Monthly Archives: March 2018

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AAR: Mechanic Shortage Could Increase Airline MRO Costs

Labor challenges prevalent, the aftermarket specialist says.

AAR Corp. is facing staffing pressure and could increase wages to help retain and attract enough mechanics at its MRO shops—a move that would increase costs for customers.

“We experienced some labor pressure” at two MRO facilities “as the market is tightening for skilled technicians,” AAR President John Holmes said on a recent earnings call. “We’re working to get a handle on this situation, and we have a number of initiatives underway.”

AAR has launched “recruiting initiatives” and is leveraging experienced workers to train new hires at the facilities that are most in need, Holmes said. He did not identify which shops are facing pressure.

The company’s U.S. heavy maintenance facilities are in Duluth, Minn., Indianapolis, Miami, Oklahoma City, and Rockford, Ill. A review of the company’s posted job openings shows it is recruiting at least a dozen technicians and several FAA-certified mechanics at each location.

While work to improve both training and hiring are underway, wages also will be evaluated.

“There are certain levels in the organization where we are looking into a compensation adjustments,” Holmes said.

While nothing has been decided, Holmes said AAR is talking to customers about “about potentially having to adjust pricing as a result of the wage pressures.

“The customers are very aware of this,” he added. “They all understand the dynamic.”

MRO-market labor pressure is neither new nor unique to AAR, but it appears to be growing. As the largest independent heavy maintenance provider in the Americas, AAR is well-positioned to feel the pinch earlier than some competitors. AAR’s 5,500-strong workforce includes 3,000 employees at its five U.S. heavy maintenance facilities.

A recent Oliver Wyman analysis projects that global demand for aircraft mechanics will out-strip supply by 2022. By 2028, industry is projected to need 10% more mechanics than it will have, based on current workforce trends.

In a related analysis done in collaboration with the Aeronautical Repair Station Association, Oliver Wyman found that the U.S. civil aviation maintenance industry—from parts distributors to overhaul facilities—employs 279,000 workers. The MRO segment makes up 75% of these, or about 212,000 workers, Oliver Wyman said.

Source: MRO Network

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ANA Inks Deal with HondaJet to Support Airline Flying with Business Aircraft


Bizjets will shorten travel times for connecting passengers.

ANA Holdings Inc., parent company of ANA, Japan’s largest airline and Honda Aircraft Company have signed a memorandum of understanding for a strategic partnership to expand the business jet market by using Honda Aircraft’s HondaJet. ANA will use the HondaJet for its charter and feeder flights to connect passengers with the airline’s existing network at major travel hubs in North America and Europe. The new service will drastically shorten travel time for passengers utilizing ANA’s fleet of 260 commercial aircraft on 85 different routes to 43 cities. The number of HondaJet involved in the MOU has not yet been disclosed.

Shinya Katanozaka, President and CEO of ANA Holdings Inc., said, “Through this strategic partnership and use of the HondaJet, ANA will create new demand to utilize business jets, in particular for travelers of various Japanese entities who value convenience and privacy in their overseas travel.”

Source: Flying

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Harrison Ford Among Dozens Honored at R.A. Bob Hoover Ceremony


AOPA also celebrated Dick VanGrunsven and several Congressional members for their efforts in promoting general aviation.

If R.A. Bob Hoover was still with us, he’d be proud to see the long list of notable people who gathered in Washington last week for the third annual award ceremony named in honor of the late aviation master. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, along with aviation industry leaders and elected officials from Capitol Hill, assembled last week at Ronald Reagan National Airport’s Terminal A for the event, presenting actor Harrison Ford with the R.A. Bob Hoover Trophy for his contributions to general aviation.

AOPA president Mark Baker said the trophy is presented to an “aviator who exhibits the airmanship, leadership and passion for aviation and life demonstrated by Bob Hoover.” Ford, a longtime AOPA member, summed up the freedom of flight in the United States as “a legacy” that was “particularly American.” He closed by saying, “We have a responsibility to provide safe aviation for all future aviators. God bless America.”

