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Monday, January 18th, 2021

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Volocopter targets U.S. cities in strategic move

German air taxi startup Volocopter has announced that its December 22, 2020 application for concurrent Type Certificate validation has been accepted by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This will allow Volocopter to introduce its air taxi to the American market.

Currently, and globally, it is the only company which has obtained Design Organization Approval (DOA) which is a license to develop and build certified aircraft, issued by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). Presently, Volocopter is also in the process of obtaining EASA-type certification for its electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.

“We are the ‘Pioneer of Urban Air Mobility’ and our accomplishments are setting the stage for more extensive adoption of UAM implementation by our industry. By focusing on a collaborative approach to success, we are bringing excellence, expertise, and experience to the table together with our partners, and with that, we are leading the way to bring urban air mobility to life in cities around the globe,” said Florian Reuter, CEO of Volocopter. “From the beginning, we have considered the U.S. an important market for our services. Certification is the key to this market, and we are excited to begin the process of seeking approval from the FAA to introduce this innovative era of mobility not only in Europe and Asia but also in the U.S.”

The VoloCity is Volocopter’ s electric air taxi, developed specifically to meet growing demand for better intra-city mobility in large cities like Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, and Washington D.C., while Volocopter’s business plan aims to provide scalable air taxi services at costs comparable to regular taxi services.

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Massive passenger slump recorded at Frankfurt Airport and Fraport’s Group airports worldwide

Frankfurt Airport (FRA) has welcomed some 18.8 million passengers in 2020, representing a decrease of 73.4% compared to 2019. With the outbreak of the Covid-19 global pandemic, Frankfurt Airport started to experience a major decline in passenger traffic in mid-March 2020. Between April and June, traffic almost came to a complete standstill – with weekly passenger figures plummeting by up to 98% year-on-year. Following a slight traffic recovery in the third quarter of 2020, a new rise in CORONA-virus infection rates led to intensified travel restrictions. This resulted in passenger numbers falling sharply once again in September and remaining low for the rest of the year.

Aircraft movements at Frankfurt Airport contracted by 58.7% year-on-year to 212,235 takeoffs and landings in 2020. Accumulated maximum takeoff weights (MTOWs) shrank by 53.3% to about 14.9 million metric tons. In comparison, cargo throughput (airfreight + airmail) registered a relatively minor dip of only 8.3% year-on-year to just under 2.0 million metric tons.

In December 2020, FRA’s passenger traffic slumped by 81.7% to 891,925 travelers. With 13,627 takeoffs and landings, aircraft movements declined by 62.8% compared to December 2019. MTOWs were down 53.6% to about 1.1 million metric tons. Cargo throughput grew by 9.0% to 185,687 metric tons in December 2020, rising for the third consecutive month.

Across the Group, the airports in Fraport’s international portfolio also recorded a sharp decline in passenger traffic during 2020. However, the Covid-19 pandemic impacted the individual Group airports to varying degrees over the months. At times, regular passenger operations were even suspended at some airports (Ljubljana, Antalya and Lima). In addition, wide-ranging travel restrictions affected most of the Group airports beginning in the spring.

Traffic at Slovenia’s Ljubljana Airport (LJU) fell by 83.3% last year to 288,235 passengers (December 2020: down 93.7%). The Brazilian airports of Fortaleza (FOR) and Porto Alegre (POA) together received about 6.7 million passengers, representing a 56.7% decrease year-on-year (December 2020: down 46.2%). Peru’s Lima Airport (LIM) reported a 70.3% slide in traffic to around 7.0 million passengers (December 2020: down 61.6%). 

Serving a total of about 8.6 million passengers in 2020, the 14 Greek regional airports experienced a 71.4% plunge in traffic (December 2020: down 85.3%). Combined traffic at the Twin Star airports of Varna (VAR) and Burgas (BOJ) on the Bulgarian Black Sea coast decreased by 78.9% to about 1.0 million passengers (December 2020: down 69.7%).

Antalya Airport (AYT) in Turkey registered a 72.6% decline in traffic to about 9.7 million passengers (December 2020: down 69.8%). Last year, Russia’s Pulkovo Airport (LED) in St. Petersburg saw traffic drop by 44.1% to about 10.9 million passengers (December 2020: down 38.5%). Xi’an Airport (XIY) in China achieved a slight recovery in the course of the year, following a strong reduction in traffic during the spring. In 2020, XIY registered about 31.0 million passengers – a 34.2% decrease year-on-year (December 2020: down 14.8%).

