CPaT Global releases its new Airbus A220 aircraft systems course

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As the Airbus A220 enters widespread service, CPaT has announced the release of its new A220 Aircraft Systems Course. This in-depth and interactive distance learning course provides an advanced teaching experience for A220 pilots and is available now for training.  CPaT’s team of highly qualified subject matter experts and course developers created a detailed course to support the growing number of A220 operators and pilots.  CPaT’s A220 Aircraft Systems Course can be modified or “tailored” to meet your unique training and regulatory requirements.

Captain Greg Darrow, Vice President of CPaT Global, stated that, “CPaT has developed this comprehensive training course for pilots flying the A220 due to growing demand from our clients and the airline industry.  Our training syllabus provides detailed and interactive instruction that keeps pilots engaged in remote learning.  Clients have responded quickly to our new offering and CPaT has already delivered the course to airlines in Asia and Europe.”

Editor’s Comment: What a difference a day makes….

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Well OK, maybe it’s slightly longer than an actual day, but it doesn’t seem too long ago that LARA’s February/March issue was reporting on the potential of Mitsubishi’s SpaceJet in the competitive regional jet market. Now it appears that Washington State, where the jet was undergoing flight testing at the Moses Lake Flight Center in Renton, is set to lose its investment from the Japanese company, with the announcement by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries on 22 May that it is set to close the centre and headquarters at Renton. Although this press release was quickly followed by the statement that a small team will be kept on site to maintain some of the aircraft.

The move is viewed as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) long-term goal of consolidating its commercial aircraft operations, which will also see a reduction in the development budget for the SpaceJet due to the COVID-19 impact which has decimated the commercial airline industry.

By shutting down operations in Washington State, MHI will now consolidate all SpaceJet development at Nagoya in Japan. The four test aircraft at Moses will be put into storage and will receive maintenance as and when required. The shutting down of the facility will in some way compensate for the US$275 million loss MHI announced in March but does not help with the $2.4 billion MHI spent on the SpaceJet last year.

The change in strategy by MHI may also see the suspension of the M100’s development, with a focus across the company now on reducing costs.

MHI said: “The COVID-19 pandemic presents an unprecedented challenge for society as a whole, and there are parts of MHI Group’s business that are already facing significant impact, especially in industries like commercial aviation… MHI Group is working on measures to help us overcome this crisis.”

As to the future of the SpaceJet, let’s hope that by the end of the day, this great looking jet, does indeed have its time to shine in the land of the rising sun.

Norwegian receives much-needed loan

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Norwegian has announced that it has a new series of owners, has completed its much-needed restructuring and has secured a US$271 million governmental support loan.

Over the last few years, the airline has been fighting numerous financial issues and was hoping to shift into profit in 2020, before COVID-19 struck the airline industry.

The uncertainty across the industry, the lack of passenger demand and grounding of its fleet resulted in the airline quickly running out of money and brought it close to collapse.

With a secure outlook now in place through bondholders, lessors and shareholders agreeing to a US$1.27 billion debt conversion and share sale. This has helped boost Norwegian’s equity which has met a key condition of the agreement from the Norwegian government.

“Now we can access the state loan guarantee, we can continue to transform the company,” said Norwegian’s CEO Jacob Schram.

The restructuring means that lessors AerCap will now hold 15.9% and BOC Aviation 12.67%.

Despite the challenges ahead over the next few months Norwegian now has a firm base to move into the future.

Rolls-Royce reorganises amid COVID-19 impact

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As Rolls-Royce struggles to deal with the impact of COVID-19, it has revealed that its commercial aerospace division will take several years to recover to the levels seen at the start of 2020. In order to address the problem and strengthen the financial resilience of the business, the company has announced that at least 9,000 employees from its global workforce of 52,000 will be made redundant.

Warren East, Rolls-Royce, CEO said: “This is not a crisis of our making. But it is the crisis that we face and we must deal with it. Our airline customers and airframe partners are having to adapt and so must we. Being told that there is no longer a job for you is a terrible prospect and it is especially hard when all of us take so much pride in working for Rolls-Royce. But we must make difficult decisions to see our business through these unprecedented times. Governments across the world are doing what they can to assist businesses in the short-term, but we must respond to market conditions for the medium-term until the world of aviation is flying again at scale, and governments cannot replace sustainable customer demand that is simply not there. We have to do this right, which means we will work closely with our employees and trade union representatives as appropriate, look at any viable alternatives to mitigate the impact, consult with everyone affected, and treat our people with dignity and respect.”

