIIs between 1967 and 1979.)
Because of scrapping, Brown says, most parts for the GIII “cost less than half what they did five years ago.” And that includes parts needed for engine overhauls and midlife inspections, says White.
However, because of the glut of used Speys on the market with plenty of useful life, many operators are forsaking overhauls in favor of buying used engines. In December 2010, White sent out a Spey for a 10-year, 4,000-hour midlife inspection costing $692,000. Today he can do two engines with that same vendor for less than $800,000, he says. “These engines are bulletproof.
“At the end of the day, this owner has an airplane that is good for 10 years,” White comments. “His first major event with the engines is 10 years away. His first major airframe inspection is in 72 months. His maintenance costs for the next five or six years are minimal.
“There’s not an airframe out there that competes with this airplane,” White adds. “You can take this airplane with full fuel and full seats and go right to 43,000 feet. You would have to spend another $4 million [on a used Gulfstream GIV] to go another 400 miles.”
White says the GIII’s comparatively shorter range actually works out on trips from New York to places such as Paris, by forcing a fuel stop in Ireland where the price per gallon is less than half of what you’d pay in France. “When I take the GIII to Paris, I’m going to leave France without buying a gallon of gas. With the hush kits, I can land at the same Stage III noise-restricted airports that a GIV can,” White notes.
QTA’s Brown says hush-kit-equipped GIIIs meet the “marginal compliance” noise standard being enforced by many European airports. 
For White’s GIII owners, it comes down to value. “Some people don’t value money,” he says, “but all my owners do.” 
(Mark Huber - Business jet Traveler)

United Airlines Captain suffers fatal heart attack in flight

A United Airlines flight from Houston to Seattle was diverted after its captain reportedly suffered a fatal heart attack during the flight. The flight was rerouted to the Boise Airport in Idaho and landed there at 8 p.m. Thursday.

Patti Miller, Boise Airport spokeswoman, confirmed to ABC News United Airlines Flight 1603 made an emergency landing at the airport Thursday evening. Miller says the captain of the flight experienced a medical emergency, which was an apparent heart attack.

Seattle ABC affiliate KOMO reported that a passenger on the flight said a crew member made an in-flight announcement on the loudspeaker asking if anyone on board was a physician.

"We got a man down, chest compressions going on right now. I'm not sure too much right now the status," A United crew member said in a recorded conversation with air traffic control. "Can an ambulance and maybe some air stairs meet us on the runway?"

"The Boeing 737 landed safely, and paramedics met the plane upon arrival and transported the crew member to the hospital," United Airlines said in a statement.

United would not comment on the pilot's condition. A spokesperson from Saint Alphonsus hospital, where the captain was taken, confirmed to ABC News that the pilot died.

There were 161 passengers and six crew members on board Flight 1603 Thursday night. Crew members and passengers departed Boise Airport for Seattle just before midnight.

"I am sad to confirm that our co-worker passed away last night. Our thoughts are with his family at this time," a United spokeswoman said in a statement to ABC News Friday morning.

The family has been notified of the pilot's death. The pilot's name has not been disclosed.

(ABC News)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Boeing releases aircraft order update

Boeing released its latest report on airplane orders received -- and canceled -- through the first eight-plus months of 2013 on Thursday.

To date, the aerospace giant has booked:
  • 771 "gross" orders for various flavors of its 737 regional airliner
  • 132 orders for the 787 Dreamliner
  • 44 for the 777 airliner
  • five 747 orders
From this total, Boeing subtracted 104 737s, eight 777s, all five 747s, but just a single 787, for customer cancellations, resulting in a net of 834 commercial airplanes ordered year to date.

Boeing highlighted two significant changes in the order book since last week's update, namely, that it lost four 737 orders due to cancellation, but then added back twice as many -- eight new 737 orders -- placed by Spanish carrier Air Europa.

(Rich Smith - The Motley Fool)

Proud Bird Restaurant at LAX to close forever on November 21, 2013

The aviation-themed Proud Bird Restaurant, a fixture at Los Angeles International Airport for 48 years, plans to close for good later this year, officials said Wednesday.

The owner of the restaurant, Runway Two-Five Corp., told airport officials three weeks ago that it planned to shut down the Proud Bird.

Airport spokeswoman Nancy Castles said the company has not sent an official letter of termination to Los Angeles World Airports, the restaurant’s landlord.

A restaurant manager who declined to give his name said the restaurant will close on Nov. 21.

However, the banquet portion of the facility will remain open for an additional month, he said. All the restaurant’s employees have been informed of the closure.

