SkyCourier completes initial wind tunnel testing

By General News

Initial wind tunnel testing on the new twin-engine Cessna SkyCourier turboprop has been completed, according to manufacturer Textron Aviation.

Results from the comprehensive tests will provide performance and aerodynamic characteristics and structural load data, helping to further finalise the aircraft design.

Brad Thress, senior vice-president, engineering, said the company used a custom, precision model with electric motors and scaled propellers calibrated to represent the thrust produced by the real aircraft in the testing. “We’re making outstanding progress in the development of this clean-sheet aircraft and are eager to continue defining the details that will allow us to start creating tools and parts,” he added.

The Cessna SkyCourier was launched in November last year, with the company saying it has seen “tremendous interest from operators looking for a modern solution in the large twin-utility space. As part of the aircraft’s design development, the company is garnering feedback from its Customer Advisory Board – empowering operators to affirm what customers need in this segment.”

The flexibility and mission potential for the aircraft is attractive to “a wide variety of operators,” said Thress. “The feedback we’re gathering from the CAB is extremely important as we develop an aircraft that is reliable, efficient and meets the diverse requirements of an array of mission profiles.”

The first flight of the SkyCourier is planned for next year, with entry into service during 2020. The 19-passenger variant will include crew and passenger doors for smooth boarding, as well as large cabin windows. Both configurations will offer single-point pressure refuelling to enable faster turnarounds.

It will be powered by two wing-mounted Pratt & Whitney PT6A-65SC turboprop engines and operated with Garmin G1000 NXi avionics.


KLM UK lines up BA CityFlyer

By General News

KLM UK Engineering has sealed an extension to its line maintenance agreement with BA CityFlyer.

The AFI KLM E&M subsidiary specialises in regional and narrow-body aircraft maintenance on the Boeing 737, Embraer 170/190, BAe146/Avro RJ, Fokker 70/100 and Airbus A320 Family. The company said it reached agreement to increase the level of line maintenance support it is providing to the regional subsidiary of British Airways.

The carrier, now up and running for 11 years, operates a fleet of 21 Embraer 76-seat ERJ170s and 98-seat ERJ190s out of London City Airport, where it says it is now the largest operator serving 26 destinations.

Alan Lawson, line maintenance manager at the Norwich-based contractor, said: “KLM UK is delighted to continue its working relationship with BA CityFlyer at its Edinburgh line station and look forward to many more years of working together.”


SpiceJet’s $12.5 Bn engine deal with CFM

By General News

A US$12.5 billion deal has been signed by low-fare airline SpiceJet and CFM International that finalises the purchase of LEAP-1B engines for the Indian carrier’s incoming fleet of 155 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.

The agreement also covers spare engines to support the twin-engine fleet, as well as a 10-year Rate per Flight Hour (RPFH) agreement with CFM Services that covers all the engines powering SpiceJet’s MAX aircraft. Under the terms of the agreement, CFM guarantees maintenance costs for all the airline’s LEAP-1B engines on a pay-by-the-hour basis.

“We are looking forward to introducing the new LEAP-1B into our fleet,” said Ajay Singh, chairman and managing director at SpiceJet. “The CFM56 engines we currently operate have been a highly valued asset for us over the years. From what we have seen so far, the LEAP-1B is living up to its promises for efficiency and reliability. We hope they provide us unmatched service reliability while keeping our costs in check to ensure profitable operations.”

Philippe Petitcolin, CEO of CFM’s parent company Safran, added: “It has been exciting to watch this airline grow over the years and we believe it has a very bright future. We are proud to be such a big part of the SpiceJet team over the long term.” CFM is a joint venture between Safran and GE Aviation.

The deal was confirmed during French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent visit to India, where he met with Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.

SpiceJet currently operates a fleet of 38 CFM56-7B-powered next-generation B737 family aircraft, as well as 22 Bombardier Q400s, and operates more than 40 average daily flights to 52 destinations.

