Thursday, June 26, 2014

Ex-Shanghai Airlines MD-11F leased to undisclosed customer

US-based lessor GECAS leased an MD-11F (48415/576) ex-Shanghai Airlines B-2176 to an undisclosed customer, with the freighter now “in final prep for delivery”.

The US Federal Aviation Administration shows a pending registration change for the freighter to N415JN, which suggests the lessee could be Western Global Airlines.

Western Global, a startup controlled by long-time US cargo industry veteran Jim Neff, had originally planned to begin operating in 2013, with four MD-11Fs in the fleet by the end of that year. However, while it appears that it has acquired at least three MD‑11Fs, all three are currently in storage.

(David Harris - Cargo Facts News)

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

China's plane demand surges but bumpy ride ahead

Already Asia's biggest aircraft buyer, China is developing its own passenger planes and building scores of airports but its aviation expansion faces turbulence from slowing growth and inadequate infrastructure.
As the country's carriers spend billions on jets to serve a growing middle class taking to the skies in ever-increasing numbers, passengers face constant delays and longer flight times owing to military limits on airspace and poor management.
Three of the mainland's airports are among the world's 20 busiest, with Beijing in global second place on 78 million passengers a year, behind only Atlanta in the United States.
At the same time, Beijing was worst in the world for delays last year with only 18 percent of flights on time, followed immediately by Shanghai, according to the website
Angry Chinese passengers have on occasion stormed onto runways, fought with staff and smashed equipment, with dozens refusing to leave a delayed Hong Kong Airlines flight bound for Shanghai last week, reports said.
China is scrambling to address the rapid growth in demand by ramping up investments in aviation infrastructure.
The country's airlines carried 350 million passengers last year, up nearly 11 percent from 2012, official figures show, and the country's civil aviation authority said it will have more than 230 airports by 2015, up from 193 last year.
China Eastern agreed to buy 80 of US aircraft maker Boeing's 737 jets, valued at more than $8 billion, earlier this month after Europe's Airbus won a similar-sized order from China Southern. Regional outfit Shandong Airlines and yet-to-be-launched budget operator 9 Air took 50 Boeing 737s each.
"We see Chinese urbanisation at record levels. Chinese GDP (gross domestic product), it's still at very good levels. Domestic consumption is growing," said Jose Eduardo Costas, senior vice president for market intelligence at Brazil aircraft maker Embraer.
"All these are very positive drivers," he said.
But he added that "infrastructure and air space authorisation in China may (still) continue to be a bottleneck".

Slowing growth

Expansion in China's economy, the world's second largest, is slowing. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in March announced a GDP growth target of "around 7.5 percent" for this year, below 2013's actual figure of 7.7 percent.
"GDP growth has often been a very close correlation to growth in air travel," said Mark Clarkson, business development director for Asia-Pacific for aviation intelligence, schedules and data provider OAG.
"Although there is fairly steady growth (in airline seat capacity), undoubtedly, that growth has slowed in recent months."
At the same time, much-publicized government austerity measures and a corruption crackdown have hit airlines as officials slashed travel, and authorities ordered state-owned companies -- which include the nation's three biggest carriers -- to start paying the government higher dividends.
On shorter journeys, airlines face so much competition from China's huge and growing high-speed rail network that some routes have been terminated.
In the longer term, longstanding issues over lack of infrastructure and air space constraints remain.
Unlike in the United States, where the military must get permission to use airspace, the opposite is true in China, industry officials say. Despite China's vast skies, civilian air corridors are said to be limited -- exact details are secret -- resulting in longer flight times, less efficient routes and unaccountable delays.
Homegrown jets

Boeing forecasts Chinese carriers will need nearly 6,000 new planes valued at $780 billion over the next 20 years, accounting for around 16 percent of world demand and nearly half of Asia's.

China already takes 20 percent of the worldwide production of Airbus.
But the country also wants to challenge the global dominance of Boeing and Airbus by ensuring part of its vast aircraft market goes to a homegrown large passenger plane and smaller regional jet, but both projects are years late.
"The development of China’s homegrown big passenger plane is the dream of several generations," said Xu Xiaofei of the Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China (COMAC), which is building them both.

The 168-seat C919 is scheduled to make its first flight in 2015, a year behind schedule, with deliveries planned for 2018 -- two years late. COMAC claims 400 orders, most from domestic customers.
The delays are even worse for the ARJ21 regional jet. One made a successful test flight this month, state media said, and the customers are expected to start receiving them early next year.
But the original delivery deadline was way back in 2009.
The pressures are mounting. President Xi said last month that there was no room for failure in developing homegrown aircraft.
"In the past, someone said the best choice for us is to rent from others and then to buy, and that the last option is to make our own," he said. "But we have reversed this notion."
(Bill Savadove - AFP)

