February 29, 2012

Three unmanned aircraft earn chance to bid for $874 million US Navy programme



Photo Credit: Flight Global
AAI, Boeing and a Computer Sciences Corp (CSC)/Saab team were selected by the US Navy today to compete for task orders for services provided by unmanned air systems (UAS) worth up to $874 million.

While the navy did not reveal the selected aircraft, AAI offered the latest version of the Aerosonde, Boeing and subsidiary Insitu offered the RQ-21A Integrator, and the CSC/Saab team proposed Skeldar unmanned helicopter.

The services included in the selection include the full spectrum of training, support, installation and operation.
The navy plans to operate the aircraft from ships, while the marines intend to launch the unmanned air vehicles mainly from land bases. "AAI and Insitu are eligible to compete for both sea-based and land-based task orders. CSC is only eligible to compete for land-based task orders," the navy said.

The three bidders will replace the Boeing/Insitu Scan Eagle as the main UAV provider of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance services to the navy and maines. The ISR Services bidders will then be replaced after Fiscal 2017 as the RQ-21 Integrator enters the fleet in numbers under the small tactical unmanned air systems (STUAS) programme. Neither Navy nor corporate representatives were immediately available for comment.


Flight Global

Kuwait seeks AIM-9X deal for Hornet fleet




Kuwait wants to enhance the air defense capabilities of its Boeing F/A-18C/D Hornet fighters via a $105 million acquisition of Raytheon AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missiles.

Detailed by the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) on 27 February, the proposed deal includes the delivery of 80 AIM-9X-2 weapons, plus captive training rounds and associated equipment and training.

"The Kuwait air force is modernizing its fighter aircraft to better support its own air defence needs," the DSCA said. "The proposed sale of AIM-9X-2 missiles will enhance Kuwait's interoperability with the US and among other Central Command nations, making it a more valuable partner in an increasingly important area of the world."
Kuwait's Hornet fleet was introduced from 1991, as recorded by Flightglobal's MiliCAS database. Its air force still operates 34 C/D-model examples of the type.


Flight Global

Stratolaunch nears conclusion of systems design review



Stratolaunch is to complete the systems design review (SDR) of its new launch system "in the next couple of months". That is the timeframe set out by Jim Halsell, director of Stratolaunch systems at Dynetics, which has been contracted to design the technical integration and to mate and demate procedures and systems.
"We are on the cusp of doing the systems design review, and we're moving toward a preliminary design review [PDR]," said Halsell. "Between those two, the SDR and the PDR, we will lock down the details of the technical approach, the outer mold lines of all the systems. It's the grunt early work of designing a complex system."

Major system trades and exact specifications, including information crucial to operation such as maximum gross take-off weight and required runway length, will not be finalised until the PDR. Disclosed in December 2011, the ambitious Stratolaunch system involves a massive Scaled Composites-built aircraft with a SpaceX-built rocket suspended between twin fuselages. The system will launch payloads of up to 6,100kg (13,500lb) in weight and 5m (16.4ft) in diameter into low Earth orbit (LEO). Although Stratolaunch eventually hopes to launch people into orbit and will build to strict human spaceflight standards, design efforts are on hold while the focus is on building and testing the launch system.

Preliminary construction has begun on the assembly facility in Mojave, California, where the aircraft will be built and tested. Construction of a wing spar and wing box for test purposes has also begun, with actual operational examples scheduled for completion in the summer.
Scaled Composites has selected two ex-United Airlines Boeing 747-400s, from which the company will take the Pratt & Whitney 4056 engines, hydraulic system, electrical systems, landing gear and windshields, among other major components.

"While the 747-400 wasn't the only airplane [available], it quickly became apparent that it was a good choice, and that a lot of the systems were designed for the take-off and landing weights in the family of what we're talking about here," said Halsell. "The hydraulic systems, the electrical systems, all of them had the kind of capacity or greater than what we would need for our application."

The first rocket launch is scheduled for 2016; no customers have yet stepped forward, but Stratolaunch hopes to be competitive in the light-to-medium satellite market, a growing market in a niche inhabited by the SpaceX Falcon 1, Boeing Delta II and Orbital Sciences Antares launch vehicles. Production of both the Falcon 1 and Delta II have ceased, although options remain for restarting production, and the Antares has yet to complete its first launch, scheduled for June 2012.

Although Stratolaunch officials have repeatedly mentioned plans to operate from the NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC) runway, one of the longest and widest runways in the world, there has as yet been no formal agreement between Stratolaunch and facility operator Space Florida. Operating from the KSC runway would enable Stratolaunch to fly south, closer to the equator, allowing greater payload and launch azimuth flexibility. Launching to the east over the Atlantic Ocean would take advantage of the Earth's rotation, allowing additional advantages.

Only a single aircraft will be produced, but Stratolaunch is open to building more aircraft. "Certainly our technical focus right now is making it work for a launch platform," said Halsell. "However, it is not beyond a stretch of the imagination, if a customer were to come to us and say, 'I need an externally carried large payload of significant mass and also volume requirements,' we would certainly value the opportunity to take a swing at satisfying those requirements."

According to Stratolaunch chief executive Gary Wentz, a larger version of the aircraft is feasible for launching larger rockets or carrying outsize cargo. "Based on physics and aerodynamics, scaling up is feasible," he said. "Material selection and design of the wing structure will have a great effect. Also, growing the wing to be much longer presents operational issues with runway selection."

Flight Global

Boeing delivers first 747-8I



Boeing has delivered the first 747-8 Intercontinental, which departed the company's Everett, Washington facility today enroute to Vancouver, Canada.
It is the first 747 passenger variant handed over since 2005.
The aircraft, dubbed RC002, the 1,439th 747 built since 1968, departed Paine Field at 13:01 local time to Vancouver to clear customs.

Captain Steve Taylor, who serves as president of Boeing Business Jets, was at the controls for the departure to Vancouver under a non-public flight plan. The aircraft will then be ferried to Boeing's Wichita, Kansas Global Transport & Executive Systems (GTES) facility for installation of the Greenpoint Technologies Aeroloft cabin.
The Aeroloft grows the 747-8's cabin area to 444.6sq m (4,786sq ft) with eight individual berths positioned in the upper crown area in the aft part of the aircraft's cabin between the empennage and the iconic hump.

Following the Aeroloft installation, the aircraft will travel to Hamburg, Germany for completion at Lufthansa Technik, wrapping up an approximately 24-month conversion process before entering service with its unidentified customer. Boeing would not identify the VIP customer for its first 747-8, though the aircraft wears a Qatari A7-HHE registration, and is believed to be for Qatar's Amiri Flight.

To date, seven customers have ordered nine 747-8 VIP aircraft, eight of which will be delivered for completion in 2012. The first of 20 747-8s outfitted for Lufthansa, the airline launch customer, is expected to be handed over in March. However, Boeing has not yet publicly identified an official delivery date for the German carrier.

Boeing expects to deliver between 35 and 42 747-8s and 747-8 Freighters, respectively, in 2012.
747-8 vice president and general manager Elizabeth Lund said production for the 747-8 passenger and freighter variants will accelerate to two aircraft per month from 1.5.
Lund said the fuselage and wing build-up areas are already running at the higher rate and final body join will advance in the middle of the year.

Flight Global
 


NextGen procedures underway at Charlotte, Atlanta metroplexes



The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Delta Air Lines, US Airways and other stakeholders have officially kicked off an airspace and flight procedures modernization project for the high density Atlanta and Charlotte area metroplexes, regions where several airports service one main metropolitan area.

Part of the FAA's optimization of airspace and procedures in the metroplex (OAPM) programme, Atlanta and Charlotte will follow the Washington DC metro area and Dallas/Fort Worth in becoming the beneficiaries of the government and industry effort to increase capacity while cutting flight time, delays, fuel burn and noise. Metroplex initiatives are underway or planned for 21 metropolitan areas, said the FAA.

