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Aviation News for the Week of January 8, 2017

This week in aviation news: Sikorsky S92 helicopters grounded pending inspections, Gulfstream G650ER sets new city-pair records, SpaceX celebrates after flawless mission

Following a December 28, 2016, incident in the U.K.’s North Sea where an S92 helicopter gouged the West Franklin platform when coming in for a landing, Sikorsky is calling for mandatory safety inspections centered on the aircraft’s tail rotors. "Safety is our top priority, and Sikorsky is working closely with our customer and investigative authorities,” said a Sikorsky spokesperson. These inspections are required to take place before any S92 is to make its next flight, with one exception: the helicopter may return to base before undergoing inspection. The inspections are estimated to take 11 man-hours to complete; many have already been completed.

A press release from Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. announced that their flagship aircraft, the Gulfstream G650ER, has broken two new flight-time records. An Ohio–Shanghai flight was clocked at 14 hours and 35 minutes, while a Taipei–Arizona flight was clocked at 10 hours and 57 minutes. The average cruise speeds of these flights were Mach 0.85 and Mach 0.90 respectively. Scott Neal, senior vice president, Worldwide Sales, Gulfstream, explained the motivations behind these record-breaking flights: “When you talk to customers, what many of them need is more time. These records demonstrate the G650ER’s ability to give our customers just that. We know time is precious, and opportunities are best met when customers arrive quickly and refreshed.”

On Saturday, January 14, SpaceX’s Dragon 9 spacecraft lifted off from Vadenberg Air Force Base in California in near-perfect weather conditions. The first stage rocket successfully separated from the craft, which was carried to orbit by the second stage rocket. In orbit, the SpaceX craft deployed 10 IridiumNext communications sattelites in 100 second intervals. From launch to deployment, the mission took less than 90 minutes. Meanwhile, the first stage fired rockets to turn it around, slow its descent, and guide it to a pinpoint landing on a platform on a drone ship in the Pacific Ocean. The 200-foot rocket body will be refurbished and possibly reused for a future launch.

Aviation News for the Week of December 4, 2016

This week in aviation news: Pakistan International Airways flight crashes, IATA announces high year-to-year growth in air freight for the month of October, Norwegian Air Shuttle gains approval for U.S. operations


A Pakistan International Airways ATR 42-500 crashed into a hillside near Havelian on Wednesday, killing all 48 passengers and crew members on board. Flight PK661 originated in Chitral en route to Islamabad, a one-hour ten-minute flight. About forty-four minutes into the flight the aircraft reported an engine issue and that it was descending. A minute later the distress call was issued, and all contact with the aircraft was lost. Among the 48 people on board were 42 passengers, five crew members, and one ground engineer. ATR expressed its sympathies for those affected by the crash and stated that the incident is under investigation.


This week, The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported that worldwide air freight demand rose by 8.2% year-to-year in October. This signifies the fastest growth of the market within the past 18 months. Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO said,"It remains to be seen how long this growth trend will endure after the year-end peak period and we still face headwinds from weak global trade. But there are some encouraging signs. The peak has been stronger than expected. And purchasing managers are reporting a pick-up in new export orders. So we will enter 2017 propelled by some much-needed positive momentum." IATA noted several possible factors for the positive growth, including a shift to air cargo after the collapse of South Korean shipping firm Hanjin Shipping Company in August, and a possible reliance on last-minute air shipping in response to weak market conditions early this year. Regionally, the Middle East saw the highest year-on-year change for October, a 9.2% total increase with Asian-Pacific airlines in second with a 7.8% increase.                                             


Norwegian Air Shuttle (NAS) subsidiary Norwegian Air International (NAI) has gained permission to fly in and out of the United States, according to a Department of Transportation decision made effective December 2. The highly controversial choice ends a three-year long battle against both Norwegian and American labor unions, who fear that the low-cost carrier will use the DOT decision to employ workers from underprivileged countries, enabling them to bypass Norway’s labor laws. SWAPA, Southwest Airlines’ pilots union, may still fight the decision. Vegard Einan, a spokesperson for Parat, Norway’s aviation labor union said, “we know that Norwegian has used Asian labor, and that they want to open routes and fly to other parts of the world. We fear that American and European workers will not have the chance to compete with wages and working conditions from other continents.” However, NAS stressed that the decision will offer customers lower fares and more flexibility in international air travel. 

