A new loading bay so wings for Airbus aircraft can still be loaded onto cargo planes in strong winds have been backed by Flintshire council.
Airbus said the covered bay at Broughton would help workers loading cargo aircraft to take wings to the firm’s plants in France and Germany.
The main door for the cargo deck on the A300-600ST Beluga Super Transporter cannot be opened in high winds.
Five Beluga deliver wings assembled at Broughton for the A320, A330 and A350s.
‘At the mercy’
As well as delivering the wings to the final assembly lines in Toulouse and Hamburg, they also ferry components between Broughton and Airbus sites at Nantes and Saint-Nazaire in France, Bremen in Germany and Getafe in Spain.
Robert Gage, from Airbus UK, said: “We are often at the mercy of the weather in the UK, so this new building will provide a sheltered loading bay which will mean we won’t always need to wait for the wind to drop before we can open the Beluga’s main door.
“With a strong and growing order book, this further investment in the Broughton site will help reduce weather-related down-time for our key transport link and ensure we meet our delivery commitments.”
Sourced by BBC News Wales
By Jens Flottau
Airbus, which is under increasing pressure to prove the viability of its A380 production rates, yesterday conceded that it still needs to fill a “single-digit number” of production slots for the type in 2015.
Speaking during EADS’s first-quarter results conference call, CFO Harald Wilhelm—who also holds the same role at Airbus—stressed that it is a high priority to fill the remaining slots as quickly as possible.
Demand for the A380 has been declining for some time. The manufacturer also has reduced production this year from 30 aircraft to 25, to incorporate the newly designed wing rib-feet and spars that will become standard for new deliveries from 2014, a decision that has resulted in a significant inventory build-up and produced a €3.2 billion ($4.1 billion) negative free cash flow in the first quarter.
Should Airbus be forced to reduce the production rate in 2015, the program would almost certainly miss the goal to break-even that year. But Wilhelm remains “cautious about the further potential for break-even below 30.”
Airbus has firm orders for 262 A380s, 101 of which have been delivered. With a production rate of 30 aircraft a year, the backlog would be sufficient to fill more than five years of production.
Demand for Airbus’s A350, meanwhile, is surging, says Wilhelm. “The level of demand we see recently would make a very clear business case for an accelerated ramp-up of production,” says the CFO, although he cautioned that this would mean taking on additional risk. The A350 “remains a tough ride in terms of ramp-up of the other flight-test aircraft and production,” Wilhelm notes.
Wilhelm also reiterated Airbus’s official comment that the A350’s first flight will occur “in the summer,” adding that “for quite a number of months we have seen no further drift” in the schedule.
Airbus is understood to be planning to move MSN001 to the flight-testing department by the end of this week, which could lead to a first flight in early June, provided there are no last-minute technical issues to resolve.
Sourced by Aviation Week
By Aaron Karp
Boeing delivered a new 787 to All Nippon Airways (ANA) Tuesday, the first 787 delivery to occur since deliveries were suspended in January when FAA grounded the Dreamliner.
ANA, the 787 launch customer, already had 17 787s in its fleet. It plans to restart commercial Dreamliner flights June 1.
Boeing VP-marketing Randy Tinseth said on his blog that 787 deliveries are officially “back underway.” He added, “The health of our 787 factories in Everett [Wash.] and North Charleston [S.C.] has never been better or more efficient. And despite the disruption in deliveries over the past several months, we still expect to deliver all the 787s we originally planned to by the end of the year.”
An ANA 787—registration number JA804A—made an emergency landing at Takamatsu Airport Jan. 16 after its main lithium ion battery failed and overheated, sending a burning smell throughout the aircraft. The worldwide Dreamliner fleet was grounded several hours later.
Sourced by ATW Online
Two airline passenger groups in the US have challenged the safety of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
They are demanding the US government limit flights on the new widebody jets until the safety of its lithium-ion batteries is proven.
FlyersRights.org and the Aviation Consumer Action Project have petitioned the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) for a two-hour limit from the nearest airport on 787 flights.
The FAA certified the Boeing 787 to fly up to three hours from the nearest airport in 2011, based on assurances from Boeing that the plane was safe. But the FAA grounded the entire 787 fleet in January 2013 after a battery fire on one 787 and smoke on another.
“Our proposed actions are both urgent and necessary,” said attorney Paul Hudson, leader of both organisations and a prominent aviation-safety advocate for 25 years.
