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Friday, January 22nd, 2021

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Airbus’ ramp up of A320 slows to reflect weaker market outlook

While Airbus continues to increase the monthly production numbers for the narrow-body A320 jet, it will be at a reduced level to that previously anticipated. Currently, the European planemaker is producing 40 units per month and this will increase to 43 in the third-quarter 2021, and 45 in the final quarter, both down on the targeted 47 units for July onwards “in response to the market environment.” However, according to Airbus, production numbers for the A350 and A330 will remain stable at five and two units per month, respectively, though this means a postponement of a potential production rate increase for the A350.

At the root of the problem for Airbus is the uncertainty facing airlines during the global pandemic, especially those based in Europe. This problem is compounded by a lack of certainty over the volume of delivery finance available while all eyes are on the pace of the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine alongside the general economic outlook.  Airbus has also confirmed its previous announcements that the assembly of the smaller A220 jet will increase from four to five aircraft per month at the end of the first quarter.

U.S. Air Force awards Boeing contract for 15 KC-46A tankers

The U.S. Air Force has awarded Boeing a US$2.1 billion contract for 15 KC-46A tankers, expanding its fleet of aircraft that will not only set the standard for aerial refueling but will also help enable the integrated digital battlespace.

The KC-46 is a widebody, multirole tanker designed for state-of-the-art air refueling, cargo and medical transport. Boeing is now on contract for 94 KC-46A tankers.

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Lufthansa Cargo renews airfreight center in Frankfurt

Lufthansa Cargo will further develop and renew the logistics center at its home hub in Frankfurt on a modular basis. The Supervisory Board of the German airfreight company has approved respective investments in a comprehensive infrastructure program for the logistics center. The complete modernization of the Lufthansa Cargo Center has already begun in January 2021 and is to be completed in 2028.

The cargo center in Frankfurt is Lufthansa Cargo's home hub, handling around 80% of its global freight volume. The carrier's commitment to digitalization, new product requirements and the further increasing importance of e-commerce have changed the demands on the logistics center.

In the first step of the modularly planned infrastructure program, the new construction of the central high-rack storage system in the Lufthansa Cargo Center is currently in progress. In addition to new buildings, existing building sections and warehouses are also being modernized as part of the eight-year infrastructure project. The renovation and renewal of the buildings will take place during ongoing operations.

TAT Piedmont Aviation and Honeywell enter ten-year agreement for APU services

AT Technologies' fully owned subsidiary Piedmont Aviation (TAT-Piedmont) and Honeywell International have entered into a ten-year agreement for an exclusive worldwide Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) rental services for OEM- authorized GTCP331-500 engines.

Under this contract, TAT-Piedmont acquired Honeywell’s GTCP331-500 APU’s rental bank and will offer rental services to airlines who are operating Boeing’s 777 aircraft and will serve on behalf of Honeywell for any rental of Honeywell GTCP331-500 APUs to Honeywell customers on an exclusive basis.

In addition, TAT-Piedmont and Honeywell entered into a binding MOA to authorize TAT-Piedmont to provide licensed MRO services on GTCP331-500 APUs, and provide relevant knowhow and parts, making TAT-Piedmont an authorized global MRO services provider for this engine.

Igal Zamir, CEO of TAT Technologies, stated that, “this agreement is a significant step in the development of TAT-Piedmont as a major global player in the APU MRO services business, and will improve support and options for Honeywell APU customers.” He also added that, “The GTCP331-500 APU engine, which is installed in all Boeing 777 aircraft around the world, is expected to be in operation for the next few decades, generating meaningful MRO business opportunities. The rental services agreement and the anticipated authorization to provide licensed MRO services, are major growth opportunities for TAT.”

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West Star Aviation appoints new Embraer Team Lead at CHA

West Star Aviation has appointed Michael Smith as the new Embraer Team Lead at its Chattanooga, TN (CHA) facility, one of the four full-service locations.

Smith has vast experience in the aviation industry as well as Embraer-specific experience, having previously held positions at Boeing and Embraer respectively. He holds an A&P License along with his IA from the FAA.

In his new role at West Star he will be responsible for line maintenance, inspections and the logistics for non-routine maintenance services of paint, interior and avionics.

Aergo Capital completes acquisition of one Boeing 737-800 aircraft on lease to Okay Airways

Aergo Capital (Aergo) has completed the acquisition of one 2013 Vintage Boeing B737-800 aircraft bearing manufacturers serial number 41789 from AerCap Ireland.

The aircraft was sold with an existing operating lease to Chinese airline, Okay Airways. This transaction builds on Aergo's already strong relationship with AerCap.

Fred Browne, Chief Executive Officer of Aergo, commented: “This acquisition was made possible by the continuous and cooperative efforts of the teams at Aergo Capital and AerCap. With this transaction, Aergo has added one more lessee to its portfolio and we look forward to developing our partnership with Okay Airways.”

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Airbus Helicopters starts in-flight tests on board its Flightlab

Airbus Helicopters has started in-flight tests on board its Flightlab, a platform-agnostic flying laboratory exclusively dedicated to maturing new technologies. Airbus Helicopters’ Flightlab provides an agile and efficient test bed to quickly test technologies that could later equip Airbus’ current helicopter range, and even more disruptive ones for future fixed-wing aircraft or (e)VTOL platforms.

Airbus Helicopters intends to pursue the testing of hybrid and electric propulsion technologies with its Flightlab demonstrator, as well as exploring autonomy, and other technologies aimed at reducing helicopter sound levels or improving maintenance and flight safety.

Flight tests started last April when the demonstrator was used to measure helicopter sound levels in urban areas and to particularly study how buildings may affect people’s perception. Tests this year will include an image-detection solution with cameras to enable low altitude navigation, the viability of a dedicated Health and Usage Monitoring System (HUMS) for light helicopters, and an Engine Back-up System, which will provide emergency electric power in the event of a turbine failure.

Testing on the Flightlab will continue in 2022 in order to evaluate a new ergonomic design of intuitive pilot flight controls intended to further reduce pilot workload, which could be applicable to traditional helicopters as well as other VTOL formulas such as UAM.
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Tamar Jorssen
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Email: tamar.jorssen@avitrader.com
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Tamar