Monday, October 23, 2017

Iran Is Flying One of America's Most Powerful Fighter Jets (From the 1970s)

(U.S. Navy) 

With the overthrow of the shah in 1979 and the hostage crisis at the American embassy in Tehran, official Iranian-American relations were suspended and the spying program was discontinued. But relations between the Islamic revolutionary Iran and the atheist Soviet Union only worsened as the latter continued to supply weapons to Iraq, which invaded Iran in 1980. This set the stage for one last clash in 1988, when two Iranian AH-1J Cobra helicopter gunships (or, some sources suggest, UH-1 transports) wandered at low altitude into the airspace of Soviet-occupied Afghanistan.

One of the ironies of the bitter relations between the Iran and the United States today is that half a century ago they were the closest of allies. The repressive, secular government of the shah had come to power thanks to a CIA-orchestrated coup, and was lavished with then latest American weaponry, including F-14 Tomcat fighters, AH-Cobra attack helicopters and TOW antitank missiles.

So when the CIA asked Iran if it could conduct aerial spying flights into the Soviet Union, the response was “How many bases will you need?” and “Can our pilots ride backseat?” and, even, “Can we buy spy planes from you to help out?”

That the Soviet Union did not take kindly to the U.S.-Iranian intrusion is to put it lightly. Soviet fighters lobbed missiles and spat cannon fire at the Iranian aircraft, and when that didn’t work, they even rammed one of the U.S.-Iranian recon jets.

The main purpose of “Operation Dark Gene” was to find and exploit gaps in the Soviet Union’s air-defense radar network along the Iranian border—and also to test just how those defense worked when alerted. In 1968, twelve RF-FA Tigereye reconnaissance variants of the F-5 Freedom Fighter were delivered to the Imperial Iranian Air Force. Piloted by U.S. Air Force pilots, these conducted regular spy flights across the border. Then, in 1971, Iran acquired two dozen faster and heavier RF-4C Phantom recon jets with special modifications for listening in to Soviet communications. The two-seaters would typically fly on spy missions twice a month with a mixed crew of American and Iranian personnel, the latter there for training purposes.

A separate program known as Project Ibex used a mix of large Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) aircraft and five ground-based joint Iranian-U.S. listening posts to listen in on Soviet radio communications, and gather frequency and telemetry data. The ground stations were defended with mines, barbed wire and self-destruct systems, and supplied solely from the air. Iran reportedly paid Rockwell International $500 million for the equipment. The IIAF also purchased four modified C-130H Hercules transports loaded full of ELINT gear, as well as a converted 707 that remains in Iranian Air Force service today.

The American and Iranian pilots didn’t always get out of Soviet air space cleanly. Two RF-5As and two RF-4Cs were allegedly shot down during the 1970s, with the ejected pilots innocently claiming they were engaged in training flights.

The most dramatic—and only fully documented—encounter occurred on November 28, 1973 when an RF-4C piloted by Maj. Mohamed Shokouhnia with U.S. Air Force Col. John Saunders in the backseat was intercepted at supersonic speeds by a Thirty-Fourth Air Army MiG-21, piloted by Capt. Gennady Eliseev and dispatched from a base in Vaziani, Georgia. The Soviet pilot fired off both of his R-3S (NATO codename AA-2 Aphid) heat-seeking missiles at the recon jet, which evaded while expending dozens of flares. The R-3S was a Soviet clone of the American AIM-9 Sidewinder missile—the Soviets reverse-engineered one recovered from the hull of a lucky Chinese fighter plane after an air battle off of Taiwan!—and the early versions of the Sidewinder were not renowned for their reliability. The R-3S’s seeker required twenty-two seconds to lock on, and the minimum engagement range was under one kilometer.

Eliseev then tried to engage the Phantom with his twenty-three-millimeter cannon, but it jammed when he pressed the trigger. His ground controller told him attempt a ramming attack, which Eliseev agreed to. Soviet pilots had widely employed ramming tactics in World War II—given the superior training and inferior numbers of the German aircraft, a one-for-one trade-off was seen as advantageous, though it asked quite a lot of the pilots.

The RF-4’s evasive maneuvers had caused it to lose speed relative to Eliseev, so the Soviet pilot hit the throttle and smashed his smaller fighter into the tail of an aircraft more than twice its weight. Eliseev’s last message was a triumphant “I got him!”

Saunders and Shokouhnia successfully ejected from their Phantom and were captured by Soviet ground troops. Eliseev did not survive. He was posthumously decorated as a Hero of the Soviet Union and is remembered with a memorial in the city of Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad). The maintenance and weapons crews responsible for his plane, on the other hand, were jailed for several years as punishment.

Officially, the United States had agreed to discontinue spy flights back in the 1960s. The protocol for surviving American and Iranian flight crew was to claim they had simply gotten lost while conducting a joint training exercise. The Soviet Union agreed to overlook the incident and return the prisoners—and handed back the pilots (who also received medals), in return for data recovered from a Soviet spy satellite which had crashed in Iran. Three years later, a second RF-4 was reportedly shot down, though little information is available on this incident. The Soviet Union eventually responded by sending its own Mach 3 MiG-25RBSh reconnaissance jets into Iranian airspace, and some claim that Iranian Phantoms managed to hit one of the speedy planes, causing it to crash on the Soviet side of the border.

Ironically, the spy program may have resulted in Iranian pilots losing their lives who were genuinely on training missions. On June 21, 1978, four bulky Ch-47 Chinook heavy transport helicopters of the Iranian air force strayed twelve miles over the border of present-day Turkmenistan on a training mission. Two MiG-23M fighters of the 152nd Fighter Regiment were scrambled, and the second was ordered to fire. Pilot Valery Shkinder launched two R-60 (AA-8) infrared-guided missiles, both hitting one of the ponderous twin-rotor helicopters. He fired his twenty-three-millimeter cannon at a second Chinook, knocking out one of its two engines. The two remaining choppers escaped.

There were no survivors amongst the crew of eight on the first CH-47, but the second made a forced landing close to Ashgabat and its crew of four was captured. However, both Iran and the Soviet Union wished to avoid a diplomatic incident, so the Chinook and its crew were returned shortly afterwards, and Shkinder was denied a medal for the incident.

With the overthrow of the shah in 1979 and the hostage crisis at the American embassy in Tehran, official Iranian-American relations were suspended and the spying program was discontinued. But relations between the Islamic revolutionary Iran and the atheist Soviet Union only worsened as the latter continued to supply weapons to Iraq, which invaded Iran in 1980. This set the stage for one last clash in 1988, when two Iranian AH-1J Cobra helicopter gunships (or, some sources suggest, UH-1 transports) wandered at low altitude into the airspace of Soviet-occupied Afghanistan.

Iranian air power had been used against drug smugglers and insurgents along its border with Afghanistan, and it is possible the Iranian helicopters were engaged in one such a patrol when they crossed the border by accident. Two MiG-23MLDs were scrambled out of Shindand Air Base, fifty miles away. Wheeling around from the west, the Soviet pilots each launched an R-24R radar-guided missile from a distance of five miles at the helicopters, which promptly vanished from their radars. Two weeks later, Soviet troops found the remains of the two downed helicopters.

Unlike the Soviet Union, Russia does not have any land borders with Iran, though it can and does conduct trade directly via the Caspian Sea. The two nations are now cooperating to prop up the regime of Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian Civil War, though their objectives in that war-ravaged country are not entirely in sync. At one point Moscow even bragged that Tu-22M Backfire bombers were flying air strikes in Syria from Iranian airbases.

The new Trump administration simultaneously desires warmer relations with Moscow while questioning the nuclear deal with Tehran, which could complicate relations between all three countries. For now, though, Iranian pilots no longer have cause to fear Moscow’s jets, particularly as they are flying some of their own—alongside a large fleet of aging American aircraft acquired when the two countries were partners in espionage.

