Monday, December 16th, 2019

Lockheed Martin looks to acquire bankrupt Vector Launch assets

In its filing for bankruptcy last Friday (Dec. 13) Vector Launch (Vector), U.S. aerospace and defense company, has stated that Lockheed Martin Corp (Lockheed Martin) intends to acquire its GalacticSky-related assets for US$4.25 million while also providing a loan of US$2.5 million so that it can continue operations.

However, the bid for the satellite technology assets of Vector is subject to approval by a U.S. bankruptcy court judge so, for now, the current offer can only serve as a base offer for higher bids in a bankruptcy court auction. In the bankruptcy filing, Vector made it clear that the company’s inability to continue was as a result of  its backers, Sequoia Capital’s “abrupt and unexplained withdrawal of support” earlier this year that made it impossible to raise new capital that would have allowed it to stave off bankruptcy.

A Sequoia spokesperson responded by saying that Vector had “failed to meet strategic objectives and financial projections” that it had outlined. “We ultimately made the decision to part ways with the company based on its inability to achieve its proposed plans,” was added in an emailed statement.

Launched in 2016, according to Reuters news agency, Vector raised more than US$100 million in venture capital, including from Lightspeed Venture Partners and Morgan Stanley Alternative Investment Partners. It had also won a U.S. Air Force contract for small satellite launches and had conducted a series of rocket engine tests with the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).


Qantas selects Airbus A350-1000 as preferred aircraft for Project Sunrise

Qantas has announced several important developments for Project Sunrise ahead of a final go/no go decision, which will now take place in March 2020, the airline stated on its website.

After detailed evaluation of the Boeing 777X and Airbus A350, Qantas has selected the A350-1000 as the preferred aircraft if Sunrise proceeds. This aircraft uses the Rolls Royce Trent XWB engine, which has a strong reliability record after being in service with airlines for more than two years. Airbus will add an additional fuel tank and slightly increase the maximum takeoff weight to deliver the performance required for Sunrise routes.

No orders have been placed but Qantas will work closely with Airbus to prepare contract terms for up to 12 aircraft ahead of a final decision by the Qantas Board. Airbus has agreed to extend the deadline to confirm delivery slots from February 2020 to March 2020. This provides additional time to negotiate an industrial agreement without impacting the planned start date of Project Sunrise flights in the first half of calendar 2023.

The last of three Project Sunrise research flights (New York to Sydney) will be conducted on December 17 and once complete, Qantas will have almost 60 hours of ‘Sunrise flying’ experience and thousands of data points on crew and passenger well-being

The data for crew will be used as part of final discussions with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority to approve an extension to current operating limits required for these ultra long haul services. Based on detailed information already provided by Qantas on its fatigue risk management system, CASA has provisionally advised that it sees no regulatory obstacles to the Sunrise flights.

Industrial negotiations with representatives for Qantas pilots, AIPA, are continuing. The discussions are aimed at closing the last remaining gap in the Project Sunrise business case. Qantas has put forward a number of suggestions to AIPA on how the gap might be closed while still offering three per cent annual pay increases and promotional opportunities to its long haul pilots. Discussions center on productivity and efficiency gains, including the ability to use the same pilots across its A350 Sunrise aircraft and the airline’s existing fleet of Airbus A330s.


Monocle Acquisition and AerSale announce merger agreement

Monocle Acquisition, a public investment vehicle, and AerSale®, a leading integrated, global provider of aviation aftermarket products and services, have entered into a definitive agreement to merge in a transaction with an implied enterprise value of approximately US$430 million, equating to approximately 6.3x AerSale’s forecasted 2020 Adjusted EBITDA. The combined company, which will be named AerSale Corporation, will be publicly traded on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

AerSale, currently owned by Leonard Green & Partners, Florida Growth Fund LLC and the Company’s two founders, is a leading global supplier of aftermarket aircraft, spare engines, flight equipment, maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services, and used serviceable material (USM) support. The Company also provides a broad range of internally engineered proprietary repairs, products, modifications, upgrades, and other cost-saving technical solutions.

Under the terms of the merger agreement, which was unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both Monocle and AerSale, existing AerSale shareholders, including Leonard Green & Partners, will receive US$250 million in cash and US$150 million in newly issued common equity at closing, subject to adjustment to the mix of consideration under certain circumstances.

Irish Department of Defence orders two Airbus C295 aircraft

Ireland’s Department of Defence has ordered two Airbus C295 medium airlifters in a maritime surveillance configuration.

