Monthly Archives: November 2023

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Virgin Atlantic flight crosses ocean using 100% green fuel

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The fuel is a blend of waste cooking oils and other fats.

Virgin Atlantic just became the first airline to power a transatlantic flight using 100% sustainable aviation fuel.

The Boeing 787 passenger jet – dubbed Flight 100 – left London’s Heathrow Airport Tuesday morning bound for John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, with Virgin Atlantic billionaire founder Richard Branson, Virgin Atlantic Chief Executive Shai Weiss, and U.K. Secretary of State for Transport Mark Harper on board, Reuters reported.

The flight marks the first time a commercial long-haul flight was powered using only sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). It’s scheduled to land at JFK at 2:40 p.m. EST.

The U.K. Civil Aviation Authority granted permission for Virgin Atlantic and its partners, including Rolls-Royce, Boeing and BP, to fly using only SAF following a series of technical reviews last year.

Sustainable aviation fuel is a low-carbon energy source made from non-petroleum feedstocks, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Intended to reduce emissions from air transportation, sustainable aviation fuel has properties similar to conventional jet fuel, but with a smaller carbon footprint.

“Flight 100 proves that Sustainable Aviation Fuel can be used as a safe, drop-in replacement for fossil-derived jet fuel and it’s the only viable solution for decarbonizing long haul aviation,” Virgin Atlantic’s Weiss said in a statement. “It’s taken radical collaboration to get here and we’re proud to have reached this important milestone, but we need to push further.”

The fuel used for Tuesday’s flight was a blend of mostly processed cooking oil and waste animal fat, according to Virgin Atlantic. The fuel also contained 12% synthetic aromatic kerosene that was made from waste corn.

The low-carbon fuel is expected to keep the airline industry running on lower emissions before electric and hydrogen-powered flights become a reality. It is already being used in jet engines, but is blended with traditional fuel.

Air travel accounted for 2% of global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2022, according to the International Energy Agency.

“The world will always assume something can’t be done, until you do it,” Branson said in a statement about Tuesday’s flight. “The spirit of innovation is getting out there and trying to prove that we can do things better for everyone’s benefit.”

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Could airports make hydrogen work as a fuel?

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On a typical day 1,300 planes take off and land at Heathrow Airport, and keeping that going requires around 20 million litres of jet fuel every day.

That’s the equivalent of filling up your car around 400,000 times.

It’s a massive operation, with fuel piped to the airport direct from refineries and then stored at two facilities know as fuel farms.

“The amount of fuel that passes through Heathrow is enormous. It’s about half of the UK’s jet fuel requirement,” says Matt Prescott, head of carbon strategy at Heathrow.

Heathrow Airport itself does not buy and sell fuel, that’s down to the airlines and their suppliers.

However, it does have to think about the infrastructure, allotting space for storage and pipes, and making sure the airlines and fuel firms have everything they need.

“It’s really about building up the sufficient capacity to ensure that the airport has that resilience built in,” says Mr Prescott.

But, when it comes to fuel, airports around the world are having to have a major rethink.

In the UK, under the government’s Jet Zero plan, by 2040 the UK aviation industry has committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions.

The US aviation industry plans to reach net zero by 2050. The European Union has a similar goal.

  • What is net zero and how are countries getting there?

These are ambitious targets and to reach them will require alternatives to traditional jet fuel.

Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) – fuel that does not come from fossil fuels – is one option. Airlines are already using it, usually blended with regular jet fuel.

For airports it’s simple to supply SAF – it can be delivered via existing pipes.

But many doubt whether SAF can be produced cheaply enough, or in large enough quantities, to meet the needs of the airline industry.

So, there is much interest in hydrogen, which can store a lot of energy and, when used as fuel, does not produce any CO2.

To be of any use to the aviation industry, hydrogen needs to be in its liquid form, which involves chilling it to minus 253C.

Handling a liquid at that kind of temperature is immensely challenging. Given the chance, liquid hydrogen will “boil-off” and escape as a gas – potentially becoming a hazard.

So tanks, pipes and hoses all have to be extra-insulated to keep the liquid cold.

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VSE Aviation Expands Aftermarket Reach Through New Agreements

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VSE Aviation has announced six new aftermarket distributions agreements and plans to open a facility in Hamburg, Germany during the first quarter of next year. The agreements involve several manufacturers with contract terms ranging from 1-15 years. The deals are worth around $750 million in value.

