Aviation News in Brief 24 December 2020

Textron Aviation, IATA, Embraer, Myanmar Airways International, Liebherr-Aerospace, ATR, Jet Aviation, FLYINGGROUP, Belavia, Airbus, Uganda Airlines, Vallair, ST Engineering, Curtiss-Wright, Elbit Systems, CALC, Broadtech, SkyFive

(PHOTO: Shutterstock)

Use this oneTextron Aviation Special Missions delivers King Air 350CER to NOAA: Textron Aviation announced it has delivered a special mission Beechcraft King Air 350CER turboprop aircraft to the US Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Office of Marine & Aviation Operations (OMAO). The aircraft joins a King Air 350CER aircraft delivered to NOAA in May 2009. The agency’s first King Air 350CER aircraft has flown coastal mapping and aerial survey missions and critical emergency response missions including photographic survey after earthquakes, oil spills, and numerous blizzards, tornados, floods and named hurricanes. With extended range capabilities, the King Air 350CER aircraft can collect critical information while remaining airborne for up to eight hours. The dual-sensor port modification allows simultaneous data collection from multiple on-board sensors. Optical grade glass plates in the sensor ports allow the cabin to remain pressurised or the optical plates can be removed, and the aircraft operated unpressurised. NOAA’s fleet of manned aircraft is operated, managed and maintained by the Aircraft Operations Center (AOC), part of the agency’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, located at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport in Lakeland, Florida.

IATA names new VP for Africa and Middle East: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that Kamil H. Al-Awadhi will be appointed IATA’s regional vice president for Africa and Middle East (AME), effective 1 March 2021. Al-Awadhi succeeds Muhammad Albakri who will become IATA’s senior vice president for Customer, Financial, and Digital Services (CFDS), also effective 1 March 2021. As previously announced, Albakri will replace Aleks Popovich in the CFDS role upon his retirement. Most recently, Al-Awadhi was CEO of Kuwait Airways, a responsibility he held from November 2018 through August 2020. That capped a 31-year career at Kuwait Airways during which his positions included Deputy CEO and Chief Operating Officer. Al-Awadhi has also held several positions in the areas of safety, security, quality management and enterprise resource planning. At IATA, Al-Awadhi will lead the association’s activities across AME from its regional office in Amman, Jordan. He will report to the IATA director general and CEO and join IATA’s Strategic Leadership Team.

Embraer E190 commences revenue flights with Myanmar Airways International: Myanmar Airways International’s (MAI) first E190 has commenced operations from Yangon, operating four flights throughout the day. In addition, MAI’s second E190 is due to arrive in the country on 23 December 2020 and the airline will expand its E190 routes to include nine destinations across the country, upgauging from the turboprops used by its sister airline Air KBZ. MAI has also signed on for Embraer’s Pool Programme, a programme enrolled by all E-Jet operators in Asia-Pacific. There are now four new E-Jet operators in Asia Pacific (ex. China) since the start of 2020. In preparation for the E190 operations, eight MAI pilots underwent the month-long Initial Pilot Training in September 2020 in Zhuhai, China. Separately, Embraer conducted the license-engineer type course for MAI’s engineers.  Embraer’s Pool Programme, which MAI has enrolled in offers full repair coverage for components and parts, airframe maintenance, and unlimited access to a large stock of components at the company’s distribution centres.

ATR 42/72 entry into service with new air management system: The new integrated air management system developed and manufactured by Liebherr-Aerospace entered into service with ASL Airlines Ireland – on behalf of FedEx – on 15 December, during the first commercial flight of ATR’s 42/72 aircraft family. The newly enhanced system improves on-board comfort for passengers and crew while at the same time substantially reducing operational costs.  Liebherr-Aerospace will also be responsible for product support of ATR’s fleet under the ATR Global Maintenance Agreement (GMA). The two companies signed a 10 year commitment and Liebherr-Aerospace will be the exclusive product support provider for the new air management system worldwide. The agreement will be carried out by Liebherr-Aerospace’s service stations in Toulouse, centre of excellence for air management systems, Singapore and Saline in the US. Developments are well under way to provide ATR with  technology that includes predictive maintenance services. The goal is to reduce aircraft downtime, optimise spare parts inventory and increase reliability – all while reducing costs.

