On The Boeing Front
Boeing’s Latest ecoDemonstrator Targets Noise, Airspace Routing
The drive for environmental sustain ability comes in many forms and from all sectors of the aviation industry. Boeing’s completion in early September of its latest ecoDemonstrator flight trials centering on noise, airspace routing efficiency, and cabin disinfection certainly applies to business jets as much as airliners.
Performed over about a week of flying twice a day from a former U.S. Air Force base in Glasgow, Montana, and during individual positioning flights between Seattle’s Boeing Field and the company’s Dreamliner assembly plant in Charleston, South Carolina, the tests evaluated the effectiveness of noise-mitigating fairings attached to the 787-10’s Safran Landing gear. Further noise testing involved the use of 200 microphones attached to the left side of the aircraft’s fuselage and 1,000 more listening devices on the ground in Montana.
Addressing both environmental efficiency and safety, the testing also demonstrated a system meant to more accurately guide flights around hazards such as storms, allowing pilots to better plan their routes and more quickly arrive at their destinations.
Separately, engineers tested a new hand-held wand to kill germs on surfaces within the cabin such as Covid-19. Using 222-nanometer ultraviolet light, the wand disinfected the 787 flight deck in unless than 15 minutes.
The Etihad 787-10 was the seventh test platform used since the start of the ecoDemonstrator program in 2012. Over the eight year program, Boeing has managed to apply several of the tested items to production airplanes. One of the earliest studies, in 2012, resulted in Advanced Technology winglet that now appears on the 737 Max.
On the 777X, Boeing has incorporated touchscreen displays first tested in 2014 and in 2016 signed a contract with Rockwell Collins (now Collins Aerospace) to supply the devices of all flight deck displays.
ON THE AIRBUS FRONT
Higher-Weight A330-900 Secures EASA Certification
Airbus’s higher-weight A330-900 has obtained certification from the European airworthiness authority, enabling operators to take advantage of greater range.
The aircraft, the larger variant of the A330neo family, has a maximum take-off weight of 251t. The French carrier Corsair will be the first carrier to introduce the new version. Airbus commenced flight-testing of the higher-weight version at the end of February this year, using MSN1967.
The aircraft has undergone modifications, including strengthening the landing gear and structural reinforcements, which Airbus describes as “weight-neutral” adding that it retains 99% spares commonality.
“Modifications to the nose-and main landing-gear has also enabled Airbus engineers to extend their time-before-overhaul,” stretching the interval from 10 to 12 years.
Airbus intends to obtain similar 251t certification next year for the smaller A330-800.
Last Ever Airbus A380 Rolled Out From the Factory In Toulouse
On September 25th, the last ever Airbus A380 rolled out of the Airbus Toulouse assembly plant. Since the A380 first delivery to Singapore Airlines in 2007, more than 240 A380s have rolled of the line.
Initial assembly of the final A380, serial number 272, has been completed with manufacturing station 40 out of work. It’s now off to station 30, where the engines will be installed and tests are carried out on electrical and hydraulic systems.
After engine tests are performed, the aircraft will make its first flight test to Hamburg, Germany, where the cabin will be installed, fitted out and the plane painted in the customer’s livery: Emirates Airlines.
The Airbus 380 was developed at a cost of $25 billion and, with a capacity of up to 853 passengers, it’s the largest gas produced civil airliner in history.
Airbus overestimated airlines’ appetite for the aircraft. By the time the 2019 announcement, it had delivered just 234 of the aircraft—less than a quarter of the 1,200 it had predicted when the A380 was introduced.
Source: Airbus/Picture Airbus
King Air 360/360ER Awarded FAA Type Certification
Textron Aviation’s Beechcraft King Air 360/360ER has been awarded FAA type certification, a little more than a month after the upgraded twin-turboprop was announced.
The upgraded airplane features the Innovative Solutions & Support(IS&S) ThrustSense auto throttle, which allows pilots to automatically manage engine power from takeoff roll through climb, cruise, descent, and go-around phases of flight. Also new to King Air cockpit is digital pressurization controller that automatically schedules cabin pressurization during climb and descent and gauges of which have been integrated into the airplane’s Collin Aerospace Pro Line Fusion flight deck.
Cabin altitude has been improved by 10 percent over its predecessor 350i, providing an altitude of 5,960 feet at a typical cruising altitude of 27,000 feet.
