Friday, November 29, 2013

Korean Air and Boeing break ground on new training center

Boeing and Korean Air broke ground on Korea’s largest aviation training facility at the Incheon Free Economic Zone (IFEZ) Nov. 25.

According to Boeing, the new campus, which is slated to open in 2015, will allow the US-based manufacturer to expand the scope of its training business in Korea. The facility will house 12 full-flight simulators for pilot training programs supporting Korean Air’s flight training needs.

Once the campus is complete, Boeing said it will relocate its existing training support staff and equipment to the new facility. It will continue to provide all simulator training and pilot checking, as well as continued involvement in Korean Air’s program development, quality assurance and training operations scheduling.

According to Boeing’s 2013 Boeing Pilot & Technician Outlook, it is forecast that 192,300 new commercial airline pilots and 215,300 new technicians will be needed in the Asia-Pacific region through 2032. Northeast Asia, including Korea, will need 18,500 pilots and 25,500 technicians.

(Linda Blachly - Flightglobal News)

El Al Airlines announces new low-cost carrier.....UP

(El Al Airlines / UP)

With the Open Skies agreement already boosting low-cost competition, El Al on Tuesday announced the launch of its own low-cost carrier Up, which will begin flying to five European destinations as of March 30.

The carrier will offer up to 11 weekly flights to and from Tel Aviv and Berlin, Prague, Kiev and Budapest, and up to 6 weekly Larnaca flights. The former three will be priced starting at $99 each way, and the latter two starting at $69.

"We are joining the trend in the international airline industry of and the major world airlines, while being attuned to a variety of customer preferences" El Al CEO Eliezer Shakedi said. "I am convinced that this process will improve our competitiveness, widen our customer base and respond well to passenger needs, and all at reasonable prices."

Despite the low costs, there are extra fees for extra services. The airline will only allow passengers to select seats ahead of time with a $10 add on. That rises to $50 for a prefered seat and $80 for a "plus class" seat. Sending luggage will cost $20 if it's paid ahead of time, and $40 if it's not. Premium ticket holders and frequent fliers can get those perks at lower or no costs.

El Al seems to have taken an "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" aproach in its decision to join the low-cost market.

Just in April, it led a strike protesting the government's approval of the Open Skies policy, which increases competition for landing slots in accordance with EU standards. The agreement was expected to boost low-cost carriers against the traditional airlines. The strike ended when the government agreed to cover 97.5 percent costs of El Al's security costs, which it was forced to extend to other airlines.

Just last week, EasyJet announced it's sixth route to and from Tel Aviv with a new Berlin flight.

The Tourism Ministry estimated that the Open Skies agreement would result in an increase of 250,000 tourists from Europe in 2014, the first year of its operation, and create nearly 10,000 new jobs.

 (Niv Elis - The Jerusalem Post)

Tatarstan 737-53A crew got "sink rate" and "pull-up" warnings prior to crash

Pilots of Tatarstan Air Boeing 737-53A (24785/1882) VQ-BBN which crashed during a go-around at Kazan received sink-rate and “pull up” orders from the ground-proximity warning system as it entered its fatal descent.

But preliminary information from Russia’s Interstate Aviation Committee states that there was no “significant” pitch deviation from the control column as the aircraft dove towards the ground.

The jet, arriving from Moscow on 17 November, sharply climbed to 700m (2,300ft) during the go-around despite missed approach procedures showing a level-off altitude of 500m.

Both pilots were experienced on the 737: the captain had just over 2,500h on type, while the first officer was nearing 2,000h. But neither had logged more than around 150-200h total experience beyond this. The captain was licensed for Cat I approaches and the first officer for Cat II.

Investigators state that the aircraft – performing an instrument approach to runway 29 – had been some 4km laterally off course and, after the final turn in the procedure, was “significantly” to the right of the approach path.

The crew attempted to correct by selecting a heading of 250° but the localiser was not captured until the aircraft was just 2km from the runway threshold.

While the aircraft made a corrective turn in order to align with the runway, its height of some 1,000ft was too far above the glideslope. As the 737 passed the middle marker beacon the crew told air traffic control that the aircraft was not positioned for landing and began the go-around.

The engines were powered up to 83% of N1 and, aided by flap and gear retraction, the aircraft climbed at 25°. Airspeed bled away and the 737’s speed trim system – which acts to stabilise the airspeed in such situations – began adjusting to favour a lower nose attitude.

As the aircraft continued to climb it passed through the normal 500m height for missed approaches at Kazan. Its airspeed fell from 150kt to 125kt before the crew acted to reduce the pitch with the control column, but the speed continued to fall to a minimum of 117kt.

Investigators state that the aircraft did not exceed angle-of-attack operating limits. As a result of the crew’s actions, its climb peaked at 700m. The 737 then pitched into a steep dive, triggering “sink rate” and “pull up” warnings before it hit the ground nearly vertical, at over 240kt, and disintegrated.

The engine thrust had remained essentially at the go-around setting to the point of impact.

None of the 44 passengers and six crew members survived. The approach had been conducted at night with a low cloud base, in light rain and snow with gusting winds.

Investigators are yet to release details of communications within the cockpit, as they work to identify the voices and speech, but are satisfied that only the pilots were present.

While the cause of the accident is yet to be formally determined, the Interstate Aviation Committee is recommending improved training for pilots during missed approaches, particularly regarding attention to procedures and recognition of possible aircraft upset.

