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Tuesday, October 6th, 2020

MTU Aero Engines looks to focus on hydrogen as the engine fuel of the future

MTU Aero Engines (MTU), Germany’s leading engine manufacturer, has openly welcomed Airbus’ ZEROe concepts in relation to emission-free aviation. “Hydrogen is a highly attractive future option for us as an engine producer as well,” says MTU Chief Operating Officer Lars Wagner, adding: “It should be used as a fuel right away.”

MTU sees three possible uses for hydrogen: Converted to sustainable aviation fuels (SAFs), hydrogen could be dropped into existing aircraft and engines right away. “Direct combustion of liquid hydrogen in gas turbines is possible in technical terms, too,” says Dr Stefan Weber, Senior Vice President Technology & Engineering Advanced Programs at MTU in Munich, highlighting the second possible use. That would require some adjustments in the engine, especially the combustion chamber, which Weber thinks could be done in just a few years. By contrast, much larger challenges await for infrastructure and aircraft manufacturers, since they will have to find ways to provide and transport the liquid hydrogen and then carry it along inside appropriate tanks inside the aircraft.

In the long term, MTU is relying on a third option for using hydrogen: converting it into electricity by means of a fuel cell. This application is also described by the MTU experts in their Technology Roadmap for achieving emissions-free flight. This technology promises almost zero emissions, but it is still in the early stages of development in aircraft propulsion applications. “We call our fuel cell concept the flying fuel cell. We have an established team of experts working on it in Munich,” Weber explains. In August, MTU teamed up with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) to launch a cooperative project with the aim of demonstrating the new technology in a Do228.

MTU’s development work is also focusing on the further development of the gas turbine to leverage the full amount of potential available. Further optimized and combined with revolutionary drive concepts that significantly improve the cycle, considerable reductions in all emissions can be achieved. MTU is currently focusing on what is known as a WET engine (Water-Enhanced Turbofan). This concept reduces fuel consumption by more than 15 percent regardless of fuel type, considerably lowers all emissions – especially NOx levels – and, according to initial estimates, also reduces formation of contrails.

Lars Wagner explains: “We need both propulsion concepts – an optimized gas turbine combined with WET technology and fuel cells – because they have different areas of application.” The hydrogen-powered fuel cell is especially suitable for short- to medium-haul aircraft, as it requires less tank volume than in the case of long-haul aircraft. For these types of planes, gas turbines will continue to make sense for the foreseeable future. “But in that case, using SAFs,” Dr Stefan Weber sums up, adding, “Realizing the new technologies, and reaching our climate targets, will depend to a crucial degree on receiving appropriate funding, both nationally and at the European level.”

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South African Airways Technical reaches agreement with customers and reinstates aircraft maintenance services

South African Airways Technical (SAAT) has reached an agreement with its customers and has begun to reinstate aircraft maintenance services. This development follows a decision taken by SAAT to suspend maintenance services to four of its airline customers in September 2020 due to outstanding payments on services already rendered.

South African Airways (SAA) is one of the airlines that was impacted by the suspension of the aircraft maintenance service. The airline has made a payment to SAAT and the suspension of services was lifted on Wednesday, September 30.

Another customer, Mango Airlines, has reached an agreement with SAAT making it possible to lift the suspension on Mango Airlines to commence work on their fleet as of Friday, October 2. The aircraft affected returned to service on Saturday, October 3.

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Air Safa selects Airbus H125 helicopter as launch product of aircraft leasing business in India

Air Safa, a Singapore based aircraft leasing company, has signed a purchase agreement with Airbus Helicopters for one H125 helicopter with the option to add another one in the future. The H125 will be placed on a dry lease to Indian operators for multirole missions, including passenger transportation and aerial work.

The H125 is a member of Airbus’ rugged and proven Ecureuil family, which has accumulated more than 35 million flight hours worldwide. It is a single-engine, multi-mission helicopter that can be easily reconfigured for various aerial work missions with a wide range of optional equipment depending on the environment and the mission requirement.

The H125 is a common sight at the pilgrimage areas in India. It is also being used to develop new helicopter market segments in the country, mainly geophysical surveys, power grid maintenance and emergency medical services, among others.

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United Airlines resumes nonstop service between San Francisco and Shanghai

United Airlines will start nonstop service to China four-times weekly between San Francisco and Shanghai's Pudong International Airport. Beginning October 21, 2020, United will operate four weekly nonstop flights with Boeing 777-300ER aircraft from San Francisco to Shanghai on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Prior to suspending service in February due to COVID-19, United operated five daily flights between Shanghai and its hubs in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York/Newark.

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APOC Aviation acquires three CFM56-5A engines from PTS Aviation

As part of a strategic program to expand its engines asset platform, APOC Aviation has purchased three CFM56-5A engines from PTS Aviation in Florida, in a multi-million dollar transaction.  One of the engines was acquired with a lease attached to German charter airline, Condor. The other two are currently in Miami and will shortly be integrated into APOC’s portfolio awaiting transition to customers. 

APOC’s engine program allows for another five inductions before year end and these will soon come on-stream, not only feeding the lease pool, but also supplementing the new engine parts division which will complement APOC’s broader narrow-body aircraft component sales, exchange and consignment facility. 

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THAI Smile selects Sabre as distribution partner

Sabre Corporation has signed a new distribution agreement with regional hybrid airline  THAI Smile as the airline looks to boost traveller confidence amid a ramped up domestic tourism drive.

This new partnership means that content from THAI Smile, which operates to more than 30 domestic and regional destinations as well as seamlessly connecting to dozens more destinations through its parent company THAI Airways International PLC, will be available through the Sabre GDS.

Connecting to Sabre’s GDS platform will provide  THAI Smile with access to Sabre’s rich global travel marketplace, which is comprised of more than 425,000 travel agents across the world, supporting the carrier as it plays a key role in Thailand’s domestic tourism recovery and future ramping up of regional operations, while further reinforcing Sabre’s commitment to providing robust retailing, distribution and fulfilment solutions that benefit airlines, travel retailers and consumers.

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Aergo Capital completes acquisition and financing of one Airbus A321 aircraft on lease to British Airways

Aergo Capital (Aergo) has completed the acquisition and financing of one 2006 Vintage Airbus A321-200 aircraft, bearing manufacturers serial number 2653, from Global Knafaim Leasing (GKL). The aircraft was sold with an existing operating lease to British Airways and has been financed by Volofin Capital Management (volofin).
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Tamar Jorssen
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Email: tamar.jorssen@avitrader.com
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Tamar