Thursday, July 30, 2015

Hello from Dallas, Texas!

Good Day Everybody,

As many of you know I work for Southwest Airlines. This week I am in Dallas, Texas attending a week long training class. As you have probably noticed I have not been making any blog updates simply because I am having issues due to connection speeds here at the hotel were I am staying.

I have attempted several times to upload photos which simply will not happen and even make news updates but that also has problems as you can tell by the Cathay Pacific story below and this note in regards to paragraph spacing.

This afternoon following class a long time friend will be meeting me at the hotel from were will journey off to photograph some C-47's he has told me about so that should be very exciting.

I return home Friday evening so I hope to make some updates this weekend.

Have a great rest of the week.

Cheers from Dallas, Texas.

Michael Carter
Editor and Chief
Aero Pacific Flightlines 

Cathay Pacific 777 makes emergency landing on Aleutian Islands

A Cathay Pacific Airways Boeing 777-300ER made an emergency landing at a US military airport in Alaska due to smoke in the aircraft.

Cathay said in a statement that flight CX884, en route from Hong Kong to Los Angeles July 29, diverted to Eareckson Air Station on Alaska’s Aleutian Islands "due to smoke detected in the aircraft."

The 777 was carrying 276 passengers and 18 crew. "All passengers and crew are safe," Cathay said. American Airlines and LAN codeshared on the flight.

Cathay said it is sending a relief flight to Eareckson Air Station. Cathay Pacific director-service delivery James Ginns said in a statement, "The captain of CX884 made exactly the right decision to divert the flight as a precautionary measure. We understand that this action resulted in a long and arduous journey for those onboard the diverted flight and we apologize for the inconvenience caused.

We will launch a thorough investigation into what caused the smoke that was detected on the aircraft."

(Aaron Karp - ATWOnline News)

Friday, July 24, 2015

Boeing 787’s Improved Reliability Is Giving a Supplier Headaches

After early hiccups, Boeing Co.’s 787 Dreamliner is turning into a stellar performer for airlines. That’s creating an unexpected headache for the company that makes the plane’s cockpit displays.

The problem: Rockwell Collins Inc. finds itself with a bulge of unsold spare parts because the monitors used by pilots to track the jet’s radar and performance are proving more reliable than expected, Chief Executive Officer Kelly Ortberg said Friday.

Dreamliner operators are stockpiling fewer replacements, contributing to a 4 percent drop in aftermarket sales in the quarter ended June 30, Rockwell Collins said. The Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based company is tweaking forecasts for other new jets using the gear, such as Boeing’s 737 Max and 777X, Ortberg said.

“I’m not going to feel bad about building and designing a really good piece of equipment,” Ortberg said in a telephone interview. “We’ll go adjust the reliability that we had originally predicted to more of what we’re actually seeing in the marketplace.”

Slowing spare-parts sales have been an aviation-industry focus this week after United Technologies Corp. and B/E Aerospace Inc. blamed the aftermarket for weighing on results. Ortberg said Rockwell Collins struggled with weak sales because of the 787 and a drop in flights by operators of older-model business jets.

Stock Falls

Rockwell Collins fell 3.7 percent to $85.11 at 12:17 p.m. in New York, the fourth drop in five days and a move toward the stock’s steepest weekly decline since September 2011.

While profit in the company’s fiscal third quarter beat analysts’ estimates, the shares are under pressure because revenue of $1.29 billion was about $300 million short of the consensus figure, according to a note to investors by Jason Gursky, a Citigroup Inc. analyst.

The Dreamliner entered service in 2011 after more than three years of delays. With the plane’s all-new technology, Rockwell Collins had no track record on which to project a replacement rate for its spare parts, Ortberg said.

Now, the company will used the improved reliability to try to persuade operators of Boeing’s 757s and 767s to upgrade to new equipment. Jet kerosene at close to a six-year low is a lure for airlines to retrofit older planes they otherwise would have retired, Ortberg said.

“This improved performance is going to help their business case,” Ortberg said. “With depressed fuel prices, you’re going to continue to see the opportunity to fly those aircraft longer.”

(Julie Johnsson - Bloomberg Business)

Boeing looks at pricey titanium in bid to stem 787 losses

Boeing, which loses about $23 million on every 787 Dreamliner passenger jet that leaves the factory, is trying to stem the losses by cutting the use of one of its signature ingredients: titanium.

The strong, lightweight alloy used extensively on the 787 costs seven times more than aluminum, and accounts for about $17 million of the cost of the $260 million plane, according to industry sources.

The push to reduce titanium costs is part of a broader, long-running effort by Boeing to make the 787 profitable that includes pressing suppliers for price cuts and adjusting assembly lines to improve efficiency, said Bob Noble, vice president of Partnering for Success, Boeing's supplier cost-cutting program.

Boeing's other commercial planes are profitable, and on Wednesday, Boeing repeated its pledge to break even on the 787 this year on a cash basis. With titanium making up 15 percent of the 259,000 pounds an empty 787 weighs, far more than other Boeing jetliners, the material is under special scrutiny, industry experts said.

The world's largest plane maker hasn't disclosed how many billions it invested to develop the 787, which was introduced in 2011, but it has spent more than $30 billion on production, tooling and one-time costs. And it has curbed its ambitions for future planes. Former chief executive Jim McNerney said last year Boeing didn't plan any more "moonshots" like the 787.

As the Chicago-based company races to increase the pace of plane manufacturing, investors and analysts want it to lift its profits by churning out more 787s while cutting costs.

"Aerospace titanium at $20 to $25 a pound is front and center, especially when you have the cost problems that you do on the 787," said Kevin Michaels, a vice president with ICF International, a publicly traded management, technology and policy consulting firm based in Fairfax, Virginia.


Commercial jetliner programs typically lose money in the early years of production until the heavy upfront investments in engineering and production are repaid. Boeing's accounting spreads those costs over a large block of planes the company expects to deliver.
Investors expressed concern in April when the 787's deferred production cost balance reached $26.9 billion, about $2 billion more than earlier targets. The tally is a gauge of the losses Boeing has built up making 787s so far.

