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Friday, October 30th, 2020

Airbus looks to stop burning cash with plan to increase output

Having speeded up deliveries to cash-strapped airlines, Airbus has announced that it intends to increase production of its popular single-aisle jets, the A-320 Family, from 40 to 47 units a month in the third-quarter of 2021, in an attempt to stop burning cash and demand permitting.

The A320 Family of jets have been identified as likely to be some of the most popular aircraft to help struggling carriers manage the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently the European planemaker has reduced its 145-aircraft overhang to 135 jets. However, the recent countrywide lockdown in France has left many questioning whether Airbus will be able to deliver on its new targets. Suppliers are particularly concerned about investing for the ramp up in deliveries if Airbus then fails to meet the new targets.

Chief Executive Guillaume Faury said Airbus had learned much about how to adapt during the seven-month-old crisis, but also cautioned that airline traffic was taking longer than expected to recover from the dramatic hit seen at the start of the pandemic with airlines forced to ground fleets. Airbus’ Chief Executive Guillaume Faury commented that: “We believe we will have to live with the circulation of the virus for a long period of time.”

Underlying third-quarter operating profit fell 49% to €820 million as revenue fell 27% to €11.2 billion, beating market forecasts on profit but falling short on revenue, though this included a €1.2 billion restructuring charge. (€1.00 = US$1.18 at time of publication.)

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VoltAero selects Sonaca Group to develop airframe for Cassio family of hybrid-electric aircraft

The airframe for VoltAero’s Cassio hybrid-electric aircraft will be developed by Sonaca Group, applying this Belgium-headquartered company’s expertise in optimized aerostructures to the VoltAero family of 4, 6 and 10-seat airplanes. 

Under terms of the agreement unveiled on October 29, Sonaca Group will transition Cassio from its current design status into a production-ready definition, and will oversee the aircraft’s manufacture by an aerostructures producer to be announced at a future date. 

“Our partnership with Sonaca Group takes us one very important step closer to production,” said Jean Botti, VoltAero’s CEO and Chief Technical Officer. “It continues our excellent progress in evolving a family of hybrid-electric airplanes – building on the flight evaluations now underway with VoltAero’s hybrid-electric power module aboard our Cassio 1 testbed aircraft.” 

VoltAero’s proprietary design for Cassio is based on a sleek, aerodynamically-optimized fuselage with a forward fixed canard and an aft-set wing with twin booms that support a high-set horizontal tail. Propulsion will be provided by a hybrid-electric power module in the aft fuselage “pusher” position, which integrates a cluster of electric motors with a high-performance internal combustion engine that serves as the range extender. 

Nasmyth Group signs multi-million-pound precision engineering contract with Incora™

Nasmyth Group has signed a multi-million-pound contract with Incora to manufacture precision engineered components for multiple platforms including new and aftermarket OE (Original Engine) build and support to Legacy engines. The seven-year contract will be carried out by the Nasmyth Bulwell team, from its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Pinxton, Nottinghamshire and Nasmyth Group’s manufacturing team in Asia.

For over 60 years, Nasmyth Bulwell has provided high-quality, uniquely integrated precision engineering and manufacturing solutions for the global aerospace industry. Nasmyth Bulwell specializes in the manufacture of solid machine solutions including precision parts, kits, airframe assemblies and sub-assemblies using the latest CAD/CAM technology to interface with customer design teams.


The end of Delta's Boeing 777 era

On Saturday October 31, Flight 8777 will mark the end of the 777 era for Delta during what has been an unprecedented time for the airline industry. The five-and-a-half hour flight from New York-JFK – Los Angeles will include special announcements and onboard treats for customers and aviation enthusiasts. Some passengers booked this final flight just for the unique experience and to be part of history.

Looking ahead, retiring the 777 fleet will accelerate Delta’s strategy to simplify and modernize its fleet while continuing to operate newer, more cost-efficient aircraft. The airline will continue flying its long-haul next generation Airbus A350-900s, which burn 21% less fuel per seat than the 777s they replace. 