Aviation Giants Conflicted on Ex-Im as Congress Debates U.S. Bank's Demise

Boeing, the world’s biggest plane-builder, says the Export-Import Bank that helped it sell $8.3 billion last year in airplanes overseas must live on.
Delta Air Lines, the third-largest U.S. carrier, says the bank must change so those Boeing sales don’t hurt Delta and help competitors.
These two iconic American aviation companies this week have landed on opposing sides of a public fight in Washington over the little-known U.S. agency that some Republicans in the Congress want to shut.
Delta Chief Executive Officer Richard Anderson will testify today to the House Financial Services Committee, whose Republican chairman, Jeb Hensarling of Texas, along with other small-government Tea Party lawmakers want to close the bank.
“Without meaningful reform, we are opposed to reauthorization,” Anderson said yesterday in a speech to an aviation group in Washington.
Among those on the other side is Boeing, which is the bank’s largest beneficiary and also happens to be talking to Delta about selling it more planes. Other advocates are the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, which this week hired former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt for its lobbying team.
To its backers, the Ex-Im Bank’s $37 billion in loan guarantees last year are vital to supporting U.S. companies and their workers. To its critics, it’s a symbol of government overreach, doing a job the private sector can do better.

Senate, House

Bank critics were emboldened this week when incoming House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican, said he opposes renewing the lender’s charter, saying the private sector can provide the financing.

“He voted for it last time,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat, said in an interview yesterday, referring to the previous reauthorization in 2012. “I was surprised.”

Reid said the Senate plans to vote on the bank’s future before its charter expires on Sept. 30.

Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the chamber’s No. 2 Republican, said colleagues are seeking to satisfy the bank’s critics without putting the U.S. at a disadvantage to those backed by financing from China, Canada and several European nations. “So we’re looking at all of that,” he said.

Republican Supporters

Republicans in the House who back the bank urged their leaders by letter this week to schedule a vote. The manufacturers’ group and Chamber in a letter signed by more than 860 companies and groups urged lawmakers to renew the bank’s charter.

To Boeing and Delta, the dispute comes down to a matter of dollar and cents.
Atlanta-based Delta wants the bank to share more information about its deals and prevent competitors such as Dubai’s Emirates Airline, the largest international carrier, from using Ex-Im financing when private-sector support is available.

Bob McAdoo, an airlines analyst at Imperial Capital LLC in Los Angeles, said Delta’s Anderson has the power to demand change, even at the risk of opposing Boeing. Chicago-based Boeing and European competitor Airbus are vying for a contract from Delta to sell it long-range aircraft, such as Boeing’s 747 and 767 planes.

“He can say whatever he wants and you’re not going to say anything to upset him,” McAdoo said. “The next 75 airplanes in his fleet could be Airbuses. I think they will be mindful of the fact that Richard is a great customer.”

‘Boeing’s Bank’

Sales backed by the Ex-Im Bank helped support $8.3 billion in Boeing sales last year, according to an analysis by George Mason University.

Boeing, the biggest U.S. exporter, is the bank’s largest beneficiary.

“There’s a reason why it’s been called ‘Boeing’s Bank,’” Veronique de Rugy, a senior fellow who studies the bank at George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia, said in a phone interview. “It subsidizes Boeing exports.”

Boeing says thousands of manufacturing jobs, particularly among an estimated 15,000 suppliers, are at risk if Ex-Im lapses, and Airbus will gain.

“The airplane market is highly competitive, and every deal is won or lost by the slightest of margins,” Tim Neale, a spokesman for Chicago-based Boeing, said in an e-mail. “Any uncertainty in financing could unnecessarily tilt the field against Boeing.”

Supply Chain

Boeing’s main suppliers include Spirit AeroSystems of Wichita, Kansas; United Technologies Corp. of Hartford, Connecticut; and Triumph Group Inc. of Wayne, Pennsylvania, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Losing the ability to add Ex-Im’s financial backing in selling planes would force Boeing to give steeper discounts in head-to-head sales battles with Airbus Group NV, said Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst with Teal Group, a Fairfax, Virginia-based consultant.

“The sky wouldn’t fall, but it might hurt,” Aboulafia said in a phone interview. “That pain might show up in terms of lower prices, profits and jobs.”

Boeing makes most of its commercial aircraft in Washington state, where three of four House Republicans signed the letter this week urging a vote on reauthorization. In South Carolina, where Boeing built its first jetliner assembly line outside the Seattle area, two of five Republicans in the delegation signed the letter.

New Deal

“I have a very good relationship with Boeing,” said Representative Jeff Duncan, a South Carolina Republican who didn’t sign the letter. “We’re looking at the federal government’s role in a lot of different things that historically the government hadn’t been involved in until at least the Great Depression” and the New Deal.
Manufacturers including Boeing and Airbus will deliver to buyers about 1,600 aircraft worth $100 billion this year, according to an analysis by Bloomberg Industries. Those sales will be funded by airlines, banks, lessors and credit agencies like the Export-Import Bank.

Of Boeing’s sales this year, about 18 percent will be financed with export credit, according to a May 6 company presentation. Ex-Im alternatives include private markets and leasing arrangements.

Without the bank’s aid, future deliveries could be supported by Boeing Capital Corp., the company’s lending arm, Bloomberg Industry senior aerospace/defense and airline analyst George Ferguson said in a separate report.

Robust Market

Boeing’s 2014 deliveries probably won’t be disrupted by a change in Ex-Im, given the current robust market for aircraft financings, Aboulafia said.