The Proud Bird, which specializes in steaks and seafood, is located on Aviation Boulevard in Westchester, just east of two parallel runways — Runways 25R and 25L — on the south side of the airport.

It’s a popular meeting point for plane spotters, or people (often tourists) who take pictures of airplanes landing and taking off. The restaurant maintains a large collection of historic airplanes parked outside the dining room.

In a statement, Los Angeles World Airport officials said the decision to close the restaurant may have been linked to a dispute over how much rent Runway Two-Five Corp. should pay.

According to airport officials, the company had been paying “below market rent” on a month-to-month basis since its five-year lease expired in April 2011. Under those terms, LAWA is now receiving rent of $18,201 a month for 8.3 acres of commercial property, according to the statement.

Under the Los Angeles city charter, airport officials said, a new lease would have go through a competitive bidding process and must be based on current market value. Sources say Runway Two-Five Corp. did not want to renew the lease at market value.

Airport officials referred questions to John Tallichet, chairman of the board of Specialty Restaurants Corp., parent of Runway Two-Five Corp. He could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Castles said that, at this point, the airport has no other plans for the Proud Bird building or the land.

(Brian Sumers - Daily Breeze)

Lufthansa 777F's will serve three U.S. markets beginning in November

The air cargo business is not flourishing, but that isn’t stopping Lufthansa Cargo from upgrading its cargo fleet in the Trans-Atlantic, where it will bring in new Boeing 777 freighters starting in November.

The carrier will begin operating the 777F in November on trans-Atlantic routes from Frankfurt to Atlanta, Chicago and Newark. It will take delivery of two aircraft this year, two in 2014 and one in 2015.

List price is $270 million; major airlines pay generally pay about half of list price, analysts say.

“The B777F is the most modern and most efficient freighter in the world,” said Lara Kittler, spokesperson for Lufthansa Cargo in Frankfurt. “Additionally it is less noisy, but can carry more freight, than the MD-11F. So we can profit from a lot of advantages.”
Lufthansa’s first two 777 freighters will replace its oldest MD-11 freighters. Kittler said concentrating flights on the trans-Atlantic routes will allow for more efficient use of the crews initially trained to fly the aircraft.
Boeing has taken 127 of the 777 freighters, delivering 81 of them to customers including U.S. airlines FedEx  and Southern Air Transport.
Aviation consultant Scott Hamilton said the aircraft “has done reasonably well for a new freighter. It’s more economical than the 747 freighter, although it doesn’t have the payload range.” Lufthansa said the 777F with a load of 103 tons can fly 5,592 miles in ten and a half hours.
“Thanks to its outstanding technical performance and reliability, the freighter is entering new dimensions,” said Karl-Rudolf Rupprecht, a board member at Lufthansa Cargo, in a prepared statement. “It also marks a milestone on our ambitious path to lowering specific emissions by 25%.”

While Lufthansa Cargo is taking its first 777 freighters, its partner AeroLogic operates eight of them. AeroLogic is a joint venture between the Lufthansa Cargo and DHL Express.  Lufthansa Cargo uses the capacity primarily on weekends.

Lufthansa noted that in 1972, it was the first airline to use a 747 freighter. It put a 747-200F to use in the Trans-Atlantic, with the first flight routed from Frankfurt to New York.

“With 73 tons of cargo and 1.8 tons of mail on board, the four-engine Boeing 747-200F took off on its first scheduled flight from Frankfurt to New York,” Lufthansa said, in a press release. “Four decades later, the new member of Lufthansa Cargo’s fleet only needs two engines to connect Europe with the USA or Asia.”

The International Air Traffic Association said Monday that cargo markets “remain in the doldrums.” For 2013, IATA projects growth of 0.9%, down from the previously projected rate of 1.5%.

“The ability of airlines to match cargo capacity to demand is limited by the natural growth in belly capacity that occurs as airlines respond to passenger demand,” IATA said. “As a result of this mismatch, cargo yields are expected to fall by 4.9% this year (deeper than the 2.0% decline previously projected).”

Cargo revenues are expected to total $59 billion, down $8 billion from their 2011 peak, while passenger revenues are expected to reach $565 billion, up $68 billion during the same period.

(Ted Reed - Forbes)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Norwegian Air Shuttle unhappy with 787-8 "Dreamliner"

Norwegian Air Shuttle 787-8 (35304/102) EI-LNA "Sonja Henie" arrives at Oslo-Gardermoen (OSL/ENGM) on July 11, 2013.
(Photo by James Mepsted)

Scandinavian low-cost carrier Norwegian Air Shuttle has confirmed reports it has summoned Boeing management representatives to Oslo later this week to address reliability issues that have dogged the carrier’s two new Boeing 787 Dreamliners.