Source: Textron Aviation/Textron Aviation Picture
Jetfly Takes Delivery of First PC-12NGX
European fractional ownership company Jetfly Aviation has taken delivery of the first Pilatus PC-12NGX along with its fifth PC-24 aircraft.
Unveiled in 2019, the PC-12 NGX is equipped with an updated Pratt & Whitney PT6E-67XP engine, which includes a full digital engine control, marking a first for business turboprops. In addition, the aircraft includes a fully integrated auto throttle option and features a new passenger cabin that draws from the PC-24 twinjet.
The Jetfly Group, which includes Fly 7 Aviation, currently operates 47 Pilatus aircraft. Delivery of the fifth PC-24 comes within two years of Jetfly’s first. The company’s fractional program has attracted 50 owners to the Swiss twinjet. Jetfly plans to take delivery of its sixth PC-24 by the end of this year.
Source: Pilatus Aircraft/Jetfly Aviation Picture
OTHER AVIATION NEWS
GE9X Engine for the Boeing 777X Gets FAA Certification
On September 28, the Federal Aviation Administration has certificated GE Aviation’s 105,000lb-thrust (467kN) GE9X turbofans milestone; coming as Boeing continues working toward achieving certification for its GE9X-powered 777-9.
GE completed the GE90X certification program using eight test engines that logged nearly 5,000h of operation and 8,000 cycles.
John Slattery, president and CEO of GE Aviation, said: “It takes the world’s best talent in jet propulsion to create a game-changing product like the GE9x engine. There is no substitute that can achieve the combination of size, power and fuel efficiency of theGE9X. This engine will deliver unsurpassed value and reliability to our airline customers.”
“GE’s focus remains working with Boeing to complete the 777X flight-test program and entry into service,” GE says. ”Eight GE9X test engines and two test spares have been delivered to Seattle for Boeing’s four 777X test airplanes.”
GE continues working to achieve FAA GE9X”extended operations”(ETOPS) approval – an effort expected to involve 3,000 GE9X ground -test cycles. The Company is also “conducting maturation testing to help GE engineers prepare to support the engine in service”, it adds.
GE Aviation in 2021 will kick off a GE90X test program intended to validate the power plant’s durability when operating in sandy, dusty conditions.
The tests will let GE evaluate the 105,000lb-thrust (467kN) GE9X’s design and technologies intended to help the power plant tolerate such extreme operations.
“One of our biggest focus points has been a sand infection,” says GE90X program leader Karl Sheldon.” The test next year is where we purposefully allow the engine to ingest sand.”
“The intent of the test is to validate the technology that we put in therein a full-up operating condition” Sheldon adds.
Source: GE Aviation/picture GE Aviation
Extra Facility Opened For Planes Grounded By Covid-19
An aircraft storage facility in Central Australia is now so full that its owners have had to seek out more space.
Many carriers haven’t had enough passengers to justify flying during the pandemic, and have opted to store their planes.
Asia Pacific Airline Storage is storing 94 planes at Alice Springs, and will store more in Southeast Queensland (APAS).
APAS has additional sixteen slots on site, but they are already booked with existing customers. The site has become a local landmark in the remote town of about 25,000 people.
The Company has plans to expand the facility from its current 110 slots to accommodate 160-200 aircraft. Until the expansion is ready, APAS needs to find extra space elsewhere. Desert conditions are widely regarded by manufacturers and airlines as preferable for storing planes because it is easier to protect against corrosion in dry weather.
APAS now has 70 employees ensuring the planes are properly looked after until the airlines need them again. The Facility is not an airline “boneyard” where old planes are stripped for reusable parts; but suggested that they might become part of the business if the industry continues to face headwinds.
The IATA estimates that it will be at least 2024 before air traffic reaches pre-pandemic levels.
CMA CGM to Take Stake In French Airline Parent
Shipping transport and Logistics group CMA CGM has signed a memorandum of understanding to take a 30% stake in Groupe Dubreuil Aero, shareholder of carrier Air Caraibes and French Bee.
The move is aimed at further developing activity in the airfreight market, building on co-operation struck during the coronavirus crisis, plus providing fresh equity for the french airline operator.
Air Caraibes took delivery of its first A350-1000 in December, and already operates three A350-900s.
