Wednesday, July 30, 2014

787-10 to be built in South Carolina only

Boeing announced today that it will assemble the 787-10 Dreamliner exclusively in its factory in North Charleston, South Carolina. It will continue to assemble both 787-8s and 787-9s in Everett, Wash. In North Charleston, however, all three models of the Dreamliner will be built. Design of the 787-10 is underway in Everett, with final assembly of the first 787-10 scheduled to begin in South Carolina in 2017.

The 787-10 is the newest and longest member of the 787 Dreamliner family. It will be 18 feet (5.5 meters) longer than the 787-9. With 10 feet (3 meters) of that increase in the midbody section, the 787-10 midbody is too long to be transported efficiently from North Charleston, where systems integration work is performed, to the Everett facility for final assembly. One of the reasons that Boeing started building aircraft in North Charleston some years ago was that the workers here are nonunion.

The 787 production system includes three production lines: two in Everett (including a temporary surge line) and one in South Carolina. The integrated production system currently operates at a production rate of 10 airplanes per month. As announced last year, the 787 production rate will increase to 12 airplanes per month in 2016 and 14 per month by the end of the decade. The Everett facility will continue to assemble seven airplanes per month, while Boeing South Carolina final assembly will gradually increase from three 787s per month today to five per month in 2016 and seven per month by the end of the decade.

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WestJet to operate Boeing 767-300ER

The Canadian low-budget airline WestJet is going to fly four Boeing 767-300ERW aircraft on routes between Alberta and Hawaii during the winter season beginning in late 2015. The airline's current winter services between Alberta and Hawaii are operated by two Boeing 757-200s from Thomas Cook. Coming winter is the last period that these aircraft are flown on behalf of WestJet. WestJet is planning expansion into more overseas markets starting in the summer of 2016. WestJet's current fleet comprises Boeing 737-600s, -700s and -800s.

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ANA receives its first Boeing 787-9

Boeing delivered on July 29 the first 787-9 Dreamliner to ANA All Nippon Airways, which is now the first airline to have both Dreamliner-versions in its fleet. ANA has now 29 787s, more than any other operator in the world.

ANA has 29 more 787-9s on order and commitments for a further 14. Boeing has sold more than 1,000 787s and there are more than 160 currently in operation.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Airbus terminates Skymark A380 order

Airbus has terminated the purchase order from the Japanese carrier Skymark Airlines for six A380 megajets. The airline cannot pay the aircraft. Skymark ordered the A380s in 2011 and intended to fly them to the United States and Europe.

Skymark booked a loss in its latest financial year and struggles with increasing competition and a weak yen. The termination means another setback for the A380 programme. One A380, partially painted in the Skymark livery, did already make test flights. A second plane is under construction. Airbus is looking for an other user for the two aircraft, which doesn't seem an easy job, because the interiors are specially designed for individual airlines. Skymark wanted fewer than 400 passengers on the A380. Earlier cancellations came from Kingfisher Airliners and Hong Kong Airlines. Air France and Qantas deferred delivery of some ordered aircraft. An order from Virgin Atlantic still seems uncertain.

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

ANZ and ANA quarrel about first 787-9 operation

Which airline is to become the first Boeing 787-9 operator? ANA All Nippon Airlines or Air New Zealand? Air New Zealand was the first airline to receive a Boeing 787-9, the stretched version of the Dreamliner. However, ANA All Nippon Airways said it will be the first operator of the type, as it was with the 787-8.

Air New Zealand received its first 787-9 on July 9 and All Nippon is about to receive its first aircraft on July 27. ANZ published that it would start scheduled commercial flights between Auckland and Perth from October 15. "That means that we are the first operator of the new aircraft," concluded All Nippon. "Because we will operate a special commemorative flight on August 4, with Japanese and American elementary school children living in Japan." The aircraft will depart from Tokyo Haneda Airport and fly over Mount Fuji. On the new aircraft the Tomodachi-logo will be displayed to support the initiative to strengthen Japanese-US ties.