Boeing said the 787 deferred cost balance will keep rising until 2016, when the company plans to begin turning out 12 of the planes a month, up from 10 currently. At that point, Boeing expects the balance will start decreasing.

Overall, Boeing said it earns a operating profit margin of 10.5 per cent in its commercial jetliner business, including sales of planes and related services.

The 787 represents Boeing's bid to reinvent the civilian jetliner, using lightweight carbon fiber and new engines to allow it fly farther and burn 20 percent less fuel than current jets made largely of aluminum. Unlike aluminum, which corrodes when it comes into contact with carbon fiber, titanium works well with carbon fiber and expands minimally in response to the large temperature swings the big jets experience.

But the 787 now faces dual competition from Airbus: its own carbon-composite plane, the A350, and a low-cost alternative, the A330neo, based on an older aluminum design updated with new, fuel-efficient engines.

Those are likely to keep price pressure on both plane makers, "especially in a low oil price environment," said Russell Solomon, aerospace analyst at Moody's Investor Service.

While the rising level of deferred costs affects the 787's ultimate profitability, Solomon said, "it's the ongoing cost that we're really paying attention to."

As part of its cost-reduction effort, Boeing considered shifting to less costly aluminum for seat tracks on the 787, industry sources say. Boeing said it didn't end up making the change, but declined to say why.

Boeing has changed the cockpit window frame to aluminum from titanium, and has changed the frames of some doors to composite from titanium. Special coatings or materials are used to prevent aluminum corrosion, experts said. It wasn't known how much Boeing saved by the change. Boeing declined to comment.

Boeing said it also is "aggressively pursuing" recycling to recapture the waste metal "chips" created as titanium parts are machined into finished shapes.


The company is looking for even greater savings in its supply chain and production methods. The changes are not likely to affect raw metal prices, but could reduce the sales of some suppliers, and stem concern about supply constraints from Russia, experts said.

One large 787 piece, used to help join the wings to the body, shows the potential for saving. The piece, known as the double plus chord, requires Boeing to buy about 40 pounds of titanium for every pound that ends up flying on the aircraft, said Bill Bihlman, president of metal consultancy Aerolytics LLC.
After the piece is forged, a large amount of the outside must be ground off, leaving interior metal with intact grain and strength. Add in the high cost of machining hard metals like titanium, and the value of such pieces soars.

"You can see why there's so much emphasis on titanium," Bihlman said.

Noble, the Boeing official, declined to discuss specific parts, but said pieces with high "buy-to-fly" ratios are a focus.

"There are a whole lot of strategies we can use to reduce the buy-to-fly," he said.

But substituting other metals won't be easy, Bihlman said. Steel weighs 65 percent more than titanium, and aluminum lacks titanium's strength and has the corrosion problem.

But even though the titanium savings may ultimately be modest, Bihlman said, Boeing will wring them out "because they have to."

(Alwyn Scott - Reuters)

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

FedEx orders 50 Boeing freighters in deal worth $9.97 billion at list prices

FedEx Corp, the world's largest cargo firm, has signed a deal to buy 50 additional Boeing Co. 767-300 freighters in the biggest order ever for the plane, allowing the aircraft maker to extend its production line well into the next decade.

The deal, announced in a statement by the U.S. cargo operator, includes options for another 50 767Fs and is worth $9.97 billion at list prices. Customers typically receive an undisclosed discount off the list prices.
FedEx said the aircraft will be delivered by Boeing for its FedEx Express arm over the fiscal years 2018-2023. The latest deal brings FedEx's firm orders for 767Fs to 106 and extends the company's drive to modernize its fleet.
"Acquiring additional 767F aircraft...will enable us to reduce structural costs, improve our fuel efficiency and enhance the reliability of our global network," David J. Bronczek, president and chief executive officer of FedEx Express, said in the statement.

The air cargo business has remained soft compared to the general aviation business since the 2008 global financial crisis. Weak demand, overcapacity and competition from the belly space of passenger planes has driven down yields and reduced the need for dedicated freighters.

Boeing, however, has forecast that global air freight traffic will still grow at an annual rate of 4.7 percent, doubling cargo traffic over the next 20 years.

FedEx had a fleet of 641 freighter aircraft as of May 31, according to data on its website. In addition to the 767F orders, it has also committed to 18 Boeing 777 freighters.

On Tuesday, Boeing said that Taiwan's EVA Air had finalised an order for five 777 freighters worth $1.5 billion.
"We appreciate the confidence that FedEx has shown in the 767," a Boeing spokesman said in a statement.
The 767Fs will replace a number of older freighters, including Boeing MD10s and MD11s as well as Airbus Group (AIR.PA) A300-600s and A310s, which FedEx plans to retire in the coming years.
While the passenger version of the 767 is being replaced by next-generation Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 aircraft, the freighter version remains in demand among cargo firms. The 767 is also the platform for the U.S. Air Force's air-to-air refueling tanker, with the service planning to spend $52 billion to develop and buy 179 aircraft.

(Siva Govindasamy - Reuters)

Museum to take ownership of historic Howard Hughes plane

In this Oct. 29, 1980 file photo, Howard Hughes' wooden flying boat the "Spruce Goose," is towed by a tugboat from its hangar in Long Beach, Calif. The gigantic historic wooden airplane whose fate was mired in a financial dispute, will permanently stay in Oregon. The Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum has reached an agreement with the Aero Club of Southern California to take full ownership of the plane in the coming weeks, said California attorney Robert E. Lyon, who represents the Aero Club. Lyon said the agreement was reached in early July 2015.
(AP Photo, File)

Legendary mogul Howard Hughes' Spruce Goose, a gigantic historic wooden airplane whose fate was mired in a financial dispute, will permanently stay in Oregon.

The Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum has reached an agreement with the Aero Club of Southern California to take full ownership of the plane in the coming weeks, said California attorney Robert E. Lyon, who represents the Aero Club. Lyon said the agreement was reached in early July.

