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Thursday, March 3rd, 2022

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ATSG enters commitment with EFW for 29 A330P2F conversions

Air Transport Services Group (ATSG) has committed to a total of 29 Airbus A330 Passenger-to-Freighter (P2F) conversion slots with Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW), centre of excellence for Airbus freighter conversions and a joint venture between ST Engineering and Airbus. The commitment reflects a strategic step by ATSG to diversify its existing in-service fleet of 117 aircraft with the addition of next-generation wide-body freighters.

The A330P2F conversions for ATSG will be performed from mid-2023 through 2027 mainly at EFW’s facility in Dresden, Germany and at a new conversion site to be set up in Shanghai, China. Multiple conversions will be carried out in parallel.

Similar to the latest conversion programmes, A321P2F and A320P2F, the A330P2F programme is a collaboration between ST Engineering, Airbus and EFW, which is leading the overall programme as well as marketing and sales efforts. To meet the rising demand for freighter conversions, ST Engineering and EFW are setting up new conversion sites in China and the US this year and are ramping up conversion capacity for all their Airbus P2F programmes to about 60 slots per year by 2024.

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Airbus ramps up pilot training with new facilities in Angoulême, France

Airbus subsidiary Airbus Flight Academy Europe (AFAE) now has new and fully operational facilities in Angoulême in the south-west of France. Set in 4.7 hectares of grounds, the new, purpose-built facilities which includes a new building of approx. 3200m² will be solely dedicated to the training of new pilots with 14 classrooms and briefing rooms, a simulator hall, an auditorium and a restaurant.

During the opening ceremony it was also announced that Barcelona-based Volotea will be the first carrier to recruit AFAE-qualified pilots. “This is a very important day for Volotea, as we are taking cadets directly from the Airbus Flight Academy Europe for the first time. We’re all very excited by it as we know the programme quality is of a very high standard, adapting perfectly to Volotea´s training philosophy, said Carlos Muñoz, CEO Volotea.”

AFAE began operations in 2019 and its Ab Initio Training Programme will see 11 newly qualified pilots join Volotea from April-May this year. The new premises provide AFAE, which is the first flight school to deliver the Airbus Pilot Cadet Training Programme in Europe, with a ramped-up capacity to simultaneously train up to 200 pilot cadets. The new training facilities underscore Airbus’ commitment to airline customers to help meet the demand for an anticipated 550,000 new pilots over the next 20 years, as outlined in the Airbus GMF 2021-2040. The Airbus Pilot Cadet Training Programme is open to high school graduates worldwide who are over 18 years of age. Candidates will undergo online and on-site screening tests prior to becoming eligible for training which will involve 750+ hours of ground school and 200 hours of practical (flight and simulator) training.

The Sterling Group acquires West Star Aviation

West Star Aviation has been acquired by The Sterling Group, an operationally focused middle market private equity firm from the previous investor Norwest Equity Partners (NEP), a leading middle market investment firm.

“Sterling’s employee-focused approach to its business partnerships and its expertise in the general aviation space makes it the perfect fit for West Star,” said Jim Rankin, CEO of West Star Aviation. “As we enter our 75th year, the combined efforts of our experienced employees, our founders and now the Sterling team, will allow West Star to continue to offer the best customer experience in the industry,” Rankin continued.

“We believe that our experience coupled with West Star’s industry-leading customer service capabilities will make us a powerful combination,” said Greg Elliott, Partner at The Sterling Group. “Jim Rankin has built a stellar leadership team, and we are eager to help accelerate their growth plans,” Elliott continued.

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France and Spain launch Tiger MkIII programme

OCCAR (Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation), on behalf of the French and Spanish Armament General Directorate, the DGA (Direction Générale de l’Armement) and the DGAM (Dirección General de Armamento y Material) has awarded a contract to Airbus Helicopters for the development, production and initial in-service support of the Tiger MkIII attack helicopter upgrade programme.

The contract includes the upgrade of 42 aircraft for France (with the possibility to add another 25 helicopters) and 18 for Spain. In addition, the contract provides the possibility for Germany to later join the Tiger MkIII programme. The first prototype is scheduled for an inaugural flight in 2025. First delivery to the French Armament General Directorate (DGA) will take place in late 2029 followed by a first delivery to Spain in 2030. Development and upgrade work will be conducted in Airbus Helicopters facilities in Albacete (Spain), Marignane (France) and Donauwörth (Germany). 