The most notable agreement is with Pratt & Whitney Canada to support the European, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) markets. VSE Aviation plans to provide engine line maintenance, spare parts and engine accessory exchange support to engine operators, customers and maintenance providers. This now boosts VSE’s geographical expansion following previously awarded distribution agreements covering North America and Asia in 2021 and 2022, respectively.

VSE Aviation will also expand a current sole distributor agreement for Honeywell’s JetWave tail-mounted antenna systems in the EMEA and India. The agreement represents an expansion of the previously awarded distribution agreement from October 2022 covering fuselage-mounted antenna systems.

Under another agreement with an unspecified tire supplier, VSE will distribute re-treaded tires for the regional airline sector. This partnership leverages VSE’s recent acquisition of Desser Aerospace and broadens the solutions that VSE Aviation provides. The acquisition will also support VSE’s distribution of lead-acid batteries to the business and general aviation sectors under an expended agreement with a manufacturer of ground power batteries.

The tip-to tail strategy will get a further boost to cover distribution of airframe interior plastic components including tray tables, seat shrouds, plastic wall and ceiling panels, flooring and lavatory shrouds, according to VSE.

The agreements are expected to begin in the first quarter of 2024.

The new 45,000 ft.2 distribution facility in Hamburg will also support operators in the EMEA region and VSE believes the investment will position it to expand global coverage and support for its commercial and business and general aviation distribution aftermarket product lines, including the tire, tube and battery product lines associated with the Desser Aerospace acquisition.

VSE expects the new agreements to generate $25-30 million in new revenue in 2024, rising to $50 million in 2025. 

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European Rotors Opening Next Week in Madrid

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Rotorcraft show is the largest such event in Europe.

Europe’s largest rotorcraft show—European Rotors, co-organized by the European Helicopter Association (EHA) and Helicopter Association International (HAI)—begins Monday at the IFEMA Madrid Fair Centre in Spain. The exhibit hall, with more than two dozen helicopters, opens on Tuesday and will feature rotorcraft manufacturers, suppliers, and operators.

Attendees are invited to view presentations that will include hoist and sling load demonstrations, Spanish Day, helicopter emergency medical services, Parapublic Day, and global humanitarian aid projects. The Spanish Day event will be hosted by Spanish helicopter association ATAIRE and will focus on public-service programs such as firefighting and EMS.

“Rotors are the sounds of service,” said EHA chairman and technical director Christian Müller. “Citizens…know assistance is at hand when they hear the sounds of helicopters approaching. Due to the unique capabilities of our aircraft, the vast majority of helicopter flights perform missions that support humanity. These aircraft might be conducting search-and-rescue, fighting fires, supporting electrical grids, or performing airborne law enforcement support, and we are excited to feature this versatility at our show.”

HAI president and CEO James Viola added, “Igor Sikorsky, who developed the modern helicopter, famously stated, ‘If you are in trouble anywhere in the world, an airplane can fly over and drop flowers, but a helicopter can land and save your life.’ Our world would look vastly different today if helicopters were not here to serve.”

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Gulfstream Completes World’s First Trans-Atlantic Flight on 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel

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Data Collected During This Mission Will Advance Industry Toward Net-Zero Goals

SAVANNAH, Ga., Nov. 20, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. today announced the successful completion of the world’s first trans-Atlantic flight using 100% sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). Accomplished on November 19, the flight took place on a Gulfstream G600 aircraft, which departed the company’s headquarters in Savannah and landed 6 hours, 56 minutes later at Farnborough Airport in England. 

Powered by Pratt & Whitney PW815GA engines, both using 100% SAF, this mission showcases the potential for aviation’s future use of renewable fuels, which feature lower carbon, sulfur and aromatics. The data collected from this endurance flight will help Gulfstream and its key suppliers gauge aircraft compatibility with future low-aromatic renewable fuels, particularly under cold temperatures for extended flight durations. 

“Gulfstream is innovating for a sustainable future,” said Mark Burns, president, Gulfstream. “One of the keys to reaching business aviation’s long-term decarbonization goals is the broad use of SAF in place of fossil-based jet fuel. The completion of this world-class flight helps to advance business aviation’s overarching sustainability mission and create positive environmental impacts for future generations.”

