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Thursday, August 27th, 2020

Vertical Aerospace unveils designs for pioneering ‘flying taxis’

Vertical Aerospace, the Bristol-based company pioneering affordable electric aviation, has announced plans for a revolutionary ‘flying taxi’, the VA-1X.

Capable of carrying up to five people (four passengers and a pilot), the VA-1X is set to be the world’s first certified winged all-electric Vertical Take-Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft, and is on course to start commercial flights in 2024. Build will begin shortly, with manufacturing taking place in the U.K.

VA-1X will boast cruise speeds of 150 mph with a useable range of up to 100 miles, meaning passengers could travel from London to Brighton in approximately half an hour, compared to two hours driving, or an hour by train. The aircraft will bypass road congestion, and will be certified to the same safety standards as commercial airlines. Its eVTOL technology ensures the VA-1X will be completely emission-free.

Vertical Aerospace’s ultimate aim is to make the VA-1X significantly cheaper than helicopter flights, removing one of the major barriers to environmentally friendly air travel. Prices for air taxi services are initially expected to be between a helicopter flight and a private car, and will decrease as adoption grows.

World-class companies are participating in the initiative. These include Honeywell, which is supplying flight controls and control laws, and has signed a letter of intent to provide a vehicle management system for the prototype.

As demand for sustainable travel surges, eVTOL technology has gained rapid momentum, with the autonomous aircraft market predicted to reach US$1.5 trillion by 2040 according to findings from Morgan Stanley Research. Since its creation in 2016 by OVO Founder, Stephen Fitzpatrick, Vertical Aerospace has quickly established itself as a leader in eVTOL technology. It is one of only seven companies in the world to have successfully flown multiple full-scale eVTOL prototypes, undertaking two trials with U.K. Civil Aviation Authority approval, and is the first company to introduce F1 technology to eVTOL aircraft.


Rolls-Royce's first-half results severely impacted by COVID-19

Rolls-Royce has released its first half 2020 (H1) results, with the global COVID-19 pandemic severely impacting its H1 performance and medium-term forecasts. The most pronounced effect was seen in Civil Aerospace with large engine deliveries and flying hours both down around 50% in H1 including a 75% reduction in engine flying hours in the second-quarter (Q2), however business jets and regional flying hours were more resilient.

In Power Systems, which was less severely impacted than Civil Aerospace, industrial markets were suppressed, economic disruption and lower utilisation impacted demand for services while government marine was stable. Defence remained resilient with no material impact on results from the pandemic and delivered strong profit growth. ITP Aero was impacted by the same adverse industry trends as Civil Aerospace.

Underlying results: The £(3.2)bn underlying loss before tax primarily reflected the impact of COVID-19 on Civil Aerospace with lower aftermarket profit, under utilisation of operations, lower spare engine sales as well as £1.2bn of COVID-19 related contract catch-ups and one-time charges resulting from a reduction in forecast flying hours, a reassessment of the timing and parking of aircraft and the viability of airlines. Lower expected US$ receipts over the next seven years resulted in a £(1.46)bn underlying finance charge as the company took the necessary decision to reduce the size of its hedge book by US$10.3bn.

Reported results: Rolls-Royce's reported results were further impacted by £(1.1)bn impairment charges and write-offs, £(0.4)bn exceptional restructuring charges and adverse FX fluctuations leading to a £(2.6)bn negative movement on the mark-to-market of the hedge book, partly offset by £0.5bn improvements in the expected in-service costs of Trent 1000 durability issues, which were all a consequence of COVID-19.


Texel Air takes delivery of first Boeing 737-700 FlexCombi™

Texel Air, an established private airline and MRO based in the Kingdom of Bahrain, reported the arrival of the latest addition to its fleet, the Boeing 737-700 FlexCombi™, a first of a kind aircraft conversion developed to provide the most versatile third party cargo charter solution available in the market today.

The aircraft, which will be based in the Kingdom of Bahrain, is unique in its ability to be configured in seven different ways for multiple purposes in a remarkably fast 48-hour time frame. The FlexCombi™ can switch seamlessly to operate humanitarian, government, express integrator and commercial flights from major airports to smaller remote runways with configuration flexibility achieved without compromise in cargo volumes and customized-mission capability. In addition to cargo, the aircraft is able to transport up to 24 people as well as offering the option for medical evacuation flights, using two speciality medical beds installed on the aircraft.

The FlexCombi™ was developed in partnership with PEMCO World Air Services (Tampa U.S.A.), who effectively translated the concept into an approved FAA STC.  


BOC Aviation (Ireland) signs Magnetic MRO as its CAMO service provider

Magnetic MRO, a Total Technical Care and asset management organization, has signed a Continuing Airworthiness Management contract with BOC Aviation (Ireland), one of the world's leading aircraft leasing service provider. Since the agreement has been signed, the lessor has already delivered one Boeing 737NG aircraft to Magnetic MRO's hangars in Tallinn, Estonia.

Since the start of the global pandemic in the first quarter of this year, a vast number of lease companies have faced the challenge on figuring out how they will proceed with their assets as several carriers have suffered from bankruptcy or had to limit their fleet size due to lockdowns. Thus, the re-positioning and maintenance of asset airworthiness became even more crucial than ever.

BOC Aviation has entrusted Magnetic MRO with this task, including the planning of a ferry flight, de-registration and registration of the aircraft, issuance of work packs and providing maintenance services during the period when the aircraft is positioned at Tallinn Airport. In addition, for the storage period, the asset was registered under the Irish registry.

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Gatwick Airport announces significant companywide restructure plans

Gatwick Airport is planing for a significant restructure across its business designed to further reduce operating and staff costs in light of the dramatic impact COVID-19 has had on its passenger and air traffic numbers. The proposed organisation redesign will reshape the company so it is best placed to respond quickly to future growth.

The new proposals could result in the region of 600 job roles being removed from across the business, which is approximately 24% of the current number of employees. The company will now enter into a formal consultation process with employees.

In August, usually one of the airport’s busiest months, passenger numbers are over 80% down when compared with the numbers of passengers Gatwick saw that month in 2019. The company took rapid action to protect the airport back in March to preserve as many jobs as it could by reducing costs, managing cash outflows, and securing a £300 million bank loan.

Current traffic and passenger volumes are such that Gatwick is currently operating from just its North Terminal. Compared to this time last year, the airport is operating at around 20% of its capacity and therefore still has over 75% of its staff on the UK Government’s Job Retention Scheme, which is due to end in October.

Gatwick is the U.K.’s second-largest airport and flies a range of both short and long-haul point-to-point services. The airport is a vital piece of the U.K.’s national infrastructure and is also a major driver for both the regional and national economies.


CDB Aviation and Wizz Air sign agreement for sale-and-leaseback of four new A321neos

CDB Aviation, a wholly owned Irish subsidiary of China Development Bank Financial Leasing Co., announced the signing of a sale-and-leaseback agreement for a fleet of four new Airbus A321neo aircraft with the company’s current customer, Hungarian low-cost carrier Wizz Air.

Wizz Air, the largest Airbus customer of the A321neo variant, is expected to take deliveries of the four aircraft between the first and third quarters of 2021. Powered by Pratt & Whitney GTF engines and featuring the widest single-aisle cabin with 239 seats in a single class configuration, the aircraft will bolster the airline’s all-Airbus fleet serving short-haul operations.


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Tamar Jorssen
Vice President Sales & Business Development
Email: [email protected]
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