Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Boeing studies plan to offer 737 freighter conversions

Boeing is looking at offering conversions of its most popular passenger jet, the 737-800, into freight haulers in a move aimed at express parcel firms, a senior executive said.

The proposal emerged weeks after rival Airbus  re-launched plans to offer conversions of its competing A320, forging a partnership with Singapore's ST Aerospace after an earlier Russian-backed effort stalled on costs and jet values.

Boeing sells three types of dedicated freighter from the mid-sized 767 up to the larger 777 and the 747-8 jumbo. It also offers passenger-to-freight conversions of its mid-sized 767.

"The next step we are looking at is what we want to do in the single-aisle market, where we see demand for over 1,000 conversions over the next 20 years," Randy Tinseth, vice president of marketing at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, told Reuters in an interview.

"We are looking at potentially pursuing a freighter conversion program for the 737-800. We see potential especially in the express market in the U.S. and China."

Until now, only outside companies have carried out conversions on 737s, as well as some 757s. Israel Aerospace Industries recently launched such work on recent 737s.

Boeing confirmed a report that the first planes under the proposed scheme could go to China.

Cargo Facts magazine reported that Hangzhou YTO Express Airlines was preparing to sign for 15 aircraft.

"Recently, Boeing did receive a commitment from YTO Airlines, which will be fulfilled following the program launch," a spokesman said by email.

"The business case for the 737-800BCF is maturing as planned and we are currently developing our design and production system strategies. We look forward to launching the 737BCF program once we have met our launch criteria."

Boeing is also studying plans to convert its larger 777-200ER into freighters, but these are progressing more slowly. Airbus meanwhile offers A330 conversions.

In total, Boeing sees demand for 1,420 converted freighters and 920 new ones over 20 years.

Efforts by Boeing and Airbus to tap into small freighter demand comes as they prepare to bring out upgraded passenger jets, leaving behind large numbers of existing models at the age and valuations that could make freight conversions attractive.

To work, current planes must be available cheaply enough on the second-hand market, with about 15-20 years on the clock, to cover the cost of conversion and make a profit.

"You have to balance that out to see how it works," Tinseth said.

(Tim Hepher - Reuters)

New Airline: New Orleans to Shreveport, Little Rock, Memphis

A new airline will soon by flying out of Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY/KMSY).
New Orleans-based Glo (GLOH) said Tuesday that it will begin nonstop service to three cities in November.
Glo's public charter flights, operated by Corporate Flight Management Inc., will offer two nonstop flights from Louis Armstrong New Orleans International to Shreveport (SHV/KSHV); Little Rock (LIT/KLIT), Arkansas; and Memphis (MEM/KMEM), Tennessee on weekdays. It will offer one flight between New Orleans and the three cities on Saturday and Sunday.
New Orleans resident Trey Fayard, Founder and CEO of Glo, said in a news release that the airline was created because existing air travel options in the Gulf and Mid-South regions are incredibly limited.
The airline will operate 30-passenger Saab 340B aircraft on Glo's new routes.
(The Associated Press)

Bombardier Global 6000 (c/n 9543) N543GL

This lovely Global 6000 is captured this morning at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) (September 29, 2015) as she taxies to then turns onto Rwy 30 to depart to Montreal - Trudeau Airport (YUL/CYUL) at 08:35 pst. This is Bombardiers latest demo aircraft and a beautiful one to be sure!
(Photos by Michael Carter) 

Icelandair Boeing 767-319(ER) (29388/785) EI-UNC

Icelandair is now using this ex Transaero (EI-UNC), Oxygene Airways (N381LF), Flyglobespan/Air India/Gabon Airlines/Air Austral/Garuda Indonesia (G-CDPT), Air India (G-CDPT) machine which is caught at Manchester International (Ringway) (MAN/EGCC) on September 28, 2015. The aircraft was originally delivered to Air New Zealand as ZK-NCN on April 3, 2000.
(Photos by Nik French) 

Southwest paid $120 million for 2 gates at Dallas airport

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-3H4 (26593/2642) N390SW arrives at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on December 26, 2013.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Southwest Airlines is so intent on strengthening its grip over Dallas Love Field that it is paying United Airlines $120 million to control two more gates at the airport near downtown.

Southwest disclosed the deal Monday during a hearing on a court fight that will determine whether Delta Air Lines can stay at Love Field.

The hearing gave a rare glimpse into the high-stakes dealing that sometimes happens in the airline business as carriers compete for scarce gates and landing rights.

By subleasing United's gates through 2028, Dallas-based Southwest now controls 18 of the airport's 20 gates. Virgin America has the other two.

Atlanta-based Delta tried to get the United gates, and Southwest offered them to Delta in exchange for some of Delta's valuable takeoff and landing rights at New York's LaGuardia Airport, according to documents. Delta passed.

Now U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade must decide whether Delta can keep running five flights a day at city-owned Love Field using a gate that Southwest controls.

Southwest, which operates 180 daily flights there, says it needs every bit of space it can get, and it wants Delta out as early as this week. Delta also flies to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport eight miles away.

