Monthly Archives: June 2018

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ATC Privatization: It’s Back


Pros and cons of the reform effort will again be open for debate.

In late April, much of the industry began breathing a sigh of relief that House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster’s (R-Pa.) last minute attempt to reintroduce a plan to separate the nation’s air traffic control system from the FAA’s core infrastructure role was pulled by the Pennsylvania Congressman.

Now, just 60 days later, a White House plan called Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century has again reintroduced the idea, this time through a reorganization of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Although the plan says the DOT doesn’t really need a major reform, it does label the FAA’s operation of the nation’s air traffic control system as in need of a “significant realignment” within the DOT.

At the risk of sounding redundant, the plan says spinning off responsibility for ATC to a non-profit organization will “better enable our aviation system to respond to consumer needs and modernize services.” The separation will also allow the new ATC system to create “better governance structures and insolation from the political system while allowing them to better assess fees based upon actual usage of the system.” The plan says credibility for the idea is simple because approximately 60 other countries around the world have shifted their responsibilities to non-governmental providers.

As in earlier proposals, the new White House plan offers no details about how the separation would actually occur or when. That lack of details alone was enough to quickly mobilize the aviation-industry alphabet groups to pen a statement calling reintroduction of the ATC privatization/corporatization plan a “failed proposal.”

The group, comprised of the AOPA, NBAA, EAA, GAMA, HAI and the NATA said, “Instead of focusing precious time and resources on what amounts to nothing more than a distraction to the aviation community, the Administration needs to support a long-term FAA bill like those passed by the House of Representatives and now pending in the Senate. These bills will take practical and significant steps to address many critical issues like aviation safety and modernization, which includes accelerated advancement of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) and needed aircraft certification and regulatory reform. Additionally, the Department of Transportation needs to continue its commitment to the NextGen Advisory Committee that fosters collaboration in an open and transparent manner and helps advance air traffic control modernization priorities and investments.”

The Reason Foundation’s director of transportation policy Bob Poole, a solid proponent of ATC corporatization, told Flying he too was surprised by the White House plan to reintroduce air traffic control reform. Poole said he quickly learned the Office of Management and Budget had actually, “been working on the effort for the past 18 months.”

In his monthly newsletter, Poole said changes to the ATC system are hardly a given even in a world where Republicans control all three branches of government. “In the hyper-partisan atmosphere in Congress today, good-government reforms that make a world of sense are likely to be championed by those of the President’s party and damned by the opposition. But even without that, there is the tyranny of the status quo. Congressional appropriations committee members from both parties, in both houses of Congress have opposed ATC corporatization due to loss of turf—the opportunity to make policy by having control of the purse strings.”

The newsletter also suggested that, “perhaps there is now a chance for the Senate to come up with its own version of corporatization, as part of the still-to-be-completed Senate FAA reauthorization bill. Or at the very least, to remove the Air Traffic Organization from FAA (and from civil service) as a stand-along DOT modal agency. That in itself would be a meaningful reform.”

Source: Flying

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FAA Allowed Unsafe Aircraft to Fly Commercially


A whistleblower’s complaints led to a federal investigation that uncovered disturbing shortcomings within the agency.

A whistleblower has come forward with allegations that the FAA allowed unsafe airplanes to fly commercial operations, according to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which said it investigated the complaints and uncovered troubling abuses from within the agency.

In a June 13 release, the OSC described that the whistleblower uncovered that the FAA approved certain aircraft to operate commercially without reviewing “critical safety information”, which, in the case of some of those aircraft, would have resulted in them being labeled unfit to fly. Additionally, due to errors in the Civil Aviation Registry, some airplanes have flown without valid registrations or airworthiness certificates.

Special Counsel Henry J. Kerner described the danger of these errors.. “When the FAA does not know the location of an aircraft, the owner of an aircraft, or whether the owner might be deliberately attempting to circumvent safety regulations, that’s a serious problem,” he said in the release.

According to the OSC and the whistleblower, the issue had been raised several times both verbally and in writing with the agency to no avail. After being unable to get the FAA to investigate, the whistleblower reported the issues to the OSC on December 19, 2016.

