Friday, February 7th, 2020

Government-funded research project, Medifly, conducted test flights over Hamburg

The joint research project Medifly, funded by the German Federal Ministry for Transportation and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI), successfully demonstrated the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for acute transportation of medical samples. A total of six drone flights were conducted between the German Armed Forces Hospital in Wandsbek-Gartenstadt and Saint Mary's Hospital in Hohenfelde, roughly five kilometers (linear distance) apart from each other. The insight gained from these flights will lay the foundation for extended test operations over several months. The research goal of Medifly is to find out how far unmanned aircraft systems can be used to perform acute transports of medical samples in a safe and reliable manner.

As the drone flights not only conducted in a densely populated urban area, but also in the air traffic control zone of Hamburg's international airport, a large number of safety measures had to be implemented. First, evidence had to be provided that automated flights in this complex
environment and above highly-frequented traffic routes can be performed safely and reliably at any time. Thus, all parties involved had to invest several months of discussions and thorough planning to obtain the required flight approvals from the responsible authorities.

Several reknowned institutions have joined forces for the Medifly project: ZAL Center of Applied Aeronautical Research, FlyNex, GLVI Gesellschaft für Luftverkehrsinformatik and Lufthansa Technik AG. Hamburg's Authority for Economics, Transport and Innovation, as well as both hospitals involved, have joined Medifly as associate partners.

Based on the insight gained from these successful test flights, the partners intend to start an extended test flight campaign soon. This is expected to last several months in order to assess additional factors for an economically-viable utilization of the UAS technology.


Boeing and U.S. Navy successfully link piloted, unmanned Growlers

Boeing and the U.S. Navy successfully flew two autonomously controlled EA-18G Growlers at Naval Air Station Patuxent River as unmanned air systems using a third Growler as a mission controller for the other two.

The flights, conducted during the Navy Warfare Development Command’s annual fleet experiment (FLEX) exercises, proved the effectiveness of technology allowing F/A-18 Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers to perform combat missions with unmanned systems.

“This demonstration allows Boeing and the Navy the opportunity to analyze the data collected and decide where to make investments in future technologies,” said Tom Brandt, Boeing Manned-UnManned Teaming demonstration lead. “It could provide synergy with other U.S. Navy unmanned systems in development across the spectrum and in other services.”

Over the course of four flights, 21 demonstration missions were completed.

Norwegian reports higher unit revenue and higher load factor

Norwegian’s traffic for January was down 24%, while capacity decreased 29% when compared to the previous year.

Norwegian carried 1,974,606 customers in January. The planned capacity reduction and optimization of the route network continued to impact the figures positively. The punctuality for January was 87% and the load factor was 81%, up 4.8 points.


Spirit Airlines posts fourth quarter net income of US$81.2 million

For the fourth quarter 2019, Spirit's total operating revenue was US$969.8 million, an increase of 12.4% compared to the fourth quarter 2018, driven by an 18.6% increase in flight volume. Fourth quarter 2019 revenue includes approximately US$7.2 million of out-of-period revenue related to the reclamation of over-remitted Federal Excise Tax.

Total operating revenue per available seat mile (TRASM) for the fourth quarter 2019 decreased 3.6% compared to the same period last year. Without the out-of-period revenue, the Company estimates its fourth quarter 2019 TRASM would have been down about 4.3% year-over-year. The decrease in TRASM was driven by lower operating yields, as load factor for the period was up slightly.

For the fourth quarter 2019, total GAAP operating expenses increased 16.3% year over year to US$845.2 million. Adjusted operating expenses for the fourth quarter 2019 increased 16.1% year over year to US$840.2 million. Primary drivers of the increase in adjusted operating expense compared to the fourth quarter last year include increased flight volume and higher ground handling rates.

Aircraft fuel expense increased in the fourth quarter 2019 by 6.7% year over year, due to a 14.8% increase in fuel gallons consumed, partially offset by a 7.1% decrease in fuel rates.

Net income for the quarter was US$81.2 million, compared to US$85.0 million the previous year.


Héroux-Devtek reports fiscal 2020 third quarter financial results

Héroux-Devtek has reported that consolidated sales grew 8.8% to CA$157.3 million, up from CA$144.5 million last year, including a 1.4% organic growth and a contribution of CA$10.8 million by the Corporation's recent acquisitions. Commercial sales grew 11.8% from CA$65.5 million to CA$73.2 million, while defence sales were up 6.3%, from CA$79.0 million to CA$84.1 million.

Operating income increased to CA$13.5 million, or 8.6% of sales, up from CA$11.9 million, or 8.2% of sales last year. Adjusted EBITDA, which excludes non-recurring items, stood at CA$24.6 million, or 15.6% of sales, compared with CA$22.9 million, or 15.8% of sales, a year ago. Foreign exchange fluctuations had an unfavorable net impact of CA$1.1 million year-over-year, or 0.7% of sales.

The Corporation's funded backlog increased to CA$839 million as at December 31, 2019, compared to CA$769 million as at September 30, 2019, mainly due to increased demand for defence products under long-term contracts.

Ryanair Group traffic grows 5% in January

Ryanair Group traffic in January has grown 5% to 10.8 million passengers. Ryanair reported traffic increase of 3% in January compared to the previous year, while Laudamotion reported traffic increase of 67% compared to 2019. Ryanair achieved a January load factor of 92% and Laudamotion reported a January load factor of 91%.


Bombardier to expand London Biggin Hill service centre

Bombardier has announced that it will expand its London Biggin Hill service centre with the construction of a new and larger facility nearing 250,000 ft² (approximately 23,225 m² ) to replace its existing hangars. Scheduled to be operational by mid-2022, the new service centre will provide customers in the region with extended maintenance support and reinforce Bombardier’s customer service experience in Europe.

The facility will provide the space and flexibility to offer a full range of maintenance and refurbishment services on Bombardier’s vast portfolio of products, and has the capacity to accommodate as many as 14 Global 7500 aircraft at the same time. The expansion will introduce sought-after capabilities and state-of-the-art installations, such as component painting and interior refurbishment capabilities, component repair and overhaul workshops and training rooms. The site will also ensure a quick response to its customers’ repair needs with the integration of a brand-new parts depot.

Over the next several years, this significant expansion will bring the facility’s workforce to more than 250 employees and beyond to meet expanding demand.


Three dead as Pegasus Airlines 737 crashes in Istanbul, Turkey

Three passengers onboard a Pegasus Airlines Boeing 737-86J which crashed after landing in atrocious conditions at Istanbul’s Sabiha Gökçen Airport have been killed.

According to reports, the plane skidded for 50-60 meters beyond the end of the runway and then broke into three main sections as the topography dropped 30-40 meters. There were 183 passengers and crew on the plane, many who subsequently required medical attention at one of 18 nearby hospitals, according to the governor of Istanbul, Ali Yerlikaya. He also told reporters that: “The plane could not hold on the runway due to poor weather conditions and skidded for around 50-60 metres.”

At one point the fire broke out in the aircraft but this was efficiently extinguished by fire crews in attendance. The plane was an internal domestic flight from the western Turkish province of İzmir and, after the crash on Wednesday all further flights to and from the airport were canceled.

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