"Retiring a fleet as iconic as the 777 is not an easy decision – I know it has a direct impact on many of you who fly, crew and service these jets,” said CEO Ed Bastian. “The 777 played an important role with Delta since 1999, allowing us to open new long-haul markets and grow our international network as we transformed into a global airline. I’ve flown on that plane often and I love the customer experience it has delivered over the years.”

The Airbus A350 will replace nearly every ultra-long-haul 777 route, but the Atlanta to Johannesburg route will require a slight modification. The South Africa service will follow a new circular routing that goes from Atlanta – Johannesburg – Cape Town – Atlanta. The stop will allow for refueling at sea level before beginning the 8,130-mile trip back to the U.S., and it will add a new city to Delta’s global footprint. 


Kuwait Airways takes delivery of first two A330neos

Kuwait Airways, the national airline of Kuwait, has received its first two A330neos. These aircraft are the first of eight A330neos ordered by the airline. The carrier currently operates a fleet of 15 Airbus aircraft comprising seven A320ceos, three A320neos and five A330ceos.

This event also marks Airbus’ first A330-800 delivery. The new-generation wide-body aircraft is the latest addition to Airbus’ product line, highlighting the company's strategy to keep offering its airline customers unbeatable economics, increased operational efficiency and superior passenger comfort with proven latest-technology platforms. Thanks to its tailored mid-sized capacity and its excellent range versatility, the A330neo is considered the ideal aircraft to operate as part of the post-COVID-19 recovery.

Kuwait Airways’ A330neo will comfortably accommodate 235 passengers, featuring 32 fully-flat beds in Business Class and 203 spacious seats in Economy Class while offering a large cargo hold capable of accommodating generous passenger baggage allowances.

Inmarsat and GDC Technics develop advanced new terminal to optimize performance of GX Aviation inflight broadband

Inmarsat has unveiled details of a next-generation terminal for its GX Aviation inflight broadband solution, which has been developed in collaboration with GDC Technics, a leader in engineering and technical services, modifications and electronic systems.

The innovative light weight, low drag terminal is available to airlines across the world and has been designed to ensure that the connectivity needs of data-hungry passengers are met for generations to come, allowing them to stream high definition videos, enjoy online video games, download documents and more using their personal devices.

Following a range of technology assessments and test flights over the past 12 months, the powerful new terminal has demonstrated its ability to consistently deliver the highest levels of connectivity on board aircraft, even over the world’s busiest airspaces. In addition, upcoming enhancements to Inmarsat’s Global Xpress (GX) satellite network will further bolster the terminal’s performance in the near future.

The next-generation terminal includes a robust flat panel antenna developed by Thinkom, which has millions of flight hours behind it. In addition, it has been integrated with smart dual aero modem technology that supports Inmarsat’s new GX+ North America service, announced with Hughes Network Systems in October.


United Airlines launches first free transatlantic COVID-19 testing pilot

United Airlines has announced the first free transatlantic COVID-19 testing pilot program for customers. From November 16 through December 11, the airline will offer rapid tests to every passenger over 2 years old and crew members on board select flights from Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) to London Heathrow (LHR), free of charge. Anyone who does not wish to be tested will be placed on another flight, guaranteeing everyone on board other than children under two will have tested negative before departure.

"We believe the ability to provide fast, same-day COVID-19 testing will play a vital role in safely reopening travel around the world and navigating quarantines and travel restrictions, particularly to key international destinations like London," said Toby Enqvist, chief customer officer for United. "Through this pilot program, we'll guarantee that everyone on board has tested negative for COVID-19, adding another element to our layered approach to safety. United will continue to lead on testing, while at the same time exploring new solutions that contribute to the safest travel experience possible."

United will share customer feedback of this pilot with governments on both sides of the Atlantic to further demonstrate the effectiveness of these programs as an alternative to mandatory quarantines or duplicative travel restrictions. United has seen a positive impact on travel demand and significant increases in customer load factors and revenue when testing options are available.

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