"But that is not a revenue or commercial flight," protests Air New Zealand. And that ANZ will start scheduled commercial flights between Auckland and Perth on October 15 doesn't mean that the aircraft will stand idle on the tarmac of Auckland Airport until October. Air New Zealand will start flying the 787-9 from August 9 between Auckland and Sydney on a surprise basis for its passengers on flights normally operated by other types of aircraft.

ANA will initially deploy the 787-9 on domestic routes from early October, but doesn't mention the day these flights will begin. What's sure is that the ANA 787-9s will have a high-density interior counting 395 seats. International ANA flights will start in April 2015.

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

The A380 on short-haul service

The Airbus A380 seems to be developed as a big aircraft for long and very long routes. But since July 18 Emirates also flies the giant plane between Dubai and Kuwait City, a flight of one hour and 45 minutes. It is the world’s shortest scheduled A380 flight.

The arrival of the upgraded EK857 service, which touched down at Kuwait International Airport on Thursday July 17, marks 25 years of Emirates’ flights to the country. "We have gradually built up our services to Kuwait since 1989 and we now offer five daily flights, soon to become six," said Sheikh Majid a-Mualla, Emirates' Divisional Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations, Centre, who was onboard the inaugural flight.

Kuwait is the second market in the Middle East to be served by the airline’s flagship aircraft after Saudi Arabia.

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Test programme A350 in final stage

Airbus is in the final stage of the test programme of the A350-900 and has started route proving tests. These tests are to demonstrate readiness for airline operations and will include high airfield performance, auto-landing trials, and airport turnaround and handling services. Some flights will have passengers on board. The A350 world tour itinerary includes fourteen major airports worldwide and one route via the North Pole.

The world tour is made by A350 MSN5, the fifth test aircraft, which has a fully functional cabin (42 business class and 223 economy class seats). The A350 flights will be operated by Airbus flight crews with the participation of Airworthiness Authority pilots from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

The tests form part of the last trials required for aircraft Type Certification scheduled for Q3 this year. The first airline delivery, to Qatar Airways, will follow towards the end of the year.

The three week trial (four trips) starts in Toulouse, France. Trip one includes destinations such as Canada via the north-pole and Frankfurt. Trip two to Asia includes visits to Hong Kong and Singapore. The third trip goes around the world and brings the aircraft to Johannesburg and Sydney. From Sydney it will fly to Auckland, followed by Santiago de Chile and Sao Paulo before returning to Toulouse. On the fourth and final trip the A350 will depart from Toulouse to Doha, the homebase of launch customer Qatar Airways, then onto Perth and back to Doha. From Doha it will fly to Moscow, then to Helsinki from where it will fly back to Toulouse.

Airbus has five development A350s flying. The test programme has reached over 540 flights and 2,250 flight hours.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Boeing 747 as Cruise Missile carrier?

After the Carter Administration's cancellation of the B-1A program due to fiscal concerns, the rise of air-launched cruise missiles and the possibility of developing a stealth bomber, Boeing put forward a low-risk, relatively cheap, cruise missile delivery vehicle alternative based on the mighty 747 Jumbo Jet. It was called the Cruise Missile Carrier Aircraft, or CMCA.

It is an idea that still makes sense, according to the website Foxtrot Alpha. The idea was relatively simple: turn the premier long-range commercial hauler into an arsenal ship capable of carrying between 50 and 100 air-launched cruise missiles (ALCMs).

The design was based on the 747-200C, a nose-loading cargo derivative of the Jumbo Jet, with nine rotary launchers mounted on tracks inside of the stripped-out cabin. Each rotary launcher would hold eight missiles, and they could be slid back into a launching position at the rear right side of the aircraft via the help of an overhead handling system.

In the end, the 747 CMCA was passed over, with the B-1 being revived by the Reagan Administration as well as the B-2 being procured semi-clandestinely under what would become the Advanced Tactical Bomber program. The B-52 fleet also received some capability upgrades as well.

