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Thursday, September 17th, 2020

“Culture of concealment” and “repeated and serious failures” led to 737 MAX crashes

US congressional investigators have released a 239-page report on the 737-MAX crashes where it identifies both Boeing Co (Boeing) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for “repeated and serious failures”, together with a culture of “concealment” instigated by Boeing to withhold important information from the FAA.

The report identified Boeing’s sense of urgency to launch the 737MAX to compete with the Airbus A320. "Our report lays out disturbing revelations about how Boeing - under pressure to compete with Airbus and deliver profits for Wall Street - escaped scrutiny from the FAA, withheld critical information from pilots and ultimately put planes into service that killed 346 innocent people," said Chairman Representative Peter DeFazio, an Oregon Democrat. "What's particularly infuriating is how Boeing and FAA both gambled with public safety in the critical time period between the two crashes."

The report said Boeing made "faulty design and performance assumptions" especially surrounding a key safety system called MCAS, which was linked to both the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes. The report criticized Boeing for withholding "crucial information from the FAA, its customers, and 737 MAX pilots" including "concealing the very existence of MCAS from 737 MAX pilots."

The FAA has now demanded several new safeguards to MCAS, including requiring it to receive data from two sensors, before allowing the MAX to return to service. The report cited instances where Boeing employees, granted permission to represent interests of the FAA, "failed to disclose important information to the FAA that could have enhanced the safety of the 737 MAX". Boeing has been accused of removing MCAS from documentation referring to it as an upgrade to an exiting system on other 737 models. The report said the FAA "failed to ensure the safety of the travelling public".

Lawmakers have proposed numerous reforms to restructure how the FAA oversees airplane certification. A Senate committee will take up a reform Bill on Wednesday. "This is a tragedy that never should have happened," House Transportation Committee chairman Peter DeFazio told reporters. "We're going to take steps in our legislation to see that it never happens again as we reform the system."


FAI Technik completes Ku-band prototype installation on Challenger 850

FAI Technik, the maintenance division of Germany’s FAI Aviation Group, has installed its first Collins ultra-high-speed Ku-band inflight connectivity system on a Bombardier Challenger 850 aircraft on behalf of a corporate client. FAI Technik which specializes in base maintenance and modifications for Bombardier aircraft, worked together with EASA-Part 21 organization S4A from Spain to obtain an EASA-STC for this modification.   

In 2018, FAI Technik was appointed an authorized Collins dealer enabling it to sell, install and maintain Collins’ avionics and cabin electronics equipment from its headquarters at Albrecht Dürer International Airport in Nuremberg.

Qatar Airways to launch four weekly flights to Accra

Qatar Airways will operate four weekly flights to Accra, Ghana via Lagos from September 29, 2020, becoming the fourth new destination launched by the national carrier of the State of Qatar since the start of the pandemic. The Accra service will be operated by the airline’s state-of-the-art Boeing 787 Dreamliner featuring 22 seats in Business Class and 232 seats in Economy Class.

The airline’s variety of modern fuel-efficient aircraft has meant it can continue flying by offering the right capacity in each market. Due to COVID-19’s impact on travel demand, the airline has taken the decision to ground its fleet of Airbus A380s as it is not commercially or environmentally justifiable to operate such a large aircraft in the current market. The airline’s fleet of 49 Airbus A350 and 30 Boeing 787 are the ideal choice for the most strategically important long-haul routes to Africa, the Americas, Europe and Asia-Pacific regions.


First ever purpose-built regional freighter takes flight

Regional aircraft manufacturer ATR has reported the successful first flight of its new purpose-built regional freighter aircraft. The flight took off at its Saint-Martin site and lasted two hours. During the flight, crew onboard performed a number of tests to measure the new aircraft’s flight envelope and flight performance.

The first aircraft will be delivered to FedEx Express, one of the world’s largest cargo airlines and express transportation companies, which placed a firm order for 30 aircraft, plus 20 options, in November 2017.

The brand new straight-from-factory cargo aircraft will offer a number of unique advantages to operators. With a large cargo door included as part of the original design and the same wide cross section as all ATR aircraft, the freighter will be able to accommodate bulk cargo and industry-standard pallets and containers. The aircraft will also provide operators with the very latest avionics suite, which can be continuously upgraded.


