Wednesday, November 20, 2019
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Emirates orders 787-9s reduces 777X commitment

Emirates has ordered 30 787-9s, valued at $8.8 billion at list prices firming up an early commitment.

The deal signed at the Dubai Airshow, culminates discussions between the two companies on the best 787 model to meet the requirements of one of the world’s leading airlines.

It had previously signed an initial agreement for the larger 787-10 variant.

READ: Will Boeing order 777-200LRs as interim Sunrise aircraft? 

HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Emirates Chairman and Chief Executive said: “I am pleased to announce a firm order for 30 Boeing Dreamliners. This is an important investment and addition to our future fleet and it reflects Emirates’ continued efforts to provide the best quality air transport services to our customers. The 787s will complement our fleet mix by expanding our operational flexibility in terms of capacity, range and deployment. We are also pleased to reaffirm our commitment to the Boeing 777X programme and look forward to its entry into service.”

Emirates / Boeing press conference. Credit: Updesh Kapur @updeshkapur

Sheikh Ahmed added: “Our Boeing fleet is key to our business model to serve international demand for travel to and through our Dubai hub, as we continue to contribute to the UAE’s strategy to become a global destination for business and tourism by providing high quality air connectivity.”

As part of the agreement, the airline will exercise substitution rights and converting 30 777X aircraft into 30 787-9s.

With this conversion, Emirates remains the world’s biggest 777X customer with 126 aircraft on order and the largest 777 operator with 155 aircraft today.

“We are excited to finalize this important order from one of the world’s leading airlines. Our agreement solidifies Emirates’ plan to operate the 787 Dreamliner and the 777X, which make up the most efficient and most capable widebody combination in the industry,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President & CEO Stan Deal.

“It is an honor to build on our successful partnership with Emirates and continue to sustain many jobs at Boeing and our supplier partners.”


Boeing already working on Southwest fatal flight recommendations

Boeing says it is working on design changes to thousands of Boeing 737NG planes to improve their ability to withstand a fan blade failure similar to the one that led to a bizarre 2018 death on a Southwest Airlines flight.

The latest hit to the embattled manufacturer came as the National Transportation Safety Board issued seven recommendations from its investigation into the tragic event, which ended Southwest’s 47-year fatality-free record.

A 43-year-old mother of two died when she was partially sucked out of a window on Southwest flight  1380  as it traveled from New York’s La Guardia airport to Love Field in Dallas.

READ: American, Southwest extend MAX absence until March.

The Boeing 737-700, with 149 passengers and crew on board, made an emergency landing in Philadelphia.

The NTSB found a fractured fan blade from a CFM International CFM-56-7B engine led to the engine inlet and fan cowl separating.

Fan cowl fragments hit the aircraft’s fuselage near a cabin window, causing the window to blow out and resulting in a rapid cabin depressurization.

The NTSB said the fan blade, which fractured due to a fatigue crack, hit the engine fan case at “a location that was critical to the structural integrity and performance of the fan cowl structure”.

Its recommendations addressed the need to ensure the structural integrity of the fan cowl on Boeing 737NGs and assess whether other airframe and engine combinations have critical fan blade impact locations.

The recommendations also looked at the importance of having flight attendants secured in a jumpseat during emergency landings and guidance for mitigating hazards to passengers affected by an in-flight loss of seating.

“This accident demonstrates that a fan blade can fail and release differently than that observed during engine certification testing and accounted for in airframe structural analyses,” said NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt.

“It is important to go beyond routine examination of fan blades; the structural integrity of the engine nacelle components for various airframe and engine combinations needs to be ensured.”

Boeing said it was supporting manufacturers’ recommendations for fan blade inspections and it was introducing enhancements for inlet and fan cowl designs to enhance their ability to withstand a fan blade failure.

It was also boosting the “overall capability of these structures”.

“All 737 NGs are safe to continue operating normally as the issue is completely mitigated by the fan blade inspections,’’ it said.

“In addition, Boeing is working on the design enhancements to fully address the safety recommendation from the NTSB.

