Monthly Archives: April 2018

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Red Bull Air Race Debuts in Cannes


Australian Matt Hall tops the podium after a fierce competition in the luxury resort town.

The Red Bull Air Race World Championships had its first competition in Cannes, France, over the weekend. But the three French competitors in the Masters Class: Mika Braegot, Nicholas Ivanoff and Francois Le Vot, got snubbed for the first opportunity to win on their home racecourse. Instead it was Australian Matt Hall who took home the trophy.

But Hall didn’t take the win for granted. “The way everyone is flying everyone can get on the podium and I believe there’s six people that could win consistently,” Hall said. “If you get four of those six in the Final 4 then any of them can win – every second counts, as you saw between me and Matthias.”

Matthias Dolderer from Germany finished second, inching out the winner from the Abu Dhabi race in February, Michael Goulian. While Goulian finished third, he remains the leader after the first two races in the eight-race series that is scheduled to end in November. Goulian holds 24 points, three more than Matt Hall.

The scoreboard could change quickly with Yoshi Muroya also nibbling at Goulian’s heels with 19 points. The competition is truly fierce. Goulian, who was the fastest in the Round of 14, was less than 0.4 seconds behind Hall in the Final 4. But Goulian would have been in fourth place had Muroya not received a time penalty due to an incorrect level in an air gate. Also, Goulian barely made it to the Final 4. Martin Sonka had a faster time than in the Round of 8, but was disqualified for a rule infringement. A post-flight inspection found that Sonka had exceeded the 2,950-rpm limit for 4.4 seconds.

Source: Flying

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Build A Plane to Use XCOR Assets for Build A Rocket Project


Non-profit will use rocket technology for STEM education.

Non-profit organization Build A Plane has acquired the assets of Mojave, California-based commercial space flight company XCOR, which filed for bankruptcy last year. Build A Plane will use the assets to build a school and to support its latest project: Build A Rocket, which is set to launch next year. According to a report by, the non-profit bought XCOR’s assets for just over $1 million, beating out Space Florida, which put a bid in for $1 million. Sage Cheshire Aerospace, which built the Red Bull Stratos capsule that Felix Baumgartner famously jumped out of in 2012, has partnered with Build A Plane for the project.

Build A Plane’s Build A Rocket project was launched recently and aims to provide an opportunity for high schools and college students to build high performance, 18-foot, high-powered rockets. Build A Rocket will soon be offering pre-maunfactured rocket kits to STEM education programs. The kits will be easily manufactured with the use of common tools, such as screwdrivers and wrenches, according to a statement on the Build A Plane’s website. These rocket kits will cost approximately $5,000 and should be available next year.

As with Build A Plane’s collaborative project with the General Aviation Manufacturers Association and Glasair Aviation, which sends high school students who win an aircraft design contest to Arlington, Washington, to build a Glasair Sportsman, Build A Rocket will select students to come to California to build “one very special rocket,” according to the statement. The project is slated to begin next year and students can sign up here.

Source: Flying

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Worldwide Airframe Heavy Maintenance Demand: 2018-22

Over the five years, demand for airframe heavy maintenance will be led by North America and Western Europe.
Over the five years, demand for airframe heavy maintenance will be led by North America and Western Europe, accounting for a combined total of 52% of the market.
Source: 2018 Commercial Aviation Fleet & MRO Forecast, Aviation Week Network. For more information, please see

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Investigation Points to Metal Fatigue in 737 Engine Failure


NTSB investigators found evidence of metal fatigue in the left engine of the Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 that made an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport on April 17 after the pilots initially reported an engine fire, then clarified that there was no fire but that engine parts were missing.

A woman died after an apparent engine explosion blew out a window and caused the cabin to depressurize, nearly pulling her from the aircraft, according to media reports. The passenger fatality was the first on a U.S. airline since 2009.

There were 144 passengers and five crew aboard for Southwest flight 1380, which had departed New York La Guardia Airport for Dallas Love Field. Southwest initially said the flight carried 143 passengers.

At a 9 p.m. briefing at the airport the day of the incident, NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said investigators immediately focused on a missing fan blade in the damaged CFM56-7B turbofan engine. The number 13 fan blade, one of 24 fan blades that draw air into the engine, was broken at the point where it attached to the hub. “Our preliminary examination of this was that there is evidence of metal fatigue where the blade separated,” he told reporters.

