By David Sim
The world’s longest aircraft was unveiled today in an enormous old airship hangar in Bedfordshire. The Airlander hybrid airship is 300ft (91m) long, 113ft wide and 85ft high, and is filled with 1,340,000 cubic feet (38,000 cubic metres) of helium. It can carry a payload of 10,000kg.
Described as ‘part plane, part airship and part helicopter’, the Airlander’s cambered shape works like an aeroplane’s wing, providing up to 40% of the vehicle’s lift.
The Airlander was originally developed for the US military before the project was cancelled due to budget cuts. The ship was designed by Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV), whose project is being funded by a government grant as well as private finance from individuals including Bruce Dickinson, the lead singer of the band Iron Maiden. He likened the craft to Thunderbird 2, telling Radio 4′s Today programme: “It can reach about 100mph and stay airborne for about three-and-a-half weeks.”
The first British flight is planned for later this year. HAV is planning an even larger craft, capable of transporting 50,000kg of freight. The company plans to make up to 1,000 of these leviathans of the sky.
The company had an order book worth €686.7 billion at the end of the year, up from €566.5 billion a year earlier.
Net profits rose to €1.5 billion in 2013 from €1.2 billion.
Airbus group chief executive Tom Enders said: “Order intake was particularly strong for our Airbus commercial aircraft and provides a solid platform for the future growth of our group. Strong demand allows us now to increase the single-aisle production rate.”
Deliveries this year should be about the same level as in 2013, including the first long range A350 XWB.
Gross commercial aircraft orders should be above the level of deliveries, the company said.
Sourced from Travel Weekly
Press Release by Airbus
Airbus confirms Kuwait Airways, the National airline of Kuwait, has ordered 25 aircraft including ten A350-900 and 15 A320neo Family aircraft as part of the airlines’ fleet renewal strategy. Kuwait Airways already operates three A320, three A310, five A300 and four A340 Family aircraft.
“We are pleased to sign this deal with Airbus at this juncture of our sixty years journey” said Rasha Al Roumi, Kuwait Airways Chairperson. “The A350-900 will strengthen our long haul route development whilst the A320neo will further boost our regional route network. These aircraft are an essential part of our ambitious growth plans.”
“We are proud that Kuwait Airways chose our newest, most efficient aircraft families to build its future,” said John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer, Customers. “By choosing the A320neo and A350 XWB, Kuwait Airways will offer its passengers the industry’s best-in-class cabin experience on both long and short haul routes, flying them comfortably in the widest seats in all classes.”
The A320neo is offered as an option for the A320 Family and incorporates new more efficient engines and large “Sharklet” wing tip devices, which together will deliver up to 15 percent in fuel savings. It is as well the fastest selling commercial airliner ever.
The A350 XWB (Xtra Wide-Body) is an all-new mid-size long range product line comprising three versions. The new Family, whose fuselage cross-section is optimized to accommodate Airbus’ 18-inch economy seat-width for long range passenger comfort, will also bring a 25 percent step change in efficiency compared with existing aircraft in this size category.
By Puneet Pasl Singh,
You would think that when an aeroplane maker decided to put its latest aircraft on public display for the first time at an airshow, it would do so with a passenger cabin that is decked to impress.
After all, these events not only attract prospective customers but also a large number of future passengers – and not to mention the media that cover the sector.
However, Airbus has taken a different approach with the A350 – its latest extra wide-bodied plane – which it is showcasing for the first time at the Singapore Airshow.
The plane on display is a test aircraft with no cabin fittings, just a few seats for the test crew and lots of machines and monitoring equipment on board.
And, according to the firm, it’s a move that has paid off.
“It is very rare that people get a chance to see what goes behind the scenes to get a plane ready to enter commercial service,” says Simon Azar, marketing manager of twin-aisle planes at Airbus.
“Bringing a test aircraft here has given them that opportunity. Everyone who has entered the plane has been astonished and impressed by what they have seen.”
And if you are a sucker for technology, which most people visiting such shows generally are, there is a lot to be impressed with.
The A350 aircraft on display is used to test the plane’s performance during various flying conditions.
There is a section where the test flight engineer monitors a slew of data on multiple screens to access its reaction to different situations.
Another desk monitors the performance of the engine during these flights.
Right in the middle of the plane there are huge box fittings called the load benches.
They are used to put extra load on the batteries – to simulate the levels generated in a commercial plane with in-flight entertainment systems, lights and other on-board gadgets being used – to gauge how the batteries would handle the load during a real flight.
And then there is the seemingly unending maze of wires.