Boeing said the design change would be implemented in the existing NG fleet over the longer term.

A more relaxed Virgin Oz revisits its bubbly youth

Passengers should encounter a more relaxed Virgin Australia as it rebalances its focus on leisure and corporate markets and revisits its effervescent youth.

Virgin chief executive Paul Scurrah told the Australian Airports Association annual conference Tuesday the airline was famous for its customer service “and we want to be even more famous for it”.

The move is the gentler side of a hard-edged focus on costs that has seen Scurrah commission a sweeping review of the business, announce the axing of 750 jobs as well as a 2 percent reduction in capacity and the removal from the group’s fleet of five aircraft.

READ: Jetstar pilots get green light for Christmas strike vote

He also announced a delay in the delivery of new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft and a decision to buy back a 35 percent stake in the Velocity frequent flyer program.

Passengers would already have seen the lighter touch in quirky new “feel good” television ads featuring a flying wig and a traveling family.

“Throughout our review, one thing we heard loud and clear from our customers is that they want us to be more relaxed,’’ Scurrah told the conference.

“We took that on board. So, this month, we changed our inflight announcements.

“Now, instead of saying ‘good morning ladies and gentlemen’, we now say ‘hi everyone’. We now encourage our crew to call customers by their first name.”

Scurrah said these were “subtle, but important changes symbolizing who we now want to be”.

Other changes included a new Brisbane international lounge called “My Lounge” with a more casual style to cater to leisure travelers who are the majority of passengers heading overseas from the Queensland capital.

“We …  announced new features for our mobile app, including a new booking platform, flight notifications, and access to hotel partner Expedia for accommodation,’’ Scurrah added.

“We’ve also enhanced our self-service kiosks to improve the check-in experience for guests.”

However, the Virgin chief emphasized that this did not mean Virgin would be taking its eye off the ball in the corporate market.

“We will continue to focus on it and compete in it,’’ he said.

“However, we will continue to have a very strong focus on the important leisure market in this country as well.

“We’ll do this through a balance of premium and low-cost products – making sure we put them on the right routes to attract the right market segments.”

“We are focusing Virgin Australia towards routes that have both a strong business and leisure orientation and Tigerair on leisure destinations.’’

speaking on the sidelines of the conference, Scurrah said the airline’s more relaxed stance was cashing in on data saying it was playing well in all parts of the market.

But he said the data had indicated the carrier had become too “one dimensional”.

“Because we have a great airline that operates across all sectors of the market, I think we needed to tell the story and remind people that we are across all sectors of the market,’’ he said.

He noted that the feedback to staff was that people felt good about flying with Virgin “and  that our people are consistently better and consistently happier”.

Scurrah said he had been careful to make sure that he talked about segmentation in a way that he did not denigrate one of the offerings at the expense of the others.

He said the airline had a significant and popular focus on corporate travellers and was holding its own from a market share point of view.

He outlined a number of changes at the airline that included a facility over the last six months to upgrade to Economy X or business from check-in kiosks as part of a move to give people a sense of personalization and control as well as make it a more seamless experience.

“That’s been working really well and it’s a nice revenue earner for us as well,’’ he said.

The flying wig ad has drawn some criticism but Scurrah said he had trusted the experts on the content and the concept was strongly backed by research.

He said the ad was designed to generate emotion in a crowded market and had succeeded.

While acknowledging the ad has had its detractor, he had been told that wasn’t a bad thing because it got people talking.

“It’s got the barbecue discussion going and our brand has been discussed,’’ he said.

“And the message about a renewed focus on families and having an easy feel-good experience is certainly coming out, even though the discussions of people who don’t like the ad.”

Jetstar pilots get green light for Christmas strike vote

Potential Christmas chaos at Australian low-cost carrier Jetstar has moved a step closer after the Fair Work Commission approved a ballot to determine if pilots are willing to walk off the job over pay and conditions

The Australian Federation of Air Pilots applied for a ballot for protected industrial action last week and said the decision showed the commission was satisfied it had genuinely tried to reach an agreement with the company.