But Delta likes Love Field's location near some of the most affluent neighborhoods in Dallas.

The airline's top real estate executive, Holden Shannon, said federal and city guidelines should have barred Southwest from buying gate space. Delta expected to spend about $300,000 per year for each gate, he said — $8.4 million through 2028, compared with Southwest's $120 million.

The hearing was scheduled to resume Tuesday, with testimony by more Delta Air Lines Inc. and Southwest Airlines Co. executives. Kinkeade predicted that the losing airline will appeal his ruling.

The judge also expressed surprise at the $120 million price tag for two gates, especially after learning that used jetliners are much cheaper.

So, he asked, "they could have bought eight or 10 planes for what this gate cost?"

(David Koenig - Associated Press)

Cargolux Boeing 747-8R7F (61169/1522) LX-VCM

Cargolux took delivery of its 13th 747-8F on September 28, 2015 sporting this special "Cutaway" livery showing a cross-section of potential cargo types it can carry. 
(Photo by Joe G. Walker)

$115 Million Capital Injection Boosts Wheels Up

Up Beach King Air 350i (c/n FL-885) N802UP arrives at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on September 6, 2015. The Wheels Up fleet now numbers 45 Beechcraft King Air 350i twin turboprops and 10 Cessna Citation Excel/XLS jets.
(Photo by Michael Carter)
This morning a group of financial institutions led by T. Rowe Price announced a $115 million capital injection for private flight membership program Wheels Up. The investment is backed by Fidelity Management and Research Company and NEA, and, according to Wheels Up, values the two-year old company at $500 million.

Wheels Up founder and CEO Kenny Dichter said that the fresh funds will support further expansion of the company’s U.S. operations, as well as its plan to begin operations in Europe and the development of new technology platforms, such as its Wheels App member-to-member flight sharing feature.

With flights operated for it by Gama Aviation, the Wheels Up fleet now numbers 35 Beechcraft King Air 350i twin turboprops and 10 Cessna Citation Excel/XLS jets. As of late September, Wheels Up had 1,600 members.

We believe Wheels Up has the rare combination of experienced entrepreneurs, business model innovation and a strong financial model,” said Henry Ellenbogen, portfolio manager at T. Rowe Price. “Wheels Up has developed network density and provides real customer value. It has the potential to be a much larger company,” Ellenbogen noted.

(AINOnline News)

FlightSafety launches Latitude simulator training program

FlightSafety International launched its Cessna Citation Latitude simulator training program on 28 September at its facility in Wichita, Kansas. The inauguration came about a month after the midsize business jet entered service with a US customer.
The company says, until now, Latitude pilots have been training on a Sovereign+ simulator, as the duo share the same Garmin G5000 flight deck.
A second FS1000 Level D-standard Latitude device will be installed next year at FlightSafety's learning center in Columbus, Ohio, which is also home to NetJets' global headquarters.
The fractional ownership provider is the largest customer for the Latitude, with orders and options for 150 of the nine-seat type. Deliveries to the world’s biggest business jet operator, and Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary, are scheduled to begin in July 2016.
“The FS1000 simulators for the Citation Latitude are designed to replicate the exact flight and performance characteristics of the aircraft,” says New-York-based FlightSafety. “They offer advanced instructional capabilities and are designed for maximum reliability, ease of maintenance and support."
To date, the training provider has 44 Citation business jet and Cessna Caravan single-engine turboprop simulators worldwide.
FlightSafety says it will add extra Latitude devices "if there is enough customer demand."
(Kate Sarsfield - Flightglobal News)

RAAF KC-30A refuels F-35A for first time

In a first for the Royal Australian Air Force, an Airbus Defense & Space KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft has conducted refueling contacts with a Lockheed Martin F-35A fighter.

The four hour sortie took place from Edwards AFB in California, and saw the KC-30A perform 59 boom contacts, says Australia’s Department of Defense in a statement. Of these, five contacts were “wet” and included the transfer of 43,200lb of fuel to the USAF F-35A.

“Our KC-30A is an essential force multiplier,” says air force chief AM Leo Davies. “Mid-air refueling is critical to ensuring global reach for our aircraft, our people and our equipment.
Refueling between the KC-30A and F-35A is an important step towards the KC-30A’s achievement of Final Operational Capability (FOC) and represents continued progress in the development of the F-35A.

Asset Image

Canberra’s KC-30As – a variant of the A330 airliner - are capable of refueling aircraft via a boom or with wing-mounted hose-and-drogue equipment. Both systems have been used by a KC-30A engaged in combat operations against Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq.

Australia operates five KC-30As and will receive an additional pair in 2018. By 2023, only 36 RAAF aircraft will still use hose-and-drogue refueling, its 24 Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornets and 12 EA-18G Growlers. The remaining 100 aircraft in its fleet, including the Lockheed Martin F-35, will require boom refueling.

Asset Image

In early 2015, Australia removed the KC-30A from its ‘Projects of Concern’ list following remediation work related to the type’s aerial refueling boom.

