Thursday, April 19, 2018

FAA to issue CFM56 engine directive after Southwest incident

Engine cowling from CFM56-7B engine that failed on Southwest Airlines flight 1380.

FAA will issue an airworthiness directive (AD) in the next two weeks requiring inspections of certain CFM56-7B turbofan engines, the US agency announced one day after the Southwest Airlines Boeing 737-700 engine failure.

“The directive will require an ultrasonic inspection of fan blades when they reach a certain number of takeoffs and landings. Any blades that fail the inspection will have to be replaced,” FAA said in a statement released on the evening of April 18.

Southwest flight 1380, a 737 with 144 passengers and five crew aboard, made an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport on April 17 after experiencing an apparent left-engine explosion. One passenger died in the incident.

US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators responding to the Philadelphia airport immediately focused on a missing fan blade in the damaged engine. The number 13 fan blade—one of 24 titanium alloy fan blades—had broken at the point where it attached to the disk hub, where there was evidence of fatigue cracking.

At an April 18 briefing, NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt said the fan blade separated in two places. “It also fractured roughly halfway through, but it appears the fatigue fracture was the initiating event that later caused that secondary failure,” he told reporters.

The engine cowling was found in Bernville, Pennsylvania, about 70 miles northwest of the airport. Air traffic control primary radar detected additional debris falling through the atmosphere, and additional pieces of engine cowling later were recovered.

An NTSB structures group documented further damage to the aircraft. “The leading edge of the left wing suffered damage. It’s banged up pretty good. We can see paint transfer,” Sumwalt said. Analysis of the window frame vicinity at Row 14, where the fatally injured passenger was seated, “found no window materials—the acrylic that the windows are made of—inside the airplane.”

Asked if the engine failure was cause for concern about the reliability of the overall fleet of 737NG-series airliners powered by CFM56 engines, Sumwalt said: “We are very concerned about this particular event. Engine failures like this should not occur, obviously. To be able to extrapolate that to the entire 737 fleet, I will say that if we feel this is a deeper issue we have the capability to issue urgent safety recommendations. I will say that the CFM56 engine is a very widely used engine and it’s got a great record, generally speaking.”

While Sumwalt has said that it is too early to make a direct comparison, the incident was reminiscent of the uncontained engine failure on a Southwest 737-700 on Aug. 27, 2016, that forced pilots to divert to Pensacola International Airport, Florida, during a flight from New Orleans to Orlando. In that case, the NTSB found that one fan blade had separated from the fan disk because of fatigue cracking. Debris from the CFM56-7B engine inlet damaged the aircraft’s fuselage, wing and empennage.

As a result of the 2016 incident, engine manufacturer CFM International, a GE Aviation/Safran Aircraft Engines joint venture, had issued guidance as recently as June 2017 providing instructions for ultrasonic inspection of certain high-time fan blades in the engine type, which powers 737NGs.

Last August, FAA released a proposed AD that would require engines with more than 15,000 cycles-in-service since their last engine shop visit to undergo ultrasonic inspection of certain fan blades within six months of the rule’s effective date. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued a comparable AD in March that became effective April 2. It requires ultrasonic inspection of each affected fan blade within nine months.

The CFM56-7B engine type entered service in 1997 and powers 6,700 aircraft worldwide. FAA issued a certificate of registration in 2000 to the Southwest 737 that experienced the latest inflight engine failure.

After the April 17 engine failure, Southwest said it will accelerate ultrasonic inspections of CFM56 engine fan blades “out of an abundance of caution,” a process it expected will take 30 days.

As of Dec. 31, 2017, the carrier reported operating 693 737-700/800s. It also operates 14 737 MAX 8s powered by CFM LEAP-1B engines.

Southwest said April 18 it had inspected “more than half” of its 737-700/800 aircraft.

(Bill Carey - Aviation Week / ATWOnline News)
Santiago-based LATAM has added a fifth leased aircraft—a Boeing 747-400—to fill in for grounded 787s as they are taken out of service for newly mandated Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 inspections.

The 747-400 joins four Airbus A330-200s flying for LATAM—all of them on short-term leases from Spain’s Wamos Air. LATAM is using them to operate several long-range routes, including Guayaquil-Madrid, Santiago-Bogotá, and Guayaquil-New York, in place of 787s.

