Civil Aviation News

Boeing Debuts First 737 MAX 7

Boeing Debuts First 737 MAX 7

737 MAX 7, the third and the newest member of Boeing’s 737 MAX family to come down the assembly line, debuted at the company’s Renton factory in Washington on February 5. According to Boeing, the jet is designed for up to 172 passengers and a maximum range of 3,850 nautical miles, which is the longest range of the MAX airplane family.

“Technology improvements allow the MAX 7 to fly 1,000 nautical miles farther and carry more passengers than its predecessor, the 737-700, while having 18 per cent lower fuel costs per seat,” the company said in a statement. “The MAX 7 is also superior to the competition, carrying 12 more passengers 400 nautical miles farther than the A319neo, on seven per cent lower operating costs per seat.”

“For our airline customers serving airports at high altitudes or remote locations, the MAX 7 is the ideal complement to their fleet. We look forward to demonstrating the incredible flexibility and range of this airplane,” said vice president and general manager of the 737 MAX program, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Keith Leverkuhn. “This is the third 737 MAX family member our team has successfully introduced in just three years. That’s a phenomenal accomplishment and a testament to the dedication of the entire 737 team.”

The first MAX 7, according to Boeing, will now undergo system checks, fuelling and engine runs on the flight line in Renton. The airplane, the first of two MAX 7 flight test airplanes, will begin its flight testing programme in the coming weeks.

The 737 MAX is the fastest-selling airplane in Boeing history, accumulating more than 4,300 orders from 92 customers worldwide.


Thales to Equip Cebu Pacific Air’s Flight Crew with Aviobook

Cebu Pacific Air, a leading airline in the Philippines currently operates a fleet of 56 aircraft comprising A319, A320, A330 and ATR 72-500. The airline also has a further 50 aircraft on order which will be delivered between 2016 and 2021. With this anticipated expansion, the airline has decided to invest in pilot operations, to ensure that flight crew day to day operations, and their mission management are at the cutting edge. As a result, they have selected the Aviobook Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) solution to digitise all their current flight dispatch documentation.

The full implementation of Aviobook Electronic Flight Bag solutions enables increased situational awareness and optimised flight collaboration with airline operation centres. The contract further broadened Thales’s expertise in avionics and airborne connectivity.


Russian Helicopters to Manufacture Aircraft for Regional Aviation

Russian Helicopters (part of Rostec State Corporation) along with the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation, the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation, as well as the Republic of Buryatia and the Sakha (Yakutia) Republic, have signed an agreement on arranging local air routes. The document stipulates launching production of TVS-2DTS light airplanes at Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant and creating an airline-operator.

The agreement provides with creating TVS-2DTS production at Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant by 2019. The plant is obliged to deliver at least 200 machines for regional aviation from 2021 till 2025.

The new airline company, which will be founded on the basis of one of Yakutia airlines, will become the operator. Currently, potential delivery of aircraft to the new operator with the assistance of State Transport Leasing Company is discussed.

Moreover, Russian Helicopters and Polar Airlines based in Yakutia will sign a contract on delivery of 200 TVS-2DTS planes in order to develop regional aviation.

“We appreciate that the Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation chose Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant as a manufacturing area. Undoubtedly, the company has all skills needed to implement this project successfully. Furthermore, SibNIA named after S. A. Chaplygin, the plane developer, wished to arrange TVS-2DTS manufacturing in Ulan-Ude,” said CEO, Russian Helicopters, Andrey Boginsky.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade will provide financial support to finish TVS-2DTS R&D, plane certification and other potential measures of state support in order to arrange large-scale manufacturing.

“There is much work to be carried out. Regional aviation, virtually, have to be created from scratch. The government is willing to partially subsidise certification expenses to manufacturers of aircraft for local transportation, as well as expenses on implementation of projects for manufacturing preparation and certification. The budget includes 220 million Rubles for this purpose in 2018 and 230 million in 2019-2020,” said Minister of Trade and Industry of the Russian Federation, Denis Manturov. “It is required to create a destination network for the new airline in each region of its operation. This air transportation has to become profitable. Furthermore, it is necessary to tackle the issue of legal framework regulating operation of light aircraft.”