(S├ębastien Roblin - The National Interest)

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Netjets Bombardiar Global 5000 (c/n 9555) N104QS

Taxies to then departs from Rwy 30 at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on October 20, 2017.
(Photos by Michael Carter)

United Airlines becomes latest carrier to put economy passengers in rows of 10 seats

If you hate the middle seat on a plane, you probably won’t like the new seat configuration on United Airlines Boeing 777s.

The Chicago-based company announced that it is the latest carrier to reconfigure the seating on the Boeing 777-200 to add 21 additional seats.

The plane, to be used starting this winter primarily for long-haul flights, will have 50 lie-flat business class seats — known as Polaris seats — and 242 economy seats. United said it plans to configure about 90 Boeing 777-200 planes over the next few years.

The good news is that the legroom for the economy seats will remain about the same as before. The distance between the back of one seat and the back of the next — known as the “pitch” in industry jargon — will be 31 inches for economy seats and 34 inches for “Economy Plus” seats.

But to fit the extra seats, the economy and “Economy Plus” seats will be arranged in rows of ten across instead of nine.

American Airlines has already configured some of its 777-200s with ten seats across to fit 289 passengers, 42 more than under a previous layout. The Fort Worth carrier said it has plans to reconfigure those planes again to add premium economy seats, but economy passengers will still sit in rows of ten.

(Hugo Martin - Los Angeles Times)

Southwest shares photos from first 'unmanned' Boeing 737 Max 8 flight with all-female crew

As Southwest staffers aboard a Boeing 737 prepared for takeoff on Oct. 18, they looked around and noticed something unusual.

From the pilots to the flight attendants that day, the crew on the new Max 8 aircraft was entirely female.

A Southwest spokesperson told HuffPost that, upon realizing they were the first all-female crew to operate one of the company's new Boeing 737 Max 8 airliners, the women snapped a series of photos of the happy, unintentional event, which the company later shared on Twitter. The airline also confirmed that all the women pictured were employees of Southwest, who were operating a flight from St. Louis to San Francisco.

From a group photo of staffers in the aisle to shots of the two pilots in the cockpit (and also hamming it up in front of an engine), the sweet images clearly struck a chord with the Twitterverse, who blew up Southwest’s post with 20,000 likes and 300 comments. Some praised the airline for celebrating its female staffers, while other bemoaned the fact that all-female flight crews were so scarce that their existence had to be lauded.

(Southwest Airlines)

Southwest has actually staffed an entire plane with female employees in the past, though not on a Max 8 aircraft. The company even says it's "not uncommon" to see an all-female crew on one of its flights, as women make up 40 percent of its workforce.

According to the nonprofit Women in Aviation Inc., however, a mere 6.7 percent of working pilots today are female.

(Fox News)

Singapore Airlines to finalize $13.8 billion Boeing order next week

Singapore Airlines Ltd said on Friday it will finalize an order for 39 Boeing aircraft worth $13.8 billion at list prices when Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong visits Washington D.C. next week.

The airline said in February it would order 20 777-9 and 19 787-10 wide-bodies as part of plans to modernize its fleet over the next decade, but the deal is yet to be finalized and placed in Boeing's order book as a Singapore Airlines order.

The deal was viewed as a major blow to Airbus SE as it battles against Boeing in the wide-body market. Airbus has lagged Boeing in net orders in the first nine months of the year, with 271 at the end of September versus 498 for its U.S. rival.

Lee told CNBC television on Thursday that he hoped an agreement would be signed with Boeing to buy more aircraft for Singapore Airlines during his U.S. visit from Oct. 22 to 26.

More details about the order would be revealed after the signing ceremony in Washington, a Singapore Airlines spokesman said.

The airline in February said it had also acquired options to order six more aircraft of each type.

Boeing in June booked orders for 20 777Xs and 19 787-10 aircraft for an unidentified customer or customers, making it possible the Singapore Airlines aircraft are already counted in this year's net orders. Boeing declined to comment.

Singapore Airlines is investing in modern, fuel efficient aircraft while at the same time undertaking a strategic review designed to help cut costs amid growing competition from Chinese and Middle Eastern rivals.

While the Boeing order is worth $13.8 billion at list prices, airlines typically get discounts on jet orders. Jefferies in February estimated the deal's value at closer to $6.5 billion, or about a tenth of the U.S. plane maker's annual volume.

Singapore Airlines is the launch customer for the 787-10, a stretch version of the Dreamliner, having made 30 firm orders in addition to the 19 announced in February. Boeing completed final assembly of the airline's first 787-10 earlier this month ahead of delivery in the first half of 2018.

(Jamie Freed - Reuters)

China Southern to buy 38 Boeing jets worth $5.65 billion

China Southern Airlines has signed a deal to buy 38 aircraft from U.S. planemaker Boeing Co with a combined price tag of $5.65 billion, the Chinese carrier said on Friday.

China's largest airline by passenger numbers has agreed to buy 8 B777-300ER wide body jets and 30 B737-8 narrow bodies, the Chinese firm said in a stock exchange filing.

The planes will be delivered between 2019 and 2020 and will be funded through China Southern's own funds and loans from commercial banks, the company said.

The carrier said the deal would help its "two hub" strategy with plans for a presence at a second major airport being built in Beijing as well as its hub in southern Guangzhou. It added this would "boost the firm's competitiveness in the market".

The new Beijing airport is scheduled to open in October 2019. It will relieve pressure on Beijing's existing international airport, currently the world's second largest by passenger volume.

Two of China's three major airlines, China Southern and China Eastern Airlines Corp, will relocate to the airport on completion, accounting for roughly four-fifths of the new airport's total traffic.

China Southern said the actual price it would end up paying for the Boeing aircraft was still under negotiation, but that it would likely be substantially lower than the listed price as is customary for major airlines.

In April, China Southern signed a deal worth nearly $6 billion to buy 20 aircraft from Boeing's European rival, Airbus SE.

Airbus has lagged Boeing in net orders in the first nine months of the year, with 271 at the end of September versus 498 for its U.S. rival.

(Adam Jourdan - Reuters)

Will Boeing Build More 767s?

Two major Asian carriers have said this week that they plan to spend a combined total of about $19.5 billion on new passenger jets from Boeing. But those deals could pale if Boeing decides to restart production of its 767-300ER.

According to a report at Leeham News, Boeing is considering restarting production of the largest version of its 767 family due to discussions with customers interested in taking 50 to 60 of the aircraft. The last passenger version of the 767-300ER rolled off the line in 2014.

The 767-2C is the basis for Boeing’s KC-46A Air Force tanker, and the company posted a total of 38 in its order backlog for the plane.

The current list price for the 767-300ER is $201.4 million per copy, but when Boeing sold the last copies in 2014, the planes were selling for $70 million or less, Leeham News noted. The 767-300 freighter costs $203.5 million and the company had a backlog of 63 at the end of September.

Boeing continues to study its so-called new mid-range aircraft (NMA), sometimes called the 797, as a replacement for the 767 in a range segment that the company’s current models don’t cover. The 787 Dreamliner is too much airplane and the 737-10 is not quite enough.

Boeing sees a market for 2,000 to 4,000 NMAs over the next two decades, but market consensus is at the lower end of that scale. If a 797 were greenlighted next year, it would take about seven years to get the plane into service, say by 2025. Boeing could conceivably begin kicking out 767s in as little as three years.

Getting a 767-300ER back into production could happen sooner at lower cost than building a brand-new aircraft and put Boeing back in competition with the Airbus A321neo and the A321LR, both of which address the market for a passenger jet with a range of around 4,000 to 5,000 nautical miles.

Restarting production of the 767 does not kill Boeing’s prospects for a new 797. The economics of the 767 only work if the plane is sold a significant discount to its list price because the operating costs are higher than Airbus aircraft with new, more fuel-efficient engines.

Having a competitive plane until the 797 is ready gives Boeing a story to sell to customers looking at an Airbus alternative. There is substantial value to Boeing in just that aspect of resurrecting the 767.

