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Thursday, March 4th, 2021

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Volocopter raises US$240 million

Volocopter, the urban air mobility specialist has announced a successful signing of its Series D funding round, raising an additional US$240 million and taking the total raised to US$390 million. This fresh injection of funds will allow the company to maintain its leading role as an urban air mobility (UAM) company through its VoloCity battery-powered air taxi for cities, enabling it to push for certification and an accelerated launch of its initial commercial routes.

In addition to the VoloCity for autonomous passenger taxi flights, Volocopter intends to invest in the VoloDrone for the transportation of goods and is currently the first and only electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) company to receive Design Organisation Approval (DOA) by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). It expects its first commercial air taxi routes to be operational within the next two years.

“Volocopter is ahead of the curve in the UAM industry, and we have the achievements to prove it,” says Florian Reuter, CEO of Volocopter. “No other electric air taxi company has publicly performed as many flights in cities around the world, with full regulatory approval, as Volocopter has. Our VoloCity is the fifth generation of Volocopter aircraft and has a strong path to being the first certified electric air taxi for cities. Volocopter already has the extensive partnerships necessary to set up the UAM ecosystem for launching both our company and the industry into commercial operations. We are called the pioneers of UAM for a reason, and we plan to keep that title.”

Volocopter has performed several milestone flights in Helsinki, Stuttgart, Dubai, and over Singapore’s Marina Bay in recent years. While the first routes are yet to be announced, the company has committed to establishing air taxi services in Singapore and Paris, with plans to expand many more routes in the US, Asia, and Europe.

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Lufthansa Group posts operating loss of €5.5 billion in 2020

Revenue at the Lufthansa Group fell to €13.6 billion in 2020 (previous year: €36.4 billion). Despite rapid and extensive cost reductions, the Lufthansa Group had to report an Adjusted EBIT of minus €5.5 billion (previous year: profit of €2.0 billion). The Adjusted EBIT margin was minus 40.1% (previous year: plus 5.6%). The operating cash drain in the fourth quarter of 2020 was around €300 euros per month. Progress in restructuring limited the impact of the intensified pandemic situation on earnings. Personnel costs were significantly reduced through workforce reductions, crisis agreements with social partners and short-time working. At year-end 2020, the number of employees was 110,000, around 20% lower than the previous year. The reported EBIT loss was around €1.9 billion lower at minus €7.4 billion, mainly due to exceptional write-downs on aircraft and goodwill. Net income amounted to minus €6.7 billion (previous year: €1.2 billion).

Capital expenditure at the Lufthansa Group was reduced by around two-thirds year on year in 2020 to €1.3 billion (previous year: €3.6 billion), mainly on the basis of extensive agreements with aircraft manufacturers. These provide for the postponement of aircraft deliveries in 2021 and beyond, so that annual capital expenditure will be lower than originally planned also in future years. Adjusted free cash flow was negative €3.7 billion (previous year: €203 million), with around €3.9 billion paid out for ticket reimbursements alone. This was offset by €1.9 billion in new bookings. The remaining cash outflow was limited by strict management of receivables and payables.

Net debt including lease liabilities increased to around €9.9 billion (previous year: €6.7 billion). Pension liabilities increased by 43% to €9.5 billion (previous year: €6.7 billion), mainly due to the drop in the interest rate used to discount pension obligations to 0.8% (previous year: 1.4%). 

As of December 31, 2020, the Lufthansa Group had available liquidity of around €10.6 billion, of which €5.7 billion related to unutilized government stabilization measures. By the end of 2020, the Lufthansa Group had drawn down government stabilization funds of around €3.3 billion, of which €1 billion has already been repaid in the meantime.

Start-up operator Greater Bay Airlines signs digital records partnership with FLYdocs

Greater Bay Airlines (HGB), a Hong Kong-based airline has announced its partnership with FLYdocs to digitize maintenance records for its fleet of Boeing 737-800s.  

The start-up airline founded by Hong Kong tycoon Bill Wong Cho-bau signed a five-year deal with FLYdocs to automate and digitize its aircraft records. The partnership will enable the operator to capitalize on digital transformation by utilizing the seamless integration between FLYdocs® and M&E platform AMOS for full compliance-on-demand. 

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Aston Martin and Bombardier to collaborate on custom design services for Bombardier business jets

Aston Martin and Bombardier have signed a letter of intent to collaborate on custom design services for Bombardier business jets.

The collaboration would give customers the opportunity for a truly unique design experience, with the meeting of the top creative minds from the luxury automotive and private jet industries.