The type was on the list since February 2010 owing to a number of project delays.

Extensive work has been undertaken by Airbus in Spain related to the capability.

(Greg Waldron - Flightglobal News)

Jeff Bonner Research delivers first electronic window shades for BBJ 787

VIP aircraft interior parts manufacturer Jeff Bonner Research and Development (JBRND) has delivered its first electronically controlled window shades for the Boeing Business Jet BBJ787.

The handover comes less than a week after the lightweight system, called SyncDrive, secured US certification.

While JBRND already designs and develops window shades for a range of business aircraft, including the BBJ and Airbus Corporate Jet families, this is the first system to be designed for the VIP-configured 787, says the San Antonio, Texas-based manufacturer.

“SyncDrive window shade units are designed to be installed behind a standard or custom sidewall panel and can be integrated into various aircraft cabin management systems,” explains JBRND.

“They also operate with or without the electronic dimming windows that come as standard on 787 aircraft.”

To date, SyncDrive shades have been selected for four of the 12 BBJ 787s on order and in various stages of completion.

(Kate Sarsfield - Flightglobal News)

Cathay Pacific takes delivery of its 70th Boeing 777

Cathay Pacific has taken delivery of its 70th Boeing 777, making it the largest Asian operator of the widebody type.
The aircraft, 777-367(ER) (60724/1333) B-HNR is the 53rd 777-367(ER) for the carrier, says Boeing. The carrier received its first 777-300ER in September 2007.
Besides the 777-300ERs, Cathay also operates five 777-200s and 12 -300s.
Asset Image
“The 777s have played an important role in Cathay Pacific’s fleet modernization and network expansion strategy,” adds airline chief executive Ivan Chu.
“We operate the largest 777 fleet in Asia, and these aircraft offer the range, reliability and flexibility to build multiple daily frequencies on trunk routes, both within the Asia-Pacific region and, with the 777-300ERs, on long-haul and ultra-long-haul routes. Our 777 fleet has helped in our efforts to reinforce Hong Kong's position as one of the world’s most important international aviation hubs.”
Cathay also has orders for 21 777-9Xs.
(Firdaus Hashim - Flightglobal News)

Virgin Atlantic’s Little Red operates its final flight

(Virgin Atlantic)

Virgin Atlantic UK domestic operation Little Red has closed its doors two and a half years after performing its first flight.

Little Red launched in March 2013, using Airbus A320s on wet lease from Aer Lingus. The airline was set up to perform flights from London Heathrow, Manchester, Edinburgh and Aberdeen, feeding Virgin Atlantic's long-haul network. 

However, Virgin Atlantic decided to axe the carrier in October 2014, due to weak demand.

“The final Edinburgh and Aberdeen Little Red flights were on Saturday, Sept. 26,” a Virgin Atlantic spokeswoman told ATW. These were the final services still being operated by the carrier.

Virgin Atlantic secured nine of Little Red’s 12 London Heathrow slot pairs as part of a European Commission remedy package, when British Airways acquired bmi.

“They [the slots] will now be returned to BA and will remain available for airlines wishing to start operations or add frequency on the remedy routes,” the spokeswoman said.

(Victoria Moores - ATWOnline News)

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Flexjet Gulfstream G450 (c/n 4330) N450FX

The first Gulfstream G450 to be operated by Flexjet made a visit to Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) today arriving from San Francisco International Airport (SFO/KSFO) as "LXJ450" at 11:10am PST then departing to Dallas-Love Field (DAL/KDAL) as "LXJ450" at 13:05pm PST.
(Photos by Michael Carter) 

Gulfstream opens paint facility in Savannah for in-service aircraft

(Gulfstream Aerospace)

Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. today announced it has opened a paint facility in Savannah specifically for in-service aircraft. The state-of-the art building is expected to create 100 new jobs; approximately 80 of which have already been filled. Paint technicians will induct the facility’s first customer aircraft next week.
“Demand for new Gulfstream aircraft is strong and so is the demand for enhancing aircraft already in service,” said Joe Rivera, vice president and general manager, Gulfstream Savannah Service Center.
“This facility gives customers a dedicated space for our Product Support organization to tackle their paint requests — from full strip-and-paint jobs to custom livery and logo applications.

Its close proximity to the Savannah Service Center makes it an ideal location for customers who need maintenance and/or refurbishment work to go along with painting an individual part, multiple parts or an entire aircraft. The end result will be reduced downtimes.”

The new building comprises approximately 88,000 square feet/8,175 square meters, including more than 72,000 sf/6,689 sm of hangar space, offices, back shops and storage areas. 
The air-conditioned and heated hangar space is divided into a crossdraft bay for stripping, sanding and priming and a downdraft bay for painting. All Gulfstream aircraft models can be accommodated.
The new paint facility is equipped with environmental controls and the latest fire suppression systems. 

