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Thursday, July 16th, 2020

airBaltic succeeds in securing €250 million in new equity

Shareholders in Latvia’s carrier airBaltic have approved a €250 million (US$285 million) investment by the Republic of Latvia in order to assist it through the COVID-19 crisis.

Martin Gauss, the CEO of airBaltic, said: “With this new equity investment we are executing our new business plan Destination 2025 CLEAN. This investment will facilitate the successful growth of airBaltic leading to an IPO in the future.” The investment received EU approval on July 3.

Back in April the Supervisory Board approved a new business plan which foresaw adapted operations utilizing just 22 of its Airbus A220-300 aircraft during 2020 – 2021, taking into account reduced capacity, but that fleet increasing to 50 A220-300s by end 2023. The options for an additional 30 A220-300s will remain in place to cover future growth.


VoltAero partners with KinectAir to develop clean, on-demand regional flight services with the Cassio hybrid-electric aircraft

The creation of a regional air mobility ecosystem for VoltAero’s new Cassio hybrid-electric airplane has taken an important step forward through the French company’s collaboration with U.S.-based KinectAir, which is developing a flexible on-demand flight network utilizing an artificial intelligence-enabled smartphone application.

This cooperation foresees Cassio aircraft integrated with KinectAir’s short-haul infrastructure, applying artificial intelligence to balance passenger demand with air transport availability. KinectAir’s software platform will interface directly with Cassio’s “intelligent cockpit.”

“The KinectAir collaboration opens exciting opportunities, combining the full benefit of our Cassio aircraft’s low-noise, environmentally-friendly flights with an app that offers an accessible, affordable, sustainable and safe way to travel regionally by air,” explained Jean Botti, VoltAero’s CEO and Chief Technology Officer.

Botti added that ensuring regional air service is more important today than ever, especially when economically-challenged airlines around the world are abandoning shorter routes – threatening air links that serve as vital lifelines to thousands of communities.

VoltAero is developing a family of airplanes that use the company’s proprietary hybrid-electric power module. Featuring a sleek, aerodynamically optimized design, Cassio will fly at 200 knot-cruise speeds (360 kilometers per hour) out to flight ranges of 800 miles (1,300 kilometers). Available in three versions with four to 10 seats, the aircraft are designed to take off and land in distances of less than 1,800 feet (550 meters), thereby opening the use of runways typically available at local and regional airports.

Cassio deliveries will begin in late 2022. The aircraft will be produced on a purpose-built final assembly line in the Nouvelle Aquitaine region of southwest France, with licensed production opportunities pursued in North America and Asia.


Hawker Pacific delivers special missions' capability to New Zealand

Hawker Pacific, a Jet Aviation Company, has successfully delivered its final mission focused Beechcraft King Air 350 to the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF). The new multi-engine KA350 aircraft will begin service with a focus on new aircrew training. Accepting the aircraft on behalf of the New Zealand Government was the Hon. Ron Mark, Minister of Defence.

Under a 10-year agreement with the NZDF, Hawker Pacific is responsible for acquisition, modification and delivery of four multi-functioned, mission-focused King Air 350 (KA350) aircraft. It is also charged with delivering transport and training systems through real in-flight and virtual methods, and supporting these with a ground base training system, including engineering and logistics support, for use by the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) at Base Ohakea.

Virgin Galactic appoints Michael Colglazier as Chief Executive Officer

Virgin Galactic Holdings, a vertically integrated aerospace and space travel company, has appointed Michael Colglazier as Virgin Galactic’s new Chief Executive Officer and George Whitesides as Chief Space Officer, effective July 20, 2020.

Colglazier assumes the CEO role at an exciting time for Virgin Galactic as the company progresses through its test flight program and prepares for commercial service. He will also join the company’s Board of Directors effective July 20, 2020. Colglazier joins Virgin Galactic following a long and successful career at The Walt Disney Company, bringing over three decades of experience in developing and growing consumer-oriented multi-billion dollar businesses strategically, commercially, and operationally.

Most recently he was President and Managing Director, Disney Parks International, where he was responsible for operations, strategy, and commercial and experiential development of Disney’s international parks and resorts.

George Whitesides will assume the role of Chief Space Officer, focused on developing the Company’s future business opportunities, including point-to-point hypersonic travel and orbital space travel. George will also chair the company’s Space Advisory Board, and in conjunction with his new role will step down from the Company’s Board of Directors.