Aston Martin and Bombardier are known for creating masterpieces of engineering in which style never takes a back seat. This desire to collaborate reflects a common drive to innovate and opens up new possibilities for the cabin experience aboard Bombardier’s Challenger and Global business jets.

“Aston Martin has a highly refined set of automotive design principles, driven by the meticulous application of proportion, craft and technical innovation,” said Aston Martin Vice President and Chief Creative Officer, Marek Reichman, “Bombardier’s customers share our owners’ desire for unique contemporary design statements. We are truly excited at the prospect of collaborating with Bombardier’s accomplished design team to bring our respective design expertise together. Challenger and Global aircraft will give us an opportunity to take Aston Martin design to new heights.”

Uwe Zachau to become Managing Director and CEO, MTU Maintenance Canada

MTU Maintenance, a global leader in customized service solutions for aero engines, makes leadership changes on the North American continent with two new managers. Experienced leader Uwe Zachau assumes the role of Managing Director and CEO of MTU Maintenance Canada on March 1. Furthermore, industry insider Nezam Moghadassian took over the role of President and General Manager of MTU Maintenance Dallas in December 2020.

Zachau will be heading up the facility in Delta, B.C. He takes over from Helmut Neuper, who ran the facility over the past four years and left the company of his own accord.

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Wizz Air becomes first customer of AVIATAR's Technical Logbook solution

Wizz Air becomes the first customer of the Technical Logbook solution of AVIATAR, the independent platform for digital products and services developed by Lufthansa Technik. Through the newly introduced solution, Wizz Air will replace the manual and paper-based process of capturing technical issues during flight/on ground, and implement the seamless digital pilot-to-maintenance collaboration application.

AVIATAR's Technical Logbook offers prefilled text blocks and automated input masks that capture technical issues of the aircraft during flight and on ground. It therefore replaces time-consuming manual entries into paper books and improves data quality as well as transparency. The new solution works with any hardware device (e.g. tablet, smartphone or desktop computer) and provides pilots with access to aircraft status anywhere and anytime. It also offers back-up processes in case of connectivity issues.

Real-time data availability, directly connected with the M&E system (maintenance and engineering system), ensures maintenance on arrival and enables a seamless pilot-to-maintenance collaboration - leading to decreased turnaround times and costs. In addition, the standardized data structure helps airlines to gain insights into trend analytics.

China Eastern Airlines signs purchase contract for five C919 aircraft with COMAC

China Eastern Airlines has officially signed a purchase contract for C919 aircraft with Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) in Shanghai on March 1, 2021.

Five C919 aircraft would be introduced in the first batch, and China Eastern Airlines would become the world's first airline to operate C919 aircraft. This is an important step for China Eastern Airlines in the introduction and commercial operation of the China-made aircraft as a pioneer after the successful establishment of One Two Three Airlines (OTT Airlines) to operate China-made ARJ21 aircraft.

The five C919 aircraft would be based in Shanghai and fly from Shanghai to Daxing District of Beijing, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Xiamen, Wuhan and Qingdao to improve the market share of China Eastern Airlines in these markets and bring a "brand new experience" to the passengers of the China-made aircraft

Inter-Tec Group opens new European business in Sligo, Ireland

Inter-Tec Group, which offers specialist engineering, design, and analysis solutions across the broad aviation sector, is to open a new European base in Sligo, The Republic of Ireland, complementing its established Prestwick, Scotland home.

The new business, Inter-Tec Aero Limited, becomes the principal site of business for EASA approvals.  It secured EASA Part 21J Design Organisation Approval (DOA) in February, replicating the capabilities and certification benefits provided up until now by Inter-Tec Services.

Inter-Tec Aero has moved in alongside the Causeway Aero Group, a complementary EASA Part 21G production and EASA Part 145 maintenance business which has served as partner supplier to Inter-Tec for several years on a number of design and build projects, mainly focused on interiors and aircraft seating.

The new base will enable Inter-Tec to build on an already solid global client base, serving as a regular supply chain company to companies including Airbus, Triumph Aviation, BAE Systems, Spirit Aero Systems, Leonardo, GKN and The Babcock Group.

Fred Gorrie, Inter-Tec Group Managing Director, and his four directors / post holders will travel regularly between the two bases.  Its current engineering team at Prestwick will remain a key resource to the Group, with Inter-Tec Aero becoming ‘the principal place of business’ for EASA approvals.  When the market improves, the plan is for Inter-Tec Aero to recruit local technical specialists.

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