Jet Aviation signs FBO service agreement with Antwerp-based FLYINGGROUP: Jet Aviation has signed a Fixed Base Operation (FBO) service agreement with FLYINGGROUP, a major aircraft management and charter company based in Belgium, Luxembourg and Malta. FLYINGGROUP operates a fleet of some 40 diverse aircraft based in Europe. Jet Aviation will support the operator’s fleet with handling services through its network of FBOs in EMEA and Asia. Under the service agreement, Jet Aviation will provide dedicated handling services to aircraft operated by FLYINGGROUP through its network of FBOs in EMEA and Asia. FLYINGGROUP is headquartered in Antwerp, Belgium from where it manages a fleet of over 40 aircraft. Jet Aviation’s fixed base operations provide customers with executive VIP terminals, conference rooms, business services, passenger and crew lounges, snooze rooms, crew showers and weather and flight planning services. The company offers private aircraft handling and full FBO services, including domestic and international flight handling, fuelling, aircraft cleaning, de-icing, immigration and customs services, and passenger and crew services, such as catering, hotel accommodations and local transport arrangements.

Belavia takes delivery of first Embraer E195-E2: Belavia, Belarusian Airlines, the national carrier of Belarus, took delivery of their first E2 next generation Embraer aircraft in Brazil. The new aircraft is the first of three E195-E2 jets to be leased to Belavia by AerCap. The aircraft, configured in a dual class layout seating 125 passengers in total, seats nine in Business and 116 in Economy. Belavia plans to deploy their new aircraft on popular routes such as London, Barcelona, Nur-Sultan, Munich, Paris, Sochi, and Amsterdam. “Belavia’s passengers love our current Embraer aircraft and I hope they will love the next generation E2 even more. The E2 offers Belavia lower operating costs, as well as the lowest impact on the environment. At Belavia we like to keep our fleet young and fresh; with the addition of the E195-E2 we can take more passengers, further, in greater comfort, and more efficiently – the E2 is the perfect fit,” said Anatoly Gusarov, CEO of Belavia.

Uganda Airlines takes on A330neo: Uganda Airlines, the country’s  flag-carrier, has taken delivery of its first A330neo, the latest version of the widebody airliner. It is the first Airbus aircraft delivered to Uganda Airlines, which was established in 2019. The A330neo will enable the new airline to launch its long-range operations with non-stop intercontinental flights to the Middle East, Europe and Asia. Featuring Airbus’ Airspace cabin, passengers can enjoy a unique experience and explore its full comfort with 20 full-flat, Business Class beds, 28 Premium Economy seats and 210 Economy Class seats, totalling 258 seats. Powered by the latest Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines and featuring a new wing with increased span and A350-inspired Sharklets, the A330neo provides an unprecedented level of efficiency. The aircraft burns 25 percent less fuel per seat than previous generation competitors.

Vallair spearheads A321 passenger to freighter conversions in China: Vallair, the multi-faceted aviation business and launch customer of the Airbus A321 freighter, is pioneering the first passenger to freighter conversions to be undertaken in China. “We are excited to be embarking on the next phase of our A321 passenger to freighter conversion activity” says Gregoire Lebigot, CEO of Vallair. “MSN 1017 will be the first of nine aircraft scheduled to be converted in China, this is an important milestone.” The work is being undertaken for Vallair by EFW at the ST Engineering facility in Guangzhou and the aircraft is planned for delivery in Q3 2021 to cargo-operator, SmartLynx. Vallair has previously partnered with EFW in Asia on the conversion of its inaugural A321F.  This was undertaken at its Singapore facility and delivered to launch operator Qantas Freight in October. Recently, the company signed an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with US operator GlobalX for 10 conversions, and it has leased a further two to SmartLynx Malta.