The McMinnville, Oregon-based nonprofit has been home to the Spruce Goose for more than two decades, but it still owed a payment to the California club from which it bought the plane.

The details of the agreement were not disclosed. But the dispute centered on the original purchase terms, which in addition to the $500,000 price tag also included a percentage of the museum's earnings from displaying the Spruce Goose.

"It's comforting to know it will finally be in its resting place where it will be properly taken care of," Lyon said.

Dubbed a flying boat, the Spruce Goose has a 320-foot wing span — larger than a football field — and floats that allow it to land on water.

Originally envisioned as part of a fleet of flying boats that would deliver cargo and troops over the heads of U-boats during World War II, the Spruce Goose was built in 1947 by Hughes with $18 million in federal funds. Hughes, an oil and film industry tycoon, also spent $7 million of his own money on the project.

The plane was made almost entirely of birch wood — a material that was not crucial to the war effort. Hughes, a passionate aviator, flew it only once, on Nov. 2, 1947, in a mile-long test flight above California's Long Beach Harbor.

Hughes then stored it in a special hangar, and it never flew again. After the tycoon's death in 1976, the Smithsonian briefly contemplated cutting up the plane and putting its pieces on display. But aviation enthusiasts protested and vowed to keep the legendary plane intact, said Lyon, who remembers as a boy seeing the airplane's giant wings trucked from Culvert City to Long Beach in 1946.

The Aero Club of Southern California acquired the aircraft, he said, and put the Spruce Goose on display in a hangar.

In 1992, the Spruce Goose was sold to Delford Smith, the founder of Evergreen International Aviation. The plane was transported to McMinnville in pieces by truck and barge, reassembled and restored by a team of experts.

Smith founded the museum in 2001, with the Spruce Goose as its centerpiece housed in a giant glass and steel building.

In recent years, the museum was embroiled in a state investigation and the bankruptcies of Evergreen Aviation and Evergreen Vintage Aircraft, a for-profit affiliate of museum that owned its real estate and many of its planes.

But the state said it won't take enforcement action against the nonprofit. A settlement reached in May resolved both bankruptcies and secured several of the museum's airplanes and its real estate.

(Associated Press)

TAM cutting domestic capacity in response to Brazil’s struggles

Citing Brazil’s “difficult economic scenario,” TAM said it will gradually reduce its domestic operations 8%-10% and cut about 500 employees.

The reduction in services will see TAM’s domestic capacity fall 2%-4% for the full year 2015 compared to 2014. TAM said the staff cuts “will not impact flight crew personnel.”

Though the number of domestic flights will be reduced, TAM does not plan to drop any domestic destinations to which it currently operates.

TAM said its capacity reduction move was driven by data released July 10 by the Brazilian Central Bank estimating the country’s GDP will contract 1.5% year-over-year in 2015. “They also estimate that inflation should end the year at over 9%, while the US dollar is expected to continue to strengthen against the Brazilian real,” TAM said.

TAM parent LATAM Airlines Group reported a 2014 net loss of $109.8 million, attributed in part to foreign exchange losses of $130.2 million related to the devaluation of the Brazilian real.

“TAM is taking this measure to face the difficult economic scenario of the country,” CEO Claudia Sender said in a statement. “It is necessary to make adjustments to our network … We continue to believe in the country’s recovery and this adjustment in no way affects the company’s long-term strategy, which includes the renewal of the fleet … and the continuous strengthening of our hubs in Brasília and São Paulo Guarulhos.”

(Aaron Karp - ATWOnline News)

A drone is going to bring down an airliner: why are we waiting for that to happen?

Sooner or later – and I personally believe it will be sooner – an airliner full of passengers and crew is going to be brought down after colliding with a drone.

There – I’ve said it, though most in the industry won’t. That’s understandable, but it’s still not right.

We must have an urgent, honest discussion about what is happening in the skies today. Even more urgent, we must do something about the rapidly escalating danger that drones – unmanned aerial vehicles – pose to commercial air transport.

If further evidence of the critical situation were needed, look at what happened yesterday close to Warsaw airport. A Lufthansa Embraer E-195 with 108 passengers aboard narrowly missed a collision with a so-far unidentified drone.

We now sit just 330 feet away from a different story entirely – one that would have been an instant global newsflash and would have dominated the headlines for weeks; “Airliner brought down by drone: at least 100 dead”.

That’s not hyperbole. It’s true. This incident, which follows an alarming increase in the number of reported near-misses between airliners and drones close to major commercial airports – requires immediate attention.

I would argue the issue of drone oversight and control should take priority over airliner tracking (post MH370’s disappearance), military/intelligence agency communications with commercial air transport authorities (post MH17’s missile shootdown), and psychological monitoring of pilots (post Germanwings 9525 crash). Why? Because the threat to airliners from drones is more likely and more imminent than the scenarios that led to any of these tragedies.

If (when) an airliner is brought down by a drone, there will be outrage, there will be calls for immediate action, there will be task forces, there will be finger-pointing, and there will be hundreds – likely thousands – of reported near-miss incidents to point to. There will be new legislation restricting the use of drones near airports, requiring drone users to be registered, certified, and take some level of training. And there will be stiff penalties for non-compliance. My question is, why are we waiting?

Regulating and monitoring drone use, especially small UAVs, is not easy and won’t be cheap. But that’s the case with most safety practices in commercial air transportation. It won’t be popular with drone enthusiasts and the UAV industry.

But popularity surely does not trump an industry that will be responsible for safeguarding almost 4 billion passengers by 2017 and which generates trillions of dollars of economic benefits to countries everywhere?

So why aren’t we – by which I mean FAA, ICAO, IATA, aircraft manufacturers, the airlines, law enforcement agencies and governments everywhere - not making UAV regulation and control their top priority?

I have an awful suspicion, and one best illustrated by comparing the drone threat to that of the German threat in World War II. Germany had its Enigma encryption machine for encoding and communicating top-secret messages. Famously, British cryptologists created a machine that cracked the Enigma code and allowed intelligence services to read those German communications and hence know about planned strikes.

