Author Archives: MS

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OEMs, Experts Exude Market Caution

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Manufacturers and leading rotorcraft valuation analysts expect the markets for both new and used civil helicopters to remain tight in 2023, squeezed by a triumvirate of pressures including inventory, inflation, and supply chain constraints.

While the civil market has mostly returned to pre-covid normal in terms of overall new helicopter sales and/or flight hours, price increases have placed increasing pressure on the already constrained preowned market. Meaningful forecasting in this environment, clouded by continuing economic uncertainty, is difficult, so much so that, for the first time in memory, Honeywell will not issue its turbine helicopter sales forecast at this year’s Helicopter Association International (HAI) Heli-Expo.

“[The helicopter market is] actually kind of a muddy picture,” said Jason Zilberbrand, president of aircraft valuation and consultancy Vref. “You know, it’s really difficult I think for people to figure out what’s going on, what they should do.” 

Jason Kmiecik, president of HelValues, concurs. “It is very difficult for anybody to say how 2023 is going to pan out,” he noted.

For the OEMs already reporting 2022 civil sales results, the trend appears to indicate more of the same, with perhaps small increases in production, but nowhere near enough to take pressure off the used market.  For 2022, Airbus Helicopters said it maintained its 52 percent share of the civil and para-public helicopter market in 2022 with 374 orders and 344 deliveries. Customer fleet hours, meanwhile, returned to pre-pandemic 2019 levels. Demand for the company’s turbine singles and light twins again led the way, collectively accounting for 342 orders, while demand for Airbus’s super-medium and intermediate helicopters, the H175 and H160, remained weak, drawing orders for just eight and 12 examples, respectively. 

“Our orders came from 203 customers in 48 countries, underlining the importance of our global network, as well as showing that in uncertain times, the role of helicopters is more essential than ever,” said Airbus Helicopters CEO Bruno Even. “[2022] was a year in which Airbus Helicopters solidified its recovery, in a context of instability with the war in Ukraine and a fragile supply chain.”

Bell Textron’s civil deliveries surged, but largely on the popularity of the high-production, low-margin Bell 505 light single. Overall, for both military and civil sales, Bell’s revenues dropped 4.9 percent from its performance in 2021, to $3.1 billion, while the segment reported a profit of $282 million. Bell said it expects modest growth in 2023 revenues—to about $3.3 billion—with comparable profitability. Bell finished 2022 with a backlog of $4.8 billion and delivered 176 civil helicopters, up from 156 in 2021. The totals included 83 Model 505s and 49 Model 407 singles, as well as 32 light-twin 429s. Deliveries of 505s posted the largest gain, increasing from 63 in 2021. For the period, deliveries of Bell 412s more than doubled, from seven to 15.

Both Airbus and Bell deliveries benefitted from the strength in the singles market, where “government agencies and municipalities are buying this stuff like Tic Tacs,” said Zilberbrand. Demand for both new and used single-engine turbine helicopters remains strong and supply is tight, according to market consultancy Aero Asset. It reported that the preowned singles market remained tight for most of 2022 worldwide, with some signs of loosening in North America during most of the year and in Europe during the fourth quarter. Sales for those models fell 12 percent in 2022 compared with 2021, according to Aero Asset. For the year, 212 units sold for a collective $387 million—down 15 percent by value from 2021.

VIP singles accounted for 60 percent of all transactions in 2022 while the supply of helicopters configured for emergency medical services remains at an all-time low. The number of utility helicopters for sale dropped 30 percent year-over-year. The supply of popular models remains tight, with just five months’ supply of the Airbus AS350B3/H125, Bell 407/GX/P/I, and Airbus EC130B4/H130 remaining at 2022 trade levels. Leonardo’s AW119, while ranked last, still showed a strong absorption rate of 10 months. 

“North American buyers accounted for nearly 60 percent of all single-engine transactions in 2022 while retail transactions in Europe fell 40 percent year-over-year,” said Aero Asset v-p of market research Valerie Pereira. “Inventory for sale plummeted 40 percent year-over-year, but rose in the fourth quarter and actually tripled in North America between the second and last quarters of 2022.”

But that inventory doesn’t stay on the market long, said HeliValues’ Kmiecik. More than 90 percent of the adjustments made in HeliValues’ Official Helicopter Blue Book from the Q4 2022 pricing review have recently increased. “The supply of in-demand aircraft will continue to diminish,” he said. “Some of what’s remaining on the market are aircraft that buyers have picked through and have passed on already. We’re starting to see a lot of emails from brokers looking for off-market aircraft because there’s more demand than supply on certain models.”

