Sunday, December 31, 2017

Happy New Year

The staff and I here at Aero Pacific Flightlines hopes everyone has a fantastic 2018 and would like to say a big thank you for your continued support during the past year 2017.

Please be safe and sane tonight while welcoming in the new year.

Happy New Year 2018.

Michael Carter
Editor and Chief
Aero Pacific Flightlines

Skywest Airlines Canadair CL-600-2C10 RJ (CRJ-701ER) (c/n 10209) N752SK

One of the only Skywest CRJ-701's to wear the carriers new livery climbs from Rwy 25R at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on November 28, 2017.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Air Canada Airbus A321-211 (c/n 1638) C-GIUF

Arrives at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) sporting the carriers new livery on November 20, 2017.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Frontier Airlines Airbus A320-214(WL) (c/n 6838) N232FR "Sammy the Squirrel"

Heads back to Denver International Airport (DEN/KDEN) as it departs Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on October 24, 2017.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

United Airlines Boeing 737-824(WL) (31626/2680) N76514

Departs Los Angeles international Airport (LAX/KLAX) on a smokey December 5, 2017 morning as several brush fires burn in the local mountains.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Virgin America Airbus A320-214(WL) (c/n 7138) N364VA "Lady Boss"

Departs Los Angeles international Airport (LAX/KLAX) on October 24, 2017.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-890(WL) (35103/2099) N564AS

Departs Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on December 22, 2017 wearing special markings celebrating the Seattle Mariners 40th Anniversary.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Sun Country Airlines Boeing 737-8K2(WL) (37160/2880) PH-HSW

Leased from Transavia for the winter season, this nifty looking aircraft is caught on short final to Rwy 25L at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on December 27, 2017.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-7L9(WL) (28009/221) N7816B

Arrives at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on December 22, 2017 sporting the special "Coco" livery promoting the latest Pixar movie release.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

All Nippon Airways (ANA) Boeing 777-381(ER) (40687/878) JA789A

Arrives at then departs from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on December 18, 2017 sporting the special "Star Wars - BB-8" livery.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Emirates SkyCargo Boeing 777-F1H (35606/766) A6-EFD

Caught on short final to rwy 25L at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on December 13, 2017.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Delta Airlines Boeing 767-432(ER) (29717/871) N844MH

Arrives at Los Angles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on December 8, 2017 sporting the carriers "Skyteam" livery.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Cargolux Boeing 747-8R7F/SCD (61169/1522) LX-VCM "City of Redange-sur-Attert"

Departs Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on December 27, 2017 sporting the "Cutaway" livery.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

AirBridgeCargo Boeing 747-46NF(ER) (35237/1402) VP-BIM

"Positive Climb, Gear Up" as this lovely aircraft climbs from Rwy 25R at Los Angeles international Airport (LAX/KLAX) on October 13, 2016.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Air France Airbus A380-841 (c/n 67) F-HPJG

Captured on short final to Rwy 25L at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) as it flies past the famous Proud Bird restaurant on December 27, 2017.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Ethiopian Boeing 787-8 (36111/258) ET-ASG

Taxies to the gate following her arrival at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on December 5, 2017.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Saudi Arabian Airlines Boeing 777-368(ER) (62763/1492) HZ-AK43

Captured on short final to Rwy 24R at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on December 7, 2017 following a long flight from King Khalid Int'l Airport (Riyadh) (RUH/OERK), Saudi Arabia.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Philippine Airlines Boeing 777-3F6(ER) (38718/1096) RP-C7773

On her tip-toes as she rotates off Rwy 25R.

Climbs from Rwy 25R as she heads back to the Philippines on December 18, 2017.
Delivered to the carrier on April 29, 2013.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Kalitta Air Boeing 747-4B5(BCF) (26395/922) N539BC

Departs Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) from Rwy 25R on December 22, 2017 a stunning Southern California winter day.

Originally delivered to Korean Air Lines as HL7485 on June 23, 1992.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

AeroUnion Boeing 767-241(ER)(BDSF) (23804/178) XA-EFR, ex Boeing N6009F

Seen on short final to Rwy 25L at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on an absolutely gorgeous day in Southern California on December 8, 2017.

This aircraft was originally delivered to Varig as PP-VNQ on July 24, 1987. 

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Bombardiar Global 5000 (c/n 9245) N247WE

Operated by World Wrestling Entertainment, this absolutely stunning aircraft is caught on short final to Rwy 25L at Los Angeles international Airport (LAX/KLAX) on December 5, 2017.

(Photos by Michael Carter) 

MGM Grand Embraer Lineage 1000 (ERJ-190-100 ECJ) (c/n 19000705) N783MM ex-Embraer PR-LLU

Captured on short final to Rwy 25L at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on December 7, 2017.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

K5-Aviation Airbus A319-115(CJ)(WL) (c/n 5963) D-ALEX ex-Airbus D-AVWF

Climbs from Rwy 25R at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on December 29, 2017.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Unnamed customer orders up to 12 Bombardier CRJ900s

Bombardier Commercial Aircraft announced Dec. 29 that an unidentified customer has signed a firm order for six CRJ900 regional jets and taken options on six additional aircraft.

Based on list price, the firm order is valued at approximately $290 million. Should the customer exercise the six options, the contract would be worth $580 million at list prices.

“In the last five years, more than 25 new airlines have joined the family of CRJ Series operators,” Bombardier Commercial Aircraft president Fred Cromer said. “The demand for regional air travel is booming, and we are pleased that airlines continue to select the CRJ900 aircraft to generate both passenger and revenue growth.”

Including this latest order, Bombardier has recorded firm orders for 1,918 CRJ Series aircraft.