With this new order, the Irish Air Corps will become the 33rd C295 operator worldwide. Both aircraft will be equipped with the Fully Integrated Tactical System (FITS) and specific state-of-the-art mission sensors together with the recently announced Collins Aerospace Pro Line Fusion avionics.


Austrian Airlines posts November traffic increase of 5.9%

About 1.1 million passengers flew with Austrian Airlines in November 2019, comprising an increase of 3.1% from the prior-year month. Traffic climbed 5.9%, while capacity increased 3.6%.

The load factor for November increased 1.7 points to 78% compared to the previous year.

Delta to welcome record number of pilots in 2020

Delta is set to hire and train more than 1,300 pilots in the next year — the largest single-year hiring event in more than two decades as the airline in 2020 expects to fly more customers on more flights than ever in its history. Pilots hired in the next year will fill positions across a broad range of mainline fleet types at Delta crew bases in New York, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Detroit, Seattle and others.​ Delta has also updated its initial hiring plan and now expects to hire at least 2,500 flight attendants in 2020.

The latest hiring plan is part of a broader effort to onboard more than 8,000 aviators in the next decade to backfill current pilots who are reaching the mandatory retirement age as well as to fund Delta's anticipated growth.

To help generate a pipeline of talented pilots, Delta in 2018 launched the Propel Pilot Career Path Program, an initiative that complements the traditional existing path to becoming a pilot through civilian and military pathways. Propel focuses on three main areas: college, company and community. The college avenue offers students at select institutions the opportunity to join a defined, accelerated and customized path from college to Delta. The program allows Delta to recruit talented pilots at an earlier stage in their career, provide a qualified job offer to selected students and be an integral part of their professional development.

In 2019, Delta expanded the college career path adding three schools: Jacksonville University, Kent State University and Arizona State University. A complete list of partner schools is below. Delta will grow the program further in 2020, adding universities and collegiate flight training programs to the list and offering more students the opportunity to have a defined career path to Delta.


Air Lease Corporation delivers new Airbus A321-200neo to Air Macau

Air Lease Corporation (ALC) has delivered one new Airbus A321-200neo aircraft on long-term lease to Air Macau.  This aircraft, featuring Pratt & Whitney PW1133G engines, is the first of two A321-200neo aircraft confirmed to deliver to the airline from ALC’s order book with Airbus and the first A321-200neo to deliver to the airline. 

Sabena technics opens new painting facility

Sabena technics has opened its new painting facility, dedicated to long-range aircraft. Building this facility is part of the Sabena technics Group's strategy to develop its painting division in Toulouse and effectively support major aerospace customers such as Airbus by providing them with solutions to efficiently support their A350 production.

The paint shop is the fourth of the Toulouse site. It is to meet the needs of the manufacturer that Sabena technics has invested more than €20 million in this new 7500 m² facility equipped with a ventilation system with a capacity of 500,000 m3/h and an optimal docking for long-range aircraft.

Also designed to minimize its environmental impact, the room is equipped with a heat recovery system and industrial water treatment. The painting teams, recruited and trained since 2018, have already started the activity and welcomed their first A350 aircraft for painting. More than 80 recruitments have been made.


SIA Engineering Company signs maintenance services agreement with Safran Aircraft Engines

SIA Engineering Company (SIAEC) and Safran Aircraft Engines have signed an agreement for SIAEC to provide engine maintenance services to Safran Aircraft Engines. The 10-year agreement encompasses engine Quick Turn (QT) and modification embodiment services for both CFM LEAP-1A and LEAP-1B engines. SIAEC will set up a dedicated facility with the latest engine and QT processes and state-of-the-art technology to support these services. The facility is expected to commence operations in 2020.

The LEAP-1A is one of two engine options for the Airbus A320neo family, while the LEAP-1B is the exclusive powerplant for the Boeing 737 MAX. The LEAP engine is a product of CFM International, a 50/50 joint company between GE (United States) and Safran Aircraft Engines (France). This engine has experienced the fastest order ramp up in commercial aviation history and CFM has received orders and commitments for a total of more than 18,750 LEAP engines to date.

Robert Keane joins Astronics Corporation’s Board of Directors

Astronics Corporation, a provider of advanced technologies for global aerospace, defense, and other mission critical industries, has reported that Robert S. Keane has joined its Board of Directors, effective December 9, 2019.

Keane is Chairman and CEO of Cimpress , which provides mass customization services through its group of companies and is strategically focused on investing in and building entrepreneurial, customer-centric businesses.


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