Wednesday, January 16, 2019
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Successful test for new way to pay for airline travel

Payment airline website
Emirates was one of the airlines involved in the test. Photo: Emirates.

A new payment system that allows passengers to securely buy tickets on airline websites using money transferred directly from their bank account has successfully undergone its first live test.

The International Air Transport Association tested the new  IATAPay system with UK-based financial technology company ipagoo as well as members Cathay Pacific Airways, Emirates and Scandinavian Airlines.

The direct-debit option would be made available alongside other methods of paying for airfares such as credit card, PayPal and Bpay.

The airline group is working with Deutsche Bank on a prototype for Europe, excluding the UK, which is expected to undergo testing in early 2019.

It will start with the German market but the intention is to introduce it in other regions.

IATA says the process offers a high level of security for both users and recipients and can be instantaneous.

It helps airlines because it will be cheaper and faster for them than alternatives and a simpler payment process is expected to result in fewer lost sales.

There are similar benefits for consumers.

“Today’s consumers, and especially millennials, have expectations of multiple payment options including mobile and peer-to-peer. IATA Pay responds to these expectations,’’ said IATA senior vice president of financial and distribution services Aleksander Popovich.

“At the same time, airlines are trying to manage significant card payment costs — $8 billion per year and rising.  A large part of this cost is incurred in direct purchases from airline websites.”

Separately, the airline association reported passenger traffic growth in November moderated but remained healthy.

READ IATA warns on global trade after November cargo flatlines.

Global traffic rose 6.2 percent compared to November 2017, a slight deceleration from the 6.3 percent growth in October, but failed to keep pace with a 6.8 percent growth in capacity.

This saw the load factor dip 0.4 percentage point to 80.0 percent, only the third time this had happened in two years on a year-to-year basis.

“Traffic is solid. But there are clear signs that growth is moderating in line with the slowing global economy,’’ said IATA director general Alexandre de Juniac.

“’We still expect 6 percent demand growth this year. But trade tensions, protective tariffs and Brexit are all uncertainties that overhang the industry.’’

Aussie teen deported after ‘stupid’ Air New Zealand bomb threat

Air New Zealand bomb deported
Auckland Airport. Photo: Steve Creedy

An Australian teenager who thought it funny to type “I have a bomb” into an Air New Zealand in-flight messaging app has been deported from New Zealand.

The 19-year-old was traveling back to Sydney from Tonga when he typed the comment into the  Air New Zealand app.

Airlines take security threats extremely seriously and a TigerAir Australia plane flying from Sydney to Melbourne was forced to return to Sydney in December because of a written note.

The act, described by the teen’s lawyer as the “grossly stupid event of the century”, prompted emergency services at Auckland Airport to scramble as the Airbus A320 on which the teen was traveling was forced to return to the gate.

READ US pilots warn government shutdown is affecting safety.

He appeared in the Manukau District Court on Thursday charged with breaching the Civil Aviation Act by falsely communicating safety information.

New Zealand website reported that the teen, Meke Fifita, faced imprisonment or a fine but was deported after his father paid a $NZ3000 repatriation sum.

His lawyer, Jane Northwood, said she had never seen anyone “more distressed or remorseful and overwhelmed’ and she had arranged for immediate sentencing because of concerns for his safety in jail.

Judge Anna Johns said that Fifita’s actions came at a huge cost to the taxpayer, emergency services and Auckland airport.

“Anyone with half a brain would understand that this is not a funny thing to do, given the times we live in,” Stuff quoted her as saying.

This is the second time Air New Zealand has hit the international headlines recently.

It also made the news after an Air New Zealand flight traveling from Hong Kong to Auckland was forced to divert to Cairns when a passenger died on board.

Local media reported passengers were stuck on the plane for two hours because ground crew were initially unavailable to assist with the removal of the body from the plane



Boeing-Embraer deal gets Brazilian government approval

Boeing embraer deal Brazilian approval
Photo: Embraer.

