Tag Archives: #aviation

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Cessna unveils enhanced pistons

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WICHITA, Kansas — Textron Aviation has revealed the first deliveries of its enhanced Cessna Skyhawk, Cessna Skylane, Turbo Skylane, and Turbo Stationair HD aircraft.

“These latest product investments aim to provide a modern and stylish tone that aligns with the newest Cessna Citation jets, while maintaining the renowned comfort, durability and performance of the iconic Cessna piston lineup,” company officials said.

The new interior designs include:

  • New seats with additional support and padding
  • Power headset jacks at every seat
  • A and C USB charging ports at every seat
  • New instrument panels
  • Cell phone pockets throughout the aircraft
  • Integrated overhead air conditioning on equipped aircraft
  • A new center armrest available on certain models

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Textron eAviation Shows Off FAA-approved Velis, Works on Nexus eVTOL

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Pipistrel subsidiary is driving electric aircraft innovation at the Textron division

This week at the Sun ’n Fun Aerospace Expo, Textron eAviation is showing off its first Pipistrel Velis Electro to receive an FAA exemption from light sport aircraft (LSA) regulations. The exemption came March 4 and permits the electric-powered, two-seat airplane to be operated under LSA regulations in the U.S.

Kriya Shortt, the president and CEO of Textron eAviation, said at the show that the company’s goal is to now deliver exempted Velis Electro demonstrators to its dealer network. With the battery providing about 50 minutes of endurance (not including reserves), she noted that the small airplane is ideal for near-airport flight training, meaning practicing takeoffs and landings, as well as pattern work, because of its more muted noise profile.

In addition, Shortt said the Velis Electro’s lower acquisition cost and 60 to 70 percent lower operating costs versus piston airplanes will result in reduced aircraft rental costs, saving flight students money. “Cost is really a big barrier for flight students,” she said, adding that flight schools are a primary target market for the all-electric airplane.

Pipistrel designed a proprietary battery monitoring system for the Velis Electro. According to Shortt, this system takes battery health and charge state into consideration to present the pilot with an accurate display of remaining endurance and power.

Meanwhile, the Wichita-based company continues to work on the Nexus eVTOL aircraft and is currently building a full-scale vehicle that is expected to fly next year. “The fuselage is coming together, and first flight is planned for the first half of 2025,” Shortt said.

Textron eAviation took over the Nexus project from sister company Bell in March 2022 and since then has made refinements to the design. Bell is designing and manufacturing the aircraft’s two aft fixed rotors, while sister company McCauley is responsible for the tiltrotor propellers.

On the battery front, she said Nexus will leverage Pipistrel’s expertise in this area. “Many in the industry see Pipistrel as the leader in aircraft battery technology,” Shortt noted. “We have a really interesting group of people with doctoral degrees in physics and chemistry, not to mention aerospace engineers.”

The Velis Electro is using Pipistrel’s second-generation battery. “We’re always testing new battery types—this area is always evolving,” Shortt concluded.


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Funding Confirmed for Cranfield Hydrogen Integration Incubator

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Aerospace university will be a hub for developing hydrogen propulsion for aviation.

The UK’s Cranfield University is to establish a research hub to advance the development of hydrogen-powered aircraft with £69 million ($87 million) in new public-private funding announced this week. The new Cranfield Hydrogen Integration Incubator (CH2i) is backed by £46 million injected by industry partners including Airbus, GKN Aerospace, Marshall, and Cranfield Aerospace Solutions, and a further £23 million from the UK government’s Research Partnership Investment Fund (RPIF).

CH2i is intended to be a platform through which multiple partners can join forces to work on the production, integration, and use of hydrogen to support net-zero objectives to decarbonize air transport. It will be connected to Cranfield’s new Centre for Doctoral Training in Net Zero Aviation, which is intended to stimulate research in areas such as production technologies, catalysts, materials, structures, storage tanks, aircraft designs, and engines. Academic partners include Imperial College London, the Midlands Innovation Energy Research Accelerator, the National Centre for Atmospheric Science, the UK Aerospace Research Consortium, the UK Collaboration for Research on Infrastructure and Cities, and the National Physical Laboratory.

