Aviation News in Brief 24 April 2020

Korean Air, Emirates SkyCargo, Blue Dart, Etihad Cargo, Vietjet, Airbus A321XLR

Aviation News
(PHOTO: Shutterstock)

Korean Air named top cargo airline in 2020 Air Cargo Excellence Awards: Korean Air has won the Diamond Award in the cargo airline category of the 2020 Air Cargo Excellence Awards organised by Air Cargo World. The airline said the award is “particularly meaningful” in that the Korean Air cargo business is contributing to the national economy and supporting the country’s efforts to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. Korean Air is leading the Korean export industry through its increased air cargo transportation volumes of more than 8 percent in the first quarter of 2020 year-on-year. The airline is using passenger aircraft as freighters to increase cargo transportation capacity, which has been greatly reduced due to the suspension of most international passenger flights. It is also participating in the global battle against COVID-19 through the transportation of medical supplies including COVID-19 diagnosis kits.

Emirates SkyCargo to support Australian exports and goes ‘nuts’: Emirates SkyCargo will be working with the Australian government to facilitate exports of Australian produce to overseas markets including the Middle East. The air cargo carrier will participate in the Australian government’s International Freight Assistance Mechanism which will directly support Australian exporters by strengthening supply chains between Australia and its export markets. Over 560 Australian businesses have already registered to utilise the International Freight Assistance Mechanism. Emirates SkyCargo is currently operating scheduled cargo flights on its Boeing 777-F and Boeing 777-300ER passenger aircraft to close to 60 global destinations. The air cargo carrier has helped transport vital medical supplies to different parts of the world including to Australia on both its scheduled flights as well as on special charter flights. The carrier also said it went “nuts” to help arrange with Agility a unique mission to transport close to 50 tonnes of fresh hazelnut paste from Istanbul to Melbourne via Dubai. The special consignment was uplifted by flight EK 122 from Istanbul to Dubai and then on flight EK 406 from Dubai to Melbourne on 17 April. Turkey is a world leader in the production of hazelnuts which is a key ingredient in the manufacture of many confectionary products.

Blue Dart freighters fly medical equipment to India: India-based logistics company Blue Dart Express recently operated its Boeing 757-200 freighter cross-border on the Kolkata – Guangzhou, China – Guwahati – Kolkata route to bring critical PPE and COVID-19 related medical supplies. Blue Dart freighters with a carrying capacity of 34 tonnes are flying on international routes to ensure continuity of essential supply chain in India. Earlier this month, Blue Dart freighters flew on Kolkata – Dhaka – Kolkata route frequently and are scheduled to fly on Delhi – Guangzhou, China – Delhi and Kolkata – Guangzhou, China – Kolkata routes through the month of April 2020. Blue Dart has been flying its six Boeing 757- 200 freighters across major metropolitan cities in India to ensure uninterrupted supply chain continuity of essential shipments like medical equipment (ventilators & PPE), testing kits, reagents, enzymes, respirators, surgical masks and gloves among other medical and pharmaceutical supplies.

Etihad Cargo to deliver key airfreight to Australia: Etihad Cargo, the cargo and logistics arm of the Etihad Aviation Group, has partnered with the Australian government to provide critical international airfreight assistance to Australia. Under the agreement with the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade), Etihad Cargo will provide dedicated cargo services between Abu Dhabi and Australia, leveraging belly-hold capacity of its fleet of Etihad Airways passenger aircraft to deliver essential supplies into the Australian market, and facilitate bi-directional trade to further ensure continuity of fresh imports to the UAE from Australia including meat, fish and seafood, fruits, and vegetables. The initiative has been established by the Australian government to accelerate delivery of agricultural and fisheries exports into key overseas markets, with over 560 Australian businesses already registering their interest in utilising the International Freight Assistance Mechanism. The addition of weekly services to Australia expands on Etihad Cargo’s network of 22 cargo-only passenger freighters, plus an additional 10 used for charters, with regular services already in place between Abu Dhabi and Amsterdam, Brussels, Beijing, Bangkok, Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, Frankfurt, Istanbul, Jakarta, Kochi, Karachi, Kuala Lumpur, London, Manila, Mumbai, Oslo, Seoul, Singapore, Tokyo and Zurich