Get ready for interesting times in the regional jet market after the Brazilian government approved Boeing’s $US4.2 billion bid to take a majority stake in a joint venture with Embraer.

The government’s approval of the deal covering Embraer’s commercial aircraft and services operations comes after the two companies last month approved terms for the joint venture.

The deal, first flagged in July but long expected, followed the decision by Airbus to take a controlling stake in Bombardier’s C Series Aircraft Limited Partnership (CSALP).

This allowed Airbus to add the Canadian company’s impressive C Series family to its aircraft portfolio and rename it the A220.

Read:  Airbus, Bombardier tie-up adds A220 to an impressive portfolio

Boeing’s more ambitious transaction will see it take an 80 percent ownership of the joint venture for $US4.2 billion, with Embraer taking the remaining 20 percent.

It will pit Embraer’s E-Jet family against the A220s in regional and medium-haul markets.

Boeing and Embraer both welcomed the government’s decision as the US manufactuer outlined the next steps for the deal.

“Once Embraer’s Board of Directors ratifies its prior approval, the two companies will then execute definitive transaction documents,’’ Boeing said.

“The closing of the transaction will be subject to shareholder and regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions.

“Assuming the approvals are received in a timely manner, the transaction is intended to close by the end of 2019.”

The US company will have operational and management control of the new company and it will be led by Brazil-based management that will report directly to the US company’s chief executive.

Embraer will have to consent to strategic decisions such as the transfer of operations from Brazil.

Boeing said last month the partnership was expected to be neutral to its earnings per share in 2020 and accretive thereafter.

It estimated there would be annual pre-tax cost synergies of approximately $US150 million by the third year of operations.

“Boeing and Embraer know each other well through more than two decades of collaboration, and the respect we have for each other and the value we see in this partnership has only increased since we announced our joint efforts earlier this year,” Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg said in the December announcement.

The companies have also agreed to the terms of another joint venture to promote and develop new markets for the multi-mission medium airlift KC-390.

Under the terms of this proposed partnership, Embraer will own a 51 percent stake in the joint venture, with Boeing owning the remaining 49 percent.


United plans record San Francisco expansion in 2019

United San Francisco expansion
Photo: United Airlines

United Airlines is planning a big year for San Francisco International Airport with the hub’s largest-ever international expansion due to roll out through 2019.

New services will include nonstop year-round services to Toronto, Canada, and Melbourne, Australia as well as a seasonal service to India’s New Dehli.

Services to Pape’ete, Tahiti, and Auckland, New Zealand, will also be extended to year-round and the airline will begin a second daily service between San Francisco (SFO) and Seoul, South Korea.

With 300 flights a day, United is the biggest airline at San Francisco and has added 12 new international destinations to San Francisco since 2013.

The new services, which are subject to government approval, will mean it will serve 29 international destinations from the West Coast gateway.

They will include eight cities in Europe, India, and the Middle East, seven in North America, and 14 in Asia and Oceania.

READ World’s safest airlines named for 2019

A new nonstop daily year-round San Francisco- Amsterdam service kicks off the expansion on March 30. The Boeing 787-9 service in addition to United services to Amsterdam from its hubs in Chicago, Houston, New York/Newark and Washington, DC.

The extended year-round, three-times weekly services to Auckland and Pape’ete also begin March 30.  Passengers heading to Tahiti will fly on a Boeing 787-9 while those heading to Auckland will be on a Boeing 777-200ER.

The following day a Boeing 737-800 will wing its way northwards to begin the twice-daily nonstop service to Toronto. The airline operates more than 20 daily flights between its US hubs and Toronto as well as a daily nonstop service between San Francisco and Calgary and Vancouver.

The second daily flight to Seoul begins April 1 using a Boeing 777-200ER. The airline says it will provide customers with new time and itinerary options as well as convenient connections to more than 80 destinations.