India is forecast to need 1,750 new passenger and cargo aircraft (valued at approximately $255 billion) over the next 20 years, with single-aisle aircraft representing the bulk of deliveries (1,320), according to Airbus. The country’s aircraft demand rate is almost twice the global average.


Embraer’s 2017 deliveries dip but E190-E2 arrival nears

By General News

Brazil’s Embraer delivered a total of 101 commercial and 109 executive aircraft (72 light and 37 large) in 2017, meeting the company’s guidance for the year in aircraft deliveries.

The manufacturer, due to make a milestone delivery of its first E190-E2 aircraft to launch customer Widerøe next month, delivered 23 commercial and 50 executive aircraft (32 light and 18 large) in the fourth quarter of last year. The figures overall are slightly down on the previous year, when a total of 32 commercial jets and 43 executive jets (25 light and 18 large) were delivered in 4Q16 and 108 commercial jets and 117 executive jets (73 light and 44 large) delivered for the full year 2016.

In the fourth quarter of 2017 Embraer sealed a number of firm orders, including one from US carrier SkyWest for 20 E-jets, made up of 15 E175 SC (Special Configuration) aircraft, in a 70-seat configuration, and five E175s in a 76-seat configuration.

In December it also celebrated the delivery of its 1,400th E-Jet to American Airlines, which will be operated by Envoy Air, a wholly owned subsidiary of American Airlines Group Inc.

Considering all deliveries and firm orders obtained during the period, Embraer’s firm order backlog decreased US$500 million during 4Q17 to end the year at $18.3 billion. The value of the firm order backlog in its commercial aviation division at the end of 2017 was $13.4 billion.

Regarding its E-Jets E2 development programme, the manufacturer says it remains on schedule and on budget, with the first E190-E2 for Widerøe of Norway due to be delivered on 4 April.


COMAC pushing on with C919 programme

By General News

COMAC (Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China) has confirmed its first C919 prototype aircraft has now logged nearly 36 hours over the course of 13 flight tests so far.

Since making its first cross-country flight to Yanliang last November, aircraft AC101 has been fitted with water weight tanks, a trailing cone and other flight test equipment. The manufacturer’s aim is to have six of the flying testbeds built and in the air during the course of this year and into 2019.

The second narrow-body prototype undertook its maiden flight late last year, while the third is due to start flying later this year.

The other three are expected to join the fleet during the course of 2019, with the schedule still to achieve airworthiness certification in 2020, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). However, that schedule could well slip into 2021, the year it is also due to make its first domestic delivery.

The aircraft manufacturer has orders and commitments for 815 C919s so far from 28 customers. The 150-seater’s first deliveries will be to China Eastern, with the delivery date already some five years behind its original programme schedule.

COMAC is committed to producing between 20 and 50 C919s annually, raising this to 150 per year dependent on demand.


Sky Express expands Greek network

By General News

Greek regional carrier Sky Express is expanding its domestic network this summer with the addition of four new domestic destinations.

Alexandroupolis, Kefalonia, Lesvos and Samos will all benefit from twice-daily flights from the Greek capital Athens, with Athens-Alexandroupolis and Athens-Kefalonia routes starting in May and the Athens-Mytilini (Lesvos) and Athens-Samos routes starting in July. The Athens-headquartered airline currently serves 28 destinations.

Sky Express CEO, Harry Botsaris, said the airline was on a mission “to expand its presence and strengthen even more its position in the Greek aviation market.”


Fiji Link lands latest Viking Twin Otter

By General News

Fiji domestic carrier Fiji Link has taken delivery of its third new Viking DHC6-400, increasing its Twin Otter fleet to four.

The operator has an option to order another of the type and will decide on this at a later stage. The airline has three Series 400 and one Series 300 Twin Otters in its fleet.

