Monthly Archives: February 2018

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Launch customer Qatar Airways has taken delivery of the first Airbus A350-1000, A7-ANA (c/n 88).  The jet was handed over to the Doha-based carrier, which was also the first airline to fly the smaller A350-900, during a celebratory event at the manufacturer’s Toulouse facility on February 20.

“Qatar Airways always demands the very best for its customers, so it is right that we are the first airline in the world to fly the Airbus A350-1000,” said Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Akbar Al Baker.  “This remarkable state-of-the-art aircraft will become a firm part of Qatar Airways fleet and will keep us ahead of the curve, allowing us to continue to offer our passengers outstanding levels of comfort and service.”

The jet is the first of 37 A350-1000s Qatar Airways has on order and is the first Airbus-built aircraft to feature the airline’s new Qsuite Business Class product.  The fuselage of the -1000 is 23ft (7m) longer than the -900, which in Qatar Airways’ chosen configuration provides 44 additional seats.  The jet has a range of 8,000nm (14,800 km) at entry into service and features a modified wing trailing-edge, new six-wheel main landing gears and more powerful Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 engines.

Fabrice Brégier, Airbus, said: “It is a huge pride for us to deliver the very first A350-1000 to our launch customer Qatar Airways.  Bringing major advantages in fuel and cost efficiency along with unmatched passenger comfort, the A350-1000 is the ideal aircraft to showcase Qatar Airways’ legendary customer service.  With its greater capacity compared to the A350-900, the newest widebody will play a major role on the carrier’s busiest long-haul routes and will contribute to strengthen their position at the forefront of the aviation industry.”

Qatar Airways is the world’s largest A350 XWB family customer with 76 aircraft on order and the largest A350-1000 customer.  It currently operates a fleet of 20 -900s.

The airline plans to debut A7-ANA on its QR15 service from Doha to London/Heathrow on February 24.

Source : Airliner World


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A research team claimed the plane would travel at 6,000km/h

 A team of Chinese researchers has claimed to have designed a hypersonic jet that could travel at 6,000km/h, five times faster than the speed of sound.The team from the Chinese Academy of Sciences said the plane would be able to transport passengers and cargo from Beijing to New York in two hours – the journey currently takes an average of 13 and a half hours.

Cui Kai, who headed up the research, published a paper on the new design in this month’s Physics, Mechanics and Astronomy journal, in which he said: “It will take only a couple of hours to travel from Beijing to New York at hypersonic speed”.

The team said they had tested a scaled-down model of the jet in a wind tunnel, and that it reached speeds of 8,600km/h with low drag and high lift. To compare, Concorde’s top speed was 2,179km/h.

The design, dubbed the I Plane, features two layers of wings to reduce turbulence and drag while creating more lift.

Talk of hypersonic travel has been ramping up of late. “It’s certainly within the realm of possibility,” Dr Kevin Bowcutt, senior technical fellow and chief scientist of hypersonics for Boeing Research and Technology, told NBC last month. “I think we have the technology now where we could actually do it.”

Boeing has dipped its toe in the water with its X-51A WaveRider, and it is now reportedly working with Lockheed Martin to develop a jet-powered hypersonic aircraft – although both are keeping schtum about the design.

Supersonic commercial planes – those that travel faster than 1,236km/h, the speed of sound – are likely to be the precursor to hypersonic jets. Boom Supersonic, for example, plans to produce passenger aircraft that can travel at MACH 2.2, or 2,335km/h, that will enter service in 2023.

These jets could carry 50 passengers, flying from New York to London in three hours and 15 minutes. But it won’t come cheap; fares are expected to cost $2,500 one way.


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Passengers across Europe face chaos as flight schedules are shredded by Siberian weather.

Eurocontrol in Brussels is warning of delays at airports across Europe. The air traffic management organisation predicts “moderate to high delays” at Heathrow from 1.30pm.

