Boeing Awarded NASA Sustainable Flight Demonstrator Contract

On January 18th, NASA hired Boeing to develop a truss-braced-wing demonstrator, a part of a project aimed at improving the fuel efficiency of future civilian airliners by up to 30%.

“It will definitely have a role to ply some day in the narrowbody world,” Calhoun said on January 25th of the development program.  “There is real interest there”.  He adds that the truss-braced design is less promising for larger passenger jets, such as mid-market aircraft (comparable to 757s) or widebody jets.

NASA plans to contribute $425 million towards Boeing’s development of the truss- braced demonstrator, while Boeing and other commercial partners are to shoulder the expected $725 million balance.  The design involves an aircraft with long, slender wings mounted high on the fuselage. Such designs are complex, though longer wings can reduce drag.  NASA says the demonstrator will make its first flight in 2028.

Calhoun describes the Boeing-NASA partnership as a means of advancing a concept that both it and NASA have studied for years. He says the program will help Boeing “ commercialize” the truss-braced-wing design.  Calhoun also says a future new aircraft must be 25-30% more efficient than current models—an improvement that will likely involve use of higher-bypass-ratio turbofans. Such engines would be wider in diameter than today’s turbofans but could possibly be accommodated by the truss-braced design’s high-mounted wings, Calhoun says.

Boeing plans to spend an additional $300 million in research and development mostly led by its commercial aircraft division in 2023.  That will bring its expected total 2023 research and development expenses to $3.2 billion, Boeing chief financial officer Brian West said on January 25.

Source: Boeing, Rendering Boeing

   Boeing Orders & Deliveries

Boeing’s commercial aircraft orders and deliveries slowed in February following a strong start for the start to the year the previous month.  But the rest of the year is already shaping up to be busy: Boeing’s disclosure of its latest order and delivery figures on March 14 came as two Saudi Arabian airlines & Riyadh Air disclosed plans to order more than 100 787s.

In contrast, February’s activity was relatively quiet, Boeing says.  The company landed orders for only five jets-all 737 Max, all placed by customers Boeing declines to name.  Also during the month, unnamed customers cancelled orders for three 737 Max, leaving Boeing only two new orders in February.

Deliveries also fell month on month, with Boeing shipping 28 aircraft in February, down from 38 in January.

February’s shipments included 25 737s against 35 the previous month, among them one 737NG-based P-8 maritime patrol aircraft for the royal New Zealand Air Force.

Additionally, Boeing in February handed over three widebody jets including the final 747, a -8 Freighter, to Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, one 777F to Air China Cargo and one 787-10 to United Airlines.

Boeing says the 787 taken by United in February had been certified prior to the most recent delivery halt, making the jet’s handover possible.   But 787 deliveries are now set to resume, with the FAA saying Boeing has “addressed” its concerns.

Source: Boeing



           Qatar Airways A350 & A321Neo Added to Airbus Backlog

Qatar Airways’ order for 23 Airbus A350-1000s and 50 A321neos has been reinstated on the airframer’s backlog as part of its activity in February.  Airbus had previously cancelled the orders during the legal row over skin-paint deterioration on Qatar’s A350 fleet.

But the two sides eventually avoided a high-profile trial by reaching an agreement to settle the matter without admission of liability on either side.  As part of the agreement, the cancelled Qatar orders are being restored, and were added to the backlog on February 1.  The A350-1000s provide Airbus with its first order for long-haul aircraft so far this year.

It has also booked agreements for 10 A320neos from British Airways, and 15 A320neos from an undisclosed customer, plus a single private A319neo.

Cancellation of 11 single-aisle jets in February, left the airframer with net orders of 124 aircraft for the first two months of the year. Airbus managed to double deliveries in February, compared with the 20 in previous month, handing over 46 aircraft. These included two A350s and two A330s.

Sources: Airbus, FlightGlobal, Picture Qatar Airways

          A321XLR Undergoes Cold-Weather Testing in Canada

Airbus has carried out several days of cold-weather testing of the A321XLR, having flown one of the prototype twinsets to Northern Canada.  The test aircraft – MSN11058, also known as FTV2 – departed Toulouse on February 20 for the airport at Iqaluit.

