A cargo plane crashed into a Texas bay last year after the co-pilot became disoriented and pushed the nose down because he mistakenly thought that the jet was about to stall, investigators said on Tuesday.
The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the co-pilot’s poor training and inability to handle pressure contributed to the crash of Atlas Air Flight 3591. The co-pilot withheld parts of his work history from the air carrier to conceal his troubles at other airlines and was a “train wreck” in training, board members and investigators said during a Tuesday hearing on the crash.
The Boeing 767 was carrying cargo from Miami for Amazon.com and the U.S. Postal Service when it went from a slight climb to a high-speed dive and disintegrated upon slamming into a shallow bay east of Houston. All three people on board, including a pilot hopping a ride in the jump seat, were killed.
The board said Tuesday that the plane was being flown by Conrad Aska, the 44-year-old first officer. Investigators believe that as the plane passed through mild turbulence Aska unintentionally hit a switch that put the plane into a “go-around,” an acceleration maneuver normally done only to abort a landing.
As the plane tipped slightly higher, Aska became disoriented and wrongly believed the plane was about to stall, or lose the ability to stay aloft. He pushed the nose of the plane down, triggering the nosedive, investigators said during the hearing.
The board found that the captain, 60-year-old Ricky Blakely, had failed to intervene to stop the crash.
The final seconds of the flight were captured on grainy footage from a security camera operated by the Chambers County Sheriff’s Office. The plane dropped more than 3000 feet (914 meters) in 30 seconds before smashing into Trinity Bay, 40 miles (64 kilometers) from the intended destination of George Bush Intercontinental Airport.
The board also highlighted past problems in Aska's training, including that he hid his record from Atlas, and criticized the Federal Aviation Administration for being slow to set up a database of pilot records.
“The first officer's training record was bluntly, well, terrible,” said NTSB Vice Chairman Bruce Landsberg.
The co-pilot's training record showed he acted “impulsively” during training exercises at several previous airlines and had a history of failed check rides, in which an instructor or supervisor watches.
“He had an inability to remain calm during stressful situations," investigator David Lawrence, a pilot, said.
The investigation determined that Aska had hid his record from Atlas by not disclosing he had spent time at two regional airlines. In its findings of probable cause, the safety board faulted the FAA for not fully enacting changes in pilot record reporting that Congress mandated years ago.
“The FAA has dragged their feet on implementing a sufficiently robust pilot records database,” said Chairman Robert Sumwalt.
An FAA spokesperson said there is a voluntary version of this database. The agency expects to publish a rule that would require air carries share pilot records in January 2021 and will complete the database after that, she said.
Atlas Air’s president and CEO, John Dietrich, said his company has improved its hiring, training and pilot review procedures since the crash. He also backed the NTSB’s call to make pilot records more accessible.
“Of critical importance is the need for an improved federal pilot records database to provide airlines with full visibility of pilot history in the hiring process,” Dietrich said in a statement.
(Jake Bleiberg and David Koenig - Associated Press)
Friday June 26, 2020 saw the arrival of two USMC F-18 Hornets which will be spending the weekend here at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) performing several flight sorties during their stay before departing on Sunday afternoon.
It’s always hard to say goodbye, especially when you know that it is for good. However, today (June 26, 2020) Air France says goodbye as it operates its final Airbus A380 flight on an aircraft less than ten years old. The French flag carrier becomes the first airline to scrap the gentle giant altogether.
October 30th, 2009, was a ‘giant’ day for Air France. The French flag carrier took delivery of its first Airbus A380. The airline went on to take 10 of the super-jumbos. However, after today, the A380 will no longer fly for Air France.
Air France picked a fitting flight number for its final Airbus A380 flight. Flight "AF380" was explicitly scheduled by the airline to say goodbye to the type. Much like an aircraft’s delivery flight, this exceptional trip was strictly by invite only. But how did you get an invite?
The flight was open to 500 members of staff, chosen from the pool of crew that had worked on the Airbus A380 during its time in service. After departure at 15:57, the aircraft climbed to 21,000 feet and flew roughly South from Paris until it reached Montpellier.
Unfortunately, the aircraft didn’t get to fly over its Toulouse birthplace. However, it did get to rendezvous with an undelivered Airbus A350 in Air France colors over the Gulf of Lyon. At the time of writing, the aircraft was flying back towards Paris for its final landing to mark the end of an era.
Why is Air France bidding au revoir?
The retirement of Air France’s A380 aircraft didn’t come as a huge surprise. The airline had earmarked the entire fleet to be retired over the next couple of years. Indeed, it had already retired its first A380 before the pandemic.
While it is unfortunate that aircraft under ten years old are being retired, it makes sense for Air France from a financial point of view. According to the airline, retiring the A380 fleet immediately will set them back by a total of €500 million ($550 million). The airline will book this expense in the second quarter as a non-current cost/expense.
However, the alternate doesn’t make sense for the French flag carrier. Air France had earmarked the aircraft for retirement over the next couple of years. Meanwhile, IATA doesn’t believe that demand will return until 2023/24. This means that there is little to no chance these A380s will fly again before they were retired anyway. There is no point in paying to maintain something that won’t fly again.
While sad, this won’t be the end of the Airbus A380. Indeed, the largest operator, Emirates, said that the giant would return to the skies in its colors in mid-July.
