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Thursday, January 28th, 2021

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Woes pile up as Boeing posts worst-ever annual loss and 777X launch further delayed

Boeing has released its fourth-quarter and full-year 2020 financial results, which do not make good reading. The company reported fourth-quarter revenue of US$15.3 billion, reflecting lower commercial deliveries and services volume primarily due to COVID-19 as well as 787 production issues, partially offset by a lower 737 MAX customer considerations charge in the quarter compared to the same period last year. GAAP loss per share of (US$14.65) and core loss per share (non-GAAP) of (US$15.25) reflected a US$6.5 billion pre-tax charge on the 777X program and a tax valuation allowance, partially offset by a lower 737 MAX customer considerations charge. Boeing recorded operating cash flow of US$4.0 billion.

Beyond taking a hefty US$6.5 billion charge on the all-new 777X, a larger version of the 777 mini-jumbo, Boeing now anticipates further delays in the aircraft’s launch, now slated for late 2023, owing to a longer and costlier certification process after scrutiny over the 737 MAX. According to Reuters news agency, Boeing is making “prudent design modifications” to the 777X, including hardware changes to the actuator control electronics, in response to regulator expectations, Boeing Chief Executive Officer Dave Calhoun told analysts.

The substantial annual loss has, unsurprisingly, been attributed to the effect of the COVID-19 on the aerospace industry and which has halted deliveries of some 80 787s to airlines, along with the two-year grounding of the troubled 737 MAX, heavily impacting cash flow. Boeing unveiled US$8.3 billion in operating charges on Wednesday, including a US$468 million charge for abnormal 737 production costs, $275 million over KC-46 aerial refueling tanker production issues, and US$744 million linked to its 737 MAX settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice over a fraud conspiracy charge. The company’s net loss rose to US$8.44 billion in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, from US$1.01 billion a year earlier, taking its full-year loss to a record US$11.94 billion. Revenue fell 15% to US$15.30 billion in the quarter.

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GKN Aerospace leads development of hydrogen propulsion system for aircraft

GKN Aerospace will lead a ground-breaking U.K. collaboration program, called H2GEAR, to develop the company’s first hydrogen propulsion system for sub-regional aircraft. Hydrogen is expected to play a key role in the decarbonization strategy of aviation as it can power aircraft efficiently, leaving water as the only by-product.

H2GEAR puts GKN Aerospace at the heart of the technology developments needed for the future of more sustainable aviation. The technology will first focus on significantly improving sub-regional aircraft hydrogen-powered performance, in turn enabling applications on larger aircraft and longer journeys. The program is supported by £27 million of ATI funding, matched by GKN Aerospace and its industrial partners.

H2GEAR aims to develop a liquid hydrogen propulsion system for sub-regional aircraft that could be scaled up to larger aircraft. Liquid hydrogen is being converted to electricity within a fuel cell system. This electricity efficiently powers the aircraft, eliminating CO2 emissions. This would create a new generation of clean air travel, eliminating harmful CO2 emissions.

H2GEAR will reinforce the U.K.’s position at the forefront of aerospace technology research and development. GKN Aerospace will collaborate with Intelligent Energy, Aeristech, Newcastle University, The University of Manchester and University of Birmingham, throughout the program, aiming to create more than 3,000 jobs in the next decade. The program will be delivered from GKN Aerospace’s Global Technology Centre in Bristol, the company’s £32 million brand-new collaborative space for research and development.

AvAir promotes Max Masterson to VP Sales

After four years as AvAir’s Director of Sales, Max Masterson has been promoted to Vice President of Sales.

Masterson joined AvAir in 2017 as an account executive with nearly six years of sales and marketing experience and worked his way to Director of Sales. As Vice President of Sales, Masterson will guide the team’s productivity and provide thoughtful leadership and vision to execute initiatives to better serve AvAir’s customers while maintaining alignment with the company’s core values.

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Qantas and bp form strategic partnership to advance net zero emissions

Qantas and bp have formed a strategic partnership to further advance their shared net zero ambitions. Through the collaboration, the companies will work together on opportunities to reduce carbon emissions in the aviation sector and contribute to the development of a sustainable aviation fuel industry in Australia.

The two companies have agreed to explore ways in which bp’s global capabilities, skills and knowledge can support Qantas’ industry-leading sustainability and environmental strategy.

Jointly, the teams will explore opportunities and projects in areas including advanced sustainable fuels, advocacy for further decarbonization in the aviation sector, renewable power solutions and generation, carbon management and emerging technology.

William Lin, bp’s Executive Vice President, Regions, Cities & Solutions, said: “At bp, we're focusing on working with corporates in key industrial sectors that currently have significant carbon emissions to manage and need to decarbonize - sectors such as aviation. By bringing our complementary capabilities together, we can help each other, and our customers, move at a faster pace on the energy transition journey. We are delighted to have the opportunity to collaborate with Qantas on plans to reach net zero while continuing to deepen our existing relationship.”

VallJet goes for AMOS

The French business aviation company VallJet has just signed for AMOS to manage the maintenance and airworthiness follow-up of its increasing fleet of executive jets.