(Alan Dron - ATWOnline News)

Virgin America’s Final Day of Operation Slated for mid-January

Virgin America Airbus A321-253N (c/n 7999) N925VA on short final to Rwy 25L at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on December 27, 2017.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

According to two sources familiar with Alaska Airlines’ acquisition of Virgin America, the airlines will fly under one single operating certificate as early as Jan. 11, 2018. This move will officially close out the Virgin America callsign, “Redwood,” and the carrier will be seen as Alaska Airlines in the eyes of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Other changes are coming to the Virgin America operation in the near future, too. N848VA, an Airbus A320, is currently in Greensboro, NC where it’ll be fitted with the Alaska livery. Also, the carrier’s next three Airbus A321neo deliveries will feature special paint schemes.

N925VA left the factory in Hamburg with a plain white coat of paint. After arriving in Miami for post-delivery configuration on Dec. 2, the aircraft was fitted with decals titled “Most West Coast.” The airline wants to pay tribute to its growing West Coast presence, an internal memo read.

N924VA, also an A321neo, is expected to wear the SF Giants livery. Sources also expect that N926VA will likely wear the “More to Love” special livery, which can also be seen on an Alaska Airlines 737-900ER registered as N493AS.

One of the aforementioned sources expects N923VA, an A321neo, to be the last delivery in the Virgin America paint scheme. This aircraft went into operation on Nov. 16, per Flightradar24 data.

Alaska Airlines is also planning to refit Virgin America jets with a new interior design, removing many of the beloved creature comforts that the airline offers on its Airbus jets, such as inflight entertainment and full mood-lighting. Cabin refits are expected to begin in January.

An Alaska Airlines representative was not available to comment on these changes.

New uniforms are also expected to join the Alaska brand, debuting in January, and then being distributed to Alaska Airlines team members before Virgin America staff in 2019.

Alaska has remained fairly tight-lipped on its plans for the Virgin America brand, though one of the sources said to expect a big event to take place next month celebrating the combined airlines.

(Ryan Ewing - Airline Geeks)

AerCap firms options on 50 A320neos

Irish-headquartered lessor AerCap has exercised options on 50 Airbus A320neo family aircraft, with deliveries starting from 2022.

This latest commitment takes AerCap to a total of 270 A320neo family aircraft, owned and on order.

“As the largest lessor of the A320neo family aircraft, we have already placed three quarters of our A320neo family aircraft from our existing forward order book with Airbus. We have seen significant market appetite for these aircraft from our diverse customer base. This transaction is in line with our portfolio strategy of investing in the most in-demand modern technology aircraft in the world,” AerCap CEO Aengus Kelly said.

As of Sept. 30, 2017, AerCap had a portfolio of 1,506 owned, managed, or on order aircraft.

(Victoria Moores - ATWOnline News)

Thursday, December 28, 2017

GE tests Advanced Turboprop engine with 3D-printed parts

GE Aviation’s Advanced Turboprop (AT) engine successfully completed its first test run on December 22, 2017. The AT is the first commercial aircraft engine with 3D-printed components.

Printed components make 35% of the Advanced Turboprop engine parts. According to the manufacturer, the 3D printing technology, together with ‘dozens’ of other new technologies, allowed the reduction of 855 conventionally manufactured parts to only 12 additive parts. These parts include sumps, bearing housings, frames, exhaust case, combustor liner, heat exchangers and stationary flow path components. Additive components reduce the AT's weight by 5% and improves specific fuel consumption (SFC) by 1%.

“Running the Advanced Turboprop engine this year was our biggest and most important goal,” Brad Mottier, vice president and general manager of GE Aviation's BGA and Integrated Systems organization is quoted saying in an official GE Aviation press release. “This milestone comes as a result of two years of tremendous effort by a worldwide team. We’re developing a real catalyst for the BGA market and we’re executing on plan. The integration of proven technologies has expedited the design, development and certification cycle of the engine.”

The 1,240 SHP-rated Advanced Turboprop engine is in the family of turboprop engines aimed at BGA aircraft in the 1,000-1,600 SHP range. The AT will begin certification testing in 2018. The engine will power Textron Aviation’s Cessna Denali, which is expected to fly in late 2018.

“The continued testing will generate valuable data from the engine and validate the aerodynamics, mechanics, and aerothermal systems,” said Paul Corkery, general manager for GE Aviation Turboprops. “With the engine run and most of the individual component testing completed, early indications show that we will meet or exceed all the performance numbers we have quoted for the engine.”

The AT features 16:1 overall pressure ratio, enabling up to 20% lower fuel burn and 10% higher cruise power “compared to competitor offerings in the same size class”, GE notes. At 4,000 hours, it should offer 33% more time between overhaul. It is also the first turboprop engine in its class to introduce cooled high-pressure turbine blades and two stages of variable stator vanes. When installed on the Denali, the engine is expected to allow for a larger cabin experience with a 6000-foot cabin altitude at a 30,000-foot cruising altitude.

Since Mottier unveiled the Advanced Turboprop engine at the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) Convention in November of 2015, GE Aviation has committed more than $400 million in development costs for the engine. GE also finalized an agreement with the Czech government to build its new turboprop headquarters for development, test and engine-production in the Czech Republic. When complete and at full production rate, this new facility is expected to have 500 additional employees. GE Aviation Czech has already added around 180 jobs, with another 80 expected in 2018.

(GE Aviation / AeroTime News)

Passenger plane breaks during takeoff in India

Ten flights were disturbed at the Chaudhary Charan Singh International Airport (India) on December 27, 2017, when a technical problem caused Saudi Airlines plane to get stuck on a runway.