The battle over the Export-Import Bank is a replay of a 2012 fight. A group of U.S. carriers led by Delta said the lender’s guarantees of loans to help competitors like Air India Ltd. buy Boeing jets didn’t properly assess the impact on U.S. jobs.

The agreement that led Congress to renew the charter required the U.S. Treasury to begin a bilateral process to eliminate subsidies for aircraft. Delta wasn’t satisfied and has sued the bank to force changes, according to a June 3 Congressional Research Service report.
Delta’s complaint is with Export-Import Bank financing for sales of wide-body planes that can fly intercontinental routes. Boeing is the only U.S. manufacturer of the goods.

‘Too Far’

“The bank’s subsidies have gone too far, and it is time for reform,” Anderson said in prepared remarks for the House hearing today.

The carrier is seeking changes including prohibiting the bank from financing sales of the wide-body jets to airlines that are owned by foreign governments, more transparency in its financing arrangements and a renewed commitment by the Treasury Department on the talks to end the subsidies.

Boeing and Delta are among at least 61 companies and groups that have lobbied Congress on the Ex-Im bank during the past two years, according to federal disclosures.

Signaling the difficulty opponents may have in dismantling the bank, Delta is the only opponent among the 20 companies and groups that have lobbied Congress most often about the bank since 2008, according to a report this month from the Sunlight Foundation, a Washington-based group that advocates for government transparency.

(Brian Wingfield, Julie Johnsson and Michael Sasso - Bloomberg News)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Cessna to increase "Latitude" production rate

As Cessna Aircraft starts up the Citation Latitude production line, two flying examples have logged 100 flights and 230 hours since the prototype made its maiden flight in February. The midsize jet is slated to obtain FAA certification in the second quarter of next year.
 (Photo: Cessna Aircraft)
Cessna started full assembly-line flow on the Citation Latitude at its manufacturing facilities in Wichita, the company announced yesterday.
Assembly of the midsize business jet includes several technological advancements, according to Cessna, such as the use of new automated robotics and ergonomically friendly tooling stations.
“We are not only bringing technological advances to the design of our new products, but also to the way we manufacture [them],” said Scott Ernest, CEO of parent Textron Aviation. “The Latitude is a perfect example of combining a new design with many of the latest advances in manufacturing technology.”
The first aircraft off the production line will be the fourth flight-test Latitude to participate in the certification program. To date, two Latitudes–a prototype and a production example–have logged 100 flights and 230 hours. A third Latitude–the second production aircraft–was mated to its wing last month and is slated to join the flight-test fleet this summer.
The Latitude prototype flew for the first time in February, and the first production copy joined the flight-test fleet last month. FAA certification is on track for the second quarter of next year.
(Chad Trautvetter - AINOnline News) 

Sukhoi Superjet 100 certified for autoland operations

Sukhoi Superjet 100
Sukhoi Superjet 100
Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Co.
 Russia’s Interstate Aviation Committee has granted CAT IIIa ICAO certification to the Sukhoi Superjet 100 (SSJ100) to execute automatic landings. The supplemental type certificate allows the SSJ100 to land under tough weather conditions with low visibility below 175 meters, including landing with up to 10 meters per second flank wind.
According to the Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Co., the SSJ100 successfully performed a wide range of landing tests—using all combinations of operating weights and centers of gravity, with simulation of crucial engine failure at different segments of descent path and at stiff wind.
The test program took place from November 2011 through December 2013. Testing exceeded 250 hours and involved three test aircraft, which performed 425 automatic approaches.
According to a company statement, in July 2013 a test SSJ100 touched the runway with its landing gear retracted during a test flight at Iceland’s Reykjavik Keflavik Airport. There were five people on board—three crew members and two certification center experts. One of the experts injured a leg during the evacuation.
(Polina Borodina)

787 production issues continue to plague Boeing

Last Thursday, Boeing Co. paid out big bonuses to its South Carolina workforce for meeting an early May deadline to significantly reduce the amount of unfinished 787 Dreamliner work traveling to Everett, Wash.
But an unusual production mishap on the 787 assembly line in Everett, two days earlier reveals a continued problem with incomplete fuselage sections from South Carolina, according to employees with knowledge of what happened.
And a day after that incident, production of the jet suffered another blow. In an accident unrelated to the South Carolina work, an Everett mechanic on the same 787 assembly line was seriously injured.

The first mishap was traced to work done inside the Everett factory by a team from Boeing's plant in South Carolina.
This team is in Everett to help complete so-called "traveled work" — work that should have been done in Boeing's North Charleston fuselage-fabrication plant but wasn't completed before the sections shipped.
During 787 assembly, before the point where all the fuselage sections and wings are joined to make the complete airframe, the fuselage sections are held in place by cradles. After the join is made, the cradles are lowered and removed.
According to employees, when mechanics removed the cradles that held the rear fuselage in place on Dreamliner No. 214 — destined for Royal Jordanian Airways — nearly 100 improperly installed fasteners clattered to the factory floor.
A subsequent inspection found the South Carolina team in Everett had installed hundreds of temporary fasteners near the join between the two aft fuselage sections without the collars needed to hold them in place.

"If they can't make sure this is done, what else are they forgetting?" said a frustrated Everett employee.