Finnair starts negotiations regarding furlough needs arising from closure of Russian airspace

The closure of Russian airspace causes considerable changes in Finnair’s traffic. Finnair has called employee representatives to discuss plans regarding possible furloughs of up to 90 days, which, if implemented, would impact Finnair flight crews. The estimated need for additional monthly furloughs for pilots ranges from 90 to 200 and for cabin crew from 150 to 450 employees starting from April. The final furlough need, however, depends on how the exceptional situation progresses and what mitigations can be found and will be defined during the negotiations. The negotiations concern all 2800 pilots and cabin crew members in Finland. In addition, Finnair evaluates the impacts regarding employees outside Finland in those destinations where the availability of work is estimated to decrease.

Russia issued a notam (notice to airmen) on Monday February 28, regarding the closure of Russian airspace from Finnish aircraft until May 28, 2022. Finnair has now cancelled all of its flights to Russia until May 28, and has so far cancelled a part of its Asian flights until March 6, 2022. Finnair currently flies to Singapore, Bangkok, Phuket, Delhi and as of March 9 to Tokyo, avoiding Russian airspace and is currently evaluating possibilities to operate a part of its flights to Korea and China with an alternative routing. At the same time, Finnair is preparing an alternative network plan in case the situation is prolonged.

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BOC Aviation purchases 11 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft for lease to Lynx Air

BOC Aviation as agreed to purchase 11 new Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft from Boeing. The aircraft will be leased to Lynx Air (Lynx) on long-term leases. The aircraft will be powered by CFM LEAP-1B engines and are scheduled for delivery in 2023 and 2024.

“We are pleased to be partnering with BOC Aviation for the lease of 11 of our new aircraft,” said Merren McArthur, CEO, Lynx Air. “The financing of these aircraft is integral to our growth plans as we continue our mission to make air travel accessible to all Canadians. We are looking forward to welcoming Canadians on board these brand-new Boeing 737 MAX airplanes.”

Accelya appoints Jim Davidson to Chief Executive Officer

Accelya, a leading provider of technology solutions to the global airline and travel industry, has announced the appointment of Jim Davidson as its Chief Executive Officer. Davidson succeeds John Johnston, who transitioned from the CEO position in November but continues as a special advisor to the Accelya Board of Directors. Davidson will assume the position immediately, providing a seamless transition from his role of President and Chief Strategy Officer, where he has been leading Accelya over the past three months.

Davidson is a recognised industry leader, having taken part in the evolution of airline distribution and commerce for more than 25 years. Davidson has served as President and CEO of NTE, President and CEO of Amadeus Global Travel, North America, Head of Sales and Marketing at System One and VP of Marketing at Reed Travel Group / OAG. It was as CEO of Farelogix, prior to its acquisition by Accelya, that Davidson oversaw the building of its New Distribution Capability (NDC) solutions and established a DNA of transformative innovation. Today these solutions have become a key element of Accelya´s FLX Platform.

GKN Aerospace successfully tests new lightweight Turbine Rear Structure concept

GKN Aerospace engineers in Trollhättan, Sweden, have successfully tested a new lightweight demonstrator of a Turbine Rear Structure (TRS) as part of the Clean Sky-2 Engines research Programme. The purpose of a TRS is to manage the flow from the engine’s low-pressure turbine and maximise the axial thrust. It is a key component in improving the efficiency of an aeroengine.

Innovative design and state-of-the-art manufacturing methods resulted in a shorter and lighter structure compared to a traditional TRS. This was achieved by using a novel metallic alloy with higher temperature capability, as well as both metal casting and 3D-printed technology. The optimised balance between aerodynamic performance, weight and mechanical properties demonstrates a significant (14%) weight reduction potential, contributing to lower carbon emissions of the engine.

The complex component was manufactured with laser-welded assembly methods and additive manufacturing technology at GKN Aerospace’s Global Technology Centre in Sweden. Collaboration partners include the regional manufacturing technology centre PTC/Innovatum, while aerodynamic validation took place at a unique test facility at Chalmers University, funded by Vinnova through the SE NFFP programme. Brogren Industries (SME), also funded by Vinnova in the national SE Innovair programme INTDEMO MOTOR, provided supporting activities.

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