The last and smallest of the upgraded variants of Bombardier’s legacy Global family, the $46 million Global 5500, has entered service with a recent delivery to an undisclosed customer, the Canadian airframer announced today. Unveiled alongside the upgraded Global 6500 at EBACE 2018, the Global 5500 received its type certification from Transport Canada, EASA, and FAA last year.
Featuring three living areas with Nuage seating and powered by a pair of 15,125-pound-thrust Rolls-Royce Pearl 15 engines, the 5500 has a range of 5,900 nm—200 nm more than originally planned. “This spacious and efficient aircraft is the ultimate business tool, with the range and access to safely take our customers where they need to be,” said Bombardier Aviation president David Coleal.
Coleal noted that the 5500, along with the earlier 5000 variant, breaks from tradition with interior completions done at Bombardier’s Wichita site, where the Montreal-based company assembles Learjets, operates service and flight-test centers, and performs specialized aircraft work.
With a top speed of Mach 0.90, the 5500 accommodates up to 16 passengers. It also has Bombardier’s Vision flight deck, Ka-band connectivity, and an air purification system with an advanced HEPA filter.
WeWork puts its $60 million jet up for sale in 2019 following the company's failed IPO bid.
The luxurious Gulfstream G650 is now for sale for $49.9 million online — a 16% discount.
The plane was a particularly salient example of the company's exorbitant spending, employees told Business Insider at the time.
WeWork isn't finding any buyers for its luxurious private jet 9 months after deciding to put it up for sale.
The 2018 Gulfstream G650 — one of the world's most opulent and expensive models — is now advertised at a "reduced price" of $49.9 million on a pre-owned aircraft site, with just 414 total flight hours and 131 landings.
The jet played a role in WeWork's failed bid to go public in 2019. Sources told Business Insider at the time that employees were upset at the optics of spending $60 million on a jet for a money-losing company. CEO Adam Neumann was said to hold meetings on the jet since he was rarely in the office.
"I know of instances where people got on the plane, flew across the country, and flew commercial home," one employee said at the time.
In one particularly salient incident, the Wall Street Journal reported that Neumann and friends smoked marijuana on the plane on the way to Israel, with the flight crew angered by finding a "sizable chunk" stashed away for the return trip.
Private jet sales, like those for commercial aircraft, have plummeted amid the coronavirus-induced travel glut, but industry insiders say the market is set to rebound quickly, which could be good news for the We Company as it seeks to offload the plane.
66% of members polled by the International Aircraft Dealers Association in May said they're optimistic about the pre-owned market after the pandemic, with most expecting a slight ding to used prices, such as that of WeWork's jet.
This ex-Southwest Airlines machine is still going strong as we see her on a very short final to Rwy 30 at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) this afternoon as she arrives from Laughlin / Bullhead International Airport (IFP/KIFP) as "SWQ6854" at 18:15 PDT.
Seen arriving at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on December 13, 2018 on a simply gorgeous day here in SoCal.
The aircraft performed her maiden flight on September 4, 2017 followed by delivery on September 27, 2017.
I had the honor of flying on her first revenue flight on October 1, 2017 (the very first WN 737-8Max revenue flight) between Dallas Love Field (DAL/KDAL) and Houston - William P. Hobby Airport (HOU/KHOU).
Arrives at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on November 24, 2019 wearing the special "100" marking commemorating the carriers 100th birthday.
The aircraft took to the skies on her first flight, October 3, 1996 and later delivered to the carrier on October 15, 1996.
Having served the carrier for 23 1/2 years, the aircraft was prematurely retired on March 27, 2020 and later ferried to Mohave Airport (MHV/KMHV) in California for storage on May 26, 2020 due to the Wuhan Covid-19 virus outbreak.
Seen on short final to Rwy 25L at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on December 15, 2018.
She was delivered to the carrier on April 29, 2008 following her first flight on April 3, 2008 as F-WWCH. The aircraft was originally destined for Virgin Atlantic Airways G-VJAM but was not taken up by the airline.
The aircraft served with Lufthansa for only 12 years before being retired and ferried (MUC/EDDM) - (TEV/LETL) for storage May 19, 2020.
UTA Flight "UTA772" was operating a scheduled international passenger flight of French airline Union de Transports Aériens (UTA) from Brazzaville Airport (BZV/FCBB) in the People's Republic of the Congo, via N'Djamena (NDJ/FTTJ) in Chad, to Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG/LFPG) in Paris when it crashed in the Ténéré desert, near Bilma, Niger, following an in-flight explosion on September 19, 1989 with 170 people on board.
The DC-10-30 departed from N'Djamena International Airport at 13:13 when forty-six minutes later, while cruising at 35,100 ft, a suitcase bomb exploded in the cargo hold, causing the aircraft to break up over the Sahara Desert 280 miles east of Agadez in the southern Ténéré of Niger. The explosion scattered debris over hundreds of square miles of desert and resulting in the death of 156 passengers and 14 crew members.
The DC-10-30 took to the skies for the first time on March 13, 1973 followed by delivery to the carrier on May 1, 1973 from the Douglas factory in Long Beach, California. She had accumulated 14,777 flight cycles over 60,276 flight hours at the time of the crash.
It was always so fantastic to see the UPS DC-8-73CF's come home to Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) every afternoon back in the 90's! This fine example is seen in April 1998 on short final to Rwy 30 the same Rwy she returned to following her first flight back in November 1969 as she would have departed from Rwy 12 on her departure.