The airline said a number of teething problems had forced it to ground the new aircraft, the first of which was delivered in late June, several times over recent weeks, causing unacceptable disruption and delay for passengers.

A Norwegian spokesperson confirmed these problems included brakes, hydraulic pump and power issues. Further problems last weekend—understood to have involved oxygen supply to the cockpit and a valve problem—have prompted the carrier to call the meeting later this week.

Norwegian SVP-corporate communications Anne-Sissel Sk√•nvik said: “We will tell Boeing that this situation is far from good enough. We have not had the reliability that we had expected from brand new planes, so something must happen, fast. Our expectation is that their strict quality control systems rule out ‘snag’ and technical issues before delivery to the customer.”

In a statement Boeing responded: “Boeing is working with Norwegian to address  issues. We are disappointed to have issues so early in our 787 operations. We regret the disruption caused to Norwegian and its passengers.

We are committed to improving the 787’s in-service dispatch reliability and are applying the resources required to achieve the results that we and our customers expect.

We have a significant focus on component reliability improvements and are working airline-by-airline to ensure we have the right support in place to help each airline through the entry-into-service process.”

Boeing also said its 787 fleet is averaging about 175 revenue flights per day, has flown more than 12,000 revenue flights since return to service in April, and more than 30,000 revenue flights since the 787 entered service.

Norwegian has ordered eight 787 Dreamliners, the third of which is due to be delivered in 2013, with a further four in 2014 and one in 2015.

(Anne Paylor - ATWOnline News)

G650 N637GA takes to the skies

Taxies on "Lima" towards a

Rwy 30 departure

on September 24, 2013.

Gulfstream G650 (c/n 6037) N637GA tbr M-USIK upon delivery, rolls for takeoff at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) as "GLF37" for a short test sortie.
(Photos by Michael Carter)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Virgin Australia 777-300 experiences rapid decent during approach to Melbourne

Incorrect data entry during a Boeing 777-300ER’s preparations for landing resulted in the crew shaving to deal with an unexpectedly rapid descent and a low-level approach into Melbourne.
The aircraft, operated by Virgin Australia from Los Angeles, had been performing the LIZZI 7V standard arrival pattern to runway 34.

This arrival pattern, which had been programmed into the flight management computer during cruise, ended at a waypoint designated SHEED, so the crew supplemented the pattern by selecting a visual approach from the database.
Selecting this option added another pair of waypoints to extend the pattern beyond SHEED: one at the runway threshold and one, fixed by the crew, positioned 2.8nm before the runway.
The threshold waypoint’s altitude defaulted to 330ft but the carrier’s procedures advised pilots to adjust this to 380ft, to provide a 50ft threshold crossing height.
But investigators state that the pilots instead mistakenly assigned this 380ft altitude to the second waypoint, the height for which was normally automatically calculated by the flight computer.
As a result, after passing the SHEED waypoint, the aircraft’s autopilot increased the rate of descent from 700ft/min to 1,500ft/min in order to lose height and cross the 2.8nm waypoint at 380ft.
This sudden rapid descent surprised the crew, who noted that the aircraft was too low for the approach. The captain disengaged the autopilot and levelled the 777 at 700ft – some 500ft above ground – and flew at this height until precision-approach path indicator lamps showed the jet had intercepted the glidepath. It landed safely.
Four flight crew were in the cockpit during the approach. Australian Transport Safety Bureau investigators are still assessing the 15 August 2013 event, adding that the inquiry will focus on how the data was incorrectly entered and “remained undetected”.

(David Kaminski-Morrow - Flight Global)

Be very, very quiet, we are flying into Long Beach Airport!

Eric Sheng, noise specialist, works in his space over looking the Long Beach Airport as he keeps track of 18 noise monitors place in and around the airport as planes come in and out of the airport in Long Beach CA. on Sept. 3, 2013. Long Beach Airport employs three full-time people to monitor noise levels at and near the runway.
(Photo by Thomas R. Cordova - Daily Breeze)        

Once each quarter, JetBlue Airways writes a hefty check to the Friends of the Long Beach Public Library. But the reason is not necessarily altruism.
Among major commercial airports, Long Beach Airport is unique in its noise policies. The airport and the city require airplanes to operate unusually quietly — day and night. While cities can no longer enact new noise ordinances under federal law, Long Beach has a long-standing exemption carved out by Congress.