LATAM is one of about 15 operators dealing with reliability issues on their 787 Trent 1000 Package C engines. The carrier, the first in the Americas to operate the Boeing widebody twin, has been hit harder than most.

A LATAM spokesman confirms that about a quarter of the carrier’s 24-aircraft 787 fleet is out of service, and it could get worse, depending on the outcome of the latest inspections.

“The carrier is taking additional measures to maintain its schedules, including the reassignment of aircraft on selected long-haul routes and the lease of an additional Boeing 747 from Wamos Air,” the spokesperson said. “Further details about service changes will be communicated to passengers in due course.”

LATAM finalized the 747-400 lease as European and US regulators were preparing to order the latest round of inspections and operational restrictions on Trent 1000 Package C-powered 787s. Affected aircraft also face extended operations (ETOPS) restrictions that limit how far they can fly from the nearest suitable airport.

The latest inspections and ETOPS limits are tied specifically to findings of cracked intermediate pressure compressor (IPC) stage two blades, leading to unscheduled engine removals. The issue, one of several that have plagued the Trent 1000 and disrupted airline operations in the last two years, has not been linked to any inflight shutdowns.

The restrictions are expected to hit some carriers harder than others, with airlines that fly long transoceanic flights facing the biggest challenges. Among those that expect the newest restrictions to affect operations are Air New Zealand and Scoot. LATAM is one of several carriers that leased aircraft fill in for grounded 787s before the latest issues emerged, and the number of leased aircraft filling in for grounded 787s is expected to increase.

One reason for the lease activity: Even operators unaffected by the ETOPS limitations are likely to face disruptions if, as expected, many engines fail the latest mandated checks. Engines with cracked blades must be removed and repaired, and Rolls-Royce is struggling to keep up with demand for parts and MRO capacity.

The new Package C mandates affect about 200 787s. Industry estimates suggest the new inspections and expected groundings could leave about 25% of the affected fleet out of service, including aircraft already down because of the ongoing reliability issues.

Rolls-Royce is designing new IPC parts to eliminate the issue, but they are not expected to be available until early 2019. In the meantime, the OEM is ramping up MRO capacity and stockpiling airworthy blades, including from out-of-service engines. It is also analyzing the failure modes to demonstrate that cracked blades will not lead to failures—a move that could see the ETOPS restrictions eased.

The new Trent 1000 TEN engine, which has only about 25% parts commonality with the Trent 1000 Package C, is not affected by the IPC issues.

(Sean Broderick - Aviation Week / ATWOnline News)

Boeing Dreamliner 787-8 manufacturing change may signal move to South Carolina

Boeing is changing how it makes it smallest Dreamliner in a move that may signal plans to eventually shift all Dreamliner production from Everett to South Carolina.

The jet maker is modifying how it builds the rear of its 787-8 jetliner to make it more like bigger 787-9 and 787-10 models, said Darrel Larson, director of aft body operations at Boeing's South Carolina campus, earlier this month.

The goal is to make 787-8 aft sections more compatible with newer Dreamliner jets while cutting manufacturing costs.

"Eights and Nines in this building will look the same and they'll build the same," Larson said. "We're very excited about this common aft."

Bainbridge Island aerospace analyst Scott Hamilton thinks the move will intensify speculation that Boeing intends to consolidate all Dreamliner production in South Carolina to make room in Everett to build its New Mid-Market Airplane, known as the NMA or 797.

"Boeing has chosen to invest more in Puget Sound than any other region in the world over the past decade," said spokesman Paul Bergman, who declined to comment on Hamliton's remarks.

All aft fuselages for Dreamliners are made at Boeing's North Charleston site. They are then either moved to the North Charleston assembly plant or flown to Boeing's Everett on a Dreamlifter, a specially modified 747 jet Boeing uses to fly components between its suppliers and assembly sites. Boeing moved the Dreamlifter Operations Center from Everett to Charleston.

The 787-8, the first Dreamliner model, has only about 30 percent of common parts and components with the newer 787-9 and 787-10 models, Larson said. The 787-9 and 787-10 models are about 90 percent the same plane as each other, except the 787-10's body is stretched an extra 18 feet so it can carry more passengers.

A common aft body for all 787 models will reduce costs throughout the 787 program, a goal of Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Kevin McAllister.

Boeing's plans to modify the 787-8 aft fuselage manufacturing process were first reported by The Charleston Post and Courier.