The savings generated from this reduction in staff along with cuts in production facilities, property, and other indirect costs, will reduce expenditure across the company by an anticipated annual saving of more than £1.3bn, of which the reduction in staff salaries will contribute around £700 million. The restructuring costs related to other actions will likely generate a saving of around £800 million.

Warren East added: “The strategic choices that we have made over the last few years have helped us to respond rapidly to COVID-19 and the synergies between our divisions leave us well placed to capitalise on the long-term potential of our markets. The world on the other side of this pandemic will need the power that we generate to fuel economic recovery. I absolutely believe the call for that power to be more sustainable will be stronger than ever. This plays to our strengths. We must ensure that we are able to continue to innovate and play our leading role in enabling the vital sectors in which we operate to achieve net-zero carbon emissions. We have emerged from troubled times before, to achieve incredible things. We will do so again.”



A statement from HMG Aerospace

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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we find ourselves feeling increasingly proud of the industry’s ability to adapt, respond and become ever more resilient to the critical challenges that confront it. Although the long-term effects of this crisis will reach far and strike deep, many within the industry have already taken the first few steps back towards normal – or at least “new normal” – service. Ryanair has announced that as of July 1, it plans to reinstate 40% of its scheduled service. Wizz Air intends to increase operations from Gatwick Airport, and Boeing has asked its largest supplier of 737 MAX parts to restart manufacturing. Whilst many airlines have had to reshape and resize their operations, this forced restructure gives them the opportunity to strengthen their business model and consolidate their fleet. They will rebuild on stronger and hopefully greener foundations.

The pandemic has created a more charitable and democratic aviation industry. The web is awash with news stories detailing the contributions made by businesses around the globe to the fight against COVID-19. From helicopter manufacturers like Leonardo supplying HEMS helicopters for aircraft availability and mission effectiveness, to airlines like flydubai operating flights across four continents to repatriate citizens, the industry has shown willing to rally round and support those in need. In addition, there has been a significant increase in companies seeking to engage with their customers, offering them the chance to directly influence future business decisions. We have been particularly impressed by a recent Eurowings initiative, whereby the company utilises social media to ask its customers what services they would like the airline to provide both during and post-COVID-19. Discussions and decisions are being released from the confines of the corporate boardroom and presented to the people who will be most affected by them: the passengers.

Taking inspiration from the industry we serve, here at HMG Aerospace we have adapted in order to continue delivering. We have taken advantage of the various digital services available to ensure that our products are published on schedule and that our editorial content is topical, rich and often exclusive. From dynamic digital magazines to video interviews with senior aviation executives; from digital marketing solutions to news websites and weekly newsletters, not forgetting our participation in pioneering online broadcast events like FlightPlan by Inmarsat Aviation and APEX, HMG Aerospace remains as committed as ever to supporting and reporting on the industry.

On behalf of all the team at HMG Aerospace, keep safe and well.

Best wishes,

Mark Howells and Becky Howells

Editor’s Comment: “They’re regionals Jim but not as we know it…”

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The first signs that Europe’s regional airlines are slowly getting back into the air has been reported by numerous media organisations, although concerns over how and where passengers will be seated, and what will actually happen during a flight remain uncertain. For some operators, the changes are even bigger. A restructuring of its fleet means airBaltic is resuming its services as an all-Airbus A220 airline and has already started flying between the Baltic capitals of Riga, Tallinn and Vilnius. Further destinations in Europe will be added in the coming weeks, the airline has revealed, but only if suitable precautions are in place.

With the need to get back into the sky and generate income, it’s a brave decision by airBaltic to go all-A220. It means that the airline has effectively lost 40% of its fleet, but perhaps it’s the ideal time to make such a move, with air traffic in Europe only slowly emerging from a global grounding. On the other hand, the airline’s fleet of Dash 8-400s and 737-300 aircraft was ageing and, for an airline, finding a good time to retire its old aircraft is always a fine balance based on profit and passenger demand. But the COVID-19 grounding has effectively allowed airBaltic the time to remove the 737-300s and Dash 8-400s without creating any operational backlash, and in the process allowed the airline to re-enter the market leaner and more efficient than ever before.

Might we see similar moves by other regional carriers as they seek to recover lost revenues? The need for a vast fleet of single-aisle aircraft is unlikely to be necessary anytime soon, with many LCCs and regional operators choosing to take a slow, gradual build-up to their schedules, which is unlikely to reach 2019 levels before the end of 2020. So, I wonder if airBaltic’s bold new plan of a leaner if not necessarily meaner approach may well be copied by other carriers as they also seek to go for a single type.

Vietnam’s domestic flights edge towards a full recovery

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Although international flights into Vietnam are still banned, the nation’s domestic air service is quickly returning to a full service.

