AirAsia X confirms order for 55 next-gen Airbus aircraft

AirAsia X confirms order for 55 next-gen Airbus aircraftAirAsia X, the long-haul arm of Asia’s largest low-cost airline, has placed a firm order for 55 new-generation Airbus A330neo aircraft.

The is the largest single order to date for the A330 family confirms AirAsia X’s position as the biggest A330 airline customer worldwide, having now ordered a total of 91 aircraft.

The announcement follows the signing of a memorandum of understanding for 50 A330neo during the Farnborough Air Show in July, plus an additional five aircraft. Deliveries will begin in 2018.

The A330neo will incorporate latest generation Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines, aerodynamic enhancements and new cabin features.

Airbus claims these advances will make the aircraft the most cost-efficient in its size category, with a reduction in fuel consumption of 14% per seat, an increase in non-stop flying range of up to 400 nautical miles and the lowest possible maintenance costs.

AirAsia X co-founder Tony Fernandes said: “This latest deal with Airbus will enable AirAsia X to consolidate its growth rate in 2015-2017 before ramping up deliveries from 2018 onwards.

“The A330 has proven itself to be exactly the right aircraft for our business model, combining low operating costs, long range flying capability and high levels of comfort.

“We are extremely excited about the even greater levels of efficiency that will come with the A330neo, which will play a key role in enabling AirAsia X to maintain its position as the long haul low cost leader.”

Airbus chief operating officer John Leahy said: “This order from AirAsia X is a major endorsement of the A330neo as the most cost-efficient aircraft in its size category.

“With the A330neo in its fleet, AirAsia X will benefit from even lower operating costs as it expands it network and reach, enabling more people to fly further more often than ever before. We look forward to AirAsia X becoming one of the first operators of the latest version of the highly successful A330.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly

Airbus beats Boeing to $14bn Delta order

Airbus beats Boeing to $14bn Delta orderAirbus has secured a major coup for its new A350 aircraft with an order reportedly worth $14 billion from Delta Air Lines following a competition with Boeing.

The deal is split between 25 A350-900s, an all-new model, and 25 updated A330neos.

The aircraft will replace Delta’s Boeing 747s and 767-300ERs starting in 2017 and 2019 respectively.

The Airbus win builds on earlier successes at Delta, including an order in 2013 with a list value of $5.6 billion.

Boeing told Bloomberg:  “This was a long and highly competitive campaign. Boeing competed for the order with the 787-9, but we did not have enough 787 positions available in the time frame that met Delta’s requirement.”

The A350-900 is due to make its commercial debut with Qatar Airways in the coming weeks.

Sourced from Travel Weekly

Airbus files patent for UFO-style flying doughnut

Engineers from Airbus have filed a patent application for UFO-like “flying doughnut” aircraft.

It would mean passengers entering the aircraft through steps leading up to an “access hatch” around the hole in the centre and receive their in-flight meals from trolleys being pushed through curved aisles.

The doughnut-shaped craft aims to increase the legroom for travellers and address the problem of cabin pressure.

The 15-page application, which was filed in the US last month, says: “The present invention proposes an aircraft wherein the structure of delimiting passenger cabin extends over 360 degrees around a space defined outside structure.

“The invention allows structure to be more resistant to loads induced by the cabin pressurisation, while allowing to reduce or even to avoid the need for a sealed bottom, and while allowing to increase the space available for passengers.”

It adds: “Indeed the presence of the space defined outside the structure and surrounded by it inside the aircraft, enables better distribution of pressurisation loads applied to the structure and thus makes this structure more capable of resisting these pressurisation loads.”

The patent application is among a series of unconventional and futuristic plans proposed by Airbus, The Times reported.

It has sought legal protection for an economy-class seat for standing passengers shaped like a bicycle saddle, a virtual reality helmet for delivering in-flight films and music as well as a windowless cockpit.

Airbus says that the design was worthwhile enough to protect with a patent and is among 6,000 ideas that its engineers formulate each year.

But the manufacturer said: “This is not something that’s currently under active development.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly

VLM set to become first European Superjet operator

10 hours ago

Belgian carrier VLM is to become the first European Union operator of the Sukhoi Superjet 100following a deal with Ilyushin Finance to lease two of the regional aircraft.

It has options for a further pair and purchase rights on 10 more. Lease periods on the first two jets, which are subject to a letter of intent, will run for 12 years.

The airline – which is completing a management buy-out from Intro Aviation – will use the Russian-built twinjets to spearhead a return to scheduled services from its Antwerp base starting in April next year.