It is also advising that air traffic control processes be examined to explore whether controllers could provide greater assistance to crews in cases where aircraft are deviating significantly from the required course.

(David Kaminski-Morrow - Flightglobal News)

Canadian aviation safety authorities order Q-400 nose gear steering system modification

Alaska Airlines (Horizon Air) DeHavilland Canada DHC-8-402Q Dash 8 (c/n 4032) N402QX arrives at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on February 13, 2013 sporting the University of Montana Grizzlies livery.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Canadian safety authorities have ordered modification of Bombardier Q400 nose-wheel steering systems after a latent design deficiency was discovered during a pushback incident.

The aircraft involved experienced an uncommanded, and unannunciated, steering of the nose wheel as it was pushed back from the gate.

Investigations revealed that a sustained open circuit within the steering control unit could result in uncommanded steering input, and possible runway excursion if this should occur during take-off or landing.

The modification, covering all Q400s up to serial number 4448, requires installation of new cable assemblies to ensure that nose-wheel steering reverts to a fail-safe free-castor mode should there be an open circuit in the system.

Regulator Transport Canada says the changes must be made within one year, or 2,000 cycles.

(David Kaminski-Morrow - Flightglobal News) 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope everyone had a great and fantastic Thanksgiving!
Michael Carter
Aero Pacific Flightlines.........Editor

Glad to get this bird off my needs list

Short final to Rwy 25L.

Climbs from Rwy 25R.

Gorgeous just gorgeous!

I captured Yangtze River Express 747-481F(BDSF) (28283/1142) B-2432 on November 6, 2013 during one of it many visits here to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX).
(Photos by Michael Carter) 

Court approves revised AA / US Airways plan

American Airlines 777-323(ER) (41666/1122) N725AN arrives at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on 11/6/2013.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

American Airlines and US Airways plan to close their merger by 9 December, following approval of their revised plan by a US bankruptcy court on November 27.

Fort Worth, Texas-based American's merger with US Airways should be completed “without delay”, said US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York judge Sean Lane when he approved the carrier's revised reorganisation plan.

The revised plan includes concessions that American and US Airways promised the US Department of Justice (DOJ) in exchange for antitrust approval for the deal. These include divesting 52 slot pairs at Ronald Reagan Washington National airport and 17 pairs at New York LaGuardia.

Lane says that the consumers represented by antitrust attorney Joseph Alioto who sued to block the merger failed to demonstrate how the combination would hurt them, according to reports.

The merger, which was announced this past February, will create the world’s largest airline serving about 480 destinations with roughly 940 mainline aircraft and combined revenues of about $38 billion.

(Edward Russell - Flightglobal News)

Israeli Air Force may lease KC-46A tankers

Israel's defence ministry is evaluating a plan that could allow it to lease Boeing 767-based KC-46A tankers as replacements for the converted Boeing 707s now used by its air force.

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The evaluation is the most recent development in an ongoing effort to provide the Israeli air force with a modern in-flight refuelling capability. This has also involved the US government offering to supply three surplus KC-135Es worth around $200 million: a proposal the service responded to by saying it would only consider more capable R-model examples powered by CFM56 engines.

An Israeli source says a leasing model for the in-development KC-46A is being evaluated, and that "there are points to clarify" before a decision is made. Boeing's previous lease agreement, which enabled the UK Royal Air Force to operate an initial fleet of four C-17 strategic transports, is being used as the basic model for the evaluation, the source says.

Boeing and the US Air Force in August completed a critical design review for the KC-46A, with a first test example due to make its flight debut in mid-2014. The USAF plans to acquire 179 of the type to replace its oldest KC-135s.

Israel's current 707-based tankers were converted by Israel Aerospace Industries. Flightglobal's Ascend Online Fleets database records eight of the type as being in active use.

            (Arie Egozi - Flightglobal News)

Boeing to modify 737 elevator system due to near stall

Boeing is to modify 737s to improve protection against potential freezing of elevator systems, after investigation into a near-stall by a Norwegian aircraft highlighted the risk of de-icing fluid contaminating power control units for the horizontal stabilizer.

The investigation into the 737-800 incident, on approach to Kittila in Finland, has already resulted in Boeing changing de-icing procedures on the type. Under the new procedures the trim is set to take-off position, rather than fully-forward, and de-icing fluid is applied at an angle, not directly from the side.

While the cause of the incident is still being explored, Norwegian investigation authority SHT demonstrated that de-icing fluid was capable of entering the tail cone in “quite considerable” amounts.

“Under certain circumstances it is possible that the input arms [to the power control units] may be exposed to fluid which in turn freezes solid and blocks [them],” says SHT, adding that Boeing was “not aware” of this potential problem before the investigation.

Examination of Norwegian’s fleet revealed that there had been similar fluid ingress into other 737-800, as well as 737-300, aircraft.

Boeing has also simulated a comparable restriction of the power control unit arms, by de-icing fluid, in a cold-chamber rig.

The aircraft (LN-DYM) involved in the Kittila incident had been delivered new to the carrier in 2011.

It had been de-iced before the flight from Helsinki, on 26 December last year, in temperatures of minus 17C.

At a height of 3,250ft during approach to Kittila runway 34 – with its autothrust and autopilot engaged – the aircraft’s began to pitch up in line with a nose-up trim actuation. To counter the resulting loss of airspeed the autothrust commanded full power, but this led the pitch to increase and the airspeed to bleed away rapidly.

