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Monday, April 19th, 2021

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Volocopter aims to introduce urban air mobility to Chinese market

Volocopter and the global mobility technology group, Geely Technology Group, have presented Volocopter’s electric air taxi, the 2X, for the first time in China at Geely’s booth at the Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition 2021. The companies are highlighting their cooperation and aim to introduce urban air mobility to the Chinese market and give visitors the chance to learn more about this new form of transport.

Urban air mobility (UAM) is an emerging part of the aviation industry focused on aerial connectivity in and around cities. As a pioneer of electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) air taxi technology, Volocopter has paved the way for creating the ecosystem needed to provide electric air taxi services within cities around the world. Together with Geely Technology Group, Volocopter is beginning the process of introducing these mobility services in China and creating a scalable model for production and operations.

Since announcing Geely’s strategic investment in Volocopter in 2019, the companies have been using their combined expertise in mobility to identify where electric air taxi services could be best introduced in China.

In 2019, the Volocopter 2X successfully flew over Singapore’s Marina Bay and showed that piloted electric air taxi integration in air traffic management (ATM) and unmanned traffic management (UTM) was possible. Today, the two-seater model, which has previously flown several test campaigns, represents the electric air taxi vision Volocopter and Geely Technology Group aim to introduce in China. For the future services, Volocopter will be using its fifth-generation aircraft, the VoloCity, which is currently in the certification process with European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). It will have an increased speed of 110 km/h and longer flight duration of 35 minutes (after accounting for reserve battery and headwind).

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Air New Zealand defers planned capital raise to later in 2021

Air New Zealand is targeting its equity capital raise to be undertaken by September 30, 2021, to give the airline time to assess market conditions.

"We've seen some clearing of COVID-19 clouds recently, with the extension of the airfreight capacity scheme, the rollout of the vaccine and the opening of the trans-Tasman bubble on 19 April," says Air New Zealand Chairman Dame Therese Walsh. "These developments are good news and fundamental to Air New Zealand's return to success, but the storm hasn't cleared yet. We have suspended our cash burn guidance while we take the time to see how these events might impact our outlook."

The Government has agreed to extend and re-negotiate the loan facility, so Air New Zealand has sufficient liquidity to take the airline through to the capital raise. The loan facility will be increased by up to NZ$600 million in additional liquidity, bringing the total facility to NZ$1.5 billion. The facility term has also been extended through to September 2023 and the interest rate will be adjusted to reflect current market conditions.

The airline continues to focus on managing its level of cash burn, and there have been no further drawdowns on the Crown facility since interim results, therefore current drawdowns on the facility remain at NZ$350 million.

IATA and Eurofins partner to boost travel with testing

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced an agreement with Eurofins to incorporate its worldwide COVID-19 testing network into IATA Travel Pass. Eurofins is a leader in bio-analytical testing with 800 laboratories across 50 countries. As part of the partnership, Eurofins’ dedicated COVID-19 portfolio encompassing multiple test types and hundreds of COVID-19 sampling stations globally, will be made available through the IATA Travel Pass.

Amid the pandemic, coronavirus testing is required for most international travel. As part of the IATA Travel Pass initiative, Eurofins laboratories will provide secure, verified test results to travelers using the app. This result is checked against the IATA Travel Pass registry of national entry requirements to produce an “OK to Travel” status. Through the app passengers can share their status and the digital test certificates with authorities and airlines to facilitate travel.

Trials of IATA Travel Pass incorporating the global Eurofins network are expected to begin with airlines piloting IATA Travel Pass across multiple regions in the coming weeks.

“Verified testing is the immediate solution to give governments the confidence to open their borders to travelers. IATA Travel Pass aims to make it as simple as possible for travelers to locate certified laboratories and securely receive the test results that governments require. Our partnership with Eurofins is another mark of quality for IATA Travel Pass which is being built to the highest data security and privacy standards. Adding the extensive Eurofins network to the initiative will help travelers more conveniently adjust their travel preparations to meet the COVID-19 requirements,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

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Airbus signs major integrated support contract with Egypt for C295 fleet

The Egyptian Air Force, the largest C295 fleet operator worldwide, has recently signed a five-year services contract with Airbus for the performance-based support of its fleet, composed of a total of 24 aircraft.

The Egyptian Air Force joins now the community of C295 operators that benefit from the provision of integrated and performance based services which ensure that all elements of support are in place where and when required, in order to optimize fleet availability and mission readiness. The contract includes the provision of material services, on-site technical support as well as on-wing maintenance.

Since the delivery of the first aircraft in 2011, Airbus has been providing support through a wide service portfolio with the highest quality standards including both technical and personnel resources. In signing this contract, Egypt goes further by reaffirming and extending its trust in Airbus by implementing the first integrated support contract.