The engine cowling was found in Bernville, Pennsylvania, about 70 miles northwest of the airport.

Sumwalt said the NTSB wants to determine if the affected engine part is subject to a pending FAA airworthiness directive (AD) for certain CFM56-7B engines that would require ultrasonic inspections of certain fan blades. The agency proposed the AD after a Southwest 737 experienced a fan blade failure while flying from New Orleans to Orlando in August 2016. The flight crew landed the aircraft safely at Pensacola International Airport.

In June 2017, engine manufacturer CFM International issued a revised service bulletin that recommended one-time ultrasonic inspection of high-time fan blades “as soon as possible” on CFM56-78 engines.

Southwest CEO Gary Kelly informed Sumwalt that the airline will immediately begin enhanced inspection procedures involving ultrasonic inspection on its entire fleet. In a statement posted on its website, Southwest said it will accelerate its existing engine inspection program relating to CFM56 engines “out of an abundance of caution,” a process it expects to complete in 30 days.

CFM, the joint venture of GE Aviation and France’s Safran Aircraft Engines, said the CFM56 engine type entered service in 1997. The FAA issued a certificate of registration to the incident aircraft in 2000.

During the briefing, Sumwalt provided a timeline of the emergency landing. The flight departed La Guardia Airport at 10:43 a.m. About 20 minutes after takeoff, as the aircraft was passing through 32,500 feet, multiple aural alerts and warnings sounded on the flight deck. The two pilots donned oxygen masks and reported to air traffic control that they had a Number 1 engine fire, were operating on a single engine and were initiating an emergency descent.

“Because they were concerned with potential aircraft controllability issues, they elected to land the airplane with flaps 5 instead of the normal flap setting for a Boeing 737, which would be either flaps 30 or flaps 40,” Sumwalt said. “Once they were on final approach, they clarified to the tower that there was no engine fire, but they were operating single engine and they reported parts of the engine were missing.”

Asked about the significance of the lower flap setting, Sumwalt said: “That would mean that they were going to have a faster approach speed by a good bit, and they did that because of concerns about controllability.”

Sumwalt said the flight crew consisted of a female captain and a male first officer. Media reports identified the captain as Tammie Jo Shults, who was described by friends as one of the first women to fly the U.S. Navy’s F/A-18 Hornet fighter.

Source: MRO Network

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Avianor Parters with Lufthansa Technic, Increasing Facilities


The Montreal-based MRO plans to move into new facilities and could expand even further.

Because of our international partners,” responds Gérald Hotte, customer service director at Avianor, when asked why his MRO has the confidence in the aftermarket to expand facilities and grow its staff. “We are getting an increasing amount of work from international operators.”

One crucial partner of the Montreal-based MRO has been the Lufthansa Group. Avianor does heavy checks for Lufthansa Airlines and recently received other help from Lufthansa Technik. LHT will give Avianor access to its data in planning, engineering, materials and logistics, which should help it both make more attractive offers to customers and execute maintenance tasks more efficiently for shorter turnaround times.

And Avianor is making new commitments based on its confidence in sales prospects. In early April, it decided to move from three dispersed and rented facilities at Montreal-Mirabel Airport to one by purchasing more than 100,000 square feet of consolidated shops and office space. It is now renovating the new facilities and will take up occupancy shortly.

CEO Earl Diamond says there is more ahead. Demand is strong enough that he expects Avianor will acquire a second hangar near its new space.

Staff is expected to grow along with facilities. Although Hotte says recruiting new mechanics is “challenging,” in Montreal, as it is said to be in much of North America, he expects Avianor will increase its employees to 375- 380 by the end of 2018 from from 350 today.

The MRO’s offers are flexible enough to meet many demands. It performs heavy checks on narrowbodies and widebodies of both Boeing and Airbus, manufactures interior components, refurbishes cabins with new seats and inflight entertainment systems, and supports mechanical and electrical components. With its own design and engineering staff, Hotte says Avianor also will begin manufacturing 3D plastic parts for aircraft interiors.

