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LATEST NEWS

Thursday, May 7th, 2020

VoltAero unveils production-version Cassio hybrid-electric aircraft

VoltAero has revealed the production configuration for its Cassio aircraft, which will revolutionize general aviation with a highly efficient, safe and optimized family of airplanes powered by the company’s hybrid-electric power module.

Cassio utilizes VoltAero’s hybrid-electric power module in an aft fuselage “pusher” configuration, integrating a cluster of electric motors with a high-performance internal combustion engine that serves as the range extender. The powertrain currently is being validated on VoltAero’s Cassio 1 flight test aircraft, ensuring a high level of maturity for certification and production.

VoltAero’s proprietary Cassio design is based on a sleek, aerodynamically-optimized fuselage, a
forward fixed canard, and an aft-set wing with twin booms that support a high-set horizontal tail.

Cassio will be offered in three versions, each sharing a high degree of modularity and commonality. The aircraft will be produced at a purpose-built final assembly line in the Nouvelle Aquitaine region of southwest France, with VoltAero leading a world-class team of partners and suppliers. Licensed production opportunities will be pursued in North America and Asia. Initial deliveries are targeted for the end of 2022, beginning with the four-seat Cassio 330 version.

The Cassio family of airplanes is tailored for operation by private owners, air taxi/charter companies, in commercial flights for point-to-point regional travel, and in various utility-category applications. Cassio will be certified to Europe’s EASA CS23 certification specification as a single-engine, general aviation category aircraft.

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Spirit and JetBlue get permission to suspend certain flights until Sept. 30

Having previously denied Spirit Airlines Co’s request to suspend a number of flights during the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Transport has now decided to let the airline halt some flights until September 30, while also allowing JetBlue Airways to reduce the number of flights it operates over the same period of time.

Demand for air travel within the U.S. has fallen by over 95% and many carriers are being forced to reduce costs by cancelling flights and grounding planes. Part of the problem for a number of airlines has been that a condition of receiving a federal grant was that existing schedules had to be maintained unless specific permission was obtained from U.S. regulators.

Spirit will now halt flights to six airports, including Seattle, Minneapolis, Denver and Phoenix, while JetBlue can now cease flying to 16 major cities, including Las Vegas, Seattle, Houston, Dallas, Detroit and Chicago. JetBlue confirmed in a statement that it: “fully intends to gradually resume service to the levels prescribed at each of these airports as soon as it is both safe to do so and when even the slightest customer demand re-emerges.”

Spirit made it very clear that operating flights “during a period of almost zero demand is against the public interest as it wastes scarce financial resources while adding virtually nothing.” In the meantime, fellow U.S. carrier Delta Air Lines, having reported passenger numbers varying between one and 14 per flight to and from nine specific airports during the first three weeks of April, has also asked for permission to halt flights to these airports.

Aviation Partners names Gary Dunn President

Aviation Partners has appointed Gary Dunn to the position of president, effective immediately . Dunn has served the company for more than two decades. He has been interim president since the unexpected passing on March 30, of company founder and aviation legend Joe Clark.

Dunn has close to 30 years’ experience in aviation maintenance, engineering, product support, sales and marketing. A childhood fascination with all things flight related led Dunn to study aeronautical engineering. During an apprenticeship at London Luton Airport-based Monarch Aircraft Engineering, he provided MRO support to a mixed fleet of Boeing and Airbus aircraft. A move to Seattle in his early 20s led to being hired in 1996 by Aviation Partners’ director of engineering. He joined Joe Clark’s dream team of mostly former, senior Boeing engineers.

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Israel will lease IAI Heron UAVs to Greece

The Israel Ministry of Defense and the Hellenic Ministry of National Defense have signed the first lease agreement for the Israeli Heron system, developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).

As part of the agreement, the Israel Ministry of Defense will lease the Heron system in its maritime configuration to Greece over three years, with an option to purchase the system upon completion of the leasing period.

The Heron system, equipped with both day and night activity platforms, maritime patrol radars and satellite communications, offers extended operational endurance in a wide range of scenarios including maritime patrol, marine and land border protection, search and rescue, disaster management and more.

Spirit AeroSystems posts first-quarter net loss of US$167.5 million

Spirit’s first quarter of 2020 revenue was US$1.1 billion, down 45% from the same period of 2019, primarily due to the 737 MAX production suspension directed by Boeing that began on January 1, 2020.

Deliveries decreased to 324 shipsets during the first quarter of 2020 compared to 453 shipsets in the same period of 2019, including Boeing 737 MAX deliveries of 18 shipsets compared to 152 shipsets in the same period of the prior year.

Spirit’s backlog at the end of the first quarter of 2020 was approximately US$42 billion, down US$1 billion from the previous quarter, with work packages on all commercial platforms in the Boeing and Airbus backlog.

Operating loss for the first quarter of 2020 was US$(167.5) million, down compared to operating income of US$233 million in the same period of 2019. As a result of Boeing’s 737 MAX production suspension that began on January 1, 2020, Spirit recognized lower margin driven by significantly less deliveries, excess capacity costs of US$73.4 million, and restructuring expenses of US$42.6 million for cost-alignment and headcount reductions.

Cash from operations in the first quarter of 2020 was US$(331) million, down from US$242 million in the same quarter last year, primarily due to negative impacts of working capital requirements largely driven by supplier payments made following the 737 MAX production suspension, partially offset by US$215 million received related to the February 2020 memorandum of agreement with Boeing. Free cash flow in the first quarter of 2020 was US$(362) million, down compared to US$201 million in the same period of 2019.