The A330 aircraft with approximately 300 passengers onboard allegedly had to apply emergency brakes to abort the takeoff as it lost a front wheel. As noted by the Times of India, passengers onboard the flight SV895 heard a loud sound while the plane was gaining speed. A picture tweeted by the Asian News International (ANI) shows a plane missing a front wheel and describes the scene as “a technical glitch”.

Because of the problem, the aircraft got stuck on the runway, blocking the way for arrivals and departures at the airport. Consequently at least six arrivals were diverted to Indira Gandhi International Airport (Delhi, India) and at least three departures were delayed.

(AeroTime News)

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Boeing's Ihssane Mounir closes the year with an order for 787 Dreamliners

Boeing said Wednesday that Royal Air Maroc, Morocco's flagship airline, has ordered two new 787-9 Dreamliners worth more than $500 million at list prices.

Boeing and the Casablanca-based airline also disclosed an earlier order for two more 787s. That December 2016 order was previously reported as placed by an "unidentified buyer."

The airline picked GE engines for its two latest Dreamliners over rival offerings from Rolls-Royce. No details were provided about delivery dates.

The two orders mean Royal Air Maroc will grow its Dreamliner fleet to nine airplanes. It currently operates five 787-8s.

Royal Air Maroc Chairman and CEO Abdelhamid Addou said the four widebodies will help his airline expand its international service and have "the broadest presence across the African continent of any airline."

"Our vision is to be the leading airline in Africa in terms of quality of service, quality of planes and connectivity," Addou said. "Ordering new-generation planes such as the Dreamliner puts our airline on the right track to fulfill our vision."

Ihssane Mounir, Boeing Commercial Airplanes' top airplane salesman, celebrated the deal with a personal connection. He was born in Morocco and still has family in the country.

"Royal Air Maroc's additional 787 orders are a terrific endorsement of the Dreamliner's economic performance, fuel efficiency and unrivaled passenger experience," Mounir said in a news release.

Mounir said Boeing is proud to support Royal Air Maroc's expansion plans. Royal Air Maroc, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year, operates more than 56 Boeing airplanes, including 737s, 767-300ERs, 787s and a 747-400. The airline serves more than 80 destinations across Africa, the Middle East, Europe, North America and South America.

Boeing also supports the development of Morocco's aerospace industry and workforce. The Chicago-based jet maker and Safran are joint venture partners in Morocco Aero-Technical Interconnect Systems (MATIS) Aerospace in Casablanca, a supplier that employs more than 1,000 people building wire bundles and wire harnesses for Boeing and other aerospace companies.

The new 787 orders builds Boeing's Dreamliner backlog and helps support the company's decision to increase production of Dreamliners to 14 a month from 12.

(Andrew McIntosh - Puget Sound Business Journal)

Sunday, December 24, 2017

World’s largest amphibious plane, the AG600, makes successful maiden flight in China

The AG600 approaches the runway in Zhuhai
(Photo: Reuters)

The world’s largest amphibious aircraft, the China-made AG600, made its maiden flight on Sunday, and comes as the latest milestone in the country’s efforts to modernize its military.

State television showed live images of the AG600 lifting off from Zhuhai airport in the southern province of Guangdong, which sits on the South China Sea coast.

It returned about an hour later and taxied to its stand accompanied by martial music and greeted by crowds waving Chinese flags.

Xinhua news agency said the aircraft was the "protector spirit of the sea, islands and reefs".

China has stepped up research on advanced military equipment as it adopts a more muscular approach to territorial disputes in places such as the disputed South China Sea, rattling nerves in the Asia-Pacific region and the United States.

Powered by four turboprop engines, the AG600 can carry 50 people during maritime search-and-rescue missions, and can scoop up 12 metric tons of water within 20 seconds for fire fighting trips, according to state media.

It had previously been scheduled to make its first flight earlier this year but it is unclear why it was delayed after ground tests took place in April.

State-owned Aviation Industry Corp of China (AVIC) has spent almost eight years developing the aircraft, which is roughly the size of a Boeing Co 737 and is designed to carry out marine rescues and battle forest fires.

However, state media has also noted its potential use in the South China Sea, where China, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Brunei all have overlapping claims.

The AG600's chief designer, Huang Lingcai, was quoted in the official China Daily earlier this month as saying it can make round trips without refueling from the southern island province of Hainan to James Shoal, claimed by China but which is located close to Sarawak in Malaysian Borneo.

The aircraft has received 17 orders so far from Chinese government departments and companies. It has a maximum flight range of 2,800 miles and a maximum take-off weight of 53.5 tons.

It can use conventional airports and also land and take-off from the sea.

China is in the midst of a massive military modernization program, ranging from testing anti-satellite missiles to building stealth fighters and the country's first indigenous aircraft carrier, to add to an existing one bought from Ukraine.

(Mike Wright - The Telegraph)

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-990(WL) (30015/838) N307AS

Climbs from Rwy 25R at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on December 7, 2017 still sporting the carriers old livery.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Viva Aerobus Airbus A320-232(WL) (c/n 6750) XA-VAJ

Departs from Rwy 25R at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on December 22, 2017.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Viva Aerobus, Mexico's ultra low-cost airline, launched its new international route Guadalajara (GDL/MMGL)-Los Angeles (LAX/KLAX) on December 16, 2017.

“For Viva Aerobus, this is a very significant announcement since we offer our customers a new contact window between two important cities and with the most competitive prices on the market. Thus, we become an ally for stimulating international commerce, business and tourism", said Gian Carlo Nucci, CEO of Grupo Viva Aerobus.