Analysis shows that both the primary and secondary input arms on the right-hand power control unit were blocked when the autopilot “unintentionally” elevated the nose of the aircraft, says SHT.

When the 737 reached 20° nose-up the pilots began pushing with “full force” on their control columns, it states. Flight-data recorder information shows they applied a combined 920N (207lb) of force in a bid to stop the jet climbing.

The pitch increased to 38.5° and airspeed fell to 118kt – activating the stick-shaker and generating a stall warning. Although this was below the 121kt stall threshold, lower wing loading meant a stall was averted.

SHT says the pilots’ efforts managed to bring the nose down. But it notes that, during the initial ascent, there was “no attempt” to disengage the autopilot, autothrust or manually adjust the stabiliser trim to nose-down.

“One or more of these measures would have improved the situation,” it says, and also suggests that the control column force should have disengaged the autopilot automatically.

The aircraft subsequently landed safely after a 30min hold for the crew to conduct a systems check.

Examination of the power control units found traces of dried de-icing fluid, although the units passed all function tests and met specifications. There was no indication of internal component abnormalities.

SHT says it is looking into error codes, regarding automatic Mach trim, from one of the two flight control computers of the aircraft – although it points out that the other computer had been engaged during the approach, and passed all function tests.

Boeing has informed the investigators that it plans to modify all 737 to achieve “better protection” against the risk of the elevator system “freezing solid”, says SHT. The authority says it plans to release a related safety recommendation, but stresses that it has yet to reach conclusions about the incident.

            (David Kaminski-Morrow - Flightglobal News)

First Airbus A400M retired

Airbus Military has reduced the size of its "Grizzly" development fleet of A400M tactical transports to three, after retiring its first-flight example and placing another aircraft into storage.

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(Craig Hoyle/Flightglobal)

First flown on 11 December 2009 (above), MSN1 - or Grizzly 1 - was the first of five test aircraft to be flown in support of the eight-nation A400M programme. Registered as F-WWMT, the aircraft performed its final flight from Toulouse, France on 4 November,with the company saying the 1h sortie was intended "to validate procedures for landing with the ramp door failed in the open position".

This brought the lead aircraft's total usage to 475 flights and almost 1,450h, Airbus Military says.

To mark the milestone event, the same crew which performed Grizzly 1's debut flight from Seville, Spain were brought together. This comprised test pilots Nacho Lombo and Ed Strongman, head of A400M flight test Eric Isorce and a test flight engineer team of Jean-Philippe Cottet, Gerard Leskerpit and Didier Ronceray.

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(Airbus Military)
“MSN1 has had a relatively short but very arduous life, and it has taken us to the extreme parts of the flight envelope where, I hope, most other A400Ms will not go," says Strongman. The aircraft will be preserved and put on public view, with Airbus's heritage department to decide on its final display location next year.

In addition to Grizzly 1's removal from use, aircraft MSN3 has also now been placed into long-term storage. "It is not intended to fly again, but could be returned to flight-test duties if required," the company says.

Airbus Military's remaining three development aircraft will be used to support the ongoing introduction of additional capabilities for the A400M. Two of the type have been delivered to the French air force, with Turkey due to receive its first example before year-end. Further customers for the type are Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Spain and the UK, with a total order book for 174 aircraft.

(Craig Hoyle - Flightglobal News)

Early G-V at Long Beach

G-V (c/n 582) N582GV ex EC-IRZ and N271JG arrived from Portland (PDX/KPDX) just before sunset on 11/27/2013. The aircraft which has been at the service for a couple weeks departed Long Beach earlier in the day.
(Photos by Michael Carter)  

A few Gulfstream odds and ends from Long Beach

G550 (c/n 5073) N800JH visited the Gulfstream Service Center on 11/26/2013.

Gulfstream G200 (c/n 229) B-8120 made a surprise visit on 11/26/2013 as well.

G650 (c/n 6058) N511DB ex N658GA made an appearance on 11/19/2013.

G-III (c/n 349) N911HJ ex N711EG is seen performing an engine run on the service flight ramp on 11/21/2013. She has been at Long Beach for quite sometime and was recently seen minus its tail (horizontal stab) as it undergoing a major overhaul.
(Photos by Michael Carter)

Could Iranian nuclear agreement ease aircraft parts sanctions

While foreign ministers raced to Geneva for a crucial phase of talks over Iran's nuclear activities earlier this month, passengers with the country's national airline faced a little-noticed drama on the other side of the world.

As a 37-year-old Boeing 747 climbed out of Beijing bound for Tehran, the Iranian crew received a cockpit alert that one of the jumbo jet's four Pratt & Whitney engines was on fire.

The Iran Air pilots shut the engine down, activated a fire suppression system and flew back to the Chinese capital.

Both the November 8 incident and the actions taken to remedy it, as reported by accident database Aviation Herald, highlight the juggling act needed to keep Iran's fleet in the air after years of sanctions and challenges in procuring parts.

The relief plane that was dispatched to pick up stranded passengers is not just a jet but a time capsule, symbolizing the 34-year chill in ties between the United States and Iran.
It entered service weeks before the 1979 hostage crisis and is the only original 747-100 jumbo still flying passengers. Its resale value of $60,000 would not pay for fuel for the trip.

For years, aircraft such as these have been kept in service through parts imported on the black market, cannibalized from other planes or reproduced locally, aviation sources say.

Now, following last week's interim deal to ease a decade-long standoff over Iran's nuclear activities, Tehran will be allowed limited purchases of aircraft parts and repairs.