(Gulfstream Aerospace Media)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Boeing confirms 300 orders from China and 737 facility in China

Chinese President Xi Jinping is given a tour of Boeing’s aircraft manufacturing facilities in Everett, Washington by Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO Ray Conner.
(Jason Redman-Pool/Getty Images)

Boeing confirmed 300 aircraft orders/commitments from Chinese companies and said it will open a joint venture 737 “completion” facility in China.

The announcements were made as Chinese President Xi Jinping toured 787, 777 and 747-8 final assembly lines in Everett, Washington.

The 300 orders/commitments are divided among Chinese leasing companies and Chinese airlines; specific airline destinations for the aircraft were not announced. Widebodies comprise 50 of the orders/commitments while 250 are for 737s, Boeing said. The company valued the 300 aircraft at $38 billion at list prices.

Boeing also said that it has entered into an agreement with the Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China (COMAC) to open a joint venture facility in China for “interiors completion, paint and delivery of Boeing 737 aircraft to Chinese customers.” The airframes will still be built in Washington state before being flown to China for the completion work.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO Ray Conner said, “Boeing is expanding our longstanding relationship with Chinese industry to meet vital goals for our company: We are bringing the Boeing 737 closer to our Chinese customers, supporting rising 737 production rates and enhancing our access to China’s dynamic and fast-growing aviation market. The 737 will be a cornerstone of the Chinese fleet for years to come, and we look forward to delivering 737s to Chinese customers in China.”

COMAC VP Wu Guanghui added, “The new collaboration between Boeing and COMAC will help advance the Chinese commercial transportation market in a better and faster way, and will benefit the development of supporting Chinese industries related to aircraft completion as well as the global growth of China’s civil aviation business.”

In a letter sent to Boeing employees on the eve of Xi’s visit, Conner tried to assure workers that any “strategic partnership in China” would not affect employment at Boeing’s facilities in Washington state. “I want to assure you that agreements we may reach with our Chinese partners will not result in layoffs or reduce employment for the 737 program in Washington state,” he wrote. 

Conner noted in the letter that “China is our largest international market, accounting for about 1 in 4 of our deliveries so far this year. Going forward, China will be the largest commercial aviation market in the world.”

(Aaron Karp - ATWOnline News)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Boeing machinists in U.S. fear job loss from China factory

The head of Boeing's largest union said on Tuesday that his members fear a Boeing factory in China will cause job losses in the Seattle area, and he said the union would use legal and legislative means to try to stem losses.
Boeing said Tuesday it is negotiating to put a 737 finishing factory in China, to gain airplane orders. Chinese state media reported earlier in the day that Boeing has filed plans with Chinese authorities for a plant near Shanghai.
"We'll do everything we can legally and legislatively to protect our jobs," Jon Holden, president of the International Association of Machinists District 751, said in an interview. The union represents about 35,000 Boeing workers.
(Alwyn Scott - Reuters)

Southwest Airlines Sees 24.5% Y/Y Drop in Q3 Fuel Costs

The Dallas, TX-based low-cost carrier Southwest Airlines announced that it expects its average fuel cost in the third quarter of 2015 to fall 24.5% on a year-over-year basis to $2.22 per gallon.
Economic fuel costs are anticipated to decline approximately $1.3 billion in 2015 compared with 2014 levels, thereby resulting in significant savings for Southwest Airlines. The projection is not surprising as weak fuel costs have benefited airline stocks including Southwest Airlines for quite some time.

The company further expects 2015 unit costs (excluding fuel and oil expenses) to drop 2% year over year. Capacity (measured in available seat miles or ASMs) in 2015 is still projected to expand by 7% from 2014 levels.
We remind investors that Southwest Airlines’ statement on capacity expansion had triggered a massive sell-off in the airline space in May this year. At that time, the carrier said that it plans to raise its capacity in the band of 7%–8% in 2015 as opposed to the earlier projection of a 7% increase.
Southwest Airlines’ projection wreaked havoc among investors who feared that the increased capacity would lead to an oversupplied market despite weak fuel costs. Investors were naturally concerned that oversupply could result in lower fares and hamper profit. Following the investor panic, the low-cost carrier reverted to a 7% capacity growth plan.
The carrier still expects operating revenue per ASM to decline approximately 1% in the third quarter of 2015 compared with the year-ago period.
Apart from the projections, Southwest Airlines announced that it has shelled out $1.3 billion to its stockholders so far this year through share repurchases and dividend payments.
In May, the carrier hiked its quarterly dividend by 25% to 7.5 cents per share apart from approving a new stock repurchase program worth $1.5 billion.
We note that the solid financial health of carriers, thanks to low oil prices, has resulted in a surge in buyback activities apart from dividend hikes. Companies like Delta Air Lines  and American Airlines too have authorized new share buyback programs this year.
(Zacks - Zacks Equity Research)

Gulfstream G280 gets performance boost

Gulfstream has boosted the performance of its G280 by installing a new software upgrade in the super-midsize business jet’s Rockwell Collins PlaneView280 avionics suite.