Procedures in the Washington region, which include idling descents from as far out as 120nm from the landing destinations, will go live in stages starting in September. Along with the National Air Traffic Controllers Association (Natca), partners in the Washington metroplex programme include the local airports as well as US Airways for Washington DC Reagan National airport procedures, United for Dulles and Southwest for Baltimore.

Once the performance-based navigation (PBN) procedures are in place, the FAA estimates that airlines will be able to cut 1.2 million nautical miles per year from their routes into and out of Atlanta, Delta's hub, equating to 2.9 million fewer gallons of fuel burned and 30,000t of carbon emissions not emitted. For Charlotte, US Airways' hub, the FAA estimates there will be 2.5 million fewer nautical miles flown annually, with 3.7 million gallons of fuel saved and carbon emissions reduced by 35,000t annually.

With more than 630 flights per day at Charlotte, US Airways chief operating officer Robert Isom said the carrier will save $17 million a year in fuel costs and emit 59,000t fewer carbon emissions.
Strategies the FAA will study with the airlines, air traffic controllers and local airports in Atlanta and

Charlotte include creating separate high-altitude flight tracks for Atlanta departures and Charlotte arrivals to allow aircraft to climb and descend without levelling off; expanding optimised profile descent (OPD) procedures (idling approaches) into the Atlanta and Charlotte airports, and shortening flight tracks by making them more direct.

Reliever airports in the areas should also benefit from the work. The FAA said the team will design satellite-based flight paths that separate traffic destined for reliever airports from those flights heading for the main Atlanta and Charlotte airports.

"The end result for travellers will be fewer delays, quicker flights and an even safer, greener flying experience," said acting Federal Aviation Administrator Michael Huerta.

Flight Global

IAG doubles full-year operating profit



British Airways and Iberia parent International Airlines Group more than doubled operating profit for the full year to €485 million ($653 million), before exceptional items. The company's pre-tax profit reached €503 million for the 12 months to 31 December 2011, including the first 21 days of January before IAG's formal consolidation. IAG's revenues were up by more than 10% to €16.3 billion, although a near-30% increase took fuel costs to more than €5 billion. Other operating costs rose by 1.1% to €10.8 billion.

During the fourth quarter of 2011 the company posted an improved operating profit of €34 million, despite a heavy impact from fuel prices. Traffic for the year rose by 7.2%, in line with the airlines' hike in capacity, meaning the average load factor stayed stable at 79.1%. Passenger yield increased by 3.6%. IAG chief Willie Walsh said the consolidation had generated net synergies, in costs and revenues, of €74 million - some €64 million above the target - for the first year.

He said there were a "number of uncertainties" over the outlook for 2012. But demand from London "remains strong", said IAG, with "encouraging trends" over the North Atlantic network. But it cautioned that the fuel cost increase could be as high as €1 billion, and the economic problems in Spain and other countries with the euro as their currency will be "a major factor" regarding underlying demand growth.

Flight Global

Ryanair offers scathing verdict on 737 Max



Outspoken Ryanair chief executive Michael O'Leary has offered a scathing verdict on Boeing's 737 Max, describing the re-engined narrowbody as a "dog's dinner of a design" that had been drawn "on the back of a fag packet as a response to the [Airbus] Neo".

Although talks "are ongoing" with the airframer about future orders of either the Max or current generation 737-800s, he complained "Boeing can't tell you what the Max looks like or what the fuel saving is".
An additional stumbling block is the carrier's concept for a standing-only area on its flights, raising capacity to 230 passengers from 189 on an all-seated aircraft. This would require the removal of the rear lavatories and final six rows of seats in the 737. "We won't place any new order until they [Boeing] come up with a fix for this issue," said O'Leary.

In the meantime Ryanair has approached an undisclosed aviation regulator with a view to trialling standing-area flights, but has received "no positive response". Ryanair is still considering ordering the Comac C919, added O'Leary, and has a design team working with the Chinese airframer toward a 200-seat variant of the baseline 174-seat aircraft in the 2018-19 timeframe. Airbus was not currently in the running, he said.

Meanwhile, he criticized the UK government's lack of a clear policy towards the aviation sector and said it was damaging the UK's competitiveness. Since Airline Passenger Duty was introduced in 2007, UK passenger numbers have fallen by 20%, said O'Leary.

He called for the government to "stop pandering to the idiot environmentalists and even less sensible Nimbys" and add extra runways at London Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted as these airports are already served by existing public transport and road infrastructure. Seeking to construct a new airport in "the estuary of Boris [Johnson's] imagination" with no road or rail links for delivery in 30 years time was, he said "complete and utter bloody lunacy even by Boris's standards".

 Flight Global

IAG determined to press ahead with Iberia Express



International Airlines Group (IAG) has "no other option" for turning around Iberia's struggling short- and medium-haul business than to press ahead with the launch of low-cost subsidiary Iberia Express, despite fierce opposition from pilots, according to chief executive Willie Walsh.

The parent company of British Airways and Iberia continues to face "stubborn resistance to reality" from pilots and each day of strike action to protest against the new carrier is costing it €3 million ($4 million). However, the expected €100 million positive impact of launching Iberia Express "outweighs the cost of the disruption", Walsh told analysts today during a conference call to discuss the group's full-year results.

Iberia's short-haul revenues remain well below 2008 levels, and the Spanish carrier as a whole performed significantly worse than BA during 2011. "This requires major surgery and that major surgery comes in the form of Iberia Express," said Walsh. The low-cost subsidiary plans to launch operations at the end of March with an initial fleet of four Airbus A320s, rising to 13 A320s by the end of the year.

Iberia Express "will give an opportunity to reverse the trend witnessed on short- and medium-haul at Iberia", said Walsh, and "will allow Iberia to create an efficient feeder airline into its long-haul hub in Madrid".
Iberia's pilots have so far carried out 12 days of strike action to voice their opposition to the new carrier. Iberia chief executive Rafael Sanchez described this as "a disgrace", adding: "We are absolutely determined to get this through - there is no way we're not going to do it. Reality will eventually get them to sit down at the table."

Flight Global

Boeing Receives Official Certificates for 787 World Records



EVERETT, Wash., Feb. 28, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Jonathan Gaffney, president and CEO of the National Aeronautic Association, presented Boeing (NYSE: BA) with two certificates confirming the official status of the two world records earned by the 787 Dreamliner in late 2011.

The airplane earned records for completing the longest flight for an airplane in its weight class (440,924 to 551,155 lbs.) with a 10,336 nmi (19,142 km) flight to Dhaka, Bangladesh. This record had previously been held by the Airbus A330 with a 9,126 nmi (16,901 km) flight in 2002.

Following refueling in Dhaka, the crew continued eastbound and returned to Seattle 42 hours and 26 minutes after their initial departure, completing the fastest around-the-world trip for the same weight class at 470 knots (871 km/h). There was no previous around-the-world speed record for this weight class.
Jim Albaugh, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, welcomed Gaffney to an informal ceremony in Everett attended by more than 2,000 employees.

"These world records demonstrate what we have been saying about the 787 all along – it is a world-class product. The airlines told us they wanted an airplane that was fuel-efficient, durable and capable," said Albaugh. "That's what we are delivering with the Dreamliner."
Gaffney told employees, "Around-the-world records are extremely challenging, and Boeing should be very proud of the successful world and national records they achieved with these flights.  We were proud to have had the opportunity to record and certify them."

He presented the certificates to two of the six pilots who flew the record-setting missions. Capt. Rod Skaar led the crew, which included former 787 chief pilot Capt. Mike Carriker.
"It's an honor to receive these certificates on behalf of all of the men and women of The Boeing Company," said Skaar. "It takes an amazing amount of talent and perseverance to create an all-new airplane. A lucky few of us get to fly the airplane. We are always well aware that we are carrying the pride of the entire company as we go."