But they often didn’t act on that knowledge because to do so would have given away the fact that they had cracked Enigma, potentially extending the war if Germany then changed the code. The costs of an extended war were deemed higher than those of individual losses, such as planned allied city bombings or warship strikes, which were known about thanks to the decryption machine but could not be acted upon.

With today’s UAV problem, as complex and expensive as it will be to resolve, I wonder whether another cost calculation is being considered? Getting sufficient funds, resources and commitment to implement an effective, global drone-control regime in place will be very challenging and likely a slow process. Unless. Unless an airliner, let’s say a western airliner with some 300 people onboard, is brought down by a drone.

Whether that act by the UAV operator is unintended or deliberate, the game changes overnight and the path to drone regulation and legislation becomes much easier to fund and implement. Three hundred lives is a very high cost, but perhaps worth the greater good of thousands of lives saved by an expedited UAV-control system?

I don’t want to wait for the “enigma solution”. The question is, what are we going to do about it?

(Karen Walker - ATWOnline News)

Lufthansa reports near-miss with unmanned aircraft

Polish Air Navigation Services Agency (PANSA) said air traffic controllers changed landing direction for more than 20 flights into Warsaw Chopin Airport (WAW) on July 20 after a Lufthansa crew on approach reported a near-miss with an unmanned aircraft.

The Embraer E-195 with 108 passengers on board was arriving from Munich (MUC), on approach at about 2,500 ft. altitude, when the crew reported an unmanned aircraft coming within 100 meters (330 ft.) of the airliner. The Embraer landed safely, PANSA said.

“Prompt intervention by air traffic controllers allowed for the safe conduct of further landings,” PANSA said. Police helicopters were scrambled, but failed to locate the unmanned aircraft or its operator, the agency added.

Lufthansa has confirmed the incident, telling ATW in a statement, "The cockpit crew of flight LH 1614 from MUC-WAW on July 20 spotted a black unidentified object during its approach to WAW.

The object passed the aircraft in near distance on the right-hand side of the aircraft. The crew notified WAW tower about this immediately. The plane landed safely at WAW at 14:09 UTC. On board were 108 passengers."

(Graham Warwick - ATWOnline News)

Lufthansa Technik Puerto Rico begins operations

A Spirit Airlines A320 arrives at Lufthansa Technik Puerto Rico for a C check.
(Lufthansa Technik)

Lufthansa Technik’s (LHT) new Puerto Rico MRO facility at Rafael Hernández International Airport in Aguadilla started operations July 21 with its first overhaul line. A second overhaul line is expected to be operational in November, followed by three more lines until early 2017 to include Boeing 737s.

Initial customers are Airbus A320 family aircraft operators, Spirit Airlines and JetBlue Airways, from the Americas. Lufthansa Technik Puerto Rico (LTPR) is FAA Part 145- and EASA Part 145-approved.

Construction on the facility, a former US Air Force base, began in August 2014.

“One day we expect to handle about 100 to 150 aircraft per year at LTPR,” LHT chairman Johannes Bussmann told ATW earlier this year in Hamburg. “This location has potential. LTPR has the opportunity to grow further, but we will only grow based on demand.”

LTPR has trained 140 employees and plans to increase its workforce to 400 over the next two years.

In its final configuration, the 215,000 sq. ft. facility will offer five lines for base and heavy maintenance checks (C-, IL- and D-checks), along with other maintenance work (including aircraft painting) on narrow-body aircraft.

LTPR, which is located on the west edge of Puerto Rico, is within flying distance of all A320 family aircraft in the Americas.

(Kurt Hofmann - ATWOnline News)

Southwest Airlines could hit stormy weather as flight attendant contract vote concludes

This could wind up a very bad week for Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly.
Even if the low fare behemoth, as expected, reports record 2015 second quarter profits this Thursday morning, Kelly could have thousands of very unhappy flight attendants to contend with by Friday afternoon.
With less than 72 hours until the voting ends at noon central time on Friday, sources indicate Southwest's rank-and-file unionized flight attendants, members of Transport Workers Union Local 556, look increasingly likely to vote down a tentative new contract presented to them for approval earlier this month.
Multiple sources close to developments also indicate it may not even be close.
One flight attendant who has been polling fellow F/As said the "no" vote could be overwhelming. "Seems that sentiment is 9/1 against this tentative contract," said the source.
One unscientific straw poll had 345 flight attendants voting "no," 8 for "yes" and 12 "undecided."
Noted another Southwest flight attendant: "The number of flight attendants coming out publicly at work, in F/A lounges and through social media, email, text, wearing black ribbons under their union pins, displaying their "no" vote on their luggage tags, etc., has been large and widespread throughout our flight attendant rank and file."
Yet another Southwest flight attendant said the likely news of Southwest's record profits on Thursday could seal the rejection of the contract among even those Southwest flight attendants who are still on the fence about which way to vote.
Online voting closes at 12 noon central time on Friday, and the results of the vote are expected to be announced to rank and file at 6 p.m. the same day.
Even some members of the team of so-called educators who have fanned out across the Southwest system in recent days to sell flight attendants on the new contract concede the outcome of the vote could go against Southwest CEO Kelly and the tentative contract the airline's top executive wants to see ratified.
For many flight attendants, two of the biggest issues in the proposed contract are the longer duty day (up from 10.5 to 12 hours) and new vacation rules.
But many flight attendants also argue the Southwest company culture has changed dramatically in recent years, and not for the better since Kelly took control of the company. Those sentiments may factor into the vote outcome as well.
If flight attendants vote down the tentative contract, negotiations will start from scratch again, even after it took two years to get the tentative contract now up for approval. Rank and file F/As also may push for the Local 556 executive board to be recalled and a new board put in place before contract negotiations start once more.
Southwest's more than 13,500 flight attendants, including more than 1,800 domiciled in Chicago, are the largest single group of unionized workers employed at the heavily-unionized carrier.
If the flight attendants vote down the tentative new contract, that means Southwest CEO Kelly still will have to deal with four of his largest and most important worker groups who have been trying to get new contracts for years — flight attendants, mechanics, ramp agents and pilots.
Southwest has its largest hub at Chicago's Midway Airport.
(Lewis Lazare - Chicago Business Journal)

Spring Airlines receives designation for China-Russia routes

Chinese aviation authorities have designated Shanghai-based Spring Airlines on routes between China and Russia, though the Russia’s Federal Air Transport, Rosaviatsia, did not identify the specific routes.