The immediate problem Iran faces is that some of its aircraft are so old that parts may not be readily available. The 747-100 was first launched in 1966 and Boeing hasn't built a new one since 1982.

"The last 747-100 we saw was about 10 years ago," said Mark Gregory, head of Europe's largest aircraft recycling company, UK-based Air Salvage International.
On paper, Iran's need for parts could be a boon for salvage firms and any second-hand stockiest who have had unwanted bits of the oldest types used by Iran accumulating dust for years.

"Everybody is lucky if somebody wants to buy because it is a dead market. These parts don't sell like fresh bread from the baker," said Derk-Jan van Heerden, general manager of Netherlands-based Aircraft End-of-Life Solutions (AELS).

Barring a full lifting of sanctions, the volumes involved are not enough to make much difference to the profits of global aerospace firms and parts manufacturers, analysts say.

But the renewal of old business relationships marks the tentative early steps of a process that could, depending on diplomacy, resuscitate a market frozen in time for a decade.

Iran is already indicating that sanctions relief may plant a seed for future aircraft purchases if economic ties are fully restored. Diplomats caution that depends on the uncertain outcome of months of detailed negotiations that lie ahead.
"With the new deal made in Geneva, hopefully we will be able to purchase parts directly from manufacturers and not from middlemen for a higher price," said a senior Iranian official.

"We are looking forward to the time when sanctions are lifted and then we will purchase 250-400 planes, whether from Boeing or Airbus," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Jetmakers, salvage firms and parts suppliers have responded cautiously and stress nothing can be done without approval. But Iranian officials say people claiming to represent at least one foreign firm have made overtures as the sanctions thaw loomed.

"We will first have to learn about possible changes in the legal situation in detail before we can make any business assessment," a spokesman for Europe's Airbus said.

A spokesman for Boeing declined comment.
Van Heerden, who is also deputy director of the Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association, said the industry has end-user agreements designed to avoid parts being used illegally.


Last week's deal calls for licensing of an unspecified quantity of aircraft parts and services for Iran's fleet.

But the mechanism and timing remain unclear and governments are expected to keep a strict eye on how funds are spent.

"I suspect there will be a tight rein initially on who supplies which parts to Iran. It is in the interests of all the governments and the manufacturers to ensure that there are no issues over the quality of the parts being supplied," said Bill Cumberlidge, executive director of leasing firm KV Aviation.
Items likely to be closely scrutinized include tail parts for the oldest Boeing 747s, which until 1980 were made with depleted uranium as counterweights, until tungsten took over.

An Iranian airline official said carriers were waiting for news on how and where any unfrozen funds could be deployed.

"The first issue would be that of finance and banking transactions. There are many planes out there but the problem has always been that we cannot buy them," he said.

The lack of parts has not prevented Iran Air and three others - Iran Aseman Airlines, Kish Air and Mahan Air - from passing safety audits of the International Air Transport Association.

"Many middlemen provided us with aircraft parts and even once one plane, carrying hundreds of parts, landed at (Tehran) Mehrabad airport," the senior Iranian official said.
"Iran managed to get everything it needed for its airplanes; even some very sophisticated parts."

But there has been a spate of reported incidents involving items with a limited life such as engines and landing gear, and the cost of running a covert re-supply operation has been high.

Parts that Iran might now seek to buy could cost anything from a few dollars for a tray table to millions of dollars for an engine. Airbus and Boeing may themselves have to scour the second-hand market for parts for old jets they no longer have.

In addition to parts, Iranian airlines also urgently need training, said a Dubai-based consultant whose clients include Iranian carriers. Poor training of Iranian pilots on elderly Russian aircraft was blamed for a series of crashes that killed more than 190 people in 2009, leading the Iranian authorities to clamp down on purchases of Russian equipment, he added.

Iran has an active fleet of 189 passenger aircraft with an average age of 22 years. It also has 76 in storage with an average age of 24 years, says UK aviation consultancy Ascend.
The situation for flag carrier Iran Air is worse. Its 37 active aircraft have an average age of 24 years. Two of its active Boeing 747s have been flying for close to four decades.

The fleet includes some planes for which there are ample parts, such as the Fokker 100 and MD-80. Many have been recently mothballed, making their spares relatively cheap.

Others, like the earliest vintage Boeing 747s and the first Airbus A300 aircraft, depend on a shrinking supply of parts or a steady flow of organ transplants from other "donor" aircraft.

"Ultimately the most cost-effective solution for Iran, when sanctions allow, would probably be to upgrade their fleet. There comes a stage when it becomes impossible to support aircraft because of their age," Air Salvage's Gregory said.

(Tim Hepher, Parisa Hafezi and Praveen Menon - Reuters)

Emirates leads Middle East airline growth

There is little doubting the ambitions of the giant Middle Eastern airlines, but recent large plane orders demonstrated just how aggressively these carriers plan to compete in coming years.                 