Another sideline business is tearing down aircraft for parts and selling these parts. Avianor was recently chosen by a regular customer to disassemble nine Airbus A310s. Dismantling already has begun and will continue as the widebodies are retired through 2019.

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House Passes FAA Reauthorization Minus ATC Privatization


New legislation represents a bipartisan effort.

It took nearly a year of often contentious debate, but the U.S. House this week passed a long-term reauthorization of the FAA to replace the series of short-term extensions that have plagued the agency since 2015. The bi-partisan effort will run for five years.

While the new legislation did not include his controversial amendment to privatize/corporatize the nation’s air traffic control system, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) said, “Our aviation system is essential to our economy and to the American way of life. This bill provides many important reforms that will help U.S. manufacturers and job creators lead in a very competitive global marketplace. This legislation ensures long-term investment and stability in aviation infrastructure for America’s large, small, and rural communities, and it addresses issues to help maintain the safety of our system.”

Peter DeFazio (D-OR), the principal Democrat on the committee said, “I’m glad we finally had the opportunity to come together and introduce a bipartisan, long-term FAA reauthorization bill – a bill that gives the FAA long-term funding it needs to do its job and includes mandates to improve aviation safety, to continue leading the world in aviation research and innovation, and to make needed and targeted reforms to critical aviation programs.”

The legislation should on to the floor for full House approval.

 Source: Flying 

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Global 7000 Wins Red Dot Product Design Award


Judging focused on innovation and functionality.

Bombardier’s soon to be certified Global 7000 business jet was last week named a winner of the 2018 Red Dot Product Design award in Essen Germany. The Global 7000 was selected by the 39-person jury from more than 6,300 submissions nominated from nearly 60 countries competing in several categories. The Red Dot award honors innovation, concepts and visions. The strict judging criteria focused on the level of innovation, functionality, formal quality, ergonomics and durability, among others.

Brad Nolen, vice-president, Marketing and Product Strategy, Bombardier Business Aircraft said, “We like to refer to our clean-sheet Global 7000 aircraft as ‘the aircraft designed without compromise.’ The aircraft succeeds not only in elevating the overall in-flight experience, it also ups the ante for performance, speed and range, and it is clearly changing the game in the private jet industry.” When I speak about good design, I am referring to more than just an attractive product. All of the products are characterized by outstanding functionality.

Established in 1955, the Red Dot Design award is an international design competition and one of the most sought-after recognitions for design and innovation excellence worldwide. All laureates will be celebrated at the award ceremony in Essen’s opera house, the Aalto-Theater, on 9 July.

Source: Flying 

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Passengers aboard a Ryanair flight from Liverpool to Dublin on Saturday evening shared some Grand National luck: free drinks during the 43-minute flight.

The airline’s chief executive, Michael O’Leary, was flying home to Ireland after his horse, Tiger Roll, won the steeplechase in a photo finish. It was the owner’s second Grand National victory.

Flight FR447 was delayed by half an hour while waiting for the winning jockey, Davy Russell, to board the Boeing 737.

Mr O’Leary used the public address system to apologise for the delay, saying: “This is because we had to bring the Grand National-winning jockey, Davy Russell”.

After the passengers cheered, the airline boss broke a long-standing Ryanair rule by giving away free alcohol.

He said: “Today we won the Grand National so, unusually on board this flight, there’s going to be a free bar, which I am personally going to pay for, but you’re all restricted to one free drink only.

“So free bar, and we may need to do a circuit over Dublin to get it all done.

“Thank you and apologies once again.”

The average price of an alcoholic drink on Ryanair is £5, so assuming 180 passengers availed of the once-in-a-lifetime offer, the gesture will have cost Mr O’Leary £900.

As winning owner, he collected over half-a-million pounds from the victory. His shareholding in the airline is worth around £700m.

Before the big race, Mr O’Leary picked up another trophy for the Stayers Hurdle, won by 14-1 outsider

In the press conference after his second Grand National win, the Ryanair chief executive complained that he would “have to pay a fortune in excess baggage fees” to take the two trophies back to Ireland. The airline charges £11 per kilo.

Some passengers took to social media after the race to mock Ryanair’s reputation. “Tartantrums” tweeted: “Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary owns the horse that won the Grand National at Aintree.