The three-times weekly non-stop service between Melbourne and San Francisco will use a B787-9 and starts October 29.

United has been flying to Australia for more than 35 years and today offers nonstop service to Sydney from Houston, Los Angeles and San Francisco well as a nonstop  Melbourne-Los Angeles service.

It boasts it offers more services between the US West Coast and Australia than any other US carrier.

The new seasonal service to Dehli will again use the Dreamliner and is due to begin December 5, connecting to more than 80 cities in India.

“This route expansion solidifies United’s position at San Francisco as the gateway airline serving destinations across the Pacific, the continental United States, as well as to Europe and beyond,” United chief executive Oscar Munoz said in announcing the expansion.

“It serves as a fitting capstone to all our efforts that made 2018 a breakthrough year for United, from delivering strong financial performance to currently leading in on-time departures for the second year in a row.”

United this week reported that its December traffic was up 6.9 percent on last year as it filled more seats on its planes.

Its consolidated December passenger load factor rose 0.4 points compared to same month in 2017



Delta orders more A220s as Airbus details record 2018

Delta A220 Airbus record deliveries
A Delta A220. Photo: Delta.

Airbus has kicked off 2019 with 15 additional A220 orders from Delta Air Lines after recording a record year for commercial deliveries in 2018.

The European manufacturer’s 800 2018 deliveries were 11 percent higher than the previous year but failed to beat Boeing’s total of 806.

Read: Bumper Boeing year sets new delivery record.

Its order book for the year ended up bigger than that of its US rival with 747 net orders compared to Boeing’s 675. However, the Airbus orders were down from 1109 in 2017.

Last year was the 16th in a row that Airbus increased deliveries and its backlog at the end of the year stood at a record 7,577 aircraft, boosted by 480 orders for A220s.

Airbus took control of the former Bombardier C Series in July and subsequently delivered 20 of the regional jets.

The majority of deliveries came from the A320 family and more than half of these were neos. Airbus delivered 626 A320 family aircraft, up from 558 in 2017. This included 386 A320neo family planes, up from 181 the previous year.

The A320 tally included the 100th delivery from the manufacturer’s final assembly line (FAL) in Mobile, Alabama, which is now producing more than four units per month, as well as the 400th delivery from the FAL in Tianjin, China.

The manufacturer also delivered 49 A330s, including the first three A330neos, 95 A350s and 12 A380 superjumbos.

A330 and A380 deliveries were both down compared to 2017 but the A350 figure rose from 78 the previous year.

“Despite significant operational challenges, Airbus continued its production ramp-up and delivered a record number of aircraft in 2018. I salute our teams around the globe who worked until the end of the year to meet our commitments,” said Airbus Commercial Aircraft president Guillaume Faury,

“I am equally pleased about the healthy order intake as it shows the underlying strength of the commercial aircraft market and the trust our customers are placing in us. My gratitude goes out to all of them for their ongoing support

“As we look to further increase our industrial efficiency, we will continue making the digitalization of our business a key priority.”

Delta’s order of an additional 15 A220s brings its total order for the regional jet to 90.

The additional order is for the -300 model and means the carrier now has 50 of the bigger planes on order.

Airbus will produce the -300s at a new production facility in Mobile and Delta anticipates taking its first delivery of the type in 2020 with all 90 aircraft in its fleet by the end of 2023.

The A220-300s  will be configured with 130 seats and offer First Class, Delta Comfort+ and main cabin options for customers.

“These additional A220 aircraft will continue to strategically enable Delta to refresh our fleet, drive further advances in the customer experience and serve as an excellent investment for our customers, employees and shareowners for Delta into the next decade,”  Delta chief operating officer Gil West said in the announcement.


Bumper Boeing year sets new delivery record

Boeing orders
Photo: Boeing

Boeing set a new annual record for aircraft deliveries in 2018 to deliver 806  jetliners to edge our rival Airbus for the top spot.