The result is a reduction in the G280's approach speed of up to 9kt (17km/h), leading to a fall in the aircraft’s landing distance of 82m (270ft). The G280 can now land within 725m, which opens up a greater number of airports to the 10-passenger twinjet.
Asset Image
(Gulfstream Aerospace)
The software upgrade has also improved the flight management system. Time and fuel predictions, optimum and maximum altitude and best rate-of-climb speed are now more accurate, says Gulfstream, while long-range cruise, maximum cruise and maximum endurance cruise speeds can now be calculated automatically.
The upgrade is fitted as standard on new $24.5 million G280s and is available free-of-charge for current owners at Gulfstream's service centres in Savannah and Dallas in the US and at London Luton Airport in the UK.
(Kate Sarsfield - Flightglobal News)

First Global 7000 test aircraft comes together

Bombardier’s first Global 7000 flight-test aircraft, FTV1, is taking shape at the company’s facility in Toronto, Ontario. A pair of GE Passport engines were mounted on the ultra-long range prototype, Bombardier announced on 14 September, adding that the aircraft is now structurally complete and functional test procedures have begun.
The second test aircraft, FTV2, is also in final assembly, Bombardier says. Its major structural components are joined, including the rear, centre and forward-fuselage sections and cockpit. Two additional flight-test vehicles are in various stages of production and assembly, the airframer adds.

The Canadian company will not disclose when the 7,200nm (13,520km) range twinjet will make its first flight, but it has pegged service entry for the second half of 2018. The aircraft's 7,900nm-range stablemate, the Global 8000, is slated for delivery around 12 months later.

In July Bombardier announced a two-year delay to the timetable of both clean-sheet aircraft, citing an “unspecified development challenge.”

The company has meanwhile appointed a dedicated senior executive to steer the programme through development and certification. Bombardier veteran Michel Ouellette “will oversee the complete programme” in his role as senior vice president, Global 7000 and Global 8000 programme, to “ensure that the aircraft are successfully brought to market.”

(Kate Sarsfield - Flightglobal News)

United seeks approval for San Francisco-Xi’an, China flights

United Airlines has asked the US government for permission to operate seasonal flights in 2016 between San Francisco and Xi’an, China.

The transpacific service would be operated 3X-weekly with Boeing 787s from May 8 to Oct. 27, 2016, United said in a statement. Located in the interior part of northwest China, Xi’an is the capital of Shannxi province.

United vice chairman and chief revenue officer Jim Compton said recently that United’s San Francisco-Chengdu 787-8 flights, which were launched last year, are a precursor to how it will develop the US-China market. The Chicago-based airline became the first US carrier to fly directly to the capital of Sichuan province.

“So much of the demand growth out of China over the next five years is going to be from secondary cities,” Compton said, adding that the “787 is the perfect aircraft to serve that developing market.” In addition to Chengdu, United serves Beijing and Shanghai in China.

If the US Department of Transportation (DOT) approves United’s application, the airline would become the first US carrier to serve Xi’an and the only airline operating Xi’an flights to/from any point in the Americas.

Flight time from San Francisco to Xi’an would be approximately 13 hr., 5 min and from Xi’an to San Francisco would be about 12 hr., 5 min.

United has 19 787s in its fleet, comprising eight 787-8s and 11 787-9s. It expects to take delivery of six more 787-9s by the end of this year. United, the North American launch customer for the 787, expects to have eight 787-8s and 22 787-9s in its fleet by July 2016. It ultimately plans to have 50 787s in its fleet.

(Aaron Karp - ATWOnline News)

FAA spends $11 million to reduce runway incursions

FAA will provide $11 million in grant funding for eight US airports as part of its Runway Incursion Mitigation (RIM) program. The FAA Airport Improvement Program (AIP) funds will help identify and mitigate runway incursion risk factors at the eight airports. 

FAA announced its RIM program in June, working with airport sponsors to identify airports with particular runway incursion problems.

The money will be used by the airport sponsors to either study ways of reducing the number of runway incursions at their airports, or to fund projects that will specifically address issues such as unclear taxiway markings, lighting or signage, or confusing taxiway layouts.

The allocations include:
  • Waco Regional Airport in Texas will receive $6.4 million to realign a taxiway to bring it up to FAA standards;
  • Chicago’s Midway International Airport will receive a $600,000 grant to install runway guard lights at a runway and taxiway intersection;
  • Philadelphia International Airport will receive a grant of $16,000 for taxiway modifications; and
  • Cleveland International Airport will receive $2.3 million to reconfigure several taxiways to eliminate the risk of incursions.
Four airports will receive funding for RIM studies. In Texas, these are Dallas Addison Airport ($43,614), Lone Star Executive Airport ($19,693), and Scholes International Airport ($11,693).

In California, San Jose International Airport will receive $1.5 million.

FAA said these grant awards were “in keeping with … risk-based decision-making principles to proactively address safety risks.”

(Anne Paylor - ATWOnline News)

Finnair to take delivery of first A350 XWB on Oct. 7

Finnair A350-900 XWB.