Since becoming part of Air France-KLM’s Dublin-based CityJet business in 2009, VLM has operated exclusively charter and wet-lease services for a number of European airlines, including CityJet, using a fleet of 12 Fokker 50s.

New VLM chief executive and majority shareholder Arthur White tells Flightglobal the airline “plans to dip our toes” in the scheduled market “with two or three routes”.

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If successful in its applications for traffic rights, it should be flying four Superjets and two Fokker 50s on scheduled routes, he says, adding that VLM hopes announce its new destinations in the coming weeks.

VLM has opted for the long-range version of the Russian-built aircraft, the Superjet 100LR.

White says the airline looked at a “number of types” before committing to the type, includingEmbraer’s E-Jets and the Boeing 737. “The overwhelming advantage the Superjet has in terms of passenger comfort with its wide cabin was a real driver,” he says. “On top of that, the performance of the long-range model, which suits Antwerp’s short runway, is a game-changer for us.”

Ilyushin Finance chief Alexander Rubtsov says the company is “delighted” about the opportunity to place the aircraft in Europe. “We believe the aircraft will not only enable VLM Airlines to exceed its growth plans but will also give Europe a live insight into the excellent capabilities and passenger appeal of the [Superjet].”

Sukhoi has a total of 166 orders for the Superjet – 50 of which have been delivered, Flightglobal’s Ascend Fleets database shows. However, Mexico’s Interjet is so far the only Western customer, with 11 aircraft and orders for nine more.

Sukhoi Civil Aircraft – in which Italy’s Alenia Aermacchi is a shareholder – splits sales responsibilities with Alenia’s Venice-based Superjet International, which is responsible for marketing the aircraft in the western hemisphere.

Sourced from Flight Global

RAF St Athan to be turned into civilian airfield by 2019 under Welsh Government plans

Proposal sparks row as Tory MP claims it would mean demolishing local buildings

MOD RAF St Athan in the Vale of Glamorgan

The Welsh Government plans to turn RAF St Athan into a civilian airfield – but already stands accused by a Tory MP of messing the project up.

The RAF is due to hand over operational control of the airfield to private contractors Serco in December, when it will operate seven days a week from 9am to 5pm.

But Conservative MP David Davies says a letter he has received from a UK Government Minister suggests all is not well at St Athan, which forms part of the St Athan-Cardiff Airport Enterprise Zone.

Gallery: When RAF St Athan celebrated 75  years (1938 – 2013)

On Monday, the Welsh Government issued a statement saying that Serco had been appointed “to meet the exacting demands of the diverse and growing client base operating from St Athan”.

The statement said: “In operating the Airfield Operating Service (AOS), all aspects of running the airfield are included, from the issue of aviation fuel to the provision of fire cover, ensuring the vehicles are serviceable and able to safely execute the transmission of Air Traffic Control instructions with all its constituent parts.”

Some 28 jobs are being created, including a number for ex-RAF personnel.

Economy Minister Edwina Hart said: “We want the Enterprise Zone to be an ongoing success and I am pleased we have been able to respond to the needs of businesses operating on the Park and ensure they have the environment and infrastructure for growth.”

But Mr Davies, who represents Monmouth, released a letter he has received from Defence Minister Anna Soubry, which says: “Welsh Government officials’ intent was that Serco, their appointed contractor, would provide seven day airfield operating services from July 1, full vesting day. However, as Serco was unable to provide sufficient Air Traffic Control personnel by July 1, the RAF is providing additional control services to enable limited seven day airfield operations.”

Ms Soubry goes on to say that an Instrument Landing System bought by the Welsh Government “can only be fully commissioned once a number of houses and buildings are demolished, as they infringe the Instrument Landing System safety footprint”. The airfield will be functional by 2019.

Monmouth Conservative MP Mr Davies said: “The Welsh Government has a lot of explaining to do. I am aware that they have been going round air shows promising companies they will be able to use St Athan virtually 24/7, yet that is far from the case. It seems that one proposed contract fell through because the company supposed to be supplying air traffic controllers wasn’t able to find enough.

“It also seems the Welsh Government has bought some sophisticated landing gear that it won’t be able to use for five years because there are some buildings in the way. I’ve no idea how much this gear cost, but you can bet it was a great deal more than a SatNav system from Halfords.”

A Welsh Government spokeswoman said: “We are working with the Ministry of Defence to develop the commercial potential of St Athan airfield. The long-term intention is for St Athan to operate as a civilian airfield from 2019.”

Sourced from walesonline

Thomson to offer Costa Rica on Dreamliner as part of expanded network

Thomson Airways will offer the only direct flight from Europe to Costa Rica in November 2015 as part of an expanded network.