TVS-2DTS will replace An-2 planes which are abundantly used in regional aviation and whose production was shut down in the USSR in 1971 (they were manufactured in Poland up to 2002). It is planned to use this aircraft to address poor transport accessibility in remote Russian settlements, state problems with emergency medical treatment, forest fire-fighting, agricultural work etc.


Airbus Skywise Predictive Maintenance Services to Power AirAsia Group’s A320and A330 Fleet

Airbus Skywise Predictive Maintenance Services to Power AirAsia Group’s A320 and A330 FleetAirAsia Group has confirmed that its existing and future A320 and A330 fleet will be powered by Airbus’ Skywise Predictive Maintenance services. The scope encompasses AirAsia and AirAsia X’s fleets across all of the subsidiaries in Malaysia, Thailand, India, Japan, Philippines and Indonesia. The airline currently has around 230 aircraft in service. This is complemented with an order backlog of around 470 Airbus aircraft – which includes 66 A330neos and over 400 A320/ A321neos yet to be delivered. All of these aircraft will thus become Skywise-enabled.

The sheer breadth of aircraft information which AirAsia will soon be able to unlock thanks to Skywise, will be used to gain deep insights, create bespoke recommendations and apply state-of-the-art analytics for enhanced decision-making. In turn this will allow AirAsia to anticipate, with higher levels of accuracy, the needs for maintenance before an event happens, and thus maximise the operational reliability and utilisation of its aircraft assets. As part of the five years contract, AirAsia’s entire fleet will be equipped with FOMAX – a new on-board data-capture/ transmission module, which is a key enabling component of Airbus’ Skywise Predictive Maintenance services.

In addition to this new premium predictive maintenance service, AirAsia continues to benefit from Skywise Core – a cloud-based environment which offers unparalleled visibility into its fleet operations.

Group Chief Executive Officer of AirAsia, Tan Sri Tony Fernandes commented, “We eagerly look forward to unleashing the power of Airbus’ Skywise big-data analytics and predictive technology to obtain superior operational advantage for AirAsia Group’s entire A320 and A330 Family fleets. Skywise will enable us to reach new insights into the operation of our aircraft, optimise our maintenance, engineering and flight operations decision-making and reduce our costs.”

Airbus Digital Transformation Officer, Marc Fontaine said, “We are honoured to work with AirAsia with their forward-thinking approach and for helping to shape our vision together in this digital adventure. As the aircraft ‘architect’ and integrator, we naturally thrive in our role of building digital continuity across the aviation ecosystem.”

Airbus EVP, Chief of Sales, Marketing & Contracts, Eric Schulz said, “This is a very significant endorsement for the Skywise platform. In particular we are excited that this will enhance further the economics of the future A330neo fleet at the airline.”

Airbus launched its new aviation data platform Skywise in collaboration with Palantir Technologies – pioneers in big-data integration and advanced analytics – during the Paris Air Show in July 2017, after experimenting substantial benefits when applying its technologies to its own internal processes for two years. Skywise aims to become a leading user-centric open data platform for all major aviation players to improve their operational performance and business results and to support overall aviation digital transformation.


Airbus’ Open Aviation Data Platform Skywise Continues to Gain Market Traction

AirAsia, Asiana Airlines and Etihad Airways have become the first airlines to use full aircraft data and advanced predictive analytics on Airbus’ open aviation data platform Skywise, with each signing a premium subscription contract covering Skywise Predictive Maintenance.

The agreements cover the retrofit of their respective A320 and A330 Family fleets with FOMAX – a new on-board data-capture/ transmission module which provides greatly expanded volumes of recorded aircraft data – only about 400 aircraft parameters could previously be recorded on an A320, compared with roughly 24,000 from an aircraft equipped with it.

The sheer quantity of information that Skywise can unlock for each aircraft equipped with the new module will be used by airlines to gain deep insights, create bespoke recommendations and apply state-of-the-art Skywise analytics applications for enhanced decision-making. In turn this will allow them to anticipate, with higher levels of accuracy, the needs for maintenance before an event happens, and thus maximise the operational reliability and utilization of their assets.

In addition to the new premium predictive maintenance contracts outlined above, AirAsia, Asiana Airlines and Etihad Airways will gain access to Skywise Core, providing them with a cloud-based platform offering unparalleled visibility into their fleet operations.

