Aviation News in Brief 25 January 2021

Singapore Airlines, Etihad Airways, IATA, Pelican BioThermal, Asiana Airlines, AVIATAR, United Airlines, Lufthansa Technik, EmbraerX, Eve, Aergo Capital, Okay Airways, Airbus, WheelTug, Airbus Helicopters, Vietjet, Turkmenistan Airlines, Rex

(PHOTO: Airbus Helicopters)

Use this oneSIA wins health award, pilots COVID-19 testing programme: Singapore Airlines (SIA) has been awarded the Diamond rating – the highest level attainable – in the APEX Health Safety powered by SimpliFlying audit of global airlines. The audit, which was jointly conducted by industry body Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) and aviation strategy firm SimpliFlying, involved a quantitative 58-point checklist covering 10 categories. These included testing, tracing, on-the-ground procedures, in-flight measures and partnerships to further enhance safety integrity. The airline also announced that passengers will now be able to book their pre-departure COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and serology tests, and receive their results on a one-stop online portal, as part of a new pilot service. The pre-departure test service is currently available to Singapore Airlines and SilkAir passengers departing from Singapore, Jakarta and Medan, as part of its pilot test phase. There are plans to expand this service to more cities in the SIA and SilkAir network over the next few months if the pilot is successful.

Etihad Airways launches IATA Travel Pass: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Etihad Airways announced a partnership to launch the IATA Travel Pass for Etihad Airways passengers. The IATA Travel Pass is a mobile app to help passengers easily and securely manage their travel in line with government requirements for COVID-19 tests or vaccines. The IATA Travel Pass will initially be offered to Etihad’s guests on selected flights from Abu Dhabi in the first quarter of 2021. If successful, the pass will be extended to other destinations on the Etihad network. The IATA Travel Pass will enable Etihad’s guests to create a ‘digital passport’ to receive COVID test results and verify they are eligible to undertake their journey.

Pelican BioThermal partners with Asiana Airlines: Pelican BioThermal announced a partnership with Asiana Airlines, which will see an extensive expansion of the company’s growing global network. The new partnership provides Asiana Airlines access to Pelican BioThermal’s Crēdo on Demand rental programme when shipping temperature-sensitive pharmaceutical and pandemic payloads worldwide. The collaboration allows Pelican BioThermal to continue to grow its global network of key locations and significant sector alliances to further meet the needs of its customers. It provides Asiana Airlines customers with Pelican BioThermal’s high-performing shipper solutions, including the company’s recently expanded range of temperature controlled packaging to cover both deep frozen and frozen applications, which include dry ice and PCM coolants, covering parcel and bulk sizes for single or multi use / reusable including rental through the Crēdo on Demand programme.

AVIATAR optimises MRO with United Airlines: Lufthansa Technik announced that United Airlines is the latest airline to join its AVIATAR platform. The airline signed a contract in late 2020 for digital support through AVIATAR for its Boeing 777 and Airbus A320 fleet, with plans to work with Lufthansa Technik to develop new predictive maintenance solutions for its Boeing 737 fleet. United has already begun integrating AVIATAR into its existing processes and training procedures. “By leveraging AVIATAR’s digital platform, our tech-ops professionals can access data, insights and recommendations that help us optimise our operations and reduce flight delays or cancellations caused by maintenance issues,” said Kurt Carpenter, United’s vice president of Technical Operations Planning and Strategy.

Eve-led aviation consortium developing UK eVTOL plans: A consortium of urban air mobility and aviation companies has commenced work on a concept of operations for integrating air taxis and electric vertical take-off and landing vehicles (eVTOLs) into the UK’s airspace. The consortium, which is led by Eve, the first company to graduate from EmbraerX, will be working with the UK Civil Aviation Authority as part of its Future Air Mobility Regulatory Sandbox. The project will examine how eVTOLs may operate in transporting passengers and cargo over urban and regional areas. In addition to Eve, the consortium includes international companies that span the aviation industry, including Heathrow Airport, London City Airport, NATS, Skyports, Atech, Volocopter, and Vertical Aerospace. Initially working alongside local authorities, the consortium will explore how eVTOLs can transport passengers from London City Airport (LCY) to Heathrow Airport (LHR), with stops in between. Data from simulations will help policymakers develop community-friendly rules, mitigate community noise impacts, and draft airspace procedures for future flight tests.

