Kaplanian Report – April 2021


                                          Boeing 777-9 Performing Runway Tests in Oklahoma

Boeing has sent one of its four 777-9 test aircraft to Clinton-Sherman airport in Oklahoma for a series of tests that will primarily examine the jet’s performance on the runway.

Test aircraft designated “WH001” (registration N779XW) arrived at the airport in the western part of Oklahoma at the last week of February.

“We’re in Oklahoma for testing with our new Boeing 777-9,” Boeing says.  ”We’re conducting comprehensive series of tests and conditions, on the ground and in the air, to demonstrate the safety and reliability of the design.”

The company confirms to FlightGlobal that the jet will primarily complete runway-related tests at Clinton-Sherman until sometime in March, Boeing adds.

Boeing’s flight-test program for the GE Aviation GE9X-powered 777-9 began on January 25, 2020, when aircraft WH001 took off from Paine Field in Everett, Washington.  At that time, Boeing had intended to begin deliveries this year.

Since then, however, amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the global airline-sector downturn and the need for design modifications, Boeing delayed its planned first 777-9 delivery until “late 2023”.

In January, Boeing chief executive David Calhoun said the company was “making prudent design modifications as necessary” to align with regulators “expectations”.

Aircraft WH001 has been assigned the work To completing tests related to avionics, brakes, flutter, ice, low speed aerodynamics, stability and control, Boeing says.

Source: Boeing, FlightGlobal, Picture Boeing 



                   A321XLR’s Rear Fuel Tank Demands Special Fire-Protection Conditions

Airbus’s A321XLR will be subject to special conditions proposed for the aircraft’s integrated rear center tank, intended to ensure adequate protection from fire.

The large 12,900-liter (3,407 gallons) center tank, located in the aft hold of the twinjet, will contain the furl necessary for the aircraft to achieve its extended range.

Airbus has submitted an application for the change to the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, and the authority states that the location of the tank is likely to create a “cold feet” cooling effect to the potential discomfort of passengers seated immediately above it.

This means insulation panels will need to be fitted between the tank and the cabin floor, and these would have to meet burn-through criteria.  But Airbus has informed EASA that this is ”technically not feasible”, for various reasons.

Lack of space prevents fitting of compliant panels, while burn-through protection of the cabin floor cannot be comprehensive because decompression panels either side of the fuselage must remain free of insulation panels.

Installation of compliant materials would also “jeopardise” the provision of sufficient ventilation around the tank, says EASA.  EASA states, that the tank’s design is being “thoroughly reviewed” in terms of “structural crashworthiness”, taking into consideration the level of safety provided by the US FAA in an advisory circular on auxiliary fuel system installation; appropriate means of compliance will be defined,” it adds.

There are other potential risks to the fuel tank arising from an external pool fire, including explosion driven by internal volume heating, according to a comment from Boeing during the consultation.

Boeing’s comments also highlight additional safety concerns regarding an integral fuel tank other than the exposure to fire—particularly the protection against structural factor during an otherwise-survivable runway excursion or landing-gear failure.

Airbus is developing the A321XLR from the A321neo airframe, and is planning entry into service in 2023.

Source: FlightGlobal, Airbus, Airbus Picture

                             Final Production Airbus A380 Departs Toulouse to Hamburg

Airbus has flown the last production A380 from Toulouse to Hamburg Finkenwerder plant for completion ahead of its delivery to Emirates.

The flight of the aircraft, MSN272, took place on March 17, a little more than two years after Airbus opted to cease production of the aircraft.  Airbus chief executive Guillaume Faury says the maiden flight marks” another remarkable day” for the airframes’s Toulouse facility.  “We are looking forward to supporting this iconic aircraft and its customers for many years,” he adds.  While the last aircraft-fitted with Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines carries the serial number 272, airlines have ordered a total of 251 A380s.  Emirates is the largest operator of the type.

Source: Airbus, Picture Airbus            



                                              NetJets, FSI Sign MOU for 20 Aerion AS2s, Training 

Aerion has signed a multifaceted memorandum of understanding with NetJets and sister company FlightSafety International, including the rights for NetJets to purchase 20 AS2 supersonic business jets.  The deal would extend Aerion’s backlog for the Mach 1.4 aircraft to $10 billion, Aerion said. 