In addition to aircraft being allowed to fly in commercial operations without safety reviews, valid registrations and airworthiness certificates, it was also revealed that there had been cases of FAA employees and management receiving locality pay while not working at those locations. This had been reported to the FAA in 2015, yet it was uncovered that the issue is more widespread than originally thought, according to the OSC..

“Thankfully, because a whistleblower came forward, the FAA now appears to be taking this issue seriously and has initiated corrective action to ensure inspectors don’t cut corners and are better equipped to keep our airspace safe,” Kerner said in the release.

Source: Flying

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Bell and Safran Collaborate on Air-Taxi Concept


Futuristic VTOL will be powered by hybrid electric power plant.

At the Future of Transportation World Conference, which takes place this week in Köln-Messe, Germany, Bell Helicopter and Safran announced they are collaborating on a VTOL aircraft for the air-taxi market.

The futuristic-looking VTOL concept will be designed, developed and produced by Bell, while the hybrid electric power system will be developed by Safran. “Thanks to the long and sustained technology-development strategy conducted within the Safran group, we can now offer Bell our hybrid electric power solutions for their next generation products that result in improved performance giving more value to our customers,” said Safran’s senior executive vice president of R&T and innovation, Stéphane Cueille.

What that power plant might look like remains to be seen. While a conceptual cabin mock up has already been designed by Bell, it does not show whether the VTOL will be elevated by a traditional helicopter rotor or some other source of lift. The mockup of the VTOL was first shown at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January.

Bell’s director of innovation, Scott Drennan, sees the partnership with Safran as a major step in the right direction for the project. “Our work with Safran is a historical milestone for future transport solutions,” he said.

Source: Flying

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Airbus Adds A320 Capacity Amid Ramp-up Discussions

Aircraft manufacturer to open fourth assembly line in Germany.
Airbus’s ramp-up of A320 production has proceeded with the opening of a fourth assembly line at its facility in Hamburg, Germany.

The new line supplements other A320 production facilities in Toulouse, France; Tianjin, China; and Mobile, Alabama.

It will contribute towards Airbus’s output goal of 60 A320s per month from mid-2019 and, Airbus hopes, further increases of 70-plus aircraft per month from 2022.

“The inauguration of our latest, most modern A320 production line opens a new chapter in efficient, digital aircraft manufacturing,” said Airbus Commercial Aircraft president Guillaume Faury.

“With these new technologies we are building our aircraft more efficiently, a key enabler for higher production rates,“ he added.

Airbus believes that its A320 backlog of roughly 6,000 aircraft can easily support several years of production at higher rates than those already confirmed.

However, several key suppliers, notably engine manufacturers CFM and Pratt & Whitney, have cautioned about rushing towards rates above 60-63 aircraft per month.

“Is there enough capacity of the supply chain that you’re not going to see can see big bottlenecks?” Greg Hayes, CEO of P&W parent United Technologies, said earlier this year.

His opposite number at French company Safran – one half of the CFM alliance – has said it is too early to decide upon further increases

“I will feel a lot more secure to make a decision regarding a rate of 70 aircraft per month in the beginning of 2019 than today,” said Philippe Petitcolin, CEO of Safran, earlier this year.

“I think it would be foolish to do that today because we are still in the ramp-up and we are not 100% sure that our supply chain will be able to sustain such a rate,” he added.

The aircraft family is already projected to generate a large proportion of global MRO spend over the next decade to the tune of $252 billion according to Aviation Week’s Fleet & MRO Forecast.

Data suggests 37% of this spend will come from components work, followed by engine maintenance (31%) and line maintenance (17%).

Source : MRO Network

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Pratt & Whitney’s Predominant Engines

GTF set to become the primary engine in the OEM’s portfolio by 2030.

Pratt & Whitney will deliver about 2,500 geared turbofan engines in the next three years, says Chris Calio, president of Pratt & Whitney commercial engines. The engine family will become the predominant engine in the OEM’s portfolio by 2030.

However, the V2500 will still play a big role because 6,000 of the engines, with an average of 8-8.5 years, are in service today. Half of the V2500 engines haven’t had a shop visit yet, so the OEM projects about 1,000 V2500 shop visits per year for the next 7-8 years, says Calio.