Aviation News for the Week of November 27, 2016

This week in aviation news: AJ85 carrying Brazilian soccer team crashes in Columbia, first Bombardier CS300 aircraft delivered to airBaltic, Airbus announces job cuts, U.S. flights to Havana resume after 55 years


A British Aerospace Avro RJ85 aircraft carrying members of Chapecoense, a Brazilian soccer club, coaches, journalists, and crew members crashed near Medellín, Columbia on Monday, killing 71 people on board. Operated by Bolivian charter airline LaMia, it is likely that the aircraft ran out of fuel and the aircraft reported an emergency before the it lost power and crashed into a mountain range approximately 18 miles south of Medellín’s airport. Preliminary reports state that the aircraft, which entered into service in 1999, was operating nearly at its maximum range. The soccer team was on its way to play in a championship game in Columbia. Among the six survivors pulled from the crash were three players, two flight crew members, and one journalist. British investigators have travelled to Columbia to determine the cause of the crash.


The first Bombardier CS300 aircraft, the larger member of the CSeries family, was delivered to airBaltic on Monday. The aircraft will enter service on December 14 with a flight between Riga and Amsterdam. Latvia’s flagship carrier, airBaltic has a total of 20 of the 145-seat CS300 aircraft on order. “We are thrilled to be taking home the first CS300 aircraft – the newest member of the most innovative and technologically advanced family of airliners in the world,” said Martin Gauss, Chief Executive Officer, airBaltic. “With its longer range capabilities, lower fuel burn and reduced noise emissions compared to other airliners in its segment, the CS300 aircraft will enable airBaltic to open new routes and connect people all across Europe, while offering passengers an unparalleled in-flight experience.”


A part of the restructuring plan announced in September, Airbus plans to cut 1,164 jobs through the middle of next year. Airbus also hopes to negotiate early retirements, voluntary leave, and around 300 transfers for its affected employees. On January 1, Airbus Group will merge with Bombardier Commercial Airplanes, creating the need for restructuring. “These reductions will mainly affect support and integrated functions as well as the CTO organization. The merger will also conclude the company’s headquarters move from Paris and Munich to Toulouse… At the same time, Airbus Group is preparing the future by continuing to invest in developing core competences; around 230 positions will be created to secure critical skills needed for the company’s way ahead in the era of digital transformation,” Airbus said.


Amidst improving United States-Cuba relations, the first commercial flight from the United States to Havana was completed on Monday, the first in 55 years. American Airlines flight 17 took off from Miami early Monday morning, landing in Havana after approximately 40 minutes of flight time. New York-based JetBlue also began operating regularly scheduled flights to Cuba, and flight 243 also successfully made its way to Havana on Monday morning. While American and JetBlue will operate a majority of flights from the United States, Havana service was also granted to Alaska, Delta, Frontier, Southwest, Spirit, and United. 

Aviation News for the Week of November 20, 2016

This week in aviation news: Airbus A350-1000 aircraft takes flight, Fiji Airways places 737 MAX order, Lufthansa pilot strike impacts hundreds of thousands of travelers


On Thursday, the largest member of Airbus’ A350 wide-body family, the A350-1000, took its first flight out of its manufacturing facility in Toulouse, France. The A350-1000 is equipped to carry 366 passengers in a standard three-class configuration or a maximum of 440, and boasts a range of 7,950 nautical miles. Expected to enter service with Qatar Airways next year, the A350-1000 is approximately seven meters longer than the A350-900, and has received nearly 200 orders to date. The aircraft is powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 engines, and Airbus reports that it is 20 tons lighter and 25% more fuel efficient than its main competitor, Boeing’s 777. Airbus President and CEO Fabrice Brégier said, “we have seen today the world’s most modern and efficient passenger aircraft – the A350-1000 – in action for the very first time, adding soon to the successful A350 Family. My congratulations and thanks go to all the teams who have contributed to make today’s flight happen.” The smaller A350-900, which entered the market in January 2015, carries 325 passengers in a standard three-class configuration. Approximately 45 are currently in operation around the world.