The Centre for Doctoral Training is expected to provide paths for PhD students to work with private sector companies. On Wednesday, Lyte Aviation said it plans to offer opportunities to be involved in the development of its LA-44 SkyBus hybrid-hydrogen-electric aircraft.

“CH2i will integrate with other large industry research areas at Cranfield, including our novel hydrogen production programs and our Aerospace Integration Research Centre and the Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre,” explained professor Karen Holford, chief executive and vice-chancellor of Cranfield University. “Working with research and industry partners nationally and internationally, we will unlock some of the most significant challenges around the future development and deployment of hydrogen in aviation. It’s a very exciting prospect for our researchers, partners, and for the aviation industry. It will help to build the pathway to net zero emissions aviation.”

The Cranfield campus in southern England includes its own airport, research aircraft, and air traffic control facilities. The site has a controlled airside environment that can demonstrate, test, and advance new technologies, systems, and processes at scale.

The new CH2i facility will consist of the existing Hydrogen Integration Research Centre and the new Enabling Hydrogen Innovation test area with two test beds for work on gaseous and liquid hydrogen, as well as fuel systems, storage, and propulsion system integration and increased capacity for testing hydrogen demonstrator aircraft and powertrains. The new funding will be committed to providing new equipment, project management, and staffing to support the project.

Other industry partners in CH2i include Toyota, Siemens Engineering, London Heathrow Airport, Element 2, Hywaves, GTI Energy, Modular Clinton Global, and Equilibrion. Cranfield is one of four universities to receive RPIF support that has now totaled more than £1 billion.

Cranfield Aerospace Solutions is based on the campus, where it is working on its plans to develop a hydrogen-powered version of the Britten-Norman Islander. Earlier this month, the company completed the integration of its hydrogen fuel cell powertrain into the nacelle of a testbed aircraft as it prepares to start flight testing with a technology demonstrator by the end of 2024.


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Air Astana announces settlement with Pratt & Whitney

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Air Astana Group has reached a settlement with Pratt & Whitney in connection to its PW1100G engines fitted to the carrier’s A320-200neo aircraft.

In a Kazakhstan Stock Exchange filing on March 27, the Air Astana (KC, Astana Nursultan Nazarbayev) and FlyArystan parent said the settlement “will help address costs and will supplement the existing range of robust operational initiatives to address these issues in a sustainable manner.” It did not disclose a figure on the settlement.

The engine type powers the group’s twenty-nine A320neo Family aircraft. The company said it expects to have 34 engine removals throughout 2024.

“To mitigate the ongoing maintenance issues concerning the PW1100G engines, Air Astana Group has five spare engines and plans to obtain six additional engines by 2028,” a January 2024 preliminary prospectus reads. “Furthermore, Air Astana Group has access to Pratt & Whitney’s pool of spare engines.”

The module reveals that the PW1100G is fitted to thirteen A320-200Ns, four A321-200Ns, and twelve A321-200NX(LR)s among the group’s fleet. Eight of the A320-200Ns operate on behalf of FlyArystan with the remainder flying for Air Astana. Six of the A320-200Ns are currently out of service.

The settlement draws a line under Air Astana Group’s second major engine dispute in as many years. In February 2023, the company withdrew an appeal at the New York Supreme Court after it lost a 2021 damages claim against Embraer. Alleging five E190-E2s delivered on lease from AerCap in 2018 were unsafe to fly, it grounded the planes and sued Embraer for breaches of contract and warranty. However, the court dismissed Air Astana’s claim for damages in September 2022. Air Astana appealed that decision before deciding to withdraw it.

Separately, this week’s stock exchange filing disclosed that Air Astana Group had executed a purchase agreement with International Aero Engines for a sixth spare PW1100 engine. IAE will deliver it in April and the transaction is “aligned with the airline’s engine issue mitigation planning.” The group further advised that it had signed a lease for two A320-200s to help offset the capacity issues caused by the out-of-service A320neo. Those two aircraft are due to arrive in the first quarter of 2025.