The SAF used on the flight was produced by World Energy and delivered by World Fuel Services. It was comprised of 100% Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids (neat HEFA), which has at least 70% lower lifecycle CO2 emissions than fossil-based jet fuel, helping to reduce aviation’s impact on climate. Additionally, this zero added aromatics fuel has a reduced impact on local air quality and very low sulfur content, which can reduce non-CO2 environmental impacts.

“Gulfstream continues to break new ground in the sustainable aviation space, and we applaud them for completing this mission as we work to validate the compatibility of our engines with unblended SAF,” said Anthony Rossi, vice president, Sales & Marketing, Pratt & Whitney Canada.

Other key partners supporting this milestone include Honeywell, Safran and Eaton.

“We’d like to thank all our partners for their help in making this milestone flight happen, and for their ongoing partnership in collaborating with the extended SAF community to champion the aviation industry’s path to 100% SAF usage,” said Burns.

Gulfstream was the first business jet original equipment manufacturer to fly on 100% SAF. This flight advances the company’s continuing work to lead the industry’s sustainability efforts.

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Honeywell Signs MENA MRO Support Agreements

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Saudia Technic expands its APU servicing to cover Boeing 777s.

Honeywell announced two agreements during the Dubai Airshow that will expand the company’s support network in the Middle East and North Africa. The 10-year deal with Saudia Technic covers a global license to service the 331-500 auxiliary power unit installed in the Boeing 777. The full-service MRO organization will become Honeywell’s first authorized service center in the Middle East for the 777’s APU.

Formerly known as Saudi Arabian Aerospace Engineering Industries, Saudia Technic is creating an MRO Village in Jeddah, where it will inspect, repair, overhaul, and upgrade APUs. The 331-500 deal adds to another 10-year agreement announced in 2021 for Saudi Technic to become an authorized service center for the 131-9 APU model fitted to Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 aircraft.

In a separate, five-year deal Egyptair Maintenance and Engineering has gained a license to provide a flat-rate component repair service for aircraft operated by its sister airline. The deal covers Egyptair’s Airbus A320 and A330 aircraft, along with the 737 and 777 from Boeing.

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Gulf Air Extends MRO Partnership with Joramco

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Joramco has provided heavy maintenance for the Bahrain carrier for the past decade

Bahrain’s national carrier, Gulf Air, has extended its maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) contract with Jordan Aircraft Maintenance (Joramco) for fleet support services for another four years. Based in Amman, Joramco is the MRO and engineering arm of Dubai Aerospace Enterprise.

Under the agreement signed by Gulf Air CEO Waleed Abdul Hameed Alalawi and Joramco CEO Frasier Currie during the Dubai Airshow on Monday, the extension builds on a decade-long partnership originally formed in January 2013.

Gulf Air’s Technical Division handles the carrier’s A-checks and C-checks at its facility at Bahrain International Airport, while Joramco provides heavy maintenance for the fleet at its MRO center at Queen Alia International Airport in Jordan,

“This collaboration is a pivotal move in enhancing Gulf Air’s maintenance needs to meet the demands of our expanding fleet and the longevity of our fleet at the highest standards,” Alalawi said, adding that Jormaco’s close proximity to Bahrain will enable swift aircraft transfers and minimize downtime.

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Airbus and Boeing get Widebody orders as Dubai airshow ramps up

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Whilst their is no announcement yet on the anticipated Turkish Airlines or Emirates deals, both Airbus and Boeing attracted orders for widebody airlines as the Dubai airshow deals start to flow.

Airbus secured an order from Egyptair for 10 Airbus A350-900 airliners which the Egyptian carrier will use to replace its older A330 aircraft. The change will represent a 25% fuel reduction on routes with the A350 compared to the A330.

On the single aisle airbus range, AirBaltic extended its partnership with Airbus with an order for an additional 30 A220-300s which will make it the largest operator of the A220 in Europe.

Boeing secured deals for secured a deal from Ethiopian Airlines for 31 aircraft (with options on a further 36) which is made up of 11 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners and 20 Boeing 737 Max 8s.