Airbus confirmed it delivered 800 commercial aircraft during the year and said it would release final audited figures after the close of market Wednesday.

Boeing’s bumper year saw it surpass its previous record of 763 deliveries in 2017 and was boosted by a last-minute surge in Boeing 737 deliveries as it handed over 69 planes in December.

It also received 893 net aircraft orders for the year, listing at $US143.7 billion, included 203 sales in the final month.

The US manufacturer raised the production rate of its 737 workhorse to 52 a month in mid-2018 and said almost half of its 580 737 deliveries in 2018 were for the more fuel-efficient MAX family.

Production lines for the widebody 787 were also humming with the delivery of 145 aircraft during the year.  Various 777, 767 and 747-8 deliveries made up the rest of the total.

The US manufacturer said the 787 extended its status as the fastest-selling twin-aisle jet in history with 109 orders last year to bring the total since the program launched to about 1400.

The orders included a decision by Hawaiian Airlines to switch from A330s to 787s and adding Turkish Airlines as a customer.

The 777 family continued its steady sales momentum with 51 net orders in 2018, driven by sales of the 777 Freighter to DHL Express, FedEx Express, ANA Cargo, Qatar Airways and other major freight operators.

Additional sales in December saw the 777 program exceed 2,000 orders since its launch.

READ Boeing’s 777 is the first widebody to sell over 2000. 

The 737 MAX family also achieved a major sales milestone in December, surpassing 5,000 net orders with 181 new sales during December.

For the full year, the 737 program achieved 675 net orders, including sales to 13 new customers.

“Boeing raised the bar again in 2018 thanks to our teammates’ incredible focus on meeting customer commitments, and continuously improving quality and productivity,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes president  Kevin McAllister.

“In a dynamic year, our production discipline and our supplier partners helped us build and deliver more airplanes than ever before to satisfy the strong demand for air travel across the globe.”


IATA warns on global trade after November cargo flatlines

IATA freight flatlines
IATA warned there is downside risk for air freight.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has warned that increasing international trade tensions continue to place pressure on the air cargo market after global air freight demand flatlined in November.

IATA said there was zero global demand growth in freight tonne kilometres in November and three regions — including the Asia-pacific — contracted.

This was the slowest rate of global growth recorded since March, 2016 and comes after 31 consecutive months of year-on-year increases.

Freight capacity, however, rose by 4.3 percent to mark the ninth month in a row that it outstripped demand.

International air freight is watched closely because it is often a “canary in the mine” signaling wider economic problems.

READ Airline profits forecast to rise in 2019 on lower fuel.

IATA said headwinds included signs of weakness in global economic activity, a contraction of export order books in all major export nations except the US and weakened consumer confidence compared to high levels at the start of 2018.

Shorter supply delivery times in Asia and Europe also contributed to the lack-luster result.

“Normally the fourth quarter is a peak season for air cargo,’’ said IATA director general Alexandre de Juniac. “So essentially flat growth in November is a big disappointment.

“While our outlook is for 3.7 percent demand growth in 2019, downside risks are mounting.

“Trade tensions are cause for great concern. We need governments to focus on enabling growth through trade, not barricading their borders through punitive tariffs.’’

The Asia-pacific, Europe and Africa all saw demand contract in November.

Asia-Pacific airlines saw demand for air freight shrink by 2.3 percent compared to the previous year while European carriers saw a contraction of 0.2 percent.

IATA attributed the falls in both regions to weaker manufacturing conditions for exporters and shorter supply delivery times, particularly in China and Germany.

African freight demand fell by 7.8 percent in November as demand conditions in all key markets remained weak

North American airlines posted the biggest growth with a 3.1 percent rise in demand, followed by Latin America (3.1 percent) and the Middle East (1.7 percent).

“The strength of the US economy and consumer spending have helped support the demand for air cargo over the past year, benefiting US carriers,’’ IATA said.