She was delivered to Trans International Airlines as N486FT on December 29, 1969 as a DC-8-63CF. In the following years she flew with the following:
Union de Transports Aériens (UTA) - (August 1972 - December 1972) as N486FT Trans America Airlines as N486FT Spirit of America Airlines as N486FT United Parcel Service (UPS) as N486FT Flying Tiger Line as N486FT and N705FT
Federal Express (FedEx) as N705FT and N405FE and finally United Parcel Service (UPS) as N814UP until her retirement in 2009 when she was placed into storage at Roswell (ROW/KROW), New Mexico and later scrapped.
Captured at Frankfurt Rhein-Main International Airport (FRA/EDDF) on October 27, 2017 sporting special "747 Friend Ship" markings in commemoration of her final flight which took place on October 29, 2017 between Seoul-Incheon International Airport (ICN/RKSI) and San Francisco International Airport (SFO/KSFO).
Captured on short final to Rwy 30 at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on June 18, 2020. It is one of the carriers newest 767 Freighters having been delivered on November 25, 2019 following her first flight on November 15, 2019.
Polar Air Cargo Boeing 767-306(ER)(BDSF) (27611/633) N647GT climbs from Rwy 25R at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on December 15, 2019 during the pre-Christmas package rush.
(Photo by Michael Carter - Aero Pacific Images)
The worldwide grounding of aircraft during the passenger travel downturn has led to a shortage in capacity for air freight delivery, increasing the incentive for airlines to convert Boeing 777s, 737NGs and other newer-generation aircraft for cargo flights.
Aircraft most often converted to freighters during recent years, including Airbus A319s and 767s, are getting older and becoming less available for conversion, leading cargo carriers to look ahead at what aircraft could fit their needs in the years to come.
Historically, US cargo carriers, most notably FedEx, have operated 767s as a backbone of their fleets. The cargo carrier signalled its support for the freighter type by placing 130 orders directly with Boeing for 767-300ERFs over the past decade. Today, FedEx operates 86 767-300ERFs, which is a significant share of its in-service fleet of 386 freighters, Cirium fleets data shows.Asset values for 767Fs remain largely unchanged amid the cargo capacity shortage of the coronavirus pandemic, Cirium values data shows. Declining demand for passenger aircraft is reducing the value of 737NGs and 777s, which Cirium aviation analyst Syed Zaidi says makes them better candidates for freighters because “you want something with value but not too old”.
These aircraft are ageing out of their passenger aircraft prime but are still new enough to make the most of the average 20-year lifespan of a freighter.
“Everyone kept taking advantage of the unprecedented passenger growth and the low fuel prices” by delaying retirements of ageing aircraft including 767s during the high air travel demand that preceded coronavirus, Zaidi says.
The global in-service fleet declined from around 29,000 passenger aircraft in January to about 13,200 in mid-April, Cirium fleets data shows. Airlines now have about 18,000 aircraft in service amid the slow recovery for air travel.
The 28% year-over-year decline in global air freight traffic in April is the sharpest drop IATA has ever recorded, yet capacity declined even further by 42% year-over-year because of the sharp cuts in passenger operations that also carry cargo. Demand for emergency medical supplies and for e-commerce home delivery has provided steady business for cargo carriers while people shelter in place during the pandemic.
Airlines during this crisis are flying cargo on empty passenger aircraft by fastening boxes to seats with nets or stripping the passenger cabins. Emirates Airline is operating 85 of its 777-300ERs as stand-in freighters, in addition to its 11 freighter-converted 777s. Finnair has removed economy-class seats from two of its A330s to operate cargo flights.
These cargo operations are helping to buffer declining passenger revenue for cash-strapped airlines but are a temporary “phenomenon that won’t last longer than a year or two”, says James Flynn, business development manager at US Cargo Systems freighter conversion company.
While Flynn expects 767-300s will remain popular for freighter conversion for the near future, he tells Cirium that “during the next 10 to 15 years I think the 777-300s” are going to become one of the most-sought-after freighter aircraft for conversion. The A330-300 is also positioned to become a popular choice for freighter conversion within the next five years, Flynn says. The A330 and 777 are both more fuel efficient than 767s, of which the last passenger model was delivered by Boeing to Air Astana in 2014.
“There is not an infinite number of 767s available,” Flynn says. “Those are still going to be converted, but instead of it being a steady rate of conversions you may see 18 to 24 conversions of 767s over the next two to three years.”
Flynn expects that the A330 will eventually replace 767 cargo-conversion demand. Indeed, Atlas Air in 2019 told Cirium that the cargo carrier was eyeing 777s and A330s for future conversions to freighter aircraft as 767 passenger aircraft are expected to become less available.
THE RIGHT AIRCRAFT FOR THE RIGHT MISSION
For the near future, the ready supply of 767 aircraft and their ability to carry more cargo than narrowbody 737NGs keeps the older aircraft in demand, especially amid low fuel prices and the global shortage of cargo flights, Aeronautical Engineers vice-president of sales Robert Convey tells Cirium.
“I believe there is more than sufficient demand in the marketplace to incentivise airlines to make some of their 767-300 retired aircraft available,” Convey says.
