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Monday, May 24th, 2021

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Virgin Galactic makes first test flight to outer space from Spaceport America, New Mexico

Virgin Galactic has successfully made its first rocket-powered flight from Spaceport America in New Mexico to outer space, some 55 miles (89 kilometers) above sea level. The two pilots were on board the VSS Unity shuttle which launched from VMS Eve, travelling at up to three-times the speed of sound during the flight, before gliding back down through the atmosphere and landing back at Spaceport.

Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson told The Associated Press that commercial flights could begin next year. "Today was just an incredible step in the right direction," said Branson. "It tested a lot of new systems that the teams have been building and they all worked." Virgin Galactic CEO Michael Colglazier said at least two more undated test flights lie ahead — the next with four mission specialist passengers in the cabin. Pending trials also include a flight that will take Branson to the edge of space.

"The flight today was elegant, beautiful," Colglazier said. "We're going to analyze all the data that we gather on these flights. But watching from the ground and speaking with our pilots, it was magnificent. So now it's time for us to do this again."

Virgin Galactic said the flight provided an assessment of upgrades to a horizontal stabilizer, other flight controls and a suite of cabin cameras designed to provide live images of the flight to people on the ground. In addition, the shuttle carried a scientific payload as part of a cooperation with NASA's Flight Opportunities Program. Preparations for the latest flight included a maintenance review of the special carrier plane that flies the six-passenger spacecraft to a high altitude prior to it firing its rocket motor as it then pushes towards space.


Airbus starts structural assembly of first A321XLR

In May, Airbus’ manufacturing partner Premium AEROTEC delivered the first fully equipped Rear Center Tank (RCT) to Airbus’ major component assembly facility in Hamburg - a key component of the A321XLR’s performance. Heralding the start of the assembly of the aircraft’s rear fuselage and the center fuselage in the dedicated “Structure Pilot Line”.

The RCT, which is unique to the new long-range A321XLR, is a permanently installed high-capacity fuel tank that makes maximum volumetric use of the aircraft’s lower fuselage. Integrated in fuselage sections 15 and 17 and located behind the main landing gear bay it holds up to 13,100 liters, which is more fuel than several Additional Centre Tanks (ACTs) combined could previously hold in the A321 aircraft family.

The integration of the RCT represented a significant challenge for the teams to ensure the smooth integration of the new rear center tank and its new fuel systems. Operations faced a very tight time schedule for the overall development and the industrial set-up. Around this time, the COVID-19 pandemic started to impact collaborative work on the XLR plateau. “It was yet another significant challenge, but we quickly adapted using digital means with a “co-design approach” to achieve a solution for the aircraft,” said Stephan Meyer, Head of A321XLR Industrial Centre Aft Fuselage. “We are proud of this great product, developed and industrialized under such difficult circumstances, which is well underway,” he concludes.

CDB Aviation to lease two A330-300 P2F aircraft to Mexico’s MasAir

CDB Aviation has reached an agreement with Mexico-based MasAir Cargo Airline (MasAir) for the lease of two Airbus A330-300 Passenger-to-Freighter (“P2F”) aircraft, marking the lessor’s first-ever lease transaction with an airline operator for the aircraft type.

The A330 P2Fs on long-term lease to its newest customer in the Americas represent the first two positions from CDB Aviation’s agreement with Germany-based EFW for the aircraft type’s conversion announced in November 2020. The aircraft are scheduled to deliver to MasAir during the first half of 2022.

The lessor expects the A330-300 P2F to bring next generation technology and efficiency to the segment, offering more volumetric space than older freighters in this category. This aircraft can also seamlessly slot into the fleets of A320-family, A330, and A350 operators, in line with what cargo operators and freight forwarders are seeking.


AeroCentury reports first quarter 2021 net loss of US$5.4 million

AeroCentury, an independent aircraft leasing company, has reported a first quarter 2021 net loss of US$5.4 million, compared to a net loss of US$10.2 million for the first quarter of 2020.

