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Thursday, November 19th, 2020

Boeing 737 MAX gets green light from FAA to resume passenger flights

The troubled Boeing 737 MAX, grounded since March last year following two fatal crashes, has finally received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to resume flights. However, the clearance by the FAA only covers domestic flights within the U.S. and does not include international flights, for which Boeing will now be seeking relevant authority approvals.

The FAA noted in a statement that prior to any planes being flown with passengers again, the necessary changes to the 737 Max identified in the approval process must be installed and the FAA must inspect the individual planes. Additionally, the pilots must also complete further training, which will involve simulator training, including training on multiple flight-deck alerts during unusual conditions, along with how to respond to a situation known as runaway stabilizer with timely pilot actions required. Pilots must also be trained for erroneous, high angle-of-attack malfunctions. That process is expected to take between a few weeks and a few months, depending on the airline.

So far only American Airlines (AAL) has added the plane to its schedule for a handful of flights between Miami and New York in late December and early January. Other airlines are holding off. Southwest, which has 34 of the jets - more than any other airline - isn't expected to fly passengers on the 737 Max until spring 2021. According to Reuters news agency, United said it expects to start flying the planes in the first three months of 2021.

American Airlines expects to train some 1,700 of its 4,000 737 pilots in December with a one hour and 40 minute iPad course and a two-hour simulator session that will follow a one-hour briefing, the union representing its pilots said. That process is expected to take between a few weeks and a few months, depending on the airline.

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Lufthansa Technik hands over eight Patient Transport Units

Lufthansa Technik has handed over eight Patient Transport Units (PTU NG) for intensive care patients and 16 oxygen supply systems for medium to lightly injured patients to Airbus Defence and Space. The new PTUs are destined for the multinational Airbus A330 MRTT operated by the MMU (Multinational Multi Role Tanker Transport Unit) of the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA), which will also collaborate with the European Air Transport Command (EATC), and enable the transport of up to eight intensive care patients and 16 lying patients with oxygen supply systems. This makes medical evacuation missions (MedEvac) with the aircraft of the MMU fleet possible.

Shortly after the handover, training for doctors and medical staff will begin at the new units, which are to be completed by the end of November. The first installation of an A330 MRTT of the MMU is scheduled for December. This will create one of the largest and most powerful MedEvac aircraft. The national Airbus A310 MRTT fleet of the German Air Force has already been equipped with the PTU's predecessor model for almost 20 years and is now being gradually replaced.

The Patient Transport Unit Next Generation complies with NATO standards and is also approved as a civillian medical device. With the units now delivered, the model is in use on four different military and civil aircraft types. Using seat track adapters, a PTU NG can be installed in almost any aircraft within minutes, allowing the same unit to be used in a fleet of different aircraft types. A unit consists of several modules that can be assembled very quickly without tools and, due to their size and weight, can be easily handled by two persons.

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Norwegian and daughter companies seek protection under Irish Examinership

Following the government of Norway’s decision to withhold further support from the airline, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA (Norwegian) has decided to initiate an examinership process in Ireland relating to its subsidiary Norwegian Air International Limited (NAI), its wholly-owned asset company Arctic Aviation Assets DAC (AAA) and some of AAA’s subsidiaries; Norwegian will also enter in and get protection of the Irish Examinership process as a related party.

Norwegian has chosen an Irish process since its aircraft assets are held in Ireland. Norwegian has taken this decision in the interest of its stakeholders.

The purpose of the process is to reduce debt, rightsize the fleet and secure new capital. This reorganisation process protects the assets of the Norwegian group while allowing the company to focus on the rightsizing of the group. The process is estimated to take up to five months.

Norwegian will continue to operate its route network (currently limited due to the Covid situation) and trade as normal on the Oslo Stock Exchange (Oslo Børs).

Peter Gerber to take over from Dieter Vranckx as CEO of Brussels Airlines

Dieter Vranckx, who joined Brussels Airlines in May 2018 as CFO and Deputy CEO and who has been acting as CEO of Brussels Airlines since January 2020, will move within the Lufthansa Group to head the Zurich-based Lufthansa Group network airline SWISS as of January 1, 2021.

Peter Gerber will succeed Vranckx as CEO of Brussels Airlines. Subject to the pending resolution of the Board of Directors of SN Airholding, Gerber, who is currently Chairman of the Executive Board of Lufthansa Cargo AG, will move to Belgium as of March 1, 2021. Next to heading the Belgian airline, he will also assume the newly created function of Lufthansa Group Chief Representative for European Affairs in Brussels.

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Jason Bennick joins GA Telesis as President of its Digital Innovation Group

GA Telesis has announced that technology entrepreneur, Jason Bennick, has joined GAT as President of its Digital Innovation Group. Bennick will oversee this new group and lead the company's digital innovation strategies. This will include assuming leadership of a new blockchain-supported FinTech company, BlockIt™.