Nadi-based Fiji Airways has placed an order for 5 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, in a $110 million-dollar deal announced on Wednesday. The new aircraft are expected to be delivered in 2018 and 2019, and will replace Fiji’s current Boeing 737 fleet which includes four 737-800s and one 737-700. "The improved operating economics and product enhancements were compelling reasons to consider renewing the current Boeing 737 aircraft," Fiji Airways Managing Director and CEO Andre Viljoen said. Fiji’s government has a majority stake in the airline, which will arrange its 737 MAX aircraft into two-class configurations carrying 170 passengers. The aircraft will fly both domestic and international flights from Nadi, carrying passengers to destinations including Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii, Somoa, and Solomon Islands. The 737 MAX is the updated version of Boeing’s mid-range, narrow-body aircraft series, and is expected to enter the market next year. To date, Boeing has received more than 3,000 for the aircraft orders to date.


A strike by Lufthansa’s pilot union late last week caused 1,800 flight cancellations affecting over 215,000 passengers. The union for the Frankfurt and Munich-based airline, Vereinigung Cockpit, is demanding a 22% wage increase over the next five years. On Friday, Lufthansa put forth an offer for a 2.4% increase this year with an additional 2% raise next year, which was promptly rejected. The union is allegedly planning further strikes for Tuesday and Wednesday next week, which would mark its 15th strike since April.

Aviation News for the Week of November 13, 2016

This week in aviation news: CS300 entry into service scheduled for December, United Airlines announces order conversion plans, Peach Aviation orders Airbus aircraft, Mexico-city based Aeromar orders ATRs


Following the successful completion of its European route-proving flights, the first Bombardier CSeries 300 aircraft is scheduled to enter service with Riga-based airBaltic on December 14. “The historic first airBaltic commercial flight with Bombardier CS300 will link Riga with Amsterdam,” airBaltic CEO Martin Gauss said. airBaltic has a total of 20 of the 145-seat CS300s on order. The CS300 is the larger member of the Bombardier CSeries family, is the quietest in-production commercial aircraft of its size and boasts a range of 3,300 nautical miles. Bombardier also reports a 20% fuel burn advantage over its competitors.  


United Airlines has announced plans to convert a major order for 65 Boeing 737-700s to 61 737 MAX aircraft and four 737-800s. Expected to save the company $1.6 billion in fuel usage over the next few years, the move is part of United’s long-term plan to improve revenue. "The realignment of our order book shifts our focus to ensuring our capital investments support earnings growth. We will continue to look at profitable opportunities in the new and used aircraft market to generate the highest ROIC," said Andrew Levy, executive vice president and chief financial officer. "We have made important investments in our people and product this year, and will continue to make investments in the business to ensure increased profitability while maintaining a strong balance sheet." The 737-800s will be delivered next year, while the MAX aircraft will see delivery at an unspecified later date. The bestselling 737 MAX utilizes CFM International LEAP-1B engines and boasts a 20% fuel burn advantage when compared to the 737 Next-Generation. It has received over 3,000 orders to date, with deliveries expected to begin next year. 


On Friday, low-cost, Osaka-based Peach Aviation announced an order for 10 A320neos and three A320ceos, a $1.4 billion dollar order in a traditional Boeing stronghold. Peach Aviation began operations four years ago, and plans to expand its current fleet size of 18 aircraft to 35 in the next four years to 100 in the long term. The aircraft are expected to see delivery by 2019. All Nippon Airways has a 39% stake in Peach Aviation, which plans to set up two new bases in Sendai and Sapporo in the next two years. The aircraft will be powered by CFM International’s CFM56 engines.


ATR has received an order from Mexico-City based Aeromar, including a firm order for six 72-600 aircraft and two 42-600s plus options for six 72-600s. Equipped with Pratt & Whitney 127M engines, the first of the aircraft will be delivered next month. The 42-600s will be configured with 48 seats, while the 72-600s will carry 72 passengers. The Mexico City-based airline currently has an all-ATR fleet size of 16, and operates flights through Mexico and the United States. 

