Monthly Archives: December 2018

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SpaceShipTwo Readied for Space


Crew should experience near zero gravity conditions.

The next test flight of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo from Mojave Space Port California could happen as soon as today or tomorrow according to a statement from the company. The VSS Unity is expected to carry its test-pilot crew to the beginnings of space. “Overall, the goal of this flight is to fly higher and faster than previous flights. We plan to burn the rocket motor for longer than we ever have in flight before …,” Virgin Galactic said.

The flight should carry Unity into the mesosphere where the thin air will allow the spacecraft to gain speed and altitude rapidly and where the pilots are expected to experience a near zero-gravity flight for the first time.

The mesosphere is the layer of the atmosphere that begins roughly 30 miles above the earth’s surface, although some experts believe the flight could reach the 50 mile point. The International Space Station currently orbits at 200 miles above the earth.

The flight will collect new and important data points about how the Unity performs at higher altitudes and speeds, including supersonic handling qualities and thermal dynamics.

No firm date has yet been announced for the first passenger flight. One hundred fifty seven people have already paid Virgin Galactic a deposit against the $200,000 first flight cost in order to someday experience space flight.

Source: Flying

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Avianca Brasil Files for Bankruptcy


Avianca Brasil, the country’s fourth-largest airline, filed for bankruptcy protection Monday after three lessors—BOC Aviation (Ireland), Infinity Transportation, and Aircastle subsidiary Constitution Aircraft Leasing—sued the carrier for return of close to 30 percent of its all-Airbus fleet of about 50 aircraft, just at the start of the holiday and southern hemisphere summer high season. Avianca Brasil operates independently of Colombia’s Avianca Holding, though Synergy Group and the Efromovich family own both.

Avianca blames rising fuel cost, currency fluctuations, and the depressed Brazilian economy for its financial difficulties. Operationally, Star Alliance member Avianca has increased its market share from around 3 percent in 2009 to almost 14 percent in the first months of 2018, and the market is now recovering along with the Brazilian economy. Avianca offers hot meals, screens on every seatback, and a more generous seat pitch than its competitors, and in mid-2017 it began operations to Miami, Santiago, and then New York.

The bankruptcy case remains under judicial seal, which makes for conflicting reports of Avianca’s debts and even the number of aircraft and details of the repossession petitions. According to local newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo, the first to report the Chapter 11 filing, Avianca’s debts to public and private airports alone total about R$100 million ($26 million), though fuel suppliers have received their payments. Other reported creditors include hotels that host crew. Regulatory filings indicate the airline’s bank debt grew at least 50 percent in 2018.

Avianca Brasil had decided in August to reduce its fleet by eight aircraft and began negotiations to return airplanes to lessors. Missed payments followed. Avianca said in a statement that “due to its aircraft lessors’ resistance to reaching a friendly agreement,” it filed the petition to protect its clients and passengers.

Several years ago, when Brazilian airline workers’ unions routinely struck for higher pay, they always picked mid-December as threatening maximum disruption while still offering time for agreement. With a new president set to take power on New Year’s day, the threat of chaos appears well timed to unlock government concessions.

Avianca Brasil has long taken creative approaches in a difficult market. It began as a charter firm, when the Efromovich family accepted two aircraft as settlement of a debt by a client of their shipyards, and then in 2002 became a discount airline under the name Ocean Air. When accidents gave a bad name to the Fokker 100, the backbone of Ocean Air’s fleet, Germán Efromovich re-baptized his airplanes as the MK-28. But the shipyards had as a major client Petrobras—the focus of the ongoing “Car Wash” corruption scandal—and like all Petrobras suppliers they have suffered.

Last week United Airlines extended a loan of $456 million to Synergy Group, which controls Avianca Holdings. The loan to Synergy offers Efromovich more flexibility than would a loan to the Colombian-based Avianca. With an increasing share of a growing market and nearly half a billion dollars in hand, Avianca Brasil appears a good candidate to display the entrepreneur’s creative flexibility.

Source : AIN

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Gulfstream G650ER Shatters Speed Record


Ultralong-range bizjet flies from New Jersey to Dubai in just over 11 hours.

On its way to the Middle East and North Africa Business Aviation Association (MEBAA) show in Dubai, which is taking place at the Dubai World Central from December 10 to 12, the Gulfstream G650ER took the opportunity to attempt a speed record between two major bizav airports. The ultralong-range twinjet took off from Teterboro, New Jersey, flew 6,142 nm at an average speed of Mach 0.90, and landed in Dubai 11 hours and two minutes later.

“No other aircraft offers the high-speed range utility that the G650ER does out of high-demand airports like Teterboro,” said Gulfstream’s president Mark Burns. “This proves yet again that the G650ER remains in a class by itself.”

While the record flight has not yet been approved by the National Aeronautic Association, the trip shattered the previous record between New York and Dubai by one hour and 48 minutes. If approved, the speed record will be Gulfstream’s 79th speed record. Gulfstream has delivered 325 G650 and G650ERs since the G650 was first certified in 2012. The extended range version of the luxury business jet received FAA certification two years later.

Source: Flying

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GA Telesis SignsNew iGEAR Agreement with Major European Airline


GA Telesis announced that a European airline has entered into an exclusive multi-year agreement to receive rotable component flight-hour support through GAT’s Intelligent Global Engine and Airframe Replenishment (iGEAR) program for its fleet of widebody aircraft.
Launched in 2016 and managed by GAT’s Component Solutions Group, iGEAR programs provide airlines and operators with access to a global distribution network for rotable inventory and include 24/7/365 Live AOG support. The agreement will cover ten aircraft supported via GAT’s UK-based operations and customer support and distribution center.

This agreement will support the airline for five years with a multi-million-dollar dedicated pool inventory supporting a span of 125,000 flight hours. In addition to rotable invento

support, they will also have access to GAT’s comprehensive in-house component and composite repair capabilities provided by GA Telesis MRO Services business units that will contribute to delivering cost reduction and streamlining the airline’s supply chain.
“The iGEAR Program in conjunction with the rest of the GA Telesis Ecosystem offers a unique support approach to airlines seeking a total solution. We are pleased with the confidence that has been entrusted in us to support yet another key operator in Europe,” said Jason Reed, president of CSG. “Our enhanced service offerings continue to make it easy for customers to take advantage of a tailor-made inventory management solution while operating their fleet with the highest levels of reliability.”

Source: AVM

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Australian Charter Pilot Overflies Destination After Falling Asleep


Piper PA-31 later landed safely.

An investigation is underway into why an Australian charter pilot flying a Piper PA-31 Navajo Chieftain for Vortex Air, fell asleep inflight during the early morning hours of November 8. The aircraft overflew its original destination, King Island perched in Bass Strait between mainland Australia and Tasmania by 29 miles. Once the pilot, the only person aboard the aircraft woke up, the aircraft and its cargo of freight returned to King Island and landed safely.

According to the Associated Press and a Vortex Air statement, the Navajo pilot was operating the aircraft on autopilot at the time of the incident.

Both the Australian and the Associated Press claimed the pilot reported to work having had very little sleep due to personal issues. No information has been released as to whether or not anyone at Vortex Air noticed or attempted to halt the flight considering the pilot’s fatigued state. Vortex Air’s websitesays the company specializes in adventure air charters.

Source: Flying