CMA CGM chef executive Rodolphe Saade says: “The acquisition of this stake will enable the CMA CGM Group to strengthen its position in airfreight. We will bring to Groupe Dubreuil Aero all our expertise in the transport of goods in ultra-marine territories.”
The carriers operate a combined fleet of 17 aircraft, including six Airbus A330 and eight A350 widebodies. They handled 2.15 million passengers in 2019, roughly a third go Groupe Dubreuil revenues.
Source: Groupe Dubreuil/Picture Air Caraïbes
Atlas Air Trains Air Force One Pilots
Atlas Air operates the world’s largest fleet of Boeing 747 Freighters flying to 90 countries, it is a leading provider of outsourced aircraft and aviation operating services.
On the first week of October confirmed that the United States Air Force has exercised its option to continue its pilot and flight engineer training contract for Air Force One with Atlas Air Inc.
Atlas Air has been training Air Force One Pilots and engineers since October 2007 and under this new extension, crews for the Air Force’s VC-25, which is a highly modified version of the Boeing 747-200, will receive ground and flight-simulator training at Atlas Air’s training center in Miami, Florida.
“ Air Force One”, the designated call sign of the aircraft when the President is on board, consists of two specially configured Boeing 747-200B aircraft.
“We are honored to provide this vital training to the pilots and crews of Air Force One and the presidential Airlift Group. Their exacting demands for safety, professionalism, efficiency and security make this contract extremely meaningful, and a testament to the training provided by our highly experienced instructors,” said John Dietrich, President and Chief Executive Officer, Atlas Air Worldwide.
“ This contract extension is the result of our team’s unwavering commitment to safe and efficient operations.”
Source: Atlas Air Worldwide/Picture Air Force One Arriving in the UK
Little Humor During this Pandemic
After every flight, UPS pilots fill out a form, called a “gripe sheet” which tells mechanics about problems with the aircraft. The mechanics correct the problems, document their repairs on the form, then pilots review the gripe sheets before the next flight.
Never let it be said that ground crews lack a sense of humor. Here are actual maintenance complaints submitted by UPS pilots (“P”) and solutions recorded (“S”) by maintenance engineers:
P: Left inside main tire almost needs replacement. S: Almost replaced left inside main tire.
P: Test flight OK, except auto-land very rough. S: Auto-land not installed on this aircraft.
P: Something loose in cockpit
S: Something tightened in cockpit
P: Dead bugs on windshield. S: Live bugs on back-order.
P: Autopilot in altitude-hold mode produces a 200 feet per minute descent
S: Cannot reproduce problem on ground.
P: Evidence of leak on right main landing gear. S: Evidence removed.
P: DME volume unbelievably loud.
S: DME volume set to more believable level.
P: Friction locks cause throttle levers to stick. S: That’s what friction locks are for.
P: IFF inoperative in OFF mode.
S: IFF always inoperative in OFF mode.
P: Suspected crack in windshield. S: Suspect you’re right.
P: Number 3 engine missing.
S: Engine found on right wing after brief search.
P: Aircraft handles funny.
S: Aircraft warned to: straighten up, fly right, and be serious.
P: Target radar hums.
S: Reprogrammed target radar with lyrics.
P: Mouse in cockpit. S: Cat installed.
P: Noise coming from under instrument panel. Sounds like a midget pounding on something with a hammer.
S: Took hammer away from midget
- European Union Safety Agency(EASA) will this month publish a draft airworthiness directive(AD) which should enable the Boeing 737 Max to return to service in the bloc before the the end of the year.
- Australia’s Regional Express(Rex)has signed letters of intent with two lessors to lease 737-800s thus entering the jet business.
- Uganda Airlines Airbus has rolled out the first A330-800 for Uganda Airlines following completion of the twinset’s livery painting.
- Middle East Airlines(MEA) has taken delivery of its third A321neo with a distinctive manufacturer serial number, 10,000.
- Alaska Airlines will retire 10 of the Airbus A320 aircraft it owns earlier than intended, accelerating its cost-saving transition to the all Boeing fleet structure it operated before acquiring Virgin America.
- Icelandair is to sell three of its Boeing 757-200s, which will be converted into freighters following the transaction.
- American Airlines has added its Airbus A330-200s to the list of aircraft types it now plans to permanently retire due to demand erosion from the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Cathay Pacific has given an indication of the timeline surrounding deferrals of its 777-9 aircraft, confirming that the wide bodies will only be delivered “beyond 2025”.