In fact, if stretched out in a single straight line, the cables used to collect data on the test plane can cover a distance of nearly 400km.
The A350 is set to enter commercial service in latter half of this year and the firm already has orders for more than 800 planes.
The airline says that displaying the test aircraft is also a way to show customers, both those who have ordered the plane and those who may potentially do so in the future, that it is on track to meet its commitments.
“It is an opportunity to show that we are progressing well with the testing and are on course to deliver the planes on time,” says Mr Azar.
The first delivery of the firm’s previous big launch, the A380, was delayed by nearly 18 months.
Analysts say that assuring customers that it can meet its delivery schedules is key for any aeroplane maker.
“When airlines order new planes, delivery schedules are a big factor,” says Shivaji Das, an aviation analyst with consulting firm Frost & Sullivan.
“And when it involves a plane that is yet to enter commercial service, it is very important for manufacturers to assure perspective buyers that it is on course to meet its targets.
“Airshows are the best place to show that to multiple buyers at the same time,” he adds.
Airbus’s rival Boeing had also previously displayed a 787 Dreamliner test aircraft at the Singapore Airshow.
The A350 is seen as a direct competitor to Boeing’s Dreamliner and both the firms are eyeing the Asia-Pacific market.
“Asia-Pacific is the fastest growing market for aeroplanes and one of the most important ones for the A350,” says Mr Azar.
In fact, 30% of orders for the A350 so far have come from customers based in the region.
It also accounts for a substantial share of orders for the rival Dreamliner, and Boeing is displaying one of the planes operated by Qatar Airways at the event.
Both the firms have forecast that demand for planes in the region will continue to grow over the next two decades.
“It is pretty clear that Asia-Pacific is the key battleground for the Airbus and Boeing rivalry,” says Mr Das.
“Whoever wins this front is likely to emerge as the overall winner.”
It’s not a surprise then that Airbus is using the A350 test aircraft to try to reassure potential buyers that it can meet their growing demand – and more importantly do so within the promised time period.
Sourced by BBC News
By Zoe Conway,
Two top Liberal Democrat donors have been questioned in connection with an investigation into allegations of bribery at Rolls-Royce.
Sudhir Choudhrie and his son Bhanu were arrested on Wednesday as part of an investigation into allegations of bribery in Indonesia and China.
The Choudhrie family and their businesses have donated more than £1.5m to the Liberal Democrats since 2004.
The men, who have been bailed without conditions, deny the allegations.
They were arrested as part of the serious fraud office’s investigation into allegations of bribery in Asia by Rolls-Royce, which makes engines for military and commercial jets and ships
The Liberal Democrats confirmed they are aware of the SFO’s investigation but say that whilst it is ongoing they cannot comment.
The Choudhrie family businesses, C&C Alpha Group, C&C Business Solutions & Alpha Healthcare, have donated more than £1.3m over the last 10 years.
This included donations in 2010, the general election year, totalling £415,000, which accounted for 8.5% of all the donations the Liberal Democrats received that year.
Sudhir Choudhrie and Bhuna Choudhrie have personally given £185,000 to the party since 2004.
Sudhir Choudhrie, 65, who is originally from India, lives in London and is reported to have arrived in the UK 10 years ago.
Home Secretary Theresa May presented him with a lifetime achievement award at the Asian Business awards in March last year.
In an interview after the ceremony, he said the secret of his success was ”hard work and nothing else but hard work”.
The family’s portfolio of companies include businesses that specialise in providing services for the elderly and mentally ill.
The parent company of Alpha Hospitals Ltd is Harberry Investments which is registered in the British Virgin Islands, a tax haven.
Sourced by BBC News
By Jeremy Torr,
Software goliath Microsoft is eying the commercial aviation software business as a “really important market,” according to Matt Muta, the global managing director of the company’s Hospitality & Travel unit.
Aviation software “will become a tremendous focus for us,” Muta told ATW at the Singapore Airshow. Microsoft, which has never exhibited at an air show prior to this week in Singapore, is pushing its “inflight engagement” product line for the first time to aircraft manufacturers and airlines.
Keen to underline the difference between inflight entertainment (IFE) and its new offering, Microsoft cites Delta Air Lines flight attendants using its product on mobile phones and tablets. The flight attendants “can take orders, report faults, engage using passenger details and even take credit card payments using a standard device—iOS, Android, Windows, a Bluetooth device in their pocket,” Muta said.