It undertook a number of flights, conducting circuits and approaches, while also undergoing ground checks in the harsh conditions. The temperature was around minus 33 degrees C.  The aircraft, one of three XLRs in the certification fleets powered by Pratt & Whitney PW1100G engines.  Airbus says the aircraft returned to Toulouse on February 24.

Source: Airbus, Picture Airbus        



                                  Gulfstream Delivers 100th G600

Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. today announced the 100th Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. G600 customer delivery.  The aircraft was outfitted at Gulfstream’s Dallas completions center and delivered to a North America-based customer.

“ The G600 continues to redefine excellence,” said Mark Burns, president, Gulfstream.  ”Thanks to its highly customizable cabin design and exceptional performance capabilities, we are seeing unwavering customer demand.  The 100th G600 customer delivery is a testament to that excellence and surging popularity.”

The G600 can travel 6,600 nautical miles, 12,223 kilometers at Mach 0.85 or 5,600 nm/10371 km at Mach 0.90 and has proven class-leading fuel efficiency.  The 100th G600 delivery follows its sister ship, the Gulfstream G500, which took place in the second half of 2022.

Source: Gulfstream Aerospace Corp., Photo Gulfstream Corp.

                     Atlantic Aviation Completes New Terminal

Atlantic Aviation, one of four service providers at Florida business aviation hub Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, has opened its new FBO terminal.  The 7,000-sq-ft building at the west end of Runway 9/27 more than doubles the chain’s former terminal on the other side of the field, which will be retained for tenant office space.

The facility features two passenger lounges with refreshment bar, 12-seat conference room, kitchen area, on-site car rentals, and a pair of crew cars.  It also includes 170,000-sq-ft aircraft storage space spread among its 24 hangers, capable of sheltering up to a Bombardier Global 7500.

“From absolute first-class decor to high-tech conference rooms and compelling crew services, no detail has been overlooked,” explained Kurt Schmidt, the chair’s senior v-p of operations for the U.S. Southeast.  ” We’re excited to welcome customers to our new facility and feel certain they’ll be amazed at all that has been done.”

Source: Atlantic Aviation, picture Atlantic Aviation                                                               


                                   Air Greenland’s Retired A330-200

Air Greenland’s long-serving Airbus A330-200, one of the first of the variant to be delivered, has left the fleet and has been flown to Arizona for parts supply.

The aircraft which carried out its final scheduled service on February 16 conducted a ferry flight from Copenhagen to the US city of Tucson on March 10, flying a transatlantic route which enabled it briefly to conduct a circuit around the Greenlandic capital Nuuk.  Air Greenland says the aircraft underwent customs clearance at Tucson ahead of the short final sector to Marana’s Pinal Airpark.

Powered by Pratt & Whiney PW4000 engines, the twinjet, almost 25 years old was being handed over to US-based aviation services firm AAR Supply Chain.

Air Greenland introduced the A330 (OY-GRN) in 2002, after the demise of Belgian flag-carrier Sabena, which it had originally been delivered in 1998 just months after A330-200s entered service.

Air Greenland primarily used the A330 as a transatlantic shuttle to and from Copenhagen, although it has also served as a charter transport.  The aircraft has  accumulated over 10,000 cycle and operated in Greenland at  temperatures of minus 40 degrees centigrade, says the carrier’s technical manager for the aircraft, Herik Keil.   He states that it has been “brought to be a cold-weather aircraft” and “very rarely experienced problems, for which he credits “dedicated” technicians from Scandinavian operated SAS.

Keil says the jet will become an “organ donor”, offering spares.  Air Greenland has replaced the A330-200 with an A330-800, fitted with Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines which it received in November last year.

Source: Air Greenland, Photo Air Greenland

                               Livery for ‘Next Air Force One’

US President Joe Biden has selected the livery of the “ Next Air Force One”, the new VC-25B aircraft designated for presidential travel that is currently under construction, formally rejecting the color scheme that had been chosen by his predecessor, Donald Trump.