British Airways has cancelled 68 short-haul flights, mainly to and from Heathrow, in a bid to protect its overall schedule. Passengers were told on Sunday evening and rebooked on alternative departures.
BA said: “We are sorry that the weather this week is likely to lead to some delays and disruption to our schedules.

“It is likely at times we will have to proactively cancel some services and re-book customers on to alternative flights.”

The airline aims to protect its long-haul schedule. Passengers on short-haul and domestic flights to or from Heathrow or Gatwick up to Friday 2 March are able to reschedule for travel up to 21 March.

British Airways added: “Please keep checking the very latest information about your flight before travelling to the airport as the situation could change at short notice.”

An overnight snowfall in Rome has severely affected flights to and from the city’s Fiumicino and Ciampino airports. No flights operated at the latter airport, used by budget airlines, until 11am local time.

Ryanair cancelled almost 50 flights to and from the Italian capital, including two round trips to Stansted and one to Manchester.

Services on easyJet from Gatwick and Luton to Rome Fiumicino are operating with delays of one to two hours.

Alitalia, whose hub is at Fiumicino, has experienced many delays and cancellations. It is offering passengers booked up to 2 March to rebook on alternative flights.

Stockholm’s Arlanda airport is also badly affected by snow. Most UK services are being heavily delayed, but dozens of other European flights have been cancelled.

Lanzarote’s airport is also affected by strong winds, with many flights cancelled or severely delayed. Ryanair flights to Belfast, East Midlands and Liverpool are expected to operate around 10 hours late.

Passengers whose flights are cancelled or heavily delayed by bad weather are not entitled to cash compensation, but the airline has a duty of care to provide meals and, if necessary, overnight accommodation to stranded travellers.


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Major U.S. Carrier Goes Paperless On Task Cards


It becomes the first scheduled airline to be approved by FAA for both electronic routine and non-routine maintenance task cards.

All aviation firms would like to get rid of the masses of paper maintenance documents, but going paperless has been a struggle. Now the FAA has approved EmpowerMX’s FleetCycle electronic task cards for a major airline. EmpowerMX Senior VP Mark Shulz says this is the first scheduled airline to be approved by FAA for both electronic routine and non-routine maintenance task cards. He reports past implementations of these digital cards have reduced check labor 10-42% and turnaround times by 20%.

The digital cards will work seamlessly with FleetCycle’s production manager software, giving real-time visibility of task completion and streamlining audit and record functions. E-signatures will be recorded. Fully electronic task cards are stored automatically, eliminating scanning and indexing of paper cards.

More adoptions probably lie ahead. The FleetCycle MRO Manager, which can create and manage electronic task cards, is used by carriers such as American, Delta, United and Southwest as well as Embraer, AAR and Coopesa.

Shulz says his last two implementation of electronic task cards took 14 weeks and 16 weeks. “This is typical of the first phases of implementation. Follow-on phases and integrations can take three to four months, depending on program complexity.”

The FleetCycle software can also support a hybrid maintenance system that combines paper cards, electronic management of paper cards and fully electronic cards. E-signatures can be applied wherever possible. “For example, if full electronic work instructions are available in XML, total automation can occur with electronic sign offs at a step level in the task card,” Shulz explains.

The biggest hurdle to using e-signatures is thus availability of electronic data. Generally, electronic bills of work or work orders are always available. Where electronic task content is available, a full electronic process can be created with e-signatures. “As electronic data is increased, a full electronic process can be implemented,” Shulz explains.

The FleetCycle software focuses on production efficiency and is very advanced in this area. It can integrate with other MRO or ERP systems that handle maintenance programs, configuration, materials and logistics.

Having worked with about a hundred airlines and MROs over the years, EmpowerMX staff estimate that 95% of maintenance providers and operators still use paper work cards. Shulz sees that as a “tremendous opportunity” for electronic task cards and e-signatures.