The Joseph B. “Doc” Hartranft Jr. Award, named for AOPA’s first president, was also presented to Reps. Steve Russell (R-Okla.) and Ralph Abraham (R-La.) for their leadership and support of GA in Congress. Baker thanked the representatives who “spoke out on behalf of GA in the fight against ATC privatization when it mattered most.” A long list of other Congressional members was also given AOPA’s Freedom to Fly Award for their dedication and actions in support of GA.

Looking back on his entry into aviation, Russell said he began his journey a year and a half ago and quickly realized the challenges of an aviation industry that served all types of aviators, both GA and commercial pilots. “Airspace belongs to ‘We, the people’—it doesn’t belong to anybody else,” he said. Russell, a former Army Ranger before being elected to Congress, commanded the Army unit in Iraq that captured Saddam Hussein.

Abraham concurred, adding, “It takes a village, and Steve and I are proud to be part of that village.” He was referring to the battle to divest air traffic control from the FAA, which failed on Capitol Hill. He said, “It was a fight and, thankfully, we prevailed.” In addition to being a member of Congress, Abraham is also a private pilot, medical doctor, veterinarian and farmer.

Richard McSpadden, executive director of the AOPA Air Safety Institute and a former commander and flight leader of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, presented the inaugural GA Safety Award to Van’s Aircraft founder, pilot and engineer Dick VanGrunsven. “Dick’s work stands as testament that excellence and safety go hand in hand,” said McSpadden.

Source: Flying

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Pilots say they spotted UFOs while flying over Arizona


Two commercial pilots flying over the Arizona desert claim they saw an unidentified flying object pass overhead, according to a radio broadcast released by the Federal Aviation Administration.

A Learjet pilot and an American Airlines pilot saw the object on February 24 and radioed the regional air traffic controller in Albuquerque.
“Was anybody, uh, above us that passed us like 30 seconds ago?” the Learjet pilot said in the brief exchange.
“Negative,” the air traffic controller replied.
“Okay,” the pilot said. “Something did.”
“A UFO!” someone quickly responded.
“Yeah,” the pilot replied again with a chuckle.

A second sighting

Minutes later, the FAA controller alerted an American Airlines that was flying in the area, according to the recording released by the FAA.
“American 1095, uh, let me know if, uh, you anything pass over you here in the next, uh, 15 miles,” an air traffic controller said.
“Let you know if anything passes over?” the pilot responded.
“American 1095, affirmative,” the controller said. “We had an aircraft in front of you that reported something pass over him and, uh, we didn’t have any targets. So just, uh, let me know if you see anything pass over you.”
“Alright,” the pilot said.
Shortly, the pilot radioed traffic control also reporting the mysterious object.
“It’s American 1095. Yeah, something just passed over us,” the pilot said. “I don’t know what it was, but at least two-three thousand feet above us. Yeah, it passed right over the top of us.”
American Airlines referred all questions to the FAA.
It’s unclear whether the object spotted by the pilots was a UFO. A FAA spokesperson suggested the object wasn’t necessarily something out of this world.
“We have a close working relationship with a number of other agencies and safely handle military aircraft and civilian aircraft of all types in that area every day, including high-altitude weather balloons,” the FAA spokesperson said.
The controller was unable to verify that any other aircraft was in the area at the time, the FAA said.

Was it a weather balloon?

A pilot said he did not believe the object could be a weather balloon.
When the air controller asked more about the object, the American Airlines pilot said he wasn’t sure “whether it was a balloon or whatnot.”
He only described it as having “a big reflection,” and “traveling several thousand feet above us, going the opposite direction.”
The strange encounter happened not far from Roswell, New Mexico — a town that became synonymous with extraterrestrial activity in 1947 after reports that a flying object crash-landed in a field.
Authorities said it was a weather balloon but that hasn’t stopped plenty of Americans from coming up with their own out-of-this-world theories.
Source: CNN

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Aspen Avionics Unveils Non-TSO’d Evolution E5 Display


The electronic flight instrument is intended to compete with lower-cost, non-TSO-certified products from Garmin and Dynon.

When Garmin and Dynon Avionics in 2016 received FAA approval to sell non-TSO’d electronic flight instruments to owners of Part 23 certified airplanes, Aspen Avionics – already a company known for producing low-cost avionics – grappled with how to respond. Now we have the answer in the form of Aspen’s new Evolution E5 flight instrument, introduced this week at the Aircraft Electronics Association Convention in Las Vegas.