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Jim Nypels joins APOC Aviation’s Engine Trading division

APOC Aviation has brought Jim Nypels into its new Engine Trading division as the organisation prepares for a return to increased leasing and trading activity. Nypels has been with APOC since the start of the business in 2015. After a period as Warehouse & Logistics Manager he moved to project management focusing on airframe teardowns – a core activity for the innovative leasing, trading, aircraft component and part-out specialist.

Supported by significant investment, APOC Aviation is actively seeking to develop opportunities in the engines’ arena and Anca Mihalache, VP Engine Trading, who will mentor Nypels in his new role, believes that his solid experience of the APOC ethos combined with a genuine enthusiasm for the engines side of the aviation aftermarket, will be immediate assets as she grows her team. “The new APOC Aviation engines division is focused on CFM56-3/5A/5B/7B and V2500-A5 engines. A dynamic programme is already underway as we pursue our strategy to build trading relationships with like-minded counterparties. Jim will work with the team to foster our relationships with airlines, investors and repair shops. He will help to manage engine part sales and evaluate engine stock
for trading, leasing or teardown.”

Virgin Galactic enters Space Act Agreement with NASA

Virgin Galactic and its wholly owned subsidiary, The Spaceship Company (TSC), have signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA to facilitate the development of high speed technologies.

The Space Act Agreement (SAA), is set to enable and foster collaboration between NASA, Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company in order to advance the United States’ efforts to produce technically feasible, high Mach vehicles for potential civil applications.

Virgin Galactic believes that it is able to leverage its robust platform of advanced technologies, significant vertically integrated design, engineering and manufacturing capabilities, and thousands of hours of flight testing to develop additional aerospace applications. Together with its industry partners, Virgin Galactic is seeking to develop a vehicle for the next-generation of safe and efficient high speed air travel, with a focus on customer experience and environmental responsibility.

In partnership with NASA, Virgin Galactic believes there are significant opportunities to apply higher speeds to drive technological development to allow industries to adapt to the changing economic and ecological environment. The collaboration will aim to inform the development of national strategies using economic and technical foundations with a focus on sustainability.

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Pratt & Whitney customer training centers adapt to meet their mission

Remote learning, phased reopening and other measures designed to deliver the highest-quality training even through a pandemic: that is how Pratt & Whitney Customer Training Centers in China, India and the U.S. meet challenging times.

The China Customer Training Center (CCTC) reopened in early April and has since delivered three in-person GTF engine courses to members of the Aircraft Maintenance and Engineering Corporation and Chinese airline Qingdao. In preparation for the courses, which focused on retrofitting the main gearbox of the GTF, the training center made sure to follow all government and company health and safety protocols. Practicing social distancing guidelines and wearing personal protective equipment, the CCTC placed students’ health and wellbeing as a top priority.

“Our airline customers, employees and their communities in China have been through a challenging time since January – yet our support continued, as demonstrated by the CCTC team. I hope others see the reopening of the CCTC as a symbol of optimism,” said Matt Stoner, vice president of Customer Support.

All three training centers offer remote training courses to employees, including theory-based engine maintenance and familiarization courses. The CTC has also tailored remote courses for employees to learn about aspects of Pratt & Whitney’s commercial engines business, such as marketing, leasing and campaign analysis.

Mitsubishi and Bombardier to close acquisition of Canadair Regional Jet program on June 1

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Bombardier have agreed that all closing conditions have been met and the transaction pertaining to the acquisition of Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ) Program will close on June 1, 2020. The Program will be operated under the newly created group entities of MHI RJ Aviation Group (MHIRJ) and will commence upon closing.

As part of the acquisition, MHI acquires the maintenance, support, refurbishment, marketing, and sales activities for the CRJ Series aircraft, along with the type certificates. This includes the CRJ
related services and support network mainly located in Mirabel, Québec, and Toronto, Ontario in Canada, Bridgeport, West Virginia, and Tucson, Arizona in the United States. CRJ Spare parts will continue to be distributed from depots in Chicago, Illinois and Frankfurt, Germany.

Complementary to MHI's existing commercial aircraft business, MHIRJ will provide a holistic servicing and support solution for the global aircraft industry including the CRJ Series aircraft, and eventually, for the Mitsubishi SpaceJet family of next-generation regional jets.

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GKN Fokker Services and RNLAF extend total support contract for standard parts

GKN Fokker Services and the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) have signed an extension of the existing total support contract for delivering standard parts for all of the RNLAF's aircraft, helicopters and multiple support systems until 2022. The support is provided by GKN Fokker
Services’ facility in Hoofddorp, the Netherlands, and can be extended for an additional two years.

Since the start of the original agreement in 2017, the scope of services has been increased in the extended contract. This includes the implementation of a solution for the RNLAF’s existing inventory to ensure all stock is used at the right time, and an increased amount of part number coverage from approximately 16,500 to 20,000.

The total support solution for delivering standard parts continues to provide the RNLAF with a single point of contact for all standard parts requirements. Fokker Services is taking ownership of various logistic services such as forecasting, introduction of approved alternative items, and consignment stock management with a two bin system on all the maintenance facilities in the Netherlands. It covers standard parts transportation and delivery directly to RNLAF maintenance facilities locations across the Netherlands, and Fokker Services will strive to maintain its on-time delivery performance of over 98%. RNLAF’s fleet of NH90, Apache, Chinook and Cougar helicopters, as well as the F-16s, PC-7s and the KDC-10 tanker aircraft, are included in the agreement.

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