Aviation News for the Week of October 30, 2016

Aviation news for this week: Bombardier’s Global 7000 completes first flight, American Airlines flight evacuated following suspected engine fire, Lufthansa retires last of Boeing 737 aircraft, Donghai Airlines finalizes Boeing 787 order, China Eastern Airlines to become launch customer of COMAC’s C919 aircraft


Bombardier’s Global 7000 business aircraft successfully completed its first test flight on Friday, in a two-and-a-half-hour flight that tested the aircraft’s basic functionality. Taking off from Bombardier’s manufacturing facility in Toronto, the aircraft reached an altitude of 20,000 feet at speeds of up to 276 miles per hour. Part of Bombardier’s plan to reinvigorate the business jet market, each Global 7000 is valued at approximately $72.8 million. The aircraft is expected to carry up to 17 passengers at speeds of Mach .92, and reach cruising altitudes of 51,000 feet by the time it hits the market in 2018. "The first flight is the culmination of an incredible amount of knowledge and experience from our dedicated employees, partners and suppliers,” said David Coleal, President, Bombardier Business Aircraft. “This is a very proud moment for Bombardier and confirms the Global 7000 aircraft program development is on schedule. It is the industry’s most innovative and uniquely designed business jet and the only aircraft on the market to offer four living spaces for unparalleled comfort and flexibility, creating an unforgettable experience for our customers. The Global 7000 business jet’s impressive capabilities promise to establish a whole new category for large business jets,” he added.


On Saturday, October 29, passengers and crew members aboard an American Airlines Boeing 767 were forced to evacuate on the runway at Chicago O’Hare due to an engine fire. Minor injuries were reported amongst the 170 people onboard the aircraft, which was equipped with GE CF6 turbofan engines. The Flight Safety Foundation’s Aviation Safety Network classified the incident as an uncontained engine failure; eyewitness accounts and videos show a fire originating around the aircraft’s right engine spreading to the wing as passengers evacuated. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident.


Lufthansa has officially retired its final Boeing 737 aircraft after nearly 50 years of service. One of Lufthansa’s remaining 737-300s completed a symbolic round-trip flight between Frankfurt and Hamburg on October 29, when a ceremony was held commemorating the event. Lufthansa became the launch operator of the 737 in 1967 when it ordered 22 737-100s, and would go on to operate a total of 148 737s of nearly all variations over the next fifty years. The remaining six 737-300s completed their final flights on the 29th, and will be delivered to Florida to be resold. "Lufthansa has always taken innovative approaches to cater the customers’ needs and to take advantage of market opportunities, which is why we played a key role in the B737’s creation and development. We will continue to pursue this innovative approach with the latest generation of aircraft," said Harry Hohmeister, Member of the Executive Board and Head of Hub Management. With hubs in both Frankfurt and Germany, Lufthansa is transitioning to an all-Airbus fleet of A320s.  


China’s Donghai Airlines has finalized an order for five Boeing 787-9s, confirming an order announced at the Farnborough Airshow in July. The Shenzhen-based airline began operations in 2006 and currently flies its fleet of 13 737-800s on flights throughout China. The 787 “Dreamliners” are part of Donhai’s long-term plan to expand long-haul routes and international flights. Donhai’s chairman Wong Cho-Bau said, “We will accelerate our fleet expansion plan to satisfy the rapidly growing air travel market and help build our home base Shenzhen as the transportation hub in southern China. Introducing these new next-generation airplanes that deliver the industry-leading fuel efficiency and passenger comfort in their segment market will be a key effort for us to fulfill the plan.” The order is valued at approximately $1.32 billion at list prices.


Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines will become the first operator of Comac’s 158-seat C919 aircraft. A government-operated manufacturer, the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, Ltd. “Comac,” is part of China’s goal to reduce its reliance on Western aircraft manufacturers. The first C919 rolled out last November, and is expected to complete its inaugural flight within the next few months. China Eastern has announced that it will place a firm order for the aircraft within a year of the its first flight. COMAC reports that the C919 has received 570 orders and commitments from 23 operators to date. In production since 2008, the C919 faced numerous manufacturing delays that moved its planned release from 2016 to 2018.