“Mexican history and culture are at the heart of our city's identity, and we share a closer economic bond with Mexico than with almost any other country on Earth,” said Los Angeles Mayor, Eric Garcetti. “This new flight from LAX to Guadalajara will help make our ties to Mexico even stronger, and I thank Viva Aerobus for its investment in our city.”

Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau estimates that, due to this new route, approximately 18,000 tourists from Guadalajara will visit Los Angeles during the first year of operation. Additionally, they consider that tourists will contribute with an estimated direct spend of US $18 million in this US region.

"Many of the tourists that visit Los Angeles are Mexicans. With this new route, more and more people will be able to fly to this city thanks to our prices and to our offer that strengthens the international connectivity of our country, thus favoring the arrival of foreign tourists”, said Juan Carlos Zuazua, general director of Viva Aerobus.

“We are honored Viva Aerobus chose LAX as part of its expansion into the U.S. market,” said Deborah Flint, Los Angeles World Airports chief executive officer. “Angelenos will benefit from having low-cost flights to Guadalajara and more options to the major cities in Mexico and beyond.”

(Viva Aerobus Press Release)

Friday, December 22, 2017

Boeing plans engine upgrades for its 747 Dreamlifter fleet

Boeing's massive Dreamlifter freighters are getting engine upgrades after years of hard flying.

Once dubbed the "fantastic four," the gigantic Dreamlifters are specially modified 747-400 cargo jets.

They were made for Boeing between 2006 and 2008 to transport Boeing 787 Dreamliner wings, fuselage sections and other large components from supplier factories around the world to Dreamliner assembly facilities in Everett and South Carolina.

"We are in the process of upgrading the Dreamlifter’s Pratt & Whitney engines," Boeing spokesman Paul Bergman confirmed. "This will make it easier to get parts and slight fuel savings. This is not a re-engine project."

The upgrades should reduce the fleet's engine noise and improve fuel efficiency ahead of a possible increase in operating costs.

Dreamlifters and other cargo transport jets routinely stop to refuel in Anchorage, Alaska, while flying to and from Japan and other locations in Asia, taking advantage of the low aviation fuel taxes at the city's airport.

However, the Alaska state government has proposed tripling the tax on aviation fuel, triggering opposition from airlines and cargo companies. The hike will be considered in January 2018.

Each Dreamlifter is powered by four Pratt & Whitney 4062 engines. They'll get modernized versions of the Pratt & Whitney 4062, which are used on the twin-engine Boeing KC-46 Pegasus aerial refueling tankers, Bergman said.

Boeing owns the four Dreamlifters but Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings operates them for Boeing under a nine-year contract signed in March 2010. Atlas receives revenues for the flights, while Boeing assumes responsibility for certain direct costs, including fuel.

The Dreamlifters are beloved among aviation enthusiasts around the world for their rarity, unusual shape and massive size. Their cargo holds are the largest in the world for an aircraft, each capable of holding three times the volume of a regular 747-400 freighter.

Dreamlifter movements are followed and tracked by enthusiasts on a live blog that reports flight plans around the world, such as the scheduled flight into Paine Field around 4:24 p.m. Thursday.

(Andrew McIntosh - Puget Sound Business Journal)

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Boeing, flydubai Finalize Order for 175 737 MAX Airplanes

Boeing and flydubai finalized the purchase of 175 737 MAX airplanes in the largest single-aisle jet order in Middle East history. The deal – which includes options for an additional 50 jets – is valued at $27 billion at current list prices.

Announced as a commitment at the 2017 Dubai Airshow, the deal allows flydubai to take advantage of the 737 MAX family's flexibility and commonality, while using the unique size and range of the MAX 8, MAX 9 and MAX 10 to suit its growing network.

"I am delighted that we end 2017 with today's announcement representing the next chapter in flydubai's success story," said Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO, flydubai. "This is our largest order in our eight-year history and our third order with Boeing whose aircraft have given us the ability to carry 44 million passengers since we began operations. With up to 296 aircraft on order, we have become one of the world's top ten airlines in terms of order backlog and we look forward to continuing to enhance the connectivity of Dubai's aviation hub."

flydubai, an all-Boeing operator, first ordered the 737 MAX in 2013 with a purchase of 75 jets. The carrier has taken delivery of five MAX airplanes from that order.

"We are excited to finalize this landmark agreement with our partners at flydubai and we thank them for placing their trust in the 737 MAX family," said Ihssane Mounir, senior vice president, Global Sales & Marketing, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "As one of the first operators of the 737 MAX 8, their order for more models-including the recently launched MAX 10-is a vote of confidence in the MAX family's exceptional fuel efficiency, reliability and flexibility. We look forward to hundreds of MAX airplanes supporting flydubai's continued success."

The 737 MAX has racked up 640 net orders this year and more than 4,200 orders since the program launched, making the MAX the best-selling airplane in Boeing history.

The MAX family of airplanes offers seating for about 130 to just over 200 passengers with a range of 3,200 to 3,800 nautical miles. All of the jets use the latest technology CFM International LEAP-1B engines, Advanced Technology winglets and other improvements to deliver the highest efficiency, reliability and passenger comfort in the single-aisle market.

(Boeing Press Release)

Bombardier CEO: Boeing's unfair trade complaint is 'ridiculous,' our sales practices are the same

Bombardier CEO Alain Bellemare on Thursday defended the discounting of new airplanes, a day after the Trump administration threw more support behind U.S. aerospace giant Boeing in a bitter trade dispute with its Canadian rival.

Boeing has complained that Bombardier had received unfair government subsidies and dumped narrow-body jets below cost to No. 2 U.S. carrier Delta Air Lines.