But: the missile carrying Jumbo Jets could have been operated at much lower cost than the B-1 or B-52 force. The 747 as mobile rocket platform would not be carrying anywhere near the weight that it would with a full load of large air launched cruise missiles, so extra fuel can be carried to provide a longer flight duration and range.

The 747 is far from stealthy, but this wouldn't be a problem, according to Foxtrotalpha: "Who would doubt that in this modern era where stealth technology's tactical edge is eroding, and with the challenges of area denial and anti-access warfare looming in the Pacific, that a 747 CMCA would not be an incredibly powerful and relevant weapon system to possess? When a 747-800 based CMCA packing close to 100 long-range stealthy cruise missiles flies all the way across the Pacific Ocean without the need of tanker gas, and devastates 100 strategic enemy targets in a single volley with minimal risk to its operators lives, stealth really doesn't even matter at all does it?"

Foxtrotalpha asks the question: Why again isn't the USAF knocking on Boeing's door for this thing like yesterday?

It seems an intriguing idea. Read the complete story at Foxtrotalpha.

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Hawaiian wants six Airbus A330-800neo aircraft

US carrier Hawaiian Airlines has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for six Airbus A330-800neo aircraft. The commitment replaces a previous order placed by Hawaiian for six Airbus A350-800s, which still isn't officially cancelled, but that will not take long now. Hawaiian was among the biggest supporters of the smallest version of the A350. There are now only 28 orders left for the A350-800, from Aeroflot (8), Asiana (8), Yemenia (10) and lessor AWAS (2).

"The A330-800neo’s fuel efficiency, additional range and commonality with our existing A330 fleet makes the A330-800neo an elegant solution to our need for growth aircraft toward the end of this decade," said Mark Dunkerley, President and CEO of Hawaiian Airlines.

The A330-800neo will serve the Hawaiian network as the airline continues to expand in Asia and grow its capacity in mature markets. Hawaiian Airlines currently operates a fleet of 18 A330-200 aircraft, with additional orders for 16 A321neo aircraft on backlog.

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A350 performs rejected take-off test

Airbus has achieved a new milestone in the A350 test program. It has successfully performed the ‘Maximum Energy Rejected Take-Off’ (MERTO) test with the A350 MSN001 on the morning of Saturday 19th July at Istres Air Force Base in France. MERTO, which follows on from the previous ‘High Energy Rejected Take-Off’ (HERTO) preparation test conducted by MSN001 two months ago, is a part of the mandatory series of tests for Certification.

The latest test is to confirm the braking system’s ability to safely stop the aircraft following a rejected take-off at high speed and high weight – using a set of worn-out brakes. As these brakes absorb the kinetic energy of the aircraft, they glow bright orange and reach a temperature of around 1,400 degrees centigrade by the time the aircraft has safely come to a standstill, whereupon the tires are deflated by special fuses. According to certification requirements, the aircraft then has to stay put for five minutes unassisted, after which firefighters are allowed to spray the wheels and brakes to cool them.

MERTO is the A350 XWB programme’s final major test before MSN005, one of two cabin-equipped development aircraft, embarks on ‘Route Proving’ in July. The programme has to date achieved more than 2,250 flight hours in around 540 flights, and is on track for certification in Q3. First delivery to Qatar Airways will follow in Q4.

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Malaysia Boeing 777 crashes in Ukraine

A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 has crashed in Ukraine. Flight MH17 was enroute from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it went down. There were 295 people onboard; 280 passengers and 15 crew members.

Malaysia Airlines announced via Twitter that Ukranian ATC lost contact with flight MH17 at 14.15 (GMT) not far from the Russia-Ukraine border. The aircraft departed from Amsterdam Airport at 12.15 pm (local time). It was estimated to arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport the next day at 6.10 am (local time). The aircraft crashed in an area with frequent rocket attacks in recent days because of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. It is not clear whether the airliner was shot down.