Boeing unveils new version of radical wing design

Boeing wing design
Image: Boeing

Boeing has unveiled a new truss-braced folding wing design it says will fly faster and higher than previous concepts.

The US manufacturer says its new version of the Transonic Truss-based Wing will offer unprecedented aerodynamic efficiency while flying at  Mach 0.8.

It has been developed through a collaboration with NASA as part of the Subsonic Ultra Green Aircraft Research (SUGAR) program.

The two organizations have been studying the concept for almost a decade in an attempt to adapt the long, thin wings seen on gliders to commercial aircraft.

The latest design would see ultra-thin folding wings measuring 170ft from end to end made possible by the presence of an optimized truss supporting the extended length.

“Originally, the TTBW was designed to fly at speeds of Mach 0.70 – 0.75,’’ Boeing said on its website.

“To increase the aircraft’s cruise speed, the new concept now has an optimized truss and a modified wing sweep.

“By adjusting the wing sweep angle, the truss can carry lift more efficiently. The end result was a more integrated design that significantly improved vehicle performance.”

The new design came after extensive wind tunnel testing at NASA Ames Research Center.

The aviation industry is searching for ways to meet ambitious environmental goals to become carbon neutral by 2020 and then halve greenhouse emissions relative to 2005 levels by 2050.

Initiatives include a move to introduce the world’s first global design certification aimed at lowering greenhouse gas emissions and a carbon offset scheme.

New aircraft designs introduced from 2020 will be subject to the world’s first global design standard.

The design standard will apply to new aircraft from 2020 and also to deliveries of aircraft already in production from 2023.

READ plane makers face new environmental standards.

Manufacturers of in-production aircraft failing to meet the standard by 2028 will be forced to cease manufacturing the planes unless their designs are modified.

The decision to adopt a global carbon offset scheme, the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA), was also a world-first.

It will start as a voluntary scheme from 2021 to 2026 but will then become mandatory across the aviation industry.


Heathrow shut down due to drone sighting

All departures from Heathrow airport were suspended for over an hour due to a drone sighting.

The shut down comes just three weeks after Gatwick, Britain’s second-busiest airport, was closed down for parts of three days because of drone sightings.

The airport tweeted: “We are responding to a drone sighting at Heathrow and are working closely with the Met Police to prevent any threat to operational safety. As a precautionary measure, we have stopped departures while we investigate. We apologise to passengers for any inconvenience this may cause.”

World’s safest airlines for 2019

One hour later it tweeted:

“We continue to work with the Met Police on reports of drones at Heathrow. We are working with Air Traffic Control and the Met Police, and have resumed departures out of Heathrow after a short suspension. We will continue to monitor this and apologise to anyone that were affected.”

Police were among those who saw the drone and the British military provided assistance although didn’t detail what that assistance was.

Over 1000 flights and 140,000 passengers were impacted when Gatwick was shut down before Christmas.

Last month Gatwick announced that it had spent US$8 million buying a system to prevent future attacks.

Heathrow Airport also said it was buying systems to guard against drones.

The airport handles 1,300 flights a day.

Flightradar is showing some flights are arriving but many aircraft waiting to take-off.

Heathrow is the second busiest airport in the world measured by international passenger traffic, the seventh busiest in the world by total traffic.

In 2017 it handled 78.0 million passengers.

An Australian company which as the technology it says could have prevented the London Gatwick travel chaos has warned airports will increasingly need anti-drone defenses as remotely piloted aircraft become more sophisticated.

Sydney-based Droneshield has been working on technology for the last five years to detect unwelcome drones and bring them down when it does.

It has attracted the attention of police and military forces and Droneshield chief executive Oleg Vornik says it is “highly applicable” to airports such as Gatwick.

He believes the company’s technology would have detected the drone, brought it down and helped authorities track down the operator.

“We have passive detection sensors which are effective up to five kilometres away, ‘’ he told AirlineRatings last month.

“The sensors are completely passive and they listen for the handshake connection between the drone and the controller.