“The 787 lithium ion batteries have a long history of overheating, catching fire, even exploding. This could easily bring down an airliner, especially if it was not within easy reach of an airport for an emergency landing.”
The advocacy groups’ formal petition is backed up by testimony from a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor, a prominent battery-safety consultant, and former DOT Inspector General Mary Schiavo.
Limiting the 787 to flights within two hours of the nearest airport would prohibit trans-Pacific flights and flights over the North Pole, but flights between the US and Europe and flights over land would not be affected.
Although US investigators still don’t know what caused the batteries to overheat, the FAA has approved a proposed Boeing fix that the manufacturer claims would stop any fires that started.
United Airlines, the only US carrier with 787s in its fleet, is scheduled to resume 787 flights on May 20.
Sourced from Travelmole.
Painting of the first A350 XWB “MSN001” was today fully completed as it emerged in its Airbus livery out from the paintshop in Toulouse. This latest milestone shows that MSN001 is progressing well on its route to first flight.
The aircraft painting was achieved in less than seven days and follows the recent completion of MSN001’s flight-test-instrumentation (FTI) verification. Last month the aircraft underwent its engines installation, and passed a subsequent intensive phase of ground vibration tests. MSN001 will soon start the final tests before its maiden flight this summer.
Airbus, Air Canada and BioFuelNet Canada, hosted by Montreal’s McGill University, have formed a partnership to assess Canadian solutions for the production of sustainable alternative jet fuels with the long term goal to supply Air Canada. The first assessment is expected by the end of 2013. The partnership was announced today, at the Air Transport Action Group (ATAG) Aviation and Environment workshop in Montreal.
The partnership will provide a preliminary study of the different processes and raw materials available for alternative fuel production, exploring innovative new pathways and the overall sustainability of solutions.
“Air Canada has already operated two flights with biofuel and on each occasion we substantially reduced our emissions. We look forward to participating in this project to encourage the development of a source of alternative fuel in Canada. New technologies, such as alternative fuels, are one of the ways our industry plans to reduce its emissions to meet its target of carbon-neutral growth for 2020 and beyond,” said Paul Whitty, Director of Fuel Purchasing and Supply at Air Canada and Chair of the Air Canada Alternative Fuels Working Group.
Dr. Donald Smith, President of BioFuelNet and McGill University Professor said:
“Aviation biofuels are one of the most promising ways to reduce the aviation industry’s carbon footprint, making air travel more environmentally-friendly. Airbus is a key player in the field, dedicated to finding the most sustainable fuel sources for the future of air travel. This relationship with Airbus is of great importance to BioFuelNet Canada.”
“Any new alternative fuel has to work on existing and future aircraft without modification while meeting certification requirements. Airbus supports this project to ensure that the solutions are sustainable, affordable and technically suitable for all aircraft”, said Frédéric Eychenne, Airbus New Energies Programme Manager.
In June 2012, Airbus and Air Canada performed North America’s first “Perfect Flight” over international borders, cutting CO2 emissions by more than 40 percent compared to a regular flight. The commercial flight with passengers from Toronto, Canada to Mexico City, combined modern aircraft technology, sustainable alternative fuels, streamlined Air Traffic Management and best practice operations such as single-engine taxiing.
Airbus supports the certification and development of commercial quantities of sustainable alternative fuels for aviation through promoting innovative regional projects world-wide.
Two more relatively young Boeing 737NGs arrived at a Wales-based part-out shop during the past weekend, evidently at the end of their service life, Aviation Week’s Fleets analysts report.
The aircraft, each just a shade under 15 years old, are among only 30 NG-model 737s to have retired so far. Many of those retired aircraft left the fleet when Malev of Hungary folded in February of 2012 and its fleet was liquidated.
The aircraft, which are believed to have gone to ECube Solutions, an “end-of-life” specialist based at the former RAF maintenance base at St. Athan, near Cardiff, were in service with JetLite until recently.
JetLite is a low-cost subsidiary of Jet Airways, which operates a mix of 737-700s, -800s and -900s.
The two JetLite aircraft, serial numbers 29043 and 29044, each have about 40,000 hr. and 30,000 cycles.
The aircraft are just the latest in a string of younger aircraft leaving active service early, a phenomenon driven by high demand for certain key parts—especially CFM International CFM56 engine components—and economic trends encouraging airlines to evaluate more upgauging.
