Collins Aerospace announces facility expansions in Fort Worth, Spokane and Pueblo

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Collins Aerospace Systems has announced its plan to invest in the developments of landing system facilities in Fort Worth, Spokane and Pueblo.

An increase in the demand for wheels, brakes and landing gear has led to a growth in the company’s Landing Systems business. The investment will lead to the creation of more than 100 jobs. In Forth Worth, it plans to provide MRO support for numerous Embraer ERJ 135/145 operators including Envoy. The new location “will be better positioned to support these customers’ needs.”

In Spokane, Washington, there are plans in the process to expand the current carbon brake manufacturing facility by 50%, creating 50 new jobs. 2021 will see the expansion of three more buildings.

A similar expansion in Pueblo, Colorado will also provide the community with work, adding 40,000 square feet to the existing site. This project began in 2015 and is due to be completed next year.

The new wheel and brake maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility in Fort Worth will be combined with the current landing gear operations run by Collins Aerospace. These adaptions are expected to bring the company closer to airline customers in the region.

“We are committed to investing in our business to better serve our customers,” commented Ajay Mahajan, VP, Landing Systems at Collins Aerospace.

Editor’s comment: Flights, flaws and the MAX again

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It appears that barely a week goes by when, yet another story related to Boeing’s troubled 737 MAX makes the headlines. This is not the first time I have visited the subject, and I doubt it will be the last before the type re-enters widespread commercial service again. The latest incident to hit the MAX series follows a new software flaw that was discovered when a MAX was put through a series of manoeuvres during a recent flight test by Boeing pilots.

The latest issue relates to an indicator light in the cockpit which illuminates if there’s any kind of issue with the aircraft’s trim system. This advises the pilots to either lower or raise the nose of the aircraft, according to an unnamed source.

According to the aircraft manufacturer the light was turning on when it wasn’t meant to do so. “We are incorporating a change into the 737 MAX software prior to the fleet returning to service to ensure that this indicator light only illuminates as intended,” read a statement by Boeing.

It’s presumed that this minor issue will not delay the aircraft’s return to service, and operators have been made aware of the issue.

But, during the last few months, several issues have also been discovered on the jet. The first was a wiring issue that could have resulted in a short circuit and subsequently render the pilots unable to control the horizontal stabiliser of the MAX. A second issue was related to the onboard flight computers. When powered up, they check for any issues on the jet and the software glitch prevented them from running any kind of safety diagnostic.

At the end of January, Boeing issued an update to their estimated 737 MAX schedule, within this was an extended deadline of when the jet would return to commercial service – now pencilled in for mid-2020. It marks a major revision to Boeing’s original schedule which initially presumed the type to be back in the air at the end of 2019. This proved to be far too optimistic and this latest date shows signs of Boeing’s more cautious and conservative approach to the entire MAX issue.

Airbus CALC

Airbus reports 274 net orders in January

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Airbus CALC

Airbus recorded net orders for 274 commercial aircraft across its A220, A320 and A350 XWB product lines in January.

Airbus’ gross order total – before cancellations – was for 296 aircraft by the end of January. During this month, 31 deliveries were made from the A220, A320, A330 and A350 XWB families. The new business in January raised Airbus’ overall order total, since the company’s creation to 20,382 commercial aircraft.

The single-aisle business was led by two transactions with Spirit Airlines and the US-based Air Lease Corporation. Spirit Airlines finalised its purchase for 100 A320neo Family aircraft, involving 47 A319neo, 33 A320neo and 20 A321neo versions. Air Lease Corporation’s order for 102 aircraft consisted of 50 A220-300s, 25 A321neo and 27 A321XLRs (making the lessor a new customer for the extra-long-range version).

Other single-aisle transactions included orders from the Philippine-based low-cost airline Cebu Pacific for five A320neo aircraft and 10 A321XLRs, and the flag carrier of the Republic of Senegal, Air Senegal for eight A220-300s.

During the month, China Aircraft Leasing Group Holdings Limited (CALC) signed a purchase agreement for 40 A321neo aircraft, and BOC Aviation Limited also placed a firm order for 20 A320neo aircraft.

In this month, there were two repeat customers for widebody orders in the A350-900 configurations; Air France for 10 and Air Lease Corporation for one aircraft.

January single-aisle deliveries consisted of 26 A320 Family aircraft as well as two A220s. Additionally, three widebody aircraft (comprising two A350 XWBs in the A350-900 configuration and one A330neo) were delivered. The backlog of aircraft still to be delivered by the end of the month totalled 7,725.