READ: Rolls-Royce engine problems affect 14,000 Air New Zealand customers.

“The AFAP has been genuinely negotiating with the Company for nearly 12 months but the company remains unwilling to shift on any of the pilot’s pay and conditions such as rostering,” said AFAP executive director Simon Lutton.

“Despite our willingness to continue to meet and work towards reaching an agreement, the company has refused to move sufficiently to address the pilots’ concern.’’

Lutton said the AFAP remained committed to reaching an agreement on outstanding pay and condition claims and a bargaining meeting was scheduled for November 29.

Members will be asked to endorse work stoppages of up to 24 hours as well as work-to-rule bans ranging from deciding not to work overtime to refusing to follow standard fuel-saving procedures.

The pilots are upset they are the lowest-paid jet flight crews employed by Australia’s four airlines and Lutton said they were tired of not being valued as highly as their peers at other carriers.

“Jetstar pilots simply want to be valued fairly in line with their peers at other airlines,” he said

The AFAP, which represents 80 percent of Jetstar line pilots, is now compiling a ballot roll of its Jetstar pilot members which will be submitted for scrutiny by electoral officials before Christmas.

A majority of the members must vote yes for the protected industrial action to proceed.

A Jetstar spokesman said management was disappointing that the AFAP had taken the step “this early in the negotiations” .

“ We remain committed to reaching a new agreement to support the great work our people do every day, but not at any cost,’’ a spokesman said.

The airline says it is prepared to offer a 3 percent pay rise but argues the pilots demands would drive an increase in costs of about 15 percent.

Weekly Roundup – November 18th, 2019

Here are our 4 most popular articles from the past week.

Emirates’ Tim Clark slams airlines over poor use of A380

Emirates Clark A380
Emirates president Tim Clark.

Emirates’ President Sir Tim Clark has always been a strong advocate of the A380 and says Airbus will rue the day it canceled the superjumbo program.


Emirates to manufacturers: Lift your game or we won’t accept your products

Clark Emriates manufacturers
Emirates’ President Tim Clark. Photo: Geoffrey Thomas.

Sir Tim Clark, President of Emirates Airlines, turns 70 years on November 22. Since its inception in 1985, he has been the driving force in establishing what today is the world’s biggest international airline, operating 267 aircraft, including 113 A380s.


Airbus takes leadership position in electric aircraft


Airbus and SAS (Scandinavian Airlines) have taken a leadership position to research and develop electric and hybrid-electric aircraft operations ecosystems and related infrastructure requirements.


Art in the sky: check out these spectacular drone displays

Hundreds of drones simulate the Earth in Sacramento . Image: YouTube/Sacramento Bee.

The stunning aerial dance of UFO’s that wowed audiences in Steven Speilberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind has become a reality thanks to the drone.

The small aerial vehicles may be a potential threat in some circumstances but they can be beautiful in others.


Airbus announces firm orders for 170 aircraft listing at $US30bn

Middle East airlines may have hit tougher times but their appetite for new planes enabled  Airbus to this week make a splash at the Dubai Air Show with orders for 170 aircraft listing at roughly $US30 billion.

The European manufacturer and Emirates signed a purchase agreement for 50 A350-900s powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines.

The last-minute announcement was the outcome of a proposed deal revealed at the start of the year for 40 A330neo aircraft and 30 A350 jets.

While it boosted the number of A350s it will take, Emirates is understood to be no longer pursuing the A330neos.

READ: Emirates’ warning to manufacturers to lift their game

Emirates chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said the firm order followed a thorough review of various aircraft options and its fleet plans.

He described the order as reflecting the carrier’s confidence in the future of the United Arab Emirates’ aviation sector “and a strong affirmation of Dubai’s strategy to be global nexus”.

“It is Emirates’ long-standing strategy to invest in modern and efficient aircraft, and we are confident in the performance of the A350 XWB,’’ he said in a statement.

“Complementing our A380s and 777s, the A350s will give us added operational flexibility in terms of capacity, range and deployment.

“In effect, we are strengthening our business model to provide efficient and comfortable air transport services to, and through, our Dubai hub.”