More Information

Boeing 787 DreamlinerThe Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner is the first airplane to provide both long distance capabilities with mid-size capacity (210-250 passengers in a three-class seating), allowing airlines to open new, non-stop routes preferred by the traveling public. The airplane is 20 percent more fuel efficient than similarly sized airplanes. Fifty-nine customers have 865 Dreamliners on order. The first five 787s have been delivered to ANA (All Nippon Airways) and are performing well in services.
National Aeronautic AssociationThe National Aeronautic Association is the oldest national aviation organization in the United States. A non-profit association, NAA is "dedicated to the advancement of the art, sport and science of aviation in the United States," according to its Mission Statement. The core of the organization is its members; thousands of individuals, organizations, and corporations representing all segments of American aviation. NAA encompasses all areas of flight from skydiving and models to commercial airlines, military aircraft, and spaceflight.
NAA is the official record-keeper for United States aviation. The organization provides observers for many record attempts and compiles the data necessary to certify aviation and spaceflight records of all kinds.

Boeing Media

Boeing's Statement on China Southern's Commitment to Buy 10 777-300ER



SEATTLE, February 28, 2012 – Boeing [NYSE: BA] announced today that China Southern Airlines has agreed to buy 10 Boeing 777-300ERs, as the airline plans to expand its capacity to meet growing demand in Asia-Pacific and China.

“We’re very pleased that China Southern, which has been a staunch 777 supporter from the very beginning of the program, has once again selected the 777-300ER to serve its passengers and to deliver value to its bottom line,” said Ihssane Mounir, vice president, Sales, Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

The Boeing 777 is the world's most successful twin-engine, long-haul airplane. The 777-300ER extends the 777 family's span of capabilities, bringing twin-engine efficiency and reliability to the long-range market. The airplane carries 365 passengers up to 7,930 nautical miles (14,685 km).

Boeing incorporated several performance enhancements for the 777-300ER, extending its range and payload capabilities. Excellent performance during flight testing, combined with engine efficiency improvements and design changes that reduce drag and airplane weight, contributed to the increased capability.

The agreement requires Chinese Government approval, and Boeing looks forward to working with China Southern Airlines, a long-time valued customer, to obtain approval. Once approval is attained, the order will be posted to Boeing's Orders & Deliveries Website.

Boeing Media

Boeing's Order and Delivery Page

Boeing Delivers FIRST 747-800 Intercontinental VIP Airplane




EVERETT, Wash., Feb. 28, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Boeing (NYSE: BA) celebrated a major achievement in the effort to create a Queen of the Skies for the 21st Century, delivering the first 747-8 Intercontinental VIP airplane to an undisclosed customer. The airplane, which was delivered with a minimal interior, will enter service in 2014 after its VIP interior is installed.

"This is a great day for Boeing," said Jim Albaugh, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "The 747 is the most iconic airplane in the world, and I know customers are going to love what we've done to enhance its performance. The Intercontinental is fast, efficient and quiet, offering real savings and a great flying experience. And I believe it's one of the most beautiful airplanes in the sky."

The VIP version of the 747-8 Intercontinental provides a cabin with 4,786 square feet (444.6 square meters). This 747-8 VIP will include Greenpoint Technologies' Aeroloft, located above the main cabin between the upper deck and tail of the 747-8 VIP, giving the airplane 393 square feet (36.5 square meters) of additional cabin space.  The Aeroloft will be installed by Boeing Global Transport & Executive Systems (GTES) in Wichita, Kan.

With Aeroloft, the VIP-configured 747-8 offers a total of 5,179 square feet (481.1 square meters) of cabin space, can carry 100 passengers and has a range of about 8,840 nautical miles (16,372 km). It provides double-digit improvements in fuel burn and emissions over the 747-400, and is 30 percent more quiet. With a normal cruise speed of Mach 0.86, it is the fastest large commercial jet.

The 747-8 VIP jet is the only large airplane in its class that fits today's airport infrastructure, giving its owners the flexibility to fly to more destinations. Building on the current 747's capability to fly into most airports worldwide, the 747-8 VIP uses the same pilot type ratings, services and most ground support equipment.
To date, undisclosed customers have ordered nine 747-8 VIP airplanes.


Boeing Media

February 28, 2012

NetJets Maintaining Profits With Lower Costs



Higher revenues and lower aircraft maintenance costs are driving NetJets’ profitability despite slower aircraft sales, says NetJets parent company Berkshire Hathaway. NetJets reported pretax earnings were up 10% to $227 million in 2011, a performance that Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett says was particularly impressive because sales of new aircraft shares were slow during most of the year. NetJets did see an uptick in December “that was more than seasonally normal,” he says, but it’s still unclear whether that improvement is sustainable, Buffett says.

Along with still slow aircraft shares, revenue hours flown in 2011 were about the same as in 2010. But the Columbus, Ohio-based fractional ownership aircraft provider brought in higher revenues from adjustments to the aircraft operating costs that are passed on to the customers, along with slight increases in rates.
Berkshire Hathaway also credits lower aircraft maintenance costs for the improved 2011 earnings. The drop in maintenance costs stems from a 10% reduction in fleet size. However, NetJets is still incurring impairment charges from the disposition of aircraft, along with fees for the cancellation of certain aircraft purchase commitments. Since 2008, NetJets has shrunk its fleet by 20% and lowered its operating cost structure.
At the same time, NetJets has laid out a plan to overhaul its fleet with newer models over five-plus years, including firm orders from Embraer for 50 Phenom 300s and from Bombardier for 50 Global aircraft. The Embraer contract includes options for up to 75 more, and the Bombardier contract has options for up to 70 more.

Berkshire Hathaway believes these changes have positioned the company to operate profitably in the future. “A few years ago, NetJets was my No. 1 worry. Its costs were far out of line with revenues and cash was hemorrhaging. Without Berkshire’s support, NetJets would have gone broke,” Buffett says in his annual shareholder letter. “These problems are behind us, and [NetJets President Jordan Hansell] is now delivering steady profits from a well-controlled and smoothly running operation.”
Also improving profits in 2011 was NetJets affiliate company FlightSafety International. FlightSafety’s revenues were up 8% for the year as demand for training increased in both the business aviation and regional airline markets. Government business, however, was down in 2011. While revenues were up 8%, earnings increased 16%, in part from FlightSafety’s ongoing cost containment efforts, Berkshire Hathaway says.


Aviation Week

China Southern to acquire 10 777-300ERs



China Southern Airlines has agreed to acquire 10 Boeing 777-300ERs, the first time this specific type has been selected by the carrier. The

Guangzhou-based carrier said it would purchase the aircraft, the list price for which is $298 million apiece, and take delivery in stages from 2013-16. China Southern said, however, that the actual price was "significantly lower" than the catalogue price because of concessions from the airframer.

It said it could not disclose the actual agreed price of the aircraft, partly because it has failed to obtain consent from Boeing to reveal the information. "Disclosure of the actual consideration will result in the loss of the significant price concessions and hence a significant negative impact on the group's cost for the acquisition," the carrier said.

All 777-300ERs are powered by General Electric GE90 engines. China Southern said it would fund the acquisition of the 777-300ERs partly through cash and partly through financing arrangements with banks.
The twin-jets will increase the capacity of the group by nearly 8% compared with its position at the end of 2011. China Southern is already a 777 operator but its fleet currently comprises 777-200 variants including the 777 freighter.

Flight Global

February 27, 2012

Estonian to ditch CRJs as it signs for more Embraers



Estonian Air has confirmed that it will replace its Bombardier CRJs with Embraer regional jets, just a year after taking delivery of the Canadian-built type. The airline had already stated that it planned to introduce up to 12 Embraer E-Jets.

While it plans to lease an initial four 170s from Finnair - the first having arrived at Tallinn last week, bearing a new livery - the carrier has agreed to purchase three 175s and a 190, said Embraer, for delivery in 2014.