(Paul Ausick - 24/7 Wall St)

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Airbus A350 Is Not The Boeing 787 -- But Delta Loves It

(Delta Airlines)

Let’s just say upfront that the Airbus A350 does not evoke any of the three turns of phrase so commonly applied to the Boeing 787.

It is not a “Dreamliner,” the brand name Boeing so successfully coined. It is not a “game changer,” the description used to vast excess to describe the airplane that opened once unthinkable routes like San Francisco-Chengdu and London-Austin. It is not a “moonshot,” the word used, almost derisively, by the former Boeing CEO who famously said that today’s “more-for-less world will not let you pursue moonshots.”

Rather, the A350 is just a very good next-generation aircraft. Certainly, Delta thinks so. Delta has labeled the A350 its flagship aircraft, moving the designation from the Boeing 747, which it is retiring this year.

The A350 will initially be based in Detroit, entering service with an Oct. 30th flight to Tokyo Narita. Service to Seoul will be added in November, with Beijing in January, Shanghai in April and Amsterdam in the spring. All were once Boeing 747 flights for Delta.

At a media event in Atlanta on Wednesday, Delta CEO Ed Bastian told reporters that three years ago, Delta considered ordering the 787. “I love the airplane,” Bastian said, but “Boeing couldn’t deliver on the timeline we were looking at” and “the price point was better” for the A350.

Delta rolled out the A350-900 for a two-hour flight that flew north along the Appalachian Mountains into West Virginia and Kentucky before turning south toward Atlanta. A Federal Aviation Administration inspector flew in the cockpit with the pilots.

First Officer Laura Edwards, who formerly flew the Boeing 767, said she was drawn to the A350 due to “the advanced technology on the flight deck and [in] the controls. The different technology makes life easier.”

Also aboard the flight, Robbie Schaefer, Delta manager of onboard products, said the carrier has rolled out new cabin products Delta One and Delta Premium Select on the A350. Next year, it will modify its 18 Boeing 777 interiors to include some or all of them.

The A350 has 306 seats including 32 Delta One suites, which feature private compartments with doors, lie flat seating and ample room: 48 Delta Premium Select seats with up to 38 inches of pitch and seat width of 18.5 inches, and 226 coach seats with 31 to 32 inches of pitch.

Aerospace consultant Scott Hamilton said the A350-900 offers more range than the 787-10, the latest Dreamliner version. “The A350-900 is longer range, somewhat heavier and carries somewhat fewer passengers than the 787-10,” he said.

“Because the 787-10 has more passengers, its [cost per available seat mile] is a couple of percentage points lower over a 5,000-mile trip,” Hamilton said. It is the 787-9, operated by United, that opened historic new routes led by San Francisco-Chengdu, the first commercial flight from the U.S. mainline to interior China, and that now operates on three of the world’s 10 longest flights, led by number three Los Angeles-Singapore, which is 8,700 miles.

Still, United intends to follow Delta into the A350 business. The carrier said last month that it will take delivery of 45 Airbus A350-900 aircraft starting in 2022.

(Ted Reed - Forbes)

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Here is the key Boeing gives airlines when they buy a $270 million 787 Dreamliner

(Benjamin Zhang)

 Qantas took delivery of its first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner on Tuesday.
Boeing presented Qantas with a ceremonial key to the plane.
The Dreamliner will allow Qantas to offer non-stop service between the Europe and Australia.

On Tuesday, Qantas took delivery of its first 787-9 Dreamliner at Boeing's Everett, Washington factory. After the paperwork had been signed and a substantial amount of money transferred into Boeing's coffers, it was time for the Australian national airline to finally get its plane.

But first, Boeing vice chairman Ray Conner presented Qantas CEO Alan Joyce with a key to the Dreamliner. The polished key came complete with a Boeing 787 keychain and an accompanying jewelry box, fitting for an with airliner with a list price of $270.4 million.

Admittedly, the key is purely ceremonial and isn't required to operate the aircraft. Boeing usually reserves the pomp and circumstance of a key presentation for special occasions.

For Qantas, this is certainly a special occasion.
(Benjamin Zhang)

The new Boeing Dreamliner, one of eight destined to enter the Qantas fleet by the end of 2018, will play a major role in the airline's future international expansion plans. Qantas will use four of the planes, including the one it acquired on Tuesday to launch its new non-stop between Perth, Western Australia, and London.

This will be the first non-stop scheduled passenger flight between Australia and Europe. (In 1989, Qantas did fly one of its Boeing 747-400 jumbos from London to Sydney. However, that was a one-off publicity stunt with no passengers on board.)

"One of the big advantages of the Dreamliner is that it gives us a range of destinations we couldn't have done before," Joyce told Business Insider in an interview. "It gives you better economics because it's 20% more fuel efficient and with a lot lower maintenance cost given the new technology. That means there are routes we could have done before with distance, but couldn't do economically that now come onto the radar screen."

"For Qantas, it also starts overcoming the tyranny of distance we have," Joyce added.

(Benjamin Zhang)

After all, the 9,008 mile-long flight will be the third longest scheduled commercial flight in the world, right after Air India's 9,400-mile flight from Delhi to San Francisco and Qatar Airways' 9,032-mile flight from Doha to Auckland, New Zealand.

The Perth to London route will overtake the airline's 8,531-mile non-stop flight between Sydney and Dallas, Texas. That flight is operated by Airbus A380 super-jumbos.

(Benjamin Zhang)

 (Benjamin Zhang - Business Insider)

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Delta Announces New Routes for the Airbus A350

Delta is the first U.S. airline to take delivery of a next-generation Airbus A350 jet. The airline will begin operating commercial flights using the new plane later this month, starting with a route from Detroit to Toyko Narita followed by subsequent routes from Detroit to Seoul Incheon and Beijing.

At a launch event yesterday in Atlanta, though, the airline announced even more routes that it intends to fly with the A350.

Here is a full list of routes that we know about so far:

Detroit (DTW) – Tokyo (NRT) starting October 30, 2017
Detroit (DTW) – Seoul (ICN) starting November 18, 2017
Detroit (DTW) – Beijing (PEK) starting January 17, 2018
Atlanta (ATL) – Seoul (ICN) starting March 24, 2018
Detroit (DTW) – Amsterdam (AMS) starting March 31, 2018
Detroit (DTW) to Shanghai (PVG) starting April 19, 2018

There are two interesting things to note here. First, it appears that the A350 fleet will, at least at first, be based out of the airline’s hub in Detroit, so all these flights except the one originating in Atlanta will be flown out of there.

Second, it looks like the airline will try to use these planes to consolidate its network to Asia out of the Midwest and the East Coast, funneling passengers through Detroit, while just a single route to begin with will operate in the other direction to Europe, flying to the airline’s SkyTeam partner, KLM’s, hub in Amsterdam.

Delta has a total order of 25 A350s, so we should eventually start seeing them fly to a number of other destinations as well as the airline uses them to retire older jets.

Part of what makes this such an exciting development is the introduction of an all-new all-suites business class cabin onboard. The A350 will have 32 of these new suites onboard, arranged in a 1 – 2 – 1 configuration. The Thompson Vantage XL seats all have closing doors, and recline to beds that are 21 inches wide and up to 81 inches long. They will also feature 18-inch hi-res touchscreen entertainment systems and 2Ku Wi-Fi.

Delta’s A350s also have 48 of the airline’s new Premium Select economy seats and 226 Main Cabin regular economy seats.

(Eric Rosen - Forbes)

Southwest Airlines gives up two planned routes to Mexico City

Southwest Airlines is giving up a pair of coveted slots at Mexico City’s airport as the Dallas-based carrier shifts its growth focus elsewhere, including other leisure-friendly destinations in Mexico.

Southwest won the rights to operate four additional flights in and out of Mexico City earlier this year after Delta Airlines and Aeromexico were forced to give them up as part of a joint venture between the carriers.

