Helvetic Airways completes the renewal of its Embraer aircraft fleet

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Swiss regional airline Helvetic Airways took delivery of its twelfth latest-generation Embraer E-Jet E2 aircraft on the 15 August. The arrival in Zurich of the carrier’s fourth Embraer E195-E2 concludes a fleet renewal programme that began in October 2019.

The latest arrival, which bears the registration HB-AZL, departed from Embraer’s headquarters in São José dos Campos in Brazil on Saturday and, after the usual intermediate stops in Natal and Las Palmas. The 9,900- kilometre delivery flight took some eleven-and-a-half hours. The addition of HB-AZL brings the all-Embraer Helvetic Airways fleet to 16 aircraft: eight E190-E2s seating 110 passengers, four E195-E2s accommodating 134 and four previous-generation E190-E1s, which will provide reserve and back-up capacity.

The arrival of HB-AZL, almost two years since the delivery of Helvetic Airways’ first E-Jet E2, concludes an ambitious fleet renewal programme with a total investment of almost US$750 million. “We are very satisfied with our new Embraer fleet,” says Helvetic Airways CEO Tobias Pogorevc. “They perfectly meet our needs in terms of their capacity, their range and their environmental credentials, which are all among our prime priorities. And we’re very proud that we now operate Europe’s quietest and most ecofriendly regional aircraft fleet. I would also like to congratulate our own people and everyone at our partner Embraer on the successful and on- schedule conclusion of what has been the biggest project in our company’s history.”

With the coronavirus pandemic bringing a more regional emphasis to air transport along with a trend towards the use of smaller aircraft types, Helvetic Airways is now ideally equipped both to provide reliable and cost-effective flight operations and to take full and fruitful advantage of the new opportunities that are currently offered in markets worldwide. Its new fleet additions also make Helvetic Airways one of the biggest Embraer E-Jet E2 operators in the world, and further strengthen its position as a Swiss-based regional airline both within Europe and beyond.

Helvetic Airways also holds purchasing rights for a further twelve Embraer E-Jet E2 aircraft. “But in view of the present pandemic and its repercussions,” says CEO Tobias Pogorevc, “we do not plan to exercise these in the near future.”

Certification within flight simulation

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The certification of a flight simulator, that is, its accreditation as a valid tool for the qualification of the education and training of pilots, consists of evidence in front of the regulatory body that its flight characteristics coincide, with a certain level of tolerance, with those of the aircraft it emulates.

The certification process is developed in a series of stages that goes from the design and manufacture to the start-up of the simulator. During this period, all the necessary documentation is generated, including user, procedures, and software and equipment version control manuals.
For example, a manufacturer of fixed-base FSTD (Flight Simulation Training Device) simulators such as Simloc must submit the following documentation, to complete certification:

  • FSTD Operation Manual
  • IOS Operation Manual
  • List of Malfunctions reproduced by the FSTD
  • FSTD Maintenance Manual
  • FSTD equipment list
  • FSTD Subjective Test Acceptance Manual
  • List of drawings of the FSTD installation

The procedure culminates with the preparation by the manufacturer of Qualification Test Guides (QTGs), where each of the simulator’s technical characteristics is specified and how its correct operation is tested and verified.
After carrying out objective and subjective tests on the device, the competent authority certifies, through a sealed report, that it complies with strict design and behavior standards in accordance with the class of aircraft it simulates

  • Certification Levels

There are different certification bodies with different levels. The best known are the North American FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and the European EASA(European Aviation Safety Agency). There are countries that are attached to one or the other, although they do not belong to those geographical regions. In Spain, AESA (Agencia Estatal de Seguridad Aérea) is the body in charge of the certification of national simulators, in close collaboration with EASA.
These would be the certification categories for EASA and FAA and their equivalences, from lowest to highest fidelity with respect to the simulated aircraft:

