Friday, December 13th, 2019

Southwest reaches partial settlement with Boeing for MAX grounding compensation

Southwest Airlines (Southwest) has confirmed that it has reached a confidential agreement with The Boeing Company for partial settlement of an ongoing claim for damages the American carrier has suffered as a consequence of the grounding of the 737 MAX in March. Southwest has also confirmed its Board of Directors has authorized a discretionary, incremental profit-sharing accrual for employees, estimated to be in the region of US$125 million and which is tied to the projected reduction in operating income for 2019 as a result of the MAX groundings.

Gary C. Kelly, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, stated, "Our People have done an incredible job managing through the MAX groundings, while providing the highest levels of Customer Service and one of the best operational performances in our history. On behalf of the Southwest Board of Directors, we are grateful to our employees for their extraordinary efforts throughout the year and are pleased to share proceeds from our recent agreement with Boeing."

According to a Southwest press release, the incremental profit-sharing award will be funded as part of the Company's annual 2019 profit sharing distribution in 2020, in accordance with normal Profit-sharing Plan policies and Board of Director approval. The Company plans to provide 2019 profit-sharing details early next year, including the percentage each eligible Southwest employee will receive. Southwest expects to account for most of the compensation as a reduction in cost basis of both existing and future firm aircraft orders, which will reduce depreciation expense in future years.


Apollo and Athene close acquisition of GE Capital’s PK AirFinance debt business

Apollo Global Management, Athene Holding and GE Capital, the financial services arm of GE have closed their previously announced transaction for Apollo and Athene to purchase PK AirFinance, an aviation lending business, from GECAS, GE Capital’s Aviation Services unit.  In connection with this transaction, Apollo has acquired the PK AirFinance aircraft lending platform and Athene has acquired PK AirFinance’s existing portfolio of loans.

PK AirFinance is a leading aircraft lending business that serves airlines, aircraft traders, lessors, investors and financial institutions globally with loans to borrowers in more than 40 countries. Substantially all of the US$3.6 billion of PK AirFinance financing receivables that were held for sale in the second quarter of 2019 are being sold in the transaction, at a premium to book value. 

Financial details of the transaction are not being disclosed, although the close represents receipt by GE of more than 90% of agreed proceeds. The transfer of the remaining portion of the business is deferred pending certain regulatory and other conditions and is expected to be completed in the first half of 2020.

Air Canada’s first A220-300 takes to the skies

Air Canada's first A220-300 aircraft has successfully completed its inaugural test flight from the Mirabel A220 final assembly line in Canada. The first of 45 aircraft for Air Canada is scheduled to be delivered to the Montreal-based airline in the coming weeks.

With its first A220 commercial flight in early 2020, Canada’s flag carrier will become the first airline in Canada to operate the Canadian-designed and -built A220. It will also become the first carrier
in North America to fly the A220-300 variant.

Air Canada is planning to use the A220 on various domestic routes in Canada as well as to the United States. The A220’s unequalled performance and range capability will enable the airline to serve new markets, such as Montreal to Seattle and Toronto to San Jose, connecting the carrier’s main hubs to the West Coast, as of Spring 2020.


Airbus acquires industrial automation company, MTM Robotics

Airbus has acquired industrial automation company, MTM Robotics, for an undisclosed sum. The move deepens Airbus’ commitment to expanding advanced robotics capabilities within its manufacturing processes. The MTM business will retain its current leadership and 40-person staff, as well as its facility in Mukilteo, Washington, near Seattle.

The acquisition is the latest chapter in a trusted, ten-year-plus relationship between the companies, with multiple MTM light automated robotics systems currently in use at Airbus manufacturing facilities. While MTM will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Airbus Americas, Inc., headquartered in Herndon, Virginia, it will continue to serve other customers in the aerospace industry. Since 2003, MTM has deployed more than 40 aerospace manufacturing systems comprised of machines, tools, machine software, enterprise software and support throughout the United States, Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

The acquisition marks the latest step for Airbus in its industrialization roadmap, aimed at leveraging the time- and cost-saving benefits associated with using robotics in the manufacture and assembly
of its commercial aircraft.


Volocopter first eVTOL startup to receive Design Organisation Approval by EASA

Urban Air Mobility pioneer Volocopter has released that the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has awarded the company Design Organisation Approval (DOA) following a series of thorough audits. The approval is a confirmation by EASA that Volocopter is performing its tasks as an aircraft manufacturer in a controlled and safe manner. As an approved Design Organisation, Volocopter has a competitive edge in development speed, while guaranteeing the highest safety standards.

Volocopter is the first eVTOL startup on record to receive DOA with vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) as scope of work worldwide.

“Receiving this seal of approval from EASA is testament to our rigorously professional processes, world class team, and devotion to safety here at Volocopter,” says Jan-Hendrik Boelens, CTO and Head of Design Organization of Volocopter. “Design Organisation Approval is a crucial step towards receiving commercial certification and brings air taxis ever closer!” says Florian Reuter, CEO of Volocopter.

