Aircraft News

Aircraft News

For more aircraft data, fleets and analysis, please go to: May 22, 2006

Global fleet of freighter aircraft is expected to increase more than 50% over the next 20 years, growing from the current 1,797 to nearly 3,400, according to a market forecast from BACK Aviation. Of that number, nearly 60% will be widebodies as the demand for long-haul capacity remains steady. The forecast also noted that converted passenger aircraft account for 70% of the freighter fleet. May 17, 2006

Large market expected for unmanned military airplanes. The number of unmanned aerial vehicles used by the military will multiply in the coming years, The (Baltimore) Sun’s Jay Hancock writes. Demand for UAVs could eventually push Lockheed Martin to purchase UAV maker United Industrial. May 15, 2006

Older jetliners are likely to stay parked. Experts say there is little chance that many of the 2,000 jetliners parked in New Mexico, California and Arizona will fly again. High fuel prices have made the older planes less efficient to operate. May 15, 2006

Aer Arann

Aer Arann signed a contract to purchase 10 new 72-seat ATR 72-500s over the next three years. The deal is worth more than $180 million. The carrier will use the aircraft to “replace and supplement” its existing fleet of 14 ATR 42s and ATR 72s, increasing it to 20 by the end of 2009. It will take delivery of two dash 500s in 2007, five in 2008 and three in 2009. “This is a significant milestone for Aer Arann and marks a consolidation of our strategic policy in going forward with an ATR fleet,” MD Padraig O’Ceidigh said. “This expansion will enable us to develop our network further into the UK and mainland Europe and double the size of the airline over the next three years.” May 16, 2006

Aero Maintenance Group, Delta Air Lines

Aero Maintenance Group was chosen by Delta Air Lines to manage exclusively the repair of more than 1,400 unique components on the carrier’s aircraft. AMG said it will provide Delta “with a single point of contact for communications, invoicing and performance measurements for nearly 15,000 repair orders annually on a volume of approximately 80,000 individual units.” May 16, 2006

Air Force

Air Force searches for alternative to oil-based fuel. The Air Force is looking for alternative fuel for its jets and is testing a blend of traditional crude-oil-based jet fuel and synthetic liquid. The synthetic liquid will eventually be made from coal. May 15, 2006

Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand has changed its order for four Boeing 787 series 8 aircraft into that for four series 9. Whilst not a major breakthrough the slightly larger aircraft, again with Rolls-Royce engines, will enable the carrier to offer non-stop services from its major hub at Auckland to Beijing, Buenos Aires, Mumbai and Vancouver. The Trent 1000-powered 787-9 will enter into service in December 2010. ANZ will have all its eight upgraded 747-400 aircraft in service by August 2006, all its new 777-200ER aircraft operational by early 2007 and will introduce the 787-9 during 2010/2011. The airline retains the option for delivery of four additional 787 aircraft and has purchase rights for a further 30 777s and ten 787s. May 21, 2006

Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand confirmed it will be the launch customer for the 787-9 following an agreement signed with Boeing last week to substitute its order for four dash 8s, as had been anticipated. ANZ was the second customer for the 787 after ANA. The new aircraft were purchased for $183 million each and will begin entering service in December 2010. They will be powered by Trent 1000s. “The range and seat capacity of the 787-9 is even greater than that of the 787-8 model and this will provide Air New Zealand with new capabilities for our long-haul international operations,” CEO Rob Fyfe said. May 16, 2006


Airbus to begin A320 freighter conversion line in Russia. Airbus has chosen Russia as its initial partner in the eventual passenger-to-freighter conversion of its A320 family aircraft, announcing yesterday at the ILA Airshow in Berlin the execution of a preliminary cooperation agreement with EADS EFW, MiG and Irkut.Conversion activities for A320s and A321s will include design, kit production, conversion and maintenance and are scheduled to begin in Russia in 2011. This is the first announcement of any A320 passenger-to-freighter conversion program. EADS and Rosaviakosmos signed an LOI in 2001 outlining Airbus’s plan to offer Russian companies $800 million in business over 10 years. Airbus said it will raise that figure by $100 million “due to the success of the program.” It noted that nine Russian and CIS airlines operate 40 Airbus aircraft. May 17, 2006

Airbus, London City Airport

Airbus conducted A318 airport compatibility tests at London City on May 13 and said the type offers twice the range of aircraft currently serving LCY. The A318 was granted steep approach certification in March, paving the way for Saturday’s compatibility tests. London City Airport welcomed the first ever visit by an Airbus on Saturday May 13, in this case an A318. In March the authorities granted the A318 a steep approach certification enabling compatibility tests to take place. This is an important part of the programme aimed at enabling the aircraft to undertake commercial flights at the airport. Substantially bigger with a maximum of 132 seats and with a much longer range, than the aircraft currently using London City the A318 represents the future of LCY, an aircraft available new unlike the AVRO/BAe 146 series aircraft that currently predominate, but are out of production. Offering getting on for twice the range of existing aircraft serving the airport, the A318 will allow commercial operators to offer new markets such as Rome, Madrid and Eastern Europe. The A318 Elite corporate jet version could operate even further afield. Problems still have to be overcome regarding full certification and apron space but in the meantime the airport is now, like Exeter, up for sale. A piece of perfect Irish timing. May 18, 2006