Therefore, BITD (Basic Instrument Training Device) and ATD (Aviation Training Device) simulators are very simple devices to become familiar with general aviation concepts, without complying with specific requirements of any aircraft or having a closed or simulated cockpit. In ATD there are two derivatives, the Basic (BATD) and the Advanced (AATD).
The complexity increases as the level of fidelity does when it is necessary for the simulator to fulfill general aspects of a certain class of aircraft. For example, the FNPT II (Flight Navigation Procedures Trainer) + MCC (Multi-Crew Coordination training) is required to have a complete and closed cabin, isolated from distractions from the outside, that complies with the type of engine and MTOM (Maximum Take-Off Weight) of the aircraft to be reproduced, as well as training procedures according to that type of aircraft. However, they are not required to be exactly the same as a particular aircraft.
FTD (Flight Training Device) simulators are devices that copy a specific aircraft model, so they must emulate both its behavior and its systems and procedures. The major difference between FTD 1 and FTD 2 is in the number of aircraft systems to be accurately reproduced. At this level, the manufacturer’s data is necessary to justify the behavior of the aircraft.

Finally, the FFS (Full Flight Simulator) simulators are the most faithful to the real aircraft, both in behavior, including movement, and in procedures and systems, with the FFS-D being the highest level. It is usually defined colloquially as an airplane on the ground since the behavior is imitated by all the information that the manufacturer of the real airplane has on flight tests and engineering to obtain the certificate of airworthiness of the authentic airplane. As a result, these simulators are registered and, many of them, use avionics and control knobs of the aircraft that they reproduce.

  • Where is the Certification done?

Unlike cars, for example, which pass only one homologation per model, simulators must be certified one by one and when installed and operating at the operator’s final location. They must be evaluated as a whole, being included in both the hardware and software elements and any change of any of them must be notified. Safety factors, such as right-of-way around the motion system, are also monitored.
The authorities allow certain objective and subjective tests to be carried out at the manufacturer’s facilities, but the definitive tests must be done at the operator’s facilities to confirm that no changes have been made to its specifications and performance during the transportation of the simulator.

  • The power of Certification

A certified simulator guarantees correct and realistic training in relation to the aircraft category or model for which a flight license is being obtained or refresher courses are being taken. Obtaining the certification confirms that the training is adequate for the student or pilot since the procedures have been approved and comply with flight safety criteria and recommendations issued by regulatory authorities, such as ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization).
Ultimately, a certified simulator is necessary for students to cover the simulator hours required to obtain flight licenses and for licensed pilots to validate their recurring training hours.

By Jaime Valle and Andrés Barroso | Simloc

Helvetic Airways welcomes its first Embraer E195-E2

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Helvetic Airways is about to take delivery of its first Embraer E195-E2. The aircraft, registered HB-AZI, is scheduled to arrive at Zurich Airport on 25 June. The Embraer E195-E2 is the largest aircraft in the Embraer E-Jet E2 family. Three further E195-E2s will be delivered to Helvetic Airways by the end of July. Their arrival will conclude on schedule a fleet renewal programme at the Swiss regional carrier which began in October 2019.

Swiss regional airline Helvetic Airways officially took possession of the first of its four new Embraer E195-E2s, the biggest aircraft in the Embraer E-Jet E2 programme, today. The transfer of ownership took place in Saõ José dos Campos, the headquarters of the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer. The event was a virtual affair, owing to the current coronavirus situation.

“With the delivery of the first of our four new Embraer E195-E2s, our fleet renewal is on plan to be completed by the end of July,” said Tobias Pogorevc, CEO of Helvetic Airways, at the delivery media conference today. “The structural changes in the demand for air travel that have emerged in recent months vindicate the strategic choices we made back in 2018,” Pogorevc continued. “With Embraer we have both the right types of aircraft and the right industry partner. Helvetic Airways now operates an optimal fleet mix in terms of capacity and sustainability. And as one of the leading E-Jet E2 operators in the world, Helvetic Airways will now be able to further strengthen its role as a Swiss airline in the European sky.”

“With the new E195-E2, Helvetic Airways is building further on its reputation as one of the most environmentally committed airlines in Europe,” added Arjan Meijer, President & CEO of Embraer Commercial Aviation. “Not only does this aircraft consume 25% less fuel than its predecessor: its noise footprint is also 65 per cent smaller. So it’s great news for airport region communities.”

HB-AZI is scheduled to leave Embraer’s headquarters in São José dos Campos tomorrow (Thursday), with stopovers in Natal and Las Palmas before arriving in Switzerland on Friday. The delivery flight is expected to cover some 9 900 kilometres with a flight time of approximately 11.5 hours.