The airline agreed to buy at least 75 of the Canadian planes last year, but their delivery is uncertain as the case intensifies. The U.S. Commerce Department on Wednesday upheld duties of nearly 300 percent on the C Series jets, tariffs that could render the planes unaffordable for Delta or other U.S. carriers.

Bombardier doesn't deny that Delta received a good price. Early customers for a fresh product rarely pay list prices as discounting is common to draw interest and attention to new planes.

"When you launch a new program you have aggressive pricing to start with," Bellemare said in an interview with CNBC. "Boeing does the same thing."

The International Trade Commission is scheduled to make a final determination by February if Boeing was harmed by Bombardier's practices, as the Chicago-based company alleges. Boeing, Bombardier and Delta presented arguments to the ITC this week. Boeing said Bombardier hurt its chances of selling its 737 airplane in the U.S., which Bombardier denies.

In a twist, European aerospace company Airbus, Boeing's chief rival, swooped in October, agreeing to buy a majority stake in the struggling C Series program.

Bombardier plans to build the planes in Mobile, Alabama, where Airbus assembles narrow-body jets. The plan would create a new wrinkle because the planes would effectively be a U.S. product.

"There's no case here," Bombardier's Bellemare said, calling the complaint "ridiculous."

(Leslie Josephs - CNBC

Big Boeing, Airbus strategies drive small plane deals

Airbus and Boeing are pairing with smaller regional rivals to add sales at the lower end of their $100 billion-a-year commercial plane duopoly, but the two market leaders are also laying the foundation for a longer-term strategic contest against more powerful threats such as China.

U.S. planemaker Boeing and Brazil's Embraer said on Thursday they were discussing a "potential combination" widely assumed to focus on jetliners, confirming a report in the Wall Street Journal.

News of the talks comes just two months after Boeing's European archrival Airbus agreed to buy a majority stake in Bombardier Inc's 110 to 130-seat CSeries jet, the Canadian rival of Embraer's biggest E-Jets.

"This seems initially to be about blunting the offering of the CSeries," said consultant Jerrold Lundquist, managing director of The Lundquist Group, one of the first industry-watchers to predict the move. "One of the things the CSeries brings to Airbus is the ability to offer a broader product line."

Both Embraer's E-Jets, which generally range between 70 and 130 seats, and to a greater extent Bombardier's CSeries, overlap at the margins of the big-airplane portfolios of Airbus and Boeing, but the products are mainly seen as complementary. Boeing and Airbus smaller planes start at around 125 seats.

Such commercial tie-ups allow planemakers to offer package deals and expand opportunities for generating revenue and profit, a person familiar with the CSeries deal said.

Boeing now appears to be a convert to this approach after initially - at least in public - dismissing the deal between Airbus and Bombardier, several analysts said on Thursday.

But the proposed alliances, neither of which is finalized, are not simply about tacking on revenue and cash flow, analysts and industry sources said.

First, they could quickly lead to technical overlap.

"If Boeing begins to collaborate with Embraer, you could imagine them creating commonality in the Boeing cockpit," Lundquist said. Others see similar benefits at Airbus.

More importantly, they broaden the battlefront for the next round of developments in 2030 and beyond: one in which Western jetmakers will be up against growing competition from China and Russia and could rely on their new partners to spread the risk.


Boeing and Embraer had already prepared just such a tryst in confidential talks over a decade ago.

In October, Reuters reported that the template for a possible Boeing-Embraer response to the Airbus-Bombardier deal already existed in dormant plans for a new generation of single-aisle planes, for which there had been a previously unreported collaboration between Boeing and Brazil.

Plans for an all-new plane were put on hold while Boeing and Airbus focused on engine makeovers for existing models, cashing in on fuel savings that were considered strong enough to hold off Chinese and Russian competitors for another 10 or 15 years.

But the blueprint for deeper co-operation between Embraer and Boeing remained in place and by breaking the status quo, Airbus's Bombardier deal may have brought it back to life.

"Embraer gives Boeing access to technology for smaller jets for application on a next-generation narrowbody aircraft," Morningstar analyst Chris Higgins said in a research note.

A source with knowledge of the matter said Boeing had already approached Embraer twice about a potential deal in 2002 and 2006. At the time, the Brazilian government vetoed any deal, saying Embraer was a "strategic" company for the country.

Brazilian President Michel Temer, who took office last year, has pushed a more market-friendly agenda than predecessors.

Deals with their smaller cousins may give Airbus and Boeing more options when they develop the successors to the best-selling Boeing 737 and Airbus A320, perhaps allowing them to offer a trio of large jets coupled to a pair of smaller ones.

For Boeing, however, there may be another gamble at play.

The American firm is considering launching a twin-aisle 220 to 260-seat jet in the so-called middle of the market, challenging Airbus in the segment where it began life over 40 years ago.

The timing of the talks leaves open the possibility that any core technology Embraer has to offer could be considered for the "new mid-market airplane (NMA)," people familiar with the matter said.

To some, that only increases the chances that Boeing will kick-start the project next year, taking pains at the same time to shore up the lower end of its market with an Embraer tie-up.

"Boeing would apparently prefer to do the NMA and taking on two major developments at once may be considered too ambitious,” Lundquist said.

(Tim Hepher and Brad Haynes - Reuters) 

Boeing confirms 'combination' talks with Brazilian regional jet maker Embraer

Boeing has held takeover talks with Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer SA to strengthen Boeing's regional jet market presence and counter Airbus, which struck a similar deal with Canada's Bombardier.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Boeing and Embraer have been discussing a deal involving "a relatively large premium for Embraer," which has a market value of about $3.7 billion, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter.

The newspaper reported that the talks are on hold as the parties consult the Brazilian government on whether it would approve any combination. The report did not say when talks began or how long they have been on hold.