Fiji Link, formerly known as Pacific Sun, is based at Nadi International Airport and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Fiji Airways. Andre Viljoen, managing director and CEO at Fiji Airways, said: “All our aircraft, even the smallest, have a strategic and significant contribution to our airline and its success. Our investment in the new Twin Otter fleet is part of our Group’s fleet modernisation programme. Brand new aircraft mean increased operating efficiencies, frequencies, and capacity to our network, and better customer experience for our guests.”

The carrier operates Twin Otter aircraft domestically from Nadi and Suva to Rotuma, Lakeba, Kadavu, Cicia, Vanuabalavu, Taveuni, Koro and Savusavu, as well as regionally to the Pacific Island nations of Tonga, Samoa, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. Its fleet also includes ATR 72-600 and ATR 42-500 aircraft.


Firnas Airways nearing take-off

By General News

Nascent regional airline Firnas Airways is working its way towards a formal launch, with the third quarter of this year targeted for its initial start-up.

The carrier is initially planning to offer short-haul charter services in Europe using a leased 19-seater BAE Jetstream 31 turboprop. It is presently “busy working on its regulatory check-list and securing the necessary finance to formally launch what will be the UK’s newest independent regional airline,” it stated.

An aircraft painted in its colour scheme was presented to interested potential investors last month. “Our investment programme is on schedule and going extremely well,” said founder CEO Kazi Rahman.

The plan is eventually for Firnas to fill a niche in the sub 50-seat aircraft category. The company says it has identified “unserved and under-served smaller airports with strong catchments, in phase one of its business,” and flagged up regional airports including London Oxford, London Southend, Waterford and Isle of Man Ronaldsway.

“We are building a community airline where our investors will help us choose where we fly,” added Rahman. He went on to say that research over the past 18 months has revealed “a notable gap in the 19-seat market, especially in charter, which is where we will start, before moving into regular, scheduled flights. We will start path-finding regional routes with up to two Jetstream 31s, building up to move into bigger 50-seaters.”

“Today’s regional airlines have matured into 70-seat aircraft. Scheduled services have diminished notably in favour of ACMI, sub-charter work for bigger airlines so there is a gap in the market,” commented John Brayford, managing director.

The company, registered in 2014, is raising capital under the UK’s fully HMRC-endorsed Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) and Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and seeking ‘angel investors’ via the Eureeca equity crowd-funding platform.


Record February traffic for WestJet

By General News

WestJet has reported record traffic results for February 2018, with a load factor of 86.4% representing an increase of 1.2 percentage points year-over-year.

Revenue Passenger Miles (RPMs) increased 6.1% year-over-year, while capacity (measured in Available Seat Miles) grew 4.6% over the same period.

The airline flew a record 1.9 million passengers in February, a year-over-year increase of 6.5% or approximately 120,000 additional guests.

WestJet also provided an update to the first quarter RASM (Revenue per Available Seat Miles) and Domestic capacity outlook, which it said is “driven by the compounding effect of significant weather events across the country.”

The airline expects year-over-year RASM growth for the first quarter of 2018 of up 2.5 to 3.5% and Domestic capacity of up 5.5 to 6.5%, this is down from previous guidance of up 4.5 to 5.5% and 7.5 to 8.5% respectively.

In a statement the airline wrote: “WestJet experienced twenty-five days of irregular operations in the first two months of 2018 with January representing the single highest month over the past four years.

“The severity and length of weather events limited options for guest recovery, reduced revenues from providing WestJet guests with atonement, drove higher guest cancellations and impacted the ability to capture revenue from last minute high-yield bookings.”

This week’s LARA countdown video content

By General News

LARA COUNTDOWN provides a convenient summary of our top 5 recent headlines for our followers. Check out this week’s video which looks at Cobalt Air becoming an IATA member, China Southern Airlines’ debut A321neo, Ryanair’s recent Glasgow International base closure plans, a new partnership between HK Express and Dohop, and TrueNoord’s fistful of E190s for Cityhopper:


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