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Tuesday, March 22nd, 2022

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China Eastern Airlines grounds all 109 Boeing 737-800s after fatal crash in mountains

A China Eastern Airlines Boeing 737-800, flight MU5735, with 123 passengers and nine crew onboard has crashed in a mountainous region of southern China. Early reports suggest that there are no survivors, while Chinese state television reported, citing China Eastern Airlines, that there were no foreigners on the flight. As a consequence, China Eastern Airlines has grounded all 109 of its fleet of Boeing 737-800 jets.

The China Eastern Airways jet was on a domestic flight en route from Kunming, capital of the Yunnan province in south-western China, to Guangdong, which borders Hong Kong. Having taken off at 1.11 p.m. (all times provided are local time) the 737-800 was due to arrive at Guangzhou at 3.05 p.m. However, according to FlightRadar24, at 2.20 pm the six-year-old jet began a rapid descent at 31,000 feet per minute. The plane had been cruising at 29,100 feet at 14:20. Just over two minutes and 15 seconds later, data showed it had descended to 9,075 feet. Twenty seconds later, its last tracked altitude was 3,225 feet.

According to both China's Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) and the airline confirmed that contact with the plane had been lost over the city of Suzhou. At the time, online weather data indicated that conditions were partly cloudy with good visibility. It was only in December 2021 that the Chinese aviation regulator cleared the 737-MAX to return to the skies after two fatal crashes, subject to technical upgrades and additional pilot training.

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Leonardo to sell Global SATCOM business for US$450 million

Leonardo's US subsidiary Leonardo DRS has signed a definitive agreement to sell its Global Enterprise Solutions business (GES) to SES for US$450 million, gross of taxes, subject to customary working capital adjustments. Closing of the deal is targeted for the second half of 2022 and is subject to customary regulatory approvals, including Hart Scott Rodino and CFIUS in the US. Leonardo confirms its FY2022 Group Net Debt Guidance of ca. €3.1 billion.

Alessandro Profumo, Leonardo CEO, stated “The disposal of the GES business is another step forward in the execution of our industrial plan: we are optimising our portfolio and continuing to focus on our core business. The transaction announced today is also confirming our commitment to deliver on our targets, in line with our 2022 guidance. I’m also sure SES is the best industrial partner to ensure a successful long-term future for GES and all our stakeholders.”

The GES business is the largest provider of commercial satellite communications to the US government and delivers world-class, mission-critical satellite communications and security solutions to customers anywhere in the world.

Flying classroom takes to the sky with support from Starling Aerospace

A project to facilitate the training of the next generation of aerospace engineers in the UK’s only ‘flying classroom’ is fully operational thanks to the technical expertise of aircraft interior specialist, Starling Aerospace.

Working in partnership with Cranfield University’s National Flying Laboratory Centre (NFLC), Starling has completed a six-month programme of modification and re-certification of all 35 seats in the NFLC’s Saab 340B aircraft, which is the latest educational asset to join the university’s fleet.

The project required a bespoke solution for the fitment of computer tablets and other equipment to each seat-back of the flying classroom. Starling was responsible for the complete design, fabrication, modification, re-certification and installation process, which provides aerospace engineering students from over 20 universities and Cranfield to gain invaluable flight test experience as part of their research studies.

Operating from Cranfield’s Global Research Airport in Bedfordshire, the Saab 340B is unique in the UK in its role to create new research capabilities, including projects which test the development of advanced aerospace technologies and flight operations.

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WestJet Cargo and the GTA Group announce partnership expansion

WestJet Cargo and the GTA Group have agreed on a long-term partnership that will support the expansion and growth of domestic cargo opportunities for both businesses. Beginning in 2022, WestJet Cargo will partner with the GTA Group to increase shipping capacity using four dedicated Boeing 737-800NG freighters operated by WestJet, to fulfill overnight express cargo service out of WestJet's Toronto hub.