Aergo Capital acquires B737-800 aircraft on lease to Okay Airways: Aergo Capital has completed the acquisition of one 2013 Boeing B737-800 aircraft bearing manufacturers serial number 41789 from AerCap. The aircraft was sold with an existing operating lease to Chinese airline, Okay Airways. Fred Browne, CEO of Aergo, commented: “This acquisition was made possible by the continuous and cooperative efforts of the teams at Aergo Capital and AerCap. With this transaction, Aergo has added one more lessee to its portfolio and we look forward to developing our partnership with Okay Airways.” Smith, Gambrell & Russell acted as acquisition lead counsel to Aergo. KPMG advised Aergo on tax matters.

airbus-posts-loss-in-q1-as-company-faces-gravest-crisis-the-aerospace-industry-has-ever-knownAirbus updates production rates: Airbus is updating its production rate planning for its A320 Family aircraft in response to the market environment. The new average production rates for the A320 Family will now lead to a gradual increase in production from the current rate of 40 per month to 43 in Q3 and 45 in Q4 2021. This latest production plan represents a slower ramp up than the previously anticipated 47 aircraft per month from July. The A220 monthly production rate will increase from four to five aircraft per month from the end of Q1 2021 as previously foreseen. Widebody production is expected to remain stable at current levels, with monthly production rates of around five and two for the A350 and A330, respectively. This decision postpones a potential rate increase for the A350 to a later stage.

WheelTug joins IATA as strategic partner: WheelTug has joined IATA’s Ground Operations Automation & Digitalisation Group as a strategic partner. The goal is to help IATA and the entire aviation industry further improve the efficiency of airside operations. WheelTug plc is in the final certification stages of its WheelTug system, a fully removable retrofit electric drive system installed into the nose wheels of an aircraft. This electric taxi (e-taxi) system enables pilot-controlled taxiing and manoeuvres in gate and terminal areas without the use of tugs or jet engines. The main benefit is a reduction of the time aircraft spend on the ground and this results in increased aircraft utilisation, fuel savings, and reduced engine and brake wear, as well as the elimination of pushback risks and costs.

Airbus Helicopters unveils its helicopter Flightlab: Airbus Helicopters has started in-flight tests on board its Flightlab, a platform-agnostic flying laboratory exclusively dedicated to maturing new technologies. Airbus Helicopters’ Flightlab provides an agile and efficient test bed to quickly test technologies that could later equip Airbus’ current helicopter range, and even more disruptive ones for future fixed-wing aircraft or (e)VTOL platforms. Airbus Helicopters intends to pursue the testing of hybrid and electric propulsion technologies with its Flightlab demonstrator, as well as exploring autonomy, and other technologies aimed at reducing helicopter sound levels or improving maintenance and flight safety. Flight tests started last April when the demonstrator was used to measure helicopter sound levels in urban areas and to particularly study how buildings may affect people’s perception. First results show that buildings play an important role in masking or amplifying sound levels and these studies will be instrumental when the time comes for sound modelling and regulation setting, especially for Urban Air Mobility (UAM) initiatives.

Vietjet named “Low-Cost Carrier of the Year” for cargo transportation: Payload Asia, an international magazine for air freight industry, named Vietjet as the “Low-Cost Carrier of the Year” and the “Belly Carrier of the Year” for cargo transportation in 2020. The seventh Payload Asia Awards acknowledge the best companies in the air cargo market, including global carriers, airports, logistic suppliers of the year, putting the spotlight on services that benefit the rising e-commerce market. Vietjet last year configured some of its passenger aircraft for freight transportation purpose while applying new operational methods to strengthen its cargo service capacity. The airline has since delivered more than 60,000 tonnes of cargo transnationally, seeing its freight revenue leaping by 75 percent over the previous year’s.

Airbus welcomes Turkmenistan Airlines as new customer: Turkmenistan Airlines has placed an order for two A330-200 Passenger-to-Freighter (P2F) converted aircraft, becoming a new Airbus customer. The order marks the first time an Airbus aircraft is sold in Turkmenistan. The A330-200P2F will enable the airline to further develop and boost its international cargo route network. The deliveries of the aircraft are planned in 2022, making Turkmenistan Airlines the first operator of this type in Central Asia. The A330 passenger to freighter conversion programme was launched in 2012 resulting in the in time re-delivery of the A330P2F prototype end of 2017. The A330P2F programme is a collaboration between ST Engineering Aerospace, Airbus and their joint venture Elbe Flugzeugwerke GmbH (EFW).

Rex refreshes crew uniforms: Australian airline Rex unveiled its refreshed cabin crew uniforms. The new uniform retains the essence of Rex’s signature country hospitality but is presented in a classic yet elegant style. Rex’s National Flight Attendant Manager, Donna Griffith, said, “this fresh new look is intended to contemporise Rex’s signature country hospitality. We have chosen a clean, fuss-free look that is simple yet elegant. Materials and cut have been carefully selected to provide comfort and practicality for my cabin crew. We are very proud that our uniforms are not designed by any famous designer. As with everything else we do in Rex, we have done everything in-house, from the design to the selection of material. This is who we are. This is what we do. This is why we are one of the most successful airlines in the world.” Rex services between Sydney and Melbourne commence on 1 March 2021.

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