Boeing has orders for 91 undelivered 787-8s on its books, including 22 recently ordered by American Airlines, compared to 409 orders for the bigger 787-9 and 170 for the 787-10.

(Andrew McIntosh - Puget Sound Business Journal)

'Sully' Responds to Southwest Airlines Pilot Tammie Jo Shults Landing Plane, Recounts Processing Trauma

Tammie Jo Shults, the level-headed pilot praised as a hero for steering the Southwest Flight 1380 to safety after it suffered an engine blowout, has received additional praise from one of the few people on earth who knows what must have been going through her mind at the time.

Chelsey “Sully” Sullenberger was the captain who managed to land US Airways Flight 1549 safely onto the Hudson River in Manhattan in 2009 when the plane suffered engine failure after hitting a flock of geese while flying over New York, saving all 155 people on board.

Southwest Airlines pilot Tammie Jo Shults poses at MidAmerica Nazarene University in this handout photo received April 18, 2018.
(Kevin Garber/MidAmerica Nazarene University/Handout via Reuters)

Sullenberger told Newsweek that Tuesday’s emergency landing had similarities to his “Miracle on the Hudson,” which was later made into a film starring Tom Hanks.

"In those first seconds, I knew it was going to change our lives forever. I knew that every thought I had, every choice I made, everything I said, everything I did or did not do would be scrutinized not only by investigators, but by aviation professionals for years," Sullenberger said.

The California-based pilot praised Shults and her crew for keeping a cool head during the emergency situation.

Audio recording of the moment Shults told air traffic control about the emergency has since been released, revealing just how calm the pilot remained under extreme pressure.

"No, it's not on fire, but part of it is missing,” she says, almost tranquilly. “They said there's a hole and someone went out."

Sullenberger spoke about how pilots summon calm in a sudden emergency. Despite decades of training, planning and anticipation, those situations can still surprise a pilot and be startling, he said.

“I never gave a second thought about making that choice, about sacrificing the airplane to save lives," he told Newsweek. "It is a great responsibility to have that much authority. I'm sure that's one that this captain feels deeply. The outcome indicates that they worked together as a rise to the occasion and achieve the best possible outcome under those circumstances.

Sullenberger and Shults, one of the Navy's first female fighter pilots, are part of a "small club" of people who have managed to safely land a plane after experiencing major failure. But the aftermath can be very tough to settle, he said, adding that for anyone who experiences such a moment, life is defined as before and after the incident.

"What really helped me in dealing with this was that I realized I had to make this experience a part of me, not simply something that had happened to me," he said. "I had to integrate it into my psyche, to made it part of my life experience that made me who I am and not feel like it was just a trauma –to take control of it, to embrace it, and that’s what finally helped the most."

Sullenberger pointed to another engine failure in 2016, which was identified as the cause of Tuesday’s incident.

“The fact that it is a similar failure to the one in 2016 makes me wonder if the actions taken up to now to require additional inspections of some of these series of engines are sufficient, apparently not,” he said. “This is a surprise that this particular engine had this kind of failure at this point.”

One passenger, Jennifer Riordan, died from her injuries after the engine explosion blew out one of the plane’s windows, causing her to be partially sucked from the aircraft due to the air pressure.

The 43-year-old mother of two from Albuquerque, New Mexico, was taken to hospital after it landed but died as a result of impact trauma to her head, neck and torso, according to Philadelphia health officials.

In a joint statement with the copilot Darren Ellisor, Shults said she and her team were “simply doing our jobs” by landing the plane.

“Our hearts are heavy. On behalf of the entire Crew, we appreciate the outpouring of support from the public and our coworkers as we all reflect on one family’s profound loss.”

(Ewan Palmer - Newsweek / Yahoo News)

Monday, April 16, 2018

Triumph Dumps Gulfstream Wing Production on General Dynamics

The aerospace component manufacturer makes a difficult, but necessary, choice as part of its broader restructuring effort.

Aerospace components manufacturer Triumph Group has worked out a deal with customer Gulfstream Aerospace to reallocate wing assembly work to Gulfstream's facility in Savannah, Georgia. It's a good deal for both sides in the near term, but could telegraph a loss of future business for Triumph.

The details

The deal, in effect, makes General Dynamics-owned Gulfstream both a customer of and subcontractor to Triumph on G650 wing box and wing completion work. Wing production work currently being performed at Triumph facilities in Nashville, Tennessee, and Tulsa, Oklahoma, will move to Gulfstream's Georgia facility.