A second order for 120 A320 family aircraft from Air Arabia comprised  73 A320neos, 27 A321neos and 20 A321XLRs.

Air Arabia chief executive Adel Al Ali said the airline’s fleet growth strategy was  driven by commercial demand and the announcement for one of the region’s biggest single-aisle orders with Airbus would support those plans.

“This new milestone underpins not only our solid financial fundamentals but also the strength of our multi-hub growth strategy that we have adopted over the years while remaining focused on efficiency, performance and passenger experience,’’ he said.

“The addition of the A320neo, A321neo and A321XLR complements our existing fleet and allows us to expand our service to farther and newer destinations while remaining loyal to our low-cost business model.”

Separately, Boeing announced leisure carrier SunExpress would exercise options for 10 additional Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft for fleet renewal and growth.

The purchase, valued at $US1.2 billion at list prices, adds to a previous SunExpress order for 32 MAX jets.

Airlines receive significant discounts on the list price.

Will Qantas take 777-200LRs as interim Sunrise aircraft?

It is emerging that the interim solution being offered by Boeing for its Project Sunrise may be a fleet of 777-200LRs.

The US manufacturer has slowed the development of its longer-ranged 777X-8 the logical aircraft for the mission and it was thought that Boeing would compensate Qantas for operating the larger 777X-9 as an interim, with reduced payload, to meet the range mission with just below 300 passengers.

However, US sources suggest the solution may be in fact the 777-200LR, ironically an aircraft Qantas almost purchased in 2005.

Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has said that Boeing has made the airline an extremely attractive offer for Project Sunrise that many say it can’t refuse but details are scant.

READ: Qantas’s 20hr nonstop flights are impressive but I hold the world record.

The 777-200LR has a two-class seating capacity of 317 but for the Project Sunrise, it would likely be about 270.

With the 777-200LR and 777X-9 Boeing could offer earlier deliveries and in the case of the 777-200LR take them back from Qantas as the 777X-8 is delivered.

Boeing would then convert them to freighters for FedEx.

Recent cutbacks by Etihad Airways and Lufthansa to their 777X orders have freed up early delivery positions for the -9 model.

While the 777X-9 is too big in the long term for the Project Sunrise mission the aircraft is now the largest aircraft available for an Airbus A380 replacement.

Boeing anticipates that Qantas would retain the 777X-9 as 777X-8s are delivered.

However, the Boeing offer faces very tough competition from Airbus with its A350-1000.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce says the competition is very close.








Dramatic video of GoAir plane landing on grass

Dramatic video of GoAir plane landing on grass as been taken by Shafeeq Hamza, passenger onboard.

The GoAir Airbus A320-200N, registration VT-WGR was performing flight G8-811 from Nagpur to Bangalore (India) with 180 people on board and landed beside Bangalore’s runway 09 at 07:22L in fog and low visibility.

According to an Aviation Herald report, it touched down off the left edge of the runway with both main sets of gear on soft ground.

READ: Emirates warns manufacturers to lift their game

The crew initiated a go-around and climbed to 8000 feet for about 30 minutes then the crew decided to divert to Hyderabad (India), climbed the aircraft to 28,000ft and landed safely in Hyderabad about 90 minutes after the baulked landing.”

After landing in Hyderabad the left main gear was found covered with mud.

Aviation Herald reports as follows;

India’s DGCA rated the occurrence a serious incident, opened an investigation and released the following statement:

On 11.11.2019 Go Air A320 aircraft, VT-WGR operated flight G8-811D(Nagpur-Bangalore). It was cleared for an approach for R/W 09 at Bangalore. Due to bad weather at Bangalore aircraft initiated Go around. During the Go Around process No.1 engine stalled. The power on the effected engine was reduced to idle and Go around was continued. During climb No.1 Engine again stalled and power was again reduced to idle. The aircraft diverted Hyderabad with power on No.1 engine in climb detent.

After landing at Hyderabad mud deposit have been observed on left main landing gear, indicating that aircraft has rolled onto soft ground/unpaved surface.