The three airlines — Emirates, Etihad Airlines and Qatar Airways — all based in the same corner of the Persian Gulf, already operate more wide-body airplanes than all the American carriers put together.
But last week, at the Dubai Air Show, they announced plans to buy 350 more long-range planes from Boeing and Airbus, with orders valued at a record $162 billion and deliveries extending well into the next decade.
Emirates alone ordered 150 of the new Boeing 777X, with an option for 50 more, as well as an additional 50 Airbus A380s, the biggest passenger jet. It was billed as “the largest ever aircraft order in civil aviation,” a commitment worth $99 billion at list prices.
The size of these orders stunned aviation watchers. It provided a sense of the scale the carriers are after and dwarfs anything American airlines have planned.
American Airlines, for instance, ordered 600 planes for the next decade to replace its aging fleet, but the bulk of those are single-aisle planes for the domestic market, not twin-aisle ocean-crossing giants.
Emirates, established in 1985 with one jet plane, has been the main driver of this growth, putting Dubai on the map as one the world’s biggest air travel hubs.
The airline, which carried 39 million passengers last year, aims for 70 million annual passengers by 2020, according to its chief executive, Tim Clark. This would make Emirates the biggest airline by international passengers, he said in a speech last month.
Their strategy is simple, according to Richard Aboulafia, an aviation analyst at the Teal Group in Fairfax, Va., “They want to take over the world,” he said.
Emirates has thrived by building routes to developing countries long neglected by traditional carriers and by providing an alternative to local airlines — connecting Europe and India, Africa and Russia, China and the Middle East.
Instead of flying through traditional hubs like London or Frankfurt, these new routes run through Dubai, which the airline has turned into a global connecting hub thanks to the backing of the city’s ruling family.
The success of the Dubai model has ignited the envy of its neighbors, who have sought to copy it with their own global airlines. At the air show, Qatar’s flag carrier, Qatar Airways, said it would buy 50 Boeing 777X jets — a new aircraft that should be available by 2020.
Etihad, based in neighboring Abu Dhabi and the smallest of the three, ordered 143 airplanes at the air show, including 30 Boeing 787s and 50 Airbus A350s.
Their ambitions have sent ripples of concerns among their competitors, more recently in the United States, where the biggest pilots’ union, the Air Line Pilots Association, called these airlines an “economic threat” to American carriers and their employees. The industry’s trade group, Airlines for America, said airlines in the United States cannot compete fairly against rivals that benefit from government subsidies.
“I can understand the frustration felt by the legacy carriers whose lunch is being eaten,” Mr. Aboulafia said, referring to Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and what will be a combined American Airlines and US Airways. “The best-case scenario for them is that all the growth goes through the Gulf and everyone else makes do with a stagnant market.”
But while some analysts say these worries might be overblown, carriers from the United States were unwilling to take any chances after seeing how disruptive Emirates has been for well-established airlines like Air France, Lufthansa or Air India.
“They’ve watched Asian and European airlines whistling past the graveyard, and now Emirates and the other Gulf carriers are getting uncomfortably close to home,” Mr. Aboulafia said. Emirates operates about 3,200 flights a week to 135 cities and 76 countries. It started flying to 20 new destinations since the beginning of last year and plans to add service to Conakry, Guinea; Sialkot, Pakistan; and Kabul, Afghanistan, before the end of the year.
“Being the biggest airline in the world is not really the end goal,” Mr. Clark said in the speech last month. “Our aim has always been to connect travelers from around the world to Dubai, and other destinations with just a single stop via our hub.”
The airline is expanding its presence in North America where it has made significant inroads last year, opening new routes from Dubai to Dallas, Seattle and Washington. It has also increased the frequency of its flights to New York. It also serves Houston, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Qatar Airways, which joined the Oneworld Alliance with American Airlines, started service to Chicago recently from Doha.
It recently inaugurated a new flight between Kennedy International Airport in New York and Malpensa Airport in Milan, which allows passengers from the United States to fly to Europe on Emirates without having to fly through Dubai.
The move is viewed with concern by American carriers, which consider it as a direct attack on their market, and it is being challenged in an Italian court by several airlines including Alitalia and Delta Air Lines.
“The three have caused consternation,” according to a recent report by CAPA, an aviation consulting firm, referring to the big Gulf carriers. “No doubt that after this spate of orders, competitors are worried now that projected growth targets in abstract percentage terms have been translated into metal.”
All this is reviving recurring complaints by traditional airlines about what they view as unfair competition by state-owned rivals. United States airlines are drumming up political support to oppose plans to open up a customs and immigration pre-clearance facility in Abu Dhabi — similar to those that exist in Nassau, Bahamas, or at most airports in Canada — arguing that it would give an unfair advantage to Etihad, which is based there.
Rivals also object to what they view as an unfair trade advantage that benefits foreign airlines seeking financing guarantees or preferential loans to purchase Boeing planes. These favorable terms, meant to promote American exports, are not available to domestic airlines.
Still, few doubt that Emirates is a force to stay. It now has a total of 385 aircraft on order, including 101 A380s, at a total value of $166 billion. It currently flies 39 A380s and now accounts for well over half of all A380 orders — and has been instrumental in rescuing that aircraft program.
By contrast, Air France, Lufthansa and British Airways fly a combined 22 A380s and do not plan to significantly increase their orders anytime soon.
But while the numbers are impressive, some analysts expressed skepticism about the capacity of the gulf carriers — and particularly Emirates — to sustain such growth rates.
“My jaw dropped,” Mike Boyd, an aviation consultant, said after he heard about Emirates’ order for the extra A380s. “The A380 is a wonderful piece of machinery, but there are not a lot of airports where it can land, and not many routes that can take that many seats. They will be searching for routes to make it work.”
(Jad Mouawad - The New York Times)

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Where will the 777X be built?

Boeing Co. has invited more than a dozen U.S. locations to compete in a bidding process to determine where its new 777 long-haul passenger jet will be built, a company spokesman said.