On the singles side, Kmiecik sees hot demand for Airbus AStars, Bell 407s and 206L-3s and L-4s, and newer MD 500 series aircraft while owners increasingly part out older aircraft. The light twin market is also very active for almost everything from the Airbus EC135 and EC145 models.  For medium twins, low-time Sikorsky S-76C+ and C++ models are finding homes in the VIP market; however, from a broader perspective, demand for S-76 models has diminished as they leave the offshore energy sector.

In the intermediate twin space, although the price of used Leonardo AW139s has dropped slightly in the last six months, the demand for leasing has increased. “Lease rates are going up faster than the [sales] values are dropping,” said Kmiecik. “The 139 is still one of the most also popular aircraft because it has proven itself to be a very reliable aircraft. Everybody loves it, they love flying in it, they love flying it, they love working on it.”

Leasing activity also is increasing on the heavy Airbus EC225LP and the Sikorsky S-92A, driving down supply and stimulating an eventual price increase, according to Kmiecik. “We are finally starting to see prices rise for the first time in years for the heavy class of helicopters,” he said, adding that recent transactions in the third and fourth quarters of 2022 drove up valuations on both the EC225LP and S-92A. EC225LP sales involved the utility or search and rescue sector, and S-92A sales remained in the offshore energy transport sector. Offshore’s increasing sole reliance on the S-92A as its main heavy twin-engine helicopter could pave the way for the Bell 525 as a second-source aircraft, particularly in the North Sea, depending on its eventual sales price and timing of its final certification, he said.

The likelihood that OEMs will significantly boost production to alleviate scarcity across all categories remains low, according to the experts. “I think they’re [the OEMs] strapped for resources,” said Zilberbrand, who doesn’t see supply and prices getting back to normal until 2024 at the earliest. “I think a lot of folks just didn’t come back after Covid and it’s going to reduce capacity. They can’t get stuff up fast enough and the stuff that they’re getting out is having more issues post-delivery.”

Kmiecik thinks OEMs will remain cautious about raising production in the face of economic uncertainty. “Given that behavior, odds are the used market will remain tight for newer and current production models,” he explained.

Longer-term, Zilberbrand thinks the market for turbine singles will likely erode in the face of eVTOLs. “While currently used turbine singles are worth their weight in gold from an operational standpoint, they’re getting really expensive to fix,” he noted. “We’re going to get to this point where [eVTOLs] are going to be forced on us. Insurance premiums are not getting any cheaper and a lot of stuff’s getting past the [maintenance] point of no return.”

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Lufthansa Orders 22 More Widebodies from Boeing and Airbus

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Lufthansa Group’s supervisory board on Thursday approved the purchase of 22 widebodies worth $7.5 billion at list prices, the company said.

The order consists of 10 Airbus A350-1000s, five A350-900s, and seven Boeing 787-9s, deliveries of which the company expects to start in the mid-2020s. Including Thursday’s orders, Lufthansa Group plans to take delivery of 108 long-haul aircraft, including Boeing 777-9s, over the “next few years.” Boeing expects the 777-9 to gain certification in 2025.

The new long-haul aircraft will also replace older aircraft types, said Lufthansa. In the medium term, the company plans to take out of service six such subfleets: Boeing 747-400s, 777-200s, and 767-300s, as well as its Airbus A340-600s, A340-300s, and A330-200s. The moves will reduce the quadjet contingent within the Lufthansa Group fleet to less than 15 percent; before the pandemic, quadjets accounted for some 50 percent of the groupwide aircraft fleet. In total and including the short- and medium-haul aircraft of the Airbus A320neo family, the Lufthansa Group has placed orders for more than 200 new aircraft for delivery over the next few years.

The group also has entered advanced negotiations to acquire further long-haul aircraft that Boeing and Airbus could make available at shorter notice.

Along with the latest purchase agreement, Airbus and Lufthansa have signed a memorandum of understanding to strengthen their cooperation in the field of sustainability and future technologies. The plans include greater use of sustainable aviation fuels, further optimization of operations through more efficient flight management, and exploration into the use of hydrogen.