The new livery largely resembles the paint scheme of the current aircraft, the US Air Force(USAF) said on March 10.

“While accounting for the VC-25B’s larger 747-8i aircraft, the VC-25B livery has three primary differences with the VC-25A’s livery,” USAF says.  ”The light blue on VC-25B is slightly deeper, more modern tone than the VC-25A’s robin’s egg blue.

Additionally, the VC-B engines will use the darker blue from the cockpit area instead of the VC-25A’s robin’s egg blue.  Finally, there is no polished metal section on the VC-25B because modern commercial aircraft skin alloys don’t allow for it.”

The Trump scheme would have caused further delays to the program, and further driven up the cost, USAF now says.

“Modifications to the aircraft will include electrical power upgrades, mission communication system, a medical facility, an executive interior, a self-defense system, and autonomous ground operations caps abilities,” USAF says.  ”The aircraft will be uniquely modified to provide the president, staff, and guests with safe and reliable air transportation with the equivalent level of communications capability and security available in the White House.”

Deliveries of the two new aircraft are scheduled for 2027 and 2028.

Sources: USAF News, Picture

                     Boeing Lands $1.2bn Contract to Develop E-7s For USAF

Boeing will develop two new variants of its 737-based E-7 airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft for the US Air Force under a newly disclosed contract worth up to $1.2 billion.  The company and the US Department of Defense (DoD) disclosed the news on February 28, with the DoD saying Boeing is developing the aircraft under its “ E-7A Rapid prototype Program”.

“The E-7 provides a fully integrated, combat-proven, flexible command and control mode that delivers multi-domain awareness in most challenging operational environments,” Boeing says.  ”The E-7’s open systems architecture and agile software design enable the aircraft’s capabilities to evolve and remain ahead of future threats.”

Boeing landed the work from the DoD under a sole-source “undefinitized contract action” with a “not-to-exceed” value of 1.2 billion agency’s contract announcement says.  ”This contract provides for the initiation of development activities for the program.” Boeing will perform the work in Seattle and complete the project by August 2024, the DoD says.

Australia, South Korea and Turkey already operate the E-7, which is also currently in production for the UK.  The Jet-known by the handle “Wedgetail”-is based on the 737-700.

“The E-7 is a proven platform,”says Boeing E-7 program vice-President and general manager Stu Voboril.  ”It is the only advanced aircraft that is capable of meeting the US Air Force’s near-term airborne early warning and control requirement while enabling integration across the joint force.”

In April 2022, the USAF revealed plans to replace some of its 707-based E-3 Sentry reconnaissance aircraft with E-7s, saying a contract award would occur in fiscal year 2023.

The USAF notes it has already established a program management office for E-7 procurement and will use DoD’s rapid prototyping acquisition pathway to acquire the first two aircraft of its planned fleet of 26.

Source: Boeing, Photo Boeing

                                               JAL Tests New Riblet Coatings

Japan Airlines (JAL) is conducting durability tests with “riblet” coatings that can be applied over the paint of an aircraft.  JAL’s partners in a project are Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), O-Well Corporation, and Nikon.

JAL claims that these are the first “sharkskin” riblets that can be applied as coatings directly over an aircraft’s existing paint, and that this saves weight.  Sharkskin riblets are known to reduce friction along an aircraft’s skin by moving tiny vortexes away from the aircraft’s surface.  JAL adds that applying riblets over most of an aircraft’s skin can result in fuel savings of 2%.

The Project saw O-Well’s coating applied to a small area on the belly of one JAL 737-800 and Nikon’s to another.  The aim of the work is to test durability of coatings.  “Durability tests are currently being carried out by performing repeated inspections, measuring the changes in shapes of the riblet’s incurred during test flights”, says JAL.

O-Well’s coating uses a water-soluble mold to apply the riblet’s, while Nikon uses a laser process.  The depth of the riblet groves is 50 microns, about the thickness of a human hair.  JAL adds that applying either coating requires a high degree of skill, because they are “very sensitive” to such factors as the type of underlying paints well as the temperature and humidity of the time of application.