Triumph said it would maintain its role as the supply chain integrator on the program, saying the agreement is expected to have a positive impact on its long-term financial results. This appears to be a win for both sides, helping to bring down production costs and working capital demand for Triumph while lowering overall costs for Gulfstream. It also gives Gulfstream more control over production rates at a time when demand for business jets is expected to grow.

Making the best of a tough situation

A Gulfstream wing assembly. 
 (Triumph Group)

This wing business has been an albatross for multiple owners. Spirit AeroSystems was losing money doing wing work on the Gulfstream G650 and Gulfstream G280 before paying Triumph $160 million in December 2014 to take over the contract. Triumph already had a close relationship with Gulfstream at the time and believed its experience working on other production programs -- including making wings for the G450 and G550 -- would allow it to make a profit from the G650 and G280 wing work.

But it appears the wing work has not lived up to initial expectations. The company last December said it would combine its $4 billion wing business with its precision-component unit as part of a restructuring designed to streamline operations and reduce costs.

Triumph, an amalgamation of dozens of acquisitions over nearly four decades, has missed out on a long-running rally fueled by a strong up-cycle in commercial aerospace sales. Shares of Triumph are down more than 7% over the past 10 years, a time when shares of Spirit are up 259% and shares of aerospace components manufacturer TransDigm Group are up 684%.

Current Triumph Group CEO Daniel J. Crowley was brought on board in January 2016, well after the Spirit wing assembly transfer, and has been hard at work simplifying a company that had grown to house 47 different operating entities spread across 72 locations worldwide. Through divestitures and division mergers, he has reduced Triumph to 17 operating entities and has trimmed the company's overall footprint by 1.3 million square feet by closing a dozen locations.

This deal with General Dynamics continues Crowley's push to focus Triumph on the company's best businesses, and find alternatives for the laggards.

What next?

The G650 wing deal is a win for Triumph because it allows the company to keep revenue coming in, while reducing costs. But if, as implied, it means that it is cheaper for Gulfstream to do the work in-house than it is for it to work with Triumph, it seems likely Gulfstream will not bother going through a third party on future models, downgrading Triumph from an integrator and assembler to a component supplier on Gulfstream wings.

That's a bitter pill for Triumph to swallow, given that companies gravitate toward higher-value assembly work over easily commoditized part supplies. But given the economics of this particular line of business, moving on is probably the best possible outcome for Triumph shareholders.

(Lou Whiteman - TMFeldoubleu / The Motley Fool)

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Etihad's CEO says it's still business as usual at the airline

Etihad Airways may have faced turbulence in the last financial year, posting a $1.87 billion annual loss in 2016, but its chief executive said it was still business as usual at the Abu Dhabi airline.

"The core airline has always been operating in a very, very solid way even in the most challenging times," Peter Baumgartner, chief executive officer of Etihad Airways told CNBC's Hadley Gamble on Monday.

The collapse in oil prices in 2016 hit Middle Eastern airlines, including Etihad, which had been on an upward trajectory.

According to Baumgartner, the period saw local and regional markets contract, accelerating overcapacity in the region and bringing yields lower. But even though the airline faced a "perfect storm," it continued to operated with "very solid" load factors, he added.

The airline will be cutting some of its routes in the year ahead as it continues with a review to turn its business around. Etihad will suspend flights to Edinburgh, Scotland and Perth, Australia, as part of that review, but Baumgartner said that did not affect the airline's global ambition.

"This is a constant evaluation that is not a one-time cut and then you are done for the next 10 years. This is a very agile business in a very agile environment, so it's kind of business as usual," he said.

(Cheang Ming - CNBC)

FAA Could Put a Massive Hurt on Boeing 787 This Week

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is expected to issue a new airworthiness directive (AD) this week that could severely limit the flight operations of The Boeing Co.’s (NYSE: BA) 787 Dreamliner. The problem revolves around a continuing issue with the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines that power about 25% of the 787’s customer fleets.

The FAA’s AD is expected to slash the long-range operations of the R-R-powered 787s by more than half and possibly by as much as 80%. Last Friday the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), issued an AD for all R-R-powered 787s requiring more inspections and limiting the plane’s operation to a distance of no more than 60-minutes flying time from the nearest airport.