Source : MRO Network

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Airbus to Acquire Majority of Bombardier C Series Program on July 1


Life line all but guarantees the C Series will be a serious world player.

In a press release, Airbus explained it will next month acquire most of the C Series Aircraft Limited Partnership (CSALP) comprised of Airbus, Bombardier and Investissement Québec (IQ). Bombardier describes its C Series as a single-aisle commercial jet aimed at the 100 to 150-seat market, built with advanced aluminum and composites and boasting 18 percent lower costs per passenger.

The main C series office and primary assembly line will be located in Mirabel, Québec and will use Airbus’s “worldwide influence to benefit production, marketing and sales of the airplane,” the planemaker said. The Airbus-Bombardier partnership was announced last October after the C Series project faced risks due to rising costs, slow sales and production delays.

“Airbus will work with its partners Bombardier and IQ to fully unlock the C Series’ potential and create significant new value for customers, suppliers, employees, shareholders and the communities in which the partnership operates,” Airbus said.

The C Series is projected to claim a significant share of an estimated need for 6,000 aircraft in the 100 to 150-seat market which will result in a second final assembly line being created for the C Series in Mobile, Alabama. This will aid supplying the aircraft to American airline customers, according to Airbus.

Alain Bellemare, president and CEO of Bombardier said, “Airbus’ unmatched global scale, strong customer relationships and operational expertise are necessary ingredients for unleashing the full value of the aircraft. Together, we will create tremendous new value and opportunities for airlines, suppliers, shareholders and employees.”

Source: Flying 

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The Countdown to ADS-B Compliance


With the clock ticking toward 2020, it is time to get serious about equipping for the ADS-B mandate.

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Two Ex-Singapore Airbus A380s To Be Parted Out

Decision to strip them down comes after attempts were made to sell the aircraft.

SYDNEY – Dr. Peters Group has given up hope that it can sell two former Singapore Airlines Airbus A380s and decided that they should be parted out.

The company is proposing to investors of two of its funds that own the aircraft that they should be dismantled for spares. That process is to generate around $45 million in funds for them. The engines are to be sold by the end of 2020 Dr. Peters said in a statement that it has held “comprehensive and intensive negotiations” with several airlines including British Airways, Hi Fly and Iran Air for new leasing contracts were unsuccessful. It also considered selling the aircraft, but came to the conclusion that possible deals were financially unattractive to investors.

Dr. Peters has been facing strong criticism by small investors who claim they have been misled about the market prospects of the A380.

The two aircraft are owned by two separate funds. A third fund owns two additional former SIA-A380s. A decision about their future has not yet been made. A Dr. Peters official stated negotiations were continuing for the two aircraft.

The decision to part out the first two aircraft is still subject to investor approval which Dr. Peters aims to receive by the end of this month.

So far, only one of  the five former Singapore A380s has found a new home: Portuguese wet-lease specialist Hi Fly has decided to take one aircraft that is to arrive this month.

Source : MRO-Network

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APS Creates Critical Issues Addendum to NTSB LOC-I Roundtable


Some LOC-I solutions continue to go unrecognized

Following closely behind the National Transportation Safety Board’s successful Loss of Control Inflight Roundtable, Phoenix-based Aviation Performance Solutions said a key reason LOC-I continues to be such a persistent and lethal threat to aviation safety stems from a number of misconceptions that continue to be either neglected or go unrecognized by agencies and organizations.

A recent APS report highlighted four critical issues the company said deserve additional attention, topics directly relatable to pilots flying aircraft in a variety of categories. APS hope the significant body of work on LOC-I and UPRT that already exists, can be used to more effectively prepare pilots to prevent and recover from unexpected upset events. APS said, “To continue to make strides toward mitigating the risk of LOC-I, we need to focus on incorporating existing U.S. and international recommendations to change what we are doing to train pilots.”