"This partnership is building on proven success between WestJet Cargo and the GTA Group," said Charles Duncan, WestJet, Executive Vice-President, Cargo and President, Swoop. "WestJet Cargo will bring customers new competitive options and together with GTA we will disrupt the industry, providing more air freight capacity to domestic cargo customers who depend on reliable and on-time performance. We are eager to see these freighters take flight as we plan ahead to best serve Canadians and their business needs."

WestJet's Boeing 737-800NG narrow-body aircraft is perfectly suited to serve the overnight express freight community offering increased flexibility and frequency. Quick to fill and fly, with among the best fuel efficiency in the cargo category, these freighters will provide the partnership a competitive cost advantage. In addition to dedicated freighters, WestJet Cargo will further support the GTA Group's service through WestJet's existing cargo business in the bellies of its commercial fleet.

Lockheed Martin partners with Israel Aerospace Industries on Global Air Defence projects

Lockheed Martin and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) have agreed to partner to jointly promote a Ground Based Air Defence (GBAD) system centred around the Lockheed Martin United Kingdom SkyKeeper and the BARAK MX system.

As part of the partnership, Lockheed Martin and IAI will promote their technological and manufacturing expertise in air defence solutions that protect military forces and high value assets from missile threats around the world. This new cooperation is a direct result of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the companies in July 2021 and after a review of relevant business opportunities.

Scott Arnold, Vice President, Integrated Air and Missile Defence, Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, said: “We’re looking forward to further developing our partnership with IAI and working together to deliver a state-of-the-art solution designed to address the critical gap in short and medium-range ground-based air defence.”

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Finnair participates in oneworld SAF purchase agreement

Members of the oneworld® Alliance plan to purchase up to 200 million gallons of sustainable aviation fuel per year from Colorado-based renewable fuels producer Gevo, in the second such joint commitment by the global airline alliance in four months. Delivery of the fuel will commence from 2027, for a five year-term.  

oneworld is the first global airline alliance to jointly commit to purchasing sustainable aviation fuel and the new commitment is the second of its kind. In November 2021, oneworld announced a joint commitment to purchase more than 350 million gallons of blended sustainable aviation fuel from Aemetis for operations at San Francisco and Finnair was among the members in this commitment. 

Finnair has set a long-term target to fly carbon neutral in 2045 and SAF is an important part of the toolkit for reaching this target. In March 2022, Finnair invited its customers to offset their flight emissions with a service that combines Sustainable Aviation Fuel and trusted climate projects. Finnair has flown individual flights with SAF blend already since 2011 and intends to increase the use of SAF in its flight operations.  

“The high price and limited availability of sustainable aviation fuels still present challenges for increasing its usage in commercial aviation, and thus stimulating demand and supply is important to drive down the price of SAF and to increase its availability – underlining the importance of joint commitments like that of oneworld member airlines,” says Eveliina Huurre, SVP Sustainability at Finnair.

Gevo’s sustainable aviation fuel is produced using inedible corn products that are processed to create ethanol that is then converted into sustainable aviation fuel. The sustainable aviation fuel is expected to be produced at three facilities under development in the Midwest of the United States. 

Finnair has earlier partnered with Neste in Finland to increase the use of SAF and hence reduce carbon emissions of flying. 

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Magnetic Trading signs cooperation agreement with ITS

Magnetic Trading, part of Magnetic Group, has announced the signing of a cooperation agreement with ITS, the US-based nose-to-tail supply chain partner within the air transport aftermarket industry.

The two companies have been working together already on an ad-hoc basis thus, the recent cooperation agreement is the natural next step in cooperation, allowing both parties to benefit from exclusive partnership terms.

“Magnetic Group and Magnetic Trading are well-established brands with an extensive customer’s portfolio – and we want to share our resources that will allow improving their service offering for their clients, including those who are using PBH, Line Maintenance and other services. We are proud to take our partnership further and looking forward to closer cooperation,” added Darius Orvidas, Senior Key Account Manager at ITS.
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