Revenues and other income decreased by 47% to US$2.5 million in the first quarter of 2021 from US$4.8 million in the first quarter of 2020. The decrease was primarily a result of a 43% decrease in operating lease revenues to US$2.7 million in the first quarter of 2021 from US$4.8 million in the first quarter of 2020 as a result of reduced rent income from the sale of aircraft during the fourth quarter of 2020 and first quarter of 2021 and reduced rent for two assets in the 2021 quarter as a result of lease amendments related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The results for the quarter ended March 31, 2021 also reflected reduced depreciation expense compared to the first quarter of 2020, primarily as a result of aircraft sales, and increased professional fees and other expenses, primarily due to higher legal expenses. During the first quarter of 2021, the Company recorded a bad debt allowance of US$821,000 related to one of its sales-type finance leases. During the first quarter of 2021, the Company recorded an impairment loss of US$1,940,400 on its two assets held for sale, based on expected sales proceeds, which had an aggregate fair value of US$347,400.

The results for the quarter ended March 31, 2020 included impairment losses totaling US$6.7 million, arising from estimated sales proceeds for three regional jet aircraft and an older turboprop aircraft that is being sold in parts.   Results also included a US$1.2 million bad debt allowance related to two of the Company’s aircraft that are subject to finance leases and a US$1.9 million non-cash charge related to the Company’s interest rate swaps, which is included in interest expense.

Embraer delivers 600th Phenom 300 series aircraft to Superior Capital Holdings

Embraer has delivered the 600th Phenom 300 series business jet to Superior Capital Holdings based in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The aircraft will be used to support the company’s business operations throughout the U.S.

Originally launched in 2005, the Phenom 300 series is in operation in more than 35 countries and has accumulated more than 1.2 million flight hours. The milestone aircraft delivered to Superior Capital Holdings is the Phenom 300E, the newest enhanced iteration of the light jet. In terms of performance, the enhanced Phenom 300E is even faster, capable of reaching Mach 0.80, becoming the fastest single-pilot jet in production. The aircraft is capable of a high-speed cruise of 464 knots, and a five-occupant range of 2,010 nautical miles (3,724 km) with NBAA IFR reserves.


BAA Training expands in Spain and establishes Avia Repair Co.

BAA Training has established an MRO in Spain called Avia Repair Co., based at Lleida-Alguaire International Airport in the north-east of Spain. After a certification process, Avia Repair Co. will start providing maintenance, repair and overhaul services to BAA Training itself at the beginning, and other corporate clients in the future.

This type of service will be the third in the mix of services BAA Training already provides in Spain. The academy has a long record of carrying out flight training in its two bases - at Lleida-Alguaire International Airport and Castellón Airport - under the scope of the Ab Initio School. It has also recently opened a simulator Training Centre in Barcelona that is fully functional today.

Avia Repair Co. has started looking for qualified engineers and mechanics to join the company and plans to recruit at least 10 employees in 2021 alone.

Goncalo Antonio Nunes Penedo, appointed Director at Avia Repair Co, commented: „Avia Repair Co will apply the know-how of European quality standards in MRO and aim to ensure adequate turnaround time. For making this possible, the company will recruit profoundly detail-oriented maintenance experts with related experience to work in its fully-equipped hangar located at Lleida-Alguaire International Airport.“

BAA Training conducts all-year-round flight training due to having a fleet of 22 aircraft – 11 single-engine Tecnam P2002, two multi-engine Tecnam P2006 and nine single-engine Cessna 172. All of these aircraft distributed over the two flight bases in Spain will be inspected and maintained in Avia Repair Co’s hangar.

Attestor acquires majority stake in Condor

Asset manager Attestor has acquired 51% of Condor shares and set the course for a secure future of the airline. Attestor will invest €200 million of equity capital and will provide a further €250 million to modernize Condor’s long-haul fleet. This will ensure the rapid ramp-up of flight operations after the Corona pandemic and will further enable the long-term development of Germany's popular leisure airline under the strong Condor brand. All 4,050 jobs at the airline and the company's own maintenance subsidiary Condor Technik will be retained.

Attestor is initially acquiring a stake of 51% in Condor, while the remaining 49% will remain with SG Luftfahrtgesellschaft, which holds its shares on behalf of Germany’s federal government and the government of the state of Hesse. The investor has the option of acquiring the remaining shares at a later time. In order to secure jobs in the long term, the German federal government and the state of Hesse are supporting Condor’s repositioning with a restructuring of the KfW loan. This measure is subject to approval under EU state aid legislation. Condor will repay the remaining KfW loan as agreed in due time.

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Tamar Jorssen
Vice President Sales & Business Development
Email: tamar.jorssen@avitrader.com
Phone: +1 (788) 213 8543