The Evolution E5 display consolidates traditional attitude indicator, directional gyro and course deviation indicator into a single display that retails for just under $5,000. The E5 unit also includes Global Positioning System Steering (GPSS), air-data computer and attitude heading reference system (ADAHRS), as well as a backup battery in case of loss of electrical power.

Aircraft owners can also upgrade to the Evolution E5 display and a compatible TruTrak Vizion autopilot for less than $10,000, Aspen said.

Aspen says the E5 display is brighter and more vibrant than its previous Evolution displays, while retaining its unique form factor intended to keep installation costs down. Designed as a drop-in non-TSO replacement for traditional mechanical vacuum instruments, the Evolution E5’s display is a six-inch active matrix LCD.

“Like all Aspen displays, the Evolution E5 is configurable, upgradeable, and affordable,” said John Uczekaj, Aspen’s president and CEO. “The E5 can also be upgraded to a full TSO Evolution Pro 1000 flight display through an affordable upgrade path. Unlike other standalone systems, our versatile design and open architecture allow features to be easily configured to specific flight.”

The Evolution E5 unit can be upgraded via software to a full TSO-compliant display featuring synthetic vision and angle-of-attack indicator afger installation, if the buyer so chooses, for an additional cost. It will be available starting mid-year 2018.

Source: Flying

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Copa Plans To Expand Fleet in 2018

Flag carrier of Panama plans to grow fleet by 25% by 2020.

Copa Airlines is in a growth mode—it plans to increase its fleet by 25% by 2020—with the first of 71 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft arriving in August.

This year it should receive five 737 MAX aircraft, followed by 10 in 2019 and 22 in 2022, says Ahmad Zamany, VP technical operations, speaking at Aviation Week Network’s MRO Latin America event. The last of the 71 should arrive in 2025.

Zamany says entry into service (EIS) plans are on schedule and is confident from a technical perspective that it will stay on target. Copa, which started EIS tasks such as aircraft configuration in 2016, has issued purchase orders for the first batch of spare parts and tooling. Staff training is underway.

Its predominant fleet—737-800s–will cap out at 71 this year—up from 69 in 2017.

Its Embraer 190 fleet will decline from 20 to 19 this year and stay level through 2020, says Zamany.

Based on fleet reliability findings, Copa is the process of extending the 737-800 A checks to 90 days from 60 (with hour and cycle limitations), which will decrease aircraft downtime. However, the extended checks will require “a few additional task cards and a few that need to be done in between,” yet the A checks can still be completed overnight, says Zamany.

To accommodate the expanding fleet, the Panama-based carrier broke ground on a new maintenance hangar in 2017 that should be finished in the fourth quarter of this year, says Zamany. The hangar, capable of fitting three 737 Max 9s simultaneously, is a pre-fabricated concept hangar built by GMI of Mexico, which is also laying the foundation.

Source: MRO Network

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Baron App Adds Global Turbulence and Icing Forecasts


Turbulence forecasts can be created for specific times.

Baron, a worldwide creator of meteorological hardware, software and data, has added a 36-hour global turbulence and icing forecast data to its Baron Weather API allowing customers to create a vertical profile of both clear-air and in-cloud turbulence, icing and winds and temperature aloft, along their entire route all on the Baron website.

Importantly too, Baron allows customers to create turbulence forecasts for a specific time in the future. The new data product depicts clear-air turbulence at altitudes from FL 240 to 450 and in-cloud turbulence at altitudes from 10,000 feet to FL300. Also new to the Baron Weather API data offerings is a global forecast of future icing conditions at altitudes ranging from 6,000 feet to flight level 300.

Source: Flying

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Boeing delivers first 737 Max 9 to Thai Lion Air


Boeing delivered its very first 737 MAX 9 to Thai Lion Air. The MAX 9’s extra capacity will help the airline add several international routes. 

Ten months after handing over the first 737 Max 8, Boeing has now delivered the second major variant in re-engined single-aisle family with Thai Lion Air taking the first 737-9 in a 21 March ceremony in Renton, Washington.