Finnair will take delivery of its first A350-900 on Oct. 7. The first commercial flight will be Oct. 9 from its Helsinki hub to Oslo and Amsterdam, followed by other European cities including Brussels, Hamburg, London, Stockholm and Vienna on scheduled services.

The A350 XWB European launch customer has 19 of the type on firm order, to be received from 2015-2023.

The Finland flag carrier also announced it will postpone the A350 XWB long-haul launch schedule to Nov. 21, when the aircraft flies from Helsinki to Shanghai Pudong. The original launch date was Oct. 25.

Finnair adjusted the A350 long-haul launch schedule due to “changes in the expected delivery schedules of the company’s first A350 aircraft, the needs of the crew familiarization program and other operational factors,” it said in a statement.

“Introducing 19 new aircraft into our fleet over a period of eight years is a major program for Finnair.

We have built the necessary flexibility into our preparedness plans and our (seven) A340-300s exit plan to adjust to any changes that may arise over the course of this massive program, ensuring a smooth introduction of the new aircraft into our fleet,” Finnair COO Ville Iho said.

Finnair SVP-commercial division Juha Jarvinen previously told ATW it will phase out the A340-300s by late next year, leaving the carrier with a long-haul fleet of A330s and A350s, which takes it to 20-22 long-haul aircraft.

(Kurt Hofmann - ATWOnline News)

Why Boeing or Airbus Would Pay Bombardier Inc. Big Money for the CSeries

As we all know by now, Bombardier Inc. has had its fair share of problems with the CSeries, and the company’s share price has suffered as a result.

At this point though, all Bombardier can do is look forward. And one compelling option is to sell the CSeries program altogether. Doing so would allow the company to reduce its debt load and focus on what it does best: business jets.

Better yet, there are reasons to believe The Boeing Company or Airbus would pay big bucks for the CSeries. We take a look at three reasons why below.

1. New airplane programs are costly

Bombardier has received plenty of criticism for the CSeries’s delays and cost overruns, but Boeing and Airbus have had similar experiences as well.

Boeing’s 787 jet, also known as the Dreamliner, features some of the most advanced flight technology in the world. But it took the company eight years and US$32 billion to get the plane into service. The original budget was just four years and US$6 billion.

Likewise, Airbus’s A380 is an engineering marvel. It is easily the world’s largest plane, helping airlines cut down on costs per passenger-seat mile. But the plane was two years late and ran US$6 billion over budget.

Without a doubt, neither of these companies want to have these experiences again. But that could easily mean falling behind technologically. So, why not let another company go through the trouble, then pay for the spoils at the end? The thought must be very tempting for both Boeing and Airbus.

2. Rivals are discounting their own planes

In addition to the delays and cost overruns, Bombardier has not secured a firm CSeries order for nearly one year. A big reason for that has been the heavy discounts offered by Airbus and Boeing on their competing planes. Airbus has been particularly aggressive.

Of course, such discounting doesn’t help anyone. But if Airbus or Boeing bought the CSeries program, removing a big competitor from the market, there would be less need for discounting. Such a scenario could result in a higher price tag for the CSeries.

3. There is more that can be done with the CSeries

Bombardier has already trademarked the names CS500 and CS900, just in case it wants to build larger versions of the CSeries. Such projects usually pay off, since it only requires modifying an existing design. But the company is short of cash and may not be able to pursue the project.

Of course, that problem doesn’t exist at Airbus and Boeing. If they bought the CSeries program, the opportunity to build larger models would surely be factored in to the purchase price.

That being said, it is too soon for Bombardier to think about the CSeries. The company needs to get the CS100 certified first—otherwise, selling off the program would certainly be too disruptive. So, for now this is simply an opportunity to keep your eye on.

(Benjamin Sinclair - The Motley Fool)

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-7CT (33656/1246) N569WN

Another new addition to the Southwest Airlines fleet is this ex WestJet machine, C-FWAI. She is captured at John Wayne Orange County Airport (SNA/KSNA) on September 17, 2015 as she prepares to taxi to Rwy 20R for a morning departure to the bay area.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Alaska Airlines (Horizon Air) Bombardier DHC-8-402 (Q400) (c/n 4037) N403QX University of Montana "Bobcats" livery

Captured at John Wayne Orange County Airport (SNA/KSNA) as the carrier performs its 4 required qualification flights this afternoon.

The carrier plans to commence flights later this year or early next year, I don't know planned destinations as of yet.

**Worst time of day for photos, but at least I have my record shots of her visit.**
(Photos by Michael Carter)

Brazil airline Gol eyes adding Boeing 737-900 to fleet

Brazilian airline Gol Linhas Aereas is in advanced talks with Boeing Co regarding the possible addition of 737-900 jets to its fleet, the airline's chief executive told journalists on Thursday.

Last month CEO Paulo Kakinoff said Gol could trim its fleet of smaller 737-700 and 737-800 aircraft as it cuts capacity in Brazil, where a deepening recession and a weaker currency have triggered heavy losses.

