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Thursday, April 14th, 2022

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90 SpiceJet pilots banned from flying 737 MAX until retrained

90 pilots of Indian low-cost carrier SpiceJet will have to undergo retraining before they are able to continue flying the Boeing 737 MAX jet. The pilots have been barred from flying by the Indian Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) after faults were discovered with the flight simulator’s flight controls at Boeing’s training facility, which was opened in 2020 at Noida, near Delhi.

It was during an inspection by the regulator that it was discovered the ‘stick shaker’ which is a mechanical device which warns pilots of an imminent stall by violently shaking the plane’s control yoke, was not functioning properly. “Boeing has said that they will replace the faulty equipment at the Noida facility but till then, no training can happen for the 737 MAX aircraft,” an official said.

However, as far as Spicejet is concerned the restrictions placed on the 90 pilots will not affect its operating of the 11 737 MAX jets it currently operates as the carrier has approximately 560 available pilots who are still qualified to fly the aircraft. SpiceJet requires around 144 pilots to successfully cover the flight schedule for its fleet of 11 MAX jets.

Avion Express extends cooperation with Sky Cana

Avion Express, a European narrow-body ACMI operator and member of global aviation services group Avia Solutions Group, has announced the continuance of its successful partnership with Sky Cana, a start-up airline headquartered in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

The companies have been in partnership for a few years and now the ACMI airline signed a contract to wet-lease three Airbus A321s and one Airbus A320 aircraft to operate on behalf of the carrier for a one-year period starting from April 2022 until March 2023.

Sky Cana is a Dominican air carrier, using ACMI for its operations. Working with some of the best tourist destinations in the Caribbean, the airline offers transfer, freight, overflight, helicopter, advertising, air ambulance and tour services to locations in the United States of America, the Dominican Republic and Cuba.

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Delta Air Lines posts March quarter operating loss of US$793 million

Delta Air Lines (Delta) has posted its financial results for the March quarter 2022. The company reported an adjusted operating loss of US$793 million excluding a net gain of US$9 million and a pre-tax loss of US$1.2 billion with an adjusted pre-tax loss of US$1.0 billion, excluding a net expense of US$164 million.

Adjusted operating revenue of US$8.2 billion, which excluded third-party refinery sales, was 79% recovered versus March quarter 2019 on capacity that was 83% restored.

Total operating expense was US$10.1 billion an increased US$679 million compared to the March quarter 2019.  

Adjusted for costs primarily from third-party refinery sales, total operating expense of US$9.0 billion decreased US$400 million or 4% in the March quarter 2022 versus the comparable 2019 period.

Delta generated US$1.8 billion of operating cash flow and US$197 million of free cash flow, after investing US$1.6 billion into the business, primarily related to aircraft purchases and modifications.

At the end of the March quarter, the company had US$12.8 billion in liquidity, including cash and cash equivalents, short-term investments and undrawn revolving credit facilities.

Fraport's upward trend in passenger traffic continues in March 2022

Frankfurt Airport (FRA) has welcomed some 2.9 million passengers in March 2022 – an increase of 217.9% compared to the same month last year. The lifting of pandemic-related travel restrictions only gradually started in March 2021. In the reporting month, FRA benefited from increasing travel demand, particularly to holiday destinations inside and outside Europe. Compared to pre-pandemic levels, Frankfurt Airport’s passenger numbers rebounded in March 2022 to more than half of the volume registered in the March 2019 reference month (down 47.4%). During the first quarter of
2022, FRA’s traffic surged by 192.2% year-on-year to about 7.3 million passengers (Q1-2019 comparison: down 50.8%).

FRA’s cargo throughput (airfreight + airmail) decreased by 13.1% year-on-year to 181,214 metric tonnes in the reporting month (March 2019 comparison: down 10.5%). Factors contributing to this decline included China’s ongoing COVID-related lockdowns, as well as reduced airspace capacity following airspace closures due to the war
in Ukraine. In contrast, aircraft movements in March 2022 climbed by 97.0% year-on-year to 26,941 takeo-ffs and landings at FRA. Accumulated maximum take-off weights (MTOWs) also grew by 56.4% year-on-year to about 1.8 million metric tonnes.

The airports in Fraport’s international portfolio also largely sustained their rebound in March 2022. Most of the Fraport Group airports achieved significant traffic gains in the reporting month, with some even recording growth rates of more than 100% year-on-year – albeit compared to strongly reduced traffic levels in March 2021.

Ljubljana Airport (LJU) in Slovenia welcomed 50,928 passengers in March 2022. At the Brazilian airports of Fortaleza (FOR) and Porto Alegre (POA), combined traffic rose to 951,474 passengers. Lima Airport (LIM) in Peru registered about 1.4 million passengers in the reporting month. At Fraport’s 14 Greek regional airports, total traffic grew to 550,155 passengers. At the Twin Star airports of Burgas (BOJ) and Varna (VAR) on the Bulgarian Riviera, traffic increased to a total of 54,999 passengers. Traffic also advanced at Antalya Airport (AYT) on the Turkish Mediterranean coast, with 832,512 passengers served in March 2022.