The company issued the request for proposals on Friday and requires that submissions be in by mid-December, spokesman Doug Adler said in an email. A decision on the site selection is expected early next year.

Adler declined to name the locations under consideration.

But people familiar with the discussions said that South Carolina, Alabama, Texas, Utah, California, Kansas, Missouri and Washington state are among the possibilities.

The airplane maker is negotiating for a site to build the aircraft after the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union earlier this month rejected a contract offer that would have meant the work stayed in the company's traditional manufacturing site in the Puget Sound area, but with diminished benefits.

Unions representing more than 60,000 Boeing workers, most of whom work in Puget Sound, issued a joint statement late Friday saying they are ready to meet the challenge of designing and manufacturing the 777.

Adler said Boeing is looking for one or more locations for work that will include wing fabrication and final assembly.

"We still have no plans to re-engage with the machinists in Puget Sound," he said on Saturday.

The contract extension for Boeing workers in the Puget Sound area would have cut pensions and health-care benefits, slowed the rate of wage increases for new employees and provided a $10,000 (6,161.81 pounds) cash bonus per member.

Boeing launched a long-awaited new version of its 777 passenger jet with 259 orders from four airlines at the Dubai Airshow in mid-November.

Boeing Chairman James McNerney said the order, based on commitments worth some $100 billion at list prices, was the largest combined order in the company's history.

(Susan Kelly and Alwyn Scott - Reuters)

Engine ice risk on 787 and 747-8

United Airlines 787-8 (34822/50) N26902 climbs from Rwy 25R at LAX on October 31, 2013.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Boeing advised airlines on Friday about a risk of engine icing problems on its new 747-8 and 787 Dreamliner planes with engines made by General Electric, urging 15 carriers to avoid flying them near high-level thunderstorms.

The warning led Japan Airlines to pull 787 Dreamliners from two international routes. Other affected airlines include Lufthansa, United Airlines, an arm of United Continental Holdings and Cathay Pacific Airlines.

"Boeing and JAL share a commitment to the safety of passengers and crews on board our airplanes. We respect JAL's decision to suspend some 787 service on specific routes," a Boeing spokesman said.

The move followed six incidents from April to November involving five 747-8s and one 787 when aircraft powered by GE's GEnx engines suffered temporary loss of thrust while flying at high altitude.

The problem was caused by a build-up of ice crystals, initially just behind the front fan, which ran through the engine, said a GE spokesman, adding that all of the aircraft landed at their planned destinations safely.

Boeing on Friday issued a notice prohibiting the affected aircraft from flying at high attitude within 50 nautical miles of thunderstorms that may contain ice crystals.

Japan Airlines said on Saturday it will replace Dreamliners on its Tokyo-Delhi and Tokyo-Singapore flights with other types of aircraft while also dropping a plan to use 787s for its Tokyo-Sydney route from December.

JAL will continue to fly 787s for other international and domestic routes, which are unlikely to be affected by cumulonimbus cloud for the time being, a company spokesman said.

"The aviation industry is experiencing a growing number of ice-crystal icing encounters in recent years as the population of large commercial airliners has grown, particularly in tropical regions of the world," the GE spokesman said.

GE and Boeing are working on software modifications to the engine control system, which they hope will eliminate the problems, he added.

All 747-8s are powered by GEnx engines while 787s are powered either by GE's engines or the rival Trent 1000 made by Rolls-Royce Plc.

(Alwyn Scott and Hideyuki Sano - Reuters)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Dreamlifter lands at wrong airport

A Boeing 747 jumbo jet mistakenly landed at a small Kansas airport not far from the Air Force base where it was supposed to land to deliver parts for the company's famed new 787 Dreamliner.

    The 747 landed Wednesday evening at Col. James Jabara Airport, about 8 miles north of its intended target, the McConnell Air Force Base in Wichita. Jabara's runway is just 6,101 feet long, much shorter than is ideal for an aircraft of that size.
    Roger Xanders, chief of the Wichita Airport Authority's police and fire department, told KMBC-TV that nonetheless the plane should be able to take off around noon Thursday.

    The plane, operated by Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, has been turned around by a tug to prepare for departure, said Brad Christopher of the Wichita Airport Authority.
    "We've been in contact with Atlas company headquarters in New York. They've assured us they've run all the engineering calculation and performance and the aircraft is very safe for a normal departure at its current weight and conditions here," Christopher said.
    Atlas Air spokeswoman Bonnie Rodney did not immediately return early Thursday calls and an email from The Associated Press seeking comment. Boeing spokesman Marc Birtel said he could not immediately provide any information on how or why the jumbo jet landed at Jabara.
    The two-person crew was not injured and the airplane and airport property were not damaged, Christopher said.

    The modified 747, one of a fleet of four that hauls parts around the world for the production of the Dreamliner, was bound for McConnell because it is adjacent to Boeing supplier Spirit AeroSystems, Birtel said. Spirit makes the forward section or nose area of the Dreamliner's fuselage.
    These jets, which the company refers to as Dreamlifters, are crucial to the Dreamliner's construction. Boeing is using a global network of suppliers to develop and build most of the new plane's parts in locations as far away as Germany, Japan and Sweden. Boeing says the Dreamlifter cuts delivery time down to one day from as many as 30 days.
    The final aircraft is assembled at plants outside Seattle and in North Charleston, S.C.