When aircraft operators break the rules, measured at two monitoring stations near the airport, pilots or their employers must pay fees on a per infraction basis. While operators are hit with only a warning on their first transgression, fines can rise up to $300 after that.

JetBlue, the airport’s main commercial tenant, actually pays considerably more, a result of a legal agreement reached between the airline and the city about a decade ago.

The system works by measuring decibel levels. During the day, arriving aircraft must make no more than 101.5 decibels, as measured by a monitoring station near the runway, an airport official said. Departing aircraft can make up to 102.5 decibels. Between 6 and 7 a.m. and between 10 and 11 p.m., the decibel maximum drops to around 90.

In the overnight hours, the decibel limit drops to 79.

Noise violations rarely occur during the day — pilots in modern, efficient aircraft can meet those limits without difficulty — but at other times it is much tricker, aviation experts say.

Between 6 and 7 a.m. and 10 and 11 p.m. some pilots can maneuver aircraft to make them quieter, but in the overnight hours, the limit is nearly impossible to meet, experts say. That means operators have to decide whether to pay the fine or go elsewhere.

Three noise specialists work in the airport operations center tracking decibel levels. Eric Sheng, a noise specialist, monitors flights and take phone calls — sometimes angry ones — from residents. He said the difference between 90 decibels and 100 decibels is considerable and that neighbors tend to know when a violation has occurred.

“A 90 is like a blender in your house and a 100 is like a diesel truck going by your house,” Sheng said. “I think when it goes to 100 it makes a difference. You feel it.”

Most scheduled airlines and charter operators try to avoid rule-breaking. On a recent Wednesday for example, JetBlue’s final arrival was scheduled for 9:17 p.m., a short flight from Sacramento. But occasionally, often due to weather or mechanical difficulties, planes must land later.

According to airport data, JetBlue operated 22 times between 10 and 11 p.m. in June. In 13 of those instances, the carrier’s pilots violated the noise ordinance. Overall, in the first six months of the year, JetBlue had 50 violations. Between January and June, US Airways and UPS were the only other major carriers to have a violation. Each had one.

Overall in June, only about 0.1 percent of all operations (28 of 26,379) resulted in a noise violation, according to airport officials. That number includes private jets.
Under municipal law, the city can criminally prosecute the aircraft’s owner and the pilots for breaking the noise ordinance, City Prosecutor Douglas P. Haubert said.
“To my knowledge, criminal charges have been filed only three times in the history of the ordinance,” Haubert said in an email.

In 2003, Haubert said, the city and JetBlue reached an agreement that JetBlue would not be prosecuted criminally for noise ordinance violations. In return, the airline would pay more than other operators for each transgression.

In 2011, JetBlue paid $555,000 to the Long Beach Public Library foundation, according to a recent internal airline report. The agreement, called a consent decree, must be renewed every year, but Haubert said he expects it will continue for the foreseeable future.

Other Long Beach operators pay relatively little in fines, but that does not mean the noise rules do not affect operations, especially for private jet companies. Their clients often want to fly at night or in the early morning. But generally, the passengers must go elsewhere, like Los Angeles International Airport or Van Nuys Airport.

“We hold a policy that if you are going to land after 10 p.m. don’t land, go somewhere else,” said Damon Danneker, director of operations at Long Beach Airport-based charter operator JFI Jets. “It hurts business sometimes. Two nights ago one of our rich and famous people wanted to go to Florida but due to noise constraints we had to pass on the business.”

Danneker said most jets can land and take off between 10 and 11 p.m. and 6 and 7 a.m. without breaking the decibel limits, but he said pilots can be reluctant to try.

While the first noise infraction carries only a warning, future mistakes can cost operators and pilots.
“Nobody in aviation wants to break a rule ever,” Danneker said. “When you do break those rules, it’s kind of a badge of dishonor.”

Kerry Gerot, spokeswoman for Long Beach Airport, said first-time offenders usually take the transgression seriously.
“They get a warning letter and generally they do their best to comply,” she said. “It’s really a matter of education. It’s our job to help educate them especially if it’s a new pilot.”

Not every type of plane is covered by the noise limits, however. Gerot said government jets are exempt, and they can use the airport whenever they want.
Thomas Landefeld, who lives in Long Beach about two miles west of the airport, called military jets a major inconvenience. He said planes such as the F-18 are considerably louder than commercial jets.

“The regular carriers, we hear some, but it’s not that annoying,” Landefeld said. “The ones we have heard lately, especially on the weekends, are the military-type jets. If you’re talking, you can hardly hear the person you are talking to. It almost eliminates conversation.”