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Gama Aviation strategically expands Group’s U.S. maintenance operations

Gama Aviation, the global business aviation service provider, has announced the strategic acquisition of Jet East Aviation Corporation, (Jet East) from East Coast Aviation, which will significantly expand its existing U.S. aircraft maintenance operations. 

The acquisition of Jet East has been transacted by the Group’s wholly owned U.S. subsidiary Gama Aviation Engineering (GAEI) for US$7.7 million in cash, with a further US$1 million in deferred cash payable over two years and the assumption of US$3.2 million of Jet East debt.  The transaction has been entirely funded from the Group’s existing resources. 

In 2020, Jet East’s performance was negatively impacted by COVID-19.  In 2019, it reported revenues of US$29.5 million and an underlying EBIT of US$1.2 million inclusive of a depreciation charge of US$0.3 million. The net assets of Jet East as at December 31st, 2019 were US$6.7 million. 

The addition of three highly experienced executives will strengthen the Group’s U.S. business operations.  A tailored long-term executive incentive plan, which includes potential awards of GAEI stock linked to value accretion, will ensure alignment of managements’ interests with that of the Group’s shareholders.

ST Engineering signs five-year contract with international air cargo carrier

ST Engineering has signed a five-year airframe heavy maintenance contract with an international air cargo carrier. As part of the contract which took effect January 1, 2021, ST Engineering is to provide heavy maintenance support for multiple fleet types for the carrier at the Group’s airframe facilities in Mobile, Alabama, U.S. and other locations in the Group’s network.

In addition to heavy maintenance, ST Engineering also caters to the carrier’s needs for landing gear replacements as well as special maintenance visits of various aircraft types at its Mobile facility.

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Rolls-Royce runs first engine on Testbed 80

Rolls-Royce has successfully completed the first engine run on its state-of-the-art Testbed 80, which will be the largest and smartest indoor aerospace testbed when it is officially opened in the coming months.

With an internal area of 7,500 m2, making it larger than a Premiership football pitch, the testbed conducted its first run on a Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engine at the test facility in Derby, U.K. This is a major milestone in the project which has been under construction for almost three years and represents a £90 million investment.

Testbed 80 has been designed to test a range of today’s engines, including the Trent XWB and the Trent 1000, but will have the capability to test the UltraFan® demonstrator, our blueprint for the next generation of even more efficient engines, as well as the hybrid or all-electric flight systems of the future. The versatility of the testbed means it is able to accommodate engines of all sizes up to 155klbf thrust – that’s enough power to launch a Boeing 747 with one (huge) engine.

As part of the company's decarbonization strategy it also committed to promoting the scaling up of Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAFs), which can already be used as a “drop-in” fuel in the company's existing engines. To support this commitment, Testbed 80 is equipped with a 140,000-litre fuel tank for different fuel types, including Sustainable Aviation Fuel.

F/LIST CANADA receives AMO certificate

F/LIST CANADA, a subsidiary of F/LIST, the internationally renowned manufacturer of high-end interiors, is approved pursuant to CAR 573.02 for the maintenance of aeronautical products, and holds ratings in the categories components, aircraft seats, cabin furnishings, galley and lavatory equipment.

F/LIST’s production facility and veneer competence center in Canada offers full component production, refurbishments and other aftermarket services, showroom management and liaison engineering successfully since 2017. The production facility in Laval with fully equipped paint shop, state-of-the-art veneer processing technology and a manpower of 60 by 2021, can offer fast and flexible production and services. The AMO certificate represents a further growth milestone in its aftermarket aircraft division.

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All Nippon Helicopter’s H160 completes first flight

All Nippon Helicopter’s (ANH) H160 has performed its first flight test, a 95-minute flight at the Marseille Provence Airport. This successful maiden flight paves the way for the aircraft’s entry into service in Japan.

ANH deploys a helicopter fleet comprising six AS365s and five H135s for electronic news gathering for the TV stations across Japan. This H160 will replace one of its AS365s.

The H160 was granted its type certificate by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in July 2020, with the certification from the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) expected in early 2021. Upon delivery of the helicopter, specialized equipment installation and customization will be performed at Airbus Helicopters’ Kobe facility, before its entry into service.

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Tamar Jorssen
Vice President Sales & Business Development
Email: tamar.jorssen@avitrader.com
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Tamar