GDC Technics countersues Boeing over Air Force One contracts

Texas-based GDC Technics (GDC), a subcontractor working on the two new Air Force One Boeing jets, is countersuing Boeing Co for a minimum of US$20 million after the American planemaker canceled GDC’s contracts. In a suit filed on April 7, Boeing claimed that GDC had failed to complete work on the interiors of the two modified 747-8 Air Force One jets and that it was “roughly one year behind schedule in meeting its contractual obligations." According to REUTERS News Agency, GDC has countersued on the grounds that "Boeing's mismanagement of the completion of two Air Force One presidential aircraft, not delays caused by GDC, has caused a delay in the completion of those aircraft."

Rather than build two new aircraft from scratch, Boeing chose to use two existing ones that had been ordered by a now bankrupt Russian airline for the new Air Force One aircraft and GDC has claimed that: "Because of its problems with engineering, program management, and its own financial difficulties, Boeing has fallen behind in the project schedule for the aircraft. Boeing looked to GDC as a scapegoat to excuse its lack of performance on the aircraft to the United States Air Force," adding that Boeing's "false" statements have damaged its reputation with the Air Force "and the aviation industry worldwide."

Boeing's initial suit says GDC's delays "have resulted in millions of dollars in damages to Boeing and threaten to jeopardize work that is of critical importance." The US$3.9 billion contract to build two 747-8 aircraft for use as Air Force One was awarded to Boeing in July 2018 and the two planes are due to be delivered by December 2024. On April 8, a Boeing spokesperson confirmed that it still aimed to meet that delivery schedule.

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FAA and EASA approve Viasat’s Ka-band In-Flight Connectivity System for Bombardier Challenger 300-series aircraft

Bombardier and global communications company Viasat have announced regulatory approval for the installation and use of Viasat’s Ka-band in-flight connectivity (IFC) business aviation system on in-service Challenger 300 and Challenger 350 aircraft, for their fastest available download speeds in the super midsize segment. Supplemental Type Certificates (STC) have been successfully received from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), as well as from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

Viasat first announced it would bring enhanced cabin connectivity to Bombardier Challenger 300 and Challenger 350 business jets in July 2020. Regulatory approval clears the way for operators of those aircraft to have Viasat’s Ka-band Global Aero Terminal 5510 installed for a premier in-cabin internet experience over the most heavily travelled flight routes and regions. Installation of the Viasat system will be available at Bombardier’s worldwide network of service centers.

AAR elects Ellen M. Lord to Board of Directors

AAR, a provider of aviation services to commercial and government operators, MROs and OEMs, has released that Ellen M. Lord, former Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment for the United States Department of Defense, has been elected to the company's Board of Directors, effective immediately.

Lord served as the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment for the United States Department of Defense from August 2017 until January 2021. In this role, she was responsible for all matters pertaining to acquisition, developmental testing, contract administration, logistics and materiel readiness, installations and environment, operational energy, chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, the acquisition workforce, and the defense industrial base.

AeroCentury reports full year 2020 net loss of US$42.2 million

AeroCentury, an independent aircraft leasing company, has posted a fourth quarter 2020 net loss of US$14.5 million, compared to a net loss of US$7.0 million for the fourth quarter of 2019. For the full year 2020, the Company reported a net loss of US$42.2 million, compared to a net loss of US$16.7 million for the full year 2019.

During 2020, the company sold two aircraft that had been leased under operating leases. In addition, two lessees that had leased four aircraft pursuant to sales-type or direct financing leases exercised purchase options for the aircraft. Results for the fourth quarter and the year ended December 31, 2020 included impairment losses on most of the company’s aircraft totaling US$11.9 million and US$28.8 million, respectively, based on third-party appraised or expected sales proceeds. During the same periods, the Company recorded bad debt expense of US$0.3 million and US$1.5 million, respectively, as a result of payment delinquencies and reductions in the appraised value of the company’s two remaining aircraft subject to sales-type leases.

In the third quarter of 2019, the company terminated the leases for, and repossessed, four aircraft from one of the company’s lessees (repossessed aircraft), which had a substantial adverse impact on the company’s 2019 and 2020 results. As a result of those events, the company recognized maintenance reserves revenue of US$17.0 million at the time of repossession, but also recorded impairment losses for the repossessed aircraft of US$28.4 million during 2019, based on third-party appraised values or expected sales proceeds. In 2020, the loss of operating lease revenues from those aircraft and an additional US$10.9 million of impairment losses also negatively impacted earnings.

Results for the year ended December 31, 2019 also included impairment losses totaling US$2.6 million, based on third-party appraised values or expected sales proceeds, for three older turboprop aircraft, a spare engine and an older turboprop aircraft that has been sold in parts.
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