But Gerot said most residents, once they learn of military training flights, are generally OK with them.
“It’s a very small percentage that complains about them,” she said.

  (Brian Sumers - Daily Breeze)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Allegiant Air grounds 30 MD-80s for emergency slide inspections

Allegiant Airlines took more than half of its fleet of MD-80 aircraft out of service Friday to inspect emergency slides, four days after passengers and crew members deployed the devices to escape to the tarmac when smoke was reported on an Allegiant plane in Las Vegas.
Las Vegas-based Allegiant Travel Co., parent company of the airline, issued a statement saying Friday's inspections were linked to an unspecified "compliance issue" found during a follow-up review of Monday's evacuation at McCarran International Airport.
"All of the slides on the aircraft involved in the evacuation Monday were up-to-date and compliant," company spokeswoman Jessica Wheeler said in an email. "However, that event triggered a maintenance review which found issues with other slides in our fleet."
No injuries were reported among the 144 passengers and six crew members who used slides to evacuate an Allegiant aircraft before takeoff for Peoria, Ill. The inspection action covers 30 of the airline's 52 MD-80s.
In the statement, company President Andrew Levy apologized for disruption to travelers and promised around-the-clock work to ensure aircraft safety. The airline said delays, rescheduling and cancelations were expected during the next several days, and that inspections were expected to be completed by the end of September.
FAA official Ian Gregor in Hawthorne, Calif., said the agency was checking Allegiant's compliance with door slide inspection requirements.
Allegiant serves about 100 mostly small cities and vacation destinations including Orlando, Fla., Las Vegas and the Phoenix area. It carried nearly 2.3 passengers to McCarran airport in 2012.
McCarran spokesman Chris Jones reported little disruption Friday at the Las Vegas airport, and said staff was monitoring travelers to ensure orderly lines if necessary. He said it was up to Allegiant to accommodate travelers whose Sin City vacations may be extended.
Allegiant announced last month that it was adding service to 10 airports including two near New York City.

 (Ken Ritter - Associated Press)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Sad news here in Long Beach as Boeing announces closure of C-17A production in 2015

C-17A (P-218) 10-0218 rotates from Rwy 30 at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on September 6, 2012 as it departs on a pre-delivery test flight.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

The C-17 Globemaster III plant, California’s last remaining aircraft manufacturing facility, will shutter in two years, affecting 2,200 Boeing Co. employees based in Long Beach and Huntington Beach and thousands of workers and suppliers nationwide, company officials announced Wednesday.

In an “all-hands-on-deck” meeting before noon, about 3,000 C-17 workers in East Long Beach, Macon, Ga., Mesa, Ariz., El Paso, Texas, and St. Louis, were told in person or via webcast by top Boeing officials that the plant will close after the delivery of the last C-17 in 2015.

“Ending C-17 production was a very difficult but necessary decision,” said Dennis Muilenburg, president and chief executive officer of Boeing Defense, Space & Security.

“We want to thank the highly skilled and talented employees who have built this great airlifter for more than two decades and those who will help us as we continue to build the remaining 22 aircraft and support and modernize the global fleet for decades to come.”

The announcement comes nearly one week after Boeing handed over its 223rd and final C-17 to the Air Force in Charleston, S.C.

The decision to shutter the C-17 program was realized by Boeing officials around the same time of the last delivery to the Air Force, though the company had been considering the decision to end production for a long time, Nan Bouchard, Boeing vice president and C-17 program manager, told reporters in a conference call Wednesday afternoon.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe, who was at last week’s delivery in Long Beach, said he was “outraged” to learn about the closure and added he will continue to lobby national leaders in Washington, D.C.

“The C-17 program has been synonymous with Long Beach for years and has been an economic stimulus for Los Angeles County, employing thousands of workers,” Knabe said. “With a local economy that remains sluggish and the unemployment rate stagnant at 9.2 percent, now is not the time for Boeing and the federal government to pull the rug out from underneath us and put more people out of work.
“The closure of Boeing’s Long Beach plant means local jobs will be lost and our region’s economic recovery will take yet another significant blow. But the impact of the closure extends far beyond Los Angeles County.”

Despite strong international interest, Boeing did not receive enough orders to protect the C-17 production line beyond 2015, Bouchard said, adding that 13 of the 22 remaining aircraft had no committed orders.

Seven of the orders are bound for India and two will be delivered to a not-yet-named international customer.

The “tough budget environment” faced by its international customers and issues involving U.S. sequestration — the automatic, across-the-board reductions triggered in March when lawmakers failed to agree on the nation’s budget — were uncertainties that led to some “difficult decisions,” Bouchard said.