As the pace of early retirements began to pick up in 2011, airline observers and particularly lessors began to consider whether the fundamental economic life assumptions on aircraft need to be rethought.
Boeing last month released a study contending that the retirements seen in recent years are “a blip,” and that while Airbus A320 and Boeing 737NG trends have shown up in the average retirement age, each aircraft type is trending like its predecessors’ 25-year average.
“Survival curves for Next Generation 737s and A320s are behaving like those of the previous generation,” Boeing says. “Although the Next Generation 737s and the A320s are still quite young fleets, their behavior, including a few retirements, are well within historical norms.”
Sourced by Aviation Week
By Tony Osborne
AirTanker, the company operating the U.K. Royal Air Force’s (RAF) fleet of tanker-transport aircraft, has begun looking into ways to begin generating third-party revenue.
Company leaders hope to capitalize on Europe’s chronic shortage of tanker aircraft by offering flying hours and capacity using their spare Airbus A330-200 Voyager tanker transports, potentially leasing them to other countries in military configuration when they are not required by the RAF.
“We are moving from a delivery phase into an operational one,” says CEO Phil Blundell. “And now we are looking at how we can deliver the best use out of the fleet of aircraft we have.”
As part of the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) program, AirTanker is buying 14 Voyagers to replace the RAF’s elderly Vickers VC-10 and Lockheed TriStar tanker transports. During peacetime operations, though, not all the Voyagers will be required. Just nine of the aircraft will comprise the core fleet. The other five could be surged in the event of conflict.
During peacetime, the military equipment could be removed from the five spares, and they could be leased to charter airlines. However, AirTanker believes it would be better value to wet-lease them to other partner nations in a military configuration.
“The Defense Ministry has the benefit of these aircraft without having to pay for them to sit on the tarmac,” Blundell says. “They can be brought in to support operations at any time, if additional capacity beyond that of the core fleet is required, so it is capability without the fixed cost.”
It can take about a week to remove all the military equipment from the Voyagers, such as radio systems and refueling pods, and “blank” off the parts of the aircraft where that equipment had been connected. Therefore, AirTanker would prefer to keep the aircraft in the military configuration to reduce costs.
Other opportunities to raise third-party revenue include performing safety, maintenance and service checks on other operators’ A330s at RAF Brize Norton, England. AirTanker is working to gain full C check status by the second quarter of 2014.
Separately, the Defense Ministry is exploring opportunities to share flight hours of the nine-aircraft core Voyager fleet with other European Union and NATO member nations. Under the plan, being promoted by the European Defense Agency (EDA), the RAF Voyager aircraft would be offered through NATO’s Movement Coordination Center Europe, which coordinates the usage of such aviation assets. Borrowed assets are paid for as one C-130 Equivalent Flight Hour, so if Country A lends a tanker to Country B for 1 hr., then Country B owes Country A three C-130 flight hours. Such pooling and sharing would benefit the U.K. by reducing the fixed costs of the fleet, AirTanker says.
“The U.K., [Defense Ministry] and the RAF have the capability through Voyager to deliver a significant part of the solution to Europe’s air-to-air-refueling and transport requirements and to promote U.K. defense capability and expertise, should they wish to take it,” Blundell says. “The groundwork has been done by the EDA. There is now a clear policy in place, plus—critically—the political will to deliver it. At the same time, recognition of current gaps in capability as demonstrated in Mali, and the U.S. shift in strategic focus toward Asia and the Far East, add impetus to the program.”
Challenges remain, however. AirTanker’s Voyagers have not yet refueled any RAF front-line combat aircraft. Clearances for the tanker to dispense fuel remain unsigned by the U.K. Military Aviation Authority (MAA). AirTanker said the clearances were imminent in January and continues to say they are imminent now.
Tanker training for front-line fast-jet aircrews could begin within days of receiving the MAA documentation, but until that is done, the RAF must continue to nurse the VC-10s and TriStars into the air for refueling missions. The RAF’s fleet of Panavia Tornado GR4s would be the first to benefit from new tankers, as they have been cleared to refuel from the Voyager, following the completion of “hundreds” of prods by crews from an RAF test unit. Typhoon clearances are expected to follow, with other types in the inventory after that. But it is not clear, in the event of pooling and sharing, how quickly the clearances would be given for other NATO types to refuel from Voyager or who would pay for them.