“We are pleased to announce that Ethiopian Airlines has reached a deal with Boeing to place a firm order for 31 ultra-modern airplanes, with opportunity for 36 additional jets,” said Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Mr. Mesfin Tasew. “This order will enable us to modernize and increase our fleet in support of Ethiopian Airlines’ growth plan and our Vision 2035 Strategy. Through this deal, we have solidified our decades-old exemplary business partnership with Boeing. The 787 Dreamliner and 737 MAX demonstrate Ethiopian Airlines’ environmentally conscious decisions and its commitment to serve passengers with the latest technologically advanced airplanes.”

Dubai based Emirates Airlines placed the largest widebody order though with a deal to purchase 55 Boeing 777-9 and 35 Boeing 777-8 making its total orders for the Boeing 777X to 205.

Kazakhstan based SCAT Airlines also placed and order with Boeing for seven Boeing 737 Max 8 airliners boosting its fleet from 8 to 15 Boeing 737 Max (currently 3 Max 8s and 5 Max 9s.)

Potential Deals

According to sources, an agreement in principle has been reached between Airbus and Turkish Airlines for a deal of 355 aircraft and an announcement is expected at the Dubai Airshow. The two parties met in Istanbul on Saturday ahead of the show.

Elsewhere an Emirates order for 50 Airbus A350-1000s is reportedly being held up by key issues with the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines which are the only option for the type. Emirates is requiring a guarantee of 2,500 flight cycles before requiring maintenance, something that Rolls-Royce can’t currently provide.

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Dubai Airshow 2023: Boeing to showcase innovations in sustainable aviation

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Boeing will show its market-leading commercial, defense and services portfolio at the 2023 Dubai Airshow, with its new wide body 777-9 jet appearing in the flying display.

As a strategic sponsor of the airshow’s Aerospace 2050 conference, Boeing will highlight its commitment and actions towards a more sustainable aerospace future and support of the aviation industry’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.

“We’re proud to again join the Dubai Airshow and share some of our most advanced products and services with customers, suppliers, partners and aviation enthusiasts attending from around the globe,” said Dr. Brendan Nelson AO, president of Boeing Global. “We will also focus on our investments in technology and other actions to reduce industry emissions ahead of the U.N. Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP 28) in Dubai.”

Boeing Commercial Airplanes

From November 13-15, Boeing’s widebody 777-9 flight-test airplane will perform in the flying display and be on static display. The world’s largest and most efficient twin-engine jet, the 777-9 is based on the industry’s most successful twin-aisle family – the 777 – with advanced technologies from the 787 Dreamliner. The jet can seat 426 passengers with a range of 13,510 km (7,295 nautical miles).
Customer displays will include 787-9 Dreamliners from Etihad Airways and Qatar Airways, an Emirates Airlines 777-300ER (Extended Range), a SAUDIA 787-10 Dreamliner and an Air India Express 737 MAX.
Riyadh Air, Saudi Arabia’s newest carrier, will display a Boeing-owned 787-9 in its new indigo livery, inspired by the colors of the sky at dusk.
On Nov. 14, Darren Hulst, vice president of Commercial Marketing, will present the 2023 Middle East Commercial Market Outlook (CMO) and a product overview. The Boeing CMO is the industry’s most comprehensive market analysis.

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Airlines Forced To Rethink Spare Engine Ratios

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The durability problems of new-build narrowbody engines are great news for most engine lessors, which tend to stock the CFM International CFM56 and IAE V2500 powerplants that many airlines are turning to for cover.

Less certain is for how long this boost lasts and whether, in time, the CFM Leap and Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbofan (GTF) can be improved to the point where they offer similar time on wing to their predecessor engines.

“It is clear that time on wing for the Leap and GTF is currently compromised but we are comparing very mature and stable models in the CFM56 and V2500 with still immature models of Leap and GTF,” comments the incoming President and CEO of engine lessor ELFC, Richard Hough, in an interview with Aviation Week’s Engine Yearbook 2024.

“The CFM56 and V2500 both also had entry-into-service issues that took a number of years to stabilize, but there were lower numbers in service so fleet management plans had less of an impact on operations,” he says.

However, Hough adds that OEMs have told airlines they will need to own a higher ratio of new narrowbody spare engines than they did in the past.

“In effect this is an acknowledgment that time on wing will be lower, thereby increasing the percentage of required spare engines, which [bodes] well for lessors both in the short and long run,” says Hough.

While lessors are scrambling to acquire good-condition CFM56 and V2500 models, the race is also on to build up GTF and Leap portfolios to feed spare engine demand that appears set for a long-term structural shift.