Created in the late Cold War-era of the 1980s, the C-17 has evolved from fledging prototype to a military workhorse known for its ability to land and take off from short airfields and clocking more than 2.6 million flying hours in various peacekeeping and humanitarian missions.

But when the U.S. government stopped ordering C-17s, Boeing officials began seeking more foreign orders to keep the production line open.

Officials were optimistic, delivering 34 of its 257 C-17s to countries such as Australia, Canada, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates the United Kingdom, the 12-member Strategic Airlift Capability initiative of NATO and Partnership for Peace nations and India, its largest foreign customer.

But industry observers have wondered how much longer the Boeing program would survive without its bread-and-butter customer, the U.S. government.

“The C-17 is by far the best strategic airlifter that has ever been built, but trying to keep a plant running with sales only to foreigners is a tough job,” said aerospace analyst Loren Thompson, of the Lexington Institute, a Virginia think tank.

Currently, 20,000 people between Long Beach and all of its more than 650 suppliers in 44 states owe their employment to the C-17 program, Bouchard said.
A reduction in the workforce will begin in early 2014 and will be done in stages, with the bulk of the reductions occurring in mid-2014 until the last aircraft moves through the facility, Bouchard said.
“We recognize how closing the C-17 line will affect the lives of the men and women who work here, and we will do everything possible to assist our employees, their families and our community,” Bouchard said.

That assistance will range from providing financial counseling as well as resume and retirement help to finding employees work elsewhere in Boeing or outside of the company.

Long Beach Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske, who represents the district that encompasses the C-17 program, said this is an opportunity for other area companies to take very experienced, well-trained Long Beach workers and put them to work in technology and growth-industry jobs.
“It’s important to be able to provide new opportunities for these workers while the city of Long Beach has an 11.9 percent unemployment rate as of August … and a 22 percent poverty rate,” Schipske said in a statement.

Bouchard said it is too early to tell what will be done to the facility after the closure, but Boeing does not plan to move a commercial or military production program to the Long Beach site.

Meanwhile, Boeing will continue supporting the international C-17 fleet as part of a sustainment agreement, currently under contract through 2017 with annual options through 2021, Bouchard said.
Community leaders and Boeing employees reacted strongly to Wednesday’s news.
 “As work slowed over the last several years, we worked side by side with Boeing to extend the C-17 line for seven additional years,” he said. “There’s a sense of sadness to see the end of an institution, but Boeing has grown its commercial aircraft work and announced an engineering design center over the past few years that solidifies the company’s commitment in Long Beach.”

Meanwhile, many of the employees were caught off guard by the news, said Stan Klemchuk, president of the United Aerospace Workers — Local 148 representing 1,100 Boeing mechanics and other employees.

“This came out of nowhere,” he said, adding that the union was informed 15 minutes before the company made its announcement. “We’re in shock and devastated.”

Klemchuk said the union hoped and was led to believe that Boeing would secure enough small foreign orders to buy the company time to figure out other job-saving alternatives. They had been encouraged by some of the international orders over the years.

“Long Beach is losing good, high-paying jobs with benefits,” he said. “It’s just devastating.”

(Karen Robes Meeks - Long Beach Press Telegram)
Facts and figures about the Boeing C-17 Globemaster
9 million: parts that make up a C-17

2.6 million: operational flight hours exceeded by the C-17

213,000: total material weight in pounds

164,900: pounds of maximum payload

174: length in feet

169.8: wingspan to winglet tips in feet

120: miles of wiring

55.1: height at tail in feet

600: pounds of paint

3: total aircrew, including two in the cockpit and one loadmaster

0.74 to 0.77: Mach cruise speed

4: number of Pratt & Whitney engines

33: The number of world records set during flight-testing at Edwards Air Force Base, more than any other airlifter in history.

+20,000: number of jobs directly associated with the C-17 program

650: number of C-17 suppliers in 44 states

$5.8 billion: estimated total economic impact of C-17


* A C-17 can take off from a 7,000-foot airfield, fly 2,400 nautical miles and land on an airfield of 3,000 feet or less.

* A C-17 can carry Army vehicles in two side-by-side rows in its cargo compartment, or an M-1, an Army battle tank.

* A deployment load in a C-17 could include three Stryker infantry-fighting vehicles.