“They don’t interfere with any other equipment at the airport like the radar or equipment at the ground control station or in the aircraft.

“They are able to accurately position the drone and send alerts. They send alerts in real time and they easily integrate into existing airport security equipment.”

Vornik said detecting a drone was part of a two-step process that included countermeasures to bring down a drone.

Droneshield produces a sci-fi rifle-like device it calls a Dronegun Tactical that has a range of up to 1km.

The Dronegun Tactical. Photo: Droneshield.

“We use particular kinds of jammers which are very surgical, meaning they jam the signal frequencies the drones use but not anything else,’’ Vornik said

“So, for example, they will not interfere with radar at the airport or cellular phone communications or emergency broadcast or control communications.

“So you will disable the drone but you’re not going to interfere with any other equipment.”

Vornik said the technology had undergone independent testing and certification by a laboratory in the US that showed it was safe for use at airports.

He said the US Federal Aviation Administration viewed counter-drone technology as critical but he expected to it take some time before it was approved for use in the US.

What was more likely was that a smaller environment such as Australia or the UK would see its deployment first.

And while he was not aware of any airports globally that had full deployment of counter-drone technology, he expected there would be a domino effect once it was.

“I think the moment we see the first of the airports deploy counter-drone technology, we expect it to spread really quickly,’’ he said.


Indonesian investigators launch another bid to find missing Lion Air recorder

Lion Air recorder
Searchers sort through debris from the Lion Air crash. Photo: Seven News

Indonesia is resuming the search for the cockpit voice recorder from a Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet that plummeted into the sea minutes after leaving Jakarta.

The head of Indonesia’s National Transportation Safety Commission, Chief Soerjoanto Tjahjono,   told Reuters a ship would depart for the search area as early as today if the weather was good.

The news agency was told would have seven days using the naval ship KRI Spica to find the cockpit voice recorder.

The move comes after a 10-day search funded by Lion Air failed to find the missing black box.

READ Lion Air funds new search for cockpit voice recorder.

The airline used a specialized ship at a reported cost of $US2.8m to search a section of sea floor where the fuselage of Lion Air Flight 610 is believed to be buried in mud.

The October 29 Lion Air crash killed 189 and proved the deadliest in a year where the aviation industry’s safety record took a hit.

Investigators have retrieved the flight data recorder and issued a preliminary report on the sequence of events leading up to the crash.

The CVR is needed to give more insight into how the flight crew reacted to problems with the aircraft’s angle of attack sensors and stabilizer trim system.

A crew the previous night experienced similar problems but landed safely after shutting down the automatic trim system according to procedures.

However, the crew on the fatal flight appeared to fight the system until the end.

The renewed search comes as lawyers representing the family of the co-pilot have filed legal action in the US against manufacturer Boeing claiming wrongful death.

The lawsuit alleges that the aircraft’s sensors provided inaccurate information to the flight control system, improperly activating an anti-stall system that ultimately caused the aircraft to nose-dive into the ocean. It also claims Boeing failed to provide proper training to pilots regarding the 737 Max 8’s features.

A new addition to the MAX was a flight control law known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS).

MCAS was software introduced to take into account differences between the 737 MAX and its predecessor — such as the MAX’s greater power and different center of gravity — and ensure the new planes react to an aerodynamic stall in a manner consistent with their older counterparts.

The introduction of the software, which incrementally pushes down the nose in a stall, sparked controversy among pilots and some argued Boeing should have provided more information and training on the change.

Others contended the problems experienced by the Lion Air pilots were covered by long-standing procedures to deactivate a runaway stabilizer trim regardless of the cause.

READ The facts, the questions and the fiction of the Lion Air tragedy.

There have also been claims of maintenance lapses. The Wall Street Journal over Christmas reported that investigators had made a preliminary conclusion that the improper calibration of an angle attack sensor had touched off the sequence of events that led to the crash.

Lion Air has denied the maintenance claims.






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