    It is not the first incident of a large aircraft landing at an airport ill equipped to accommodate a plane of that size.
    In July last year, a cargo plane bound for MacDill Air Force base in Tampa, Fla., landed without incident at the small Peter O. Knight Airport nearby. An investigation blamed confusion identifying airports in the area and base officials introduced an updated landing procedure to mitigate future problems.

    (Roxana Hegeman - Associated Press)

    Tuesday, November 19, 2013

    Boeing scores big at Dubai Air Show

    Boeing Co. and Airbus SAS leave the Dubai Air Show with diverging prospects for their order momentum, with the Boeing 777X set to be a global hit while the Airbus A380 risks becoming a niche jet for Mideast carriers.
    The aircraft manufacturers announced about $179 billion in combined transactions, more than the gross domestic product of New Zealand, with Boeing and Airbus each scoring record commitments for the re-winged 777 and the A380 jumbo. Buyers were largely limited to the Middle East, underscoring the region’s emergence as the new epicenter of aviation.                    
    Etihad Airways PJSC from Abu Dhabi was the most prolific buyer after Emirates, adding 25 777Xs and 30 Dreamliners, and turning itself into the largest customer of Boeing’s composite-material jet in the process. Absent from the deals were European, Asian and North American buyers as well as leasing companies, which typically form a large portion of sales.
    This year’s event eclipsed the last expo two years ago, when Chicago-based Boeing narrowly pulled ahead of Airbus, with $19 billion of deals versus $17.6 billion. Boeing held a wider lead at this year’s event over its Toulouse, France-based rival, scoring $129 billion in orders, compared with $50 billion for Airbus.
    Emirates has managed to make its A380 a success in part because it built a growth strategy around the aircraft rather than making it an exotic component of its fleet, as is the case with most other operators. The state-owned carrier also flies the planes to destinations considered by competitors as second-tier airports, such as Manchester in northern England, helping Emirates funnel more traffic through its Dubai hub.

    Betting Big

    “They made a bet and they won the bet,” said Airbus Chief Executive Officer Fabrice Bregier. “They gained market share and they don’t understand why some of the airlines are so shy. This is to their advantage.”

    Boeing’s new 777X aims to replicate the success of the existing model, which forms the backbone of many long-haul fleets, including Emirates. The world’s largest airline by international traffic is buying 150 of the new planes to replace its current lineup, in the biggest purchase yet by value, at $76 billion. Boeing announced all its major orders in rapid succession on the first day of the Dubai show.
    “We see broad, worldwide demand for the 777,” Boeing CEO Jim McNerney said. “We are just starting here.”

    The success of the 777X, which comes in a large 405-seat and a smaller version, comes at a cost to Boeing. The plane eats into already weak demand for the 747-8 jumbo, for which Boeing has cut output twice this year. McNerney said there is “no question” that the 777 puts pressure on bigger jets.

    Coming Second

    Airbus sought to play down the success of the 777X, saying its own A350-1000 is an all-new design rather than an upgrade from an existing frame and will fly years before the 777X. The model garnered 10 orders from Etihad at the show, and has also been bought by Emirates and Qatar Airways Ltd.
    Besides the disproportionately large orders, the Middle East is exceptional in that wide-body sales dominate, an anomaly in an industry where smaller single-aisle models are the workhorses of most carriers. Boeing, which lagged Airbus in market share for short-haul planes in the region, made a dent in its rival’s lead with a deal for as many as 111 jets from FlyDubai. Etihad bought 36 Airbus A320-family models.
    Airbus still has one for for the A380 to confirm, from leasing company Doric, which said in June that it would buy 20. Before the Emirates repeat purchase, Airbus was at risk of failing its annual order goal for a third straight year. With Emirates proving to competitors that it can make the aircraft work, Airbus said other carriers are sure to follow.
    “A lot of airlines get into trouble because they are risk averse,” said John Leahy, Airbus’s sales chief. “Emirates is a profitable airline that’s eating their lunch. They’re the best marketing tool we have.”

     (Robert Wall & Deena Kamel Yousef  - Bloomberg)

    Iraqi Airways commits to Bombardier CS300

    Iraqi Airways has signed a letter of intent (LOI) to order five 132-seat Bombardier CS300s.
    Iraqi Airways CEO and DG Saad Al-Khafaji and Bombardier Commercial Aircraft president Mike Arcamone in Dubai
    (Courtesy, Bombardier)

    According to Iraqi CEO and DG Saad Al-Khafaji, the LOI includes options for five more CS300s, plus “future options” for another six. The deal is valued at $1.26 billion at current list prices if all 16 aircraft are exercised.

    Iraqi Airways operates six CRJ900 NextGen regional jets.

    The LOI was executed at the Dubai Air Show during a visit that included government officials from Iraq, Canada, Northern Ireland and the UK.

    As of today, Bombardier has secured commitments for 419 CSeries aircraft, including 177 firm orders, from 16 customers.

    (Steve Costley - ATWOnlinenews)

    Lufthansa Cargo commences 777F operations

    Lufthansa Cargo launched its first Boeing 777F scheduled flight from Frankfurt to New York JFK and Atlanta Nov. 19. The next 777F destination will be Chicago O’Hare.

    Lufthansa Cargo CEO Karl Ulrich Garnadt said the aircraft is a “highly visible symbol” of the carrier’s 2020 strategic program, which includes modernizing its fleet and investing €100 million ($135 million) into new IT systems.