Curtiss-Wright receives EASA certification for flight recorder: Curtiss-Wright’s Defense Solutions division, a proven leading supplier of rugged avionics solutions, announced that it has received European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Technical Standard Order (TSO) certification for the imaging multi-purpose flight recorder (iMPFR), cockpit area camera, cockpit area microphone and imaging cockpit control unit elements of the ISSKOR flight recorder system supporting Irkut Corporation’s MC-21 aircraft platform. The EASA certification is also recognised by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) and other regulatory bodies. The ISSKOR system integrates all of the major components required to gather and store critical flight data (parametric, voice, cockpit image, display data, and datalink) in crash protected memory based on Curtiss-Wright’s industry-leading Fortress flight data recorder solutions. The iMPFR supplied for use on the MC-21 exceeds 25 hours recording capacity for parametric flight data and datalink information. It is also capable of recording more than two hours of 4 channels of digital voice and cockpit image data.

Canada Selects StarLiner UAS for environmental protection: Elbit Systems announced that Public Services and Procurement Canada, on behalf of Transport Canada, selected the Hermes StarLiner Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) to support maritime environmental protection missions in the Arctic and along the Canadian Eastern and Western coasts, as part of the Canadian National Aerial Surveillance Programme. Fully certified to operate in civilian airspace, the Hermes StarLiner UAS will take off and land in civilian airfields to perform a wide range of operations to reduce harmful environmental impacts, including detection of oil pollution, Ice Patrol and Reconnaissance, wildlife survey, Fisheries Patrol and others. Adverse weather conditions and short endurance degrade the search and surveillance capabilities of manned aircraft, often preventing them from executing their missions. Deploying the Hermes StarLiner UAS will enable Transport Canada to maintain persistent surveillance over vast bodies of water and long coastlines. Capable of continuous flight, the Hermes StarLiner UAS can operate in adverse weather conditions in both day and night, improving mission effectiveness and increasing the number of missions that can be safely executed.

CALC launches US$200 million private perpetual capital securities issue: China Aircraft Leasing Group announced that it has completed a US$200 million perpetual capital securities issue through private placement at a financing cost of 6.4 percent over London InterBank Offered Rate. The proceeds have been earmarked mainly for business development purposes. The subscriber of the securities is a special-purpose fund initiated by China Everbright and all of the US$200 million subscription monies came from an unconnected third-party financial institution. As the single largest shareholder of CALC, CEL’s support is instrumental for the successful completion of this issuance. This is the first perpetual capital securities issue of the group. The successful completion of this issuance highlights investors’ confidence in the prospect of CALC, and is conducive to the group’s further optimization of its capital structure and liquidity. CALC has committed to improving its liquidity and prudently exploring new businesses, in order to achieve long-term sustainable development. Faced with market volatilities this year, CALC has actively utilised the flexibility of its unique PRC and overseas dual platforms of operation, financing and aircraft trading. In March and June, the group completed the issuances of RMB1.3 billion debentures in aggregate in the Chinese market at relatively attractive interest rates. In November, the group also completed a US$70 million senior bond issue in the overseas market.

Broadtech and SkyFive creating the Internet of the Sky in New Zealand: The Broadtech Group, a technology engineering firm in Auckland, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with SkyFive, an inflight connectivity specialist company located in Munich and Stuttgart, Germany, to perform a detailed technical evaluation and a proof-of-concept trial of SkyFive’s Direct-Air-To-Ground (DA2G) solution, with intentions to progress towards a nationwide network rollout in New Zealand. Also participating in the planned trial are Flightcell International from New Zealand to provide the DA2G on-board terminal. In Europe, the European Aviation Network (EAN) currently covers 35 countries and utilises SkyFive technology to provide data speeds of up to 100 Mbps per aircraft with less than 50 milliseconds of true end-to-end latency to passengers and crew travelling in high-altitude jet aircraft. Stakeholder engagement has commenced with NZ Police, St Johns Air Ambulance, Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust, the Royal NZ Air Force and the commercial airlines, all expressing interest in participating in the trial. These air agencies are keen to experience high-speed access to their private networks or Internet-based data for secure streaming of high-definition video for marine and terrain surveillance, transmitting critical patients’ biometric data ahead to hospitals or a wide range of other use cases, all in real-time. A DA2G network could also support future Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) enhancing data services for both operations and passengers.

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