Monthly Archives: August 2018

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Swift Fuels Finds Own Path to Unleaded Fuel Replacement


Company to work directly with FAA on high-octane aviation fuel.

Swift Fuels has suspended its work with the Phase-II Piston Alternative Fuels Initiative (PAFI) — the FAA’s initiative to test and develop ASTM standards for unleaded replacements for the low-lead aviation fuels currently used in approximately 167,000 aircraft. Swift Fuels and Shell were the two finalists in the program. In June it was announced that the program was paused and delayed for at least one year from the original targeted completion time at the end of this year.

However, the announcement doesn’t mean that the company is ditching the idea of producing unleaded aviation fuel. Instead, Swift Fuels will work directly with the FAA and select OEMs on a high-octane unleaded avgas replacement that is not part of the PAFI program. The company has been testing its UL102 fuel during the PAFI program hiatus.

Swift already has an ASTM-approved unleaded alternative in the U.S. that can serve about 110,000 piston aircraft capable of flying on lower octane fuel – UL94.

“We’re hopeful our new fuel will be accepted by pilots as the ‘best’ fleetwide unleaded avgas alternative to replace 100LL,” says Swift Fuels CEO, Chris D’Acosta. “All our unleaded fuels are premium quality, reliable, intermixable for transition, and low toxicity – with no plug fouling or oil contamination – resulting in longer engine life and lower operating costs. At Swift Fuels, we expect all our high-octane unleaded fuels to be priced commercially competitive with 100LL.”

Source: Flying

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Topjets Worldwide Chooses OASES


New Italian scheduled airline, Topjets Worldwide, has chosen OASES, the industry-leading MRO IT system from Commsoft, to support its planned operations. Currently in the process of submitting its CAME for approval by the airworthiness authorities, Topjets Worldwide has recently acquired an ex-Etihad Airbus A340-642 for use on long haul flights from Northern Italy to India and other destinations.

Offering an industry-leading technical sophistication whilst still being intuitively user-friendly, OASES is structured in a modular format to allow for maximum flexibility and scalability. Topjets Worldwide has opted for the Core, Airworthiness, Materials and Planning modules with an option to access the Line Maintenance Control module at a later date.

All the modules will be implemented in Commsoft’s Private Cloud service, removing the need for the airline to invest in any additional hardware.

Nick Godwin, Commsoft’s Managing Director, commented: “We’re delighted to welcome Topjets Worldwide to the OASES family which continues to grow in numbers and geographical spread. This is the sixth new OASES contract that we’ve signed this year and Topjets Worldwide have become our fourth Italian customer. Initial implementation meetings with the airline’s team will start shortly with a view to the system going live in the autumn.”

OASES is currently being used to support more than 130 aviation operations in over 55 different countries, including national and regional carriers, business aviation and charter operators, cargo specialists, leasing companies, MROs and specialist rotable stockists.

Source: AP 

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Ethiopian Airlines Sets Sights on Stakes in Nigeria, Ghana


Ethiopian Airlines does not plan to stop expanding its pan-African network of bases following its recent agreements with the governments of Chad and Zambia to launch flag carriers in those countries. It has now set its sights on Nigeria and Ghana, where it has bid to establish two more national carriers in partnership with those West African economic dynamos.

“We are among a small group of airlines who have shown strong interest to partner with the Nigerian government in establishing the national carrier,” Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde GebreMariam told AIN. “We are one of the forerunners there.”

One-time flag carrier Air Nigeria ceased operation in 2012 due to financial difficulties, leaving Africa’s largest economy without a national airline. Ten years earlier Nigeria Airways, another flag carrier of Nigeria, liquidated and Virgin Nigeria, a joint venture between the government of Nigeria and Virgin Atlantic, also collapsed.

Ethiopian Airlines maintains technical and commercial cooperation agreements with other Nigerian carriers, collaborating with private airlines Arik Air and Medview.