Volga-Dnepr demonstrates stable performance results for first six months of 2020

Volga-Dnepr Group, an international group of air cargo services, enters the second half of 2020 demonstrating stability and consistency. Total revenue across the three carriers of the Group - Volga-Dnepr Airlines, AirBridgeCargo Airlines and ATRAN Airlines, was more than 40% up which was achieved thanks to a quick response to market situations, the adaptation of a strategy towards a new reality and interim changes of the carriers’ business models with a focus on charter programs.

Amid an over 18% and 19% drop in the overall market tonnage and FTK (freight tonne-kilometres), respectively, the group managed to hold on to a 5% and 10% decrease. FTK has shown a slight decline given that most of the flights were operated as charters and transported low-density PPE. For the first six months of 2020, the groups’ share in FTK has demonstrated a 5% increase YOY.

The Group has also increased its tonnage across certain industries, mostly concentrating on COVID-19-related cargo transportations. Within the January-June period Volga-Dnepr’s freighters delivered over 25,000 tons of PPE, medical beds and mattresses, artificial lung ventilation apparatuses, as well as oversized and heavy sterilization vehicles. With biosafety of services being of paramount importance, the Group has additionally invested in disinfection of the fleet and cargo onboard. The antivirus action plan and introduction of new regulations together with a new working schedule have enabled it to meet the current challenges, whereas allocated budget has guaranteed provisions of PPE and regular COVID-19 testing for operations staff, including cockpit personnel.


North American Aerospace Industries announces merger with Aircraft Interior Recycling Association

North American Aerospace Industries (NAAI, Kinston, North Carolina, U.S.A.), a provider of sustainable end-to-end aircraft recycling, has merged with Aircraft Interior Recycling Association (AIRA, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, United Kingdom), a total aircraft interior support company.

While the news is formidable for both organizations, it also offers new opportunities for airlines, aircraft owners and OEMs to generate new revenue streams, gain savings, reduce their carbon footprints, and help address critical social needs; all of which have become more important in today’s post-pandemic period.

Through its merged organizations, NAAI and AIRA will help its customers gain the maximum return on their aircraft investment by recycling interior components often neglected due to the complexities involved in identifying composite materials. With AIRA’s unmatched expertise in this area, the companies will be able to help their customers capitalize on these materials by returning them to the supply chain for use in producing other products.  According to Sven Daniel Koechler, PhD, President and CEO of NAAI, the revenue opportunities can be enormous, but equally important, these materials can be put to good use to help provide clothing, housing and even manufacturing job opportunities for those in need across the world.

NAAI is building one of the world’s largest hangar systems in North Carolina. The three-part hangar system will house a 357,00 ft² dismantling shop; 151,800 ft² MRO facility; and 102,000 ft² paint shop for narrow and wide body aircraft.  Its proprietary processes will enable the company to recycle multiple aircrafts simultaneously for a much faster recycling process.  The NAAI facilities will also encompass an 80,800 ft² space designated for storage and offices. 

The facility’s construction schedule was interrupted by the pandemic and subsequent business lockdowns in the United States, however, Koechler is projecting that the facility will be operational by late 2021.


IAI's Heron UAV first to land at an international airport alongside commercial flights

The Heron, a UAV developed and built by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), has landed at Ben Gurion International Airport, becoming the first UAV to land in an international airport alongside commercial flights occupying civilian air space. The UAV took off from Ein Shemer airfield, landed at Ben Gurion, and flew back to Ein Shemer. The entire takeoff, flight, and landing were operated from the Ein Shemer control station.

This historic landing proves the maturity and safety of IAI’s Long Runner operating system, which allows UAVs to take off and land automatically on long-haul routes (ranges of up to 1500 km and more) using satellite communications technology and a combination of accurate take-off and automatic landing capability.

The Heron has an extensive operational record during the many years it’s been in use by the Israeli, German, and other nations’ air forces and is designed to carry out longer strategic and tactical missions. It can withstand severe weather conditions, carry multiple payloads (sensors), and transmit real-time information to the forces and decision-makers in the field. The Heron UAV can carry cargo up to 290 kg and can be used for a range of civilian purposes as well.

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Tamar Jorssen
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Email: tamar.jorssen@avitrader.com
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