Piedmont Propulsion Systems offers propeller ..

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Piedmont Propulsion Systems, LLC (PPS), a wholly-owned subsidiary of First Aviation Services Inc., has revealed that it has become the world’s first independent MRO facility to offer complete major inspection support for the Model 568F propeller installed on the next-generation ATR family of turboprop aircraft, including the removal and re-application of the blade compression wrap.

PPS worked tirelessly with support of the FAA to pursue the release of the blade compression wrap removal and application process instructions, which were previously restricted to OEM-licensed facilities. “This represents a significant victory for PPS,” according to Sammy Oakley, PPS’s Vice President and General Manager. “PPS’s ability to offer a complete 568F solution is a significant benefit to all ATR operators, as there is now an FAA- and EASA- certified competitor in the marketplace that can offer reduced lead-times and provide high quality, cost-effective solution.” PPS will perform the compression wrap removal and application using OEM instructions, which were not previously made available to operators or independent repair stations. Joshua Krotec, Senior Vice President of parent company First Aviation Services Inc. expressed appreciation for FAA’s efforts, saying “we thank FAA for enforcing the law, which requires that Instructions for Continued Airworthiness be made available to all those – including operators and repair stations – who need to comply.”

PPS’s 568F compression wrap removal and application services are available effective immediately to all operators, either as part of any PPS propeller maintenance contract (including cost per flight hour programs) or on an ad hoc basis. PPS, which has been authorised to perform major inspections of the 568F for over five years, previously subcontracted the compression wrap removal and replacement tasks to an OEM-authorised facility, which unnecessarily increased costs and turn times. PPS now performs these tasks in-house, significantly reducing cost and turn- around times.

Finnair signs a ten-year maintenance contract..

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ATR and the Finnish airline Finnair have signed a ten-year Global Maintenance Agreement (GMA). Through this package, Finnair and Nordic Regional Airlines (NoRRA) – who operates Finnair’s regional ATR traffic – will benefit from a dedicated support from ATR, which will help the airline better anticipate maintenance costs while enhancing the dispatch reliability of its fleet of 12 ATR 72-500.

This pay-by-the-hour contract covers the repair, overhaul and pooling services of Line Replaceable Units, along with their door-to-door delivery and an on-site leased stock of spare parts. The airline will also benefit from blades maintenance and availability, and maintenance recommendations based on ATR’s expertise.

Juha Ojala, Vice President Technical Operations of Finnair, stated: “Our ATR flights form a key part of our feeder traffic to our Helsinki hub, and as a large share of our customers are transfer customers, they have strong expectations in terms of punctuality and reliability. This Global Maintenance Agreement is another step further in our relationship with ATR and ensures we benefit from the most suitable services, so that we can in turn provide our customers with a reliable and punctual travel experience.”

Stefano Bortoli, Chief Executive Officer of ATR, added: “Finnair is new to our GMA programme but they have been part of the ATR family from the very beginning, as they took delivery of their first ATR aircraft, MSN 006, in 1986. During the challenging times we are currently living, the confidence from a valued customer is the best tribute they can offer to the quality and economics of our products and services. We are looking forward to sharing our knowledge and expertise with Finnair, so that they can in turn keep on operating regional traffic in a responsible and efficient fashion.”

Air France told to cut its domestic flights

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Air France has been instructed by the government to scrap some of its domestic flights in order to secure a rescue plan in response to the impact of  COVID-19.

The country’s economy minister, Bruno Le Maire stated on France Inter Radio that the operator should be “the most environmentally respectful airline.”

The government has approved a €7 billion loan to Air France, which has been hit hard by COVID-19. During the radio interview, Mr Le Maire said the coronavirus crisis provided an opportunity to “reinvent our model of economic development to ensure it is more respectful of the environment.”

He added that would mean a number of Air France domestic routes would need to go.

“It is obvious that today a number of domestic routes are no longer justified, ” he said without giving further details.

“When you can travel by train in less than two and a half hours, there is no justification for taking a plan.”