Newer narrowbody freighters, including 737-800s, are growing in popularity, in part because they can make more frequent stops than widebody aircraft to meet the shifting consumer expectations of e-commerce, according to a report published on 12 May by Kroll Bond Rating Agency.
As the more-fuel-efficient 737NGs fall in value due to oversupply during the pandemic, they are increasingly better candidates for conversion because of their ability to meet the needs of the e-commerce market by making those more-frequent shipments.
Carriers in China are among those seeking smaller passenger aircraft for conversion as they expand their cargo fleets, says Alok Anand, chief executive of asset management firm Acumen Aviation.
“With the retirement of older aircraft, 737-800s will surely be good candidates for conversion,” Anand says. “Acumen has already been receiving queries mainly from China on possible conversion projects.”
Amazon Air is leading this trend in the USA by adding 737NGs to its fleet that has so far, like FedEx in recent years, relied on 767s as its workhorse. Despite operating a fleet of 48 767s, Amazon has already added eight 737s, Cirium fleets data shows, and has contracts with GECAS for a further 12 of the type.
COST OF CONVERSION
Carriers will decide how fast to add 737NGs and other newer aircraft to their cargo fleets based on the costs of conversion, availability, maintenance, and fuel efficiency.
The price of jet fuel as of 12 June was 46% lower year-over-year, according to IATA, but Flynn says, “once fuel prices start to stabilise, the more-fuel-efficient aircraft are going to become more attractive” for freighter conversion.
While 737NGs are expected to be “the most predominant converted aircraft over the next five years”, Flynn says the older model 737-300s and 737-400s are being converted first.
The cost of converting a 737-800 can range from $4-$5 million, depending on the age of the aircraft and whether the contractor wants to have a heavy maintenance check on the aircraft, Flynn says. While older 737-300 and 737-400 series are less fuel-efficient, he says they typically have a lower conversion price range of $2.5 to $3 million.
Demand for 737-800 freighters during the past two years was undercut by the lack of supply due to their popularity as passenger aircraft prior to the coronavirus travel downturn, Convey says. The Florida-based company as of May had converted a total of 118 737-400s, but only two of the newer 737-800 series. On 18 May, the company signed a contract to provide a 737-400SF freighter conversion for Colombia-based AerCaribe. “The 737-800SF will be the main narrowbody freighter with over 1,000 units converted over the next 25 years,” Convey says.
Aeronautical Engineers, which charges $3.75 million to convert each 737-800, “has seen an increase in demand for Classic and NG freighters as a direct result of Covid-19”, Convey adds.
Despite the shortage of 737-800s being set aside for conversion, there is a ready supply of 737-300s and 737-400s “probably for the next two years”, PEMCO Conversions spokesman Paul Cunningham tells Cirium. PEMCO, a subsidiary of Air Transport Services Group (ATSG) that focuses on turning 737s into freighters, charges “around $4.3 million” to convert a 737-800.
“This makes the Classic conversion more attractive to a lot of buyers because the full cost of the aircraft and conversion is just a little more than half” of converting a 737NG, Cunningham says. ATTRACTIVE FOR NOW
The global air freight capacity shortage will eventually fade as economies reopen, air travel recovers and fleets of passenger aircraft with large cargo bellies return to the skies.
“I am forecasting that this demand will continue for the next 24 to 36 months, at which time it will settle into a normal demand cycle,” Convey says.
But much depends on how long the pandemic lasts and how the recovery unfolds.
It could take until “early 2024” for air travel to return to 2019 levels, Adam Pilarski, senior-vice-president of asset appraisal firm Avitas said on 9 June during a webinar hosted by JPMorgan.
“There is no way airlines can continue with the same employment and the same fleets,” Pilarski said. “They will have to change, it will be a different industry.”
For now, however, the decreasing values of 777s, 737NGs and A330s have given their attractiveness a boost, making them affordable candidates for freighter conversion.
"Positive climb, gear up" as she climbs from Rwy 25R at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on January 21, 2017 a gorgeous day in L.A!
The aircraft performed her first flight on November 5, 1999 from the factory at Toulouse (TLS/LFBO), France followed by delivery to Air Europe SpA as I-PEKA on December 22, 1999.
The aircraft made her way to Interjet on November 16, 2005 with whom she served until being WFU on April 4, 2020 then ferried to Goodyear (GYR/KGYR) on April 5, 2020 on return to the lessor and stored.
COPA Airlines Boeing 737-8V3(WL) (38142/4221) HP-1827CMP on short final to Rwy 25L at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on Christmas Eve 2019. (Photo by Michael Carter - Aero Pacific Images)
The U.S. Transportation Department said on Wednesday it fined Panama's Copa Airlines $450,000 for unlawfully transporting passengers between the United States and Venezuela via a stopover point, and ordered the airline to avoid future similar violations.
The department said Copa violated a May 2019 order that barred U.S. and foreign air carriers from transporting passengers between the United States and Venezuela.
It said Copa sold more than 5,000 tickets for air travel between the United States and Venezuela and transported more than 15,000 passengers after the order took effect.
Copa told officials it understands the seriousness of the matter and took considerable steps to avoid future violations, the transportation department said. Copa later reiterated that in a statement.
In it, the airline said its position was that any breach of restrictions "that may have occurred would not have been willful" and that it relied in part on contacts with Panamanian and other U.S. officials to understand those curbs.