In any case, EmpowerMX has been growing steadily and expects to continue that growth. New contracts in Latin America are being implemented in the first quarter of 2018, and Shulz sees increased acceptance of electronic maintenance data and e-signatures in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middles East and Africa.

Source: MRO Network

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BA’s performance hampered by power outage in May 2017


IAG, the parent company of British Airways, has reported “a very good full year performance” – with even better results predicted for 2018 at current fuel prices and exchange rates.

The airline group, which also includes Aer Lingus, Iberia, Level and Vueling, has reported an operating profit of €3,015m (£2,655m) before exceptional items for 2017. The figure is 18.9 per cent higher than 2017.

Willie Walsh, the chief executive, said: “All our airlines performed extremely well with their best-ever individual financial results, strong operational performances and commitment to customer service.”

He said the turnaround at the Spanish low-cost subsidiary, Vueling, which had a torrid 2016, had been “particularly outstanding”.

Revenue rose 1.8 per cent across the group, though it fell 1 per cent relative to available seat kilometres. The “seat factor” – the proportion of capacity filled – increased by 1 per cent to 82.6 per cent, ahead of the IATA worldwide average.

Costs at British Airways increased, due to more expensive “pay-as-you-go” engine contracts, higher maintenance costs because of additional flying, and compensation arising from the power outage in May 2017 which wrecked the travel plans of hundreds of thousands of BA passengers over a bank-holiday weekend.

British Airways is expanding aggressively at Gatwick, having acquired the slots previously used by Monarch at the Sussex airport. It is believed to have paid more than £50m for the take-off and landing rights, which will increase the number of flights by 28 per cent.

Alex Cruz, chief executive and chairman of BA, said the new slots would be used for European flights in 2018: “The focus this year is short haul. You’ll see increase in frequency to well-known destinations.

“In terms of ambition, there are opportunities to grow our very, very successful long-haul network from Gatwick.”

In a webcast, Mr Walsh repeated his opposition to any increase in charges at Heathrow to pay for a third runway, saying: “We think the airport can be expanded without any increase in passenger charges.

“Heathrow has said ‘We can do this for £14bn’. We think that is excessive.”

On Thursday, Heathrow’s chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, said: “For Britain to thrive post-Brexit, the Government needs to crack on with Heathrow expansion as quickly as possible with a vote in Parliament before the summer.”

The largest part of the IAG network is represented by North America, at almost 30 per cent. Transatlantic capacity was increased with new flights from Aer Lingus, British Airways and Level, which launched from Barcelona in June 2017.

Next month a new Level route from Barcelona to Boston will begin, replacing Punta Cana, with a new base at Paris Orly offering services to Montreal, New York and the French Caribbean islands of Guadaloupe and Martinique.

Mr Walsh said: “Level has exceeded our expectations. It gives us significant advantages over our competitors.

“Our plan in the short term is getting to about 15 aircraft.”

IAG has recommended a dividend of €0.145 per share, bringing the full-year dividend to €0.27. “With the dividend and share buyback, we returned more than €1bn [£880m] to our shareholders last year,” said Mr Walsh.

“Our confidence in IAG’s future remains undaunted and today we’re announcing our intention to undertake a share buyback of €500m [£440m] during 2018.”

George Salmon, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Cheap fuel and stronger economic growth have helped IAG fly with tailwinds over 2017.

“However, neither of these factors are under IAG’s control, so to some extent, the group’s recent success has been a function of being in the right place at the right time.

“What investors will really crave is underlying improvements, not shots in the arm from favourable external factors.”

The euro and sterling have strengthened against the US dollar by more than 10 per cent over the past year, making fuel and aircraft leases priced in dollars cheaper.


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Someone watched a Space X launch from a plane and people are in awe over the footage


A Redditor who managed to capture Thursday’s Space X satellite launch from a plane flying to Los Angeles – said it was “an awesome start” to their morning.

Almost every Space X launch is exciting, but this week’s was made extra interesting after it emerged that a ship with a huge net was going to be patrolling the sea to catch the rocket as it descended back to Earth.