“With our purchase of 22 further Airbus A350s and Boeing 787s, we have secured the delivery of more than 50 latest-generation long-haul aircraft for the member airlines of the Lufthansa Group since the pandemic began,” said Lufthansa Group CEO Carsten Spohr. “These aircraft will be equipped with our new long-haul cabins, including the latest-generation seats in all classes of travel…These new aircraft will also play a decisive role in helping us achieve our carbon emission reduction goals by 2030 as fuel-efficient aircraft which incorporate the latest manufacturing technology are by far the greatest lever for providing more climate protection within the aviation sector.”

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Turkish Airlines Vital Player in Earthquake Recovery

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It remains clear that Turkish Airlines has become a vital player in assisting those affected by the earthquake in Turkey that happened a couple of weeks ago.

Earlier this week, the carrier announced that they have carried 238,112 search and rescue personnel across 1,324 aid flights.

On top of this, Turkish Airlines evacuated 230,980 citizens from the Turkey earthquake areas across 1,302 flights.

The airline also carried 15,648 tons of air material free of charge to the areas affected across 156 cargo flights.

Turkish Airlines were key to note that 6,198 tons of the cargo were carried with flights conducted from 77 countries, while the remaining 9,450 tons were from the airline itself.

Expanding more on the efforts made by Turkish Airlines was the Chairman of the Board, Ahmet Bolat:

“With the responsibility of being the national flag carrier, we are working with all officials, including AFAD, to mend the wounds caused by the earthquake as the 75 thousand-strong Turkish Airlines family.”

“Within that framework, we will be building a Turkish Airlines neighborhood in the region with 1000 homes for those affected by the earthquake.”

“We will also employ 1000 personnel from 1000 families affected by the earthquake in Turkish Airlines and its subsidiaries.”

“During these times when we come together as one in the face of natural disaster, Turkish Airlines also donated 2 billion TL while I personally donated my salary of March 2023 for immediate aid efforts.”

“We also wish to extend our gratitude to our friends from abroad for their overwhelming support and aid in response to the crisis, along with our missions, embassies, and consulates for their coordination in order to deliver aid material from other countries to the affected region with our cargo flights.”

“Our flag carrier will continue to be with our citizens in the future just like it has been with all of its capabilities.”

Turkish Airlines has also confirmed that the free-of-charge flights for citizens affected by the Turkey earthquake will continue.

The airline said the following on this via a statement:

“Offering free ticketing and reservation since 7 February, flag carrier also accepts citizens without reservations depending on the availability of the aircraft.”

“Our passengers are able to change or refund their domestic flights or international flights to/from earthquake-afflicted areas between 6 February – 31 March, as long as they were first arranged before February 9, 2023.”

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Strong Recovery for Air New Zealand

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Air New Zealand has released its first-half financial report showing the start of its recovery with a revenue of over 3 billion NZD.

The flag carrier’s Chair, Dame Therese Walsh, attributed the solid recovery to a combination of border restrictions easing, increased demand, and the Air NZ team who “rose to the occasion.”

The country’s border restrictions eased sooner than expected and the carrier responded to the developing situation by reactivating 29 routes and recruiting 3000 employees to support the return to operations. The results show the effect of this swift reaction.

The carrier’s statutory gross earnings were 299 million NZD and it achieved a net profit of 213 million NZD. Eight million passengers traveled with the operator during the period, compared to three million in the previous year.

In the same half of the previous year, the carrier reported a net loss of 272 million NZD. The results show a significant swing in the fortune of 285 million NZD.

Domestically, the carrier has almost returned capacity to pre-pandemic levels – currently at 94%. Internationally, however, at 60% of pre-pandemic levels, the carrier still has some services to reinstate.

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Boeing expects strong growth in South Asia’s passenger aircraft and freighter fleet over the next twenty years, according to its new Commercial Market Outlook for India.

Of the next two decades through 2041, Boeing sees South Asian carriers taking 2,210 new passenger aircraft, comprising 1,983 single aisle aircraft and 227 widebodies. It also forecasts deliveries of 80 freighters, but no regional jets.

Of the 2,210 new passenger aircraft, 430 will be for replacement, while 1,780 will be for growth. And of the 1,400 passenger aircraft that Indian carriers have yet to order, 90% will be narrowbodies such as the 737 Max.

“The Indian market is recovering rapidly, and its domestic capacity has exceeded 2019 levels, with domestic traffic expected to double by the end of this decade,” says Dave Schulte, Boeing commercial marketing managing director for Asia Pacific.