The stretched single-aisle powered by CFM International Leap-1B engines completed a 10-month certification effort in January, clearing the way for the Lion Air subsidiary to accept the first aircraft from Boeing.

“The 737 has been the backbone of our business since we began and we will use the added capacity the airplane provides to expand our network and start additional routes to Bangladesh, China and India,” says Darsito Hendro Seputro, chief executive and chairman of Thai Lion Air.

Another Lion Air subsidiary, Malindo, took delivery of the first 737-8 and launched operations last May.

In addition to a stretched fuselage, the 737-9 includes the same package of upgrades that Boeing introduced with the Max family. To reduce fuel consumption, Boeing replaced the CFM56 on the 737NG family with the Leap-1B, added the dual-feather Advanced Technology winglet and resculpted the tail cone into a cleaner, circular shape.

“The Lion Air Group is the perfect example of how the 737 Max family provides a common fleet solution across the single-aisle spectrum,” says Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and chief executive Kevin McAllister.

The first delivery of the the 737-9 comes five days after the next major variant in the 737 Max family flew for the first time. The shortened 737-7 is scheduled to complete certification testing by the end of the year and enter service in 2019.

The 737-10, a further stretch of the 737-9, will enter service a year later.

Source: Flying

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Super Star Lockheed Constellation Project Moving to Germany


Lufthansa Technik will jump start major restoration effort after settling class action lawsuit.

About 70 mechanics at the Auburn-Lewiston Municipal Airport in Auburn, Maine, will soon be out of a job. The mechanics were hired to work on a major restoration project of a Lockheed L-1649A Constellation Starliner named Super Star, which has been in progress for more than a decade. But Lufthansa Super Star gGmbH, which is operated by Lufthansa Technik, has decided to disassemble the aircraft and move it to Germany by the end of the year.

The Constellation was originally delivered out of the Lockheed factory in Burbank, California, in 1957 to Trans World Airlines (TWA), which named the airplane Star of the Tigris to carry passengers nonstop from the United States to Germany. Star of the Tigris was one of three Constellations acquired by Lufthansa Technik for the project in 2007, and the one best suited for the restoration. Hundreds of people have worked on the Super Star project since its beginning in 2007, according to the Sun Journal newspaper.

Project manager Oliver Sturm told the paper that the reason for the move is because “the airplane is too complex to finish here.” But part of that complexity, at least, could be a class action lawsuit that was settled last year. A complaint by one mechanic, Christopher Venegas, against Lufthansa Technik North America Holding Corp. and Global Aircraft Services Inc., alleged that the mechanics were being paid regular hourly rates while working an average of more than 60 hours per week (overtime pay is required beyond 40 hours per week). The complaint resulted in a class action lawsuit, covering more than 70 mechanics, which reached a settlement last year.

While the mechanics won the settlement, the disappointment they feel is great. “I’m obviously sad about not being able to complete…what I actually set out to do,” Venegas said to the Sun Journal. “And that was to… watch it fly away.”

Source: Flying

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‘No big technology push’ required for NMA: Boeing


Boeing intends to employ “proven and understood” technologies, rather than radical new ones, on its proposed New Mid-market Airplane (NMA).

Randy Tinseth, marketing vice-president for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Industrials Conference in London today that the airframer envisioned, at present, an aircraft that would be “a little innovative” in terms of its configuration.

But he added: “We [would] wrap around this aircraft technologies that are proven and understood today – so no big technology push as we saw on [the] 787.”

Boeing is getting its “arms around the configuration” of the aircraft, which is to carry 220-270 passengers and have a range of 5,000nm (9,270km), says Tinseth.

He expects demand to come from operators of large single- and small twin-aisle aircraft. “We know that dynamic,” he says.

However, he foresees that the NMA will provide lower trip costs than existing widebodies – which are designed to carry heavy cargo loads as belly freight – with “almost” as many passengers.

Meanwhile, airport turnaround times will be closer to those of short-haul aircraft.

More than 50 international operators have participated in Boeing’s NMA studies, and the airframer forecasts demand for at least 4,000 units over the next two decades.

Tinseth notes that the manufacturer is not yet committed to the project and that “more work” is required to ensure “we have a business case that closes”.

Source: FlightGlobal