Embraer indicated that Finnair would also take another four 190s under third-party or lease agreements.
The carrier had said it would use the aircraft to replace Boeing 737s.
But Estonian Air president Tero Taskila has also confirmed that the Embraers will also replace the airline's CRJs. Estonian had been in line to receive CRJ900s through a broad fleet modernisation deal brokered by SAS Group, which previously owned 49% of the carrier.

The first of these CRJ900s only arrived in early 2011, by which time SAS Group had opted to divest most of its stake in Estonian Air. Estonian Air operates three of the type. Last November it highlighted the CRJ900's operating economics and speed as it disclosed that it was negotiating for additional regional jets.
Taskila did not give a reason for defecting from the CRJ, but said a single-family operation would offer capacity flexibility to "pursue our immediate expansion and fleet modernisation objectives".

"The aircraft will deliver a standard of in-flight experience that will keep us competitive and allow us to access new markets with lower risk than using larger jets," he added. Estonian Air also indicated interest in Embraer's proposed re-engined E-Jet family.

Flight Global

February 24, 2012

Air New Zealand converts options for two 787-9s



Photo Credit: Flight Global, Air New Zealand
Air New Zealand has converted options for two Boeing 787-9 aircraft, despite still being "hindered by the delay of the 787". Speaking as he unveiled the airline's half-year accounts for the six months ending 31 December 2011, chief executive Rob Fyfe said Air New Zealand has converted two 787-9 options, bringing its orders for the type to 10.

The carrier has agreed on new contractual terms and a modified delivery schedule with Boeing and its first 787-9 is scheduled to arrive in the second quarter of 2014.
Fyfe said although the airline is benefiting from more efficient aircraft such as the Boeing 777-300ER,  it is "still hindered by the delay of the 787".

He added: "Despite the extremely frustrating and costly delays, we strongly believe the 787-9 is the right aircraft for Air New Zealand and worth the wait." Interim net profit for the half-year fell by 61% to NZ$38 million ($31.8 million), down from NZ$98 million in the corresponding period a year ago.

Normalised earnings before tax were at NZ$33 million, down by 71% against the same period a year ago, the carrier said. Under New Zealand reporting rules, normalised earnings exclude net gains or losses on derivatives.

Air New Zealand carried 0.6% fewer passengers in the half-year, compared with the corresponding period in 2010. RPKs declined by 2.6% and ASKs declined by 1.0%. Passenger load factor declined by 1.4 percentage points to 82.8%.

"Acknowledging this disappointing result, we have already commenced a series of initiatives to improve the airline's profitability by more than $195 million per annum by [Fiscal Year 20]15 through a combination of cost reduction, improved efficiencies and revenue growth," said Fyfe.

"The price of jet fuel has doubled over the last three years, but a weak global economy is hindering our ability to pass on these higher fuel costs to passengers," added Fyfe. "Therefore, we have been moving quickly to adapt, to gain greater efficiencies and to develop into a stronger, more profitable business."
Other factors the carrier gave for the weak result were the continued weakness in the travel markets of Europe and Japan. It also expressed concerns about overcapacity in the industry.

The carrier will cut 441 jobs by the end of its current fiscal year, said Fyfe, adding that 266 involve the non-replacement of roles and the non-renewal of contracts, of which 193 have already been achieved. The carrier will begin consultations with the affected staff on the remaining 175 roles to be cut.

Flight Global

Boeing Targets June For 787 Surge Line Startup



Boeing will activate the 787 surge line at Everett in June as it continues to ramp up production to five units per month by year-end. Confirming the long-expected move, Pat Shanahan, senior VP and general manager of Airplane Programs at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, says the additional capacity is “risk protection.” The surge line is being put together at the former site of the 767 assembly area in Building 40-24.

As recently as last summer, Boeing described the surge line as a precautionary move and suggested that it may not be required. Now, with delays continuing to affect the production rate and only five 787-8s in service, the company sees the activation of the surge facility as vital to reaching its delivery targets for 2012.

“When we go to the 787-9 we’re rate protected if we want to run the -9s down one line and -8s on the other,” says Shanahan, adding that while the existing line rate is at 2.5 per month, the supply chain is “already performing at 3.5 per month.” Speaking at the Barclays Capital Industrial Select Conference in Miami, Shanahan says in terms of ramp-up and overall development “the pendulum has finally shifted from risk to opportunity.Beyond development, it’s been pretty exciting retiring the risk around the development on 747-8 and 787. Certification last year was a real watershed for us, and now there is a real focus on enter-into-service.”

The surge line replicates the existing 787 assembly line in the adjacent Building 40-26 and, together with the Charleston facility coming on stream this summer in South Carolina, will be part of a planned ramp-up to 10 airplanes per month by the end of 2013. The jump to 3.5 per month is expected “within a couple of units, and we’ll be ready to go there,” he adds.

Accelerating the rate hinges on receiving parts 100% complete from Wichita and Charleston, as well as clearing the backlog of aircraft yet to be completed at Everett. The large sub-assemblies that make up each 787 are now arriving “100% complete,” says Shanahan, who adds that “the cut-off of when we’ll be completing aircraft in the factory will be in the [line number] ‘60s,’ and we’re on plan to do that or maybe improve on that.”

Despite the recent shim issue, which he confirms will take between 10 days and two weeks per aircraft to complete in parallel with other completion tasks, Shanahan says the “No. 1 priority is to get to rate. We carved out a separate production system to focus on the already built aircraft, and those are in various stages of completion. The work remaining on the latest is finishing the interior and running functional tests. With the earlier aircraft we still have some secondary structure to complete, some rewiring to do; we have interiors to complete, and we still have to do some functional testing.”

Of the roughly 40 aircraft involved, Shanahan says the most recent off the line have 500-1,000 jobs remaining to complete, while the earlier units have 5,000-7,000 jobs. “It’s an order of magnitude difference,” he adds.

Detailing the shim issue, Shanahan says the gap between the fuselage skin and support structure in the aft fuselage occurred at the tapering end of a longeron 18 ft. long and 8 in. wide. “The shim is about the size of legal paper–roughly 17 x 8 in.–and is about two sheets of paper thick. When the shim is installed, “we have to jack [up] the aircraft and remove a fastener and it just takes time–there’s no complexity–it's just work and it's time we don’t have.”

Aviation Week  

United Seeking Damages For Delayed 787s



United Continental Holdings for the first time confirms it is seeking damages from Boeing for 787 delivery delays.
The operator has 50 firm orders for the 787, a legacy of the Continental Airlines-United Airlines merger in 2010. The first batch of aircraft are 787-8s from Continental’s order, which originally had expected to add its first 787 in March 2009 before Boeing initiated a series of program delays.

The latest delay hit United in October, when sources confirmed to Aviation Week that Boeing was having issues completing 787s rolling off the production line. That problem forced United to revise its 2012 delivery expectation down from six 787s throughout the year to just five, all to be delivered in the second half of the year.

Now United, in its 2011 10-K report filed late Wednesday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, reaffirms its 2012 delivery schedule of 19 Boeing 737-900ERs and five 787s. But for the first time the airline also says it is seeking damages for the delays.

“The company is currently in discussions with Boeing over potential compensation related to delays in the 787 aircraft deliveries,” says United. However it adds, “The company is not able to estimate the ultimate success, amount of, nature or timing of any potential recoveries from Boeing over such delays.”

This confirmation follows some highly publicized claims for damages against Boeing for failure to deliver 787s on schedule, with financially troubled Air India reportedly seeking a seven-figure compensation package. Air New Zealand also has confirmed it is in talks with Boeing about compensation, while other airlines are understood to have taken 767s as temporary replacements for their delayed 787s.

Boeing, which does not comment on such negotiations, makes little reference to the issue in its own 10-K from Feb. 9, although it acknowledges that “a number of our customers may have contractual remedies that may be implicated by program delays. We continue to address customer claims and requests for other contractual relief as they arise.”

Aviation Week  

February 23, 2012

China Says Ready To Improve US Military Ties



China is ready to work with the United States to advance military ties, a defense ministry spokesman said on Thursday, following a U.S. trip by China’s vice president that featured a visit with top Pentagon officials.