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Electron Unveils All-electric Five-seat Utility Aircraft

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The Dutch start-up aims to be ready to start deliveries in 2028

Electron Aerospace is stepping up work to bring a five-seat all-electric aircraft to market by the end of this decade. The Dutch start-up unveiled an updated design for the Electron 5 model, for which it intends to start deliveries in 2028.

As battery technology continues to improve incrementally, the company believes the Electron 5 model will have an operational range of 500 kilometers (310 miles), including anticipated safety reserves for energy equal to an additional 250 km. According to co-founder and CEO Josef Mouris, for the regional air mobility market, the company initially intends to address city-pair sectors of around 370 km and at a speed of 350 km/h.

When it was launched in 2021, Electron’s initial business plan was to lease and operate electric aircraft. “But we soon found there wasn’t anything suitable out there,” Mouris said “The [two-seat] Pipistrel [Electro] is too small and the [nine-seat] Eviation Alice still had uncertifiable engines on the wing tip back then and is simply too big for the market we want to address. We didn’t want eVTOL aircraft because we don’t think these fit existing certification and operating standards and will not have the required range nor the low operations costs of a pure electric eCTOL. What we needed was something like an electrified Diamond DA62, but unfortunately retrofitting does not work.”

Having resolved to develop its own aircraft, Electron decided to offer this to other operators initially to establish where it might fit in the market. It has previously signed memorandums of understanding with South Korea’s Mint Air and Australian aircraft distributor FlyOnE. Along with an agreement with Danish-German logistics group Danx Carousel, it said the value of pre-orders now totals more than €230 million (about $250 million).

The Electron 5 design features a long wingspan, a canard, and a T-tail. With its twin pusher propellers, the aircraft is (in appearance) somewhat reminiscent of Piaggio’s Avanti turboprop. Operating with a single pilot, it would seat up to four passengers or carry 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds) of freight on a standard European pallet and be able to operate from short landing strips of less than 800 meters (2,600 feet).

The company presented the new design to investors in late January, before making it public this week. “Taking inspiration from the albatross, our Electron 5 features an aerodynamically efficient body, robust wings, and windows that mimic the bird’s vigilant eyes,” explained Electron’s head of design, Alexander Klatt. For freight operators, the aircraft can include a cargo door in the side of the fuselage.

So far, Electron has built a pair of cabin mockups to validate use cases with customers that could include cargo and emergency medical support, as well as passenger flights in single-pilot operations. It is working with Dassault Systèmes’ design and engineering software with plans to forge further agreements with partners to supply key technology such as the propulsion system, batteries, avionics, and other components.

More Funding Needed to Get to Market

Having raised an undisclosed seven-figure amount for the program, Electron is now seeking additional financial backers. Mouris acknowledged the current environment for finding investors in electric aviation is proving challenging, with more money having gone previously to eVTOL start-ups than to new fixed-wing models looking to unlock transportation options from numerous under-utilized small airports.

“Our main goal is to convert ground trips involving four- to eight-hour drives [into sub-regional flights],” Mouris explained, pointing to sector examples, such as Dutch towns Groningen, Twente, and Maastricht to larger cities like Copenhagen, Paris, and Berlin. This approach would also avoid travelers having to make inefficient trips to larger hub airports like Amsterdam Schiphol.

Mouris, a former airline pilot with FlyBe, founded Electron with Marc-Henry de Jong, a management consultant with extensive experience in sustainability businesses. Electron’s engineering team has previously held senior roles with companies including Fokker, Airbus, GKN Aerospace, Embraer, Lockheed Martin, and General Atomics.

Initially, the business began in the UK but in the wake of the country’s Brexit departure from the European Union (EU), Electron is now incorporated in the Dutch city of Rotterdam so that it can work directly under EASA’s jurisdiction. Mouris said that government funding opportunities in the EU are better suited to product development than in the UK.

The company aims to complete EASA type certification by the end of 2027. It is preparing to file an application for a design organization approval from the European air safety regulator but has not yet indicated when it intends to build and fly a full-scale prototype.