Aviation News for the Week of October 23, 2016

This week in aviation news: Gulfstream to stop G450 production to make way for G500, Garmin to extend G5000 suite to Cessna aircraft, Rockwell Collins and B/E Aerospace announce merger, U.K. government approves third runway at Heathrow


Last week, Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. announced that it will deliver the last G450 aircraft in early 2018, ending production to make way for the upcoming launch of the G500. The G500 is essentially the updated version of the G450, flying 34 miles further than its predecessor per hour while utilizing the same fuel supply. “At Gulfstream, we have a long history of delivering on our promises. We are highly pleased with the progress of the G500 as it makes great strides in the flight-test program and moves steadily toward certification and entry into service,” said Burns. “This transition is an important milestone in Gulfstream’s history of taking business aviation to new heights.” The G500 is currently in the flight testing phase, and Gulfstream reports that the aircraft has accumulated over 1,600 flight hours to date. Seating up to 19 passengers, the aircraft is outfitted with PW814GA engines and can travel at speeds up to Mach .85.


Garmin International will expand its G5000 flight deck modernization program to the Cessna Citation Excel and Citation XLS. The program is expected to see approval by the end of 2018. “For over five years and across multiple airframes, the G5000 has received the enthusiastic praise from aircraft operators as it offers an unprecedented level of situational awareness, yields a significantly lower cost of operation and delivers an exceptional in-flight experience,” said Carl Wolf, Garmin vice president of aviation sales and marketing. The suite will include fully automated flight control systems, and a variety of optional and standard technologies that will provide the aircraft with enhanced capabilities including advanced GPS navigation, weather reporting, and a 3D terrain mapping system.


Avionics systems corporation Rockwell Collins has announced its pending merger with B/E Aerospace, which is involved in the manufacture of interior products for commercial and business aircraft. Out of a deal worth $8.3 million total, Rockwell Collins acquired the company for $6.4 billion in cash and stock and $1.9 billion its net debts. B/E Aerospace manufactures aircraft seating, lavatories, and galley equipment while employing approximately 10,000 people. Cedar Rapids-based Rockwell Collins is an industry leader in cockpit technologies and communications. The merger will allow each company to work on different parts of new aircraft simultaneously, providing time-saving benefits to customers.


The United Kingdom’s government has granted permission for a third runway to be built at London’s Heathrow Airport, ending a largely contested debate. Supporters of the airport’s expansion have argued that adding a third runway is an inevitable reality, and one that will bring economic benefits to the city. However, some have protested the environmental and noise impacts, while others proposed alternatives including additional runways at nearby Gatwick Airport, or the opening of a third airport in London. A spokesperson for Heathrow Airport said, “expansion of Heathrow is the only option that will connect all of the UK to global growth, helping to build a stronger and fairer economy. We await the full details, but Heathrow stands ready to work with government, businesses, airlines and our local communities to deliver an airport that is fair, affordable and secures the benefits of expansion for the whole of the UK.” Voting on the specifics of the airport’s expansion won’t occur until next year, but in addition to the new runway a sixth terminal is expected to be added. The expansion is expected to bring in an estimated $74.5 billion USD in revenue for the city and create up to 77,000 jobs.



Aviation News for the Week of October 16, 2016

This week in aviation news: Galaxy Note7 banned from all U.S. flights, GE announces successful ground tests for GE9X engine, EgyptAir purchases eight 737NGs, Bombardier announces further job cuts as part of turnaround plan


On October 15, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued an emergency order that banned all Samsung Galaxy Note7 smartphones from all passenger or cargo transport aircraft coming to or from the United States. Previously, passengers had been instructed to power off their Galaxy Note7s, which contain a defect causing them to overheat and in some instances catch fire. “We recognize that banning these phones from airlines will inconvenience some passengers, but the safety of all those aboard an aircraft must take priority,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “We are taking this additional step because even one fire incident inflight poses a high risk of severe personal injury and puts many lives at risk.” Following suit, airlines and transportation authorities around the world put similar mandates in place the following week. The phone is now officially classified as a hazardous material, and thus banned from both checked and carry-on baggage.