Under the collaborative agreement, NetJets would become the exclusive business jet operator for Aerion Connect, which is Aerion’s vision for global mobility ecosystem that enables seamless point-to-point travel across multiple modes of transportation in urban and rural settings. 

In addition, Aerion would collaborate with FlightSafety International on Supersonic flight training academy for civil, commercial, and military supersonic aircraft.The Aerion-branded academy will leverage FSI’s training expertise to serve a center of excellence for supersonic flight training and education, Aerion said.

Aerion is planning to bring the AS2 to market later this dacade, saying plans to kick off production at Aerion Park in Melbourne, Florida, remain on track for 2023 after the completion of wind-tunnel validation trials late last year, Aerion said. 

Source: ainonline, Aerion, Picture Aerion  

                                             Falcon 6X Completes Maiden Flight 

Dassault Aviation has announced on March 10 that the company’s wide body Falcon 6X has successfully completed its first flight as planned in the first quarter of 2021, demonstrating the maturity of the program and opening the test campaign for certification.

“Today’s flight is another milestone in Dassault history, made all the more satisfying by the remarkable efforts of the entire Dassault organization and its partners over the challenging past year,” said Dassault Aviation Chairman/CEO Eric Trappier.

“The 6X is the latest example of the fusion of military know-how and business aviation expertise for which Dassault Aviation is so respected,” added Trappier.

“The new capabilities in efficiency, performance and safety it offers will set a new benchmark in the long-range segment.  This airplane will also set a new standard in terms of cabin comfort and speciousness, as demanded by our customers.” 

The two-hour-thirty maiden flight was excited per test plan, with pilots testing aircraft handling quantities, engine response and behavior of key aircraft systems.  The aircraft topped out at 40,000 ft and reached a speed of M0.8 before returning to base.  Falcon 6X s/n 02 and 03 are scheduled to take to the air in the coming months.

Source: Dassault Aviation, Picture Dassault Aviation                                                            


                                   Southwest Airlines Returns Boeing 737 Max to its Fleet

Southwest Airlines, the world’s top Boeing operator, is set to return the 737 Max into its network and schedule, operating several revenue flights on the type for the first time in two years.

The Dallas-headquartered airline started operations with the type on multiple routes on March 11th the flights departed at or around the same time on that date, and the airline did not celebrate its post-grounding flight as other carriers have done.

“Initially, the aircraft will operate up to 44 daily flights to 15 cities.  By mid-April, the airplane will resume operations throughout Southwest’s network.” the airline said.  The carrier’s Max fleet has been in storage for almost two years after the plane was grounded.  Southwest becomes the 14th airline to return the Max to its fleet.  As of early March, the in-service fleet worldwide has passed 100 aircraft.

So far, the narrow body type has been re-certified in numerous jurisdictions in the Americas, Europe and the Middle East, but has not received approval from Asia.  Southwest says it ended 2020 with 718 aircraft in its fleet, including 41 737 Max.  It expects to end this year with 69 of the type.

Source: Southwest, Southwest Airlines Picture

                                       777 Investment Firm Secures 24 737 MAX orders 

Miami-based 777 Partners, which has a stake in Canadian ultra-low-cost carrier Flair Airlines, ordered 24 Boeing 737 Max 8s and has taken options to buy a further 60 of the type, adding fresh momentum to the narrow body’s backlog.

Boeing disclosed the order on March 12, saying 777 Partners intends to lease the jets to  its affiliated operating low-cost carriers. 

In addition to aircraft leasing, 777 Partners strategically invests in a host of aviation businesses, from operating carriers to technology-driven solutions.  The firm’s travel sector strategy is largely focused on innovative solutions for interlining, passenger connectivity, and creating new commerce channels for its airline investments and customers.

“We could not be more excited to partner with Boeing on this transformative order for our growing aviation business. The 737 Max 8 aircraft are a fantastic addition to our aviation portfolio and will enable our partners to leverage the jets’ superior economic performance to deliver low fares for their passengers while reducing their carbon footprint,” said Joshua Wander, founder and managing partner of 777 Partners.

Source: 777 Partners,Boeing

                               IATA Aims for in-Person AGM with Postponement to October

IATA’s annual general meeting has been postponed to October 3-5, 2021, as the airline industry association seeks to ensure an in-person event happens this year amid a hoped for recovery from the worst effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Originally due to be held on June 27-29, the 77th AGM and World Air Transport summit will still take place in Boston, with JetBlue Airways as the host.