“Indian carriers will outpace global growth at nearly 7% and more than 80% of new airplane deliveries to this market will be for growth, while 20% of new airplanes will be for replacement of aging jets. This trend exemplifies India’s commitment to modernizing its fleet with more sustainable and fuel-efficient next-generation airplanes.”

In a presentation, he observes that India’s gross domestic product (GDP) is likely to grow four-fold to 2050, and that India will have the world’s third highest GDP by 2031.

As for the market for air travel, Boeing observes that India sees 23 million passengers travel by rail daily, compared with just 360,000 who travel by air. The airframer notes that if just 1% of rail passengers switch to flying, it will double the country’s aviation market. 

Schulte also observes that per trillion US dollars in GDP, India has just five dedicated freighters. This is just a fraction of the USA’s 51 freighters per trillion dollars in GDP. Boeing expects India’s new and converted freighter fleet to grow to 80 aircraft by 2041, from roughly 15 aircraft now.

Most of these new freighters will be converted narrowbodies, complemented by production and converted widebodies to support global freighter operations.

Boeing also sees several challenges, namely high fuel costs, operational costs priced in US dollars, and relatively low air fares.

It adds that new generation aircraft, specifically the 737 Max, can help by reducing fuel burn at Indian carriers by 21%, and that the 737 Max 10 offers low seat costs, making lower fares more sustainable.

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The event welcomed more than 104,000 attendees and witnessed a 50% increase in trade visitors which included global senior executives from 148 countries. The Airshow was bigger than the pre-pandemic 2019 edition in terms of visitor numbers and deals announced. It was also a significant milestone for the defence and space sectors which saw a range of deals and agreements declared.

Some of the notable deals which took place during the event included Airbus who announced orders and commitments totalling 408 aircraft (269 firm orders and 139 commitments). The agreements covered the full range of commercial aircraft families, including a first commitment for the A350F freighter derivative. Airbus launched its latest global market forecast outlining progressively shifting demand from fleet growth to accelerated retirement of older, less fuel-efficient aircraft resulting in a need for some 39,000 new-build passenger and freighter aircraft. Of these,15,250 aircraft (around 40%) are for replacements.

On the opening day of the show alone, Indigo Partners portfolio airlines placed a firm order for 255 A321neo Family aircraft, including 29 XLR. This included Wizz Air ordering 102 aircraft (75 A321neo + 27 A321XLR); Frontier 91 aircraft (A321neo); Volaris 39 aircraft (A321neo) and JetSMART 23 aircraft (21 A321neo + 2 A321XLR).

Boeing announced an order of 72 of its 737 Max from new Indian airline Akasa Air. It also announced orders for 11 of its 737-800BCF cargo planes from aircraft leasing company Icelease, nine converted 767-300BCF freighters from DHL, and orders for two of its long-range 777F freighters from Emirates SkyCargo. Boeing received four orders of passenger planes and freighters from Air Tanzania and three of its widebody 777-300 passenger jets from UAE-based aviation services provider Sky One FZE.

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FAA Issues SAIB on 5G Radio Altimeter Interference


The FAA has published a Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin—AIR-21-18—that highlights potential radio altimeter interference issues by new 5G cellular networks. The 5G network deployment in the U.S. starting on December 5 is in the 3700 to 3800-MHz bands then later in the 3700 to 3980-MHz bands. Radio altimeters use the 4200 to 4400-MHz band.

In other countries, bands from 3300 to 4200 MHz are already deployed, according to the FAA, and some “have implemented temporary technical, regulatory, and operational mitigations, including temporary proximity and power restrictions.” The FAA added, “There have not yet been proven reports of harmful interference due to wireless broadband operations internationally, although this issue is continuing to be studied.”

The SAIB contains many recommendations for aircraft and avionics manufacturers and aircraft operators, ranging from reporting any problems to the FAA to documenting and reporting on the types of radio altimeters installed in aircraft.

by Matt Thurber

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Citing pandemic uncertainty, Air New Zealand delays proposed capital raise

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Air New Zealand has postponed a planned capital raise by three months, to give it more time “to assess market conditions” amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The carrier now expects to complete its equity capital raise by 30 September, instead of 30 June, as earlier indicated.

The New Zealand government, which earlier disclosed its commitment to remaining the carrier’s majority shareholder after the capital raise, will extend a previously-announced loan facility to support the airline through the fundraising.

The loan facility, also known as the Crown Standby Facility, will be increased by NZ$600 million ($423 million) to NZ$1.5 billion. The facility term has also been extended through September 2023, with interest rates adjusted to reflect market conditions.