Recaro Aircraft Seating reaches agreement with German works council, IG-Metall and Südwestmetall

Negotiations at Recaro Aircraft Seating (Recaro) for securing the company and its workforce have concluded. The result secures the employment of the employees at the Schwaebisch Hall location until June 30, 2023.

A total of 95% of IG-Metall (IGM) members voted “yes” for the concessions made by employees and thus for an exclusion of dismissals for operational reasons. With 80% of the votes being accounted for, the result secures the employment of the employees at the Schwaebisch Hall site until June 30, 2023. This solution is widely supported by the workforce and demonstrates the strong connection and solidarity of the RECARO team. As a result, 1,100 employees have a crisis-proof workplace during this time of the economic crisis.

Recaro reported that sales in 2020 are expected to be around €300 million, 60% below the previous year's level. The company already started preparing for a significant weakening of the market in 2019. International customs disputes have clouded the 2020 outlook, and airline insolvencies and challenges at aircraft manufacturers led to an already-tense market situation last year. The "Touch & Go" efficiency program was therefore launched in the fall of 2019, which has led to significant savings and is being energetically pursued.

Recaro has been using short-time work in Germany since April to compensate for the decline in production and orders. At the same time, future projects, new product developments, Lean Enterprise and the site expansion "space2grow" with its own flam lab and crash facility are being driven forward in order to emerge from the crisis stronger.

The primary goal is to secure and stabilize the company financially. From the very beginning, the management's focus was to navigate the crisis together with the workforce. The company is clearly committed to the Schwaebisch Hall location as its corporate headquarters.

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Rex signs binding agreement with PAG on funding for domestic jet operations

Rex has signed an agreement with PAG Regulus Holdings (PAG), a subsidiary of leading Asia-Pacific focused investment firm PAG that will see an investment by PAG of up to AU$150 million to be used exclusively to support the launch of Rex’s domestic jet operations scheduled to commence on March 1, 2021.

The funding comprises first ranking senior secured convertible notes. An initial funding tranche of AU$50 million will be drawn down towards early January 2021, with the balance of the funding available for drawdown over the following three years.

The Funding is subject to customary conditions including Rex’s shareholder approval for the purposes of section 611 of the Corporations Act 2001 and the ASX Listing Rules, which is intended to be sought at Rex’s Annual General Meeting, as well as to the Foreign Investment Review Board and any other required regulatory approvals. Upon Completion, PAG will be entitled to nominate two directors to the Rex board.

Bees Airline takes off with AMOS

Bees Airline, a new Ukrainian start-up airline, has selected AMOS to support its business. The “start-up-tailored” offer Swiss-AS proposed for this industry newcomer was the dealmaker. Operation of the start-up shall commence in early 2021 and relying on a renowned and well-known system will help Bees Airline to achieve its operational goals.

The two aircraft in its fleet were already managed in AMOS. Therefore, an AMOS-to-AMOS data transfer is required, which proceeds smoothly due to the AMOS standard transfer programs being available. This combined with the extensive and up-to-date AMOS knowledge of the users leads to the expectation that Bees Airline will go live with the AMOS Airline Edition in the shortest possible time.

The newest member of the community will implement AMOS “as-is”, without any customer-specific software changes and fully rely on the proven best-in-class processes that come with AMOS.

Bees Airline was founded in 2019 in Kiev and is currently undergoing certification by the State Aviation Administration of Ukraine. The carrier plans to start operations at the beginning of 2021 with two B737 aircrafts. Its eager expansion plan foresees the fleet to double within only six months. The base airport will be Kyiv Sikorsky Airport. Initially, the carrier will operate non-scheduled flights, and later scheduled operations will be added to the route network.

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APOC Aviation acquires five CFM56-7B engines

In a move to increase its engine assets base, APOC Aviation has purchased five CFM56-7B engines from a leading North American carrier as part of a multi-million-dollar transaction. Three of the engines have already been delivered and the other two will be integrated into APOC’s portfolio soon.

APOC has already acquired one CFM56-3C1 and three CFM56-5As this year, two of which are now ready for lease. The arrival of a further CFM56-3C1 for lease or sale is imminent.

Anca Mihalache, VP Engine Trading at APOC has confirmed that the Company is actively pursuing a range of opportunities supported by ample financing to complete deals. “Having access to flexible and immediate funding gives us a real advantage, this was a key factor in closing this sizable deal. As an organisation, we are continually looking for opportunities to enhance our business offering, these acquisitions will significantly increase our portfolio of engines for sale, lease or exchange as well as our inventory of available engine components.”
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Tamar