Mitsubishi’s Spacejet stalls again

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A new delay has impacted Mitsubishi’s Spacejet programme, which means complete type certification for the jet won’t be completed this year. The Japanese aircraft manufacturer now says it can’t give a date as to when the aircraft will enter service, until a modified test aircraft has been fully prepared to start test flights in the US, later this year.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) revealed the sixth delay to the programme following a quarterly financial briefing. A spokesman for MHI said that the decision to push back the type certification follows multiple additional design changes to the 76-seat aircraft. He said that Mitsubishi now has “a baseline certifiable design that will allow us to achieve certification” while adding that “as we gain clarity as to the impact of these changes, it has become clear that we will not achieve certification in FY2020.”

It was in early 2017, Mitsubishi delayed the first of the aircraft that was then designated the MRJ90 from mid-2018 to mid-2020. This was due to revisions to the aircraft’s software in order to meet the revised certification requirements. The revised 2020 date means that the airliner is now seven years behind the original service entry date, which was set back when the programme first launched in 2008.

To date the only confirmed customer for the jet is Japan’s All Nippon Airways.

Airbus A320 almost shot down over Syria

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An Airbus A320 belonging to Syrian operator Cham Wings was forced to make an emergency landing due to Israeli airstrikes in Syria. The airliner inadvertently flew into the envelope of Syrian air defences as they were firing at the Israeli strike aircraft. The Airbus wasn’t hit in the incident and landed safely at Khmeimim Air Base near Damascus.

A Russian defence spokesperson accused the Israeli jets of using the A320 as a ‘shield’, stating “Israel’s general staff’s military operation in used a passenger jet as cover or to block the fire by Syrian missile systems is becoming a typical trait of the Israeli Air Force.

“Tel Aviv is perfectly aware of civilian flight routes and air activity around Damascus day and night, and such reckless missions prove that Israeli strategists could not care less about possible civilian casualties.”

The Russian defence ministry praised the quick actions of ATC in Damascus for getting the airliner out of harm’s way.

Contour ERJ-135

Contour Airlines to open new aircraft base in Indianapolis

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Contour Airlines has announced plans to establish an aircraft base at the Indianapolis International Airport, aiming to launch operations from the airport on 10 June 2020.

The airline plans to purchase additional ERJ-135/145 aircraft and is investing in the new base, which will initially house two of the regional jets.

Chief Executive Officer of Contour, Matt Chaifetz, called Indiana “a natural fit” for the growth of the regional airline.

The airline plans to create up to 55 new jobs in central Indiana by the end of 2023 in order to support its growth.

Contour also plans to launch three new domestic routes, with a daily air service connecting Indiana to Nashville International Airport, St. Louis Lambert International Airport, and Pittsburgh International Airport.

The addition of these routes will bring the total connectivity available at the airport to a record-high of 53 nonstop destinations as the airline plans to make Indianapolis its second focus city.

Mario Rodriguez, Indianapolis Airport Authority executive director called Contour’s investment a “win-win all the way round” adding: “Travellers have been demanding drive-market destinations, and we’ve been working for years to bring these to Indy and expand both business and leisure nonstop connectivity regionally. Jobs, a new record-breaking number of nonstop flights, and further proof you can get there from here! That’s a win for everybody.”

With these new routes, Contour will serve 20 routes in 10 states and Indianapolis will become the airline’s second focus city after Santa Barbara, California.

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) offered Corporate Flight Management, Inc. dba Contour Airlines up to $1.5 million in the form of a Minimum Revenue Guarantee, meaning the company only earns it if it does not meet its minimum revenue targets for the routes. The IEDC also offered the company up to $550,000 in conditional tax credits based on the company’s job creation plans. The corporation highlighted that the incentives are performance-based.

Pegasus Boeing 737 breaks into three upon landing

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A Boeing 737-800 belonging to Pegasus Airlines has skidded off runway and broken into three pieces at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen airport. Turkey’s transport minister has stated that their were no fatalities, although a number of people have been seriously injured. This was later revised with three people being pronounced dead at the scene.

The accident is thought to have been caused by a heavy landing due to the wet weather.

The majority of those on board were Turkish, but local media have quoted the airline’s records as saying there were 22 foreign passengers from 12 other countries.

Transport Minister Mehmet Cahit Turhan said authorities had not yet been able to speak to the pilots, who were believed to have been injured in the accident.