Separately, the government of Ghana has invited Ethiopian Airlines to participate in a bid to establish an airline based in Accra. “We are also participating there,” said GebreMariam. “We have submitted our expression of interest and a business plan. As I understand there are also other airlines interested. They will let us know their selection.”

Ethiopian already participates in a commercial cooperation with the Ghanian government under which it expects to cover some international routes from Ghana. “They requested us to fly between Accra and London,” Ethiopian chief commercial officer Busera Awol told AIN. “We will start serving the Accra-London route soon.”

Less than two weeks ago Ethiopian Airlines and the government signed a shareholders agreement to relaunch Zambia Airways. As strategic equity partners in the national airline project of Zambia, that country’s Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) will hold 55 percent equity in the carrier, while Ethiopian Airlines holds 45 percent. The initial investment totals $30 million, and plans call for the new airline to operate 12 aircraft carrying 1.9 million passengers annually by 2028.

Meanwhile, under the August 24 deal with Chad, Ethiopian holds a 49-percent stake in that joint venture while the government of Chad retains 51 percent. Plans call for the Chad national carrier to start operations on October 1. Ethiopian now operates hubs in Lomé, Togo, with Asky Airlines and in Lilongwe, Malawi, with Air Malawi. It has also taken a stake in Guinea’s national carrier and has begun preparations to launch Ethiopian Mozambique Airlines.

“Our intention is not only to expand Ethiopian Airlines’ market share,” said GebreMariam. “We always decry the unfair market share of non-African airlines in the African sky. Eighty percent of the market is controlled by non-African carriers. Since we have not seen efforts to change the trend we decided to work hard to change the harsh reality.”

Source: AIN

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Eastern European MRO: High Ambitions, Expanding Range


The European MRO marketplace has grown and thrived. In our annual foray into the European market segment, we are taking a two-part look at the region. We start, in this first part, with a look at Eastern Europe. Next issue we will delve into the Western European segment.

While the Eastern European MRO market is much smaller than its Western European counterpart, it is ramping up to new levels of capability. These companies are agile, ambitious, and hungry for business. They are clearly laying the groundwork for continued growth.

Eastern European MROs have traditionally been strong in heavy maintenance since they have relatively lower labor costs, says Richard Brown, principal with ICF. But Eastern Europe is growing stronger in engine maintenance and MROs are rapidly adding services such as aircraft painting, component maintenance, leasing, asset management, continuing airworthiness management organization (CAMO) monitoring, and interior refurbishment.

The region has challenges, such as rising labor costs and competition from lower-wage countries. But Eastern European MROs are enthusiastically adopting new technologies – from 3D printing to augmented reality ­— and are winning new customers not only in the East but in Western Europe and Asia Pacific.

Poland soon will host two major new engine maintenance joint ventures. In 2017 Lufthansa Technik (LHT) and GE laid the foundation stone for XEOS, which will focus on the next generation of GE large engines, says Robert Gaag, LHT’s senior vice president for corporate sales EMEA.

The second Polish JV, put together by LHT and MTU Aero Engines in December of 2017, is Engine Maintenance Europe, or EME Aero, which will focus on overhauling Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan engines. MTU estimates that EME Aero will have an annual capacity of more than 400 shop visits for PW1000G-series engines – the same that power the A320neo family of aircraft. The facility is slated to be up and running in 2020, says Leo Koppers, MTU’s senior vice president of MRO programs.

Eastern Europe is a beehive of activity with companies such as FL Technics (Lithuania), Magnetic MRO (Estonia), Aeroplex of Central Europe (Hungary), and LHT in Budapest (Hungary) and Sofia (Bulgaria).

Analysts disagree about the region’s near-term growth prospects. ICF projects MRO demand in Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) will expand from 2017 to 2027 at a 5.5 percent compound annual growth rate, beating the projected global annual growth rate of 4.6 percent over the period. MRO spend in this region is expected to grow from about $6 billion in 2017 to about $10 billion by 2027.

Other analysts paint a less optimistic picture, citing economic sanctions placed on Russia as a deterrent to stronger growth. Oliver Wyman, in its 2018-2028 global fleet and MRO forecast projects that Eastern Europe will grow at 2 percent annually over the period.