Airlines using Skywise Core can integrate their own operational, maintenance, and aircraft data into the Skywise cloud, so they can store, access, manage, and analyse selected Airbus data together with their own data and global benchmarks without the need for additional infrastructure investments. This resulting value will give them new insights at aircraft, fleet, company, and global level while allowing them to enhance their operations through access to OEM expertise and global fleet context.

For airlines who have not yet selected the premium predictive services, Airbus offers Skywise Core under a “shared value” arrangement. Under which the airlines that agree to share operating data from their Airbus fleet can access the platform at no cost. Airbus has recently signed several agreements with airlines around the world to join Skywise Core, including Bangkok Airways, LATAM and WOW air. These latest subscribers bring the total number of airlines now connected to the Skywise Core platform to nine – including previously announced Peach Aviation, easyJet and Emirates.

Airbus Digital Transformation Officer, Marc Fontaine commented, “As the aircraft ‘architect’ and integrator, we naturally thrive in our role of building digital continuity across the aviation ecosystem. What we are doing now – bringing together the different actors of the industry, breaking the silos within and outside each organisation – is a real revolution. I really want to thank our airline customers for their trust, for their forward-thinking approach and for sharing our vision in this adventure. If “information is power”, then clearly we are all becoming more powerful, together.”

“Just like the industry was disrupted by Airbus’ ‘Fly-by-Wire’ concept back in the days, we are now bringing full benefits of ‘Fly-by-Data’ to our customers. These deals we are announcing are the result of years of strong co-innovation with our customers, and I am very proud to see that our customers, our reason for being, are confirming the fact that Skywise is meant to become a leading data platform in the industry,” said Head of Services by Airbus, Laurent Martinez.

Skywise provides all users with one single access point to their enriched data by bringing together to aviation data from multiple sources across the industry into one secure, cloud-based platform physically hosted in Europe. The more data that airlines or OEMs are sharing into the Skywise Core platform, the more accurate the predictions and models for anyone connected. All data is anonymised so knowledge and lessons learnt are shared and data confidentiality is ensured.


Airbus Strengthens Position in Asia-Pacific Aviation Services Market

While air traffic is doubling every 15 years in the world, the Asia-Pacific fleet is set to almost triple by 2036. For services, this translates into more than a third of the global MRO business coming from this region by 2036. This represents more than USD660 billion – the sum total of the accumulated spending during the next two decades, and encompasses the segments namely Components; Line maintenance and Airframe base maintenance and Engine maintenance.

Airbus predicts that the MRO business alone in Asia will grow by 4.5 per cent annually (compared with 3.7 per cent worldwide) until 2036. Anticipating this growth, Airbus has clearly accelerated its presence in the region since the last Singapore Airshow, seizing all opportunities via acquisitions, joint ventures and partnerships, with digitalisation and co-innovation as key drivers. Airbus also foresees a global Asia-Pacific demand to train 220,000 new pilots for aircraft (above 100 passengers), and more than 200,000 new technicians, representing around 40 per cent of the pilots and technicians worldwide training market.

To seamlessly coordinate all these support and services activities for the benefit of the airlines, Airbus has created a new Customer Services hub in the region. The newly appointed Head, Bruno Bousquet, is missioned with managing a Customer Services entity with locally empowered teams, 1,000+ highly qualified employees spread across the region, close to customer operations. Bousquet will be based at the Airbus Asia headquarters located at Singapore’s Seletar Aerospace Park.

Significant progress has been made since the launch of Airbus’ ‘Hangar of the Future’ two years ago with the support of the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB). This project aims at exploring the digitalisation and automation of maintenance operations. It is now becoming reality and accelerated by Skywise – Airbus’ open data aviation platform launched in June last year.

“The aviation industry is at a crossroad where digital leadership and co-innovation will make the difference in every player’s ability to capture the needs of the MRO market,” said Head of Customer Services Airbus, Philippe Mhun. “Whether we are looking at drones, the Internet-of-Things, scanners or cobots, the importance going forward will likely depend on the ability to build real digital continuity across these diverse platforms and tools and across all the players of the aviation sector. This is where Airbus, in its natural OEM role as an integrator, will bring value to its customers and partners.”