India prepares to resume its domestic flights

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According to ainonline.com the India’s regional airlines are set to resume their summer schedules “in a calibrated manner” from May 25 after a two month grounding. The unexpected announcement was made on 21 May and has created  confusion and chaos among the nation’s carriers.

A major cause of concern is the lack of information on the quarantines required by the 36 states and union territories in India, each of which maintain their own guidelines related to the countrywide lockdown.

Indian minister of civil aviation Hardeep Singh Puri stated at a press conference on Thursday that quarantines would not apply to domestic flights. But, Himanta Biswa Sama, health minister of the northeast state of Assam, said that a 14-day quarantine would remain mandatory for all air passengers.

“No taxis are allowed, so how will people go to and from the airport?” asked Vman Aero Services CEO Vishok Mansingh. “Yet airlines have started booking on this sector.” He added that the federal government should have asked states to clarify their quarantine, local transport, and hotel policy to ensure they were accepting guests. “This is poor planning with no cohesive plan, one that has not given airlines time to plan,” said Mansingh. “It is likely to cause chaos among passengers, at least in the first week.”

Like many  airports around the world, India will introduce protocols that include mandatory use of masks and gloves and protective clothing for the crew, a 20kg limit on checked baggage, and a ban on food and beverages inflight. The new restrictions have created a dilemma for India’s two LCC, Air India and Vistara which has basically seen their advantages over competitors removed. In another move, the sale of the middle seat will be permitted, although fares are to be capped across seven categories according to the duration of the flight. This will remain in place until 24 August.

Pakistan International Airlines A320 crashes ..

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A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Airbus A320 has crashed into a residential area in Karachi. The Airbus was carrying 90 passengers and eight crew and was on route from Lahore to Jinnah International Airport. The aircraft, registered AP-BLD took off at 1300 local for the one hour and 45 minute flight to Karachi.

The flight appears to have been uneventful until the 15 year old A320-200 approached Karachi. The Airbus crashed into a residential area near Karachi’s Model Colony district. At least six to eight houses and a number of vehicles have been destroyed.

The Airbus had previously been operated by China Eastern Airlines before being sold to PIA. An eyewitness at the scene told Gulf News that an engine was on fire prior to the crash:

“I saw a PIA plane with one engine on fire and suddenly there was a blast and the aircraft fell on the houses in the area. At least six to eight houses are on fire while rescue teams struggle to make their way through the narrow streets to rescue people.”   

Hackers steal easyJet customers’ data

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British LCC easyJet has announced that data of nearly nine million of its customers has been stolen by computer hackers. The airline said the attack was a “highly sophisticated” cyberattack on its systems but has not disclosed which email addresses and travel details have been stolen.

Of the nine million affected passengers, more than 2,208 have had their credit card details stolen, reports the Guardian. The airline has stated that it will be contacting customers directly within the next few days.

In a statement carried by the Guardian, easyJet’s chief executive Johan Lundgren said,

“We would like to apologise to those customers who have been affected by this incident.

“Since we became aware of the incident, it has become clear that owing to Covid-19 there is heightened concern about personal data being used for online scams. As a result, and on the recommendation of the ICO, we are contacting those customers whose travel information was accessed and we are advising them to be extra vigilant, particularly if they receive unsolicited communications.”

easyJet has since stopped any unauthorised access and is working with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and the National Cyber Security Centre.

E-Jet deliveries on hold for Brazil’s A..

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The 59 Embraer E2 jets ordered by Brazilian airline Azul have been postponed by up to four years according to an airline spokesperson. The jets were originally scheduled to arrive between 2020 and 2023, but the first example will not arrive until 2024 under a new agreement reached between the airline and Embraer.

As with many airlines, the impact of COVID-19 resulted in Azul making a significant network adjustment in April as a result of having 90% of its capacity cut compared to April 2019. The airline also reduced payroll costs and other expenses by as much as 50%.

“Azul entered this crisis as one of the most profitable airlines in the world,” said Azul CEO John Rodgerson. “There is no precedent for the scale of the impact of the pandemic on the Brazilian and global economy, and the moment of recovery remains uncertain. With the contribution of all our stakeholders, we believe that we will emerge from this crisis as an even stronger company.