(David Shepardson and Elida Moreno - Reuters / Yahoo Business News)
Boeing's effort to get the 737 Max flying again has turned out to be "a much more ambitious project" than initially expected. That helps explain why the jetliner has remained grounded for more than a year, the Federal Aviation Administration's chief said Wednesday.
Asked why the process has taken so long, FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson said the 737 Max's entire flight control system – not just the software – has come under scrutiny. The overhaul has been complicated by the need to get the changes to work in conjunction with the plane's redundancies and with other interdependent systems.
Dickson's explanation cast new light on a process that Boeing initially hoped could be resolved with relatively quick software code rewrites by the end of last year. Instead, it has dragged on for close to 15 months since the plane was grounded in March 2019 following two fatal crashes in five months that killed 346 people. By December, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, who faced intense criticism over his handling of the 737 Max crisis, had resigned.
Faced with airlines having to cut back flight schedules before travel demand cratered after the coronavirus pandemic struck, the process of fixing the plane has dragged on.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, airlines had been eager to get the 737's issues fixed and the planes back in the air in time for summer, traditionally one of the busiest travel periods of the year.
Dickson insisted recertification won't be rushed: "We are not on any timeline. We are narrowing the issues," he told the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
The 737 Max, the latest version of the workhorse jet, was grounded worldwide last year after two crashes, one a Lion Air flight and the other an Ethiopian Airlines flight, claimed 346 lives combined. In both cases, investigations pointed to the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, a pilot-assist program that repeatedly pushed the plane toward the ground as the crew wrestled to keep it aloft.
Dickson offered no new guidance as to when the Max will fly again.
Airlines have repeatedly pushed its return further into the year on their flight schedules as the recertification process has dragged on.
"The redesign of the airplane is not just limited to changing MCAS functionality," Dickson said. "The entire flight control system – Boeing undertook this in the June-July time frame of last year – became a much more ambitious project."
He added that the improvements are going forward "very diligently and very carefully." And he said the process has not been delayed by work stoppages due to the pandemic.
Committees in both the House and Senate have been probing whether the FAA failed in its oversight responsibilities in the development of the jet.
Michael Stumo, whose daughter Samya Rose died in the Ethiopian Airlines crash, told the committee that "the first crash should not have happened. The second crash was inexcusable." He added that the FAA seems more intent on pushing paper than taking responsibility for aircraft safety.
He called the 737 Max a flawed design from the start, saying it was an attempt to continue to update a 50-year-old design in a way that gave it aerodynamic flaws.
Senators complained that the FAA hasn't cooperated with the panel.
Citing a record of "delay and non-responsiveness" to requests for information, Chairman Roger Wicker said. "It is hard not to conclude your team at the FAA has deliberately attempted to keep us in the dark."
The Mississippi Republican said it appears the FAA is trying to hide damaging information from his committee.
"I can only assume that the agency's stonewalling of my investigation only suggests discomfort with what might ultimately be revealed," he said.
The FAA's reticence to cooperate has been so bad that in one case, it wouldn't turn over specific email exchanges between employees even when provided with the date and time in question, Wicker said.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, said the FAA hasn't responded to any of his requests.
Dickson disputed the allegations.
"I believe it is inaccurate to portray the agency as unresponsive," he said. He promised, though, to "redouble our efforts."
Gulfstream G550 (c/n 5577) N904JY operated by B & D Aviation LLC rolls for takeoff on Rwy 30 at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on May 27, 2020. (Photo by Michael Carter - Aero Pacific Images)
Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. today announced it has sold the last commercially available Gulfstream G550™, clearing the way for production of the award-winning business-aviation icon to wind down. The final commercial aircraft will be delivered to a customer in 2021.
“The G550 set the standard for subsequent aircraft and the industry,” said Mark Burns, president, Gulfstream. “With more than 600 in service, the G550 has earned its place as a leader in business aviation. Its technological innovations and safety enhancements earned the G550 development team the prestigious Robert J. Collier Trophy in 2003. While manufacturing of the G550 will end, our industry-leading support of the aircraft will continue. With more than 30 company-owned and factory-authorized service centers on five continents as well as the ability to produce and procure parts, we are well-prepared to continue offering G550 owners the highest level of support.”
Announced in 2000, the G550 entered service in 2003 as the launch platform for the transformational Gulfstream PlaneView™ flight deck. Its tremendous range and high-altitude capabilities put the aircraft at the top of its class as evidenced by its more than 55 speed records.
“Over the past decade, Gulfstream has solidified its reputation for delivering high speed and ultralong range,” Burns said. “And we know that’s what our customers want: the ability to regularly and comfortably fly at Mach 0.90, so that’s where we’ll continue to place our focus. Our newest large-cabin offerings, whether the high-speed Gulfstream G650ER or the next-generation Gulfstream G500 and Gulfstream G600, continue this heritage by offering exceptional safety, innovation and performance, making them ideal for both commercial and special missions operations.”
Qatar Airways will not take any new planes ordered from Boeing or Airbus in 2020 or 2021, chief executive Akbar al-Baker said on Wednesday, adding there would be a knock-on effect to future deliveries due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Qatar Airways has ordered tens of billions of dollars of aircraft from the world's two biggest planemakers. But after a plunge in demand for air travel, it says it has no room for new aircraft and will instead shrink its fleet of around 200 jets.