Malaysia Airlines lost another Boeing 777 on March 8, 2014. This aircraft disappeared over the south Indian Ocean on flight MH370 to China. The wreck still has not been found and all 241 people aboard are presumed to have died.

Malaysia airlines operates thirteen Boeing 777-200ER aircraft. The crashed aircraft, 9M-MRD, was delivered to the airline in July 1997.

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Transaero orders twenty Airbus A330s

Transaero Airlines, Russia’s second largest airline, has signed a Letter of Intent for a total of twenty Airbus A330 aircraft (eight A330ceo and twelve A330neo). The agreement makes Transaero an important launch customer and the first European airline to commit to the A330neo. The A330s will be operated on Transaero's medium and long-haul domestic and international network.

Transaero Airlines launched services in November 1991, and currently serves more than 200 routes all over the world. The airline als has four Airbus A380s on order, the first of which will enter into service at the end of 2015.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Air Mauritius chooses Airbus A350-900

Air Mauritius, the flag carrier of Mauritius, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding for four Airbus A350-900 aircraft. The agreement was announced during the Farnborough Airshow. The airline also announced that it is going to lease two more A350-900s. The six A350 XWBs will be operated on European, Asian and Australian routes.

Air Mauritius currently operates Airbus A330-200 and A340-300 aircraft on its intercontinental network.

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Qatar Airways firms order for 50 Boeing 777-9Xs

Qatar Airways has finalized an order for 50 Boeing 777-9X aircraft. The order was first announced as a commitment at the 2013 Dubai Airshow. In addition, the airline announced a commitment for 50 additional 777-9X purchase rights. If exercised, that would take Qatar's 777X order tally to 100 airplanes. Qatar Airways also announced their intent to order four 777 Freighters and options for four more.

Leasing companu MG Aviation also finalized a 787-9 Dreamliner deal, for two aircraft. The company has a total of four 787-9s on order now.

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Cathay Pacific 'Airline of the World 2014'

Widebody-only operator Cathay Pacific has been announced as the airline of the year 2014. It climbed from the sixth place last year to the top, displacing 2013's number one Qatar Airways. The World Airline Award was announced at the Farnborough Airshow by research firm Skytrax. It is one of the most high-profile awards in the aviation industry.

Cathay is the first airline to have won the award four times. It also won the title in 2003, 2005 and 2009.

Garuda Indonesia won the award for the best cabin crew, ahead of Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines. Singapore Airlines won the award for best first class cabin, Qatar for best business class and Korea's Asiana for best economy class cabin.

The Skytrax awards are based on a survey of 18.85 million airline passengers from around the world. Here follows the list of the top ten:
1 Cathay Pacific Airways. 2 Qatar Airways. 3 Singapore Airlines. 4 Emirates. 5 Turkish Airlines. 6 ANA All Nippon Airways. 7 Garuda Indonesia. 8 Asiana Airlines. 9 Etihad Airways. 10. Lufthansa.

Numbers one, three and four - Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines and Emirates - are widebody-only operators. For most of the others widebodies form a big part of their fleets.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

AirAsia X wants 50 A330neo aircraft

AirAsia X is a fan of the Airbus A330neo for some time and now Airbus has launched the new version of its best-selling widebody aircraft, the airline has signed a Memorandum of Understand (MoU) for 50 A330-900neo aircraft. The agreement sees the airline become a launch customer and it will be one of the first operators of the aircraft, with deliveries to the carrier scheduled to begin in 2018. The agreement was signed at the Farnborough Airshow.

"We have been encouraging Airbus to launch this new version of the A330 for some time now," said Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, Co-Founder and Director of AirAsia X at Farnborough. "I am pleased that they are offering this choice and bringing us the aircraft we truly need to develop further our low cost long haul model."

AirAsia X is one of Airbus’s largest customers. In total the Group has ordered 536 Airbus aircraft, excluding the A330neo MoU.