The comments, posted on the ministry’s website, signalled a wary optimism from China’s military, which typically takes a harder stance toward the United States than other parts of the Chinese government.
“We are ready to work with the U.S. side, by observing the principles of mutual respect, trust, equality and mutual benefits,” said Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng.

China has suspended military-military exchanges with the U.S. several times in the past. In September, China said it would cancel or postpone such exchanges after Washington said it would upgrade Taiwan’s fleet of F-16 fighter jets.

Beijing regards Taiwan as a renegade province.

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, who is expected to assume power from President Hu Jintao in just over a year, visited the United States last week, where he met with President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, among others. The visit was aimed at getting both sides more familiar with each other for the decade that Xi could be in power.

In recent months, the U.S. has embarked on a major strategic shift to focus on Asia-Pacific as it turns away from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. China is concerned Washington’s new posture is aimed at encircling it and could limit its growing power.

Aviation Weekly

AirAsia to add 20 A320s in 2012



Low-cost carrier AirAsia will add 20 Airbus A320s to its fleet this year as it looks to raise capacity and launch operations at two regional associate airlines in Japan and the Philippines.
Seventeen of the aircraft will come from the group's backlog with Airbus, said chief executive Tony Fernandes, with the remainder leased in.

The group will take the first three A320s in the first quarter, with one each for its Malaysian, Thai and Philippine operations, said the group in its full-year financial statement.
AirAsia Thailand's fleet will grow by a total of two aircraft in the first half, with the new aircraft used to launch five new routes and increase frequencies on "other strongly performing sectors".

Its Indonesian associate airline, AirAsia Indonesia, will launch three new domestic services - Bandung-Surabaya, Surabaya-Denpasar and Jakarta-Semarang - in the first quarter of 2012.
"These new routes form part of the IAA strategy to re-enter the Indonesian domestic market which has high growth potential given the rapidly rising incomes of the Indonesian middle classes," it said.
Frequencies will also rise on the existing routes from Jakarta to Denpasar and Penang. Two further routes will be launched from Malaysia to Semarang in Indonesia and Surat Thani in Thailand.

Operations will begin at its Philippine associate in March or April, said the carrier, following the grant of its operator's licence, with AirAsia Japan to follow in the second half of 2012. The latter represents "a significant [low-cost carrier] opportunity" given the low penetration of low-cost carriers in the market, said Fernandes.

"Our proven track record and strong brand of low fares shall pave the way for exponential growth in both markets," he said.
Forward bookings for the three operational airlines show passenger demand "remains positive". January load factors fell slightly in Thailand and Indonesia, against the same period a year earlier, while Malaysia showed a load factor increase.

Average fares were higher in all three countries, it added.
AirAsia Thailand and AirAsia Indonesia remain on course for their IPOs this year, said Fernandes.

Flight Global

Indian carriers get approval for direct jet fuel imports



The Indian government has given formal approval for its domestic carriers to directly import jet fuel in a move aimed at lowering the airlines' operating costs.
Carriers that wish to do so have to get a licence from the directorate general of foreign trade (DGFT), said the Ministry of Civil Aviation in a statement.
The ministry submitted a formal proposal to the Ministry of Commerce last week, seeking approval to allow local carriers to directly import jet fuel.
Air turbine fuel prices in India are up to 40% higher than those in the international market because of the high base price and even higher taxes, both at the national and state level. This has long been a major concern of local carriers.
This move could come as a relief to local carriers, such as struggling Kingfisher Airlines, most of which are operating on huge losses.


 Flight Global

Fuselage issue prompts Boeing to inspect Dreamliners



Boeing Co. has discovered a flaw in fuselage sections that may affect 55 of its new 787 Dreamliner jets and slow some deliveries, James Albaugh, Boeing’s chief executive officer of commercial airplanes, said Wednesday.

The Dreamliner is an all-new commercial jet that is largely made of lightweight carbon composites rather than sheets of aluminum. The plane made its first passenger flight with All Nippon Airways in October, but it was more than three years late because of design problems and supplier issues.

The latest problem, called “delamination,” occurs when laminated composite materials begin to separate.
“It’s something we can address in a short period of time and it will impact some short-term deliveries,” Albaugh told Bloomberg News and other reporters  Wednesday in Singapore. The Dreamliner is a twin-aisle aircraft that seats 210 to 290 passengers. Chicago-based Boeing says the jet offers airlines savings because of new fuel-efficient engines and composite structure.

Through January, Boeing has taken 870 orders for the Dreamliner from airlines and aircraft leasing firms around the world. The company has delivered five of the aircraft. At the round table, Albaugh said that the delamination problem was fixable and that it shouldn’t affect overall deliveries this year. “In terms of the number of deliveries for the year, it shouldn’t have any impact at all,” he said.

Aviation News Daily

Boeing Expands GoldCare to 747s



With a new service mark and an expansion of its GoldCare life­­- cycle support program, Boeing Commercial Aviation Services (CAS) is signaling a strong push to capture a major share of an aircraft services aftermarket it estimates will be worth $2.3 trillion over the next two decades.

Photo Credit: Boeing Images
Senior Vice President Lou Mancini says CAS has fashioned itself to offer materials, fleet, flight and information services that constitute a “mirror image” of how airlines organize their maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) operations. Those four services rely on proprietary aircraft design data to give Boeing an edge, such as in the Boeing Converted Freighter program shown below. CAS accounts for about 15% of Boeing Commercial Aviation’s total revenues, Mancini says, which means in 2011 it brought in $5.43 billion.

At last week’s Singapore Airshow, however, Lufthansa Technik Chairman August Wilhelm Henningsen cautioned against aircraft makers being in aftermarket services. “They should concentrate on building the aircraft,” he says. “The [MRO] industry is more overserved than underserved.”

Singapore Airlines Cargo says it will use GoldCare to manage engineering and planning services for its 13 747-400 freighters. GoldCare was launched in 2005 as a blanket protection program for the 787 and subsequently was expanded to include the 737NG series. The move to cover 747-400Fs will not be the last for GoldCare, says Mancini. “I really see it being used on all our fleets.”

GoldCare met a tepid response from 787 buyers, who apparently found Boeing’s approach overwhelming. GoldCare was subsequently reorganized to offer a more “a-la-carte” approach but has yet to gain wide-scale acceptance. Prior to SIA’s signing, GoldCare had attracted only one user, Tui Travel, which fit the early likely subscriber profile—a smaller fleet-owner without an extensive maintenance base to care for a new-technology airplane like the 787.

Boeing launched Boeing Edge to distinguish its after-sales services. It will cover OEM product support and four core service capabilities: Material Services, Fleet Services, Flight Services and Information Services. The name is meant to convey that customers gain a competitive edge by using Boeing’s services and support.

But Lufthansa says it is the one with the competitive advantage in providing MRO services. OEMs “know the strengths and we know the weaknesses” of their products, it says. Successful support is all about managing those weaknesses.

Aviation Week  

Ex-Im Bank Financing Still In Airline Crosshairs



President Barack Obama late last week, during an appearance at a Boeing facility, weighed in for the first time on U.S. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) reauthorization, urging Congress to approve funding legislation. Despite this, U.S. airlines are pressing ahead with their lawsuit to block a recent Ex-Im Bank-financed deal.

The administration is touting export credit agency (ECA) financing via Ex-Im Bank as a crucial way to boost U.S. manufacturing competitiveness and to create jobs. The bank last week announced a $740 million loan guarantee to suppliers, including companies that work with Boeing. “Ex-Im is proud to have America’s No. 1 importer, Boeing, join with us in supporting the company’s small business suppliers in the use of our supply chain financing product,” says Ex-Im Bank Chairman Fred Hochberg.