"Quite a lot of (deliveries) will be deferred. We have already notified both Boeing and Airbus that we will not be taking any aeroplanes this year or next year," al-Baker said in an interview on Britain's Sky News.
"All the other aircraft that we have on order that were supposed to be delivered to us within the next two or three years, will now be pushed back to as long as nearly eight to 10 years."
Al-Baker repeated a warning to the planemakers that a refusal to comply with the airline's request could jeopardize future business between them.
"If they don't oblige to our requirements, (then) we will have to review our long term business relationships with them," he said, adding the airline no longer needed the 30 firm orders for Boeing's 737 MAX it had placed.
"We have already informed Boeing that we will have to replace them with some other type of aeroplanes ... we will not require anymore of the 737 MAXs."
Al-Baker also said Qatar Airways would continue to support British Airways owner IAG after increasing its stake in the airlines group in February.
"It is a strategic investment. We will continue to be an investor in IAG," he said. "If it is necessary, yes, we will inject equity into IAG."
(Alistair Smout and Alexander Cornwell - Rueters / Yahoo Business)
With passenger demand for leisure travel gradually picking up, Southwest Airlines says it now has enough cash to stay afloat for the next two years. It currently has nearly $14 billion in cash and short-term investments, and it's burning through it at a rate of about $20 million per day.
Rival American Airlines said last week it expects to halt its daily cash burn by the end of this year partly due to improved travel demand.
Southwest also said it'll keep the middle seat vacant to maintain distancing at least through September 30. It'll limit bookings on its flights to avoid crowding cabins. And customers can pick their own seat; Southwest won't block or direct seating.
Safety measures like social distancing are helping carriers restore confidence in air travel. Delta Air Lines has also pledged to block middle seats through September, and JetBlue Airways has extended its social distancing measures through early July.
This gorgeous "DAC Heavy" taxies towards Rwy 24L for an early morning departure from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) in September 2000.
This was the DC-10-40 prototype aircraft originally known as the DC-10-20. She performed her first flight from the factory at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on February 28, 1972. Following a year long flight test program, she was delivered to Northwest Orient Airlines on June 13, 1973.
She spent her entire career with Northwest Airlines, performing her last revenue flight on September 25, 2001. The aircraft was stored at Leflore County Airport (GWO/KGWO) Greenwood, Mississippi April 24, 2002 and later scrapped.
The boss of EasyJet has said he would feel "100% safe" flying on full planes as the airline resumed a limited number of flights after a 10-week hiatus.
Johan Lundgren told the PA news agency the airline had followed international guidelines to step up hygiene ahead of a resumption of services on Monday.
Passengers and crew will wear masks and planes will be deep-cleaned often.
But passengers will not have to sit 2m apart, despite calls for middle seats to remain empty for social distancing.
"That was a proposal early on from one of the regulators," Mr Lundgren told the BBC's Today programme.
"But the recommendations that have come out from international authorities… which are also supported by the different local regulators do not include social distancing measures on board the aircraft."
EasyJet passengers will be required to wear masks
The idea of keeping middle seats empty has been strongly criticised by some airlines, with Ryanair boss Michael O'Leary calling it "idiotic" and warning it would make commercial flights unviable.
But Easyjet said previously it would follow the practice to encourage more people to fly, and some Asian countries have made it a rule.
EasyJet has not flown passengers since late March after numerous countries brought in travel restrictions to fight coronavirus.
However, it is now flying to a limited number of mainly domestic destinations and will offer more routes from 1 July.
Mr Lundgren said the airline would offer about 300 flights this week, across 22 European airports. That is a fraction of the usual number, with the carrier having had to cancel around 47,000 flights in April after lockdown began.
He said not operating a single flight since March had been "devastating" and he was not expecting a swift return to normal demand, blaming the UK's new quarantine rules.
These rules force travellers to the UK to isolate for 14 days - something the government argues is key to stopping a second wave of the virus in the UK.
But last week EasyJet, British Airways and Ryanair filed a formal legal challenge to the rules, arguing they would decimate the tourist industry and destroy thousands of jobs.
Mr Lungren told the BBC: "I don't think people will travel to the same extent as if the quarantine was removed - we saw that in other countries where quarantines were put in place in the early phases of the crisis, there were hardly any bookings at all."
Airlines have been hit hard by the pandemic as international travel has slowed to a trickle, prompting many to announce job cuts:
EasyJet has said it will cut up to 30% of its workforce - about 4,500 jobs
British Airways is proposing to make 12,000 of its 45,000 staff redundant, with more than 1,000 pilot roles at risk
Ryanair is set to shed 3,000 jobs - 15% of its workforce - with boss Michael O'Leary saying the planned cuts are "the minimum that we need just to survive the next 12 months"
Virgin Atlantic, which employs 10,000 people, has said it will cut 3,000 jobs
Other European airlines cutting back include Germany's Lufthansa, which on Thursday said it would cut 22,000 jobs.
However, gradually carriers hope to get back in the air as restrictions are eased.
EasyJet plans to reopen half of its 1,022 routes by the end of next month, increasing to 75% during August.
Ryanair intends to restore 40% of its flights from 1 July, while British Airways is due to make a "meaningful return" to service next month.
Teague’s AirShield is a single piece of plastic fitted over the existing overhead passenger airflow system. The air flows out through a thin, curved slot instead of a pinhole. (Teague)
A leading Seattle design firm has unveiled a concept it claims will help stop the spread of the coronavirus in aircraft passenger cabins by redirecting the air that flows from above each seat to create an invisible barrier around each passenger.