Despite the downward trend in Russian international traffic in the first half, several airlines have announced new routes between the two countries.
Russia’s IFly Airline, which specializes in charter flights to leisure destinations, launched three-times-weekly Airbus A330 scheduled services from Moscow Vnukovo to Xian, Tianjing, Shenyang, on April 20.

Transaero started four-times-weekly Boeing 767-300 services from Saint Petersburg Pulkovo International to Shanghai from June 14 through October 2015. On July 16, China Southern Airline launched Lanzhou-Urumqi-Saint Petersburg four-times-weekly Boeing 757-200 services.

Spring plans to add Shenzhen as another hub in South China to further explore the international market in Japan, Korea and other Northeast Asian countries this year. In addition, the carrier is expanding in Japan.

(Polina Montag-Girmes - ATWOnline News)

Thai adds second London nonstop schedule

(Thai Airways)

Thai Airways will double its London-Bangkok capacity later this year, with a second aircraft in addition to its newly inaugurated Airbus A380 service. It will also operate a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft flying nonstop to London's Heathrow from Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi  International on a daily basis.

Thai stopped flying its night-flight service on July 1, when it introduced a single Airbus A380 schedule as a replacement for its twice-daily schedule using aging Boeing 747s. The new A380 service had seen several delays prior to an inauguration that was originally planned for late 2013.

The carrier will add to the A380 service with the 777, which will offer 348 seats in two classes, compared to the A380's 507 seats in three classes.

 “We are immensely proud of our service and doubly so now that we are the only airline offering A380 nonstop travel between London and Bangkok,” Thai GM Wit Kitchathorn said.

(Jeremy Torr - ATWOnline News)

Boeing: World’s airlines need to hire 28,000 new pilots annually

Boeing has increased the number of pilots and maintenance technicians it forecasts will be needed by the world’s commercial airlines, reflecting a bulging order book for new aircraft.

In its latest Pilot and Technician Outlook, Boeing projects the need for 558,000 new commercial airline pilots globally over the next 20 years, up 4.7% from its forecast last year.

It also boosted its 20-year forecast for technicians by 4.3% year-over-year, to 609,000. Boeing noted that this means the worldwide airline industry will need to hire “about 28,000 new pilots and more than 30,000 new technicians every year,” for the next 20 years.

The Asia-Pacific region will, by far, have the highest demand for new commercial pilots and technicians from 2015-34, according to Boeing. Asia-Pacific airlines will need to hire 226,000 pilots and 238,000 technicians over the next two decades, the manufacturer said.

North America’s airlines and Europe’s airlines will both need to hire 95,000 pilots over the forecast period, with Europe requiring 101,000 technicians and North America needing 113,000 technicians.

“The challenge of meeting the global demand for airline professionals will not be solved by one company alone. Aircraft manufacturers, airlines, training equipment manufacturers, training delivery organizations, regulatory agencies and educational institutions are all stepping up to meet the increasing need to train and certify pilots and technicians,” Boeing Flight Services VP Sherry Carbary said in a statement.

(Aaron Karp - ATWOnline News)

EVA Air finalizes order for five Boeing 777 freighters


Taipei-based EVA Air has finalized an order for five Boeing 777 freighters, in an order valued at more than $1.5 billion at list prices. The commitment was first announced at the Paris Air Show.

These are the first 777Fs to join EVA Air’s fleet, and the first to be delivered to a Taiwanese airline.

The aircraft, which will be powered by GE90-115B engines, is scheduled for delivery to begin in 2017.

According to GE Aviation, the$750 million engine order includes a 12-year OnPoint solution agreement for MRO.

The Taiwanese airline plans to use the new freighters to bolster its fleet on transpacific and Asian routes in an effort to meet growing demand in the air cargo market.

According to the Boeing World Air Cargo Forecast, global air freight traffic is forecast to grow at an annual rate of 4.7%, doubling the cargo traffic over the next 20 years.

(Linda Blachly - ATWOnline News)

Boeing comes back with a second Seattle Seahawks 747 jumbo jet

Boeing 747-83QF (60119/1520) N841BA.
(Photo by Boeing)
The Seattle Seahawks football team is getting the jumbo support they need to take the field and, we all hope, win the Super Bowl again.
Call it sports superstition, but Boeing this week rolled out its second four-engine 747 freighter painted in Seahawks blue and green.
The main difference from the prior design – which was unveiled in January 2014, right before the Hawks' Super Bowl win – is the phrase “In it to win it” in large green letters on the aircraft’s tail.
(Photo by Boeing)
Otherwise, the large jet will sport a big blue 12 on its tail, and a fierce Seahawk on its side, like the previous model did.
Will this make a difference?
Think about it: the Seahawks won the Super Bowl in 2014, but only after the team had 747 jumbo support during the 2013-2014 season.
Boeing opted not to paint a plane during the 2014-2015 season, and what happened? The Seahawks lost 28-24 against the New England Patriots on Feb. 1.
Let’s see if the new plane, which is the same model used for Air Force One, brings back the Super Bowl magic. No other NFL team has a flying mascot this large.
You’ll get a chance to see the new plane Aug. 2 if you’re watching the Boeing Seafair Air Show over Lake Washington.
And maybe the publicity also will help Boeing sell a few more 747 freighters, something the company would dearly love to do.
Boeing has firm orders for just 14 model 747 freighters, and 31 overall. In June the company announced it will reduce production to just one monthly, the lowest it can go and still make money.
(Steve Wilhelm - Puget Sound Business Journal)

Monday, July 20, 2015

Blackhawk Close To Approval with Caravan Engine Upgrade

Blackhawk Modifications is close to getting an STC for its XP140 engine upgrade for the Cessna Caravan.
(Photo: Blackhawk)

Blackhawk Modifications announced that it imminently expects the FAA to certify its 867-hp XP140 engine upgrade for the Cessna 208A and 208B Caravans, the company announced on July 20 at EAA AirVenture. It is displaying an example of a 208B, featuring the Blackhawk conversiuon with a more powerful Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-140 turboprop, this week at the  show in Oshkosh, Wis.