Forecasts aside, Eastern European MROs are doing the right things. They are winning new customers, adding new services, adopting the latest technologies, and expanding their footprint to other corners of the world.

FL Technics
Late last year FL Technics announced contracts with Lufthansa Group airlines, Germanwings, for base maintenance and Swiss International Air Lines for base maintenance, engineering, and Design Organization Approval (DOA) services. Earlier this year it announced a similar agreement with another Lufthansa Group carrier, Eurowings Europe. FL Technics also performs line maintenance, component support, engine and APU management, CAMO services, and technical training.

In addition to new business in Europe, Moldova, and Russia, FL Technics is looking to Asia, where it is already an approved spare parts supplier to Asiana Airlines, AirAsia X, Nok Air, Bangkok Airways, T’way Airlines, and Indonesia’s GMF AeroAsia. The MRO has a hangar in Jakarta, Indonesia, for base maintenance and plans to open base maintenance facilities in Thailand and China, says CEO Zilvinas Lapinskas.

FL Technics has employed LEAN philosophy for more than four years, which has resulted in improved turnaround times and re-engineered customer support processes, he says.

Magnetic MRO
The Chinese firm, Guangzhou Hangxin Aviation Technology, completed acquisition of Magnetic in April 2018. “Following this … change in shareholder structure, we are creating substantial synergies and new business opportunities in Asia,” says Jan Kotka, Magnetic MRO’s chief operating officer.

Revenues have jumped from 50.5 million euros in 2016 to more than 90 million euros in 2017. Growth has been generated mainly from existing customers, Kotka says, thanks to new business models and services.

Magnetic’s newest facility is a paint hangar it opened in November 2017 at its home base in Tallinn, Estonia. The 2,853-square-meter facility features a “custom docking system” which can serve different aircraft types. The MRO provides commercial and VIP painting services for a range of aircraft, including the 737 MAX and the A320neo family as well as “all other narrow-body aircraft.”

Magnetic also has added asset management services through Magnetic Parts Trading Ltd., a JV with Crestline Investors formed in Q4 2017. The unit focuses on acquiring aircraft and engines for immediate part-out or short-term lease and subsequent part-out, Kotka says. This JV “has been our key leverage to support our expansion strategy to asset management … and to differentiate us from the low-cost, labor-intensive regional MROs.” So now Magnetic can not only maintain aircraft, but also lease aircraft and provide or lease new engines, he says. Magnetic qualified as a CAMO in 2015.

Magnetic already has booked 75 percent of its heavy maintenance slots in Tallinn for the 2019/2020 winter season to Austrian Airlines. The company also has added engine top case repair and bushing replacement, partnered with Kuehne+Nagel on global engine stand management, and teamed with Component OH Services for landing gear overhaul and repair. MAC Interiors, a UK company the MRO acquired in 2016, has provided entry to premium MRO services.

Aeroplex, meanwhile, provides base and heavy maintenance, line maintenance, aircraft storage, component repair, aircraft handover services, and even Wi-Fi installation. Recently it announced line maintenance capability for the A320neo. Its Bloomberg profile cites CAMO engineering, maintenance planning, and record keeping/archiving. The Part 145-approved station also performs major modifications of aircraft structures.

FL Technics agrees that AI and big data analytics, as well as information security technologies like blockchain, will be key for MROs. Blockchain technology promises to play an important role in record tracking, preventing the use of counterfeit parts and ensuring that documents aren’t altered, Lapinskas says. It also can save time for lessors during aircraft redelivery.
“And let’s not forget about artificial intelligence-driven chatbots,” which can help HR teams in searching through multiple on-line job platforms for potential candidates, Lapinskas says. Chatbots integrated within platforms like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber, and Skype “could automate many processes like AOG support, when the systems instantly react to an RFQ [request for quotation] with a quote and even allow [users] to order parts and set delivery locations.”