Although the airline industry is heavily affected of the Covid-19 crisis, there are some aviation sectors that are able to turn the tables and even profit from the current situation. VallJet has positioned itself to be in the right place at the right time as its business supports private owners or companies that have decided to purchase or wet-lease business jets – a sector that has seen a surge during the global pandemic since air travel with regular airlines is less convenient at this time.

AMOS is not completely new at VallJet as many employees in the maintenance and CAMO organization are already familiar with SwissAviation's software MRO solution. In addition, part of the fleet to be phased into AMOS was previously managed in AMOS. This will simplify and accelerate the data transfer since a migration from AMOS to AMOS is facilitated using the standard AMOS transfer programs with the data available in the correct format and quality.

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Airflow to develop full-scale pilot technology demonstrator

Airflow, an aerial logistics company building next-generation aircraft and services, has announced the development of a full-scale piloted technology demonstrator of an electric Short Takeoff and Landing (eSTOL) aircraft.

For the last year, Airflow has been utilizing a sub-scale model for test flights that have helped develop eSTOL flight control technology. The next phase will transform a Cessna 210 into an eSTOL with Distributed Electric Propulsion (DEP). DEP enables operations into and out of very short runways by providing more control at slower airspeeds. Airflow will validate and refine the design parameters used to build the production eSTOL aircraft.

"Selecting the Cessna 210 saves us the effort to design and build the pieces that already work, such as the cockpit, fuselage, landing gear, etc. We'll concentrate on changing the rest to make it an eSTOL aircraft," stated Peter Kalogiannis, co-founder and CTO.

This aircraft represents the first step towards bringing to market aircraft designed for sustainability and reducing carbon emissions.

Sichuan Airlines selects LHT for digital fleet solution and V2500/CFM56-5B engine maintenance services

Sichuan Airlines and Lufthansa Technik have signed a five-year agreement for digital fleet solutions through AVIATAR and engine maintenance services for the V2500 and CFM56-5B engines of the Airbus A320 fleet.

AVIATAR will support Sichuan Airlines' Airbus A350, A330 and A320 fleets.

For digitally optimized fleet operations of its overall 168 Airbus A350, A330 and A320 aircraft, Sichuan Airlines will implement AVIATAR's solutions - including condition monitoring, fleet management, certain predictive maintenance and health management solutions, and event analytics. Under the duration of the contract, a full range of engine services are provided to Sichuan Airlines' A320 fleet.

"The new cooperation with Lufthansa Technik is part of our commitment to ensure the highest possible operational reliability and a further confirmation of the excellent relationship between us and our long-standing partner. We look forward to further intensify our close cooperation for the benefit of both parties." said Shao Chuan, Deputy Chief Engineer and General Manager of Engineering of Sichuan Airlines.

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Boeing 737 MAX safe to return to service in Europe

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) gave its seal of approval for the return to service of a modified version of the Boeing 737 MAX, mandating a package of software upgrades, electrical working rework, maintenance checks, operations manual updates and crew training which will allow the plane to fly safely in European skies after almost two years on the ground.

“We have reached a significant milestone on a long road,” said EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky. “Following extensive analysis by EASA, we have determined that the 737 MAX can safely return to service. This assessment was carried out in full independence of Boeing or the Federal Aviation Administration and without any economic or political pressure – we asked difficult questions until we got answers and pushed for solutions which satisfied our exacting safety requirements. We carried out our own flight tests and simulator sessions and did not rely on others to do this for us.

“Let me be quite clear that this journey does not end here,” he added. “We have every confidence that the aircraft is safe, which is the precondition for giving our approval. But we will continue to monitor 737 MAX operations closely as the aircraft resumes service. In parallel, and at our insistence, Boeing has also committed to work to enhance the aircraft still further in the medium term, in order to reach an even higher level of safety.”

The Boeing 737 MAX was grounded worldwide in March 2019 following the second of two accidents within just six months, which together claimed 346 lives. The root cause of these tragic accidents was traced to software known as the MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System), intended to make the plane easier to handle. However, the MCAS, guided by only one Angle of Attack (AoA) sensor, kicked in repeatedly if that sensor malfunctioned, pushing the nose of the aircraft downward multiple times. In both accidents, pilots finally lost control of their plane, resulting in a crash with total loss of aircraft.

Byron Products adds complete tube-bending assembly to its offerings

Byron Products, a leader in thermal processing, has added tube‐bending manufacturing to its list of offerings. Tube bending is the metal‐forming process used to form pipes and tubing permanently. The unique, in‐house process incorporates brazing and welded fittings for complete tube assemblies used in a number of industries, as well as for hydraulic and compressor line assembly.

Aircraft tube assembly is a specialty area for Byron, with flared fitting for aluminum, stainless, and copper tubing. The company is a registered FAA repair station ‐ FAA#YB5R630Y, and holds several certifications and approvals, including Nadcap, and AS9100D.

Byron offers a large range of thermal processes, including heat‐treating, brazing, welding, and thermal coatings. The company’s specialties include aerospace, defense, agriculture, medical, power generation, wind power, automotive industries, and other commercial applications.
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