On Wednesday, GE Aviation reported the successful competition of the first ground tests of its GE9X engine, which will be the world’s largest commercial aircraft engine once it hits the market in 2018. Intended for installation in Boeing 777X aircraft, GE reports that the engine has achieved 167 hours, 213 cycles and 89 starts to date and will begin in-flight tests next year. "This engine is living up to our expectations, and we are extremely pleased with the results," said Ted Ingling, general manager of the GE9X program at GE Aviation. "During ground testing at GE Aviation's Peebles Testing Operation, the first GE9X engine performed flawlessly, providing the Engineering team with 1,200 individual data streams that reaffirmed the design. We look forward to the next phase of testing for the engine program." The engine is in the 100,000 pound thrust class with a 134-inch fan. GE reports that approximately 700 orders have been placed for the engine to date.


EgyptAir has reported its purchase of eight Boeing 737 Next-Generation aircraft sponsored by Dubai Aerospace Enterprise, in a statement announced on Thursday. The airline, Egypt’s flagship carrier, will receive the first aircraft in February 2017. “This new agreement, which implies adding new eight Boeing Next-Generation 737s to our fleet, will commemorate the mutual effort gathering both Boeing and EgyptAir, which dated back since 1969. The delivery of this new order will help us maintain EgyptAir’s global flight schedule and continue to deliver a consistently great performance for our customers,” EgyptAir chairman and CEO Safwat Musallam said. EgyptAir reports that its fleet currently includes 20 737NGs.


This week, Bombardier announced that it will cut approximately 7,500 jobs over the next two years in a plan that will save approximately $300 million. Consisting of approximately 10% of its global workforce, Bombardier said that the positions would mainly come from administrative and other non-production departments. “After successfully de-risking our business last year, our focus has shifted to building a clear path to profitable earnings growth and cash generation. The actions announced today will ensure we have the right cost structure, workforce and organization to compete and win in the future,” said Alain Bellemare, President and Chief Executive Officer, Bombardier Inc. “We are confident in our strategy, our leadership team and our ability to achieve both our 2016 goals and our 2020 turn-around plan objectives.” In February, Bombardier announced plans to lay off 7,000 people in 2016. 

Aviation News for the Week of October 2, 2016

This week in aviation news: CS300 receives EASA certification, Qatar places $11 billion order for Boeing aircraft, Ryanair announces expansion plans 


Bombardier’s CS300 aircraft has received type certification by the European Aviation Safety Industry (EASA) following the successful completion of its route-proving exercises. The larger member of the CSeries family, the aircraft was flown along launch operator Air Baltic’s routes in Europe and the Middle East before receiving certification. Deliveries are expected to begin by the end of this year. “Certifying two clean-sheet aircraft within a nine-month period is a major aviation industry achievement and today we celebrate the latest CSeries program milestone with the CS300 EASA certification,” Bombardier Commercial Aircraft president Fred Cromer said. Bombardier reports that the CSeries family delivers a 20% fuel burn advantage over its competitors, is the quietest in-production commercial aircraft in the 100-150 seat variation, and boasts a range of 3,300 nautical miles.


On Friday, Qatar and Boeing announced a monumental order for 30 787-9s, 10 777-300ERs, and commitments for up to 60 737 MAX 8s. The firm order for the Dreamliners and 777s alone could total more than $11.7 billion at list prices. "Qatar Airways, already one of the fastest growing airlines in the history of aviation, today announces a significant and historic aircraft order that will power our future growth for the years and the decades ahead," said Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Mr. Akbar Al Baker. "Boeing has proven to be a valuable partner, and today's announcement is testament to our appreciation of the quality of their product and their dedication to providing world class customer service." Qatar’s fleet currently includes 84 Boeing aircraft, with total backlog standing at 105. The airline recently walked away from four of the fifty Airbus A320neos it had on order, due to continued delays in deliveries. Al Baker mentioned that the 737 orders would “mitigate the risk” of keeping the rest of the A320neos on order.  


