Aviation News in Brief 10 December 2020

Korean Air, Western Sydney Airport, BARIG, AAR, Etihad, Royal Brunei, Wheeltug, Erickson

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(PHOTO: Shutterstock)

Use this oneKorean Air preps vaccine transport with ingredient flight: Korean Air has become one of the first airlines in Korea to transport an important COVID-19 vaccine ingredient. On 8 December, Korean Air transported the unnamed ingredient for COVID-19 vaccine on Korean Air flight 925 to Amsterdam. The vaccine ingredient was transported by Korean Air to the final destination, a vaccine production plant in Europe. Temperatures were maintained below -60 °C throughout the transportation process. The COVID-19 vaccines require a cold chain that provides temperature-controlled environments during transportation and storage. The range of required temperature varies by product type such as cryogenic temperatures below -60°C; refrigeration below -20°C;  and temperature maintenance between 2 and 8°C. Korean Air loaded the vaccine ingredients in special containers for medical items that maintain cryogenic temperatures below -60°C and can maintain temperatures below -70℃  even without power for 120 hours. Korean Air’s COVID-19 vaccine transport task force, launched in September, has been preparing for cryogenic temperature transportation of COVID-19 vaccines. “Korean Air’s task force is reviewing all aspects concerning the vaccine’s transport, and we are developing a strong system and infrastructure for its safe and swift distribution,” said EUM Jae Dong, Senior Vice President and Head of Cargo Business Division at Korean Air. “Korean Air Cargo has a proven expertise in transporting  pharmaceutical items, and we were certified by IATA’s Center of Excellence for Independent Validators on Pharmaceutical Handling (CEIV Pharma) last June, a certification for the excellence in air transport of medicines.”

Western Sydney Airport exceeds local employment target: Western Sydney Airport is exceeding its local employment target, with 54 percent of the workforce building Sydney’s new airport coming from the local community. Revealing the figure at the Western Sydney-focused Boomtown! Infrastructure conference, Western Sydney Airport Chief Executive Officer Simon Hickey said more than half of the airport team are from Western Sydney, almost double the construction phase target of 30 percent. “Western Sydney International Airport is being built to be a catalyst for jobs and opportunities in Sydney’s west, so we’re proud that just over two years into the seven-year build, more than half of the team are local,” Hickey said. Hickey said the project was still in the earthwork phase, moving around 25 million cubic metres of earth to prepare the site for terminal, runway and other civil infrastructure construction, including internal roads, utilities and supporting buildings. “With terminal construction due to start by the start of 2022 and the runway soon after, in around two years we’ll be at peak construction, with thousands of people working directly on the site,” he said. “Once the airport is operating, it will mean jobs of all kinds from ground crew, customer service and retail, as well as jobs at the myriad of employers in the on-airport business park and cargo facility.” Work to build Western Sydney International is on schedule for the airport to open to international and domestic passenger and air cargo services in late 2026.

BARIG calls for removal of blanket quarantine regulations: The Board of Airline Representatives in Germany (BARIG), the association of international and German airlines operating in Germany, supports the demands of numerous international associations and companies for an immediate termination of the current blanket quarantine regulations in air traffic. In this respect, BARIG refers to the most recent research results of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), among others, both of which are agencies of the European Union. In their latest guidelines on COVID-19 testing and quarantine regulations for air passengers, ECDC and EASA consider the countries’ quarantine regulations to be ineffective and inappropriate within the current epidemiological situation. Instead, both agencies explicitly confirm that air passengers account for less than 1 percent of COVID-19 cases worldwide, indicating that they do not constitute a contributory factor to increased infection rates. Accordingly, quarantine measures for incoming passengers are only appropriate in rare cases. Michael Hoppe, BARIG Secretary General: “With the ongoing pandemic we are in a very exceptional situation. Now it is imperative to stay on top of things and to consult independent experts such as the specialists from ECDC and EASA, incorporate their insights and also implement their recommendations promptly and effectively. The current general quarantine regulations in air traffic are mere political actionism, not useful in managing the pandemic. The blanket quarantine regulations must, therefore, be eliminated with immediate effect.”

AAR forms Aviation Safety and Training Oversight Committee: AAR announced that it has formed an Aviation Safety and Training Committee (ASTC) at the board level. The ASTC will be comprised of three independent directors, with retired United States Air Force General Duncan McNabb, who last served as the ninth Commander, United States Transportation Command, serving as chair, and Robert Leduc and Jennifer Vogel joining him as committee members. The ASTC will assist the board in the oversight of aviation safety matters relating to AAR’s operations, including training employees, promoting a robust safety culture and helping ensure the delivery of services and products with safety as the highest priority. “Forming the ASTC at the Board level is the strategic evolution of AAR’s commitment to aviation safety, which is of the utmost importance because of the number of aircraft we touch every day and AAR’s importance to the overall aviation chain of safety,” said David P. Storch, AAR’s Chairman of the Board. “We have proactively established the ASTC to help the Board in continuing to fulfill its fiduciary duties overseeing aviation safety matters and ensuring that AAR continues to have a best in class safety program.”

Etihad launches carbon offset programme: Etihad Airways, the national airline of the UAE, has committed to purchasing carbon offsets, to completely neutralise the CO2 emissions of its flagship “Greenliner” 787-10 aircraft for a full year of operations in 2021. The initiative is the start of the airline’s journey to reduce CO2 emissions to 50 percent of 2019 levels by 2035, and to achieve full net zero emissions by 2050 – a first for any airline in the Gulf and one of the first to set a target of this scale in the industry. Separately the airline will implement an additional voluntary offset programme for passengers via its website in 2021. Etihad’s Greenliner carbon offset programme has been sourced in partnership with Respira, an international carbon offset finance house specialising in tailored offset schemes across multiple sectors. Etihad’s plan is centred on a Tanzanian forestry project and will initially purchase 80,000 tonnes of CO2 offsets.

Royal Brunei signs with Wheeltug: Royal Brunei Airlines and electric taxi maker WheelTug have reached an agreement reserving nine production slots for the Airbus A320 fleet operated by Royal Brunei. WheelTug’s taxi system employs high-torque motors installed in the nose wheels of the aircraft. The system gives pilots greater control of the aircraft when performing ground operations. Pushback tugs will not be required to back up from gates, and aircraft will not generate dangerous jet blast in high-traffic terminal areas. By choosing WheelTug electric taxi systems, Royal Brunei will make its ground operations more efficient, faster, safer, and greener. “We are pleased to conclude this agreement following our recent successful TestDrive demonstration,” said WheelTug CEO Isaiah Cox. “With WheelTug, Royal Brunei will reduce time and expenses – not just at its hub in Bandar Seri Begawan, but all destinations as well.”

Erickson gets final FAA certification of composite blades: Erickson, an operator, maintainer, and manufacturer of utility aircraft, has announced final FAA certification for the composite main rotor blades on the S-64F and CH-54B. Earlier this year, Erickson announced FAA approval of the S-64E model. This recent announcement finalises the certification of the S-64F and CH-54B, solidifying FAA certification for the entire fleet of S-64 Air Crane E & F models, as well as the CH-54 Skycrane A & B models. The advanced design of the blades provides a significant performance advantage, especially at hot and high conditions. “It was quite difficult, but extremely satisfying to see this project through to completion. There are a lot of blood sweat and tears in those blades,” said Billy Johnson, chief engineer at Erickson.

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