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Wednesday, February 9th, 2022

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Leonardo teams up with Vertical Aerospace on VX4 electric aircraft programme

Vertical Aerospace (Vertical) has announced a joint development programme with Italian aerospace, defence and security specialist Leonardo to design, test, manufacture and supply the carbon composite fuselage for the Vertical VX4 electric aircraft.

The two companies will concentrate on optimising composite structures, modular design, systems installation and structural testing for the co-development of the aircraft’s fuselage for a minimum six certification aircraft, up to the successful certification of the VX4. In addition, the agreement includes the option to scale up to the manufacture of the currently 2,000 electric aircraft, including 1,350 pre-ordered units valued at US$5.4 billion (£4 billion) for carriers such as American Airlines, Avolon, Bristow and Iberojet.

Leonardo has extensive experience working on composite aerostructure development and has a close relationship with Vertical’s strategic composite materials supplier, Solvay. Together, Vertical and Solvay are developing advanced materials and manufacturing technologies that will enable high-volume manufacture of the VX4. The near silent, entirely electric, four-passenger piloted VX4 aircraft is anticipated to have a range in excess of 100 miles and should reach a top speed of 200mph, while with zero operating emissions the VX4 will also have a low cost per passenger mile, on a par with a standard taxi.

Michael Cervenka, President of Vertical said: “Vertical is pioneering electric aviation and is on a mission to transform the way people travel. I have been hugely impressed by Leonardo’s highly innovative and industry leading technical and manufacturing capabilities and our partnership has got off to a flying start. I’m thrilled that Leonardo will be joining us in this journey. We have a market-leading pre-order book for our VX4, and this partnership will ensure that we can scale the programme to meet demand.” Lucio Valerio Cioffi, Leonardo’s General Manager, said: “Advanced air mobility is part of Leonardo’s mandate to innovate using our cutting edge, human-centred technology and industrialisation expertise. We’re proud to collaborate with Vertical as part of our strategic vision in this brand-new sector.”

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PTS Aviation leases CFM56-5 engine to majorNorth American carrier

PTS Aviation, a StandardAero company, has signed a comprehensive three-year General Terms and Aircraft Engine Lease Agreement (GTA/ELA) with a major North American Part 121 carrier, effective immediately. The initial ELA establishes the lease of one serviceable CFM56-5A1F engine for a 36-month term during a crucial period of projected air traffic recovery and growth. 

This lease agreement represents PTS Aviation’s first publicly announced transaction since StandardAero signed a definitive agreement to purchase the company last month, a deal which marked StandardAero’s tenth acquisition since March 2015. Founded in 1995, PTS has more than 150 years of combined aviation management experience and significant expertise buying, leasing and selling engines, modules and used serviceable material (USM).

PTS Aviation, headquartered in Miramar, FL, is a worldwide supplier of used serviceable material for the CFM56-3, -5 and -7B.  StandardAero is an OEM authorized independent MRO provider and GE Designated Fulfillment Centre for the CFM56-7B from its 162,000 square foot facility in Winnipeg, MB, Canada.

Collins Aerospace develops new power module to support next generation of military airborne electronics

Collins Aerospace has developed a new power module to support open architecture applications such as mission computers, signal processors, aircraft communication and radar systems. The Collins 3Phase 3U power module delivers up to 800 watts of power without requiring additional filtering hardware for Space, Weight, and Power (SWAP)-constrained platforms operating in harsh environments.

The solution complies with MIL-STD-461F and meets standards developed by VITA, an international trade association responsible for developing standards for open architecture solutions. The hardened 3U VPX power module features embedded EMI filtering and is part of a growing product line of 3U VPX building block components to deliver innovative SWAP-efficient open architecture solutions to the tactical edge.

As airframes modernize and incorporate new, more complex systems, the primary power source needs to deliver higher performance in extreme environments without adding weight. The Collins team in Medford, New York, has pushed the boundaries of power supply design to produce a 3U, 1 inch pitch module that features superior voltage regulation and ultra-low ripple to maximize the capabilities of the system application. The n-board VITA 62 compliant EMI filter offers superior performance and provides robust power to embedded system applications.

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SKY express joins "Worldwide by easyJet"

easyJet and Crete-based airline SKY express have announced that through ‘Worldwide by easyJet’ customers will now be able to connect via Athens, Thessaloniki, Corfu, Zakynthos, Preveza, Kefalonia, Rhodes, Larnaca, Chania, Heraklion and Thessaloniki to over 20 new Greek destinations.  