As per the crew, aircraft has deviated to left during go around at Bangalore. Aircraft has been grounded for detailed investigation at Hyderabad.

DFDR data along with other recorder data is being analysed for further investigation.

Rolls-Royce engine problems affect 14,000 Air New Zealand customers.

About 14,000 Air New Zealand customers will be affected by international schedule changes forced upon the airline by problems with a newer version of the Rolls-Royce engines on its Boeing 787-9s.

The most substantive of the changes announced today is the suspension of its twice-weekly seasonal Christchurch-Perth service, resulting in the cancellation of 62 flights.

Also canceled: AirNZ’s second daily Auckland-Perth service from December 10 2019 until January 5 2020 as well as a limited number of flights to Tonga and Sydney.

Rolls-Royce is requiring operators of its Trent 1000 TEN model engines to carry out more frequent maintenance due to an issue with the engine’s high-pressure turbine blades.

READ: Rolls-Royce delivers more pain to Boeing 787 operators.

The problem is the engine manufacturer does not have any replacement engines available during the maintenance work and has advised Air New Zealand of a significant wait for repair services.

Air New Zealand senior fleet manager 787 Captain Dave Wilson said the airline had been performing regular precautionary checks on its TEN engines since April and has been doing all it can to fast-track required maintenance from Rolls-Royce.

“Based on the maintenance needs of our engines, we expect some will need to be inspected in December and January and then serviced by Rolls-Royce offshore and unfortunately Rolls-Royce has no capacity to alleviate this pressure,’’ he said.

“We have 14 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft in our fleet and four spare engines to power these. However, all these spare engines are with Rolls Royce offshore either undergoing service or waiting for a service slot.”

The issue with the TEN engines comes after Air New Zealand and other airlines globally have grappled with problems on earlier models of the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 engines for more than two years.

The Kiwi carrier has been leasing aircraft to deal with the issues and has one widebody aircraft on lease from EVA Air in its fleet.

The Air New Zealand cancelations also come as Emirates’ president Tim Clark recently lashed out at manufacturers delivering faulty products to airlines.

Read Emirates’ warning to manufacturers

The Kiwi carrier said it had 10 Trent 1000 TEN engines fitted to its 787-9 fleet and had been working to minimize disruption.

Schedule changes were now unavoidable, it said, and further changes may also be required as the airline goes through engine checks.

It said it would start processing changes to customers’ bookings this week and then directly contact customers affected by these changes with new travel information.

Customers booked via a travel agent (including online travel agents) will be contacted by their booking agent and information on changes would be published on the Travel Alerts section of the Air New Zealand website.

Air New Zealand Senior Manager customer care and communications Doug Grant said the airline had not expected to still be facing issues with its Rolls-Royce engines but it was well-placed to minimize the impact on customers.

“Going into the holiday season we’re acutely aware how important travel is to our customers, and our schedule changes are designed to keep cancellations to a minimum,’’ he said.

There high-pressure turbine blade issue does not affect the airline’s 22 Trent 1000 Package C model engines on other 787-9s.

First look at new Fiji Airways A350 as CEO talks US growth

November 23 will be a day of national importance for Fiji.

It will be the day the country’s first Airbus A350 arrives in the capital Nadi after a special Fiji Airways flight with guests and media from Brisbane.

“We will have thousands of people out and live coverage on national TV while we show off the aircraft over the city,” Fiji Airways chief executive André Viljoen said in Toulouse at the aircraft handover on Friday.

READ: Emirates warns manufacturers to lift their game or it won’t accept their products

Viljoen described the first of two A350-900s to be delivered to the island carrier this year, with the second coming in mid-December, “a massive game-changer for us.”

Fji A350
Photo: Andreas Spaeth.

The A350s, leased from Dubai-based lessor DAE, enable the carrier for the first time to envisage its long-planned expansion into the heart of the US.

“This aircraft has the legs to do it, and we want to go to either Dallas/Fort Worth or Chicago non-stop from Fiji,” Viljoen said.

The background to this is that Fiji, with an economy mainly based on tourism, wants to maintain its 5 percent visitor growth rate.