Vietjet adds new domestic flights: In accordance to new updates from Vietnam’s Ministry of Transport and the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam, Vietjet will increase domestic flight frequencies within Vietnam including six return flights per day between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, three return flights per day between Hanoi/Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang, and one return flight per day on other domestic routes. The carrier is also offering promotional air tickets priced from only VND 9,000 (approximately US$0.40) on all domestic flights with certain restrictions.  The airline is also operating around 10 cargo flights daily. In addition to normal goods, the cargo flights also transport medical supplies and equipment for free to support healthcare efforts. Vietjet is also sponsoring free transportation for doctors and medical staff while the country is social distancing. To improve the public health and prevent the spread of COVID-19, Vietjet conducts disease prevention, thorough health check procedures for all passengers and crew before all flights and follows all mandatory requirements such as the wearing face masks. All Vietjet flights are in alignment with all global standards and guidelines from the local authorities, the World Health Organisation and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to ensure the health and safety for passengers, flight crew and the community.

Airbus A321XLR programme development and industrialisation gathers pace: Following its launch at the Paris Air Show last year, the industrialisation of the A321XLR long range single-aisle programme is underway and the aircraft’s design is moving from concept to reality. By early 2020, the first long-lead components for the initial A321XLR flight-test aircraft were already in production – including the main landing gear forgings by Safran and the first parts for the centre wingbox by Airbus in Nantes. Most recently, in March, Airbus completed its supplier selection for the new major components and systems which are specifically being designed for the A321XLR variant. These suppliers include: Spirit AeroSystems (inboard single-slotted flap); Diehl Aviation (potable water & water waste systems); FACC (modified belly fairing); Premium Aerotec (rear-centre fuel tank primary structure); Collins Aerospace (fuel system); Parker Aerospace (fuel tank inerting system); Vincorion (heated floor panels); Safran (main and nose landing gear); and Triumph Group (landing gear uplock mechanism). In anticipation of the industrialisation phase, where relevant, the programme is applying Airbus’ new “digital design, manufacturing and services” (DDMS) product lifecycle approach. This enables accurate virtual factory simulations to validate investments and ramp-up planning. A key pillar of the DDMS framework is the 3D “Digital Mock-up Unit” (DMU) database, which will allow concurrent design, assembly simulations, and real-time 3D visibility across the transnational co-design plateaus at Toulouse, Hamburg and Filton. Furthermore, the A321XLR programme brings the benefits of 3D visualisation to the non-engineering community, including programme managers – who can now work in 3D thanks to 3D viewer tools. In addition to the aforementioned digital environments, the installation of complementary physical demonstrators is also well underway for ‘validation and verification’ (V&V) of the various new structures and equipment of the A321XLR. For example, the Structures Demonstrator programme includes ‘major component assembly’ (MCA) join-up of fuselage sections 15 and 17, fuselage integration of the new rear-centre-[fuel]-tank, plus other modules and detailed parts. In parallel, the Equipment Demonstrator programme features physical trial installation in a full-size wooden mock-up by a multi-functional team representing each installed system, with experts from Engineering, Manufacturing Engineering, Production, Maintenance and Ergonomics. This approach minimises design clashes, as well as optimising ergonomics. Testing of the cabin comfort for long-range operations has already started, including the use of a climatic test chamber on ground. To date, 24 customers have ordered a total of more than 450 A321XLRs, validating the market need for the unique capabilities offered by this aircraft. Flight-testing is due to start in 2022, and service entry from 2023. The A321XLR will provide airlines with a range of up to 4,700nm and a 30 percent lower fuel burn per seat compared with previous-generation competitor aircraft.

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Matthew Driskill is the Editor of Asian Aviation and is based in Cambodia. He has been an Asia-based journalist and content producer since 1990 for outlets including Reuters and the International Herald Tribune/New York Times and is a former president of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Hong Kong. He frequently appears on international broadcast outlets like CNN, Al Jazeera and the BBC and has taught journalism at Hong Kong University and the American University of Paris. Driskill has received awards from the Associated Press for Investigative Reporting and Business Writing and in 1989 was named the John J. McCloy Fellow by the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in New York where he earned his Master's Degree.


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