In a deployment of RAF Eurofighter Typhoons to Malaysia for a military exercise and participation in the Langkawi International Maritime & Aerospace Exhibition 2013 in March, the fighters were supported by a pair of Italian air force Boeing KC-767s. The NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency gave the clearances to refuel from those aircraft because Italian Eurofighters have already worked up the capability. Commanders did not want to rely on the VC-10s or TriStars in case they became unserviceable during the trip and delayed the inbound or outbound legs of the deployment.
Because of the tanker shortage experienced by the French air force during the Mali campaign, the French and Italian governments hurried through a clearance program so that Rafales and Mirage 2000s could be refueled by KC-767s. The clearances were given after just a handful of sorties.
Meanwhile, AirTanker has also embarked on an in-house program to update the Voyager’s defensive aids. Before the first aircraft was delivered, the British press reported that the Voyagers would not be able to fly into hostile airspace as they lack the right number of defensive aids. Each is fitted with two infrared countermeasure devices, which were deemed sufficient to handle threats in the Afghan theater when the aircraft were ordered. But changes in the threat picture have demanded that the Voyager be fitted with three systems.
Under the £20 million ($31 million) program formalized in March, the aircraft are being fitted with a third countermeasure, which could potentially allow it to operate directly from the U.K. into Afghanistan to support the military airbridge and next year’s withdrawal.
AirTanker now has a fleet of four Voyagers: three multirole tanker transports and one A330 that will be converted to a tanker later. The fifth and sixth aircraft are also scheduled to be delivered this year.
Sourced by Aviation Week
By Kathryn Williams
Thomas Merlin Maddock is a retired engineer who lives in the same Valleys house as pit carpenter Christopher Carlyon did in 1904.
They are separated by a century but Mr Maddock is about to embark on the revival of Mr Carlyon’s ambitious aviation ambition to build a biplane.
Just months after the Wright brothers took to the air, the 17-year-old pioneer started building his own version in a shed he had built 400ft up a mountain near Bridgend called Coedcae.
The plan – to glide across the Garw Valley at its narrowest point of about half a mile.
He fitted an engine and tested it on the slopes below his workshed but after several practice flights, it and the shed were destroyed by a violent storm in 1910 before it could launch for a fully fledged flight.
Demoralised and then suffering with depression following time in the Army fighting in France, Mr Carlyon never returned to the project.
The first Mr Maddock learnt of this wannabe aviator was when his father attended the 59 year old’s funeral in 1947.
Now the 78-year-old former harp maker, who happens to live in the same property as a young Mr Carlyon on Meadow Street, Pontycymmer, has picked up the baton – spending this last decade researching Mr Carlyon’s plans.
He believes Mr Carlyon was inspired to build the aircraft after reading about Orville and Wilbur Wright in the local working men’s institute and studying pictures of their aircraft
He said yesterday: “I’d made a replica of Concorde and I was looking at it and thought, ‘This is the newest plane what is the oldest?’
“But there was a lack of information on Carylon – nothing in the local papers, books, one day by chance I found the address of his son and visited him.
“He showed me a wooden box full of glass slides, which he was reluctant to lend to me at first, but he did.
“The 20 slides showed how he built the plane so it’s a good job they were kept in the dark.
“I then built a prototype with a wingspan of 12 inches, 24 inches and now eight feet.”
Mr Maddock is now hoping to build a full-size replica of the plane, with a 22ft wingspan, at his workshop in Pontycymer, but he has to wait for his shoulder to heal following an accident as a result of his Parkinson’s, which occurred in March. He believes the Pontycymer pioneer’s frame was made from Sitka spruce and ash, with a thin muslin cloth covering the wings.
Mr Maddock added: “I’m very sincere in undertaking this project. I can make a plane that can fly, but that would mean modifying his plans. But I’m going to stick to Carlyon’s plans and see if what he designed can fly.”
But Mr Maddock will not be attempting to fly his craft over the Garw Valley.
He explained: “Carylon picked the most exposed part of south Wales. He could’ve been killed so maybe that storm killed him – he’d have hit a vortex and there’d be no way in hell he’d have known what he was doing.
“I’ve already found two pilots who will attempt to fly it once I’ve built it, but we’ll tow it along on the ground and if it lifts eight or 10 feet then we’ll have proved him right.”
Sourced by Wales Online