The decision to relinquish the valuable rights comes at a time when Southwest is in the midst of an international growth-spree, launching service to 16 international destinations since 2014. That includes a heavy focus on popular tourist destinations, including Mexican beach towns, Jamaica and the Bahamas.

Southwest was one of several carriers to gain new access this year at Mexico City International Airport, where the number of daily flights is limited due to space and capacity constraints.

Two of Southwest’s four slots, an industry term for takeoff and landing rights, were used to add flights from Houston. But Southwest decided not to launch flights to Mexico City from Los Angeles and Fort Lauderdale, both of which were scheduled to begin next summer.

Instead, the airline offered up those two slots to other carriers at no cost. This week, the U.S. Department of Transportation reallocated them to Mexican low-cost carrier VivaAerobus.

A Southwest spokesman said the decision is part of a strategy to focus its Mexico City service through Houston’s Hobby Airport, already a key international gateway for the carrier that provides one-stop access to more than four dozen U.S. cities. Southwest operates four daily flights between Houston and Mexico City.

“Southwest is bullish about Mexico City service over a longer term yet is refocusing on other growth priorities in the nearer term,” spokesman Brad Hawkins said in a statement.

Hawkins said the carrier plans to continue growing its service to other Mexican destinations, including Cancun, Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos.

A total of 24 slots were made available at Mexico City’s airport as a condition to a deal that will allow Delta and Aeromexico to coordinate more closely on schedules and pricing and share revenue from flights between their respective countries. Another four slots were made available at New York’s Kennedy International Airport.

In addition to Southwest, JetBlue, Alaska Airlines, Volaris and VivaAerobus all received slots at Mexico City's airport that once belonged to Delta or Aeromexico.

(Conor Shine - The Dallas Morning News)

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Gulfstream G-V (c/n 598) N808JG

This lovely aircraft captured at Kona International Airport at Keahole (KOA/PHKO) on October 12, 2017 is operated by Jet Green LLC.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Gulfstream G-IV (c/n 1069) N813PD

Operated by Quogue Aviation II LLC, this gorgeous aircraft is captured resting in the morning sun on the Signature ramp at Kona International Airport at Keahole (KOA/PHKO) on October 12, 2017.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Hawaiian Airlines McDonnell Douglas MD-95-30 (717-2CM) (55151/5041) N490HA "O'o"

Taxies to then departs on Rwy 35 at Kona International Airport at Keahole (KOA/PHKO) Kailua-Kona, Hawaii on October 12, 2017.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Hawaiian Airlines McDonnell Douglas MD-95-30 (717-2BL) (55182/5138) N494HA "Koa'e Kea"

Smokes the mains on Rwy 35 at Kona International Airport at Keahole (KOA/PHKO) Kailua-Kona, Hawaii on October 12, 2017 as it arrives from Hilo International Airport (ITO/PHTO) on the eastern side of the Island of Hawaii.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Big Island Air Cessna 208B Grand Caravan (c/n 208B5054) N2150

This colorful machine is captured resting in the gorgeous morning sun at Kona Inernational Airport at Keahole (KOA/PHKO) Kailua-Kona, Hawaii on October 12, 2017.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Paradise Helicopters Bell 407 (c/n 53101) N808PH

Captured at Kona International Airport at Keahole (KOA/PHKO) Kailua-Kona, Hawaii on October 12, 2017.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Paradise Helicopters Bell 407 (c/n 53503) N407WH

Arrives at Kona International Airport at Keahole (KOA/PHKO) Kailua-Kona, Hawaii following a sightseeing flight along the Kona Coast on October 12, 2017.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Transair Cargo Shorts SD3-60 (c/n 3722) N221LM

Rests in the morning sun at Kona International Airport at Keahole (KOA/PHKO), Kailua-Kona, Hawaii on October 12, 2017.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Island Air Dehavilland Canada DHC-8-402Q (c/n 4554) N863WP "Kulana Pono"

Smokes the mains on Rwy 35 at Kona International Airport at Keahole  (KOA/PHKO) Kailua-Kona, Hawaii on October 12, 2017.

(Photo by Michael Carter)

Air India takes delivery of final 787-8 Dreamliner

Air India has received its final Boeing 787-800 aircraft, completing an order placed more than a decade ago.

Air India in 2006 placed orders with Boeing for 68 aircraft—27 787-800s, 15 777-300ERs, eight 777-200LRs and 18 737-800s.

The airline has taken delivery of most of the aircraft, except three 777s that are expected to be delivered early next year. Most of these aircraft are on sale-and-leaseback arrangement, under which the seller leases the aircraft back from the purchaser for a long-term period.

Air India’s fleet stands at 119, the second-largest fleet in the country after IndiGo, which has 141 aircraft. Air India also flies the most international passengers.

The airline was founded in the 1930s by the Tata Group before being nationalized after Indian independence in 1947. However, it has failed to make profit since its merger with Indian Airlines in 2007.

Air India, which manages a major share of the country’s domestic air travel market, has been lagging behind other carriers, despite the domestic aviation market’s rapid growth. The airline has been faced financial losses for years because of high operating costs and some of the lowest fare prices in the world and stiff competition from local carriers, which include Jet Airways, IndiGo, GoAir, SpiceJet and Vistara.

In June, the Indian government approved plans to privatize national carrier Air India.

(Jay Menon - ATWOnline News)

New airline service between Oakland and Los Angeles promises faster travel

A JetSuite jet sits at Buchanan Field Airport in Concord, Calif., on Wednesday, March 29, 2017. The airline will soon launch a direct flight from Oakland International Airport to Hollywood Burbank Airport.
(Dan Honda/Bay Area News Group)

A growing airline that promises a way for passengers to ditch long security lines and crowds at baggage claim is offering a new flight between Oakland International Airport and the Hollywood Burbank Airport.

JetSuiteX — a division of private jet operator JetSuite — is launching its “private for public” service in mid-November at the airports. Travelers will be able to access the flights at private terminals in each airport, allowing them to skip the normal security lines and instead arrive at the airport about 20 minutes before departure.

“JetSuiteX was created to be the ultimate travel hack for time-starved travelers, especially those going between LA and the San Francisco areas, who are tired of waiting in line after line, just to wait some more,” said Alex Wilcox, founder and CEO of JetSuiteX, in a news release. “Our customers get to arrive refreshed when they skip things like spending more time in an airport than in air, getting herded through lines or feeling the discomfort of boarding a plane with 100 other people.”

The flights will depart three times a day on every day except for Saturday. For prices that start at $129 each way, travelers can bring up to two pieces of luggage totaling 50 pounds, have “business class-style leg room,” and free cocktails and snacks, according to JetSuiteX.

The service will also add to the Oakland airport’s growing list of nonstop destinations.

“(The airport) is in the midst of an extended period of passenger traffic growth, made possible in large part by a significant increase in nonstop destinations served,” said airport director Bryant Francis in a statement. “Introducing new charter-style flight options at Oakland dovetails with our goal of offering more choices to the growing Bay Area customer base, many of whom live closest to (the airport). We hope JetSuiteX’s new local service proves to be both popular and successful.”

JetSuiteX drew attention last year when it debuted the first commercial travel service — to Burbank and Las Vegas — that Concord’s Buchanan Field Airport had seen in decades. For travelers near the airport who aren’t squeamish about flying on a smaller, 30-seat jet, the service could deliver passengers to Los Angeles or Las Vegas quicker by allowing them through a shorter security process at private terminals instead of the typical TSA lines.

JetSuite also launched a non-stop flight between San Jose and Burbank earlier this year, jetting between private terminals at Mineta San Jose International Airport and the Hollywood Burbank Airport twice a day except for Saturdays.

Up-to-date schedules can be found at

(Annie Sciacca - San Jose Mercury News)

Friday, October 13, 2017

Will 'Southwest Effect' Rock Airfares To Hawaii?