Airbus, London Heathrow

Airbus (and not its client carriers) stole the headlines. The Airbus A380 touched down on London Heathrow’s Southern Runway yesterday and parked at Terminal 3, Pier 6, a new purpose-built, [pounds sterling]105 million ($198.4 million), three-story pier that can accommodate up to four A380s simultaneously. The new Terminal 5, scheduled to open in 2008, also will accommodate the aircraft. The A380 will begin flying into London Heathrow and the airport will become the major hub for the aircraft with Singapore Airlines the first carrier to introduce the aircraft expected in November or December 2007 at Terminal 3. May 19, 2006


ATR and the government of Equatorial Guinea signed a contract for two new ATR 72-500s and one new 42-500. The deal is valued at $50 million, according to ATR, which will deliver the aircraft over the next three years. “We are convinced that ATR represents the best choice to achieve our goal of renewal and expansion of our national airline,” Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo said. ATR said it has received orders for 136 aircraft since Jan. 1, “some of which have not yet been announced.” May 18, 2006


Boeing will build 737s for Navy program. Boeing will start building 737 jetliners for the Navy in 2007 as part of the Multimission Maritime Aircraft program. The program could become a model program to build tankers for the Air Force. Boeing is competing for that contract now. May 19, 2006


Boeing selected Smiths Aerospace to supply the thrust reverse actuator system for the 747-8. The system will be similar to the one Smiths provides for the 777 and will be designed and manufactured in Los Angeles, with deliveries expected to begin in the second quarter of 2007. Smiths said potential sales for the program could exceed $100 million. The dash 8’s thrust reverser system is being produced by Middle River Aircraft Systems. May 18, 2006


Boeing will install Class 3 Electronic Flight Bags on 10 new Jet Airways 777-300ERs. Aircraft delivery is scheduled to start early next year. Jet will be the first Indian carrier to operate a Class 3 EFB. May 18, 2006


Boeing reaches settlement to end two investigations. Boeing said it will pay $615 million to end three years of federal investigations into two cases. The investigations involve the illegal hiring of an Air Force official and the use of a competitors documents to win a contract. May 16, 2006


Boeing boosted the range of the 747-8 from 8,000 nm. to 8,300 nm. after the latest round of wind-tunnel testing, which included high- and low-speed lines development and fine-tuning of the noise characteristics on the fully integrated airframe. More than 3,000 hr. of wind-tunnel time have been logged to date. The recent series of four major tests ran simultaneously at three wind tunnels in Seattle–the Boeing Transonic Wind Tunnel, the Low Speed Acoustic Facility and the Nozzle Test Facility–and at the QinetiQ tunnel in Farnborough. Boeing VP and 747-8 Program Manager Jeff Peace said in Sydney that the 747-8 Intercontinental is “capable of carrying full passengers from Dallas to either Sydney or Melbourne,” key markets for Qantas and its codeshare oneworld partner American Airlines. Qantas has been mulling the 777-200LR for that route but the range gains on the 747-8 provide an attractive alternative. The dash 8 also can fly nonstop Sydney-New York. May 15, 2006


Boeing raises list prices for jetliners. Boeing has boosted prices for its jetliners an average of 4%. Separately, an analysis has suggested the cost of modernizing electronics of Boeing’s C-130 military transport plane has grown by 130%, putting the contract in danger of being canceled. May 15, 2006

Boeing, General Electric

General Electric said it finalized the architectural design for the version of the GEnx that will power the 747-8. Completion of this milestone, referred to as “Tollgate 6” in GE’s new product nomenclature, “begins the detailed design phase of the engine.” It will feature a 105-in. fan compared to 111 in. for the 787 and will be rated at 66,500 lb. thrust versus 75,000 lb. maximum takeoff thrust for the 787. Certification testing for 747-8 variant will begin next year with flight-testing aboard the 747-8 scheduled for late 2008. May 16, 2006

Boeing GoldCare

Boeing GoldCare aims to take MRO, supply chain burden off 787 customers. When Boeing begins delivering 787s to airlines in 2008, it expects to deliver something else as well: A total maintenance and supply chain solution that will permit operators to focus entirely on flying the airplane. May 15, 2006