Magnetic MRO also is using augmented reality for livery visualization prior to painting, Kotka says. Besides introducing 3D printing into aircraft parts production, Magnetic is using HTC Vive virtual reality headsets and software to provide customers simulations of what the interiors would look like when changes are made.

Source: AVM

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Stratolaunch Announces Development of New Launch Vehicles


Spacecraft will be launched from the world’s largest aircraft.

Stratolaunch announced Monday the development a new family of launch vehicles to accompany their current air-launch system. Scheduled to begin service in 2020, the new launch vehicles will carry satellites to multiple orbits and inclinations on a single mission, in the hopes of making access to space more convenient, affordable, and routine.

Stratolaunch, also created the launch vehicle, currently the world’s largest aircraft. Flying has covered the development and testing of Stratolaunch since 2011.

The first of the delivery systems to enter service will be “Pegasus,” in 2020. “Medium Launch Vehicle (MLV)” is currently in development, and is set to make its first flight in 2022. Two more boosters, “Medium Launch Vehicle – Heavy,” and “Space Plane,” are also in development with unknown dates for their first flights.

“We are excited to share for the first time some details about the development of our own, proprietary Stratolaunch launch vehicles, with which we will offer a flexible launch capability unlike any other,” said Jean Floyd, Chief Executive Officer at Stratolaunch, in the release. “Whatever the payload, whatever the orbit, getting your satellite into space will soon be as easy as booking an airline flight.”

Source: Flying

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Portable, RapidDefect Measurement for MRO


Spectrum Metrology has launched a handheld gauging system into the UK for rapid micro-defect/corrosion analysis directly on the shop floor. The 4D INSPEC micro-defect inspection gauge (designed and manufactured by U. S. company 4D Technology) measures defects in 3D on large or complex parts such as inside bores, under flanges and in tight corners.

Traditionally, measurement of surface defects on the shop floor has been a choice between a subjective visual check or a time-consuming lab inspection. Using a patented camera technique for stability, the 4D Inspec is completely portable, allowing quick measurement, directly on the shop floor without the need for time-consuming replicas or dismantling of large parts

The 4D Inspec reduces scrap, decreases inspection cycle times and improves reporting.

The 4D INSPEC gives real data for 3D micro-measurement, quantifying pits, scratches, nicks, dents, bumps, porosity and corrosion on parts with complex geometries such as turbine blade sections (without the need for replication), engine components and drive train components. The system identifies features from 5µm-2mm deep over a field of view of 8x8mm (10µm-9mm over 15x15mm with the XL model).

Spectrum Metrology is the authorized UK distributor for this gauge and is offering demonstrations of its capabilities.

Source: AVM


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West Star Aviation Completes First Falcon 7X C-Inspection


West Star Aviation recently completed its first Falcon 7XC- inspection at its East Alton, IL, facility. In addition to the Falcon 7X C-inspection, which is the most comprehensive inspection for potential major maintenance for the Falcon 7X aircraft, West Star also performed a complete paint and interior transformation in addition to a Honeywell Ovation cabin avionics upgrade.

“We are pleased to continue to offer one-stop capabilities to our Falcon customers at all of our facilities,” said Eric Kujawa,

Kujawa,vice president, Falcon Product Development, West Star Aviation. “This is the first C-inspection West Star has completed on a Falcon 7X, so this is a milestone for the company and East Alton. We look forward to continuing to expand our Falcon capabilities at all four of our state-of-the-art facilities,” Kujawa continued.

Source: AVM

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SkyWest AirlinesBegins Trials


Erie Aviation announced that SkyWest Airlines has begun flight trials on several Erie Aviation product lines and STC’s. SkyWest Has began LED cabin lighting trials on its CRJ 200 fleet which will continue on to the CRJ 700 fleet if successful. Erie says it gives cabins a cleaner, brighter appearance, LED lighting also reduces bulb replacement, in-flight smoke issues due to ballast failure and cost. SkyWest has been using Erie Aviation (direct replacement) LED reading light bulbs during the past year and complete cabin interior lighting will complete the LED upgrade. Other CRJ200 upgrades will include the New EAI-2003SW Surface Mounted lavatory Faucet released by Erie Aviation this year.