- Air Lease boss stands by plan to keep Max orders John Plueger Said: Boeing’s 737 Max is “going to have a role” in meeting airlines’ future narrowbody needs & lessors ”can be helpful” in ensuring the airframer is able to place the aircraft once it is cleared to fly again.
- Ethiopian Airlines recently launched their 40th humanitarian delivery flight when it delivery of the airline’s 787-9 delivery on October 2nd.
Source: Cathay Pacific, American Airlines, Rex Airlines, Airbus, Flightglobal
321 Precision Conversions Complete First Flight of A321 Converted Freighter
Oregon company 321 Precision Conversions has completed first flight of its Airbus A321-200PCF. freighter.
The type is a former passenger A321 converted to a freighter capable of carrying 27t of payload.
Precision Conversions is working toward receiving a supplemental type certificate for the type from the Federal Aviation Administration, and certifications from European and Chinese regulators.
“This milestone flight was nominal in all respects, with primary and secondary systems- including the cargo door and support sub-systems- functioning perfectly as designed,” says Precision Conversions President Gary Warner.
Precision Conversions is a joint venture between aircraft modification specialist Precision Aircraft Solutions, also based in Oregon, and air freight company Air Transport Services Group, based in Ohio.
The A321-PCF conversion includes addition of a hydraulically operated main-deck cargo door and main-deck cargo loading system.The type has a reinforced floor and plugged windows.
The Conversion allows the A321 to carry up to 14 containers measuring (88x125in) on the main dockhand 10 smaller containers on its lower deck.
Precision Conversions has said the jet’s capacity will be similar to that of Boeing 757-200Fs, with costs comparable to 737Fs.
Wet-Lease and charter specialist SmartLynx’s Maltese division is to lease a pair of the A321s which have been converted to freighters.
Source: 321Precision Conversions
OTHER NOTEWORTHY NEWS
Factors at Play as 737 Max Closes in on Operational Return
The signs are that after the many hurdles that had to be overcome and several false dawns for its revival; the Boeing 737 Max should finally return to the skies before the end of 2020. But the recertification will be just the start of a new set of challenges for Boeing, its customers, and the wider industry.
There are myriad issues that will come into play as the program is revived more than 20 months since its grounding; including some linked to the airline trading conditions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. There are questions around areas; such as the pace of the Max fleet restoration (among the installed fleet and hundreds of built but undelivered airframes); operators’ appetite to add Max and crew-training capacity; the potential displacement effect on other fleets: and the alignment of regulatory approvals worldwide.
But the crucial parameter is beyond the industry’s control: the acceptance by the traveling public to fly on the aircraft. While the narrative on the Max’s safety failings has perhaps been overtaken by Covid-19 pandemic, media attention around its re-introduction could quickly revive painful memories. As it stands, there are 385 delivered Max aircraft grounded worldwide, according to Cirium fleets data. Cirium estimates that approximately another 450 Max airframes are but and stored awaiting delivery.
If, as is now widely expected, recertification by the FAA is imminent, that should clear the way for an almost immediate resumption of deliveries to US airlines. It is likely that the FAA’s approval will be shadowed promptly by authorities participating alongside it in the 737 Max Joint Operations Evaluation Board (JOEB): Brazil, Canada and the EU. The approval status in key Max market China is less clear; but might be expected to follow within months of the FAA’s decision.
If US Max clearance does come soon, then Ascend by Cirium estimates that 2020 deliveries could just reach double figures. As Boeing works to clear the backlog of built aircraft, along with integrating deliveries from Renton assembly line, we project annual shipments reaching 430 in 2021 and 480 in 2022. Before declining below 400 over the following two years. Assuming deliveries are a mix of stored and new-build airframes, we estimate that backlog of parked aircraft will be cleared by the first quarter of 2023. The delivery rate would then fall slightly to approximately 390 at a monthly rate of 31 aircraft.
There will be several drivers determining the pace of return to service of the 385 aircraft grounded in March 2019. Once approval is received within each operator’s jurisdiction, every aircraft will have to undergo post-storage checks and testing. From a demand-side prospective, airlines will look at their fleet-planning strategy amid the downturn and training availability required for flight crews.
Researched and Compiled by :
Ed Kaplanian Commercial Aviation Advisor
Contact – firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor: Lee Kaplanian