In an era of $200 flights to Europe, coach airfare to the Hawaiian Islands remains costly. A flight can range from $500 to $1,000 or more round-trip, particularly during high season. Delta has a nonstop from LAX to Honolulu from Dec. 19 to Dec. 29 for $877 on A round-trip from Chicago (ORD) to Honolulu on United on the same dates came up at $1,195.

Flights to popular neighbor islands like Maui, Kauai or the Big Island are often even more expensive than flying to Honolulu. And while there are occasional sales, the distance from the West Coast to Hawaii (2,400 miles from SFO, 2,550 from LAX) makes the Pacific a moat that limits competition.

That may finally be changing, as Southwest Airlines announced this week that they will begin selling tickets to their most requested non-destination, Hawaii, in 2018. To support this service, Southwest also announced it will launch an application for Federal Aviation Administration authorization for Extended Operations (ETOPS), a critical licensing and permit process for extended long-distance (such as over-ocean) flights. The announcement didn't go into details, but Southwest is probably trying to get ETOPS-180 certification, which means a twin-jet is certified to operate up to three hours away from the nearest diversion airport.

To announce its upcoming Hawaiian service, Southwest did a satellite announcement from Waikiki Beach, with President Tom Nealon introducing the governor of Hawaii. While the announcement stated that tickets would go on sale in 2018, many questions went unanswered. These included when the tickets would go on sale, dates projected for the first flights, where the flights would take off from (the range of the 737 MAX makes the West Coast the likely launchpad), classes of service (all-coach has been the Southwest standard), which islands would be served, and of course pricing.

Also unclear was whether any 737 MAX aircraft have been delivered to the FAA for ETOPS certification. According to The LA Times, Andrew Watterson, Southwest's executive vice president and chief revenue officer, said it might take the FAA one to two years to approve Southwest’s application for long-term service to Hawaii.

While the announcement was short on information, it was long on platitudes. Chairman and CEO Gary Kelly, who apparently didn’t make it to Hawaii, said, "A day long-awaited by our customers, fans and more than 55,000 of the world's most-loved airline employees is finally within sight — a day that will showcase your hospitality, about as far southwest as you can go in the U.S.”

Currently, six airlines offer service to the islands, including Alaska, Hawaiian, Virgin America (now part of Alaska), United, American and Delta. All, save Hawaiian, are majors. Occasional attempts by low-cost carriers (most recently Allegiant) to crack the market have come and gone.

Cited reasons for failure include a limited good-paying business travel market, costs of operations, a small local market (only 1.4 million people live in Hawaii) and low margins with leisure travelers. Then there's the worldwide network connections offered by the major airlines, which few low-cost carriers can match.

While clearly many questions need to be answered, Southwest may be different. Southwest currently serves 101 destinations in the United States and nine other countries. The airline has more than 4,000 departures a day during peak travel season. More than 100 million people fly Southwest each year, and the airline currently has seven destinations served by more than 150 flights a day, including Chicago (265), Baltimore (234), Las Vegas (218), Denver (209) and Dallas (180).

The “Southwest effect” may lower fares when the airline enters a market, but will passengers balk at flying its single-aisle 737s to Hawaii? While some dream of luxurious jumbo jet travel to the islands, the reality is that United, Delta and Alaska are already operating 737s to Hawaii. More likely, Southwest’s reputation as a "fun" airline may make it a popular choice to "get the party started" en route.

Vague as it was, the announcement was enough to drop shares of Hawaiian Airlines, already contending with a planned expansion of United service to the islands, by 2% on Thursday. The chilling words? Andrew Watterson, executive vice president of Southwest, said, “We anticipate fares will drop.”

(Michael Goldstein - Forbes)

Virgin Hands London-NYC Flight to Delta as Boeing 787s Need Engine Fix

Virgin Atlantic Airways has transferred one of its daily trans-Atlantic flights to U.S. ally Delta Air Lines so that some of its own Boeing 787 Dreamliner planes can be grounded for an engine fix.

Delta took over the London Heathrow-New York John F. Kennedy International service Thursday and will operate it until Oct. 31 using older Boeing 767s and possibly 777s. That will allow the Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc Trent 1000 turbines that power Virgin’s Dreamliners to receive attention, according to Craig Kreeger, the U.K. carrier’s chief executive officer.

“It’s a substitution that gives us a little bit more resilience as we’ve had some parts issues with our 787 engines,” Kreeger said in an interview. “This ensures that we’ll have sufficient capacity. It’s circumstantial, it’s not a strategy.”

Rolls-Royce said Aug. 1 that as many as 500 Trent 1000s would need earlier-than-expected maintenance because of wear issues affecting the fan blades. The problem was first identified last year when ANA, the 787’s launch customer, reported turbine damage on three planes. Virgin operates 13 787s out of an order for 17, and also took some out of service in April.

“We have a clear service management plan in place with all operators to undertake this work and minimize disruption,” Rolls-Royce said in a statement, adding that the interval for the work will be kept “as short as possible.”

Not all Rolls-powered 787s will need early attention, the U.K. manufacturer said. Additional maintenance costs on the Trent 1000 were the biggest component of 59 million pounds ($78 million) in technical costs that the company posted in the first half.

Delta, which bought a 49 percent stake in Virgin Atlantic in 2012, said in a statement that such route changes “show the benefit of the Delta and Virgin Atlantic partnership and how we work together.”

Virgin said last month that starting next March it would take one of its partner’s U.K.-U.S. flights, giving it six of eight daily services across the pair’s joint venture. Delta will meanwhile upgrade to Airbus A330s from 767s on routes between Heathrow and JFK, Atlanta and Detroit.

(Thomas Seal - Bloomberg News)

FAA Demands Inspection Of A380 Jumbo Jet Engines After Air France Emergency

Another day, another problem for the Airbus A380. Today’s issue is directly related to that of Sept. 30, when an engine “came apart” on an Air France A380 flying from Paris to Los Angeles with 496 passengers and 24 crew aboard.

The engine explosion over Greenland led to an unscheduled landing at a Canadian Forces base at Goose Bay, Labrador, and an unplanned 24-hour plus delay in the passengers getting to their destinations. You can see an uncensored passenger video of the three-engine emergency landing here and here, including applause for the pilots. Engine components have been found in Greenland as well as on the arrival runway at Goose Bay.

The engine failure led directly to today’s news, a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Airworthiness Directive (AD) calling for visual inspection of fan hubs used in the engines of SE A380 aircraft with Engine Alliance (EA) engines.

The FAA issued the AD because it determined the “unsafe condition…is likely to exist or develop in other products of the same type design.”

The Engine Alliance is a 50/50 joint venture between General Electric and Pratt and Whitney, a division of United Technologies. (A380s powered by Rolls-Royce engines are not affected by the directive.)

Specifically, the FAA emergency airworthiness directive requires owners and operators of Engine Alliance (EA) Model GP7200 series engines to visually inspect the engines. The operators are tasked with removing the fan hub if defects are found and replacing it with an airworthy part. Otherwise, the directive notes, failure of the fan hub could lead to an “uncontained release” of the hub, which could result in damage to the engine and the airplane.

The emergency AD was prompted by the uncontained engine failure which occurred on an EA GP7270 turbofan engine with 3,527 cycles since new, a relatively high use engine. The FAA specified that engines with 3500 cycles since new need to be inspected within two weeks. Engines with less than 3500 cycles since new need to be inspected within 5 weeks.

The GP7200 engines are reportedly in some 60% of the Airbus A380 superjumbos currently in service. Airlines operating the affected aircraft include Air France, Emirates (which operates nearly half of the world supply of A380s) Etihad Airways, Qatar Airways and Korean Air Lines. The airlines have so far not commented on how the inspections might affect their service.

Meanwhile, the FAA stated that it considers the AD “interim action” as “an investigation to determine the cause of the failure is on-going.”

As of now the A380 aircraft and the damaged engine are apparently still sitting in Labrador. Investigators are trying to deal with the “transport logistics” required to get the damaged engine back to a plant in Britain for examination while getting the damaged aircraft off the runway and back to Europe for repair and return to service.