    Lufthansa Cargo is also planning to build an efficient logistics center in Frankfurt, is driving the digitalization of the entire process chain and is working with partners at Frankfurt Airport to strengthen Germany’s vital air cargo hub. It aims to reduce specific CO2 emissions by one quarter by 2020.

    Lufthansa Cargo has ordered five 777Fs. It second Boeing 777F will be delivered at the end of November. Two further aircraft will follow in the first half of 2014 and a fifth in 2015.

    Lufthansa Cargo currently has 18 MD-11Fs in its fleet. The two oldest of the type will be withdrawn from the fleet during 2014.

    (Kurt Hofmann - ATWOnline News)

    TUI Travel firms two 787-8 orders

    TUI Travel has completed an order for two Boeing 787-8s at the Dubai Air Show.

    The deal, worth $424 million at current list prices, extends TUI Travel’s 787 commitment to 15 aircraft.

    The purchase was originally attributed on Boeing’s website to an unidentified customer. TUI took delivery of its first 787-8 Dreamliner in May and now has four of the type in service.

    TUI selected the GEnx-1B engine to power the two additional 787s in an order valued at $90 million at current list prices. The deal includes a 12-year OnPointSM solution agreement.

    TUI originally ordered the 787 in February 2005. Currently, the Group’s subsidiary Thomson Airways is using the aircraft on routes including Thailand, Caribbean and the Maldives.

    (ATWOnline News)

    Thursday, November 14, 2013

    Centurion Air Cargo MD-11CF at LAX

    Captured on short final to Rwy 24L at

    Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on November 13, 2013.
    McDonnell Douglas MD-11CF (48426/468) N986AR is seen resting in the early morning sun on November 14, 2013. The aircraft was originally delivered to Alitalia on March 27, 1992 as I-DUPA "Gioacchino Rossini." 
    (Photos by Michael Carter)

    Monday, November 11, 2013

    New Italian G550 flies at Long Beach

    G550 (c/n 5431) N531GA tbr I-SEAM, taxies on "Delta"

    towards a Rwy 30 departure on 11/05/2013.

     Rolling for departure

    and rotating from Rwy 30.

    Achieving a positive climb rate.

    Returning to Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on 11/11/2013 as "GLF9" following another successful pre-delivery test flight.
    (Photos by Michael Carter)

    Friday, November 8, 2013

    Judge okays Southwest Airlines to file a brief on American Airlines / US Airways case

    A U.S. judge on Thursday gave Southwest Airlines permission to file a brief asking that US Airways Group and American Airlines be required to give up take-off and landing slots at key U.S. airports should they merge.

    Southwest has expressed interest in acquiring rights at New York's LaGuardia and Reagan National Airport near Washington that could become available if the merger goes ahead.

    In a statement, the Dallas-based carrier said its filing would explain the benefits it could offer consumers should it be allowed to expand at those airports. The judge hearing the case said the brief must be filed no later than Nov. 15.

    The Justice Department filed a suit in August to block the merger between American Airlines. U.S. Airways and Attorney General Eric Holder said this week the government wanted the carriers to shed slots at Reagan National and other "key" U.S. airports.

    Holder said he hoped to reach an agreement settling the matter before a federal trial is due to start Nov. 25.

    American and US Airways declined to comment on Thursday.

    US Airways told its shareholders in July that Southwest and JetBlue Airways were pushing hard to influence regulators to require it and American to shed slots in the merger that would form the world's biggest carrier.

    JetBlue told the Reuters Aerospace and Defense Summit in September that a merged American and US Airways should not have a share of slots at Reagan National that exceeds US Airways' current standalone share, which is about 55 percent.

    Other U.S. carriers have cited potential benefits from the merger. Allegiant Travel, a Las Vegas-based low-cost carrier that serves leisure destinations, said on Thursday it would consider opportunities to acquire airport slots that might open up as a result of the merger.

    "We would certainly consider any and all opportunities, however, ultimately economics are a significant consideration for us in any market," Allegiant spokeswoman Jessica Wheeler said in an email.

    "We anticipate that the merger would create a healthy network carrier that would focus on the needs of business and international travelers, opening up growth opportunities in U.S. leisure markets for leisure-focused carriers such as Allegiant," Wheeler said.


    Lufthansa takes delivery of its first 777 freighter

    Boeing has handed over to Lufthansa its first Boeing 777F freighter plane after the aircraft maker had to carry out last-minute minor repairs to the left wing, a spokesman for Lufthansa's cargo unit said on Friday.

    Lufthansa Cargo was due to unveil the plane at a ceremony on November 1 but last week had to postpone the event because of the repairs.

    Lufthansa Cargo said in a statement the brand new plane will be flown from Everett/Washington to Frankfurt on Friday and a ceremony to mark its first commercial flight would take place on November 19.

    The plane is due to fly to JFK Airport on November 19, the spokesman said.

    During a handover scheduled on October 29, it was determined that the slats on the left wing needed to be fixed. The slats on the wings are used to give more lift to a plane at slower speeds.

    The delay in delivery to Lufthansa, one of Boeing's biggest cargo customers, comes as Boeing deals with a series of problems with its new Dreamliner 787 passenger jet.

    The first 777 freighter was delivered in 2009. It uses the same wing as the 777 passenger version which has been in service since the 1990s with over 1,000 of the aircraft delivered.

    Lufthansa has ordered five 777F aircraft, each of which cost around $300 million at list prices.

    (Marilyn Gerlach - Reuters)