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FAA Consults on Special Conditions for Safran Electric Engine

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The EngineUs family of electric motors has been selected for several new aircraft

The FAA this week opened a consultation on proposed special conditions for certifying Safran’s EngineUs 100 electric motors. The propulsion systems have been selected for use on multiple new electric and hybrid-electric aircraft, including the nine-passenger eSTOL model being developed by Electra and Bye Aerospace’s eFlyer family.

In a document published on March 20, the U.S. air safety agency said that special conditions will be required since the characteristics of electric engines are not adequately covered by the requirements of the existing 14 CFR Part 33 rules developed for turbine and reciprocating engines. It has given interested parties until April 19 to comment on its proposals for handling the type certification application that France-based Safran Electrical & Power filed back on Nov. 27, 2020.

The special conditions would require Safran to comply with Part 33 airworthiness standards, apart from those specifically applicable to turbine and reciprocating engines. Additionally, the manufacturer would need “to establish engine operating limits related to the power, torque, speed, and duty cycles” specific to the EngineUs powertrain.

The FAA is proposing additional requirements covering materials, fire protection, durability, cooling, and attachments for engine mounting and accessories. Safran will also have to prove the safety with regard to potential consequences from rotor overspeed, unstable torque, and variances in temperature, vibration, and high-intensity radiated fields. The conditions cover the reliability of electronic control systems and data collection, as well as mitigation for system failures.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, Safran Electrical & Power is in the advanced stages of work to secure EASA type certification under the European regulator’s existing CS-23 rules. Last year, the business unit of the French aerospace group obtained an EASA design organization approval and began certification testing. During the June 2023 Paris Air Show, the company indicated it was targeting EASA type certification by the end of the first quarter of 2024.

The EngineUs 100 covers a power output range of 100 to 180 kilowatts and a power density of 5 kilowatts per kilogram. It has also been selected for hybrid-electric aircraft being developed by French start-ups VoltAero and Aura Aero, as well as for Volocopter’s next-generation eVTOL aircraft and the E20 eVTOL being developed by China’s TCab Tech.


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Embraer Sees Strong Growth, Rising Backlogs

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Despite supply chain issues, the OEM delivered the most bizjets in 7 years

While Embraer’s executive jet division missed its 2022 guidance for deliveries last year, the company still increased its year-over-year deliveries by 13 percent, according to the company’s fourth-quarter/year-end 2023 investor call on Monday.

The Brazilian airframer handed over 115 private jets last year—including 41 in the fourth quarter—an increase of 13 units over its 2022 tally. It was five aircraft shy of the low end of its predicted output of 120 to 130 executive jets, a shortfall company president and CEO Francisco Neto attributed to lingering supply-chain issues.

“Executive aviation registered a book-to-bill in excess of 1:1.3 with a strong backlog of $4.3 billion,” he told the audience. “On deliveries, the business unit posted the largest volume in seven years.” Neto noted that the company’s Phenom 300 light jet was the best-selling aircraft in its class for 12 straight years and the most-delivered twinjet for the fourth consecutive year.

The executive jet division ended the year with a $4.3 billion backlog, an increase of $400 million year-over-year. For 2024, the manufacturer predicts deliveries between 125 and 135 private jets.

“Capital allocation continues to be focused on segments with higher returns with projects such as expansion of our production capabilities in executive aviation and service and support,” explained company CFO Antonio Carlos Garcia. Those two divisions each accounted for 27 percent of the manufacturer’s net revenues in 2024.

Embraer’s service and support division finished 2023 with a record backlog of $3.1 billion, having expanded it by $500 million last year. “In 2023, the business unit experienced solid growth momentum,” explained Neto, pointing out that the company added three new MROs dedicated to executive jets in the U.S., doubling its maintenance capacity there to support the growth of its customer base.

“I am proud to say 2023 was a remarkable year for Embraer,” said Neto. “It represented the start of a new cycle for the company—a phase focused on sustainable growth to capture our full potential. In 2024, we will celebrate Embraer’s 55th anniversary in very good shape.”