Dublin-based, low-cost carrier Ryanair has announced that it will expand its fleet by approximately 50 aircraft and subsequently hire more than 3,500 people in 2017. Ryanair plans to expand its all-Boeing 737-800 fleet from 355 currently to 500 or more over the next five years. “Ryanair announced that it will be hiring 2,000 new cabin crew, 1,000 pilots and 250 aircraft engineers, as well as promoting over 300 first officers on its command upgrade program across its 84-base European network,” Ryanair said. The airline currently has approximately 283 Boeing 737s on order, including 100 737 MAX 200s.   

Aviation News for the Week of September 25, 2016

This week in aviation news: First MRJ aircraft arrives in United States for testing, Airbus announces corporate reorganization, Dubai set to open ten more Emirates A380 gates, Bombardier’s CS300 begins European route-proving

The Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ), the first Japanese-made aircraft produced in over fifty years, has made its first appearance in the United States. The 90-seat MRJ90, the larger of two available variations, left Japan’s Nagoya Airfield on Monday. After making stops in Russia and Anchorage, the aircraft landed at Grant County International Airport in Washington state on Wednesday. The first of four test aircraft set to the be tested in the United States, the aircraft was initially delayed after issues with data monitoring in its air conditioning system. Mitsubishi has opened two flight testing centers in Washington, where the aircraft will undergo further flights in order to achieve type certification. While the MRJ achieved its first flight last November, the manufacturer had announced that the first delivery of the jet would be delayed to approximately the second quarter of 2018. The two variations of the MRJ will hold approximately 78 and 88 passengers, and Mitsubishi reports that it will deliver a 20 percent increase in fuel savings when compared to regional jets currently in use. To date, Mitsubishi has received more than 433 orders and purchase options for the jet. The approximate list price for the MRJ90 is $43.7 million.     


French manufacturer Airbus Commercial Airplanes and Airbus Group, headquartered in the Netherlands, are set to merge in a major corporate shakeup. Tom Enders, CEO of Airbus Group, will maintain his position while Airbus Commercial Airplanes CEO Fabrice Brégier has been appointed as COO of the conglomerate but will maintain his role as president of the commercial aircraft division. “The merger of Airbus Group and Airbus paves the way for an overhaul of our corporate set-up, simplifies our company’s governance, eliminates redundancies and supports further efficiencies, while at the same time driving further integration of the entire group,” Enders said, in a statement released on Thursday. The companies will operate under the singular brand name of Airbus, which will go into effect in January of next year. Airbus has experienced its share of difficulties in 2016, facing manufacturing issues and a steadily shrinking number of orders along with a 13% decrease in the value of its shares.   


Dubai International Airport (DBX) has agreed to open a total of ten new gates to accommodate United Arab Emirates’ growing A380 fleet. Once the new gates are added, DBX will have the capacity to handle more A380s than any other airport in the world, with a total of 47 gates. The airport’s Concourse C has recently merged to operate exclusively Emirates and Qantas flights, a redesign expected to see completion in 2018. The changes are part of the DBX Plus program, which aims to increase the airport’s capacity to 118 million passengers over the next seven years. Bryan Thompson, SVP of development at Dubai Airports said, “Considering the traffic growth at Dubai International and the central role the airport will continue to play for the aviation sector as well as Dubai’s economy over the next 10 years, it is vital that we provide additional capacity while enhancing our customer service. We believe this first project under DXB Plus will deliver on both fronts.” Emirates currently operates a fleet of 140 Airbus A380s, the world’s largest aircraft seating 555 passengers in a standard three-class configuration. 


Bombardier’s CS300, the larger member of the CSeries family, has begun European route-proving flights in order to achieve certification. The test aircraft has been operating along launch operator airBaltic’s routes in the Middle East, Europe, and through the airline’s base in Riga, Latvia. AirBaltic has 20 145-seat CS300s on order, and is expected to receive the first aircraft by the end of this year. “The airBaltic team [will] welcome the CS300 to its home base in Riga for the first time to see the aircraft simulate operations in our route system that covers much of Europe—all in advance of our first delivery later this fall,” airBaltic CEO Martin Gauss said. Bombardier reports that the CSeries family delivers a 20% fuel burn advantage over its competitors, is the quietest in-production commercial aircraft in the 100-150 seat variation, and boasts a range of 3,300 nautical miles.

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