Compared with the previous generation of Embraer E195s, the E2 has a reduced fuel consumption of 25% per seat, saving almost 3 000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per aircraft per year. Nitrogen oxide (NOX) emissions have also been cut by 30%. This outstanding environmental performance is made possible by the aircraft’s highly aerodynamic wing design and its latest-generation Pratt & Whitney engines. Its addition of four E195-E2s will make Helvetic Airways one of Europe’s leading Embraer E-Jet E2 operators, as well as one of the continent’s most sustainable airlines. The E2 further offers major benefits for local residents in Switzerland and at international airports: according to EASA’s certification figures, the E2 is 15 EPNdB quieter than its predecessor, which translates into a noise footprint reduction of 65%.

With its fleet of four Embraer E190-E1s, eight E190-E2s and very soon four E195-E2s, Helvetic Airways will possess the optimal aircraft mix to perform its mission in Switzerland and Europe effectively and efficiently. The current crisis has accelerated a regionalisation of air transport and a downsizing of aircraft. With their capacities of between 110 and 134 passenger seats, the Swiss carrier has the right aircraft to operate reliably and economically, and also to take full advantage of all the new opportunities in a post-pandemic market.

The new Helvetic Airways Embraer E195-E2 will be deployed primarily to destinations within Europe. HB-AZI is scheduled to make its first commercial flight on Saturday 10 July, from Basel to the Greek island of Santorini (flights 2L 306 and 2L 307).

Stobart Air ceases trading

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UK officials have set in place contingency plans after Stobart Air, which operates a string of short-haul and services on behalf of Aer Lingus, British Airways and KLM, ceased trading and called in liquidators.

The collapse of the regional carrier has left thousands of passengers at risk of being stranded with a host of scheduled trips being cancelled.

British Airways and Aer Lingus have stated that they are to operate the services directly instead.

Stobart Air was part of London-listed Esken, an aviation and energy business that was previously called Stobart Group. It operated Aer Lingus regional services between Belfast, Leeds Bradford, Edinburgh, Exeter, Manchester, East Midlands, and Birmingham, as well as flights from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Manchester and Newquay to Dublin and Irish domestic routes from the capital to Donegal and Kerry.

Prior to the pandemic, Stobart Air also ran services for BA CityFlyer from London City Airport, and KLM Cityhopper from Amsterdam. The carrier had picked up several routes following the collapse of Flybe, Europe’s biggest regional airline, in March 2020.

Esken put Stobart Air up for sale in the hope of offloading expensive aircraft leasing contracts costing the group tens of millions of pounds.

A deal was struck in April to sell the airline for a nominal £2 to Ettyl, a start-up led by 26-year-old Isle of Man Bitcoin investor Jason Scales. Recently however, it was revealed in the UK press that police had been alerted to potential irregularities relating to the takeover. This followed an announcement by Esken that Mr Scales’ financing had fallen through.

Boeing and Alaska Airlines team up to make flying safer and more sustainable

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Boeing and Alaska Airlines have announced they are partnering on the latest Boeing ecoDemonstrator program and will flight test about 20 technologies on a new 737-9 to enhance the safety and sustainability of air travel.

In flights beginning this summer, Boeing and Alaska will test a new halon-free fire-extinguishing agent that significantly reduces effects on the ozone layer, evaluate an engine nacelle designed to reduce noise and assess cabin sidewalls made from recycled material, among other projects.

“We have a long history of working with Boeing to advance aviation technology, safety and fuel efficiency,” said Diana Birkett Rakow, Alaska Airlines’ Vice President, public affairs, and sustainability. “Alaska Airlines flies to some of the most beautiful and geographically diverse regions in the world and we are committed to finding ways to reduce climate impacts across our network. This work with Boeing to accelerate innovation on the ecoDemonstrator programme enables us to contribute to a more sustainable future for our global community.”

Since 2012, the ecoDemonstrator program has accelerated innovation by taking nearly 200 promising technologies out of the lab and testing them in the air to address challenges for the aviation industry and improve the passenger experience.

“Boeing is committed to continually improve air safety and the environmental performance of our products,” said Stan Deal, Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO. “We’re proud to collaborate with our hometown customer and other partners around the world this year to make flying more sustainable.”