Other destinations being considered include St Lucia, Antigua, Bonaire and Curacao in the Caribbean as well as Vietnam and Malaysia.

The new destinations are under consideration as the Tui Travel carrier confirmed two further Boeing 787 Dreamliners in addition to 47 previously announced new generation Boeing 737 MAX aircraft by 2020.

The 737 MAX will enhance the customer experience on short and mid-haul routes.  The aircraft is also expected to be around 14% more fuel efficient than the current 737.

A multi-million pound revamp across the existing 737 and 757 fleet this winter aims to improve comfort levels and service and provide a more contemporary onboard environment.

New concepts being planned over the next five years include bringing the holiday experience to life on the aircraft, helping holidaymakers plan their trips from 43,000 feet and seamlessly connecting the crew with overseas holiday teams.

The airline is planning a ‘family booth’ on the new 737s with seating for four to six people situated at the back of the aircraft around a table.

An onboard kids’ club will see a trained member of the crew help parents keep children entertained with arts, crafts and quizzes that relate to the destination.

A member of the resort team with extensive knowledge of the destination will be on board to offer advice and recommendations to holidaymakers.

New content and channels designed specifically for holidaymakers, including a bedtime story channel, bespoke teenage content and destination inspiration channels on long-haul, are planned as part of the in-flight entertainment.

Further planned enhancements include the ability to make room upgrades, advance check-in and resort excursion bookings through the system.

Tui UK and Ireland managing director David Burling said: “Our airline business has traditionally been categorised in the charter sector which is often perceived as the poor relation to scheduled and, in reality, bears little resemblance to the Thomson Airways experience today.

“Our overall goal is to make travel experiences special and, as the flight marks both the start and end of the holiday, we see it as an integral part of the whole holiday experience.

“That is why we want to want to define and lead a new category of flying – the holiday airline category.

“This describes an airline designed for the specific needs of the holidaymaker and fully connected to the holiday experience in the destination.

“We’ll achieve this by continuing to invest in our fleet, in state-of-the-art aircraft like the 787 Dreamliner and 737 MAX, in our on-board technology connecting the flight experience to that in resort and in product and service innovations that are entirely relevant to the holidaymaker both today and tomorrow.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly

Airlines told to replace cockpit kit on Boeing aircraft

Airlines have been ordered to replace or modify the cockpit display units fitted to hundreds of Boeing aircraft.

The US Federal Aviation Administration said tests had indicated that mobile phone and computer signals could cause the screens to go blank.

The affected aircraft are typically fitted with several screens, each of which costs thousands of pounds.

The displays’ manufacturer Honeywell has stressed that the problem has not been experienced in-flight.

“The only known occurrence was during a developmental test conducted on the ground,” a spokesman told the BBC.

“We worked with Boeing and addressed any concerns in 2012 with new display hardware.”

Boeing had previously issued an alert in November 2012 after All Nippon Airways and wi-fi vendor noticed interference caused by the installation of an in-flight internet system on Boeing 777s and 737s.

The ‘phase 3’ display units were found to be susceptible to the same radio frequencies used to transmit data via wi-fi.

The FAA also said it was concerned that the screens could be disrupted by mobile satellite communications, cellular signals from phones, and air surveillance and weather radar.

The regulator noted that the displays were required to provide pilots with information about airspeed, altitude, heading and pitch and roll, and added that the fault could cause a crash.

”We are issuing this airworthiness directive to prevent loss of flight-critical information displayed to the flight crew during a critical phase of flight, such as an approach or take off, which could result in loss of airplane control at an altitude insufficient for recovery, or controlled flight into terrain,” the regulator said.

Boeing said that it had recommended that carriers implement the changes in 2012.

However, the FAA said that it had estimated that a total of 1,326 Boeing 737s and 777s still needed to make the change.

The replacement programme is estimated to cost about $13.8 million to implement.

Ryanair had complained that requiring action on all aircraft, irrespective of the installation or operation of wi-fi systems in the cockpit, was imposing a “high and unnecessary” financial burden on carriers, the FAA said.

Honeywell had suggested that airlines should be forced to install new screens only if wi-fi enabled tablets or other such equipment were used in the cockpit.

However, the FAA rejected these complaints saying it wanted to “eliminate” any risk of interference.

“We do not agree that no problems have occurred on in-service airplanes, since the wi-fi… testing that disclosed this susceptibility was conducted on an in-service airplane fitted with phase 3 display units,” it said.

The FAA has given the airlines involved five years to swap or modify the components.

Sourced from Travel Weekly


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