Recaro Aircraft Seating expands production facilities in China

Recaro Aircraft Seating has inaugurated its newly expanded production facility in Qingdao, China on December 9. The inauguration concludes the second phase of the space2grow initiative, a major global expansion project Recaro has started last year to support its continued growth. With its new expanded facilities, Recaro Aircraft Seating China will be equipped to take on the thriving market opportunities and lay a solid foundation for further growth in the Asia Pacific region.

The new Recaro production facilities measures roughly 7,500 m². It is provisioned to accommodate up to five new assembly lines which will increase the maximum production capacity of Recaro’s China plant to 60,000 seats per year, readying the company to meet the needs of customers in both the Asia Pacific region and the rest of the world.

The investment in the Qingdao plant forms part of the global Recaro space2grow initiative, an ambitious expansion strategy aimed to secure, sustain and expand the company’s growth. Space2grow is a multi-million investment project launched in 2018. Through the acquisition of additional land and investment in new buildings and renovations, it aims to significantly increase the production of Recaro seats across the world as well as office and social space.

Jetaire receives ANAC certification for B737 series

Jetaire has received certification from the National Civil Aviation Agency of Brazil (ANAC) for its Invicta™ Reticulated Foam Ignition Mitigation system for the B737 (300-800) series aircraft (Certificate #2019S11-06).

Invicta is Jetaire’s innovative solution for fuel tank flammability reduction (FTFR) compliance. Jetaire is the original developer of the Invicta reticulated foam technology and has the only patented foam-based solution as a means of compliance with fuel tank requirements of FAR 25.981.

First E175-E2 jet completes maiden flight

The Embraer E175-E2 made its inaugural flight on December 12, from the company’s facility in São José dos Campos. The E175-E2 is the third member of the E-Jets E2 family. The maiden flight kicks off a rigorous 24-month flight test campaign.

Embraer will use three aircraft for the E175-E2 certification campaign. The first and second prototypes will be used for aerodynamic, performance and system tests. The third prototype will be used to validate maintenance tasks and will be outfitted with interior furnishings.

The E175-E2 has one additional row of seats compared to the first-generation E175 and can be configured with 80 seats in two classes, or up to 90 in a single class. The airplane will save up to 16% in fuel and 25% in maintenance costs per seat compared to the E175.


Air Partner acquires global aviation security solutions and training company

Air Partner plc, the global aviation services group, has acquired the entire issued share capital of Redline Worldwide Limited, trading as Redline Assured Security (together "Redline"), a global aviation security solutions and training company.

The total consideration payable by Air Partner is up to £10.0 million, on a debt free, cash free basis, with an initial consideration of £8.0 million payable on completion and additional consideration of up to £2.0 million payable over two years post completion.

The acquisition is expected to be earnings enhancing in its first full year of ownership. The consideration is being funded from the Company's existing cash and debt facilities and the issue of new ordinary shares to the operational management shareholders of Redline.

Established in 2006, Redline is a global leader in the delivery of government-standard security training and solutions to international airports, airlines and aviation sector related companies, critical national infrastructure, stadia and event managers, and corporates.  Redline is headquartered at the National Security Training Centre at Doncaster Sheffield Airport and employs approximately 100 staff.

Low-cost airline Wizz Air founds 'Wizz Air Abu Dhabi'

Eastern European low-cost airline Wizz Air has reached an agreement in principle for the establishment of Wizz Air Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates in partnership with Abu Dhabi Development Holding Company PJSC (ADDH). The new airline will be Wizz Air’s first airline established outside of Europe.  

Wizz Air Abu Dhabi will be formed via a joint venture, and operations are expected to launch in the second half of 2020. The airline will focus on establishing routes to markets in which Wizz Air has existing, high growth operations, namely Central and Eastern and Western Europe, as well as the Indian subcontinent, Middle East and Africa over the long run. 

Wizz Air believes that the establishment of a truly ultra-low-cost airline in Abu Dhabi can contribute to the continued growth of Abu Dhabi as a world-class cultural and tourist destination.


Magnetic MRO Training receives Airbus A320neo LEAP 1a and PW1100G type training approval

Magnetic MRO Training, an international EASA Part-147 approved type training organization, has received an approval to provide Airbus A320neo LEAP 1a and PW1100G type training. The new capability’s scope ranges from Airbus A320ceo/neo difference course to full Airbus A320neo type- training for specialists with no previous background on the type.

Alongside the newly introduced Airbus A320neo training, Magnetic MRO provides Airbus A320ceo, Boeing 737 Classic/Next Generation, and Bombardier CRJ700/900/1000 type-training courses, as well as various internal company training. The training is conducted at Magnetic MRO’s training facility in Tallinn, Estonia which was improved and expanded in fall 2019.


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