The R-R engines have suffered from corrosion problems with the turbine’s fan blades for a couple of years now. All Nippon Airways (ANA) was forced to cancel flights in August of 2016 to replace the fan blades. ANA also said at the time that it could take three-years fully to correct the problem. The Japanese carrier was the launch customer for Boeing’s 787 and currently has 64 787s in its fleet.

In addition to more frequent engine inspections, the FAA is likely to reduce or suspend the R-R-powered 787s’ “Extended-range Twin-engine Operations,” known in the industry as ETOPS. Prior to about 2007, a twin-engine aircraft could not operate more than 60-minutes away from a diversionary airport due to the possibility of an engine failure. The new, more powerful engines could qualify for extended operations that would allow the aircraft to fly up to 330 minutes from a safe landing location.

The following illustration from illustrates what this means. On a flight from New York’s JFK airport to London’s Heathrow, an aircraft with a 60-minute ETOPS rating would have to follow the dogleg path while a plane with a 120-minute ETOPS could fly the straight line path.


A 330-minute ETOPS means a twin-engine plane like the 787 could fly as much as 5.5 hours away from the nearest airport because a single engine is capable of powering the aircraft for that long in the event one engine failed and the plane had to be diverted from its original destination. That is virtually anyplace on the globe outside a few places in Antarctica.

According to a report from Leeham News, the FAA’s expected AD will require more inspections of the 787s and limit the ETOPS to 140 minutes. The inspections need to be completed by May 20 — the same date required by EASA. If an engine fails the inspections, the ETOPS on that plane could be reduced to 60 minutes.

Boeing has apparently begun to divert some of the R-R engines that would have been installed on new 787s rolling off the production line to customers with planes that have been grounded due to problems with previous versions of the engines.

The financial impact on Rolls-Royce will likely be greater than the impact on Boeing. In early March the engine maker said it would be paying $315 million for repairs to the Trent 1000 and 900 model engines. R-R has said that up to 500 of the affected Trent 1000 engines will be taken out of service and repaired between now and 2022.

If airlines are forced to wait for new 787s, however, that will have an impact on Boeing’s deliveries and cash flow. Some airlines may be forced to modify their flight paths or switch to another airplane if the ETOPS on the engines is reduced. That most likely means leasing planes and even crews, an unexpected expense that the airlines will want to recover from Rolls-Royce or Boeing or both.

(Paul Ausick - 24/7 Wall St.)

Hawaiin Airlines performs Hawaiian language flight to Las Vegas

Hawaiian Airlines is making strides to incorporate traditional Hawaiian language into everyday business.

Hawaii News Now reports Hawaiian Airlines flight HA18 bound for Las Vegas on Friday was the first mainland-bound flight where Hawaiian language was spoken in cabin announcements and crew instructions.

A Hawaiian Airlines spokesperson said via email the mission is for flight attendants to provide a "one-of-a-kind cultural experience by engaging with guests in both olelo Hawaii and English" as preservation of the Hawaiian language continues to be a hot issue on the islands.

The idea was tested earlier this month on four flights to Hilo.

The in-flight announcements and the announcements at the gate were both done in Hawaiian.

Hawaiian Airlines says it hopes to expand and formalize the language immersion program in the coming months.

(Today in the Sky / USA Today / The Associated Press)

The Luxury Jet Industry Has a New Long-Range Champion

A prototype of Bombardier’s Global 7000 business jet. 

Bombardier is extending the range of its marquee business jet to 7,700 nautical miles, unseating the Gulfstream G650 as the long-distance champ of the private-aircraft industry.

The 300-mile improvement for the Global 7000 means the plane will be able to whisk passengers from New York to Hong Kong, or Singapore to San Francisco, Bombardier said in a statement Sunday. A flight-test program with five aircraft has demonstrated the added reach, the company said.

The extra range gives Bombardier bragging rights over the G650 on flying distance as well as size, both of which are crucial selling points for the well-heeled customers who buy the planes. Bombardier Chief Executive Officer Alain Bellemare is counting on the Global 7000 to generate the lion’s share of his targeted $3.5 billion increase in annual sales of private jets by 2020 -- a key component of his turnaround plan for the debt-laden company.