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Airbus Helicopters wins order for latest ACH160 helicopter

Airbus Corporate Helicopters (ACH) has won a new order for its latest ACH160 helicopter, announced just days after the H160 achieved certification.

This new order, placed by an experienced Italian operator for use on private and corporate flights mainly inside Italy, means the ACH160 has been ordered by customers in eight countries across North America, Latin America, Europe, China and South-East Asia.

The client, an existing ACH twin-engine helicopter operator, has specified a customised interior configured for six passengers.

The ACH160 is the premium version of the new H160 helicopter which was certified by EASA on July 1, ready for deliveries to private and business customers commencing later this year.

Emirates resumes A380 flights to London and Paris

Emirates will deploy its iconic A380 on its daily Amsterdam service, and add a second daily A380 service to London Heathrow starting from August 1.

This announcement follows the Emirates A380’s return to the skies on July 15, with EK001 to London Heathrow taking off from Dubai International airport carrying commercial passengers onboard this flagship aircraft for the first time since March.

Emirates flight EK073 will receive a special welcome on arrival at Paris Charles De Gaulle, as it becomes the first and only scheduled A380 flight to operate at this major European airport since the pandemic began.

Throughout the day, Emirates will also mark the restart of scheduled passenger services to seven more cities - Athens, Barcelona, Geneva, Glasgow, Larnaca, Munich, and Rome – offering its customers more travel options.


As U.S. COVID-19 cases increase rapidly, American Airlines sends out 25,000 furlough notices

With the rise in numbers of COVID-19 cases in many U.S. states and new quarantine restrictions come into force, American Airlines (American) has announced that it has sent out 25,000 furlough notices to its employees with a warning that demand for air travel will likely drop once again.

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act requires companies to provide 60 days’ notice of potential layoffs or furloughs. The furloughs will become effective in October when the payroll assistance provided by the U.S. government expires. The carrier’s over-130,000 employees had already been warned of potential furloughs as airline revenue had not reached anticipated levels. Among those who will receive furlough notices, it is believed that 2,500 will be pilots, which equates to roughly 18% of the total. 10,000, or 37% of the total will be flight attendants, while 3,200 will be mechanics, 22% of the total.

According to Reuters news agency, American expects to be overstaffed by about 20,000 in the fall, but hopes to reduce the actual number of furloughs through enhanced leave and early-departure programs it has rolled out alongside unions, Chief Executive Doug Parker and President Robert Isom said in a memo. However, there is the potential for the government to pass another round of payroll support which would carry through to March 2021, which would result in fewer furloughs as demand for air travel by then should have increased substantially.

Unions representing aviation workers have asked lawmakers for another US$32 billion in payroll aid. United Airlines has sent 36,000 furlough notices, representing about 45% of workers, while Southwest Airlines has also warned that job losses will be inevitable.

Beyond domestic travel, the massive resurgence in COVID-19 cases in the U.S has prompted several countries to impose travel restrictions on Americans. The European Union excluded the United States from its “safe” travel list, while Canada and Mexico want to extend the ban on non-essential travel at U.S. borders.


Honeywell expands navigation offerings to provide more options for precise data in areas without GPS

Honeywell is introducing the HGuide n380, a new inertial navigation system that communicates position, orientation and velocity of an object — such as an autonomous vehicle or unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) —even when global navigation satellite signals are unavailable. Smaller and lighter than previous Honeywell inertial navigation systems, the HGuide n380 is built using Honeywell’s rigorous design standards to withstand harsh environments in the air, on land or at sea.

This new inertial navigation system is composed of Honeywell’s HGuide i300 inertial measurement unit (IMU), a global navigation satellite system (GNSS) receiver and Honeywell’s proprietary sensor fusion software, which is based on the algorithms used for navigation on millions of aircraft every day. Inputs from these components are fused together to determine position, orientation and velocity to deliver critical navigation information even in areas where a satellite signal is degraded or altogether unavailable, such as canyons, bridges, tunnels, mountains, parking garages or dense forests.

During its development, the new product was placed in extreme environments to test ruggedness and was exposed to extensive factory calibration and compensation procedures that help ensure measurement accuracy and performance.

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