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Monday, July 19th, 2021

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FAA demands operators of 9,315 Boeing 737 jets to check for switch failures

Just two months after an electrical fault was discovered on a number of Boeing 737 jets, the FAA has now issued a directive for the operators of 9,300 of the jets, including 2,502 U.S.-registered ones, to perform repetitive tests on two cabin altitude pressure switches.

Back in 2012, 737s were fitted with one pressure switch. However, the FAA recognized the importance of the switch function and mandated Boeing ensure that all 737s be fitted with two of the switches to provide redundancy in the event of the failure of one switch. The latest directive follows on from reports from an operator back in September 2020 that the two switches had failed on three variants of the 737 jet. The FAA stated that failure of the switches could result in the cabin altitude warning system not activating if the cabin exceeded an altitude of 10,000 feet (3,050 m), an altitude at which oxygen levels could become dangerously low.

The FAA stipulated that tests must be conducted within 2,000 flight hours since the last test of the cabin altitude pressure switches, before airplanes had flown 2,000 hours, or within 90 days of the directive's effective date. When the problem was originally reported to Boeing, the American planemaker carried out tests which included the expected failure rate of the switch, and concluded there was no safety issue. However, back in May this year, further investigation into the problem led the FAA and Boeing to determine that "the failure rate of both switches is much higher than initially estimated, and therefore does pose a safety issue." The FAA has confirmed that it "does not yet have sufficient information to determine what has caused this unexpectedly high failure rate."

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Martin Apsel-von zur Gathen named new Head of Operations Planning and Steering at SWISS

Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) has appointed Martin Apsel-von zur Gathen as its new Head of Operations Planning and Steering. In his new capacity, which he will assume on August 1, Apsel-von zur Gathen will be responsible for the planning and the day-to-day management of efficient and reliable flight operations, and will report directly to SWISS Head of Operations Oliver Buchhofer. He succeeds Marcus Schnabel, who took up new duties as Head of Flight/Ground Operations and Security for the Lufthansa Group at the beginning of May.

Apsel-von zur Gathen has assumed his present function as Head of Product Management Customer Service for the Lufthansa Group in 2018. In this position he has been responsible for developing a groupwide strategy for optimizing customer service, has driven various projects to digitalize customer interactions and has borne responsibility for the Lufthansa Group’s customer service operations worldwide. Prior to this, from 2016 to 2018, he was Head of Network Management at SWISS, having previously held various further SWISS and Lufthansa positions.

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Horizon Air pilots pass vote to amend labor contract

Horizon Air pilots, represented by the Airline Professionals Association, Teamsters Local 1224 (IBT), have voted to ratify a new wage agreement. IBT represents Horizon's more than 800 pilots. The agreement, which passed with 74% of the vote, includes competitive wage increases aimed to attract and retain pilots.

Airline employees are covered by the Railway Labor Act, so labor agreements do not expire; they become amendable and remain in effect until a new contract is ratified.

Horizon Air is a subsidiary of Alaska Air Group and flies to 63 cities across the United States, Canada and Mexico.

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Embraer and CommutAir sign pool program agreement

Embraer has signed a long-term pool program agreement with CommutAir, a United Express carrier, to support the airline’s ERJ 145 jet fleet. This new contract includes full repair coverage for components and parts, as well as access to a large stock of components at Embraer’s distribution center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Currently, the pool rogram supports more than 50 airlines worldwide.

With a total of 168 aircraft under lease, CommutAir now maintains the largest ERJ 145 fleet, recently becoming the sole regional partner to operate the ERJ145 for United Airlines. Under this agreement, CommutAir and United will consolidate their ERJ 145 spare component inventory with Embraer’s pool program to improve stock levels and reliability. In April 2021, CommutAir selected Embraer Aircraft Maintenance Services (EAMS) in Macon, Georgia, as one of its primary heavy maintenance providers for the airline’s fleet of ERJ145 aircraft. The agreement includes airframe maintenance, modifications, and repair services.

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TOPCAST acquires Shanghai AML Aviation Technologies to bolster mainland China MRO Service burgeoning growth

Topcast Aviation Supplies (TOPCAST), a global leader in aircraft parts distribution and MRO services, has completed the acquisition of AML Aviation Technologies (AML), a Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) approved aircraft components maintenance company located in Shanghai. 

AML was established by Aviation Industry Corporation of China in 2002. With diverse testing facilities and repair capabilities, the core services include testing, repair, modification, and overhaul of air conditioning, communication, battery, cabin, fuel, hydraulic and pneumatic, light, water, and waste handling systems. TOPCAST onshore MRO service centre in Shanghai can provide a lower cost, faster turnaround time and more environmentally friendly service to minimize carbon footprint through reduced cross-border logistics.

“In longer-term, TOPCAST will set up a warehouse in Shanghai to complement for smooth operations and will implement a dedicated pooling program for lower life cycle costs from the initial core units from each airline customer,” said Steve Chua, Managing Director, Global MRO of TOPCAST.

Shanghai is the hub city for seven commercial airlines and six cargo carriers, accounting for 2165 aircrafts, 59% of the national market size. This merger and acquisition will further underpin TOPCAST leading status of MRO service provider in the region.

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First Aviation announces expansion of S-70 Blackhawk rotor blade capability

Piedmont Propulsion Systems, a wholly owned subsidiary of First Aviation Services, has received an amendment to its Limited Airframe Rating with S-70 capabilities from the FAA, enabling the company to perform all maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) services for S-70 / UH-60 Blackhawk main rotor blades. 

This capability adds to Piedmont Propulsion’s existing approvals to perform MRO services for the Blackhawk main rotor hub and bifilar, and Van Horn Aviation 206/OH-58 Tail Rotor Blades and adds to the company’s many decades of experience in propeller blades and hub assemblies for all leading propeller product lines. Piedmont Propulsion’s sister company Aviation Blade Services is a leading independent MRO facility supporting Blackhawk and other legacy Sikorsky rotor blades.

flyadeal receives first brand-new Airbus A320neo aircraft

Low-cost Jeddah-based airline flyadeal, owned by Saudi Arabian Airlines, has taken delivery of a brand new A320neo, the first out of 30 to be delivered in the next three years.

The aircraft is the first out of 65 A320neo-family aircraft ordered by Saudi Arabian Airline at the Paris Airshow 2019, and will join flyadeal’s all Airbus fleet. Powered by CFM LEAP-1A engines, the A320neo will offer flyadeal outstanding operational, economic and environmental performance. flyadeal’s A320neo is configured with 186 seats in a comfortable all economy class layout.

The A320neo is the ideal aircraft for flyadeal to grow and expand its domestic and regional network. Demonstrating the operational flexibility of the A320neo, the aircraft will allow the airline to efficiently enhance its operations to additional networks and foster closer links with countries across the region and beyond.
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