“There’s a significant, almost endless desire for more range, more luxury and more space among business-jet buyers,” said David Tyerman, an analyst at Cormark Securities. “We saw that with the G650, and the Global 7000 takes it yet another step further. Every time a manufacturer comes out with a product that’s more capable, there seems to be a market that we didn’t know existed.”
Luxury Battle

Flight testing now exceeds 1,800 hours for the Global 7000 and the plane has reached a top speed of Mach 0.995, just short of the sound barrier, Bombardier said Sunday. The aircraft, with a sticker price of $72.8 million, is sold out through 2021, according to the company.

The Montreal-based manufacturer still has a long way to go as it tries to catch up to the coveted G650, which lists for $69.4 million and has dominated the upper echelon of corporate jets since its debut five years ago. Gulfstream, a unit of Falls Church, Virginia-based General Dynamics Corp., has delivered 300 of the planes.

Bombardier announced plans in November to hire about 1,000 people to work on the Global 7000 at its Montreal completion center. The company is still looking to fill about 500 of the jobs. The jet is assembled at Bombardier’s Downsview factory in Toronto.

Canada’s biggest aerospace company invested $1 billion last year alone in developing and producing the Global 7000, with total cost of the project amounting to “a few billion dollars,” Bellemare said in an interview in December.

(Frederic Tomesco and Thomas Black - Bloomberg News)

Saturday, April 14, 2018

A330neo faces uphill battle in USA

American Airlines’ decision to opt for the Boeing 787 and ditch a stagnant order for Airbus A350s is something of an equalizer in terms of the three US majors’ recent long-haul fleet decisions.

Delta Air Lines handed Airbus a breakthrough deal for its A330neo-A350 combination, and subsequently axed an outlier order for 787-8s originally placed by Northwest Airlines in 2005 and which Delta inherited during its merger with that carrier three years later.

In declining the A330neo in favor of the 787-8 and -9, and culling the earlier A350 pact sealed by merger partner US Airways – coincidentally, also in 2005 – American Airlines has almost inverted the Delta scenario.

United Airlines, of course, has showed that the two rivals can co-exist with an honors-even selection of both the 787 and the A350.

Airbus pulled off one of its most notable successes with American in 2011 when the US carrier split a colossal single-aisle order between the A320 and the 737, with the European jet taking the greater share.

But attempting to achieve a similar upset with the long-haul fleet was always going to be a tough endeavor. If the name “American” on the fuselage combined with the stars-and-stripes fin design were not necessarily an obstacle to an Airbus deal, the dominating presence of Boeing aircraft – including the 787 – in the US carrier’s fleet certainly was.

American’s decision inverts history in another sense. When US Airways originally selected the A350, the aircraft’s design was Airbus’s first-iteration effort to counter the 787 – essentially a re-engined and updated A330. Airbus was pitching the jet at the crucial US market, eager for a launch customer, and its agreement with US Airways was mutually beneficial.

Some 13 years later, the 787 has ultimately overturned that initial verdict, the Boeing twin-jet belatedly emerging as the victor against Airbus’s current re-engined and updated A330, the A330neo.

And this is arguably the real source of anxiety for Airbus. It has established the A350 on US turf, but Airbus has yet to demonstrate, despite its confident public assertions, that the A330neo is really capable of fending off the 787 in a straight fight, particularly after its humbling by Hawaiian Airlines’ shift of allegiance.

Which means Airbus will need to prepare itself for another brutal uphill contest if the A330neo is to become a fixture, rather than a curiosity, in the US market. All eyes on United.

(Flight International / FlightGlobal News) 

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Gulfstream G650 (c/n 6304) N604GA tbr N871FR

Taxies to Rwy 30 at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) as it prepares to depart on a pre-delivery test flight, April 11, 2018.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Southwest Airlines, mechanic union reach agreement after years of negotiation

Southwest Airlines and the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association, which represents more than 2,400 Southwest employees, have reached an agreement in principle for a new deal, the two sides announced Wednesday.

After a few more finalization steps, the agreement will be sent to the Southwest employees where they'll vote on whether to affirm the agreement. There is no timetable for when the vote will take place.

This has been a deal years in the making that has seen the AMFA lash out at the airline, especially after Dallas-based Southwest announced its intentions to begin Hawaii service.

"After nearly six years of negotiations, the parties have reached the stage where it is time for our members at Southwest to review and vote on a package produced by this protracted process," said Bret Oestreich, AMFA national director, in a prepared statement.