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Passenger must feel in 777X like in 787

Boeing is to build the 777X with basically the "old"' fuselage of the earlier Triple Seven versions. But it also wants to offer passengers the comfort level they experience on the 787 Dreamliner. At Farnborough Boeing announced a number of advances for the 777X interior compared to the current 777.

Among the changes are:
- A cabin pressure like at an altitude of 6,000 feet, what is comparable to the 787 Dreamliner.
- Larger windows, which are located higher on the fuselage so they're at eye level for a larger percentage of passengers.
- Increased ambient light made possible by the larger, newly positioned windows.
- All-new interior design that allows airlines to customize their cabin architectures by class. This innovation includes an adaptable suite of parts that facilitates choices in overhead ceiling and stow bin configurations, allowing airlines to create the feeling of separate and distinct cabins that meet both airline and passenger needs.
- Higher cabin humidity, comparable to the 787 Dreamliner.
- Enhanced air filtration, incorporating the latest filtration technologies.
- Next-generation LED lighting.
- Lower cabin noise, achieved through the new engine nacelle design, new high bypass ratio engines, better insulation and a passenger cabin that doubles the number of air nozzles with lower velocity and less noise.

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Leasing companies buy 22 Boeing widebodies

Boeing has sold a total of 22 widebody airliners to three aircraft lease companies. The contracts were announced at the Farnborough Air Show.

The US aircraft manufacturer sold six 777-300ER (Extended Range) to Air Lease Corporation. The 777-300ER order marks the 100th 777 order from ALC Chairman and CEO Steven Udvar-Hazy during his career in the industry. Air Lease Corporation also ordered 20 737 MAX 8 narrowbodies.

Another leasing company, Intrepid Aviation, signed its first direct Boeing order for six 777-300ERs. Intrepid also took the option to purchase an additional four 777s. Intrepid Aviation is a privately held commercial aircraft lessor, which owns commercial aircraft leased to airline operators worldwide. Intrepid Aviation focuses primarily on twin-engine widebody equipment, such as the Boeing 787 and 777.

The CIT Group Inc., a global leader in transportation finance, announced that CIT Aerospace has placed an order for ten 787-9 Dreamliners. The order brings the leasing company's total 787 orders to 20, including 16 787-9s.

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Robots to build Boeing 777 fuselages

Boeing announced that it is working on a new method for building 777 fuselages. The process is named 'Fuselage Automated Upright Build' (FAUB) and improves workplace safety and increases product quality. Boeing is developing the new technology since 2012.

Fuselage sections will be built using automated, guided robots that will fasten the panels of the fuselage together, drilling and filling the more than approximately 60,000 fasteners that are today installed by hand.

FAUB offers numerous benefits including an improvement in employee safety. The nature of the drilling and filling work makes it ideal for an automated solution. More than half of all injuries on the 777 program have occurred during the phase of production that is being automated. In addition, the automated system is expected to reduce build times and improve first-time quality of the build process.

"This is the first time such technology will be used by Boeing to manufacture widebody commercial airplanes and the 777 program is leading the way," said Elizabeth Lund, vice president and general manager, 777 program and Everett site, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "We're excited to continue improving the production process here and we're positioning ourselves to begin building 777X airplanes in the future."

The 777 program has already begun testing FAUB at a facility in Anacortes, Wash. Production readiness preparations are underway and the system will be installed in Everett in a new portion of the main factory that is under construction now. The technology is expected to be implemented in the next few years.

The robotic system, designed for Boeing by KUKA Systems, is the latest in a series of strategic Advanced Manufacturing moves on the 777 program, which have already included new systems for painting wings and other drilling operations.

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Avolon orders six Boeing 787s

Aircraft lease company Avolon, headquartered in Ireland, has ordered six Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners at Farnborough. The commitment marks Avolon's first order for the 787. Avolon provides aircraft leasing and lease management services. Avolon has an owned, managed and committed fleet of 207 aircraft serving 48 customers in 27 countries. Avolon also ordered five additional 737 MAX 9 narrowbodies.

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