Thales AVANT In-Flight Entertainment Systems Selected by Garuda Indonesia

Passengers of Garuda Indonesia, the country’s flag carrier, can look forward to an all new and enhanced passenger experience with Thales AVANT IFE System on board the carrier’s 14, A330neo aircraft. Garuda’s choice of Thales’s IFE system will help drive the airline’s strategic positioning to attract more passengers as Indonesia expects to see a double-digit increase in passenger growth this year.

At a ceremony held on February 6, at the Singapore Airshow, Thales and Garuda announced their partnership to equip their new Airbus A330neo with the AVANT IFE system featuring powerful new lightweight High Definition (HD) monitors. Business class passengers will also enjoy the Avii touchscreen handsets, the most advanced android-based smartphone like controller in the sky.

The agreement is a first for Thales and Garuda Indonesia and paves the way for both industry leaders to collaborate and deliver ground-breaking innovations to the aviation sector.

The new IFE system is based on an open Android platform, and will support multiple languages and host applications such as Interactive 3D Map, e-reader and more. The Avii handset, available for business class passengers, is a second-screen application platform that enables passengers to select, control and enhance their multimedia experience. Garuda Indonesia expects to take delivery of the A330neos in 2019.

“We are excited to partner with Garuda Indonesia, the world class airline rich in service culture. As the carrier evolves digitally and implements the latest technologies to enhance the travel experience for passengers, Thales is pleased to work with Garuda and help accelerate their digital journey by delivering state-of-the art in-flight entertainment,” said, CEO, Thales InFlyt Experience Dominique Giannoni.


Pratt & Whitney to Present a Mitigation Plan for the Modified Engine Configuration

Pratt & Whitney said that the company, with the support of Airbus, continues to evaluate the impact of findings last week relating to a knife edge seal on the High Pressure Compressor (HPC) aft hub on a limited subpopulation of the PW1100G-JM engine that powers the Airbus A320neo aircraft.

The company also said that it had implemented an engineering change in mid-2017 that was intended to improve the durability of the knife edge seal for this engine. Engines that incorporated this engineering change entered revenue service on customer aircraft beginning in December 2017. In late January and early February of this year, four of these modified engines did not perform as anticipated, Pratt & Whitney said in a statement. The company, in coordination with Airbus, will present to regulatory authorities this week a proposed mitigation plan for the modified configuration.

The current population, according to the company, of impacted engines is 43 engines installed on 32 aircraft, of which 21 aircraft have one engine with the modified configuration, and 11 aircraft have two engines with that configuration. There are also approximately 55 such engines delivered to the Airbus final assembly line awaiting installation on customer aircraft. Pratt & Whitney is working with Airbus to implement the remediation plans set forth in its all operator transmission.

The company further said that it is also working to assess an overall industrial and delivery plan to minimise customer disruption.


Bell Helicopter Rebrands to ‘Bell’

Bell Helicopter, a Textron Inc. company and major global aircraft manufacturer revealed, on February 22 that it has rebranded to be known as simply ‘Bell’. The new brand strategy and modernised logo are rooted in the company’s focus on innovation and customer experience. Bell will roll out the rebrand over the next year.

“Bell has always been about more than just helicopters. Our team has spent the past 80 years pushing the boundaries of flight, and now we will accurately reflect that quest,” said president and CEO Mitch Snyder. “The look captures our innovative spirit without detracting from our core mission of providing safe and unsurpassed experiences to our customers.”

The most notable update, aside from its brand name change, is a new logo. Bell wanted to highlight the tenacious pursuit of flight with its depiction of a dragonfly, while grounding the logo with a shield to illustrate the company’s stellar reputation in reliability and quality. “The dragonfly can take off and land wherever it wants, fly quickly and efficiently in any direction, and hover at will. It represents the mastery of flight, something Bell strives to achieve,” added Snyder.

Bell teamed up with FutureBrand, a global strategic brand and design consultancy, to complete its first rebranding since Textron Inc. purchased the defence businesses of Bell Aircraft Corporation in 1960 some of which became Bell Helicopter. The process, which began in the summer of 2017, helped refocus the company’s communications to more accurately reflect how employees go above and beyond to bring the experience of flight to customers.

“This rebrand is not just about a new logo,” said Snyder. “We chose to do this because we see ourselves at the forefront of technology. We believe this refresh embodies the idea that we can make the vertical dimension more accessible.”