So far, the 737 with the O-Well application has flown 1,500h, and that with the Nikon application 750h.  Both the O-Well and Nikon coatings have demonstrated “sufficient durability.”

Source: Japan Airlines, Photo Japan Airlines    


  • Luxair of Luxembourg has ordered two Boeing 737 Max 8s and signed a deal to lease another pair.
  • Iraqi Airways has taken delivery of a Boeing 737 Max 8, the first of the re-engined variant in the flag-carrier’s fleet.  Boeing lists 10 737 Max jets as having been directly ordered in 2017.

  • Air Japan, the newly launched medium-haul unit of Japan’s ANA holdings, will commence operations in February 2024.

  • EVA Air buys five 787-9s in a deal valued at around $1.7 billion in list prices.

  • Qatar Airways is to start introducing its own Boeing 737 Max jets to support capacity growth in short-haul sectors.  The airline says it recently had an “opportunity” to acquire a “small number” of 737 Max 8s, without elaborating on the details of the agreement.
  • Sunwing the government of Canada has approved WestJet’s acquisition of Sunwing Airlines and Sunwing Vacations following a thorough review.

  • Iraqi Airways is preparing to take delivery of its first Boeing 787, one of 10 due to be introduced by the flag-carrier.  Its first aircraft, a 787-8 (Yi-ATC) powered by General Electric GEnx engines.
  • Rolls-Royce has commenced testing in support of a re-engining program for the US Air Force’s Boeing B-52H fleet, for the first time pairing its F130 powerplants in the bomber’s distinctive dual-pod configuration.

  • Luftwaffe Germany’s air force has received its third Airbus A350-900 for government transport missions following completion of the aircraft’s interior by Lufthansa Technik.
  • Hong Kong’s Greater Bay Airlines has ordered 15 Boeing 737-9s and made a “commitment” to order five 787s.

  • RwandAir has introduced a third long-haul aircraft, receiving an Airbus A330-200 at its hub in Kigali.

Sources: FlightGlobal, Rolls Royce, Boeing, Airbus, Eva Air, WestJet, Qatar Airways

                                              AIR CARGO

                     Investment Group Completes Atlas Air Acquisition

An investment group led by Apollo Global Management has completed its acquisition of US cargo and charter airlines Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, closing a deal announced last August.  “As result of the transaction completion, Atlas Air Worlwide’s common stock no longer trades on the Nasdaq,” Atlas says in disclosing the acquisition on March 17.

The Investment group has said the deal is worth $5.2 billion.  However, Apollo and its partners agreed to pay $102.50 per share of Atlas stock, which equates to about $2.9 billion.  “We are well-positioned to achieve our growth objectives while continuing to serve the increasingly complex global supply chain,” says Atlas chief executive Jon Dietrich.  “The company will continue to maintain its global presence & continue to operate under the Atlas Air Worldwide name,” Atlas says, adding that Dietrich will remain CEO.

Source: Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, picture Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings

                          ANA to Take Over Nippon Cargo Airlines

Logistics specialist NYK has entered into an agreement to transfer all shares in Boeing 747 freighter operator Nippon Cargo Airlines (NCA) to Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways Holdings.  The shipping group cites the ongoing cost of running the cargo airline for the decision.  The terms of the deal are still under discussion but both parties hope to finalize the transition by October.

“The continuous introduction of new aircraft to expand the operation and maintenance system, and the continuous training of personnel engaged in operation and maintenance required a considerable expenditure,” NCA says.  “In the highly volatile business environment of airfreight transportation, NCA has been facing challenges in expanding its business scale at a level that is commensurate with such costs.”

For ANA, the deal will “dramatically enhance its international air cargo network” and services based in Japan and also with the aim to contribute to the development of global economic activities both in Japan and abroad.

Source: ANA, Picture NCA


Researched and Compiled by :

Ed Kaplanian    Commercial Aviation Advisor 

Contact – ekaplanian@yahoo.com

Editor:   Lee Kaplanian 

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