Dubai Airshow News Briefs 17 November 2021

Airbus, Ibom Air, Alpha Star Aviation, NAVBLUE, ATR, Toki Air, Afrijet, Sanad, Gulf Air, AFI KLM E&M, Saudia, Inmarsat, Russian Helicopters, AJ Holding, Emirates

(FILE PHOTO: Adarsh Padmanabhan)

Airbus sells 10 A220s, announces new IFE & adds vegan helo interior: Akwa Ibom state government owned airline in Nigeria, Ibom Air has signed a firm order for 10 A220s. Nigeria, with the largest population in Africa and the largest GDP, offers substantial growth potential in both domestic and regional travel. The A220 is therefore the ideal choice for a full range of services from very short-haul segments to intra-continental air routes. Ibom Air currently operates two A220s. The airline flies to Uyo, Abuja, Calabar, Enugu, Lagos, and Port Harcourt. The purchase of the new A220s will enable the airline to continue on its growth path, offering new routes across not just Nigeria, but to the west African region and to Africa at large. Airbus Corporate Jets (ACJ) and Alpha Star Aviation have signed a Letter of Agreement for the new and unique In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) technology – “The ACJ Smart LiFi Monitor”. Developed with Latecoere, this new technology was designed to be an easy plug and play solution. It is a multi-technology smart 4K monitor offering Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and  LiFi connectivity. LiFi (Light Fidelity) is the latest wireless communication technology which uses light to transmit data. It will allow among others analog and digital audio output, USBc ports, 3G-SDI input as well as HDMI connections. Features include Audio Video On Demand (AVOD), casting, mirroring, web browser, live TV, moving map and its own integrated video conferencing. With this agreement, Alpha Star Aviation, the private aviation services provider headquartered in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, became the launch customer of the ACJ Smart LiFi Monitor. The customer selected 12 monitors for three of its Airbus corporate jets. Airbus’ Flight Operations subsidiary NAVBLUE has launched Mission+, the first Electronic Flight Assistant (EFA) that provides pilots with all the data and information that they need to perform their mission, via one modular digital solution. This mission-centric approach integrates flight management data and documentation, cockpit check-list, navigation charts and airport maps, real time weather conditions, aircraft performance data – usually only available to pilots via multiple sources. Accessible through an interactive display, Mission+ is the first EFA on the market to gather all information sources together with one single point of entry. For pilots this means an integrated interface that allows quick, easy and seamless navigation. New vegan helo interior: When a valued customer specified that his new helicopter must have an interior that was fully vegan, Airbus Corporate Helicopters’ (ACH) design team rose to the occasion. The resulting ACH145 has now been delivered to German construction entrepreneur Dr Urs Brunner who insisted on the requirement at the urging of his wife, ethical fashion pioneer Daniela Brunner. Its cabin is fitted with ACH’s clean and modern ACH Line interior configuration in a grey theme but the leather elements essential to its luxury feel are replaced with Ultraleather which captures the visual and tactile leather experience with comparable durability. Items that had to be specially designed and fabricated in the replacement material include the six passenger seats, central storage cabinet, rear partition and cockpit controls cuffs. Brunner, founding owner of specialist fashion house Giulia & Romeo, which has no animal products involved in its range and donates all its profits to animal welfare, wanted the helicopter to be consistent with her ethical values.

ATR signs deals with Toki Air, Afrijet: ATR has signed a Letter of Intent (LoI) with Toki Air, a new regional commercial airline in Japan that will operate out of Niigata airport. The cooperation with ATR will help Toki Air to achieve its higher purpose of revitalising the city of Niigata, by increasing mobility within and between surrounding regions. Through this LoI, ATR and Toki Air are engaging in consultations to add ATR 42 aircraft to the airline’s fleet and introduce the ATR 42-600S variant – for STOL, Short Take-Off and Landing. This new version of the ATR 42 600, currently under development, will offer take-off and landing capabilities on runways as short as 800 meters with 40 passengers on board in standard flight conditions. First deliveries are expected for the beginning of 2025. Toki Air has already signed a lease agreement for two ATR 72-600 that will start operating in 2022. Toki Air and ATR have been working closely together on identifying the best routes for the aircraft, developing an airline business model that maximises the various advantages that ATR aircraft have to offer. The airline has chosen ATR turboprops for their compatibility with regional connectivity in a country like Japan, as well as their operational efficiency that allows for reduced CO2 emissions and cost-effective air travel. Toki Air will also be the first Japanese operator to introduce ATR’s Cargo Flex solution into their fleet, and this will help them to adjust to any fluctuations in passenger/cargo demand. ATR has finalised the sale of three ATR 72-600 aircraft to Central African airline Afrijet which will use the aircraft to replace part of its ATR 72-500 fleet. From the second aircraft onwards, these ATR 72-600 will be equipped with the latest generation P&WC engine, the PW127XT-M, which delivers increased efficiency and burns less fuel. The deal is further proof of the ATR’s effectiveness at growing regional routes and networks, thanks to its cost-effective operations. Afrijet initially started with pre-owned ATR aircraft and then moved to a leased ATR 72-600 in 2020. This direct acquisition of brand new aircraft will increase the -600 fleet size to four ATR 72-600, allowing the opening of new routes and increasing frequency.