“This agreement with Embraer to postpone the next aircraft deliveries until starting in 2024 is an important component of our recovery plan, which allows us to create a path to go through this crisis with liquidity. With this support, we are able to guarantee the necessary resources to optimize the airline that we will be in the future.”

Will Ryanair readjust to a single type?

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A recent statement by Michael O’Leary, CEO of Ryanair, hinted that the airline may well readjust its fleet to focus on a single type.

In 2018, the Ryanair Group purchased Lauda [Laudamotion], an Austrian LCC, intending to shift away from operating an exclusively Boeing fleet. Ryanair’s fleet consists of more than 400 Boeing 737s, while Lauda operated 30 Airbus A320s. After the delays with the Boeing 737 MAX, the airline considered ordering the Airbus A321. But now, O’Leary has revealed that the idea of a mixed Boeing / Airbus fleet will likely be dropped. In an interview with Reuters, O’Leary said that negotiations with Airbus were “a waste of time”.

“We have [Airbus] aircraft that are due to be delivered over the next 12 months and we will cancel almost all of those deliveries, which are from leasing companies,” Reuters quoted O’Leary as saying.

If Boeing and Ryanair reach an agreement over the MAX deliveries, it may well mean that some of the 200 737 MAX aircraft could be used to replace the Airbus types currently used on Lauda’s fleet.

Brazil’s Gol to get $412 million MAX co..

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Boeing continues to feel in the impact of its 737 MAX crisis with the announcement by Brazilian airline Gol announcing on 13 May that it had received US$86 million out of US$412 million worth of compensation it is due from the aircraft manufacturer over the next few years due to the grounding of the MAX and re-adjustment that the airline has had to make to its order.

The airline grounded all seven of its MAX 8s, which were delivered on it began receiving on 28 June 2018. Following were another 25 of the type, but as yet these have not arrived and Gol claims that this has had a significant impact on its growth and fleet renewal plan. In addition to the compensation, Gol agreed to cancel 34 MAX from its order, being its total order to 95 from an initial order of 129.

During an investors meeting on Wednesday, Gol said it had more than ten months worth of cash reserves “to shield and strengthen it” during the Covid-19 crisis. The airline has grounded 120 aircraft, all Boeing 737NGs and MAX 8s, or 92% of its entire fleet. Although the airline was only operating 7% of its schedule compared to 2019.  Gol said it expects that share to rise to 12% by the end of May, with the re-opening of bases at the Foz de Iguaçu, Navegantes, and Maringá airports, and the restart of a limited number of flights from Congonhas airport in São Paulo to Santos Dumont and Galeão airports in Rio de Janeiro.

Bestfly receives ATR 72-600 from ACIA Aero Le..

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ACIA Aero Leasing (ACIA) has completed the delivery of a second ATR 72-600 to Bestfly in Angola. The aircraft was delivered to Bestfly in Toulouse on 13 May, and left the following day for its ferry flight to Angola.

Bestfly continues to expand its operations in Angola and this second ATR72-600 allows it to capitalise on growth opportunities in the region. Bestfly was awarded a flight support contract by Exxon Mobile in Angola and anticipates further contract wins in the coming months.

Commenting about the delivery, Bestfly CEO Nuno Pereira stated: “This a very proud and long-awaited moment, the second ATR 72-600 of our fleet shall be an important piece of the puzzle of our growth. This is even more significant at this challenging moment for our industry. Thanks to ACIA for the continued support and trust in BestFly and to ATR for believing in us and in our project.”

ACIA CEO Mick Mooney stated: “We’re delighted to support Nuno, Alcinda [Pereira – Co-founder] and the entire Bestfly team as they continue to grow their aviation business in Angola. Bestfly’s operations have so far shown resilience to the current downturn in the aviation industry and the Bestfly team has been able to expand their operations when others have had to shrink. We look forward to continuing our partnership with them for many years to come.”