India: 10 (only 3 delivered; 7 to be made in 2013-2014)

Qatar: 4

Australia: 6

United Arab Emirates Air Force: 6

United Kingdom: 8

Canada: 4

The 12-nation Strategic Airlift Capability consortium of NATO and Partnership for eace nations: 3

Kuwait: 2 (**still to be delivered**) 

Source: The Boeing Co.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Nike Corporations latest Gulfstream

Rolls on Rwy 30 for takeoff.
The latest Gulfstream to join the NIKE corporations growing fleet is G550 (c/n 5121) N1972N, ex N550PR captured departing Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on September 18, 2013 bound for Portland-Hillsboro Airport (HIO/KHIO).
(Photos by Michael Carter)    

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

More good news for Boeing today

Shares of The Boeing Company surged 3.9% to close at $115.67 on Sep 16, 2013 on the back of twin good news. The probability of the company now winning the $7.64 billion South Korean contract is high while flight test announcements for its 787-9 Dreamliner brought in further cause to cheer.

Given the upper hand over Lockheed Martin Corp. and Eurofighter, Boeing’s economical F-15 Silent Eagle (F-15SE) will likely be the only bid for South Korea's military fighter aircraft contest. Lockheed’s F-35 and Eurofighter’s Typhoon were over budget, thereby missing the eligibility mark. Seoul is looking to replace its aging F-4 and F-5 fighters with the proposed F-15 Silent Eagle.

F-15 Silent Eagle had faced opposition from 15 former South Korean air force chiefs who had filed a petition against selecting the aircraft as they believed it lacked the stealth capabilities of other competing models. However, the defense minister of Korea seems to like Boeing's jets, mainly because of its affordability.

Albeit Lockheed’s F-35 is technically superior, its bloated price has compelled the government to shift their attention to Boeing’s F-15SE. This comes as a pat in the back for Boeing’s cost-effective designs that meet the military needs of cash-strapped governments.

More foreign military sales contracts are also much appreciated in this lukewarm budget environment. With the U.S. Department of Defense implementing budget austerity under the sequester, this multi-billion dollar international deal would act as a definite catalyst to Boeing’s military aircraft division.

On the other hand Boeing’s Commercial Airplane Group has not looked back this year, flying high on the success of the Paris Air Show. The company’s latest incarnation of the 787 airplane – the 787-9 Dreamliner – is all set for its maiden flight this week. Production of the first 787-9 Dreamliner was completed last month.

This new variant exceeds the 787-8 by 20 feet in length. Most importantly, 787-9 will be able to carry 250 to 290 passengers, up 40 passengers than the 787-8. It has a range of 8,000 to 8,500 nautical miles compared to 787-8’s range of 7,650 to 8,200 miles. First delivery of 787-9 is scheduled to take place in mid 2014 to the launch customer Air New Zealand. The average cost of a 787-9 Dreamliner is $249.5 million at list prices.

Boeing is the largest aircraft manufacturer in the world in terms of revenue, orders and deliveries, and one of the largest aerospace and defense contractors besides other defense giants like Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp. In fact, Boeing’s defense business accounts for approximately half of its top line.

Though the company has had glitches with its 787 mascot with respect to delayed launch or for its battery overheating incidents in Jan 2013, its share price has proven to be shock resistant, surging 52.5% year to date.

(Zaks Investment Research)

Boeing 787-9 "Dreamliner" takes to the skies over Washington


Boeing's 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft took to the skies Tuesday in a maiden test flight, a larger version of the company's original 787-8 jetliner.

The 787-9 lifted off from Paine Field in Everett, Washington state at 11:02 am local time (1802 GMT). The test flight is expected to last between four and five hours.

The plane is the second member of the Dreamliner family of mid-size, long-haul aircraft, designed to use 20 percent less fuel than other airplanes of their size.

Compared with the 787-8, the 787-9 has a range that is about 600 kilometers (373 miles) longer, at a maximum of 15,750 kilometers (9,787 miles).

It can carry 250-290 passengers, up from 210-250 passengers on the initial Dreamliner, which entered commercial service with All Nippon Airways in October 2011.


The 787-9 is expected to enter service in mid-2014 with launch customer Air New Zealand.
Scott Hamilton, an analyst based in Seattle, noted that Boeing long has introduced new models of existing aircraft.

"The first flight of the 787-9 ordinarily would be a little consequence," Hamilton said.

"But because of the painful birth of the lead variant, the 787-8, and its troubled early service life that included a three and a half month grounding, the 787-9 will have greater scrutiny to see if Boeing has the program troubles behind it."

The 787-8's development program ran three years behind schedule. All 787s in service in January were grounded worldwide over problems with overheated batteries.