Ryanair to order more 737 MAX aircraft?

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Ryanair is due to announce another big order for the Boeing 737 MAX. This time for the larger -10 model, as opposed to the airline’s exclusive -200.

The airline is one of Boeing’s largest customers and the is seeking to gain some leverage with the aircraft manufacturer for future aircraft orders. According to Reuters, the group’s chief Michael O’Leary revealed the Ryanair Group is in talks with Boeing for an undisclosed number of aircraft. Currently the airline has an open order for 135 examples of the 737 MAX 200 of which it has received none.

O’Leary stated: “We are already in discussions with Boeing. We have an offer on the table for an order for new MAX 10s, which is a 230-seat aircraft.”

He further added: “TO be fair to them [Boeing] I don’t think the new management team is in a position to be able to talk to us about a new order. We understand that, but we have an offer in and we expect at be at the head of the queue.”

The airline wishes to leverage its position in order to receive a favourable deal on any potential order for the MAX 10, seeking a good price and a delivery date as soon as possible.”

But, nothing can be agreed to before the MAX is back in the skies.

Wright Electric aircraft in easyJet colours

Wright Electric begins engine development project for 186-seater

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Wright Electric has marked a new milestone as it begins the engine development programme for its 186-seat electric aircraft, Wright 1.

Wright is engineering electrical systems at a megawatt scale necessary for commercial flight of its 186-seat electric aircraft, building a 1.5MW electrical motor and inverter at 3 kilovolts that will form the powerplant of the aircraft.

“Wright Electric is dedicated to bringing low-emissions 186 seat electric planes systems to market,” said Jeffrey Engler, CEO of Wright Electric. “Wright Electric’s mission is to make commercial aviation greener, and our megawatt engine programme is the next step in making our mission a reality.”

Ground tests of the motor are intended to take place in 2021 and flight tests in 2023. The company demonstrated a preview of its motor and fan at an event in New York City on 30 January.

The company is in discussions with BAE Systems relating to flight controls and energy management systems, with Dr. Ehtisham Siddiqui, Vice President and General Manager of Controls and Avionics Solutions at BAE Systems commenting: “We are discussing collaboration opportunities with Wright Electric on the development of flight controls and energy management systems for its electric aircraft. Our new development builds on decades of experience in both domains, as we strive to shape the future of flight.”

Wright will also be conducting aerodynamic tests on its fuselage, which will inform the propulsion design. The company expects entry of service of its flagship Wright 1 in 2030.

A number of government agencies in the United States are aiding research by providing funding into electric aviation.

easyJet is partnered with the manufacturer, supporting its mission to produce all-electric short-haul aircraft. easyJet’s CEO, Johan Lundgren called the programme development a “crucial step” for Wright Electric towards the introduction of commercial electric aircraft, adding: “Battery technology is advancing at pace with numerous US government agencies now funding research into electric aviation– all of these developments help us to more clearly see a future of more sustainable operations.

“We know it is important to our customers that we operate as sustainably as possible – our carbon offsetting programme has been positively received by our customers and we have now offset more than nine million passenger journeys – but we are clear this is an interim solution until new technologies become available and we can see more clearly than ever a future that is not exclusively reliable on jet fuel,” he added.

Scandinavian Airlines Ireland

Scandinavian Airlines Ireland implements OpenAirlines’ SkyBreathe

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Scandinavian Airlines Ireland, an Irish subsidiary of SAS, has implemented OpenAirlines’ SkyBreathe solution to save fuel and to reduce CO2 emissions as part of its commitment to sustainable development.

“As part of SAS Group, SAS Ireland has many initiatives in motion to lower its CO2 emissions and other environmental impacts,” said Eoin O’Malley, Flight Operations Manager at SAS Ireland. “To go further, we needed to have a better understanding of our fuel consumption, that’s why we selected SkyBreathe. The software will be a great asset to help us achieve our goals.”

SkyBreathe Fuel Efficiency uses Big Data Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning to automatically analyse data points from flight recorders. By combining them with data from the actual flight conditions (payload, weather conditions, flight path, ATC constraints, etc), the software identifies the most relevant saving opportunities.

“We are thrilled to have been selected by SAS Ireland to further reduce their fuel consumption. There is an important pressure on airlines to increase profitability while reducing their carbon impact. By using SkyBreathe, our customers reduce their first cost driver by 2 to 5%, while allowing them to become a leader in environmental excellence” explains Alexandre Feray, CEO of OpenAirlines.