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Monday, June 14th, 2021

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Archer unveils two-seater prototype eVTOL as forerunner to five-seat urban taxi

Santa Clara-based aviation startup Archer Aviation (Archer) unveiled its new two-seat electric vertical and take-off (eVTOL) urban taxi in Los Angles on June 10. Given the name ‘Maker’, the aircraft is a prototype of a four-passenger (five-seater) eVTOL aircraft it anticipates launching in 2024. Maker has a top speed of 150mph, has a range of 60 miles, weighs 3,324lbs and has 12 rotors – six to the front and six to the rear of its 40-foot wings.

Maker is a “full-scale, two-passenger demonstrator aircraft,” said Adam Goldstein, one of Archer’s co-founders. “Its purpose is to serve as a certification test bed, and also to keep pushing our key enabling technologies.” Archer was unable to demonstrate Maker’s flying capabilities and nor was the company able to confirm when it anticipated receiving certification for test flights.

The company recently raised US$1.1 billion by going public through a reverse merger with a special acquisition company, or SPAC. The merger, which is valued at US$3.8 billion, is also backed by United Airlines, which has placed a US$1 billion order for 200 Archer eVTOL aircraft, with an option to purchase 100 more for US$500 million. However, Archer has become the target of a lawsuit from rival aviation startup Wisk Aero, which has accused Archer of stealing its trade secrets and infringing on its patents. Wisk is a joint venture between Boeing and Kitty Hawk and is being countersued by Archer over “false statements” regarding the criminal probe.

Meanwhile, news was also announced last week of American Airlines’ and Virgin Atlantic’s intention to buy 250 and 150 eVTOL aircraft, respectively, from U.K. company Vertical Aerospace (Vertical). American Airways also announced its intention to invest up to US$25 million in Vertical which has, over the space of just a few days, also become the most important player in the eVTOL aircraft market after receiving an order for up to 500 eVTOL aircraft from Avolon, the international aircraft leasing company, valued at approximately US$2 billion.


Vallair leases first Airbus A321F in Europe to SmartLynx Malta

Vallair, the mature aircraft asset and cargo conversion specialist dedicated to the support of both operators and lessors, has delivered its second Airbus A321 freighter conversion. This is the first ever A321F to be operated by a European based carrier.  Having received its STC from the FAA in April 2021, the aircraft bearing MSN 891, has been prepared for delivery at Vallair’s specialist MRO & Painting facility in Montpellier, France immediately following its conversion in the U.S.A. The aircraft has been leased by Vallair to SmartLynx Malta who will now operate the aircraft on behalf of DHL. Maintenance requirements for this aircraft were minimal, however the aircraft has been repainted in Vallair’s dedicated paint hangar in the south of France.

In parallel with the delivery of MSN891, Vallair has also been preparing its next two aircraft scheduled for conversion. By carrying out heavy maintenance in advance of induction at its Montpellier facility, Vallair anticipates a significant reduction in turn-around-time for the entire conversion process.

GOL to acquire Brazilian airline MAP Transportes Aéreos

GOL Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes S.A., Brazil’s largest domestic airline, has entered into an agreement to acquire MAP Transportes Aéreos (MAP), a Brazilian domestic airline with flight routes to regional destinations and São Paulo’s Congonhas Airport. The acquisition reflects the company’s on-going commitment to expanding the demand for passenger air transportation in Brazil and what its management perceives to be an unparalleled market opportunity for rational consolidation in the Brazilian aviation market, as the country’s economy recovers from COVID-19.

“Over the past year, we have consistently emphasized that GOL is well-positioned for growth in the post-pandemic cycle, due to prudent financial management and proven efficient operating model, that differentiates us in the market,” said Paulo Kakinoff, CEO. “This add-on acquisition is a significant step in our strategy of expanding network and capacity, as we look to revitalize air travel demand among leisure and business passengers. Thus, the Company is investing even more in the regional air transportation market with an emphasis on Brazil’s Amazon region, supporting local economic growth and strengthening our operations at Congonhas Airport.”

Founded in 2011, MAP is the fifth-largest Brazilian domestic airline, with a fleet of seven 70-seat ATRs that operate on routes in the Amazon region from the Manaus Airport and Brazil’s South and Southeast regions from Congonhas, the country’s largest domestic airport. The realization of this transaction will reinforce GOL’s leading positioning in two of its main bases, with growth of approximately 10% at CGH via the addition of 26 daily flights. Thus, the company will be able to serve new destinations connecting South America’s largest city to historically underserved domestic markets, as the restrictions resulting from the pandemic are reduced or eliminated.

GOL maintains its single-fleet fleet strategy to service these new routes in a cost-efficient and sustainable way. The company also has the additional flexibility to evaluate new aircraft types or partnerships that can service these regional markets more cost efficiently, with no future obligation as it relates to MAP’s current fleet.