Bombardier has officially named Farnborough Airport, home to the international air show of that name, as its European regional sales headquarters. Dubai gets the same title for the Middle East. Skyjet International, the business jet charter programme operator, part of the Canadian conglomerate, will share the facility. Bombardier manufactures the Challenger and Learjet ranges of business jets. Last year it produced 186 aircraft, a 45% increase on the 128 delivered in 2004. Bombardier says that with the increased hassle at major airports executive jets are coming more and more into their own, even for the North Atlantic crossings. May 21, 2006


Bombardier announced Friday that Japan Air Commuter, part of Japan Airlines Group, ordered an 11th Q400. JAC carried 1.4 million passengers in its fiscal year ended March 31. May 15, 2006

Bombardier, Air One

Air One signed a deal for six 90-seat CRJ900s and four options, Bombardier announced yesterday. List price for the firm-order aircraft is $215 million. Italy’s second-largest carrier operates a fleet of 30 737s but reached a deal with Airbus in January for 30 A320s plus 60 options. May 16, 2006


Embraer delivered 27 jets during the quarter including 21 to commercial airlines, down from 30 total deliveries a year ago. Revenues increased because of the higher value of the larger aircraft. Botelho said delivery rates will rise in the second half of 2006 and will include the 195, which is scheduled to be delivered to launch customer FlyBE in August. Airlines are more interested in the larger RJs, he noted. Of the 341 aircraft on firm order, May 16, 2006


Sales rise but profits fall at Embraer. Embraer announced first-quarter earnings of $65.3 million on net sales of $808.3 million, down from earnings of $96.5 million on sales of $763.3 million in the 2005 period. Embraer’s net sales increased 5.9% in the quarter, gross profit fell 13.5% to $231.9 million and operating profit plunged 70.7% to $36.5 million. CEO Mauricio Botelho said in a conference call yesterday that the margin decreases were related to a 17.7% average appreciation of the Brazilian real against the dollar and the increased costs associated with introducing new 170/190 aircraft–“the E Jets learning curve.” May 16, 2006


Gol increases 2006-07 fleet plan, prepares share, debt flotation. Set to benefit from expected downsizing at Varig, Gol said it will take delivery of an additional two 737-700s this year and an additional eight in 2007 along with two dash 300s. Currently operating a fleet of 47 737s, the carrier now plans to have 60 aircraft by year end and 74 at the end of 2007, comprising 12 dash 300s, 30 dash 700s and 32 dash 800s. The first 737NG that was part of its order for 67 firm and 34 options will be delivered in July. Gol said it expects South American passenger traffic to increase by more than 7% each year for the next five years, while Brazilian traffic should grow by more than 18% in 2006. May 18, 2006


Lufthansa 747-400 collapsed onto its nose at Frankfurt Monday when the nose gear gave way. A spokesperson said that the airline is investigating the incident, which occurred shortly before the aircraft was scheduled for pushback for a flight to New Delhi. None of the 242 passengers and 16 crewmembers onboard was reported injured. The 747 was delivered to LH in 2001, according to Reuters. May 17, 2006

Nippon Cargo

Nippon Cargo Airlines signed a deal to become the launch customer for IBS Group’s iCargo logistics management software. May 17, 2006

SAS Flight Academy

SAS Flight Academy and AirBaltic signed a five-year agreement covering pilot and cabin crew training on 737s and F50s. The 737 training eventually will take place at a new center under construction at Riga International Airport. May 18, 2006

SAS Flight Academy

SAS Flight Academy is moving into larger facilities in Copenhagen and adding two full flight simulators, a 737NG and an MD-80. The training center also signed a contract with Sterling Airlines to be the exclusive training provider for its pilots and cabin personnel through 2010. May 18, 2006

Singapore Aircraft

Singapore Aircraft Leasing Enterprise reported a profit of $34.7 million for the financial year ended March 31, “a sixfold increase from the previous year” when it earned $5.2 million. Revenues rose 29% to $255.1 million. According to the operating lessor, the strong performance “reflects the market rebound in the aircraft leasing business, which traditionally lags the airline industry cycle by up to two years.” Lease rates for new contracts “are generating significantly increased returns,” while “low-yielding leases signed during the downturn have largely expired and been replaced by higher rentals with better credit airlines.” SALE took delivery of 17 new aircraft last year, comprising seven A320s directly from Airbus and 10 A319s acquired under sale/leaseback arrangements with airlines. The SALE portfolio numbered 79 aircraft at fiscal year end, up from 62 in FY05. May 15, 2006

Triumph Group

Triumph Group announced the acquisition of the assets of Air Excellence International, which will operate as Triumph Interiors as part of the Triumph Aftermarket Services Group and is expected to add approximately $13 million in revenue in FY07. Air Excellence employs about 95 people, provides aircraft interior repair and refurbishment services and manufactures approved plastic and metal components. May 19, 2006

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