“Sixty percent of arrivals come from Australia and New Zealand, only 20 percent currently from the US,” Viljoen noted.

With the Australasian market regarded as fairly saturated, Fiji plans to increase frequencies from Nadi to Los Angeles from daily to double daily as well as go to daily from four times a week to San Francisco.

The Fijian airline currently flies six wide-bodies, five A330-200s and one A330-300, and wants to maintain this number for the time being.

“Two of the A330-200s are on short-term lease from Etihad and will exit the fleet once the A350s have arrived,” Viljoen said.

But The Fiji CEO already has an appetite for more.

“We might go to a total of three or four A350s with another one may be due within 18 months,” he observed, hinting at further upcoming lease deals.

The first A350 delivered on Friday, christened “Island of Viti Levu”, left Toulouse on Friday afternoon local time to fly to the Dubai Air Show over the coming days.

It will enter scheduled service on December 1 with flights to Auckland and Sydney, mostly for crew training.

Fiji A350
Photo: Andreas Spaeth

From January, the two A350s enter long-haul flying with daily flights to Los Angeles and Sydney.

Fiji Airways is the 31st operator of the A350, which has received 913 orders (737 for the base version A350-900 and 176 for the larger A350-1000) while 323 had been delivered by Friday.

In terms of cabin product, the A350 is also a milestone for Fiji Airways.

For the first time the carrier offers full-flat  Collins “SuperDiamond” seats in business class, clocking up a total of 33 in a 1-2-1 configuration.

The distinct patterns of Fiji Airways’ much-liked Teteva branding appear also on the pillowcases and amenity bags as a welcome bold contrast to elegant seat covers in a very light grey.

The pitch is 60-62 inches while the HD touch IFE screens come in at 17 inches.

Fiji A350 new
The new business class seat. Photo: Andreas Spaeth

Another product premiere for the airline comes with the 39 seats in the first four rows of economy.

While it’s the same hardware as the 262 seats in economy, the CL3710 from Recaro, the first rows come with 34-inch pitch (versus 31-32 inches) and are called “Bula Space”.

The 12-inch screens are the same for all seats in this cabin.

As Fiji intends to keep the four A330s it owns for the time being,  it has no intention of upgrading the cabins on those aircraft to the standard of the new A350s.

Fiji Airways is also an operator of the Boeing 737MAX8 of which two are currently stored in Nadi, three more are to be delivered.

“Luckily we managed to keep our four 737NGs that were supposed to have left already. Together with the two A330s from Etihad we were able to cope with the MAX crisis,” Viljoen observed.

“We also had contingency plans, as whatever Boeing said so far didn’t work out.”

Viljoen said he wanted to acquire A321neos if the MAX didn’t go back into service soon.

According to the CEO, the intense competition on the route from Sydney to Nadi fuels Fiji Airways’ desire to offer the best product.

The island carrier offers 7,900 seats weekly from Sydney while three Australian carriers have an allotment for 6,900 seats in total, split between Qantas Jetstar and Virgin Australia.

The passenger number Fiji Airways carried last year, about 1.7 million, will stay stable for the next two years, Viljoen expects, as he wants to curtail capacity growth and consolidate.

During the delivery event in Toulouse,  Airbus CCO Christian Scherer emphasized once more how well suited the ULR variant of the A350-1000 Airbus proposed to Qantas for Project Sunrise would be.

“The A350-1000 has proven we can tick all the boxes with it, we don’t have that much to do even on the current -1000, the inherent capacity for this mission is clearly already built in the design of the aircraft”, Scherer argued.

“We just have to beef up the take-off weight, increase fuel capacity and fine-tune some offerings for the passenger experience on such missions.”

At the same time, Scherer admitted that the rising star of Airbus’s product portfolio, the A321neoLR and XLR, might cannibalize parts of the manufacturer’s A330 sales.

“So what? The market needs seats and we provide them,”  he added, noting it didn’t matter to Airbus whether it provided seats in narrow-bodies or wide-bodies as long as it could provide them.




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