"We will now work toward educating our members as to the contents of the (agreement in principle) so that they can make an informed decision for them and their families," Oestreich added.

Southwest said the five-year agreement includes updated work rules, improved wages and benefits and a ratification bonus.

"The agreement is good for our people and helps Southwest maintain an efficient operation," said Russell McCrady, vice president of Labor Relations for Southwest, in a prepared statement.

Friction between the union and the airline has grown since Southwest announced its intentions to fly to Hawaii. AMFA said it October it would file a cease and desist order to stop the Hawaii flights from happening in part because the airline has such a low mechanic-to-aircraft ratio.

In February, AMFA lashed out again when it didn't like Southwest's plans to outsource mechanic work for Hawaii flights.

"Southwest continues to want to increase the outsourcing of the aircraft maintenance footprint," Oestreich told the Dallas Business Journal in February. "We do not want to negatively impact expansion to Hawaii, but AMFA needs black and white job protection language."

(Evan Hoopfer - Dallas Business Journal)

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Lion Air lands big order for Boeing 737 Max 10s

Lion Air Group has purchased 50 Boeing 737 Max 10 aircraft, Boeing and the Indonesian discount airline announced.

Valued at $6.24 billion at list prices, the deal was previously listed as unidentified on Boeing's orders and deliveries website.

"We are honored that Lion Air Group, one of the most innovative and fast-growing carriers, has once again placed its trust in the 737 family," said Dinesh Keskar, senior vice president, Asia Pacific and India Sales, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "With the 737 Max 10, Lion Air will have a range of efficient and reliable options to optimize their network to serve their customers and grow profitably."

(Greg Lamm - Puget Sound Business Journal)

Gulfstream G650 (c/n 6325) N325GA

Captured on short final to Rwy 30 at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) as "GLF33" following a mid-day flight from Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport (SAV/KSAV), April 9, 2018.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Gulfstream G550 (c/n 5492) N550JH

Prime Jet LLC operates G550 (c/n 5492) N550JH and it is captured at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) as it turns onto Rwy 30 to depart to an unknown destination, April 9, 2018.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Gulfstream G-IV (c/n 1030) N10YU

Operated by the Nutrawise Corporation, G-IV (c/n 1030) N10YU arrives at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) following a very short flight from Orange County John Wayne Airport (SNA/KSNA), April 9, 2018.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Sunday, April 8, 2018

U.S. Air Force McDonnell Douglas C-17A (P-7) 90-0532

Based at McChord Air Force Base in Washington and operated by the 62nd AW 446th AW, this gorgeous bird returns home to Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) where she was built for a visit. It felt like the old days here at the airport with her return. 
It was originally delivered on August 26, 1993 to Altus Air Force Base and the 97th AMW. It was also the first C-17A to be modified with the Airlift Defense System.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Friday, April 6, 2018

Philippine Airlines to use A350s on long-haul routes

Rendering of A350-900 in Philippine Airlines’ livery.

Philippine Airlines (PAL), which expects the first of six Airbus A350-900s to be delivered by the second half of June, plans to deploy the new aircraft on long-haul routes later this year.

The initial A350 will likely be flown on some routes around the Southeast Asia region initially, a PAL spokesman told ATW’s sister publication Aviation Daily.

The aircraft will then be used for nonstop flights from Manila to New York JFK, replacing PAL’s one-stop service. PAL is tentatively looking at the last week of October for the New York A350 flight, which would be the start of the winter schedule season.

PAL, which placed the order for six of the type in 2016, expects to receive four by the end of this year and the other two in 2019, the spokesman said. Other early A350 destinations will be London and Toronto.

The A350 arrivals will allow PAL to phase out its remaining five A340-300s. This will not necessarily occur as one-for-one replacement when each A350 is delivered, and the retirement schedule is still being worked out, the spokesman said.

PAL currently serves JFK with 4X-weekly flights using Boeing 777-300ERs, with Vancouver as the stopover point. The Toronto flight is nonstop 4X-weekly with -300ERs, and PAL serves London Heathrow nonstop daily with the same aircraft type.

The carrier is also preparing for the initial deliveries of its Airbus A321neo orders this year. PAL is one of the many customers of the A321neos affected by delivery delays because of issues with the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G engine option. The carrier now expects its first A321neo delivery in June, although late May is a possibility, the spokesman said. PAL has 21 of these aircraft on order, although no update is available as to how many are scheduled to arrive this year.