The new engine provides the Caravan with up to 44 percent more available horsepower compared to original Grand Caravan models. It is intended to replace the 600/675-hp PT6A-114/114A engines in aircraft that do not have the Garmin G1000 cockpit upgrade. Other performance improvements delivered by Blackhawk’s upgrade include 41-percent improvement in rate of climb; 20-percent reduction in takeoff distance; 10- to 12-knot cruise speed improvement, to 191 knots; climb at 1,275 fpm; and range of up to 904 nm.

To date, nine operators have ordered the engine upgrade ahead of a supplemental type certificate being issued. According to Blackhawk president and CEO Jim Allmon, the installation process allows operators to retain many components from their original aircraft, including the cowling, engine mount and exhaust system. “These like-new levels of performance, capability and lifting power represent a true reinvention of the Caravan,” he commented. “XP140 was developed to provide value, and, as the lowest-priced new-engine upgrade on the market, it delivers in a big way.”

Separately, Blackhawk announced that the FAA has approved the 325-amp starter generator for use on Cessna Caravans with its XP42A engine upgrade. The new generator, which replaces a 200-amp unit, is standard equipment on the PT6A-140 engine used for the new XP140 upgrade. It give operators a 50-percent reduction in start times, a significant reduction in start temperatures (reducing maintenance costs), and extended starter overhaul intervals (from 400 to 1,500 hours).

The starter generator and installation kit is available at an introductory price of $28,000. Installation requires less than two days of downtime. 

(Charles Alcock - AINOnline News)

Piper Meridian and M500 To Get Hartzell Five-Blade Props

Hartzell and Piper are working to certify a new five-blade composite propeller for the Meridian and M500 piston singles.
 (Photo: Piper)

Piper Aircraft and Hartzell Propeller announced they are jointly working on a new five-blade composite propeller for Piper’s Meridian and M500. The companies expect to complete approval for a supplemental type certificate by year-end.

Speaking at the EAA AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wis., Piper sales and marketing vice president Drew McEwen said that the new propeller will boost climb rate and decrease noise, “with the added benefit of elevating ramp aesthetics.” The Hartzell prop will be available as a factory-installed option for the latest M500 model once certified. It also will be a retrofit option for existing Merdians through the STC.

According to Hartzell, the composite blades will be certified for unlimited life and are five to 10 times stronger than wood-core blades. They feature a stainless steel shank, nickel cobalt leading edge and mesh erosion screen for protection against foreign object damage. The five-blade design for the Piper aircraft is 15 pounds lighter than the current factory-installed propeller and 10 pounds lighter than similar wood-core props.

(Charles Alcock - AINOnline News)

Lockheed Martin Buying Sikorsky for $9B in Cash

Lockheed Martin inked an agreement to buy helicopter maker Sikorsky Aircraft from United Technologies. A company spokesman told AIN that "we intend to keep the entire Sikorsky business—military and commercial." Sikorsky civil programs include the S-76D, S-92 (shown here) and former Schweizer helicopters.
(Photo: Sikorsky)

Lockheed Martin announced this morning that it inked an agreement to buy helicopter maker Sikorsky Aircraft from United Technologies (UTC) for $9 billion in cash. The deal is subject to potential vetoes from both the U.S. Defense and Justice departments, but is expected to receive regulatory approval. The parties anticipate closing on the acquisition late in the fourth quarter or early in first quarter next year.

Lockheed Martin has annual revenue of $45 billion, $22 billion of which comes from direct U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) contracts. Its signature military products include the F-35 Lightning II multirole fighter, C-130J transport aircraft, Patriot anti-missile systems and the Navy’s new Littoral Combat Ships.

UTC had been publicly shopping Sikorsky since at least February, and the Lockheed-Sikorsky deal had been telegraphed for weeks. The deal would be Lockheed’s largest acquisition since it merged with Martin Marietta in a $10 billion stock swap in 1995. 

Last year, UTC's revenue was $65 billion, of which Sikorsky accounted for $7.5 billion. However, Sikorsky’s profits and sales had been dropping in recent months and in June the company announced it would eliminate 1,400 jobs and consolidate some facilities.

Sikorsky manufactures the ubiquitous UH-60 line of Black Hawk helicopters and the CH-53 Sea Stallion heavy-lift helicopter for various militaries, as well as the S-92A heavy and S-76D medium twin-engine models for the civilian market. It also owns the Schweizer brand of light helicopters. The company is based in Stratford, Conn., but operates additional production facilities in Pennsylvania and New York.

Sikorsky has been part of UTC since the company was known as United Aircraft in 1929. Although the company was initially known for fixed-wing amphibious aircraft, under Igor Sikorsky’s direction it began work on its first helicopter in the 1930s. The Vought-Sikorsky VS-300 first flew in 1939 and in 1942 Sikorsky’s R-4 became the first mass-produced helicopter. 

The Sikorsky acquisition is seen as positive for Lockheed Martin, whose revenues have been fairly flat over the last five years. Lockheed Martin is initially expected to keep the Sikorsky brand and operate the company independently from Connecticut as opposed to folding it into its existing aerospace portfolio. Lockheed Martin is based in Bethesda, Md., but has aircraft assembly plants in Marietta, Ga., and Fort Worth, Texas.