For the CRJ 700/ 900 fleet, (along with LED reading Light bulbs), SkyWest has selected the Erie Aviation EAI 2000 Wall Mounted Faucet, a direct replacement to current Adams Rite / Franke Aquarotter models. EAI says with their unique bracket, retrofit is accomplished in minutes. The EAI 2000 /2010 units are lightweight, hydraulically controlled timed units, available in a variety of finishes, and colors. The units provide a competitive cost to current industry options and compatible on a variety of aircraft to include Boeing, Airbus, Bombardier and Embraer. These products are made in the USA.

Source: AVM

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NTSB Recommends Improved Consistency on Turbulence Reporting by the National Weather Service


Recommendations based on investigation into April 2017 Pilatus Accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board hopes the National Weather Service will create additional guidance for pilots about the hazards surrounding non-convective turbulence conditions, as well as provide additional formal training to NWS forecasters to encourage consistency of analysis, interpretation and forecasting of low-level turbulence.

The NTSB’s recommendations evolved from an on-going investigation into the April 2017 crash of a Pilatus PC-12 shortly after takeoff from Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport (AMA) in Texas. The aircraft departed AMA about 2348 local time as a Part 135 air ambulance flight on an IFR flight plan. The accident claimed the lives of the pilot and two additional crewmembers. The Board said the pilot reported level at 6,000 Msl about three minutes after takeoff but disappeared from radar a minute later. Witnesses reported a fireball south of the airport.

The NTSB investigation showed that low-level turbulence may have been present over Amarillo below 8,000 ft on the night of the accident, weather that may not have been passed on to the Pilatus pilot. While the NWS Aviation Weather Center issued several weather advisories around the time of the accident for areas near the accident location, there were no airmen’s meteorological information (advisories active for turbulence below 10,000 ft) at the accident location at the accident time of the crash.

During a visit to the NWS AWC a few months after the accident, NTSB investigators learned that different forecasters may have different professional criteria for the issuance of local turbulence advisories like AIRMETS, when convective SIGMETS already exist in the same area. The Board believes low-level turbulence is also not adequately covered in formal training for AWC and other NWS forecasters.

Although the cause of the Texas accident has not yet been determined, the NTSB said the safety risks associated with low-level turbulence are well known and that there should be consistency in the issuance of turbulence weather advisories for pilots no matter what altitude that might be operating.

Source: Flying

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FAA Again Extends MRO Parts-Approval Authority


FAA has rubber-stamped a one-year extension that permits U.S. repair stations with European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certifications to inspect and approve parts that do not have certain EASA-required documentation.

The move helps U.S. repair stations comply with a requirement in guidance–officially Maintenance Annex Guidance (MAG) Change 6–issued to support the U.S.-E.U Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement (BASA). Change 6, issued in mid-2016, requires all new parts entering a repair station to have an airworthiness approval tag—an 8130-3 in the U.S.

EASA’s rules for production-approval holders (PAHs) require issuance of a tag, but FAA’s PAH rules assume a part made under them is airworthy and don’t require specific documentation. Because of this, many U.S. PAHs don’t take the extra step of issuing tags, creating a potential issue for the 1,400 U.S.-based repair stations with EASA certifications. The issue will reportedly be addressed in MAG Change 7, but it is not clear when the update–once expected last year–will be in place.

The Aeronautical Repair Station Association (ARSA) says it “will continue to press regulators on both sides of the Atlantic in order to realize that long-sought goal.”

ARSA last year led a multi-organization effort to ensure the inspection authority was extended until this month. The new FAA policy, Notice N 8900.479 targeting FAA inspectors, mirrors the previous policy with a cancellation date of Aug. 7, 2019.

FAA has a related program in place to help distributors cope with parts in inventory that lack the required EASA documentation.

Source: MRO Network