“It crossed the finish line somewhere near Carlisle. Jockey was charged £5 for the saddle.”


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Shares in Norwegian, the rapidly expanding low-cost airline, have soared by one-fifth after IAG called its rival an “attractive investment” and sparked rumours of a possible takeover bid.

IAG, which owns airlines including British Airways, Aer Lingus and Iberia of Spain, has already bought 4.61 per cent of Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA. In an announcement, IAG said: “The minority investment is intended to establish a position from which to initiate discussions with Norwegian, including the possibility of a full offer.

The conglomerate stressed that no such discussions have taken place, that no decision had been made to make an offer, and “there is no certainty that any such decision will be made”.

“A further announcement will be made if appropriate,” said IAG.

Shares in Norwegian soared from €18.70 to €22.59, an increase of 21 per cent, while IAG’s share price initially dipped but then recovered.

A spokesperson for the Oslo-based airline said: “Norwegian has just been made aware that the International Airline Group (IAG) has acquired of 4.6 percent of the shares in Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA.

“Norwegian had no prior knowledge of this acquisition before it was reported by the media mid-morning Thursday.

“Norwegian has not been in any discussions or dialogue with IAG about the matter. Norwegian believes that IAG’s interest in the company confirms the sustainability and potential of our business model and global growth.”

Norwegian was created in 1993 by a former fighter pilot, Bjorn Kjos, who remains its chief executive.

It has grown to become Europe’s third-largest budget airline, behind Ryanair and easyJet.

Unlike its giant rivals, Norwegian has a big and expanding low-cost, long-haul operation, with a large route network at Gatwick — mainly to the US, but also including Buenos Aires and Singapore.

It has also launched transatlantic flights from Barcelona, the base for IAG’s Vueling subsidiary. In response, IAG set up Level, a low-cost, long-haul airline that flies many of the same routes.

Norwegian has also been cited by British Airways as a benchmark for costs on long-haul routes from Gatwick. BA is “densifying” its Boeing 777 fleet at the Sussex airport in order to become more competitive. In addition, on Wednesday it launched “Economy Basic” fares designed to compete with Norwegian’s offering.

A takeover would also strengthen IAG’s competitive position against low-cost, short-haul rivals, notably easyJet and Ryanair.

Mr Kjos recently told The Independent: “You will always see airlines come and go. Mostly you will see them go.”


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Claims by a fare-comparison website that “superstitious Brits” are shunning flights on Friday 13th have been flatly rejected by the three biggest airlines serving the UK.

Kayak claimed fares for Friday 13 April to Auckland are barely half the level for other Fridays in April. The firm asserts the average fare for departures to New Zealand’s largest city on “the superstitious date” was just £554 return, compared with an average of £1,049 on other Fridays.

The Independent has been unable to replicate Kayak’s results, or find any fares to Auckland as low as £554 return.

Looking ahead to the next Friday 13th, in July, the lowest fare to Auckland with a two-week stay on Kayak is £1,039 return. That is 4 per cent higher than the average of the other Fridays in July.

Kayak’s research on Friday 13 April also shows fares to Las Palmas on Gran Canaria are 42 per cent lower, with an average price of just £119 return from London to the island.

The lowest fare The Independent could find booking direct with an airline was £184 from Luton on Ryanair.

The fall in fares to Belfast was almost as dramatic, according to Kayak, with the April average of £107 return falling 41 per cent to £63.

British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair all compete between London and Belfast.

The Independent asked each airline for its assessment of demand on Friday 13th compared with other dates, and also if there was any effect on 11 September, the anniversary of the terrorist attack on New York and Washington in 2001.

A spokesperson for easyJet said: “There is absolutely no truth in this effect. Either for Friday 13th or September 11th”

British Airways reported that there is no drop in demand, adding that Friday is its busiest day.

Ryanair’s spokesperson said: “No, as always customers continue to book in their thousands. Every day is a lucky day for our 130 million customers, who enjoy the lowest airfares in Europe both on Friday 13th, September 11th and each of the 364 days we operate annually.”

On 11 September 2002, the first anniversary of the attack, numerous flights were cancelled, but since then schedules have operated normally.