"The two companies are engaged in discussions regarding a potential combination, the basis of which remains under discussion," Boeing and Embraer said in a joint statement Thursday. "There is no guarantee a transaction will result from these discussions. ... Any transaction would be subject to the approval of the Brazilian government and regulators, the two companies’ boards and Embraer’s shareholders."

Any deal will be a challenge because the Brazilian government has a so-called "golden share" in Embraer that gives it veto power over such a deal, the Wall Street Journal said.

Embraer is a major powerhouse in Brazilian industry, and it’s far from guaranteed that country's government would approve a takeover.

For that reason, the newspaper reported, the chances of the talks ending with no deal are greater than in a typical merger negotiation. Indeed, some of the people the newspaper interviewed "cautioned it is unlikely the talks will be revived."

To help secure the government's blessing, Boeing is reportedly willing to take steps to protect Embraer’s brand, management and jobs, one person told the newspaper.

Boeing reportedly is also willing to structure a deal in a way that would protect the government’s interest in Embraer’s defense business.

Embraer, based in Sao Paulo, says it is the world’s third-largest commercial jet manufacturer and has around 18,000 employees. The company makes regional jets in the 70- to 100-seat range, which are heavily used on routes with where airlines don't need larger Boeing or Airbus passenger airplanes to meet demand.

Boeing's line of passenger jets doesn't include a regional jet, which may explain why Boeing is eager to expand its offerings.

Another reason is more strategic. Airbus recently took a majority stake (but paid nothing) in a joint venture with Bombardier, maker of the the single-aisle CSeries jets, a money-losing regional jet program Airbus thinks could have big potential.

Boeing may think the same about Embraer, which is close to completing several upgrades to its own renewed line of regional jets, particularly its new three-aircraft portfolio under the E2 brand.

Embraer's E195-E2 jet, launched at last summer's Paris Air Show, competes directly with the Bombardier CSeries jets.

(Andrew McIntosh - Puget Sound Business Journal)

Hong Kong Airlines launches A350 service to Los Angeles

Hong Kong Airlines Airbus A350-941 (c/n 168) B-LGC on final to Rwy 24R as it arrives at LAX operating the carriers inaugural flight to Los Angeles on December 18, 2017.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Hong Kong Airlines has opened a new service from Hong to Los Angeles, the carrier’s first US route operated by the Airbus A350.

The Hong Kong-based carrier ordered 21 A350s and has taken delivery of three of the type, which is set to become the backbone of the airline’s long-haul fleet.

“The launch of our new service to Los Angeles represents another step of our transition from a regional carrier to a global airline,” vice chairman Tang King Shing said in a statement. “As a popular destination for both leisure and business travel, Los Angeles is also one of the most substantial economic engines within the United States.”

Departing back to Hong Kong on December 18, 2017.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Hong Kong Airlines also plans to open new services to San Francisco and New York in 2018 and expects to explore European market next year.

The carrier operates 35 aircraft that includes 33 passenger airliners and two freighters with an average fleet age of five years.

(Katie Cantle - ATWOnline News)

Cathay Pacific to begin Washington Dulles A350 service in 2018

Cathay Pacific will launch 4X-weekly Airbus A350-1000 service from Hong Kong to Washington Dulles (IAD) from Sept. 15, 2018. The new route expands the Hong Kong-based carrier’s existing US east coast services to Boston, and New York JFK and Newark Liberty airports.

Cathay said it expects to take delivery of the first of 20 A350-1000s in spring 2018.

The IAD A350 service will become the longest on the Cathay Pacific network in terms of distance at 7,085 nautical miles (8,153 miles).

Cathay Pacific CEO Rupert Hogg said the new service has been introduced to cater to the growing demand for travel to the US capital region, “while at the same time providing US-based passengers with more access to key destinations in Asia and beyond through the airline’s home in Hong Kong.”

As Cathay continues to expand next year, the airline said it will also launch year-round services to Brussels and Dublin in March and June 2018, respectively. In May 2018, Cathay will begin seasonal service to Copenhagen, while regional carrier Cathay Dragon will start 4X-weekly service to Nanning in mainland China in January 2018.

Frequencies on a number of Cathay Pacific’s most popular existing routes, including Barcelona and Tel Aviv, are also being increased in 2018. 

(Linda Blachly - ATWOnline News)

British Airways begins biometric boarding at LAX

Biometric boarding gates at LAX
(British Airways)

British Airways has begun trialing self-service biometric boarding gates on international flights out of the US, working in partnership with Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

The new technology, created by Vision-Box, will create a smoother, quicker boarding process as passengers will no longer need to present their passport or boarding pass at the gate—only at check-in and security. Instead travelers look into a camera prior to boarding, wait for their biometric data to be verified, and then walk onto the aircraft.

Similarly to facial identification built into mobile phones, the biometric gates use high definition camera technology, and allow customers to pass through by recognizing their unique facial features, and reconciling them with the digital facial scan taken as part of the immigration process.

The gates have been installed on three stands at LAX.

The project, led by LAX, builds on technology already in use by BA on its domestic flights from Heathrow’s Terminal 5—checking customers’ biometric data at the gate when they scan their boarding pass.

BA director of brand & customer experience Carolina Martinoli said, “We’re using biometric technology that consumers are now familiar with and trust because it delivers a convenient, reliable and secure experience. This step forward to modernize our operation is a first in the industry, and we will continue to work with airports around the world to evolve this technology, and revolutionize the way in which people travel.”