He said that the error showed a lack of the most basic knowledge and that this work should be routine at this stage in the jet program.

This employee, like others interviewed about the incidents, asked to remain anonymous because he isn't authorized by Boeing to speak publicly. He questioned management oversight of the manufacturing process.

"They cannot have quality inspectors come in and check these things before they move to the next position in the line," the employee said. "Give me a break."

Boeing spokeswoman Debbie Heathers said the company "will not respond to specific questions about day-to-day operations in the factory."

Work coming out of Boeing South Carolina was problematic from the beginning of the 787 program 10 years ago, when the fuselage facilities were operated by suppliers Vought and Alenia.

When workers with little experience proved unable to deliver the expected completed sections at the required pace, the unfinished work was passed on to final assembly in Everett.

This out-of-sequence work caused huge bottlenecks and contributed to years of delays. Boeing subsequently bought out both suppliers and sent in hundreds of experienced people and contractors to smooth the manufacturing process.

Last fall, the South Carolina fabrication facility fell badly behind again, and the amount of traveled work spiked as Boeing simultaneously raised the production rate and let go hundreds of contractors.

That prompted Boeing management to bring back many contractors and to offer the permanent workforce an incentive bonus if they could successfully catch up on the work behind schedule and greatly reduce the amount of traveled work.

In May, the South Carolina production workers met the preset target and Boeing awarded an incentive bonus of 8 percent of last year's gross pay.

Last week, some 7,500 production workers received approximately $3,000 to $4,000 each. About 900 engineers, managers and office workers received a flat $2,500.

Yet several Everett employees said workers here are still struggling to fix or finish the fuselage sections from North Charleston.

"Planes are going out (to airlines) better than they were, but it's only because of the people in Everett," the first employee said.

Another employee said that incomplete work from South Carolina continues to hold up work at the initial assembly position in Everett.

"Multiple times we start work on a section one to three days late, doing overtime to catch up with production," said this second employee.

In an emailed statement, Heathers said the 787 program is on track with its targeted production rate of 10 airplanes per month. "We are focused on improving our processes to stabilize operations and production," Heathers said.

The second incident had a much more serious consequence than the first.

At the points where the fuselage sections join, Boeing deploys a Flex Track automatic driller that is mounted on rails around the circumference of the fuselage.

This machine moves around the join, drilling precisely accurate holes and installing fasteners.

Last Wednesday, the drilling head of a Flex Track machine detached from the rails and fell from the airplane. The heavy part hit a mechanic working below, seriously injuring him. He was taken to Seattle's Harborview Medical Center, according to co-workers.

Heathers said he received medical attention at the scene and would not release other details.

"We take very seriously the safety and well-being of our employees at all times," said Heathers. "We continue to investigate the incident and have issued safety reminders to our team."

The state's Department of Labor and Industries is investigating the cause along with Boeing.

In February 2012, then 30-year-old Boeing worker Joshua Divers fell under the wheels of a 787 being towed on the Everett flight line and had to have both legs amputated.

Divers still works at Boeing and said Monday he's "doing really well."

Tim Clark............could you please make-up your mind!

Emirates Airline president Tim Clark told ATW he is leaving the door open for a future Airbus A350 or Boeing 787 order.

“We will revisit both the A350 and 787 in the first half of next year,” Clark told ATW in an email Tuesday.                                                                        “By that time, the A350-900 will be flying, as will the 787-9. That way, we will get a much better handle on performance and economics of both aircraft and it could be that we will be back in the market for 70 aircraft.”

Emirates made big news June 11 when Airbus announced the airline was canceling its order for 70 A350 XWB aircraft. The Emirates order of 50 A350-900s and 20 A350-1000s was originally placed in 2007 with first delivery slots scheduled from 2019.

“The A350 cancellation was not in the public domain during the IATA AGM. Emirates did not make an announcement at all; Airbus took the lead at the media day in Toulouse a couple of weeks ago,” Clark added.

Airbus said the decision follows ongoing discussions with Emirates in light of its fleet requirement review.

Dubai-based Emirates ordered 50 additional A380s at the Dubai Air Show in November.

The A350, powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines, is scheduled to enter service with launch customer Qatar Airways at the end of this year. Firm orders stand at 742 after the Emirates cancellation, which will be logged in Airbus' June orders and deliveries book.

(Kurt Hofmann - ATWOnline News)

Final A350 test aircraft takes to the skies!

I know this story is a few days old but it is a historic piece of aviation history.
(Michael Carter..........APF Editor)

Airbus’s fifth and final A350 test aircraft has departed Toulouse on its maiden flight, taking the programme into the last stage of certification.

The Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-powered aircraft, MSN5, took off at around 09:40 on June 20, 2014.

Airbus is to use the aircraft for cabin operability tests and route proving, as well as extended operations trials.

The airframer had originally expected MSN5 to fly earlier this year but the interior has been undergoing adjustments in preparation for the route work.

Like MSN2 the aircraft is fitted with a full passenger cabin. Airbus says MSN5 "embodies the operationally definitive configuration for type certification duties".