Air New Zealand to establish crew base in Brisbane

Air New Zealand has extended its agreement with the Australian Government to operate flights between Norfolk Island and Australia from August 30, 2021 until the end of August 2023.

Under the agreement, Air New Zealand will use its A320 aircraft to operate up to three flights per week from Brisbane and three flights from Sydney.

Air New Zealand Chief Operating Officer Carrie Hurihanganui says the airline will establish a temporary pilot and cabin crew base in Brisbane until November 30, to ensure potential disruptions to the travel bubble will not affect continuity of services to Norfolk Island.

"Prior to the trans-Tasman bubble opening, crew operating domestic flights in Australia were required to have been in Australia for 14 days or have arrived in Australia on a quarantine-free flight. This unfortunately resulted in us having to suspend services between Norfolk Island and mainland Australia in February. Having crew based in Australia will ensure we avoid disruption should the Australian border close again. 

Ed Sims President and CEO of WestJet to retire

WestJet has reported that President and CEO, Ed Sims, will retire at the end of 2021. In four years with WestJet, Sims was responsible for the successful introduction of the company's Boeing 787 long-haul aircraft, the launch of two new airline ventures, the significant expansion of WestJet's international network, as well as the continued growth of WestJet Vacations, WestJet Cargo and the WestJet Rewards program.

Sims will remain as President and Chief Executive, as well as a member of the WestJet Group board of directors until December 2021. Moving forward, he will continue in a senior advisory role with Onex Partners focused on aerospace and aviation.

The board of directors of WestJet has commenced a search for a new Chief Executive Officer.


ATL Turbine Services chooses Ideagen’s Q-Pulse to enhance management systems

Leading global supplier of regulatory and compliance software solutions, Ideagen Plc, has announced that ATL Turbine Services has purchased its quality management software tool, Q-Pulse.  

ATL Turbine Services is an EASA certified U.K.-based engineering company that repairs and overhauls turbine engine components to the highest quality standards. ATL is committed to offering its quality services to meet the standards and needs of both OEMs and independent overhaul facilities globally.

Q-Pulse is used by more than 2,000 organizations globally. Its core features comprize: complete oversight of every aspect of the business using data intelligence and insights; quick data-driven decision making to exploit opportunities; and the ability to create a culture where quality and compliance is embedded throughout the organization.

Avolon and Vertical Aerospace announce order for up to 500 electric aircraft valued at US$2 billion

Avolon, the international aircraft leasing company, and Vertical Aerospace (Vertical), have announced a ground-breaking US$2 billion order for up to 500 electric eVTOL aircraft. This agreement, which is subject to certain closing conditions, will introduce the ultra-short-haul aircraft category to commercial aviation, a game changing development that will revolutionize air travel with zero emissions aircraft.

The agreement will combine Avolon’s scale and deep industry relationships with Vertical’s leading technological position in the eVTOL space and will see both companies collaborate throughout the development, road map to certification and subsequent commercial roll-out of the VA-X4. Avolon will join Microsoft, Rolls-Royce, Honeywell, and American Airlines as equity investors in Vertical, working also with Virgin Atlantic who will be a VA-X4 launch airline customer in Europe.

Avolon, through its newly incorporated affiliate Avolon-e will become the customer for the VA-X4 and subject to appropriate operating, delivery and business requirements being met, will order aircraft valued at US$1.25 billion with delivery commencing in late 2024, with an option to acquire additional aircraft up to a value of US$750 million. Avolon-e has been established by Avolon to focus on investment in the zero-emissions eVTOL sector.

TrueNoord leases ATR 72-600 to Silver Airways

TrueNoord, the specialist regional aircraft lessor, has signed a long-term operating lease with Silver Airways for an ATR 72-600. The turboprop entered Silver Airways’ fleet at the end of May and is flying in Silver’s network within the southeast United States and the Bahamas.

Garry Topp, Sales Director for TrueNoord responsible for the Americas, comments: “As Silver Airways transitions its entire fleet to ATRs we’re especially pleased to provide this aircraft at a time when they are seeing rapid growth in demand. Identifying opportunities for re-marketing and successful placement of our aircraft into new markets that consolidate our growth in a challenging environment is a cornerstone of our business strategy. Aptly named ‘Silver Warrior’, and bearing new brand livery, this is TrueNoord’s first turboprop placement in North America and our first aircraft on lease with Silver Airways.”

Prior to transitioning to Silver Airways, the ATR 72-600 (MSN1038) was previously leased by TrueNoord to Nordica, the Estonian carrier. It was reconfigured to U.S. specifications at ATR Francazal near Toulouse, France prior to ferry flight to Florida.

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