While many of us watched from the ground online, the lucky passenger looked on thousands of feet in the air as the spacecraft left the atmosphere.

Thankfully, user tkMagus, who says they saw the rocket from their plane, posted the clip online:

Other Redditors were in awe over the footage.

Willmcavoy said:

Looking at this though, I had this amazing feeling. This sight is going to be common in a couple decades. We will watch regular launches to space, just as we see airliners take off today. My kids will be used to it, but it will never not leave me in awe.


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United Airlines ends NRA partnership and tells group to remove airline’s details from website, as anger mounts over gun laws


United Airlines has ended a discount agreement with the National Rifle Association, as companies across the US cut ties with the pro-guns group in the wake of the school shooting in Florida.

“United is notifying the NRA that we will no longer offer a discounted rate to their annual meeting and we are asking that the NRA remove our information from their website,” the airline said on Twitter.

The move came shortly after rival airline Delta announced a similar move, ending the NRA’s contract for discounted rates through their group travel programme.

The NRA’s website still stated on Saturday that it had contracted special flight discounts with Delta and United, the second- and third-biggest airlines in the world, respectively.

At least seven other major American companies have cut ties with the organisation since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 students and staff members were killed by a lone gunman with an assault

As the largest gun-rights lobbying group in the US, the NRA has become a focal point for those advocating for stricter gun control in the wake of the shooting. Several students survivors have backed calls for a boycott of the organisation, boosting the cause on social media.

“#BoycottTheNRA because our lives shouldn’t be measured in dollars,” tweeted student Sarah Chadwick, an outspoken advocate for gun reform.

Classmate David Hogg went farther, saying that politicians who took money from the NRA should be voted out of office.

“If our elected officials are not willing to stand up and say, ‘I’m not going to continue to take money from the NRA because children are dying’, they shouldn’t be in office and they won’t be in office because this is a midterm year and this is the change that we need,” he told CNN.

Car rental companies like Enterprise and Hertz, and moving companies like Allied Van Lines and North American Van Lines have all ended partnerships with the organisation amid the backlash.

NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre defended the organisation this week at a major conservative political conference, claiming that gun-control advocates wanted to “get rid of the second amendment” and make Americans “less free”.

“They don’t care if their laws work or not,” he said in a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference. “They just want get more laws to get more control over people.”

President Donald Trump also defended the organisation on Twitter, saying their employees were “great people and great American patriots” who would “do the right thing”.

The president has suggested several gun control measures that put him at odds with the organisation, including raising the minimum age for assault rifle purchases and expanding background checks. He has also suggested arming teachers in order to discourage school shooters.


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Cirrus, Daher and Honda Record Robust 2017 Sales


The year 2017 closed with companies evaluating their successes and failures. In a year that saw only a slight increase in the total number of airplanes delivered, Cirrus and Daher boasted the strongest numbers since the market crashed about a decade ago, while Honda Aircraft boasted producing the best-selling light jet in the market.

With the ramp-up in deliveries of the recently certified Vision SF50 jet, Duluth, Minnesota-based Cirrus had a great year, both on the jet side and on the piston side. The company delivered 22 Vision Jets in 2017 along with 355 SR20s, SR22s and SR22Ts combined, an increase of nearly 12 percent over the previous year for the piston models. Cirrus now owns nearly 30 percent of the piston airplane market share and delivered dozens more pistons than Textron Aircraft, which combines the models of former light airplane behemoths Cessna and Beechcraft.

While this is a promising trend for Cirrus, the number is a far cry from the 710 SR-series airplanes that Cirrus delivered in 2007. Cirrus expects to deliver its 7,000th SR-series airplane in April.

Daher has also been on a steady rise in the past few years with the introduction of its latest offerings: the TBM 910 and 930. The company delivered 57 TBMs, nearly catching up with the 60 airplanes that flew away from the factory in Tarbes, France, in 2008.