As airlines struggle to restore confidence in the safety of air travel, the design firm Teague is heavily promoting its idea even though it remains an unproven and unapproved concept. “The AirShield concept is now entering its engineering development phase in anticipation of rapid deployment,” the company said in a statement.
In current airliners, the air that flows from the passenger unit above each passenger passes through a High Efficiency Particulate Air filter that removes 99.9% of airborne viruses and bacteria. That air stream, a mix of outside fresh air and recirculated air, forces the air breathed out by passengers downward toward the floor, and all the cabin air is recirculated every three minutes or so.
Both Boeing and airlines have argued this makes the risk of transmission low.
However, World Health Organization guidelines suggest that anyone seated within 2 meters (about 6 feet) of an airline passenger suspected after take-off of having COVID-19 should be kept under observation after landing until their risk is assessed.
The worldwide travel restrictions and lockdowns implemented to control the coronavirus pandemic have already devastated air travel. Airlines aren’t expecting an immediate resurgence in demand even as lockdown restrictions are eased.
One reason is the fear of virus transmission while traveling in a confined space, inhaling air potentially circulating around hundreds of other passengers.
Teague, which has worked with Boeing on its airplane passenger cabin interiors, has developed a concept to help address that fear.
It proposes attaching a piece of plastic to the overhead airflow unit so that the air flows out not through a small pinhole but from a thin, curved slot in the plastic.
While the traditional design produces a cone of fresh air flowing onto the passenger’s head as the air stream descends, Teague says its new concept, called AirShield, produces a curved “blade” of fresh air that surrounds the passenger at the side and in front.
Anthony Harcup, senior director of airline experience at Teague, who co-invented the concept, says the shaped downdraft of air will act as an invisible shield, forcing any air breathed out, even a sneeze, to fall to the floor before it moves outside a passenger’s seat area.
“By engineering the cabin airflow to manage each individual’s exhalations, passengers can have far greater peace of mind when seated nearby,” said Harcup.
The idea is comparable to the vertical “curtain of air” downdraft used at the entrance to many large grocery stores, casinos and other facilities to separate indoor air from the outside environment and to discourage insects from entering.
For airlines, this would be an inexpensive option because there’s no need to re-engineer the cabin. Teague’s device is a single piece of 3D-printed plastic that can potentially be snapped into place over the existing passenger air unit.
After the design is complete, the concept would still have to go through the required Federal Aviation Administration certification process.
If Teague’s idea is eventually certified to be deployed on aircraft, it would be one more in a range of safety measures that airlines have already rolled out to reassure passengers inside the cabin.
Alaska Airlines, for example, now requires all passengers to wear masks during a flight, is limiting inflight food and beverage service to reduce interaction between flight attendants and passengers, and is sanitizing the cabin with electrostatic sprayers that it claims will disinfect all the surfaces.
It’s too early to tell if these measures will be enough to convince most travelers that it’s safe to return to the air.
Embraer said on Monday it had secured a $600 million loan, partly backed by Brazil's government, at the same time as a key executive departed the planemaker weeks after a potentially transformational deal with Boeing fell apart.
John Slattery, who headed Embraer's commercial aviation unit, will become chief executive of aircraft engine-maker GE Aviation.
Slattery had championed the $4.2 billion Boeing-Embraer agreement, and was set to become a Boeing executive in charge of the Embraer partnership once the deal closed for Boeing to take control of Embraer's commercial planes unit.
But the deal fell apart in April, as the coronavirus ravaged the travel industry, leaving both companies pointing fingers at each other.
Embraer was left looking for new liquidity. The $600 million loan will be split half and half between state bank BNDES and private banks, the planemaker said.
Under the agreed-upon terms, Embraer will not be allowed to lay off any employees for two months after receiving the loan, said Marcos Rossi, a BNDES executive in charge of aerospace and defense deals, among other industries.
The loan has come together quickly in Brazil, where airlines and automakers have been scrambling to finalize a bailout deal. Both sectors have been clamoring for state help since March. Embraer began negotiations in late April.
Companies from both industries have balked at BNDES' requirements, which were significantly more favorable in Embraer's case. While BNDES has demanded airlines put up equity collateral and automakers secure loans with a pledge from headquarters.
Yet the state bank did not require equity from Embraer, which has more cash and less debt than Brazil's airlines and automakers, sectors dealing with years of losses.
"People associate Embraer with commercial aviation, but it also has other sources of revenue like executive jets and defense. That's a good competitive factor," said Rossi, explaining why BNDES was eager to reach a deal with Embraer.
To replace Slattery, Embraer said it was promoting Arjan Meijer, chief commercial officer of its commercial unit, to lead the division.
Slattery joined Embraer in 2011 and in 2016 became head of commercial aviation, Embraer's most profitable division.
(Marcelo Rochabrun and Rodrigo Viga Gaier - Reuters)
(Michael Carter Slide Collection / Kodachrome K64 Slide)
Captured resting on the Gulfstream ramp at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) shortly after arriving from the Factory at Savannah - Hilton Head International Airport (SAV/KSAV) in Savannah, Georgia in May 2004.
Once painted and her cabin installation complete she was delivered to International Jetclub Ltd. as VP-BLA on August 9, 2004.