Microsoft has used the Singapore Airshow as a way of testing the water for its offerings, along with developers such as Avenade, which developed the Delta system. But the competition for inflight software systems will be intense as firms such as Honeywell and Panasonic vie for business. Muta argued that Microsoft’s expertise in building consumer software gives it an advantage.
“We are looking at a radical change in what airlines will be able to offer,” he said.
Sourced by ATW Online
An AAIB report on an April 2012 emergency involving a Virgin Atlantic Airways Airbus A330-300 (G-VSXY) showed that smoke warning from the cargo hold were spurious.
The aircraft was operating a flight from London Gatwick Airport to Orlando-McCoy International Airport, USA with 13 crew members and 304 passengers on board. Early in the flight the crew received a series of smoke warnings from the aft cargo hold and the commander elected to return to London Gatwick. The crew carried out the appropriate emergency drills, including the discharge of the fire extinguishers in the aft cargo hold, but the smoke warnings continued. The aircraft landed safely, the crew brought it to a halt on the runway and endeavoured to establish the extent of any fire. This produced conflicting evidence and, with smoke warnings continuing, the commander ordered an emergency evacuation.
The passengers all left the aircraft within 90 seconds but two injuries, classed as serious, were incurred. Subsequent examination of the aircraft and its systems showed that the smoke warnings had been spurious.
The investigation identified that injuries were sustained during the evacuation of the aircraft. The evacuation was initiated based on the commander’s assessment of the available sources of information, including the repetitive and intermittent nature of the aft cargo smoke warnings.
The investigation identified the following causal factor for the intermittent cargo smoke warnings: i) A latent fault on the T1 thermistor channel of smoke detector 10WH, in combination with a CAN Bus fault and possible high levels of humidity in the cargo compartment due to the carriage of perishable goods, provided circumstances sufficient to generate multiple spurious aft cargo compartment smoke warnings.
The investigation identified the following contributory factors for the intermittent cargo smoke warnings: (i) The thermal channel fault in 10WH was not detected prior to the event by the internal smoke detector temperature monitoring. (ii) The proximity of the fire extinguisher nozzles to the smoke detectors.
Sourced from Aviation Safety Network
The 787-9 is larger than the 787-8 that Norwegian currently operates on its long-haul routes. The aircraft are due to enter service in 2017 and 2018.
Norwegian currently has three 787-8 Dreamliners in its fleet, with an additional five on order.
The carrier also has two 787-9s due for delivery in the first quarter of 2016.
The 787-9 can carry 20% more passengers than the 787-8 and offers 8% lower fuel consumption.
The agreement came as Norwegian gained an air operators certificate from Irish authorities to enable its long-haul operations to be relocated to Dublin through a subsidiary, Norwegian Air International.
“Norwegian has established its long-haul company in Dublin for several reasons. The main reason is access to future traffic rights to and from the EU. Norwegian has more than 260 aircraft on order and the route network will expand rapidly in the years to come,” the airline said.
The move comes as Norwegian awaits US approval to start long-haul transatlantic routes, including three planned services from Gatwick.
Commenting on the order for additional aircraft Norwegian’s chief executive Bjørn Kjos said: “In order to run a competitive long-haul operation, we are dependent on brand new, cost-efficient aircraft.
“I´m very satisfied to have secured an additional four 787-9 Dreamliners. This is a great airplane with high passenger comfort, long range and low fuel burn.”
Sourced from Travel Weekly
By Jonathan Beale,
The RAF has “grounded” its fleet of military Voyager transport planes following, what the Ministry of Defence calls an “in-flight issue” .
The BBC has been told a Voyager carrying British troops back to Afghanistan dropped a few thousand feet while in Turkish airspace.
As a precaution the pilot diverted the plane to Incirlik – a US military base in southern Turkey.
About 200 military personnel were on board.
A few passengers suffered minor injuries when the plane suddenly lost altitude last Sunday.
The Voyager only came into service with the RAF last year.
A total of 14 of the planes are being bought for military use under a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) contract that is costing more than £10bn.
The MoD has replaced the RAF’s VC-10 and Tristar planes both as a transport plane, and as an air-to-air refuelling tanker.
The Voyager is a modified Airbus A330, and is now the largest aircraft in service with the RAF.
Only those Voyagers fitted with military Defensive Aid Suites or air-to-air refuelling have been affected.
So far the MoD has not given a figure of the number of planes affected, but A330s without the military fit are still being used.
An MoD spokesman said flights would resume as soon as possible, but only “when we are confident it is safe to do so”.
It is understood that there are now some delays in flying military personnel to and from Afghanistan.
Those troops returning to the UK for rest and recuperation will be given priority.
Sourced by BBC News