Airbus projects that MSN5’s flight programme will last around 300h, finalising the certification of the twin-engined type.

asset image
(Photo by Airbus)

Ilyushin Il-76MD-90A nears delivery to Russian Air Force

The Russian air force’s first of an eventual 39 Ilyushin Il-76MD-90A transports has emerged from the Aviastar SP production plant in Ulyanovsk, following the completion of equipment installation and fuel system tests.

Equipped with new glass cockpit avionics and powered by Perm PS-90A-76 turbofan engines, the enhanced model also features a modified wing and reinforced landing gear.

asset image
(Aviastar SP)

Following its painting by Spectr-Avia, the new airlifter will undergo ground and flight tests. “This year, the airplane will be delivered to the customer,” says Aviastar SP general director Sergey Dementiev.

According to the company, 13 of Russia’s new-generation Il-76s are now in various stages of production. Ordered in October 2012, the -90A variant will bolster an in-service fleet of almost 100 earlier-model transports operated by the nation’s air force.

(Craig Hoyle - Flightglobal News)

Boeing has until December 31 to redesign RAT on 787-9

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) gives Boeing until 31 December to show that a redesigned component in the ram air turbine of the 787-9 meets airworthiness guidelines, the agency says in a new filing.
Boeing is redesigning the generator control unit in the ram air turbine after one device failed to produce electrical power on one recent flight test and on three subsequent tests on the ground.
Although the ram air turbine was deemed non-compliant with airworthiness regulations, the FAA approved a time-limited exemption as it awarded a type certificate for the 787-9 on 13 June.
Boeing must prove that the redesign meets airworthiness criteria and submit the test data to the FAA by 31 December, the agency says in an 8-page filed dated 12 June, which was posted in the Department of Transportation’s online docket eight days later.
In the meantime, Boeing showed that the odds are “extremely improbable” that the current design defect in the ram air turbine will reduce the safety of the 787-9.
The ram air turbine provides back-up power for the flight controls and avionics if both engines on the 787-9 shut down, but it is rarely needed. Modern aircraft engines rarely fail, and a dual engine shutdown is even more rare.

The onboard battery can fully power the flight controls and avionics for 10min, allowing the flight crew time to activate the auxiliary power unit to take over the load, the FAA filing says.
The ram air turbine is only necessary if the engines cannot be started and the APU fails to activate within 10min.
The odds of a dual engine failure, APU failure and a ram air turbine failure are highly remote, the FAA concludes.
Boeing now six months to prove that the redesigned generator control unit will reliably produce electrical power if needed, as required by airworthiness regulations.
The time-limited exemption for the existing design of the ram air turbine expires at the end of February, the FAA says.
The agency also approved a similar time-limited exemption for an overly sensitive altitude select knob on the mode control panel, giving Boeing until the end of March to submit data showing the redesign functions properly.

Both exemptions allow Boeing to deliver the 787-9 to launch customer Air New Zealand at the end of June.

(Stephen Trimble - Flightglobal News)

Delta studies 50 wide-body aircraft order

Delta Air Lines chief executive Richard Anderson is hopeful that the Boeing 787-9 will be a “very viable airplane”, as the carrier continues to meet with Airbus and Boeing for its planned up to 50 widebody aircraft order.
“We’re hopeful that the 787-9, with all the lessons learned on the -8, is going to be a really viable airplane,” he says at an Aero Club of Washington luncheon on 24 June.

Anderson also made favourable comments regarding the Airbus A350-900, which is seen as a competitor to the 787-9.

Delta is evaluating the A330-200 and -300, A350-900 and -1000, Boeing 777-300ER and 787-8, -9 and -10 under a request for proposals for up to 50 aircraft that it launched in April. The aircraft would replace Boeing 747-400 and a significant number of Boeing 767-300ERs in the Atlanta-based airline.

Discussions are on going with both airframers, says Anderson.

“We like to see Boeing and Airbus, and GE, Rolls [and] Pratt & Whitney, we like to see them all come to Atlanta,” he says. “Put them in separate rooms and see what happens.”

Delta wants “real numbers” on range, seat mile costs, maintenance costs and fuel burn for the aircraft before it makes a decision, says Anderson.

“What you want is the 74[7]-400 seat mile costs – lower than the 74-400 seat mile costs – and about a hundred fewer seats,” he says. “RASM goes up, CASM goes down, range is longer [and] you get the drift why that airplane was an important one and why the A350 will be important.”

While he does not rule out the larger A350 and 787 variants, or the 777, Anderson does call them “a little bit big”.

On the possibility of a re-engined A330, which Airbus is expected to make a decision on by the end of the year, Anderson is coy.

“I think Barry’s [Eccleston, president of Airbus Americas] going to make an announcement here after I sit down that the A330s going to get re-engined,” he says. “Let me go ahead an make it for him, Airbus is going to re-engine the A330.”

Various lessors, including Air Lease chief Steve Udvar-Hazy, thinks Delta is very interested in a re-engined variant of the aircraft, dubbed the A330neo.

Delta has said that is only considering aircraft currently available in the market under its RFP.

(Edward Russell - Flightglobal News)

NTSB releases report on Asiana 777, flight 214 crash at SFO

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says failures by the crew ultimately caused the crash of Asiana Airlines flight 214 in San Francisco last year, although a number of factors contributed to the crash.