Sikorsky is a natural fit for Lockheed Martin and complements our broad portfolio of world-class aerospace and defense products and technologies,” said Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed Martin chairman, president and CEO. “I’m confident this acquisition will help us extend our core business into the growing areas of helicopter production and sustainment. Together, we’ll offer a strong portfolio of helicopter solutions to our global customers and accelerate the pace of innovation and new technology development.”

Lockheed Martin and United Technologies have agreed to make a joint election under Section 338(h)(10) of the Internal Revenue Code, which treats the transaction as an asset purchase for tax purposes. The election generates a tax benefit with an estimated present value of $1.9 billion for Lockheed Martin and its shareholders, bringing the after-tax price of the acquisition to $7.1 billion. 

The company plans to align Sikorsky under its Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training (MST) division. MST and Sikorsky are currently partnered on a number of critical programs, including the VH-92 Presidential helicopter, combat rescue helicopter and the Naval MH-60.

Lockheed Martin already works with Sikorsky as the system integrator on several helicopter programs, including the MH-60R&S Black Hawk variants for the Navy and Marine Corps and the new VH-92 Marine One presidential helicopter. Lockheed's last solo helicopter program was the AH-56 Cheyenne fast attack helicopter that was canceled in 1972 after only 10 prototypes were produced.

Lockheed Martin is currently partnered with now competitor Bell Helicopter in developing the latter’s V-280 Valor third-generation tiltrotor for the U.S. Army, currently a finalist in the Pentagon’s Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator (JMR-TD) program, a potential precursor for a large aircraft order worth more than $100 billion within the next decade.

Sikorsky is partnered with Boeing for the purpose of fielding a competing aircraft, the S-97 Raider compound helicopter with rigid coaxial contra-rotating rotors. A Bell spokesman said the company had no immediate comment on any potential impact Lockheed Martin's acquisition would have on the V-280 program.

A Lockheed Martin spokesman said that the acquisition would not affect his company's participation with Bell on the V-280. “The transaction will not have an impact on our pursuit of the Future Vertical Lift/Joint Multi-Role program. We will continue working with our current partners and teammates to bring the best technical solutions to our customer,” he told AIN.

(Mark Huber and Thierry Dubois - AINOnline News)

EASA Calls for Mandatory Mental Screening of Pilots

A task force led by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has recommended in a report published Friday that all pilots undergo a psychological evaluation before entering airline service.

The report, issued to the European Commission at the behest of EC Transport Commissioner Voileta Bulc following the March 24 crash of Germanwings Flight 9525, also called for random drug and alcohol testing, enforcement of the principle of two pilots in the cockpit at all times, a “robust” program of oversight for medical examiners, the creation of a European aeromedical data repository and implementation of a pilot support system within airlines.

Although not expected to produce a final report until within two years of the crash, France's Civil Aviation Safety Investigation Authority (Bureau d'Enquêtes et d'Analyses (BEA)) has already determined in preliminary findings that the flight’s copilot, Andreas Lubitz, locked his captain out of the cockpit before intentionally flying the Germanwings Airbus A320 into the French Alps, killing all 150 on board. Subsequent investigation uncovered Lubitz’s history of severe depression. 
Chaired by EASA executive director Patrick Ky, the task force consisted of 14 senior representatives from airlines, flight crew associations, medical advisors and authorities. Other invited experts and representative bodies also contributed. Three formal task force meetings took place from May to July.
Additional sub-groups undertook reviews of specific issues.

Key players in aviation and medical science worked closely together within the task force,” said Ky in a statement. “This report is the result of a thorough analysis with practical recommendations, so that such a tragic event does not happen again. EASA is ready to take the next necessary steps, applying the lessons learned.”

According to EASA, the report endeavored to strike a balance between medical secrecy and safety, and not to create additional bureaucracy for airlines.

In a statement issued Friday, the EC said it would review the recommendations, taking into account advice received from sources such as the independent accident investigation led by the BEA. Where the EC deems a need for legislative action, it will ask EASA to develop concrete proposals for inclusion in EU aviation safety regulations.

The commission will also ask EASA to produce non-legislative “deliverables,” such as guidance material and tools for information sharing, and to monitor actions taken by member states and industry.

The safety of European citizens is at the heart of the commission’s transport policy and today's report is a valuable contribution,” said Bulc. “If improvements are to be made in the European safety and security rules or in their implementation, in order to help prevent future accidents or incidents, we will take the necessary action at EU-level.”

(Gregory Polek - AINOnline News)

AgustaWestland AW169 Gets Nod from EASA

(Photo AgustaWestland)

AgustaWestland received EASA certification for its new AW169 medium twin-engine helicopter on July 15. The 10,140-pound/4.6-metric ton AW169 features a pair of Pratt & Whitney Canada PW210A fadec-controlled engines (1,000 shp each) and Rockwell Collins glass-panel touchscreen avionics with capabilities that include a four-axis digital automatic flight control system and dual flight management system. It will be approved for single-pilot IFR operations.

AW169s are equipped with a variable speed main rotor, which improves efficiency and reduces external noise, and the helicopter is the first in its category entering the market with electrically actuated retractable landing gear.

It is designed to be compatible with the MSG-3 maintenance process. Top cruising speed is 155 knots and maximum range is 431 nm. The 222-cu-ft cabin can accommodate seven to 10 passengers.

The first units will be delivered from AgustaWestland’s plant in Vergiate, Italy, and a second AW169 assembly line will open at the company's Philadelphia facility in the U.S. later this year. AgustaWestland has an order book of more than 150 AW169s.

(Mark Huber - AINOnline News)

China's Joy Air Orders 20 Cessna Grand Caravan EX Amphibians


China’s Zhoushan Avic Joy Air General Air Co. Ltd today signed an agreement to buy 20 Cessna Grand Caravan EX Amphibian aircraft. The first of the single turboprops are due to be delivered to the operator later this year through the U.S. airframer’s Chinese joint venture company Cessna-Avic Aircraft (Shijiazhuang) Co. Ltd., which assembles Caravans for the Chinese market.