Los Angeles World Airports chief innovation and technology officer Justin Erbacci said, “This industry-first deployment of innovative solutions from the US Customs and Border Protection and Vision-Box, shows the amazing potential of using biometrics to speed up the boarding process while maintaining safety and security. We have been very impressed with the results thus far, and love to see the passengers’ excitement at being some of the first in the world to use facial recognition to board British Airways flights from LAX to Heathrow.”

(Linda Blachly - ATWOnline News)

Volaris Costa Rica to launch US routes in March 2018

Ultra LCC Volaris Costa Rica was granted a foreign air carrier permit by the US Department of Transportation (DOT) Dec. 19, opening the Central American subsidiary of Mexico City-based ULCC Volaris to begin flights to the US.

Volaris Costa Rica plans to launch round-trip flights to the US March 15, 2018, and has already initiated sales of four routes from San Jose, Costa Rica to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), New York JFK and Washington Dulles (IAD).

An ATW search on Volaris’ booking suite revealed that all of the proposed US flights are pending government approval. None of the routes will be direct from Costa Rica, however.

Twice-weekly flights to/from New York JFK will begin March 15 and fly via Volaris Costa Rica to Guadalajara, Mexico and then on to JFK via Volaris Mexico. Volaris will also begin 5X-weekly flights to LAX March 15, but will also variously stop in Guatemala, Nicaragua or El Salvador before the long-haul direct flight to/from Los Angeles. Twice-weekly flights to/from Washington DC will begin May 16, 2018 with the long-haul portion connecting in San Salvador. According to Volaris’ site, the majority of the LAX and Washington IAD flights will operate on Volaris Costa Rica aircraft.

Volaris Costa Rica launched operations in December 2016, and according to CEO Fernando Naranjo, planned to operate between 18 and 22 aircraft during its first three years.

As of Dec. 12, Volaris’ all-Airbus fleet comprises 71 aircraft, including six A320neos, 10 A321ceos, 43 A320ceos and 12 A319ceos.

In the 2017 third-quarter, Volaris posted its first quarterly profit for the year, reporting MXN731 million ($40.2 million) in third-quarter net income, down 27.6% from MXN1 billion in 3Q 2016.

(Mark Nensel - ATWOnline News)

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Southwest Airlines Could Order Hundreds More Boeing 737s

A combination of compelling growth opportunities and tax benefits could push Southwest Airlines to order hundreds of Boeing 737s in the near future.

After facing a sales slowdown last year, Boeing has benefited from a rebound in order activity in 2017. As usual, the popular 737 family of narrow-body jets has led the way.

Last week, Boeing lost out on a big potential order for the next-generation 737 MAX, as Delta Air Lines opted to buy 100 Airbus A321neos instead. Some pundits saw this as a major blow to Boeing. However, Boeing could be in line for hundreds of additional 737 MAX orders within the next couple of years from one of its best customers: Southwest Airlines.

Southwest Airlines has lots of growth potential

Today, Southwest Airlines is the fourth largest airline in the U.S., with annual revenue of more than $21 billion. Nevertheless, the company has enormous growth potential.

Within the U.S., Southwest Airlines has had to rein in capacity growth this year due to a temporary shortage of aircraft. However, it routinely has one of the highest profit margins in the airline industry, highlighting the strong demand for its services. Thus, Southwest has meaningful opportunities to grow and regain its "natural share" of the domestic market.

Meanwhile, the carrier has been expanding gradually to more international destinations. It is just scratching the surface in places like Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. Most recently, Southwest Airlines announced that it will start selling tickets for Hawaii flights during 2018, confirming long-running rumors. (The first flights may not occur until 2019.)

Through the end of November, Southwest Airlines had increased its capacity by 3.7% in 2017, following a 5.7% increase in 2016 and a 7.2% increase in 2015. Based on its numerous expansion opportunities, Southwest could probably sustain a 4% to 5% annual capacity growth rate for the foreseeable future.

More planes needed

There are lots of places where Southwest could grow profitably, but right now, its fleet plan is extremely conservative. Next year, the carrier is scheduled to add 39 new Boeing 737s to its fleet, along with four used 737s. This will make up for a decline in Southwest's fleet count this year, enabling capacity growth of about 5% in 2018.

On the other hand, Southwest Airlines is currently scheduled to take delivery of just 58 planes between 2019 and 2022. That's only enough to support a 2% to 3% growth rate. Southwest then has 115 firm orders for delivery between 2023 and 2025: just slightly more than the number needed to replace planes that will reach the end of their 25-year useful lives during that period.

If Southwest were to aim for a 5% annual capacity growth rate, while retiring older aircraft at the 25-year mark, it would need to increase its firm order book for the 2019-2025 period by about 150 aircraft. Meanwhile, it doesn't have any firm orders beyond 2025 yet. Even if Southwest's growth rate slows, it would need to buy at least 50 planes annually after 2025 due to the massive number of aircraft that will be reaching retirement age each year.

Tax reform makes aircraft orders even more appealing

Thus, Southwest Airlines will need to order lots of Boeing 737s just to meet its normal growth and replacement needs. The tax reform bill that is currently making its way through Congress would give it an incentive to buy even more aircraft in the next few years.

First, the tax bill will lower the statutory corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%. This will boost Southwest's after-tax profit by more than 20%, encouraging faster growth. Second, companies will be able to fully deduct the cost of capital expenditures for the next five years, rather than depreciating them over a longer period of time. (This "full expensing" provision will sunset over the following five-year period.)

The result is that airlines have a big incentive to ramp up capital spending in the short run. CEO Gary Kelly has stated that Southwest will consider both faster fleet growth and accelerating the retirement of older planes.

Southwest could plausibly put an additional 200-250 planes to work in its fleet between 2019 and 2025. If it speeds up the retirement of its Boeing 737-700s, that would create a need for an additional 150-200 orders. Right now, Southwest Airlines has fewer than 200 firm orders for the 2019-2025 period.