(Adrian Schofield - ATWOnline News)

Gulf Air reveals new branding, prepares for first 787

Gulf Air new livery
(Gulf Air)

Bahraini flag carrier Gulf Air expects to take delivery of its first Boeing 787-9 by the end of this month, the airline said April 6, as it unveiled the first look at its new branding.

The airline expects its Boeing 787-9—the first of 10—to be delivered on April 27. It marks the start of a complete rollover of the airline’s fleet, with the new orders including 17 Airbus A321neo and 12 A320neo, as well as six further options for 787s.

The new aircraft will replace the A320s, A321s and A330-200s that currently constitute the fleet.

The first two 787-9s will serve Gulf Air’s double-daily London Heathrow service, offering increased capacity and improved on-board products and services, from June 15.

The 787-9s will have a two-class, 282-seat configuration with a 26-seat Falcon Gold business-class cabin, plus 256 seats in economy.

A new business class section will be “best in class,” according to CEO Krešimir Kučko, who has said that new business-class seats had been benchmarked not against other carrier’s business class, but first-class, seats. While declining to give further details, he said the cabin would be considerably better than normal business-class offerings from other airlines.

“The same goes with the neo. It will have lie-flat seats in business-class in the A321s flying the longer destinations, such as Paris and Frankfurt.” The airline’s current A321s also have this feature—unusual in a single-aisle aircraft. Gulf Air says that the arrangement has proved popular on the Bahrain-Paris run.

The airline also unveiled its new branding. The current livery of a gold forward fuselage and dark blue engine nacelles will be replaced with an all-white fuselage, with oversized Gulf Air titles on the forward fuselage and a more naturalistic rendition of the company’s falcon logo on the fin. The engine nacelles are painted gold.

The airline said it will reveal further details over the coming weekend, during the Formula One Bahrain Grand Prix motor race.

(Alan Dron - ATWOnline News)

American orders 47 787s, cancels A350 order


American Airlines announced April 6 it is ordering 47 Boeing 787 Dreamliners and canceling its order for 22 Airbus A350s. The Oneworld airline is also deferring delivery of 40 Boeing 737 MAX narrow-bodies.

The 787 wide-body order consists of 22 787-8s scheduled to begin arriving in 2020 and 25 787-9s scheduled to begin arriving in 2023, American said. The 787-8s will replace American’s Boeing 767-300s, while later 787-9 deliveries will replace Airbus A330-300s and older 777-200 wide-body aircraft. All of the 787s will be powered by GE Aviation GEnx-1B engines.

American operates a fleet of 35 787s to destinations such as Tokyo, São Paulo and Paris. American will operate 89 787s once all aircraft ordered previously and in today’s deal are delivered.

The A350 order cancellation has long been expected. The deal was struck by US Airways before its merger with American. Since the merger, the A350 no longer fit with American’s strategy to simplify its fleet.

“We have two excellent partners in Boeing and Airbus and our relationship with both manufacturers goes back many years. Both offer specific aircraft that provide us with the right lift on specific missions across our global network,” American president Robert Isom said in a press statement Friday. “This was a difficult decision between the Boeing 787 and the Airbus A350 and A330neo and we thank both manufacturers for their aggressive efforts to earn more of American’s business. In the end, our goal to simplify our fleet made the 787 a more compelling choice.”

American CFO Derek Kerr further explained today’s announcement by saying it was influenced “by our goal to simplify our fleet and reduce the number of aircraft types we operate. Our prior plan would have had us operating five wide-body aircraft types, and with today’s announcement we will soon reduce that to three. These new replacement aircraft are consistent with our previous plans for the size of our wide-body fleet.

“We see significant advantages to carrying common fleet types, including creating less friction in our operation when aircraft swaps are necessary, reducing inventory needs, and creating a more consistent service for customers and team members,” Kerr said.

As part of the 787 order, American has also reached an agreement with Boeing to defer the delivery of 40 737 MAX aircraft previously scheduled to arrive between 2020 and 2022.

Boeing said the 47 787s are valued at more than $12 billion at list prices and make American Airlines the largest 787 customer in the Western Hemisphere. ANA, the Japanese carrier that was the launch customer for the Dreamliner, is the largest operator of 787s, while lessor AerCap is the largest 787 owner. 

(Karen Walker - ATWOnline News)