In a statement released today, the agency points to a number of contributing factors, including Boeing’s failure to adequately document complexities in the aircraft’s systems, failures in Asiana’s flight training and crew fatigue.

The aircraft, a Boeing 777-200ER, crashed into the airport seawall after its speed decayed to 103kt.

The accident killed two passengers. A third passenger likely survived being ejected from the aircraft, only to be killed after being hit by emergency response vehicles, investigators have said.

Prior to the crash, the aircraft’s autothrottle transitioned in “hold” mode while the aircraft’s flight computer was in “flight-level change mode,” a configuration under which the autothrottle does not maintain speed.

During a hearing today, the NTSB pegged the accident on the pilot’s false assumption that the autothrottle would maintain speed in that configuration. It also pointed to the crew’s failure to manage the descent, monitor airspeed or initiate a timely go-around.

But the board also pointed a finger at Boeing, saying the manufacturer did not properly document system complexities that have proved in a number of other instances to have confused pilots.

The board also highlighted shortcomings with the Asiana's training.

Boeing disagrees the with NTSB’s finding that the 777s flight systems contributed to the accident, telling Flightglobal that the aircraft has an “extraordinary record of safety.”

“The auto-flight system has been used successfully for over 200 million flight hours across several airplane models, and for more than 55 million safe landings,” says the company in a statement. “The evidence collected during this investigation demonstrates that all of the airplane's systems performed as designed.“

Asiana says the NTSB has “properly recognised the multiple factors that contributed to the accident, including the complexities of the autothrottle and autopilot systems.”

“The recommendations made by the agency can help ensure such an incident does not happen again,” says the airline.

asset image
The hearing concluded after more than three hours with the NTSB reading 27 recommendations aimed at preventing a repeat of the accident and improving accident response.

Those included calls for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to require Boeing to improve training and documentation related to the 777’s systems and to require operators to adopt that training.

The board also suggests that the FAA convene a “special certification review” of the 777's automatic control systems and develop guidance to help manufacturers “improve the intuitiveness” of systems.

In addition, the NTSB suggests that the FAA convene a panel to study an a onboard “low-energy alerting system.” Such a system could take into account factors like airspeed, altitude and engine performance to prevent an aircraft from reaching a near-stall.

The NTSB’s recommendations to Boeing include a call to modify the 777’s flight control system to “expand the conditions under which the autothrottle automatically protects speed.”

Boeing says it will review the NTSB’s recommendations, but adds that aircraft design changes should be “reviewed with great care and with due consideration for the potential unintended consequences of any change.”

The board also recommends that Asiana improve training for both pilots and monitoring pilots and adopt more manual flight training to improve proficiency.

Asiana says it has already implemented the NTSB’s training recommendations.

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(Jon Hemmerdinger - Flightglobal News)

Boeing 787 opens up new destination possibilities for airlines

Between June 9 and June 20, four airlines inaugurated flights from the U.S. to China and Hong Kong, with two of the flights made possible by deliveries of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
On June 9, United began thrice weekly 787 service between San Francisco and Chengdu, the first commercial aviation flight ever between North American and the interior to China. “We couldn’t do the flight without the 787,” said Walter Dias, United managing director for Greater China & Korea. “It opens up possibilities that were not here 10 years ago.” The flight is 6,857 miles.
On June 20, the Chinese carrier Hainan Airlines began four-times-a-week 787 service between Beijing and Boston, a 6,737 flight that passes over the North Pole. (Late summer service will be  daily.) “The 787 is made for Boston,” said Joel M. Chusid, US executive director for Hainan.
On June 11, American began service from Dallas to Hong Kong and Shanghai; on June 16,  Delta launched Seattle-Hong Kong service.
“Boston was the top U.S. market that did not have service to China,” Chusid said. “We’ve been talking to Boston for approaching eight years. The primary reason we didn’t start sooner was the lack of aircraft availability. We have the (Airbus) A340, but it was not well suited to Boston-Beijing. It’s too big.”
The beauty of the 787 is that, because of its fuel efficiency, it can fly global longhaul routes with relatively small passenger loads. Hainan’s 787-8 carries 213 passengers, while United’s carries 219.

Hainan, founded in 1993, has a hub in Beijing. The fourth largest Chinese airline, it is the only one not owned primarily by the Chinese government and the only one not in an alliance. China Southern and China Eastern are in Skyteam, while Air China, which also operates a Beijing hub, is in Star.
Hainan has talked with Oneworld. “It’s not that we are not interested, but there has not been an agreement reached,” Chusid said.
Hainan has a fleet of about 130 aircraft including a half dozen 787s. Its three U.S. destinations, which also include Chicago and Seattle, will all have 787 service by September, Chusid said.
Boston is the sixth largest U.S. passenger market to China, and had been the largest without service. One component of the market is Chinese students who study in Boston. “About 10,000 Chinese students study here,” Chusid said. “The educational institutions are a big draw, and they generate a tremendous amount of additional traffic.