However, Airlines for America (A4A) asserts that Ex-Im loan guarantees put U.S. carriers at a competitive disadvantage. In a suit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia last year, A4A sought to block Ex-Im financing for Air India to buy 30 Boeing aircraft. In that suit, A4A claims the Ex-Im Bank had provided $52 billion in loan guarantees to non-U.S. carriers in the past 10 years, which came at the cost of 4,100-7,500 airline jobs. Furthermore, A4A claims a loan guarantee to financially struggling Air India could put U.S. taxpayers on the hook should the carrier default (Aviation Daily, Nov. 17).

“Before providing subsidized financing to a foreign airline, the Ex-Im Bank is required by law to consider the adverse impact on industries and employment in the U.S., as well as the likelihood of repayment,” an A4A spokesman tells Aviation Week. “We are merely asking for Ex-Im to ensure a level playing field in the global aviation market by following its statutory mandates to ensure that U.S. taxpayer-backed loan guarantees to our foreign competitors do not harm U.S. airlines and their employees,” he adds.

Default on an Ex-Im loan has not historically been a concern, says Philip Baggaley, analyst for Standard & Poor’s, which, like Aviation Week, is a unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies. “Ex-Im has an excellent track record.” Ex-Im loan guarantees finance new aircraft, which are high-value assets, and due to the way the loans are typically structured, financially struggling airlines tend to liquidate these assets last, Baggaley says.

“These are not bad credit loans.”

Furthermore, Ex-Im’s aircraft financing has been a net contributor to the U.S. Treasury, Baggaley says. “This is a money-making enterprise for the U.S. government, and not a drain on the Treasury at all.”

Aviation Week  

China And Russia Launch GA Venture



Companies from China and Russia have teamed up to build their own line of general aviation aircraft ranging from four to 12 seats, Xinhua reported this week. China Oriental Sciences Group, China-Russia International Investment Company and KB-SAT, a Russian aircraft design company, signed an agreement last week in Beijing, according to Xinhua. The consortium will invest $1.27 billion to build a manufacturing facility this year in China's Inner Mongolia region. The group expects to start producing airplanes early next year, and produce 400 airplanes a year by 2016. "China's general aviation industry is at its initial stage of development, and the market demand is huge," said Zhuang Zhong, president of China Oriental Sciences Group, which is based in Beijing.

The consortium also plans to build a research facility, a pilot training base, and a flying club at the site in Ordos. China has been moving forward with plans to open up more airspace to GA flights and create more GA infrastructure, including building more airports. The country also has shown a strong interest in acquiring GA companies, buying up Cirrus, Teledyne Continental Motors, and several smaller manufacturers in recent years.

Avweb 

Nigeria Plans "Aerotropolis"


In the U.S., airports generally are sited far beyond the outer edges of urban areas, but a new project in Nigeria aims to make the airport the very center of the city. The proposed Minna Airport City/Aerotropolis Project will consist of two runways that cross diagonally, with a control tower in the middle, and a city built in the areas between the runways, with hotels, shops, a conference center, a hospital, and a manufacturing district, according to a recent story in Miller-McCune. Currently there is a general aviation airport on the site, with an 11,000-foot runway, that handles fewer than 10 flights a day. The airport district would extend well beyond the airport boundary, and connect to other nearby urban areas. The country, which is the most populous state in Africa, is trying to diversify its economy and develop more agricultural and mineral exports.

"Airports have become key for the economic development and competitiveness of countries throughout the world," said Danladi Ndayebo, a government spokesman, writing in All-Africa. "Whereas airports were originally built to perform one function, they are now cities in themselves with significant retail provision, acting as employment centers and generators of significant wealth. As the airports have expanded and the nature of their business evolved, their peripheries have developed to include major manufacturing and business centers." Proponents hope the new development will attract international trade and encourage local businesses to expand.

Avweb 

Boeing Decision On 787-10 Likely This Year



Boeing hopes to make a decision this year on the 787-10 and aims to ensure that this larger-capacity 787 avoids cannibalizing sales of the 777, another family of Boeing aircraft that also may be getting new models, the 777-8X and 777-9X.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Jim Albaugh said, “We will do the 787-10 by all likelihood. We’re now working through design concepts. Assuming the customer interest is there, later this year [a decision will be made], and we will have something to offer toward the end of the year.” He says the 787-10 will have a shorter range than the -9 but will be able to carry 40 more passengers, so “the economics are very good.”

The fact that the 787-10 is a stretch of the 787-9 means it will be in the realm of the 777 in terms of seating capacity. Albaugh, however, suggests otherwise. “We think we’ve got a good separation between the models. There’s 15% separation between the models. We’ve spread the sizing between them, so we don’t cannibalize any one aircraft.”

There have been some reports about a 777-8LX model, which promises more range, but Albaugh is dismissive. “I’ve seen something on a chart mentioning that, but I am focused on the 777-9X and 777-8X,” he says, referring to the new stretched version of the 777-300ER and 777-200, respectively. Albaugh was speaking to Aviation Week in Singapore yesterday during a media roundtable.
Industry executives tell Aviation Week that Boeing recently issued a request for proposals (RFP) for a powerplant for the 777 aircraft in development. Albaugh would neither confirm nor deny that such an RFP has been issued.

He says the 777-8X and 777-9X are hugely important to the company. Boeing sold 200 777s last year, and the aircraft is unbeatable in terms of efficiency, asserts Albaugh. But he also says Boeing is mindful of the fact that Airbus is planning the A350-1000, “so we want to ensure we continue to have the more capable aircraft.” Capability refers to many factors, such as range, dispatch reliability, maintenance costs and cost per seat, he adds. He declines to disclose details on the 777-9X, except to say “it will be a significant improvement over the 777-300ER.”

As for the 737 MAX, Albaugh says, “I hope we can have a couple of thousand orders before we deliver the first aircraft.” Boeing already has secured firm orders for the 737-8 and 737-9. Albaugh says it also has secured a 737-7 customer, but has yet to disclose who that is.
Albaugh declines to say when the 737 MAX specifications will be locked, but asserts they are already effectively firmed up because Boeing is giving MAX customers guarantees when it comes to the specs. He also says, “I don’t want to over-promise and under-deliver. I want to ensure that it is on spec and delivered on time.” Boeing has learned from the lessons of the 787 program, he adds.
Boeing has started delivering 787-8s, but has had to do some post-production fixes to the aircraft in response to concerns about delamination.

Aviation Week  

Soaring demand drives Airbus to plug freighter gap



Airbus's decision last week to launch a passenger-to-freighter conversion programme for its A330 twinjet was long overdue. The airframer's own global market forecast for freighters, issued last year, predicts demand for a total of 2,731 cargo aircraft over the next 20 years, split between 834 new-builds and 1,897 conversions.

Yet until last week's announcement, Airbus had addressed that demand solely with its new-build A330-200F. Although that programme has arguably under-performed, accumulating just 69 orders to-date, Airbus believes that section of the market still holds considerable sales potential.

Again, the global market forecast offers a clue to the airframer's thinking. It predicts that most of the growth in that 20-year period will come in the mid-size freighter market occupied by the A330. That equates to a total of 1,327 units, with potential for around 900 conversions according to the forecast.
Demand will be driven both by growth in the cargo market and the need to replace older aircraft. In fact, Airbus says around 570 aircraft will need to be replaced in the mid-size sector alone.

Likely candidates for replacement by the A330 P2F are the Boeing MD-10F/McDonnell Douglas DC-10, and at the lighter end, the Airbus A300 and A310 freighters, all of which still have a significant global presence. Flightglobal's Ascend Online database lists 81 MD-10Fs in active service, 198 A300 freighters and 54 A310 freighters. The vast majority of the three types are operated by US express carrier FedEx.

Closer analysis of its fleet using Ascend shows the Memphis company operating a total of 73 MD-10Fs - both -10Fs and -30Fs - with an average age of over 33 years. There are also substantial numbers of A300Fs (71) and A310Fs (45) in its fleet, with an average age of 19.5 and 25.5 years, respectively.
Boeing lists the MD-10-30F as able to carry a payload of 79.4t (175,000lb) over 3,305nm (6,115km). Although no payload-range figures are yet available for the P2F programme, Airbus gives the line-build -200F's maximum payload as 70t over 3,200nm.