"We've done extensive studies with Boeing about the possibility of getting the 900 series as well, maybe the MAX 9," said Kakinoff in a press briefing, without giving more details.

Earlier in the day, he said Gol's total capacity in 2015 will be 1 percent to 1.5 percent lower than last year, as the airline aims to trim frequencies but not destinations.

Gol's capacity, measured by available seat-kilometers (ASK), rose 3.1 percent in the first half of 2015 from a year earlier.


Boeing Bets on New Life for 747 Jumbos With Triumph Accord

Boeing Co. is bringing assembly of its 747 jumbo-jet fuselage panels in-house, betting on continued life for a four-engine model out of favor with airlines.

The work is being moved from a unit of Triumph Group Inc. to a Boeing factory in Macon, Georgia, that until this year built similar components for the discontinued C-17 Globemaster transport airplane, according to a statement on Thursday.

With the transaction, Chicago-based Boeing expands its jetliner manufacturing footprint in the Southeastern U.S. and Triumph exits a business that spurred a $152 million accounting loss in January. The airframe structures for the 747 are the second-largest source of revenue for Triumph.

“While our initial focus is on production of fuselage panels for the 747, the Macon facility provides us a high-quality alternative for structures work currently outsourced to other suppliers," said Kent Fisher, a Boeing vice president and general manager of supplier management. “It’s also an attractive option for developing new airplanes.”

Boeing is slowing the production tempo for its iconic, hump-backed 747 to one jet a month as it awaits an air cargo revival that would spur new orders. The jumbo-jet backlog was just 29 planes at the end of August, according to its website.

The aerospace giant currently builds replacement center wing sections for the A-10 Thunderbolt II, and CH-47 Chinook helicopter sub-assemblies at the Macon plant. When that work wraps up in mid-2016, Boeing will revamp the site with new tooling and equipment, which will occupy the entire 220,000-square-foot facility.

The fuselage panel assembly is the first of several work packages that Boeing is transferring away from Wayne, Pennsylvania-based Triumph, Boeing said. The planemaker is seeking bidders to handle floor beams, flight surfaces and other 747 structures.

Triumph is in the midst of a strategic review that could include closing or selling of underperforming divisions as it also searches for a new chief executive officer. The initiatives are headed by founder Richard Ill, who returned to the aerospace supplier in April after CEO Jeffry Frisby abruptly resigned.

(Julie Johnsson - BloombergBusiness)

Buoyed by new Boeing 767s, WestJet adds six routes to London Gatwick


Canadian discount carrier WestJet unveiled a major expansion to the United Kingdom on Tuesday, saying it would add six seasonal new routes to London's Gatwick Airport.

Beginning this May, WestJet will begin flying to Gatwick from the Canadian cities of Calgary, Edmonton, St. John's, Toronto, Vancouver and Winnipeg.

WestJet CEO Gregg Saretsky described the new London routes as "historic" and a major "milestone" for the carrier, the second busiest in Canada.

The routes will not be WestJet's first European destinations. The carrier already has offered seasonal Boeing 737 service from Atlantic Canada to both Dublin, Ireland, and Glasgow, Scotland.

But WestJet's London expansion is fueled by the addition of Boeing 767 widebody jets, which just began joining the airline's fleet last month. The 737s are geared more toward domestic routes, though they are able to fly some very short trans-Atlantic routes at typical passenger loads.

But the 767 opens up long-haul overseas possibilities for WestJet. Routes like London-Vancouver and London-Calgary wouldn't be feasible with shorter-range 737s.

Saretsky suggested an even broader international push could be ahead.

"Today we're getting our feet wet with England this service to London Gatwick but … ultimately these aircraft have a lot more range than anything we've ever flown," he says to the Calgary Herald.
"So we can reach Asia. We can reach Latin America. We can reach even North Africa. Lots of geography coming into play. We haven't put a timeline on it yet but you can expect future announcements."

For now, the new London routes seem certain to spark airline competition between Canada and London.

WestJet's introductory fares to London ranged from CDN $199 each way (about US $151) from St. John's to CDN $299 each way (US $227) from western Canada.

The National Post of Toronto notes Air Canada has "dominated" the Canada-London market "for decades," but suggests WestJet's six new routes could shake that up.

The Post writes WestJet "will be going head-to-head with Air Canada, which offers 77 flights a week to London's Heathrow Airport out of eight Canadian cities. It also plans to begin flying from Toronto to Gatwick next year using its low-cost Rouge service. The only city that will be served by WestJet and not Air Canada is Winnipeg."

"This is going to be happy, happy times for consumers because in a lot of markets there will be substantial competition," Robert Kokonis, an airline industry consultant at AirTrav, says to CBC News.

Despite the looming competition, WestJet struck a bullish tone about its new London service.

"Non-stop service between Canadian cities and London is a natural next step in the evolution of WestJet and for our trans-Atlantic service in particular," Bob Cummings, WestJet's Executive Vice-President – Commercial, says in a statement. "Canadians have been paying far too much to fly to Europe for far too long and … we're going to fix that."