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Elbit Systems UK JV introduces sustainable aviation pathfinder for Ministry of Defence

Elbit Systems UK and KBR Inc's joint venture, Affinity Flying Training Services (Affinity), has embarked on a series of battery-powered flight tests for the UK Ministry of Defence to assess the feasibility of environmentally friendly alternatives to current military aircraft.

The concept of trialling zero emissions aircraft and the subsequent pathfinder, was brought to the Ministry of Defence by Elbit Systems UK through its joint venture with KBR Inc, Affinity. The introduction of this pathfinder demonstrates the company's commitment to providing innovative solutions for the UK Armed Forces and addressing the needs of the future.

In line with the Ministry of Defence's 'green' transformation, the flights aim to help the Royal Air Force (RAF) assess the technology of electric aircraft, determine its effectiveness as an impactful pilot training capability and realise the net-zero ambitions of the service's ASTRA initiative.

The flights used a fully certified two-seater pilot training aircraft, the Velis Electro. Flight and safety assurances were developed during the summer of 2021, which was organised and delivered by the team from Elbit Systems UK, through Affinity, in partnership with the Civil Aviation Authority.

The pathfinder programme was split into three phases. As part of Phase 1 in December 2021, test flights took off from Damyn's Hall, Essex, and continued into January 2022. Phase 2 commenced in March 2022, and saw the aircraft join Affinity's existing fleet at RAF Cranwell, where up to twenty additional pilots will fly the eco-friendly aircraft. Finally, Phase 3 of the flight trials will welcome senior government officials and observers.

Airbus completes wind-tunnel testing of eXtra Performance Wing demonstrator

Airbus has completed wind-tunnel testing of its eXtra Performance Wing demonstrator in its quest to quickly test and accelerate new technologies that will decarbonise the aviation industry.

The eXtra Performance Wing project, launched last September, takes inspiration from nature to improve wing aerodynamics and performance that is intended to be compatible with any future aircraft configuration and propulsion system to reduce CO₂ emissions.

“The scaled demonstrator will integrate and fly breakthrough wing technologies using a remote-controlled Cessna Citation VII business jet platform in representative flight conditions,” explained Oliver Family, Head of eXtra Performance Wing UK.

“The partly 3D-printed wind-tunnel model - expertly built by the aerodynamics team at Airbus’ low-speed, wind-tunnel facility in Bristol - is a scaled-down version of the Cessna jet, incorporating the lightweight, long-span design of the eXtra Performance Wing that will provide the emissions benefits we are striving for.”

Initially introduced at a smaller scale through another Airbus project, AlbatrossONE, which tested semi-aeroelastic hinged wings that - like the seabird - unlocked during flight when experiencing wind gusts or turbulence, the eXtra Performance Wing will also examine onboard technologies, like gust sensors, pop-up spoilers and multifunctional trailing edges, to enable the active control of the wing.

The Airbus low-speed wind tunnel at Filton, near Bristol, replicates conditions similar to aircraft take-off and landing wind speeds but is also used by external organisations testing F1 cars, ship radar systems, Urban Air Mobility vehicles as well as more conventional aircraft.

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VINCI Airports delivers new phase of modernisation works at Belgrade Airport

VINCI Airports has delivered a new phase of modernisation works at Belgrade Airport, that aim to increase the airport’s efficiency and environmental performance, in accordance with its commitment towards its Grantor, the Serbian public authorities.

The airport’s new pier (Pier C) is now open for service. With a surface area of 13.600 m², it provides 13 additional boarding gates, thus bringing to 19 the total amount of gates available on the airport’s terminal C. The new area is now aligned with VINCI Airports’ identity in terms signage, colour palettes, architectural and interior design. Other improvements introduced for the first time at the airport include an open space at boarding area and travellators that ease and speed up passenger flow.

Work on the first phase of the apron C extension is completed. It adds 27,000 m² of apron capacity and opens four new positions for aircraft parking, including one for the wide-body aircraft. Construction of the airport’s solar plant is completed. The plant covers an area of 15.077 m² and accommodates 3.000 photovoltaic panels. Once put in production, it will provide Belgrade Airport with 1.200.000 kWh of solar energy per year, sustaining VINCI Airports’ ambition to reach net-zero emission on all its network by 2050.

After joining VINCI Airports’ network in 2018, Belgrade airport has received in 2021 its first Airport Carbon Accreditation certificate, as well as its first airport service quality (ASQ) award, delivered by ACI. Building on these achievements, VINCI Airports will fully complete the modernisation works in 2023. It will include the extension passenger terminal, additional boarding bridges and gates, a new inserted runway and the complete renovation of the existing runways.

Reliance Aircraft International acquires Suncoast Landing Systems

Reliance Aircraft International (Austin, TX) has released that it acquired Suncoast Landing Systems Corp. (Medley, FL) and formed Sundcoast Landing Systems LLC.

Established in 2005, Suncoast has capabilities to overhaul and repair commercial landing gear. The management team of Victor Ortega and Larry Wernath will continue to run the day-to-day operations. “We are excited to partner with the Suncoast team to grow and support both our companies existing customer base.”, said Terry Hix, President and Co-founder of Reliance Aircraft International. “Our immediate goal is to synchronise our years of experience and vast resources with the Suncoast management to assist with business development and operational support”.
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