“We believe that it is vital to do all we can to meet as an industry face to face,” says outgoing IATA director general Alexandre de Juniac.”   Doing so will affirm that airlines can safely connect the world, demonstrate our industry’s resilience, and confirm the inestimable value of in-person meetings, facilitated by aviation.”

The event will mark Willie Walsh’s first as the new IATA director general, with the former IAG chief set to take the helm of the association from April 1.  IATA’s last in-person AGM was held in Seoul on June 1-3 2019.

Source: Flightglobal, Picture IATA


  • Air China has disclosed plans to acquire 18 Airbus A320neos from GECAS subsidiary AFS investments.

  • US Department of Transportation (DOT) has given start-up low-cost airline Breeze Airways the green light to begin operations
  • American Airlines will fly the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner from Dallas/Fort Worth to Anchorage, Alaska, this summer, potentially in anticipation of a surge of leisure travel.
  • Boeing inked the last sale of a VIP 747-8i, marking the end of an era of opulence in private aviation.  According to Boeing, the green aircraft was not newly built but the company declined to disclose when it was produced or the delivery date.  It also did not disclose the customer and origin, nor plans for completion.

  • Recaro Aircraft Seating  has received additional orders to outfit Alaska Airlines’ new 737 MAX aircraft with 13 chipsets of the CL4710 business class and BL3530 economy class seats.
  • Wideroe Scandinavian Regional Airline committed to introducing Tecnam’s new all-electric P-Volt aircraft into commercial service on scheduled routes starting in 2026.  Rolls-Royce Electrical is developing a propulsion system for the nine passenger aircraft, which is based on Tecnam’s existing P2012 Traveller twin-piston model.

  • China Airlines on March 20, China airlines operated its last passenger-carrying 747 flight.  The aircraft, which took delivery of in 2005, is also the final passenger carrying 747-400 produced by Boeing.

  • Rolls-Royce has secured an exclusive position on the Airbus A350-900 for the remainder of the decade.  The agreement means the Trent XWB will remain the sole powerplant on the A350 until at least 2030.
  •  Diehl Aerospace has secured a contract extension from Boeing for the delivery of interior lighting system for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.


  Two Icelandair 767s to be Converted to Freighters in Leaseback

Icelandair Group has repacked a sale-and-leaseback agreement for a pair of Boeing 767-300ER which will be converted into freighters.  The aircraft are being sold to Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings’ associated joint venture Titan Aircraft Investments.  Icelandair Group says the 767s will be converted in spring of next year and be re-introduced, to the fleet of Icelandair Cargo, in September 2022.  They will replace a pair of Boeing 757-200 freighters which will be withdrawn from the fleet in 2023-24.

“Until then,The aircraft will be operated within Icelandair Group’s network and leasing operations,” the company states.  There are four 767-300ERs in Icelandair fleet all of which are fitted with General Electric CF6 engines.

Icelandair Group says the lease period for the twinsets is 10 years.”  The agreement will have a positive impact on our liquidity,” the company adds.  Chief executive Bogi Nils Bogason says the 767s have 50% more capacity than the 757 freighters and “fit very well” into the network.

Source: Icelandair, Picture Icelandair


“Wise Guy” is Back

“Wise Guy” joins “Ghost Rider,”which was the first B-52 to be regenerated, and brings the Air Force B-52 fleet up to full strength at 76 total aircraft.

Nearly a year after arriving at Oklahoma City Logistics Complex, the second B-52H Stratofortress bomber to be resurrected from the Arizona desert has left to rejoin the Air Force Fleet.

“Wise Guy” departed Tinker Air Force Base on March 10, 2021 ,to return to the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot AFB,North Dakota, where it re-entered service.

One at Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex, the 76th Commodities Maintenance Group repaired and manufactured parts, the 76th Propulsion Maintenance Group overhauled engines and manufactured parts, the 565th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron completed the structural repairs, and the 10th Flight Test Squadron ensured that the aircraft was safe to fly.

Source: Business Insider, Picture US Air Force



 Researched and Compiled by : 

Ed Kaplanian    Commercial Aviation Advisor  

Contact – ekaplanian@msn.com

Editor:   Lee Kaplanian  

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