 Clearly the P2F will not be a like-for-like replacement for the MD-10, but Airbus suggests the type's fuel efficiency more than compensates for what it loses in payload and range. Assuming a fuel cost of $100 and above per barrel, the -200F model need only have utilization of 2,200h per year to compensate for its $211.5 million acquisition cost against the Boeing, claims Airbus.

The necessary utilization would slide even further in Airbus's favor with a P2F aircraft. Airbus has not disclosed a list price for the conversion, however early estimates put a total cost at around $30 million. Early -300 models, produced between 1994 and 1997, are valued at $22.5-$25 million, according to Ascend. Newer aircraft are worth anywhere between $41.7 million and $58.95 million for the higher-gross weight -300 and $38.5-$51 million for the -200.

Ascend analyst Chris Seymour puts the optimum age for freighter conversion at 15 to 20 years. Early A330 models sit comfortably in that age range, but Seymour says the success of the programme rests partly on the availability of "feedstock" aircraft ripe for conversion. Numbers are plentiful: Ascend lists a total operational A330 fleet of 800 aircraft, split almost equally between the -200 and -300. And with the first P2F conversion not due to roll out until 2016, Seymour predicts even greater feedstock availability as airlines de-fleet in favor of new models.

Lessor Guggenheim Aviation Partners is active in the cargo sector, for instance leasing three 777Fs to European operator TNT Airways. Steve Rimmer, chief executive officer, says it is "intrigued by the programme" but stresses it is too early to form a firm opinion.
He says: "Feedstock for conversions and the increasing focus on age limitations will need some consideration. Payload range will be key.

"The production freighter has been slow in gaining momentum and that makes us a little cautious. However, it's definitely on our radar and we will be spending some time reviewing it when there are fuller details available."

One airline viewed as a potential launch customer for the conversion is Qatar Airways. The Doha-based airline has 29 A330-200 and -300s in service and, with the latter about to start being replaced by Boeing 787s, it has been urging Airbus to launch an A330 cargo conversion programme. Airline chief executive Akbar Al Baker has previously said that the converted A330s would be operated either by Qatar Airways' expanding cargo division or placed with its leasing division for placement with other freight operators.

One reason for Airbus's previous reluctance to launch the P2F programme was the fear of cannibalising sales prospects for the -200F. However, Seymour argues the two products are "complementary", citing their different mission profiles and the commonality between the types.

It is also worth noting that the existence of a P2F conversion programme has not particularly hampered sales prospects for Boeing's 767-300 Freighter. Some 35 of the converted 767s are in service and Boeing has taken a total of 111 orders for the 767-300F, with 46 still to be delivered, including to FedEx and fellow US parcel carrier UPS.

Flight Global

FLY Leasing Acquires Two B737-700s



DUBLIN, Feb. 23, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- FLY Leasing Limited (NYSE: FLY) ("FLY"), a global lessor of modern commercial jet aircraft, today announced that it has acquired two Boeing 737-700 aircraft on lease to GOL Airlines, a leading low-cost carrier in Brazil.

"We continue to uncover attractive opportunities to acquire aircraft that fit well with FLY's fleet and align with our strategy of pursuing opportunistic growth," said Colm Barrington, CEO of FLY. "The purchase of these two Boeing 737-700s was financed with limited-recourse debt, further demonstrating our extensive banking relationships and ability to finance attractive growth opportunities in this environment."
FLY now has a fleet of 111 commercial aircraft on lease to 54 airlines in 29 countries.


About FLY
FLY acquires and leases modern, high-demand and fuel-efficient commercial jet aircraft under multi-year operating lease contracts to a diverse group of airlines throughout the world. FLY is managed and serviced by BBAM LP, one of the world's leading aircraft lease managers with more than 20 years of experience. For more information about FLY, please visit our website at www.flyleasing.com

PR Newswire

Air China to Open Shanghai-Chengdu-Mumbai Service on May 2


 BEIJING, Feb. 23, 2012 /PRNewswire-Asia/ -- As part of its effort to build its hub in China's southwestern city of Chengdu, Air China will open a Shanghai-Chengdu-Mumbai route on May 2, 2012.
(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20080625/CNW017LOGO )

With the introduction of the new service, Mumbai will be the 10th city accessible by Air China's flights from Chengdu; the other cities include Tokyo, Nagoya, Seoul, Singapore, Bangalore, Kathmandu, Karachi, Taipei China and Hong Kong China. The four weekly flights, CA429/430, will be offered with A319 by Air China's southwestern offshoot.

Mumbai is the capital of the Indian state of Maharashtra. Known as India's "west gateway", it is the country's largest port and important hub of transportation. As an economic center and industrial base, Mumbai boasts Asia's longest "Gold Market Street". It's the birthplace of India's textile industry and one of the world's most important textile products exporters.

About Air China

Air China is China's only national flag carrier and a Star Alliance member. Using a fleet of 306 Airbus and Boeing aircraft, we run 289 routes serving 30 countries and regions. Thanks to our admission to the Star Alliance, our route network, with Beijing as its hub, coupled with the even stronger network of the Star Alliance, is able to place 1,160 destinations in 181 countries within our reach.
PhoenixMiles is our frequent flyer program that allows our loyal customers to accrue mileage and request awards in our worldwide system. Air China's frequent flyer program has a membership of 17 million.
In 2011, Air China was featured in the Top 500 World Brands rankings for the fifth consecutive year. For more information, please visit our website www.airchina.com.

PR Newwire 

February 22, 2012

Boeing Announces Next Segment of 787 Dream Tour



EVERETT, Wash., Feb. 22, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Boeing (NYSE: BA) will conduct the fourth segment of the 787 Dream Tour beginning March 1. Stops will include visits to cities in the United States, Canada and Mexico.
In addition, the Dream Tour airplane, ZA003, will be featured at the FIDAE Air Show in Santiago, Chile, in late March to kick off the fifth segment of the tour.
"During the first three segments of the tour, we've had almost 25,000 visitors come through the airplane," said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager, 787 program. "Our customers, partners, employees and the finance and leasing communities have all expressed their delight with the airplane."
The March schedule includes the following stops:
  • March 1-4: Toronto, Canada, to visit Air Canada and local suppliers.
  • March 4: Boston, Mass., in support of Japan Airlines, which has announced that it will offer 787 service on the Tokyo-Boston route.
  • March 5-7: Newark, N.J., to visit United Airlines and its local stakeholders.
  • March 8-9: Mexico City, Mexico, to visit Aero Mexico.
  • March 10-12: Phoenix, Ariz., to visit Honeywell, other suppliers and Boeing employees.
  • March 13: San Diego, Calif., to visit Goodrich and other suppliers.
  • March 14-15: Long Beach, Calif., to visit leasing companies, Boeing employees and suppliers.
  • March 15-17: Salt Lake City, Utah, to visit Boeing employees and suppliers.

The Dream Tour airplane is outfitted with the 787's special cabin features, including a welcoming entryway, dramatically larger dim-able windows, bigger bins and dynamic LED lighting. The airplane is configured with a luxurious business-class cabin, an overhead crew rest compartment and an economy class section.
Dates and locations for additional tour stops will be announced approximately one month in advance. At many of the stops, local media will have the opportunity to participate in tours of the airplane and discussions with Boeing executives and pilots.