Since the grounding was lifted in late April, there have been a series of problems with customers' planes.

Boeing says the problems are typical for a new aircraft.

To date, Boeing has delivered 84 787-8s to 14 clients and has orders for 852. The Dreamliner's main rival is the A350 of European aircraft maker Airbus.

Shares in Dow member Boeing were up 1.2 percent at $117.11 in late-afternoon trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

(AFP News)

Bombardier CS100 performs first flight


Bombardier's new CS100 medium range jetliner took to the skies on its maiden flight on Monday September 16, 2013, marking the Canadian manufacturer's entry into airspace dominated by Airbus and Boeing.

Hundreds of employees and guests cheered as the 100-125 seat passenger jet departed from Mirabel airport in the northwest corner of Montreal for a test flight just before 10 a.m. local time (1400 GMT) under a bright blue sky.

"It's the largest aircraft ever conceived and assembled in Canada," Bombardier engineer Stephane Poitras told AFP. "We're witnessing history today."

For the first time, Bombardier will now be competing directly with the smallest airliners from aerospace giants Airbus and Boeing, a move which Poitras described as a "huge leap" for the company based in Montreal.

Bombardier has already secured 177 firm orders for the narrow-body twin-engine aircraft, which consumes 20 percent less fuel than its competitors, and is scheduled to start deliveries at the end of 2014.

Bombardier chief executive Pierre Beaudoin said he hopes to boost that sales figure to 300 over the coming months.

Bombardier, which previously focused on building regional jets and trains, spent $3.5 billion and 10 years to develop the CS100 and its slightly larger sibling, the CS300, which seats up to 160 passengers and is expected to launch in early 2014.

It first announced the venture in 2004 but shelved its plans two years later when demand for medium-range aircrafts plummeted, and then revived them in 2007 when the market started to rebound.

Sales of the CSeries aircraft should generate between $5 billion and $8 billion in annual revenues for the company, as demand for transcontinental jets is forecast to skyrocket, said Beaudoin.

"That's a huge increase for our company when you consider that our annual revenues average $20 billion," he said.

Indeed Bombardier is taking a huge gamble by going head-to-head with the European and American leaders in aerospace, in their most profitable space.

The CSeries jetliners will likely compete with the Boeing 737, Airbus A318 and A319, and Embraer 195.

But Boeing and Airbus appear unfazed by this new entrant, offering instead congratulations to Bombardier on its CS100's first flight. "Such 'firsts' are great for everyone who loves aviation," Airbus said in a Twitter message.

Just getting to this point has not been easy for Bombardier. The company had to push back its CS100 launch, originally set for the end of 2012, several times.

Beaudoin is confident that Bombardier can not only break in to the market for medium-range jetliners, but brazenly push its way into the pole position.

He said airlines are forecast to order approximately 7,000 jetliners capable of seating up to 150 passengers as they upgrade and expand their aging fleets over the next two decades.

Bombardier, he said, hopes to secure a whopping 3,500 of those orders.

Korean Air, Gulf Air, Air Baltic and Atlas Jet are among the first to place orders with Bombardier.
Many airlines are struggling with soaring fuel costs. Bombardier was able to cut fuel consumption by using composite materials instead of aluminium for the wings.

Nico Buchholz, vice president of Lufthansa, who was on hand for the test flight, commented that the CSeries aircraft's range and fuel efficiency are "nicely adapted for the European market."

For Robert Deluze, head of Canada's Porter Airlines, the CS100's quieter Pratt and Whitney engines are key to his airline's future expansion.

Porter currently flies twin turboprop aircraft out of the downtown Toronto island airport, but its plans to expand and use slightly larger aircraft with jet engines has riled nearby waterfront condo dwellers.

He needed to find a quieter jet that wouldn't bother the neighbours and, he said, the CS100 is "clearly a whisper jet."

(Clement Sabourin - AFP)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Oprah Winfrey's new G550 at Long Beach Airport

Rolling for takeoff on Rwy 30.
Rotates from Rwy 30 with the Gulfstream Service Center in the distance.
Gulfstream G550 (c/n 5416) N540W, ex-N516GA which is operated by Harpo Inc., Oprah Winfrey's company is captured departing Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on September 13, 2013 following a visit to the Gulfstream facilities here at the airport.
(Photos by Michael Carter)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

USAF takes delivery of final C-17A

The USAF took delivery of its final C-17A (P-223) 10-0223 this morning at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB). This last a/c was built to replace the C-17A (P-73) 00-0173 lost at Elmendorf AFB on July 28, 2010.
(Photos by Michael Carter)