Sanad closes new financing deal, extends support to Arab carriers: Sanad, the global aerospace engineering and leasing solutions leader wholly-owned by Mubadala Investment Company PJSC (Mubadala), has secured a new US$100 million evergreen revolving credit facility with First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) the UAE’s largest bank and one of the world’s largest and safest financial institutions. The new financing deal extends Sanad and FAB’s 10-year relationship which has now seen the two UAE-based companies close over US$ 950 million worth of combined agreements. The various financings are extended in support of Sanad’s global spare engine leasing and component access portfolios. Sanad also announced it will support Arab Air Carriers Association to provide the association’s 27 carrier members with access to Sanad’s world-class industrial service capabilities. The affiliation, which sees Sanad appointed as AACO’s Industry Partner, provides a strategic platform for extensive knowledge exchange and access for the AACO members, with Sanad expecting to leverage the tie-up to expand regional service partnerships and build on its industry-leading expertise in servicing global OEMs and airlines. Since its inception 25 years ago, AACO’s Industry Partnership Program has fostered a mutually beneficial environment where partners benefit from AACO events and activities designed to strengthen their relations with member airlines, while AACO members benefit from the partners’ diverse product offerings, and numerous other benefits.

Gulf Air signs engine MRO with AFI KLM E&M for CFM56-5B: AFI KLM E&M and Gulf Air, the Kingdom of Bahrain’s national carrier, signed a full engine support contract for the CFM56-5B engines for all Airbus A320ceo fleet. With the signing of the contract for the component support for Gulf Air’s entire A320 fleet, the signing of this engine maintenance contract further affirms the operator’s confidence in AFI KLM E&M’s adaptive solutions. This full engine support contract includes shop visits, fleet engineering, condition monitoring, spare support and other additional services. Based on a true valuable relationship, Gulf Air can rely on the long and extensive CFM56-5B experience of AFI KLM E&M, and the ‘keep flying’ approach which is supported by a strong On Wing/On Site service. Gulf Air will also benefit the best class services through the predictive maintenance tool, PROGNOS for engines.

Saudia ops for Inmarsat: SAUDIA, the national flag carrier of Saudi Arabia, announced that its upcoming fleet of 35 Airbus A321neo and Airbus A321XLR aircraft will offer the GX Aviation high-speed inflight broadband solution by Inmarsat. The aircraft will connect to GX Aviation using an ultra-high performance terminal by GDC Advanced Technology, an industry leader in engineering and technical services, modifications and electronic systems. As the first major inflight connectivity agreement in the Middle East since the COVID-19 pandemic began, SAUDIA will be GX Aviation’s launch customer in Saudi Arabia. In addition, it has become the first airline in the Middle East to select Inmarsat’s revolutionary new OneFi customer experience platform and the first in the world to select GX Aviation’s next-generation terminal, developed with GDC Advanced Technology. The terminal provides enhanced customer flexibility and is future proofed to meet the demands of planned and new constellations.

Russian Helicopters and AJ Holding establish JV: Russian Helicopters Holding Company and the Emirati company AJ Holding LLC have established a joint venture Alpha Aviation LLC in the Ajman Free Zone. The new company will promote and sell Russian civil helicopters abroad. The key market for Alpha Aviation will be the Middle East, where it plans to sell more than 20 civil helicopters of various types until 2026 – Ansat, Mi-171A2, Ka-32, Mi-38. The joint venture is also responsible for organizing maintenance of Russian helicopters in the region. “We have gained a reliable partner for our civil rotorcraft promotion in the Middle East represented by the AJ Holding. The joint venture format will make it possible to expand our presence in a region that is extremely important to us. The company started its operations just a few months ago, but today we can already see the first results – during the Dubai Airshow 2021, Alpha Aviation has signed a contract to supply two Mi-171A2 helicopters to Peru and an agreement to supply four Ansat and one Mi-17-1V helicopter for Emirate of Ras al-Khaimah police forces,” Andrei Boginsky, Director General of Russian Helicopters, said.

Emirates announces major retrofit programme: Emirates announced that it will retrofit 105 of its modern widebody aircraft with its Premium Economy product, in addition to other cabin enhancements. The 18-month retrofit programme, scheduled to begin at the end of 2022, will be entirely conducted at Emirates’ state-of-the-art Engineering Centre in Dubai. It will see 52 Emirates A380s and 53 Boeing 777s fitted with a new cabin class – the airline’s highly lauded Premium Economy. The airline is also considering installing a new Business Class product on its Boeing 777 aircraft, with customised seats in a 1-2-1 layout. At the end of the retrofit programme, Emirates will have a total of 111 Boeing 777 and Airbus A380 aircraft offering Premium Economy seats, including the 6 A380s that would have been delivered to the airline with four cabin classes by December 2021. On the Emirates Boeing 777, 5 rows of Economy class seats located just behind Business Class will be removed to install 24 Premium Economy seats laid out in 2-4-2 configuration. On the Emirates A380, 56 Premium Economy seats will be installed at the front of the main deck also in 2-4-2 configuration.

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