The families come over, the professors travel, and there are group trips. You might think the student travel is all low-yield, but many of them are well heeled and a percentage are traveling in premium class. There is also a lot of travel based on biotechnology, high tech and other business travel.”
Hainan has an interline agreement with JetBlue at Logan, but not a code share.
Ed Freni, aviation for the Massachusetts Port Authority, said the port authority initially worked with Hainan to establish Boston-Shanghai cargo service on a Boeing 747 operated by Yangtze River Express, a Hainan affiliate, in 2006. “It was an introduction to possible passenger service, a way to say eventually we will have passenger service here,” he said.

“After many years of negotiating, they told us the 787 would be the perfect airplane,” Freni said. “We got a wink and a nod that they would do this when they got the 787, and we were able to finalize that deal. Boston has always been on their radar screen: the 787 is what made it happen.”

Boston Logan is benefitting from rapid international expansion. In the past two years, Turkish Airlines has added service to Istanbul, Copa added Panama City, Emirates added Dubai, and JAL added 787 service to Tokyo Narita.

While Narita is a common gateway to China, Freni said Boston Logan can fill flights to both Narita and Beijing.  About 400,000 people fly annually from Boston to Asia, he noted. If JAL filled every seat on its aircraft, that would be 68,000 passengers. JAL “has been very successful (and) exceeded their expectations,” he said.

In fact, Freni said, Boston Logan is looking for more China service.   “We think we have a couple of destinations, like Shanghai and Hong Kong, that will do well for whoever is first in.” The airport is talking with all the airlines that serve China, he said.

On that topic, Wolfe Research analyst Hunter Keay wrote Friday in a report that in a June 16 press release, Delta listed Boston as one of 12 airports, including three international airports, that it designates as a “key hub and market.” Wrote Keay: “We wonder if this portends Delta’s next big buildup.”  Delta has about 80 daily Boston departures and serves three European cities, but none in Asia.

(Ted Reed - Forbes)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Gulfstream G650 (c/n 6058) N658GA tbr N511DB

On June 17, 2014 this lovely aircraft performed a customer flight and is caught both departing from and returning to Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB).
(Photos by Michael Carter)

Gulfstream G650 (c/n 6061) N661GA tbr N221DG

Operated a customer flight on June 16, 2014 and is captured returning to Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) touching down on Rwy 30 at 16:42 pst.
(Photos by Michael Carter)

IAI / Gulfstream action at Long Beach Airport

Operated by Gulf States Toyota Inc., G150 (c/n 274) N3FS rolling for a take-off on Rwy 30 on June 17, 2014.

BNSF Equipment Acquisition Company LLC G280 (c/n 2024) N459BN arrives on a grey morning on June 17, 2014.
(Photos by Michael Carter) 

Southwest Airlines at Long Beach Airport

Smokes the mains on Rwy 30.

Rolling for take-off.

Rotating from Rwy 30.

Just off the deck!
Southwest Airlines operated a charter flight into Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) yesterday (June 19, 2014) bringing the U.C. Irvine baseball team home.
Boeing 737-7H4 (32491/1756) N220WN operated Flt 8333 from Eppley Air Field Airport (OMA/KOMA) in Omaha, Nebraska arriving in Long Beach at 12:06 pst.
The aircraft departed at 13:03 pst as Flt 8651 bound for Dallas Love Field (DAL/KDAL).
(Photos by Michael Carter)

Boeing reports strong 737 sales

Boeing released its latest report on airplane orders received -- and canceled -- through June 17 on Thursday. There was a large increase in the number of 737 orders received in the past week.
To date this year, the aerospace giant has booked:
  • 534 "gross" orders for various flavors of its 737 regional airliner
  • seven orders for the 777 airliner
  • one 747 order
  • one 787 order.
All new orders booked over the past week were for Boeing 737s -- a total of 95 new orders. Nearly one out of every five Boeing 737s that have been ordered this year were ordered in the past week. Turkish Airlines ordered 15 of the new 737s. A further 80 new orders came from what Boeing calls unidentified customer(s).

No new cancellations were reported for the week. As a result, Boeing's 543 gross orders placed for planes to date, minus the 54 cancellations last reported, results in a net gain of 489 planes to Boeing's order book.

(Rich Smith - The Motley Fool)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Gulfstream Aerospace opens parts and materials distribution center at Van Nuys Airport near Los Angeles

Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. recently announced it has expanded its worldwide service and support network by opening a parts and materials distribution center near Los Angeles. The 5,000-square-foot/464.5-square-meter facility at Van Nuys Airport primarily serves Gulfstream customers in the western U.S. and Canada, shortening delivery times and minimizing shipping costs.

The Van Nuys facility is expected to have approximately $15 million in parts and materials by the end of 2014. Gulfstream maintains a worldwide spares inventory of more than $1.4 billion. An on-site sales representative is available to arrange for local pickup and delivery of parts.

“This is another milestone in our growth,” said Mark Burns, president, Gulfstream Product Support. “As we expand, we need to continue to provide our customers with the parts they need as quickly as possible.

We chose Van Nuys because of its proximity to one of the largest bases of Gulfstream operators in the world. In the Los Angeles area alone, we have more than 100 operators; in California, we have more than 200. Over the next three years or so, we’ll increase our inventory and support in Van Nuys.”