WestJet's planned schedule for London Gatwick

Calgary: Five weekly flights begin May 6 on Boeing 767 aircraft. Service runs through Oct. 20, 2016.

Edmonton: Two weekly flights begin May 7 on Boeing 767 aircraft. Service runs through Oct. 22, 2016.

St. John's, Newfoundland: Daily service begins May 7 on Boeing 737 aircraft. Service runs through Oct. 22, 2016.

Toronto Pearson: Daily service begins May 6 on Boeing 767 aircraft. Service runs through Oct. 22, 2016.

Vancouver: Six weekly flights begin May 6 on Boeing 767 aircraft. Service runs through Oct. 21, 2016.

Winnipeg: One weekly flight begins May 7 on Boeing 767 aircraft. Service runs through Oct. 1, 2016.

(Ben Mutzabaugh - USA Today / Today in the Sky) 

Bad omen: Boeing loses out to Chinese jetmaker in order from Thai airline

A non-Chinese airline will replace its Boeing jets with Chinese-built jetliners, an ominous sign for a U.S. company that sees China as its largest single future market.
Thailand-based City Airways, a small-but-growing regional airline based in Bangkok, this week signed a deal for 10 Chinese-built C919s to replaced the two leased 737-400s it now operates.
The company also ordered 10 ARJ21 regional jets. Both are built by the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, or COMAC, a government-funded company that is working to become an active competitor in the commercial market.
The sale is of particular significance in the Puget Sound region because the Chinese designed the single-aisle C919 aircraft to directly compete with Boeing’s 737 series and Airbus’ A320 series. Boeing makes the 737s exclusively in Renton.
While the repeatedly delayed C919 won’t be as advanced aerodynamically or electronically as Boeing's or Airbus' planes, it will be powered by similar engines. And City Airways probably got a killer discount because the government-supported Chinese manufacturer intensely wants to enter the global market, so short-term profit is not a concern.
In addition, with Boeing and Airbus both working on eight-year backlogs, City may get its C919s sooner from COMAC than it could have from the two larger companies.
COMAC is in the final stages of building its first C919, which is set to fly early next year.
“This order, outside of China, indicates that COMAC will be aggressive internationally, and will focus on Southeast Asian markets as the company moves internationally,” wrote Addison Schonland, partner at AirInsight consultancy, this week.
“While Boeing and Airbus have not considered COMAC a major threat in the short-term, they recognize the long-term potential for aircraft production in China.”
COMAC claims 507 orders for the 156-passenger C919, 96 percent them from Chinese airlines.
Boeing has 4,269 unfilled orders for 737s, and Boeing Vice President of Marketing Randy Tinseth said Tuesday, during a speech before Seattle business leaders, that a third of those are going to China.
“We have delivered more than half the airplanes in the (Chinese) market,” he said. “We’re working hard to extend market share over time.”
The 737 model accounts for three-quarters of all of Boeing's unfilled orders, though it is Boeing’s least expensive jet. The popular 737 Max 8 is now listing for $110 million.
Boeing has many arrows in its quiver to combat the Chinese. Boeing has a strong technological lead, and its next jet is likely to be made mostly of carbon fiber, and assembled by even more robots. That could help even out the difference in the cost of wages between Boeing's U.S. workforce and the less-expensive Chinese workforce.
In addition, Boeing already builds major subassemblies of the 737 in China. Boeing next week may announce it’s going to start completing some 737s there, during the high-profile visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
(Steve Wilhelm - Puget Sound Business Journal)

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Fiji Airways introduces additional Hong Kong route

Fiji Airways Airbus A330-243 (c/n 1416) DQ-FJU "Island of Namukalau" is caught on short final to Rwy 25L at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on October 30 2013.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Flag carrier Fiji Airways will increase flight frequencies on its Fiji (Nadi International)-Hong Kong International route from Oct. 25. The carrier will add an extra weekly Airbus A330 flight to a 4X-weekly schedule between the two cities.

Fiji Airways reached 100,000 monthly passengers for the first time in July, and says the new service will help the airline boost visitor numbers from China, greater Asia and Europe.

“The new route is ... part of our plans to develop our Nadi hub,” Fiji Airways acting CEO David Bowden said. He added that the carrier’s codeshare agreement with Cathay Pacific will help passengers tap into flights that connect to Hong Kong.

Since the airline underwent a major reorganization under previous CEO Stefan Pichler, it has seen significant progress away from a massive $14 million loss in 2009. The airline reported an operating profit of $8.2 million for the 2015 first half, alongside a 6.7% corresponding increase in passenger numbers compared to 2014.

The airline is also upgrading its fleet with new aircraft, including leased ATR 72-600s, plans to expand both domestic and regional network links, and is to install a new CEO—former Air Mauritius CEO Andre Viljoen—in October.

Fiji Airways has a 13-strong fleet, including Airbus A330s, Boeing 737s, and ATR 72s and -42s; it is 46% owned by Qantas.

(Jeremy Torr - ATWOnline News)