As a result, Southwest may want to order another 200-250 Boeing 737 MAX planes for delivery by 2025, plus hundreds more for the rest of the 2020s. In this context, losing the Delta order to Airbus is no big deal for Boeing.

(Adam Levine-Weinberg - The Motley Fool)

Monday, December 11, 2017

The Trump effect could give Boeing an edge over Airbus in the fight for Delta's big jet deal

Boeing may have gained an edge over Airbus as the jet makers battle for a Delta Air Lines order of up to 100 single-aisle jets, thanks to the Trump effect, an aerospace analyst said Monday.

Veteran Bainbridge Island aerospace watcher Scott Hamilton said the Boeing's 737 Max and the Airbus A320neo are almost identical in terms of economics and performance.

"Those I’ve talked to in the market think that on the merits, the choice between Airbus and Boeing is a coin toss. But throw in Trump’s Buy America and the C Factor (Boeing filing a trade complaint against Delta after it bought Bombardier CSeries regional jets), those I’ve talked to think Boeing is more likely to get the nod than Airbus," Hamilton wrote in a commentary on his Leeham News website.

"When it comes to Boeing vs Airbus in Washington (D.C.), and especially the White House, Boeing has the advantage," Hamilton suggested.

Another political factor that could influence the decision in Boeing's favor is Delta’s potential concern were it to buy Airbus about a customer backlash in the Seattle area, home of Boeing Commercial Airplanes' biggest factories, Hamilton wrote.

Boeing makes the 737 jets in Renton, and winning the Delta order would be a huge victory for Boeing and its supply chain in the region while creating positive sentiment toward Delta as it expands in Seattle.

"Delta is building a hub here in competition with Alaska Airlines, a heretofore exclusive operator of Boeing aircraft," Hamilton wrote. "Alaska’s acquisition of Virgin America, an Airbus operator, muddies these waters for now. "

Hamilton said he's overlooked one important consideration in the American-or-European jet decision: "the Trump administration’s Buy America push."

"One can just imagine if Delta buys Airbus. Notwithstanding the fact that many (or maybe all) of the A320neos might be assembled at the Mobile plant in deep-red Alabama that loves Donald Trump, Boeing has remarkably and successfully kissed up to Trump and massaged his ego to no end," Hamilton wrote.

"Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg didn’t take a strong stand about Trump’s Charlottesville remarks basically endorsing white supremacists. Several CEOs on Trump’s Business Council quit in protest. Not Muilenburg," Hamilton wrote.

Another aerospace analyst said the industry consensus is Airbus still has the upper hand in the Delta order battle, except for the politics wild card.

"With the entire Bombardier-Boeing clash ... Delta does have the leverage to acquire Boeing jets at high discounts," Dhierin Bechai of Aero Analysis in Rotterdam said in an interview.

Richard Aboulafia, vice president of aerospace analysis at the Teal Group, said the competition is "very hard to handicap."

"Boeing is at a political disadvantage due to the trade complaint against Delta's Bombardier CSeries order," he said. "On the other hand, that would make a Max win that much more impressive."

With Delta as the only U.S. major airline that hasn't yet specified its next-generation single-aisle jet, there's lots of business at stake for Boeing and Airbus in the decision.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian told the Puget Sound Business Journal earlier this year that he hoped to settle the jet question before 2018. Delta's board of directors meets this week to consider the order. Hamilton said the purchase could be announced by Friday.

(Andrew McIntosh - Puget Sound Business Journal)

Airbus may cut A380 production to six planes a year

Airbus is exploring plans to cut A380 superjumbo production to as low as six aircraft per year as it battles to make the world's largest airliner commercially viable beyond the end of the decade, industry sources said.

Squeezed by smaller but efficient twin-engined jets, Airbus has announced plans to lower A380 output to 12 aircraft in 2018 and eight in 2019, down from an annual peak of 30, as it holds out for what it believes will be a recovery in demand.

But plans to maintain that rate are in doubt as Airbus seeks to finalise an order for 36 new aircraft from Emirates.

Industry analysts say ongoing negotiations with Emirates will be decisive for the future of the A380 aircraft, which recently marked its 10th anniversary in operation.

Airbus, which has delivered 14 A380s so far this year, has told some suppliers it is studying eventually reducing production to six a year, industry sources said.

The timing of the move was not immediately clear.

An Airbus spokesman declined to comment on production beyond the company's previous announcements.

Emirates, which held off signing an order for an estimated 36 aircraft at last month's Dubai Airshow, wants guarantees Airbus will produce the A380 for 10 years and has expressed confidence it will be able to meet the conditions.

Industry sources say Airbus appears comfortable giving the undertaking, ensuring production remains open until 2028, though there are questions over the support of suppliers.

Reducing output to six a year would help to bridge that period and support key second-hand values while Airbus looks for other buyers, but could keep the programme in the red for at least part of the period.

Airbus shares extended losses and were down 2.16 percent at 1601 GMT.

Airbus broke even on the A380 for the first time in 2015, when it delivered 27 aircraft. After a clampdown on costs it has said the A380 can break even at around 20 a year and Chief Operating Officer Fabrice Bregier has said he is pushing the breakeven level as low as possible to sustain low production.

The company said in October that any losses triggered by lower A380 production would have little financial impact.

Finance Director Harald Wilhelm also told analysts that A380 deliveries were protected by the existing backlog until 2019.

Singapore Airlines, the first airline to fly the double-decker jet, is due on Wednesday to take delivery of the first A380 featuring a new cabin, following an $850 million investment.

(Tim Hepher - Reuters)