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Japan Airlines buys 42 aircraft from Airbus, Boeing

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The ‘catalogue’ prices of the planes come to around $12.9 billion in total

Tokyo: Japan Airlines said Thursday that it is buying 42 airplanes from Boeing and Airbus as part of a drive to boost its international and domestic operations.

32 new aircraft from Airbus and 10 from Boeing in orders worth billions of dollars.

The firm said it would “introduce a total of 21 Airbus A350-900 aircraft from Airbus, along with 11 A321neo aircraft, and 10 Boeing 787-9 aircraft from The Boeing Company, as part of its fleet renewal plan”.

But a separate statement listed the “catalogue” prices of the planes, which in total comes to around $12.9 billion.

The airline said it will add 20 Airbus A350-900 aircraft and 10 Boeing 787-9 to its international routes, adding to its existing fleet of more than 50 Boeing 787-series planes.

“These new aircraft introductions aim to enhance and expand the capacity of JAL’s international operations, with a primary focus on regions such as North America, Asia, and India where future growth is expected,” it said in a statement.

On domestic routes, JAL will introduce 21 Boeing 737-8 aircraft to replace its current Boeing 737-800 fleet, starting from 2026, it said.

Additionally, to update their existing fleet of medium-sized Boeing 767 aircraft, JAL will introduce 11 Airbus A321neo aircraft.

This marks the first time that JAL, which is Japan’s second-biggest airline after All Nippon Airways (ANA), will introduce the model, it said.

The introduction of both aircraft types is planned over a period of approximately six years, starting in 2027.

JAL added that it “remains committed to steadily advancing the introduction of fuel-efficient aircraft as part of its efforts to achieve its CO2 emissions reduction targets”.

The goals include a 10 percent reduction in total emissions compared to 2019 by fiscal year 2030, and near-zero emissions by fiscal year 2050, it added.


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Aviation industry sets out route to net-zero

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Sustainable Aviation (SA) has launched a new manifesto outlining the aviation industry’s commitment to achieving net-zero and minimising the impact of noise, while maximising the economic benefits that aviation delivers across the nations and regions of the UK.
The economic prize for the UK of leading aviation’s transition to a sustainable future is significant.
In recent years Sustainable Aviation members have achieved significant milestones, including modernising UK airspace to create more efficient flightpaths, a world-first transatlantic flight using 100% sustainable aviation fuels and successful tests of hydrogen-powered aircraft.
Matt Gorman, chair of Sustainable Aviation and Sustainability Director at Heathrow, said: “Our transition to net-zero flight will not only safeguard and grow aviation’s contribution to the UK economy but also create thousands of new jobs. By leveraging our existing strengths as an aviation nation, we can lead the world in green aviation technology.
“Great strides have been taken in recent years, including the universal adoption of the 2050 net-zero target, world-first 100% transatlantic SAF flight from London and test flights using hydrogen aircraft here in the UK. Sustainable Aviation is calling on Government to take decisive action to accelerate our transition to net zero flight, so we can realise the substantial social, economic, and environmental benefits of sustainable aviation.”
Aviation Minister Anthony Browne said: “As the world continues to combat climate change, aviation will play a vital part in reaching net-zero and the dedication of Sustainable Aviation is helping us get there.
“With support from the Government’s Advanced Fuels Fund and upcoming SAF mandate, the UK SAF programme continues to be a global leader and will not only encourage investment, level up local communities and support jobs but most importantly, make aviation a cleaner, greener way to travel.”


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Airbus delivers 49 aircraft in February 2024

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Continuing its strong start to the year Airbus has delivered 49 aircraft to 28 customers in the month of February making the deliveries for the year to date 79.

Deliveries included 45 single-aisle airlines and 4 wide-bodies.

Airbus delivered Six A220 airliners to airlines including Delta Airlines, Breeze and JetBlue whilst 17 A320neos went to airlines including Indigo and Air Lease Corporation.

21 A321neos were delivered in the same period including one to British Airways.

Wide-body deliveries included two A330neos to Condor and Cebu pacific as well as two A350s to Turkish Airlines and British Airways.

Gross orders for the month were for two A350s to an as yet undisclosed customer.