(Michael Goldstein - Forbes)

Boeing’s Iran deals hang in the balance as Trump condemns nuclear accord

Boeing’s $8 billion order from Iran Air could be jeopardized if President Donald Trump’s declaration Friday reverses the slight thaw in dealings with Iran. If Boeing were to lose the entire order as relations deteriorate, the biggest hit would be to 777 production in Everett.

Boeing has plenty at stake as President Donald Trump condemns — without actually renouncing — the Iran nuclear deal.

Boeing has finalized one deal to sell 80 jets to Iran, worth an estimated $8 billion at standard prices, and it is negotiating others.

Its discussions with Iranian officials are conducted under two U.S. government licenses, the first allowing Boeing to initiate sales conversations and the second a specific license to nail down details of the agreement to sell the 80 jets to Iran Air.

That sale was finalized in December under the Obama administration, as was a parallel deal Airbus made with the same airline for 98 airplanes, plus another two jets sold indirectly. At the time, Boeing’s deal was the largest by an American company with Iran since the 1979 Iranian revolution and subsequent seizure of the U.S. Embassy there.

Iran’s fleet of some 250 airliners is badly in need of modernization — most planes were purchased before the revolution, and its airlines have been prone to accidents.

For Boeing and its archrival Airbus, that presents an immediate opportunity to win orders that could establish the nation’s airlines as long-term customers — if agreements aren’t torpedoed by political moves on either side.

Trump said Friday he “cannot and will not” certify the Iran nuclear deal is in America’s national-security interests, but he won’t withdraw from the landmark 2015 accord or immediately reimpose sanctions.

Noting Iran “is not living up to the spirit of the deal,” Trump also warned he would terminate the agreement unless its shortcomings are addressed.

Trump is kicking the issue over to Congress, asking lawmakers to come up with legislation that would automatically reimpose sanctions should Iran cross any one of numerous nuclear and non-nuclear “trigger points,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said in remarks released before Trump’s announcement.

Boeing’s Iran Air order — for 50 single-aisle 737 MAX 8s, 15 current model 777-300ER widebodies and 15 new model 777-9X widebodies, with deliveries supposed to begin next year — is worth about $8 billion after standard industry discounts, based on market-pricing data from aircraft-valuation firm Avitas. The Airbus order is worth about $8.7 billion.

Both deals are considered firm orders in commercial terms, meaning that Iran Air paid the two jet manufacturers the required initial deposit, which is typically 1 percent of the total list price. For the Boeing order, that would be about $170 million.

Airbus chose to book the sale at the end of 2016 and then rushed to deliver the first airplane, an A321, in January, just before Trump’s inauguration. Two A330s were subsequently delivered to Iran.

Boeing, because of the political uncertainty around the purchase as Trump came into office, chose not to formally add the deal to its order book. That allowed Airbus to win the order race last year, outselling Boeing by 63 airplanes.

Since then, both plane makers have continued to talk with Iranian airlines and have inked further tentative agreements.

At the Paris Air Show in June, Boeing announced an agreement with Iran’s Aseman Airlines to buy 30 single-aisle 737 MAXes. Airbus announced agreements with Iran’s Airtour Airline to buy 45 single-aisle A320neos and with Zagros Airlines to buy 20 A320neos and eight widebody A330neos.

If U.S. sanctions are reimposed, all these deals would be killed. Because Airbus jets contain more than 10 percent U.S. content, they too require a license from the U.S. Office of Foreign Asset Control to be sold internationally.

The future of all these jet sales remains very unclear, however.

The Iran nuclear deal specifically allowed Iran to unfreeze overseas financial assets and to buy commercial aircraft. If the deal is not killed completely, it’s even possible Congress could reintroduce limited sanctions that would leave intact the licenses to buy jets.

The fact that Trump did not impose any sanctions “is definitely good for both Boeing and Airbus,” said Douglas Harned, a Bernstein analyst who tracks Boeing.

Even without renewed sanctions, hurdles remain. Richard Aboulafia, an analyst with Teal Group, an aviation and defense consulting firm, said the Iranian airlines could yet have trouble financing their orders, partly because banks are unlikely to loan them money until Iran signs the Cape Town Agreement, an international treaty that includes provisions for repossessing capital assets like planes.

If Boeing were to lose the entire order, the biggest hit would be to 777 production in Everett.

Iran’s order for current model 777-300ERs would help fill a looming gap in production in 2019 that has already led Boeing to cut the 777 rate.

And the 777-9X portion of the order would help solidify the prospects of that new airplane, due to start delivery in 2020. The current order book for that plane is heavily dependent on the three large Gulf carriers, all of which have seen growth falter in the past year.

In a statement, Boeing said it will “remain in close touch with U.S. regulators for any additional guidance.”

“We continue to follow the U.S. government’s lead in all our dealings with approved Iranian airlines,” Boeing said.

(Dominic Gates - The Seattle Times)

Thursday, October 12, 2017

If Etihad and Emirates Hook Up, Will Airbus Be Biggest Loser?

That rumbling you hear is coming out of the Middle East, where a comment from an airline executive sent the rumor mill spinning. The comment came from Emirates president Tim Clark, who said in an interview with Reuters that the airline is open to cooperation with local competitor Etihad Airways. Clark added that a full merger was “unlikely” but up to the owners, which are for Emirates the government of Dubai and for Etihad, the Abu Dhabi government.

Was cold economic reality behind Clark’s eyebrow-raising “cooperation” statement? Emirates, which is already reportedly cutting some service, might benefit from consolidation. “Oil revenues haven’t flowed in that part of the world so the governments are tightening their belts”, says Seth Kaplan, managing partner of Airline Weekly. Whether the two airlines partner, cooperate or actually merge, he adds, “It’s something they need to consider; Etihad is not going to make money anytime soon.”

The three allegedly "massively-subsidized Gulf airlines" (Emirates, Etihad and Qatar) have been accused of violating the Open Skies agreement, which gives them access to the US market, reportedly receiving more than $50 billion in subsidies since 2004.

Etihad, whose reservation page includes a "Reserve chauffeur" button, hasn’t specifically commented on Emirates’ interest. But the airline, which reportedly had money-losing investments in Air Berlin and Alitalia, did say, "We constantly seek opportunities for innovative collaboration with other organizations, where it makes business and commercial sense.”

A combination might also cut down on overcapacity, while pilots, mechanics, and flight attendants already trained on particular aircraft operated by both airlines could be easily integrated into a merged carrier.

In addition, as Kaplan notes, Dubai World Central (DWC) when completed will be the world’s largest airport with an ultimate capacity of 160 million passengers and 12 million tons of cargo per annum. The new airport is in southwest Dubai, just an hour and a quarter from Abu Dhabi.

“Emirates has been struggling for the last few years. Etihad is an airline that has never been viable. There’s a very compelling case for consolidation; the reason not to do is is politics,” says Kaplan. “That’s a question for the highest level of Abu Dhabi’s government. You’ll lose non stop flights from Aub Dhai all over the world.”

Whatever arrangement Emirates and Etihad eventually agree to may have a cost to Airbus, particularly in relationship to its troubled A380 program. As Clark of Emirates noted, “There are many areas that the airlines could work together on like procurement.”

Etihad operates some 77 AirBus aircraft, including 10 A380-800s, the largest passenger planes in the world. Emirates operates some 98 of the giant A380s. So between them, the two airlines account for fully half of the 216 A380s delivered to date. (The third Gulf competitor, Qatar, has an additional 8 A380s.)

With cancellations up and the production line slowing, the consolidation that might help these airlines could end up being another nail in the coffin of the A380. As Kaplan puts it, “The A380 is such a troubled program. It’s clearly a financial disaster for them. It hasn’t sold well, it’s not what airlines wanted. You have to sell 500 seats profitably or not fly.”