In five months of ecoDemonstrator flight tests, Boeing and Alaska will work with nine other partners to test new technologies. After tests are complete, the airplane will be configured for passenger service and delivered to Alaska. The program’s technologies include:

  • Testing a new fire extinguishing agent for aircraft that significantly reduces effects on the ozone layer. This material is intended to replace Halon 1301, which is no longer being produced.
  • Collaborating with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to measure greenhouse-gas levels in the atmosphere to support the agency’s climate modelling and long-term forecasting.
  • Evaluating acoustic lining concepts within the engine nacelle that may reduce noise on current engines and will inform designs for next-generation models.
  • Recycling carbon composite material from Boeing 777X wing production into a cabin sidewall panel. This durable, light material would reduce fuel use and carbon emissions, and supports Boeing’s goals for sustainable manufacturing.

Boeing’s current and future airplanes leverage several technologies evaluated in previous ecoDemonstrator testing, including:

  • Advanced Technology winglets on the 737 MAX family that reduce fuel use and emissions.
  • iPad apps that provide real-time weather and other data to pilots, improving fuel efficiency and reducing CO2 These apps complement digital analytics services Boeing offers to help airlines optimize fleet utilization.
  • A camera system on the new 777X that will enhance safety by helping pilots avoid obstacles on the ground.

“Boeing put additional emphasis on sustainability in 2020 to align with our stakeholder and business priorities as well as our values,” Boeing Chief Sustainability Officer Chris Raymond said. “Through our collaboration with industry partners, the ecoDemonstrator programme is a great example of our commitment to work together to make flying safer and more sustainable for current and future generations.”

ecoDemonstrator test flights are flown on a blend of petroleum-based and sustainable aviation fuel. SAF is in regular use today, reduces life-cycle CO2 emissions by up to 80%, and offers the most immediate and greatest potential to reduce emissions over the next 20 to 30 years in all commercial aviation markets.

In January this year, Boeing committed to make sure its commercial airplanes are capable and certified to fly on 100% SAF by 2030. The company also plans to work with regulatory authorities and across the industry to raise the current 50% blending limit for expanded use of SAF. Boeing’s 2018 ecoDemonstrator 777 Freighter made history as the world’s first commercial airliner to fly on 100% sustainable fuel.

Airbus intends to return production to pre-pandemic levels

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Airbus has said it would increase production of its A320neo to 64 aircraft per month by the second quarter of 2023. It is even more than the average output in 2019.

The leading plane maker also asked its supply chain to adjust operations to allow a further rise to 70 aircraft in 2024.

“The aviation sector is beginning to recover from the COVID-19 crisis,” said chief executive Guillaume Faury.

Although many airlines still do not find themselves financially viable, Airbus looks ahead and predicts the commercial aircraft market to reach pre-pandemic levels between 2023 and 2025, led by single-aisle planes that usually carry 200-250 passengers.

However, in regard to A350 production, no drastic changes can be seen here. Airbus intends to increase it from five to six, but there is no clarity about the timing. Supposedly, it would start by autumn 2022.

Flight diversion of Ryanair FR4978 by Belarus regime sparks international outrage

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The diversion of a Ryanair flight by the Belarusian regime to arrest a journalist has drew condemnation by western nations. Many of these nations have called for sanctions. Several European airlines have chosen to avoid Belarus’ airspace.

On 23 May, an armed Belarusian MiG-29 Fulcrum fighter jet intercepted Ryanair’s Boeing 737, registered SP-RSM, operating flight FR4978 from Athens, Greece, to Vilnius, Lithuania. 126 passengers and six crew members were on board the airliner. The interception was launched due to an alleged a bomb threat on the aircraft. The 737 was escorted to carry out an emergency landing at Minsk National Airport (MSQ) in the capital city of Belarus.

At the time of the diversion, the aircraft was 72km away from Vilnius, its destination, and 30km from the Lithuanian border. Despite the alleged urgency of the bomb threat, Belarus authorities preferred to divert to Minsk, 183km away. Other Belarusian airports were also closer, such as Grodno Airport as a point of diversion.

When the plane landed in Minsk, two passengers were detained by the KGB, the Belarusian security services. They were identified as Roman Protasevich and his partner Sofia Sapega, a student. Protasevich is a Belarusian journalist, co-founder, and former editor-in-chief of the Nexta information channel.