On 22 April domestic flights re-opened, which followed the Vietnamese Government lifting its lockdown. By 7 May, the restrictions on the number of flights between Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang City were eased and passengers were no longer required to sit one seat away from each other.

Presently, five commercial airlines are operating service in the country: Vietnam Airlines, Jetstar Pacific, Vietjet Air, Vietnam Air Service Company and Bamboo Airways.

It is predicted that the entire domestic airline network will be back in service by June.

In an effort to rejuvenate the domestic travel market, Vietnamese carriers are also working with tour companies which are reducing their prices in an effort to attract customers back into the market.

Cessna Skycourier completes maiden flight

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According to Cessna SkyCourier twin-turboprop prototype completed its maiden flight on 17 May from Beech Field at Textron Aviation’s east campus in Wichita. Flown by senior test pilot Corey Eckhart and chief test pilot Aaron Tobias, the aircraft flew for two hours and 15 minutes.

“We were very pleased with how the Cessna SkyCourier performed throughout its first flight,” Eckhart said. “It was particularly impressive to see how stable the aircraft handled on takeoff and landing. The Cessna SkyCourier already displays a high level of maturity in its flight characteristics, especially for a first flight. We were able to accomplish everything we wanted on this flight, and that’s an excellent start to the flight test program.”

FedEx has placed an order for 50 aircraft with a further option for 50 more.

Configurable for both cargo and commuter operations, the high-wing turboprop is designed to carry a payload of up to 6,000lbs and is able to carry three standard LD3 air cargo containers. In its passenger configuration, the SkyCourier will seat up to 19 passengers, with a netted rear cabin area for luggage and equipment. The aircraft will be available in a mixed passenger and cargo combination.

“I’m proud of the way the team has persevered through disruptions caused by the Covid-19 global pandemic and remained focused on getting us to this point,” said Textron Aviation CEO Ron Draper. “The Cessna SkyCourier will be an excellent product in its segment due to its combination of cabin flexibility, payload capability, superior performance, and low operating costs. Our customers will be very pleased with what they experience with this aircraft.”

Editor’s Comment: So, are we going…or what?

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For some regional airline operators it appears that July will be the month to resume flight schedules, despite critics of this decision saying it is too soon to remove the social distancing rules. While many people have simply written off the option of a summer holiday this year. Ryanair, Europe’s largest LCC, has announced that it plans to have 40% of its scheduled service running from Wednesday July 1, although these will be subject to government restrictions on intra-EU flights being lifted. The airline plans to adopt public health measures already being used by several airports, although quite how the inevitable delays that these will cause will impact the proposed scheduled daily 1,000 flights is unknown. But rather than pour scorn on the plan, someone always must be first, and Ryanair has never flinched from a challenge and swatted away its critics for years.

In the run up to July, the airline has released an online video showing the measures that the airline has taken to reduce cross contamination, while at the same time offering advice to passengers when they travel. For example, checking in fewer bags, downloading your boarding pass to your smart phone, and encouraging passengers to always wear face masks in the terminal and onboard the aircraft. Social distancing will also be encouraged onboard but given current debate that other airlines are having with this, the so called “middle seat conundrum”, it will be interesting to see what procedures Ryanair has in mind.

While many observers have been critical of Ryanair’s business decisions in the past, this is a brave step to take and I have no doubt that other regional airlines and LCCs will be watching with interest as to how the new procedures impact passengers and operations. Given the planning that has gone into it, and the pressure from on high to ‘get flying again’, I expect it will be fine. Sure, there’ll be comments and critics on the first couple of days, but you can bet that apart from this ‘moaning minority’, the flights will still be getting to where they need to be, in the safest possible environment that can be provided by the airline’s cabin crew.

While it appears that airlines are slowly getting their plans in place to take-off when they get the all clear, it is now down to the passengers of Europe to have faith in airlines and airports, adapt to the new regulations and be aware of not spreading the virus themselves.

Avianca Holdings files for bankruptcy

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According to Avianca Holdings, the parent company of Avianca has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States. The proceedings are intended to protect the airline from creditors and allow the company to reorganise which, it is hoped will save much of Avianca’s business structure as possible.

Chapter 11 will allow the airline time to pay its debt back, while still keeping the company intact. The impact of COVID-19 has had a major impact on the airline’s operations resulting in hundreds of flights being cancelled. The airline intends to restructure through a court-supervised process. The plan for Avianca is to continue to provide air transport while this process takes place. As one of the largest airlines in Latin America, the loss of the operator would have a major impact on the South American continent.

Avianca has stated that it plans to maintain essential services to South America and North America.  The airline will continue to seek financing assistance from the Colombian government.