Would nationalism, politics and pride prevent Abu Dhabi from merging its money-losing airline with Emirates? Perhaps. But as Kaplan notes, even the fabled wealth of the Gulf has its limits. After all, even after investing hundreds of millions of dollars, the government of Qatar shut down Al Jazeera America.
(Michael Goldstein - Forbes)

Jet Airways confirms order for 75 Boeing aircraft

Jet Airways said on Wednesday it had agreed to buy 75 Boeing 737 Max aircraft, and that it could purchase another 75 to help it expand in a booming Indian market.

Jet said in a statement that deliveries of the single aisle jets are expected to start in mid-2018. and a decision on adding an equal number of narrow-body aircraft "will be made over the coming few months".

An order for 75 737 MAX 10 jets would be worth as much as $9.3 billion based on list prices, although airlines typically get discounts for large orders.

Reuters reported in June that Jet, which is part owned by Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways, was in talks to buy either Boeing's 737 MAX planes or aircraft from Airbus SE's A320neo family.

Airlines in India have hundreds of aircraft on order as they look to tap into a market growing by nearly 20 percent a year thanks to rising incomes and low cost fares.

Jet Airways has the second largest market share in India behind InterGlobe Aviation's IndiGo.

(Tommy Wilkes - Reuters / Yahoo Business News)

Southwest Is Finally Going to Start Flying to Hawaii

Southwest Airlines Co. is finally going to start flying to Hawaii, and a top executive says ticket prices will get cheaper.

Flights to the state will begin next year or in 2019, the discount carrier said. The initial service will be from California, said Chief Revenue Officer Andrew Watterson, without elaborating on specific routes.

“We see prices higher than they need to be and we anticipate lowering fares,” Watterson said in an interview.

Southwest is adding Hawaii to its network -- after years of requests from travelers and employees -- with help from Boeing Co.’s upgraded 737. The latest version of the planemaker’s best-selling jet, the 737 Max, can fly farther and is more fuel efficient than older models. Southwest this month became the first North American airline to fly the new model.

“For us, it’s the perfect fit for Hawaii,” Watterson said. “The Max has got 14 percent better range and 14 percent better fuel burn” than the airline’s 737-800 planes.

A new reservation system that allows for more complicated itineraries and overnight trips is also allowing Southwest to add Hawaii flights. The Dallas-based airline in the coming weeks will begin seeking federal approval to operate its planes on extended over-water routes. That process typically takes about a year to 18 months and flights to Hawaii can’t begin until it’s completed.

Ticket Sales

Tickets will go on sale next year, Southwest said in a statement late Wednesday. Even if Hawaii flights start in 2018, they won’t alter fleet or capacity plans for the year, the company said.

Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International is dominated by Hawaiian Holdings Inc., carrying 56 percent of passengers at the state’s busiest airport, according to the U.S. Transportation Department. United Continental Holdings Inc. follows with 16 percent. Hawaiian also dominates Kahului, the second-busiest, with 51 percent.

Hawaiian fell 2.3 percent to $39.10 at 10:31 a.m. in New York, after tumbling 6 percent, the most intraday since Sept. 19. Southwest and United were little changed.

Hawaiian didn’t respond to a request for comment before normal business hours in Hawaii. United didn’t immediately comment.

‘Crowded Marketplace’

The new service will test whether Southwest, long known for short routes, can compete against larger carriers on flights that take more than five hours from the U.S.’s West Coast. While some rivals offer premium cabins with roomier seats, full meals and more legroom, Southwest’s no-frills service is all coach class. The carrier serves only snacks.

Starting in December, United plans to boost service on 11 routes between the U.S. mainland and Hawaii. The carrier is adding flights to the islands from its hubs in Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

“We don’t see Southwest having success in Hawaii due to an inferior product and an already crowded marketplace,” Hunter Keay, a Wolfe Research analyst, said in a note to clients this week, in which he speculated on potential service. “We expect Southwest will bleed margins here for a couple years before scaling back or exiting outright.”

Watterson said Southwest will be ready to compete for passengers flying in coach. The airline already adjusts snack offerings based on flight duration, such as its service from Oakland, California, to Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport. That route is longer than Oakland to Maui, Hawaii, said Watterson.

On other carriers, “most people won’t have lie-flat seats, most people won’t get a hot meal,” he said. “Most people are flying economy and our economy product is spot on.”

(Mary Schlangenstein - Bloomberg News)

Friday, October 6, 2017

Gulfstream G650 (c/n 6277) N277GA tbr N898CH

Captured at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) this morning (October 6, 2017) as she makes her way onto Rwy 30 to depart on a pre-delivery test flight.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Gulfstream G550 (c/n 5556) N550GA, ex N556GD

Rolls takeoff on Rwy 30 at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on October 5, 2017.

(Photos by Michael Carter)

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Boeing Roundup: Monarch bankruptcy… Bombardier-Boeing battle… Boeing 797 rumors

Chicago-based Boeing has operations around the country. Here are other recent stories reported by The Business Journals.

Monarch Airlines bankruptcy leaves big Boeing 737 Max order, services deal in limbo

Boeing customer Monarch Airlines of Great Britain sank into bankruptcy Monday, a failure that hits the Chicago-based commercial aircraft maker on two fronts. Before its collapse, Monarch had outstanding orders for 30 737 Max 8 jets — made at Boeing's Renton manufacturing complex — Boeing's orders and deliveries website shows.

A trade battle sparked by the Boeing Co. could send financial shockwaves through Bombardier Inc. that might be felt at the company’s Wichita Learjet facility.

Boeing's fiery fan Akbar Al Baker lets loose in Everett

There’s never a dull moment when Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker comes to town. Al Baker didn’t disappoint when he visited Everett to take delivery of his new Boeing 747-8F cargo jet this week.

CEO Kevin McAllister reacts to Boeing 797 rumors out of France

Boeing may formally unveil plans for the 797 widebody at the Dubai Air Show in November, AeroDefenseNews reported Thursday. Gulf airline Emirates could be the launch customer for the new mid-sized model, the French aerospace newsletter suggested, but it did not identify the source of its information.

Union concerned about 'continued erosion' of Washington jobs as Boeing invests $33M in Chinese facility

Boeing has invested $33 million in its 737 jet completion center in Zhoushan, China, and will have majority control of the new facility, according to The China Daily's English-language edition in Europe.

Boeing sealed a big sale with 'significant price concessions,' Chinese buyer says

One of Boeing's biggest deals at the Paris Air Show this summer was secured after offering "significant price concessions," the buyer said. Boeing and China Development Bank Aviation Lease Finance in June trumpeted the signature of a memorandum of understanding to buy 60 Boeing jets.

Bombardier: Preliminary duties from Boeing ruling ‘absurd and divorced from reality’

A preliminary ruling from the U.S. Commerce Department on Tuesday sided with the Boeing Co. in its price-dumping claim against Bombardier Inc., imposing a harsh 220 percent duty against the Canadian manufacturer on sales of its C Series passenger jet to U.S. airlines.

US backs Boeing in fight with Canada's Bombardier

The US has sided with Boeing in its war against Canada's Bombardier, imposing preliminary tariffs of up to 219 per cent on the smaller aircraft maker's sales into the US.

(I-Chun Chen - Chicago Business Journal)

Boeing Rolls Out Singapore Airlines' First 787-10 Dreamliner

Boeing has rolled out the first 787-10 Dreamliner built for Singapore Airlines at its Final Assembly facility in North Charleston, South Carolina.

The airplane will now undergo the painting of the airline's livery and begin its system checks, fueling, and engine runs. Singapore Airlines is due to take delivery of its first 787-10 in the first half of 2018 and will be operated on the airline's medium-haul routes.

Singapore Airlines is the launch customer of the 787-10 and currently has 30 airplanes on firm order. The airline also signed a letter of intent in February to purchase 19 additional 787-10s.

"Boeing is excited to have finished final assembly of the first 787-10 Dreamliner for Singapore Airlines," said Dinesh Keskar, senior vice president, Asia Pacific & India Sales, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "With its unprecedented efficiency, greater capacity and the Dreamliner's known preferred passenger experience, the 787-10 will be an important part of the airline's future fleet."