In just a few clicks, customers flying with easyJet will now have access by air to a new host of beautiful Greek Islands including Mytilene, Paros, Icaria, Astypalaia, Naxos, Vathi, Scio, Lemnos, Karpathos, Kythera, Milos, Alexandroupoli, Kastoria, Skiros, Kozani, Kasos Island, Sitia, Syros, Kalymnos and Laros Island.  

Through technology partner Dohop's innovative platform, customers can book Worldwide by easyJet connections to SKY express flights as well as forward easyJet flights on easyJet.com/worldwide.

Swissport reports record cargo demand for 2021

Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the air travel restrictions that characterized much of 2021, Swissport can look back on a successful business year, thanks primarily to its cargo unit. In 2021, goods totalling 5.1 million metric tons (2019: 4.6 million tons) passed through more than 100 air cargo centres. This is an all-time high and represents an increase of some 10% over the 2019 pre-crisis levels. While the company's larger airport ground services business is still severely affected by the global travel restrictions, Swissport continues to recover here as well. With almost 97 million passengers (2019: 265 million) served and just over two million flights handled (2019: 4.1 million), volumes are still down, but the number of flights handled is up 21% on 2020.

With the anticipated easing of pandemic restrictions in many countries, Swissport expects travel demand to rebound in the coming months, latest by the start of the summer holidays. The company has launched a large-scale recruitment initiative to get ready to support over 850 airline customers in ramping-up their operations. Swissport will create some 17,000 new jobs worldwide. These are primarily frontline roles in passenger services (check-in, gate) and ramp handling (movement of aircraft/towing, baggage handling).

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Astronics Corporation reports US$177 million in preliminary bookings for fourth-quarter 2021

Astronics Corporation, a leading provider of advanced technologies for global aerospace, defence and other mission critical industries, has reported preliminary revenue and bookings for the fourth quarter of 2021.

Astronics’ unaudited preliminary revenue in the fourth quarter of 2021 was approximately US$116 million of which approximately US$99 million was from the Aerospace segment and US$17 million was from the Test segment. For the full year, sales were approximately US$445 million.

Preliminary bookings in the fourth quarter of 2021 were US$177 million, which included US$30 million from the company’s Test segment. Bookings for the Aerospace segment were approximately US$147 million, nearly double the US$74 million in bookings realized in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Total bookings for 2021 were approximately US$577 million, a 35% increase over total bookings received in 2020. Aerospace segment bookings for 2021 were approximately US$509 million, up 53% over US$333 million in bookings in 2020. Backlog at year end was an estimated US$416 million.

On December 31, 2021, the company had approximately US$163 million in long term debt, down US$20 million from October 2, 2021. Cash and equivalents at year end were US$30 million, relatively unchanged from the end of the third quarter. Included in the year end cash balances were approximately US$18 million in cash received related to a facility sale, the Aviation Manufacturing Jobs Protection Programme (AMJP) and tax refunds. The company expects to receive an additional US$35 million in early 2022 which includes approximately US$21 million in earnout from the sale of its semiconductor business, of which half has already been received, US$9 million in tax refunds and an additional US$5 million related to the AMJP. In addition, the company expects to receive the final US$2 million installment from the AMJP later in 2022. In total, the company’s cash proceeds from these items are expected to be approximately US$55 million.

Royal New Zealand Air Force selects Thomas Global’s flight displays for Boeing 757 fleet modernization

The Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) has selected Thomas Global’s TFD-7000 Series flight displays for its Boeing 757 fleet. The TFD-7000 Series displays deliver the most cost-effective and lowest-risk display upgrade solution for Boeing 757, 767 and 737 aircraft.

TFD-7000 Series displays provide a high-performance, cost-effective drop-in LCD retrofit that resolves critical issues around cathode ray tube (CRT) obsolescence while simultaneously increasing operational efficiency and providing a growth platform for new functionality.

“The Royal New Zealand Air Force uses B757s for a broad range of missions, including transport, freight, cargo and troop movement roles,” said Robert Pandis, Vice President of Military Markets for Thomas Global. “Equipping with TFD-7000 Series displays provides the RNZAF with the latest generation of display technology aimed at enhancing reliability and operations while minimizing flight deck modifications and making the most of their budget."

Richard Marston assumes role of Chief Commercial Officer at MAAS Aviation

MAAS Aviation, globally recognised experts in aircraft painting and exterior coatings, announced changes to its senior team as Richard Marston assumes the role of Chief Commercial Officer and Fran Carew retires after 35 years’ loyal service to the business.

Marston joined MAAS Aviation in January 2020 as Director of Customer Service, Sales and Marketing EMEA, having previously held high-level positions with Herberts, DuPont and AkzoNobel Aerospace Coatings. Transitioning to the global role of CCO, he will be responsible for strategic business growth and further increasing the company’s global footprint.
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