An international LOC-I consensus already exists. The International Committee on Aviation Training in Extended Envelopes (ICATEE), created by the Royal Aeronautical Society spent three years evaluating potential LOC-I mitigation options through training and technical research paralleling the NTSB Roundtable’s goals. ICATEE’s technical recommendations later formed the basis for changes to simulators slated to be instituted by U.S. airlines prior to March 2019. They were also incorporated into the International Civil Aviation Organization’s publication, Manual on Aeroplane Upset Prevention and Recovery Training (UPRT). ICAO later changed civilian licensing standards to recommend UPRT prior to commercial pilot licensing, regulatory changes already implemented by EASA. FAA has updated ATP licensing standards that include three hours of UPRT, although that entire training module will be conducted in a simulator. Next year, EASA will begin demanding UPRT training for advanced pilot ratings to be conducted in aircraft.

The aerodynamics, physics and human factors affecting LOC-I of large and small airplanes are more similar than they are different. While transport category aircraft often employ significant safety features such as fly-by-wire flight envelope protections, LOC-I still results in more airline sector fatalities than any other causal. For airplanes large and small however, LOC-I accidents often come down to the startlingly familiar angle of attack or energy mismanagement issues.

Flight simulation alone is incapable of demonstrating the full range of LOC-I factors. Because full-motion flight simulators perform so realistically in normal flight operations, pilots should not overlook two critical limitations when teaching outside the normal flight envelope such as slipping or skidding stalls leading to an upset.

The APS report said the Roundtable did not address one critical reality of simulators, that the dynamic and non-linear aerodynamics involved in slipping and skidding stalls are not well modeled by even the most sophisticated Level D simulators incorporating enhanced modeling. APS believes stalls in slipping and skidded flight are best practiced in flight with aerobatic category aircraft that provide a greater margin of safety.

During an unexpected upset the cognitive overload and physiological response pilots experience is often overwhelming, according to APS. Structured training incorporating a building block approach in an aerobatic aircraft can introduce essential skills and techniques in an environment of controlled risk. This not only helps pilots learn to cope with the threat response they will experience in an upset, but also assists in the retention of those skills.

Current licensing does not sufficiently address upsets. The NTSB Roundtable demonstrated a clear consensus that additional training was the most effective method of defeating the LOC-I threat. APS said, “The concept that professionalism should not be tied to a pay check was discussed, but for commercially-licensed pilots where a greater standard of safety is required, professionalism is mandatory.”

The FAA’s own Loss of Control Avoidance and Recovery Training Aviation Rulemaking Committee (LOCART ARC) recommended all pilots should receive comprehensive upset prevention and recovery training (UPRT) in actual flight, at the commercial pilot licensing level on light airplanes which are capable of performing the recommended maneuvers while maintaining acceptable margins of safety. ICAO agreed and incorporated it in the ICAO UPRT Manual and updated their licensing recommendations that take effect next year.

Source: Flying 

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MooneyShares Aims to Lower the Cost of Airplane Ownership


The program seeks to match co-owners in new Mooney Ovation or Acclaim Ultra models.

Shared-ownership arrangements are nothing new in aviation, but it’s rare for an aircraft manufacturer to offer such programs to buyers of new airplanes. Mooney International is testing the sharing-economy waters by teaming up with Partners in Aviation (PIA) to offer a program for new Mooney Acclaim and Ovation Ultras.

The manufacturer says MooneyShares co-ownership brings together two pilots from the same geographic location to own and operate a Mooney, cutting acquisition and fixed costs in half. Operators with “low-to-medium utilization” (defined by Mooney as 200 hours or less flying per year) will benefit most from the model, the company says.

PIA has “meticulously crafted” the MooneyShares model to mitigate the risk, access and exit details that have plagued other shared-ownership models where buyers work out all the details between themselves.

Calling itself the for business aviation, PIA starts by building a profile of the customer that defines their mission, location, budget and desired aircraft. The company then initiates a campaign to help find a co-owner.

The MooneyShares program is being structured to coordinate aircraft scheduling and maintenance and address tax, legal and insurance issues.

“Sharing an airplane has always made economic sense, but until now other risks interfered,” said Jeff Magnus, Sales Manager at Mooney. “We are definitely excited to offer customers this cost-effective option.”

Source : Flying