Honda Aircraft noted that the HondaJet was the most delivered jet in its category last year, with 43 delivered to customers in North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia.

Source: Flying 

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FLYOX Mark II Amphibious Drone Cleared for Flight Trials in Kansas


The FAA has approved testing of the unusual flying boat, which designers view as primed for dangerous roles like firefighting and aerial application.

When we think of drones we tend to conjure images of miniature quadcopters flitting across the sky. That’s what makes the new FLYOX Mark II amphibious cargo drone so unusual. First, the thing is massive, with a ramp weight of 8,800 pounds and a 35-foot wingspan. It’s also the only drone we know of that’s also a taildragger and flying boat and a twin.

Last month the FAA approved a Certificate of Authorization (CoA) to set up flight operations for what is being touted the world’s largest commercial drone at Herington Airport in Kansas. Unmanned Aircraft International (UAI) headquartered in Casper, Wyoming, and Singular Aircraft of Barcelona, Spain, plan on flight testing the FLYOX Mark II Cargo Utility Drone, which its designers see as a safer alternative to risky flight ops like firefighting, crop dusting and search and rescue. The drone is expected to arrive in the United States from Spain in April.

Firefighting is seen as its main role, with a 530-gallon liquid tank about the same size as many other manned aircraft used to put out forest fires. The large tank also makes the FLYOX ideal for aerial application of crops, making Kansas a perfect place to test the drone. And because the tank can also carry fuel, the FLYOX could stay aloft for 50 hours at a time for SAR ops that would be impossible with a human crew.

The FLYOX doesn’t come cheap, however. Projected selling price is around $1 million a piece, making it one of the priciest civilian drones ever conceived. Plans call for building the aircraft in Kansas.

Source: Flying

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Airlines Investing In Interiors: What, When And Why

How and why aircraft interiors are evolving with the mix of airline service offerings

As airlines continue to make changes in onboard service, the industry is engaged in a wave of cabin make-overs and modifications.

In fact, spending on cabin interiors is projected to exceed $2 billion for narrowbody and widebody aircraft in 2026—double the amount spent in 2016—according to data from ICF in London. This trend, reports ICF, is driven by Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 upgrades and the introduction of next-generation jets such as the A350, Boeing 787 and the new 777X.

“Interior retrofit markets along with passenger-to- freighter conversions will have the highest growth rates for narrowbody aircraft, while the majority of the growth on the widebodies will be cabin systems upgrades where there are connectivity opportunities,” says ICF Principal Richard Brown.

He explains that a new aircraft’s entry into service with a carrier’s fleet also provides MRO opportunities for standardized, fleet-wide cabin interior modifications. “It’s all about maintaining a consistent brand image and capturing lucrative higher-yield business travelers,” Brown notes. “If a new business, premium-economy or economy-class cabin is installed on a new aircraft such as the 787 or the A350, some airlines may choose to upgrade their existing aircraft—such as A330s or 777s—to provide a similar look and feel.”

Brown also reports that airline profitability is having a major impact on discretionary spending for upgrades. “Recent profits have allowed airlines to spend more on discretionary items such as new connectivity, larger overhead bins and mood lighting,” he explains.

Kent Craver, regional director of cabin experience for Boeing Commercial Airplanes in Seattle, agrees that the interiors installed in newly delivered aircraft are a catalyst for upgrades and changes to aircraft already in service. However, he points out that the main focus of cabin innovations today is on business class and the growing number of premium-economy installations.

According to Craver, business class represents “an interesting evolution” in that it has essentially replaced first-class service on many aircraft. To illustrate, he says that prior to 2008, about 70% of 777s were fitted with first-class cabins, but during the first seven months of 2017, only 22% of deliveries of new 777s and 787s were so equipped. “In 2008, a business-class cabin with full-flat seats accounted for 65% of our 777 deliveries, but with the exception of those low-cost carriers operating 777s and 787s, that number increased to nearly 100% of the 777s and 787s delivered in 2017, through July of that year,” he remarks.