The aircraft currently is operated by Comercial Aerea SA de CV as XA-GCH.
(Michael Carter Slide Collection / Kodachrome 64 Slide)
This lovely lady performed her first flight from the Lockheed Aircraft Company facilities in Palmdale, California on September 11, 1977 followed by delivery on October 2, 1977.
She spent her entire career with the middle eastern carrier until being withdrawn from use (WFU) and placed into storage at Al Taif (TIF/OETF) Saudi Arabia in 1999 and where she still resides today from what information I can get on her.
A VietJet Air aircraft skidded off Runway 25L/07R as it landed at Tan Son Nhat Airport (SGN/VVTS) in Ho Chi Minh City on Sunday (June 14, 2020), no passengers or crew were injured the company stated but did not indicate the number of passengers and crew.
VietJet Air reported the aircraft an Airbus A321-211(WL) (c/n 8215) VN-A657, was arriving from the Island of Phu Quoc, when due to heavy rain and strong winds skidded off the Rwy upon landing.
The airport was closed for two hours following the incident while crews got the aircraft removed from the mud.
Arrives at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) as "GLF17" from Dallas Love Field (DAL/KDAL) this afternoon. She started the morning by flying to Dallas from the factory at Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport (SAV/KSAV).
China Express Airlines said on Wednesday it had signed a strategic partnership agreement with the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) to buy a total of 100 ARJ21 and C919 passenger aircraft for delivery from 2020.
The Guizhou-based regional airline did not provide details of the number of each model it wanted to buy, but said the two sides needed to hammer out the contractual details later on, a corporate filing to the Shenzhen stock exchange showed.
The planned purchases of the domestically-developed aircraft are a boost to state planemaker COMAC at a time when the coronavirus pandemic is devastating global travel demand, prompting many airlines to cancel or defer aircraft orders with top manufacturers Airbus and Boeing.
China Express and COMAC will also deepen cooperation on aircraft design and optimization, maintenance and services, and overseas market expansion, especially in countries that have signed up to China's Belt and Road Initiative and African markets, the carrier said.
By the end of May, COMAC had delivered 25 ARJ21-700 regional jets, according to state media reports. The country's three biggest state-owned airlines last year announced deals to each purchase 35 ARJ21 jets.
The C919, China's bid to break the Airbus and Boeing duopoly in the narrow-body passenger jet market, is still in flight-testing phase after years of delay. It is expected to receive Chinese airworthiness certification next year.
The on-again, off-again
737 MAX drama continues. A key supplier was asked to halt work
related to the grounded plane, potentially putting the existing
timeline for its reintroduction to service, as well as total deliveries
expected in 2020 and 2021, at risk. The revelation is hitting both stocks. Boeing shares are down almost 10% in Thursday trading. Stock in Spirit AeroSystems (SPR)—the key supplier—is down more than 13%.
Spirit said on Wednesday evening that it received a letter from Boeing on June 4 directing the company to “pause additional work on four 737 MAX shipsets and avoid starting production on 16 737 MAX shipsets to be delivered in 2020.”
Spirit makes a lot of the fuselage of a 737 MAX jet, and the plane is its largest aircraft program. A shipset refers to all the work done on one MAX jet by the supplier.
The MAX—Boeing’s newest single-aisle airplane—has been grounded world-wide since mid-March 2019 following two deadly crashes inside of five months. Boeing has been working with global aviation regulators on fixes and hopes to start delivering the plane again to customers by the end of the summer.
The Spirit news might put that timeline at risk. Boeing only recently started producing MAX jets again after a long pause, having halted output after its inventory of finished MAX jets rose to about 450.
“Based on the information in the letter, subsequent correspondence from Boeing dated June 9, 2020, and Spirit’s discussions with Boeing regarding 2020 737 MAX production, Spirit believes there will be a reduction to Spirit’s previously disclosed 2020 737 MAX production plan of 125 shipsets,” adds the news release.
Less production in 2020 could signal a few things to investors. For starters, it could mean the MAX timeline is slipping again, despite recent reports that the Federal Aviation Administration was about ready to fly the MAX jets. FAA certification flights are a key step in the MAX approval process, but other things have to happen as well. Investors don’t know the order in which the FAA and other global aviation authorities will proceed.
The production pause could also mean Boeing will deliver MAX jets at a slower rate than previously expected. That would be bad news for cash flow at Boeing, and its suppliers, over the next couple of years.
Boeing referred Barron’s to earlier comments. The jet maker has said it plans to ramp MAX production back up slowly.
Before the second MAX crash involving an Ethiopian Airlines flight, Boeing was making 52 MAX jets a month and had plans to increase production to 57 a month in 2019. Now the company hopes to ramp back up into the range of 30 jets a month over time. That reflects the damage Covid-19 has done to the global aerospace industry.
Boeing stock is down about 38% year to date, worse than comparable returns of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 over the same span. Spirit shares are down about 57%.
Spirit generates a majority of its sales from Boeing, making the company uniquely sensitive to Boeing news. Other aerospace supplier stocks Barron’s tracks are down about 30% year to date.
The entire aerospace value chain is down Thursday. Aerospace suppliers’ stocks are off about 8%. Airline shares are down more than 9% on average.
Downbeat news about the spread of the coronavirus news and a negative reaction to Fed Chairman Powell’s comments Wednesday sent the broader market lower.