Nexta was particularly active during the recent protests in Belarus which started in May 2020, following the sixth reelection of President Alexander Lukashenko. According to the exiled opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Protasevich may face the death penalty in Belarus, the last European country to apply such sentence.

Other passengers reported being searched and detained for seven hours. The plane departed from Minsk and landed in Vilnius later in the evening of 23 May, where it was met by Lithuanian authorities. Roman Protasevich was not on board.

Breeze Airways all set for take-off

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Breeze Airways will begin its inaugural service on the 27 May with flights between Charleston, South Carolina; Tampa, Florida; and Hartford, Connecticut. Airline entrepreneur David Neeleman’s latest low-fare startup, unveiled its debut network on 21 May consisting of 39 nonstop routes between 16 cities in the Southwest, Midwest, Southeast, and Eastern US.

“These 16 cities are just the beginning for Breeze,” said Neeleman. “The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the nation’s air service have meant many secondary markets and smaller cities have seen a significant reduction in flights. There are so many city pairs needing nonstop service around the country; we have a further 100 cities under consideration. Flying nonstop, Breeze will get you there in half the time, but also for about half the price.”

Friday’s unveiling marks the start of Neeleman’s fifth airline start-up, after JetBlue, Brazil’s Azul, Canada’s WestJet, and Utah-based Morris Air. Headquartered in Salt Lake City, Breeze will concentrate its flight operations at four main airports: Tampa, Florida; Charleston, South Carolina; New Orleans; and Norfolk, Virginia.

The new airline plans to operate 13 single-class Embraer E-Jets this summer, flying routes with an average flight time of under two hours. Ten E190s jets leased from Nordic Aviation Capital will seat 108 passengers and the three ex-Azul E195s will seat 118.

AerFin officially launches its Engine MRO Lite service

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AerFin has announced the launch of Engine MRO Lite, a scope of leading engine MRO services from its 100,000 sq ft CAA/EASA & FAA approved facility in Caerphilly.

Focussed on optimising engine residual value to provide efficient and sustainable solutions, this new service offers a range of in-house and off-wing engine maintenance solutions, including quick-turn services, hospital shop repairs and engine transitions across CF34-8, CFM56-5 & 7 and RB211-524 platforms.

The MRO facility, which recently achieved its approved Repair Stations accreditation by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAR 145) is complete with OEM engine line tooling, a 10-tonne gantry overhead crane and has the capacity to store up-to 55 fan engines.

Director of Operations, Simon Bayliss, said: “We are looking forward to offering new and existing customers our innovative engine maintenance solutions by offering them quick access to engine maintenance services through our hospital/quick-turn activity, enabling operators to maximise liquidity of their assets and optimize their fleets readiness.”

Bob James, CEO, added: “The launch of our Engine MRO Lite services is a fantastic opportunity to further strengthen our relationships with airlines, lessors and MROs and will help us to build substantially on our ability to deliver cost-effective sustainable solutions to the aviation industry.”

Take off for new Icelandic LCC PLAY

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PLAY, a new bright red, low-cost, Icelandic airline has launched today, with flights from London Stansted to Iceland.

Iceland, which features on the UK’s green travel list, makes for a desirable holiday destination for Brits all year round. Since March 2021, volcanic activity has been ongoing on Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula, located just 30 minutes from the airport. Trips to view the eruptions will be a must-see for those travelling to Iceland from the UK this summer.

Mr Birgir Jónsson, CEO of PLAY says, “It’s brilliant to be able to open up Iceland to UK travellers and offer competitive fares now that international travel has resumed. While the UK market knows Iceland well, the destination has changed a little recently with the (minor) volcanic eruptions in the Reykjanes Peninsula. Certainly, a must-experience for UK travellers.”

PLAY will operate direct flights to Iceland from London Stansted Airport, with flights operating four times a week on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays, with the aim of introducing daily flights in the future. The inaugural flight is scheduled to depart London Stansted at 16.10 on Thursday 24 June, arriving in Iceland at 18.20.

“We are looking forward to providing safe effortless travel, and great value, as we bring low fares to people in the UK.” Jónsson adds.

The PLAY fleet will comprise three Airbus A321neo aircraft, each with 192 economy seats. The first aircraft, TF-AEW, commences operation on 24 June. The second and third will be delivered in July.