The three-month delay in fundraising will allow the Star Alliance carrier “more time to assess the impacts of recent developments on the airline’s path to recovery”.

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Bombardier to stop the production of Learjet by end of 2021

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Struck by heavy financial losses, Canadian Bombardier announced this Thursday that it will discontinue the production of the iconic Learjet models. This would result in cutting off 1,600 jobs.

After struggling prior to the pandemic, Bombardier is facing a transitional year and attempting to restructure the company. After announcing severe lay offs in November last year, the Montreal-based manufacturer is taking further steps in order to generate a $400 million in recurring savings by 2023 and to increase earnings this year with expanding their aftermarket business. In the 1,600 jobs cut are included reductions related to improvements in manufacturing its flagship Global 7500 jet.

Ever since the very first Learjet back in 1963, the company has delivered over 3000 units – the remarkable aircraft has made a deep impact and has revolutionized the business aviation. Passengers all over the world have loved flying with it, due to it’s unmatched performance and reliability. CEO Eric Martell has said that this decision has been extremely difficult to make, but considering the increasing challenges in the market these days, it had to be done. Mr. Martel also addressed the devastation they feel towards the cutting down of the jobs and that it’s never easy to see talented and dedicated employees leave the company for any reason. Sadly those changes felt absolutely necessary in order for them to rebuilt the company and help navigate it through the pandemic, he says.

Considering the horrible economical impact of Covid19, revenues from business aviation activities have reached $5.6 billions, which is 3% higher compared to 2019. This was partially ramped up by the record of 16 deliveries of Global 7500 units in the fourth quarter only. This gives hopes of the Canadian manufacturer that with recent changes, restructuring and focus on their Global and Challenger series, they are moving forward towards better times.

Despite pulling the plug on the Learjet family, Bombardier will continue to fully support the fleet in the future. They have also launched a remanufacturing program for Learjet 40 and Learjet 45 models. The RACER program will include a wide set of enhancements, such as newer avionics, interior and exterior updates, engine boosts and improved maintenance costs, among others. The remanufacturing program will be exclusively offered through their Wichita’s service center.

In spite of the sad news for the end of this trend-setting jet, we believe that this year would be brighter for aviation industry, both business and commercial. Being a valuable partner to many airlines and MROs, we would continue to support Learjet models in the efficient and quick way we have done so far.

Stay tuned for more updates like this & keep healthy.

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Are Covid vaccines going to resume international travel?

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It has been a year since the first reported case of Covid19 and resent news of vaccines progress has brought up positive outlook on upcoming months. Some of the major Pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer and AstraZeneca among others, have announced major break-throughs in their developments.

These news bring a lot of joy for many sectors, especially for the aviation industry, which has been severely damaged by worldwide lockdowns and prohibitions on travelling. However, in the past few days a questions has be brought up to everybody’s attention – what is the correlation between resuming air travel and the expected Covid vaccine? This wondering was quickly address by some of the major airlines in Asia Pacific.

Qantas Chief Executive Alan Joyce said he has been talking to his counterparts at other airlines around the world about the possibility of a “vaccination passport” for international travellers.
“We are looking at changing our terms and conditions to say for international travellers, that we will ask people to have the vaccination before they get on the aircraft,” Joyce told Australia’s Network Nine television.

Korean Air, the country’s largest operator has issued a similar statement, saying that there is in fact a real possibility that airlines will require passengers to be vaccinated. That outlooks is based on the fact that governments are likely to require vaccinations as a condition for lifting quarantine requirements for new arrivals. Korean Air is also considering several other options for screening, but it is quite certain that any new changes that might be adopted would be a result of coordination with governments.

Air New Zealand shared quite the same opinion and has said that in the end it’s up to the governments to determine when and how it is safe to reopen borders and that they will continue to work closely with authorities on this matter.

Further more The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced on Monday that it is “in the final development phase” of a “digital passport” mobile app that would receive COVID-19 test and vaccination certificates. According to IATA’s vice president of airport, passenger, cargo and security Nick Careen the app would get people back to travelling safely, which right now is essential for the seeking to recover industry.

Many more airlines are expected to comment on this hot topic in the coming weeks, but one thing is quite sure – everybody is hoping that air travelling is soon restored and the encouraging early results of the vaccines are only paving the way of achieving that soon.

Stay tuned and visit us for more updates on this.