Gulfstream also has parts and materials at its nearby aircraft service centers in Long Beach, California, and Las Vegas, and at its component service center in Lincoln, California.

(Gulfstream Aerospace Press Release)

Transaero to restart Moscow-Taipei flights

Transaero 767-3Q8(ER) EI-UNE is captured on approach to Rwy 24R at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on November 6, 2013.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Russia’s Transaero Airlines is set to reopen Moscow-Taipei flights. From July, 3, the carrier will operate weekly Boeing 767-300 service between the cities. Last year, the Transaero signed a codeshare agreement with Taiwan’s China Airlines on the Moscow-Bangkok-Taipei route.

Transaero originally launched Moscow-Taipei flights in 2002, but stopped the service after a short period due to low demand.

Transaero is the second biggest carrier in Russia. In 2013 it carried 12.5 million passengers. It has a fleet of 98 aircraft, comprising 20 Boeing 747s, 14 777s, 15 767s, 44 737s, three Tupolev Tu-214s and two Tu-204-100Cs.

Transaero is the first carrier in Russia to order Airbus A380s, A320neos and Boeing 747-8Is.

(Polina Borodina - ATWOnline News)

LEAP-1B engine commences ground testing

CFM International has begun ground testing of the first LEAP-1B engine—the exclusive powerplant for the Boeing 737 MAX—at Snecma (Safran) facilities in Villaroche, France. The testing launches a two-year program that will culminate in engine certification in 2016 and entry into commercial service on the 737 MAX aircraft in 2017.
LEAP-1B engine
LEAP-1B engine
(CFM International)
CFM said the LEAP-1B engine fired for the first time on June 13, three days ahead of the schedule set when the program was launched in 2011. “After a series of break-in runs, the engine has been operating smoothly and has reached full takeoff thrust,” CFM said in a statement.
The engine will be on test for the next several weeks, during which CFM will verify its mechanical operation, its operability (stall margin), engine starts, and further validate the advanced technologies incorporated in the engine, including the woven carbon fiber composite fan, the Twin-Annular, Pre-Mixing Swirler (TAPS) combustor, ceramic matrix composite shrouds in the high-pressure turbine and titanium aluminide blades in the low-pressure turbine.
CFM EVP Allen Paxson said, “The reason we chose such an aggressive maturation and certification schedule is to wring out any issues and solve them long before the engine ever enters a customer fleet. What the plan has also done is validate our philosophy of extensive component and rig tests well in advance of full engine testing. We had thousands of hours under our belt before we ever assembled the first engine. This engine is right where we want it to be.”
(Linda Blachly - ATWOnline News)

Wing-body join completed on first MRJ regional jet

Mitsubishi Aircraft has completed the wing-body join of the first MRJ regional jet test aircraft.

The mating of the wings with the aircraft’s fuselage took place at the company’s Nagoya Aerospace Works factory, says Mitsubishi in a statement.

“The wing-body combination marks another major milestone toward MRJ’s completion,” it says.

Following the successful wing join, Mitsubishi will attach an engine pylon from Sprit AeroSystems, and subsequently mount the Pratt & Whitney PW1200G engine it received recently.

asset image
(Mitsubishi Aircraft)
(Greg Waldron - Flightglobal News)

Hawaiian Airlines stowaway breaks silence about flight

A teenager who survived a flight to Hawaii as a stowaway in the plane's wheel well said he hopped on the closest flight that was going west in an effort to find his birth mom and can't believe he survived the journey.

Yahya Abdi, 15, spoke over Google Chat to KPIX-5 in his first public comments since his improbable survival during the 5 1/2-hour flight from San Jose to Maui in April. The interview was reported on Tuesday night.

Yahya, a Somali immigrant, ran away from his Santa Clara home and hopped a fence at Mineta San Jose International Airport. He crouched down in the wheel well of the Hawaiian Airlines flight and remembers covering his ears as the plane took off, he said.

"It was above the clouds, I could see through the little holes," Yahya said.

Yahya survived the flight at 35,000 feet despite low oxygen and freezing temperatures. Video footage from the Maui airport shows him dropping to the tarmac about an hour after the jet landed.

The teen said he made the decision to get on board the plane because he didn't want to live with his stepmom and wanted to find his mother, who he hasn't seen since he was seven years old. She lives in Africa.

Yahya spoke to her on the phone on Tuesday.

"I would tell her to live with me in America," he said.

His mom, Ubah Mohammed Abdule, confirmed the conversation to The Associated Press.

"He says, 'Mom, you are not dead for sure?'" Abdule told the AP. "'I thought you died in a boat trip. This is incredible news!' Then he became silent for a moment. Then he cried."

Yahya is staying at a temporary foster home. He will be a junior in high school this fall and plans to live with his aunt in the Minneapolis area, KPIX-5 reported.

Yahya has been spending his days doing normal teenage things. "I've been going to the movie theater and playing video games," he said.

Earlier this year, police said they were investigating possible criminal charges against the boy for climbing the airport fence, and that the teen was being cared for by child protective services.

The Santa Clara County Office of the Public Defender confirms it has been appointed to "advise and assist" the boy but could not explain in what capacity due to juvenile privacy rules.

(Associated Press)