As an 18-foot (5.5-m) stretch of the 787-9, the 787-10 will deliver the 787 family's preferred passenger experience and long range with 25 percent better fuel per seat and emissions than the airplanes it will replace.

The 787 Dreamliner family offers a modern, optimized and efficient airplane family in every market segment. Since entering service in 2011, the 787 family has flown more than 190 million people on more than 560 unique routes around the world, saving an estimated 18 billion pounds of fuel.

(Business Insider / PR Newswire)

Boeing Is Going to Debut a Hybrid Airplane Within 5 years

Boeing and JetBlue have backed the Seattle startup Zunum Aero, which aims to reduce time and the cost of air travel.

Seattle-based startup Zunum Aero, which counts Boeing Co. and JetBlue Airways Corp. as investors, plans to bring a hybrid-electric airliner to market by 2022 in a bid to reduce time and the cost associated with air travel, Reuters reported.

Zunum's first two-motor electric model will seat up to 12 passengers. The batteries the plane uses will be electric-vehicle, such as those used by Tesla Inc. and Panasonic Corp. The plane is the first of several Zunum has in the pipeline.

The first aircraft will have two electric vehicle batteries plus a supplemental gas engine and electrical generator that can offer a range of 700 miles. Zunum has plans for a larger, 50-seat plane with a range of 1,000 miles to be built in the next decade.

The single-pilot planes Zunum is working on are designed to eventually fly completely on battery power. Eventually, the company wants to create aircraft that can be remotely piloted.

Zunum's current models cost about 8 cents per seat-mile, which is roughly one-fifth of what a typical small jet or turbo plane pays per seat-mile. The firm will reduce travel time by allowing passengers to fly from thousands of smaller regional airports, avoiding busy hubs used by large operators and the long security lines that go along with them.

(Kinsey Grant - The Street)

Boeing starts building first 737 Max 7

Boeing workers are now building components for the 737 Max 7, the third of five major variants planned for the re-engined narrow-body, the company announced on 4 October.

The first 19.8m (65ft) wing spar for the 737-7 entered Boeing’s production system this week at the Renton, Washington, factory complex. Entry into service is expected in January 2019 with launch operator Southwest Airlines, according to Flight Fleets Analyzer.

“The MAX 7 is an important piece of the MAX family, especially since it provides airlines with the most range of any new single-aisle airplane on the market,” says Keith Leverkuhn, Boeing’s vice-president and general manager for the 737 Max.

Featuring CFM International Leap-1B engines and Advanced Technology winglets, Boeing lists the 737-7 with a maximum range of 3,825nm (7,080km). With a list price of $90 million, seating capacity for the 737-7 ranges between 138 in a typical, two-class layout or up to 172 in a high-density, single-class configuration.

Although the 737 Max family overall has attracted more than 3,900 firm orders, demand for the 737-7 is significantly weaker despite a minor redesign last year that lengthened the fuselage.

The 737-7 has collected 65 firm orders from four customers, but Southwest and WestJet combine for 55. Canadian start-up Jetlines and Air Lease Corp split the orders for the remaining 10.

In addition to the 737-7, Boeing has already started delivering the 737-8. The 737-9 is scheduled to enter service next year, followed by the 737 Max 200 in 2019. The 737-10 is now scheduled to enter service in 2020.

(Stephen Trimble - FlightGlobal News)

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Mokulele Airlines makes its inaugural flight into Hollywood Burbank Airport

Passengers are greeted as they get off the inaugural Mokulele Airlines flight from Santa Maria to the Hollywood Burbank Airport, in Burbank on Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2017.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

It was a relatively average Tuesday morning at Hollywood Burbank Airport. Two planes, one from United Airlines and another from Southwest Airlines, landed on the runway and taxied to their respective terminals.

There was also a third aircraft — much smaller than the Boeing 737 and Embraer 175 planes that landed first — which touched down at Hollywood Burbank at about 10:55 a.m.

The smaller plane was a nine-seat Cessna Grand Caravan operated by Mokulele Airlines, which made its first-ever flight from Santa Maria Public Airport to Terminal B at Hollywood Burbank on Tuesday. The passengers, who were mostly officials from Santa Maria Public Airport, were greeted by local airfield staff who brought their guests a cake and colorful lei for the passengers and pilots.

Capt. Elissa Zavora, who was the pilot flying the Cessna, said the flight was great overall as it took them about an hour to fly from the Central Coast to Burbank.

“The passengers told me that we went over the [Ronald] Reagan Library,” Zavora said , adding that she didn’t have a chance to see a lot of the notable landmarks during the flight.

“We did go over the coast, and it was really nice. We passed through right over Santa Barbara and had the Channel Islands on our right and the beaches on the left,” she said.

Mokulele, which is based in Hawaii, is the newest airline to operate out of Hollywood Burbank. In 2016, the airline began offering its first stateside flights out of the Los Angeles International Airport to Santa Maria and Imperial County.

However, because of the recent construction at LAX and increasing operating costs there, Mokulele officials decided to switch operations to Hollywood Burbank.

“It’ll be easier to get in and out of [Hollywood Burbank] than it has been from Los Angeles,” Zavora said. “I like small airports and small communities because things are more tightknit, and it has a strong community feel.”

Mokulele is offering two daily flights to Santa Maria Monday through Friday and one weekend flight.

Chris Hastert, general manager of Santa Maria Public Airport, said it will be the first time his airfield and Hollywood Burbank have worked together and, so far, the coordination and cooperation have been good.

Hastert said there was some apprehension about Mokulele switching its operations from LAX to Hollywood Burbank, but the local airport’s recent passenger increases over the last year have him hopeful for a positive relationship between the two airfields.

“We have a lot of wine and other things in our region, so hopefully we can get some Burbank people up there,” Hastert said. “For our passengers traveling out [to Hollywood Burbank] with all the different airlines that are here, especially Southwest, and the ease of going through the terminals compared to L.A., we hope that that really does work very well with our passengers.”

(Anthony Clark Carpio- Los Angeles Times)

Gulfstream G650 (c/n 6296) N296GA

Captured arriving at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) as "GLF62" at 12:38 pst following a flight from the factory at Savannah-Hilton Head International Airport (SAV/KSAV) October 2, 2017.
(Photos by Michael Carter)

Five Years On, G650 Still 'Top of Market' Bizjet

G650 (c/n 6266) N606GA tbr B-3276 when delivered, returns to Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on August 6, 2017 following a pre-delivery test flight.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

More than 250 Gulfstream G650/650ERs have been delivered globally since the the G650 achieved FAA type certification five years ago, the Savannah, Georgia-based company said yesterday. When the ultra-long-range, wide-cabin business jet was launched in March 2008, it had one of business aviation’s most successful product launches, with more than 200 firm orders following the aircraft’s introduction.

With a nonstop range of 7,000 nm, the aircraft established a position at the top end of the business jet market, which it still retains today, according to industry experts. “Gulfstream leadership was prescient, identifying a ‘top of the market’ opportunity that they were uniquely positioned to seize,” said JetNet iQ managing director Rolland Vincent. “The G650 is a transformational aircraft for Gulfstream as it continues a multi-year transition to all-new platforms.”

Gulfstream president Mark Burns said, “The G650 set a new standard in business aviation” for its range and payload, low cabin-noise levels and four-zone cabin. “It has redefined what business jet operators could expect from their aircraft,” he said.

The G650 also is the fastest non-supersonic jet to circumnavigate the globe, having flown westbound around the world in a record-setting 41 hours and 7 minutes and claiming 22 city-pair speed records along the way. In total, the G650 and G650ER have set 65 city-pair records. The G650 also earned the 2014 Robert J. Collier Trophy.

“Many customers and prospects consider the Gulfstream brand and the G650 in particular to be aspirational,” concluded Vincent. “This is a powerful and formidable market position.”

(Chad Trautvetter - AINOline News)