Boeing Media 

DIVERSITY OF CUSTOMER BASE AND IMPROVING BUSINESS PERFORMANCE HIGHLIGHT STRONGEST QUARTER FOR CIRRUS SINCE 2008



DULUTH, Minn., Feb. 22, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- On February 22, 2012, the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) released the industry's fourth quarter and complete 2011 shipment and billings summary. "Shipments declined in all three industry segments from the previous year, but the declines reached single digits which indicate general aviation is reaching the trough in this cycle," said GAMA Chairman, Caroline Daniels. "A majority of the market fundamentals are moving in the right direction. Corporate profits remain at record high levels, the used market and flight activity made year over year improvements and emerging markets are driving new sales. Like last year, our greatest concern remains the lack of financing. Latent demand in the market exists and an ease in the credit markets could help boost our industry into positive growth once again."

CIRRUS DELIVERS 89 SR-SERIES AIRCRAFT TO A DIVERSE MIX OF DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL CUSTOMERS

In the fourth quarter of 2011, Cirrus Aircraft delivered more airplanes than in any quarter since the end of 2008, resulting in its strongest performance of the past 12 quarters. Todd Simmons, Executive Vice President, Sales and Marketing at Cirrus Aircraft noted, "Several factors came together in the fourth quarter to make it one of the strongest in recent memory. It's a source of pride to the Cirrus team in Duluth, Grand Forks and around the globe that with each successive quarter we are creating a stronger and more durable aircraft business."

As previously reported, twenty SR20 aircraft were completed during Q3'11 with final delivery taking place to the Civil Aviation Flight University of China (CAFUC) in Luoyang, China in Q4.
Simmons continued, "Favorable depreciation rules in the U.S. unquestionably helped drive domestic sales in late 2011. In fact, U.S. deliveries exceeded our expectations by year end. Cirrus is also benefitting from growth in the institutional side of our business, as flight schools and governments from around the world are renewing their fleets with the most capable aircraft with the latest safety and cockpit technologies. We are pleased that these new partners recognize that Cirrus is in the unique position to meet those needs."
Simmons added, "At the same time, we are cautious about ongoing economic uncertainty in Europe. As we have grown our global footprint, we also have more exposure to changing conditions in certain regions. While we keep a sharp eye on Europe, business remains more consistent in Latin America and we see potential for faster growth in China, Asia and Australia." 
CIRRUS AIRCRAFT HIGHLIGHTS FROM GAMA DATA(1): FOURTH QUARTER 2011
  • Cirrus Increased its single engine piston aircraft market share by two points to 35 percent in 2011, an all time high.(2)
  • Cirrus increased its SR22/SR22T comparable market share by five points to 73 percent in 2011, an all-time high.(3)
  • Cirrus increased its SR20 comparable market share by three points in 2011, as the preference for the SR20 is growing as both a trainer and personal transportation airplane.(4)
  • Cirrus delivered the most certified single engine piston airplanes of any general aviation manufacturer in 2011.(2)
  • The SR22/SR22T family of aircraft remains the best-selling four-place airplane in the world for now 10 years in a row.

SEATING FOR FIVE, GLOBAL WEATHER, INTEGRATED PHONE, TEXT/EMAIL MESSAGING AND NEW INTERIOR AND EXTERIOR OPTIONS HIGHLIGHT THE 2012 CIRRUS AIRCRAFT SR-SERIES

On January 10, 2012, Cirrus introduced a range of compelling new features on the SR-series line of aircraft. New 60/40 Flex Seating™ offers seating for three in a redesigned back seat allowing for five total passengers on board. The new back seats also feature three-point seat belts for greater comfort, can recline in three positions, can secure child seats via the automotive style LATCH system and completely fold down for maximum cargo carrying options.

With Perspective Global Connect™, Cirrus pilots can now make phone calls and send text and email messages in flight. Outside the U.S., graphical weather is now available via Global Connect. Other new 2012 features include the GMA350 audio panel from Garmin, new interior and exterior color, materials and schemes and new personalization options.
The Vision SF50 personal jet remains the primary new aircraft research and development project at Cirrus. The next public and media program update is scheduled for Q1'12.

(1) Does not include Beechcraft Q4'11 numbers, not available at time of report.(2) FAR Part 23 certified aircraft. "Light Sport Aircraft" not included.(3) Includes Cessna 182, Cessna 182T, Cessna Corvalis TT, Mooney.(4)Includes the Cessna 172, Cessna 182, Cirrus SR20, Diamond DA40, Piper Warrior, Piper Arrow.

PR Newswire

Carrier thanks Civil Aviation Administration of China for approving expanded codeshare agreement on Detroit, Seattle flights to Beijing



 ATLANTA, Feb. 22, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL) today announced expanded codeshare agreements with China Eastern and China Southern airlines, two of the largest carriers in the People's Republic of China, which will provide more options for customers traveling between the United States and China.
(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20090202/DELTALOGO )
The agreements, recently approved by the Civil Aviation Administration of China, will allow both Chinese carriers to place their codes and flight numbers on Delta-operated flights between Seattle and Beijing. In addition, China Eastern will place its code and flight numbers on Delta-operated flights between Detroit and Beijing.
"We thank the Civil Aviation Administration of China for approving our expanded partnership with China Eastern and China Southern, which provides significant new options for customers of all three carriers and will enhance travel and trade between our nations," said Vinay Dube, Delta's senior vice president – Asia Pacific.
The airlines' agreement already allows China Eastern to codeshare on Delta's flight between Detroit and Shanghai; and allows Delta to codeshare on China Eastern-operated flights from New York and Los Angeles to Shanghai as well as China Southern's service between Los Angeles and Guangzhou.
In addition, once the expanded codeshare is implemented, Delta and China Eastern will provide codeshare service to 34 cities within the U.S and China, while Delta and China Southern will provide codeshare to 18 cities in the two nations.
China Southern and China Eastern are both members of the SkyTeam international alliance, which also includes Delta. Later this year, Xiamen Airlines, which operates a network of domestic and regional services throughout China and Asia and whose major shareholder is China Southern, also will join SkyTeam.
The new codeshare approvals pave the way for increased cooperation that will enable Delta and its Chinese partners to jointly develop improved services for the mutual benefit of their customers.

PR Newswire 

Canada's largest airline continues to fly high with advanced analytics and business intelligence from Teradata


TORONTO, Feb. 22, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- As the airline industry continues to face the headwinds of rising fuel prices, challenging competition and an uncertain economy, Air Canada is redoubling its use of integrated data warehousing as a means to compete effectively. Canada's largest airline has purchased a new Teradata Data Warehouse Appliance that runs the powerful and agile Teradata Database and renewed its Teradata managed services agreement. With the new system in place, Air Canada will be able to decommission legacy independent data marts currently used to support revenue and operational management and migrate these applications to the Teradata integrated data platform.
(Logo:  http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20090909/TERADATALOGO )

The decision to make the upgrade and move towards a more fully integrated data environment was based on Air Canada's experience with its current Teradata Data Warehouse Appliance and with Teradata Professional Services in the day-to-day management of the integrated data warehouse.
"The combination of the performance and stability of the platform and the quality of Teradata's professional services, gave us the confidence that Teradata is our best choice to continue our data mart consolidation and migrate more of our strategic data over to the new Data Warehouse Appliance," said Marc Constantineau, manager, Data Management Center, Air Canada.

The new platform is a continuation of the airline's strategic approach to move from independent data marts to an enterprise data warehouse (EDW). Information quality, speed of delivery and reduced costs were essential to Air Canada's decision, said Constantineau. As the company evolves its analytics platform to an EDW, it will add more data sources to its existing revenue and yield management data, such as incorporating ticket data and operational flight information. Air Canada is leverag­ing the Teradata Travel Industry Logical Data Model as a framework to guide the integration of information, thus reducing development time and costs.
"Air Canada has an exciting vision for its business, and that in turn fuels its dependence on expanded analytics.  What started as an initiative for a single business department user has grown to encompass multiple business functions now and represents a strategic collaboration with IT. Teradata has proven that the business can have improved analytics, while IT has reduced costs, and both can have confidence in scalability of their data warehouse to add more data and new applications in the years ahead," said Industry Marketing and Solutions leader for the travel industry at Teradata, Peeter Kive

PR Newswire