Shanghai-based Joy Air already owns two Grand Caravan EX Amphibians and will use the new aircraft for additional commuter flights between coastal regions such as Shanghai, Zhejiang, Fujian, Guangdong and Yunnan. They also will be used for air tours and charter flights.

The Grand Caravan EX is equipped with Wipaire’s Wipline 8750 floats. Powered by the 867-hp Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-140 engine, the aircraft can fly more than 800 nm at speeds of more than 160 knots. It can carry up to nine passengers and two pilots.

The availability of the Cessna Grand Caravan EX Amphibian aircraft in China has sparked a new segment in the aviation market as operators now have the ideal product to meet the demand for increased aerial sightseeing and charter tourist flights,” said Cessna’s sales vice president in China, Kevin Wu. 

(Charles Alcock - AINOnline News)

VietJet’s fatal flirtation with long-haul, low-cost

I found this to be a very interesting story, I hope you do too.
(Michael Carter ...APF Editor and Chief)

Vietnamese low-cost carrier VietJet Air used the Paris Air Show to restate its interest in launching a long-haul operation, but the carrier’s modest international footprint suggests that such a venture will not make sense for several years – if ever.

VietJet’s expression of interest in a long-haul model is nothing new. In early 2014, during a visit to Singapore, managing director Luu Duc Khanh said the carrier would make a decision about such a unit in 2015, citing the large Vietnamese communities in countries such as the United States.

One year later, when asked about the idea, he said a decision is only likely in the next three to five years. The carrier’s focus, he said, was taking advantage of further opportunities in the booming Vietnam domestic market.

Luu was not in Paris, but his boss, chief executive Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, told journalists the carrier is “seriously considering” the idea of long-haul, low-cost. All good and well, but it is worth noting that she said the unit, if it ever emerges, would only occur in “several years,” seemingly an even greater backtrack from Luu’s comments a few months earlier.

Quite apart from the technical challenges a long-haul, widebody venture would entail for a small, point-to-point domestic carrier, VietJet has little experience in overseas markets. Moreover, it has little brand awareness in the region, let alone in far-flung international markets such as the United States, Europe, and Australia.

As of July 2015, it only serves four international destinations: Bangkok, Singapore, Taipei, and Hangzhou.

VietJet network, July 2015
asset image
(Flightmaps Analytics)

The carrier has aggressively ramped up capacity on its routes to Bangkok from Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, operating twice to three times daily from Ho Chi Minh City and daily from Hanoi.

Its Bangkok-based Thai VietJet unit, however, has failed to gain any traction whatsoever. It remains a minor charter operator with a single Airbus A320 aircraft. This despite VietJet’s comments throughout 2014 that the carrier would open for business with both domestic and international routes.

On the competitive Ho Chi Minh City-Singapore sector, in capacity terms as measured by seats VietJet places fifth among the five carriers serving the route. Here it contends with Vietnam Airlines, Singapore Airlines, Tigerair, and Jetstar Pacific. Data from Innovata’s schedules service shows that the Vietnamese low cost carrier veers between daily and twice daily A320 services.

Similarly, VietJet is the fourth of four players on the Ho Chi Minh City-Taipei route, well behind incumbents China Airlines, EVA Air, and Vietnam Airlines. Innovata indicates that Taipei could be discontinued by October, to be replaced by a daily Seoul service in November, where VietJet will be a distant fourth after Korean Air, Asiana, and Vietnam Airlines.

Meanwhile, the carrier’s executives are fond of talking about acquiring a new aircraft type, possibly a regional jet or a turboprop, while continuing to take on new A320s. Flightglobal’s Ascend Fleets database shows that the carrier has 23 A320 family aircraft now, with 63 on order. It is due to receive six more by the end of 2015, nine in 2016, and nine in 2017, before taking break in 2018, when it will take just one jet, its first A320neo.

VietJet capacity by route, July 2015
asset image
(FlightMaps Analytics)

Although VietJet is doubtless the target of sales pitches from the widebody manufacturers, it would do well to learn from the experiences of other low-cost carriers who have made the ambitious step of entering long-haul, low-cost.

AirAsia X continues to struggle, while Cebu Pacific appears less than delighted with performance at its long-haul unit. Cebu’s rationale for its long-haul offering, the Filipino diaspora, is identical to that of VietJet. Launched in 2013, the unit mainly focuses on flying high-density A330-300s to the Middle East. In 2014 it posted a load factor of just 61%, a number which Cebu hopes to push to still-unimpressive 70% in 2014.

Singapore Airlines has never disclosed Scoot’s financial performance, but corporate regulatory filings show that the carrier accumulated losses of over S$76 million ($60.8 million) between its launch in June 2012 and the end of fiscal 2013. This is despite its parent’s vast experience running a hub-and-spoke network carrier.

Long-haul, low-cost looks great on paper, but if VietJet must be careful about biting off more than it can chew.

(Greg Waldron - Flightglobal News)

Korean to be first to fit A330 runway-overrun protection

Korean Air Airbus A330-223 (c/n 1200) HL8227 departs Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on November 5, 2011.
(Photo by Michael Carter)  

Korean Air is to be the first carrier to implement an anti-overrun system on its Airbus A330s, after the technology secured certification on the type.

Approval from the European Aviation Safety Agency means that the runway overrun protection system – known as ROPS – is available across the airframer’s range.

Korean Air is to put the system into operation on A330s in service “in the coming months”, says Airbus.

The technology has been developed to reduce the risk of runway excursions.

It calculates the runway length required for a safe landing, based on aircraft and environmental conditions, and compares them to that available.

If the system concludes that there is a risk of overrun, it alerts the pilots in order to give them time to consider a missed approach or other mitigating actions. The technology is already available on the A380 and A350 and has been adapted for the A320 family.

Korean Air will be the first operator to introduce the technology on A330s, says Airbus. The airline has ordered 30 A330s from the airframer, including 22 of the -300.

(David Kaminski-Morrow - Flightglobal News)