The Upsell

At the opposite end of the spectrum, a high-density economy service is another emerging trend, offering fewer amenities than standard economy, with additional seat rows and narrower seat pitch, according to Michael Planey, co-founder of HMPlaney Consultants in Alexandria, Virginia.

“To address this market, the seating manufacturers are developing new narrower seats with thinner cushions, so that a standard level of passenger comfort can be maintained as the seat pitch declines,” he explains.

Planey emphasizes that the airlines—not the seat designers—are driving the trend toward more compact seats, based on the revenue performance they want to achieve. “The low-cost carriers have essentially changed the airline market, and the legacy carriers have tried to match the lower end of the market where they can,” he remarks. “You may now see situations where an airline may offer 4-5 levels of service within the same aircraft. There may be as many as three types of economy class, a business class and maybe even a first class.”

Planey ventures a provocative opinion underlying this trend: “While there are some passengers who will willingly purchase a less-than-standard economy service, the airlines are also using a higher-density economy section to encourage customers to move up to the next class of service—standard coach—and pay more money for it. It’s really a hidden fare increase,” he remarks.

The same thinking may, according to Planey, be applicable to a decision to install larger baggage storage bins, which Boeing and Airbus, are offering on the 737 MAX and A320neo, respectively.

“There is some debate about the value of more overhead storage capacity because a checked bag is yet another revenue source for the airline,” he says. “Often, by the time a passenger’s boarding group is called, the agent may announce there is no further room for carry-ons and require a gate check—for an extra fee. There’s plenty of evidence that two trends involving aircraft interior design are happening. One is to encourage more passengers to upgrade to a more roomy area of the cabin, and the other is to force them to do gate checks.”

Earl Diamond, CEO of Avianor in Montreal, concurs. “The complaints airlines have gotten about narrow seat pitch in economy class have opened an opportunity to upsell to a premium economy or business-class cabin,” he reports. This is creating opportunities for MROs to do a lot of cabin fine-tuning—especially on narrowbody aircraft where premium cabins are being installed.

Diamond says that over the past three years, he has observed the addition of “some kind of premium cabin” on long-haul, low-cost widebody carriers. “They have discovered that people are willing to pay a little more for extra room,” he says. “For example, we have been reconfiguring [Reykjavik, Iceland-based] WOW air’s A330s with a premium cabin.”

Asked if there is a rule of thumb concerning the number of seats long-haul, low-cost carriers usually devote to a premium cabin on a widebody aircraft, Diamond says that while it is airline-specific, a good rule of thumb would be about 10% of the total seats.

Inflight Connectivity

Along with modifications focused on coach and premium-service cabins, Gary Weissel, managing officer of Tronos Aviation Consulting in Atlanta, cites inflight connectivity as a major trend in cabin retrofits.

Traditionally, cabin connectivity took the form of a hard drive providing the passenger with content from the airline, displayed on seatback screens. That, however, is giving way to an internet connection, via downlink to a ground-based station or a satellite link, allowing passengers to use their own devices. “The trend is more toward a satellite service because it provides higher speed and is becoming available at lower cost, since there are many more companies coming into the market. The prices are dropping from what they were a few years ago,” says Weissel.

U.S. mainline air carriers offer connectivity, but in an effort to create a seamless passenger experience, they are asking their regional partners to provide the same service. “A very large program is now in progress to bring inflight connectivity to regional aircraft,” he says. “U.S. carriers are also looking to upgrade connectivity for better speed, in an effort to stream more data. The older systems installed as much as 10 years ago are being phased out.”

Outside of the U.S., Weissel sees tremendous retrofit market potential, where 70-75% of non-U.S. carriers still do not offer inflight connectivity. “There is a massive rush among the non-U.S. airlines to install it, with most opting for satellite-based systems,” he notes.

Source : MRO Network