50 new jobs at Bridgend aerospace firm TBD Owen Holland

Library image of Qatar Airways  plane

The firm supplies equipment to firms including Qatar Airways

A firm which provides support and equipment to the aerospace and defence sectors is expanding with the creation of 50 new jobs.

TBD (Owen Holland) Ltd, in Bridgend, had considered moving part of its operation to Abu Dhabi to be closer to its main customer base.

But the Welsh government awarded a £700,000 grant to ensure the £2m expansion went ahead in Bridgend.

The firm, based at Waterton Industrial Estate, currently employs 90 people.

The company’s founder Steve Meredith said the firm expected overseas sales to rise 30% in the next two years, having attracted new clients including Saudi Arabian Airlines, Qatar Airways, Etihad, Kuwait Airways and Fly Dubai.

Economy Minister Edwina Hart said she was pleased the company would continue to grow in Wales, creating new well-paid jobs and economic benefits to the region.

Sourced by BBC News Wales

Cardiff Aviation MRO Appoints Sales & Marketing Director

Cardiff Aviation MRO, the fully-approved and certificated aviation maintenance company has recently appointed Phil Swanson as its Director of Sales and Marketing.

Phil is an aviation sales professional with wide experience of the aircraft industry. He began his career with an aircraft engineering apprenticeship at British Aerospace and worked as an engineer on new production aircraft and military fast jets before promotion to senior management. Phil established his aircraft maintenance sales career at BAE SYSTEMS in the nineties where he developed new business with Airbus operators in the US, China, India, Europe and the Middle East. Phil was appointed as a Director of Sales at BAE SYSTEMS Asset Management in 2003 where he successfully placed more than fifty aircraft with airlines and operators world-wide.

Academically Phil has studied marketing at university and management at business school. As a self-certified aviation enthusiast Phil has a current private pilot’s license, he is also a member of the historic Shuttleworth Veteran Aeroplane Society at Old Warden in Bedfordshire.

Cardiff Aviation’s Chief Executive Mario Fulgoni commented that Phil’s aviation sales career, his passion for the industry and his previous senior management experience make him ideal to lead the Sales and Marketing team at Cardiff Aviation MRO.

A350 XWB test fleet now complete: ‘MSN005’ – the fifth and final flight-test aircraft takes to the skies

Press Release by Airbus

With the first flight today of A350 MSN005, the five-strong development fleet is now complete. Being the second passenger cabin-equipped A350 and tasked with route proving and ETOPS validation, MSN005 embodies the operationally definitive configuration for Type Certification duties. This milestone means that the A350 XWB development programme is at full speed and on track for certification in the third quarter of this year, to be followed thereafter by delivery of the first customer aircraft to Qatar Airways in the fourth quarter.

As of today, the A350 XWB programme has already achieved more than 2,000 flight-test hours in around 500 flights, and with this the programme is demonstrating the highest flying rate ever achieved in Airbus flight tests, with around 80 flight hours per aircraft per month.

Air New Zealand selects A320neo Family to modernise single aisle fleet

Press Release by Airbus

Following Air New Zealand’s 2009 order for A320 Family aircraft, the airline has selected the added efficiency and performance of the NEO with an order for three A321neo, 10 A320neo and one additional A320ceo aircraft. The agreement marks the first time Air New Zealand has ordered the larger A321 aircraft and the NEO. Engine selection and cabin configuration will be made at a later date.

The A321 is the largest member of the A320 Family offering the best seat mile costs of any single aisle. The A320 Family fuselage is seven inches wider than competing aircraft and with a cargo hold designed for industry standard containers and pallets.

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon says the purchase confirms the airline’s intention to have an Airbus narrow body fleet. “Operating one narrow body aircraft type will bring important efficiencies in training, maintenance and operating costs.  The new Airbus NEO will help ensure we continue to operate one of the world’s youngest jet fleets and will further drive fuel efficiency allowing us to minimise our carbon footprint.”

“The NEO offers even further gains – a 15 per cent fuel burn reduction or up to 950 kilometres added range, and significantly reduced noise. Passengers appreciate the A320 Family has the widest and most comfortable cabin, and this re-order is proof that it also offers unmatched performance and productivity,” said John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer, Customers

The A320 Family is the world’s best-selling single aisle product line with more than 10,200 orders to date and over 6,000 aircraft delivered. The latest version A320neo incorporates new engines and “Sharklet” wing tip devices which together deliver up to 15 percent in fuel savings. At the end of April 2014, firm orders for the NEO reached over 2,700 aircraft from 50 customers, representing a 60 per cent share market share in its category.

Delta Places Order for 15 A321ceo aircraft

Press Release by Airbus

Delta will grow its A320 Family with an order for 15 A321ceo (current engine option) aircraft to offset jet retirements. The airline has selected CFM56-5B engines from CFM International to power the newly ordered A321ceo aircraft, which are scheduled for delivery starting in 2018. CFM International is a 50/50 joint company between Snecma (Safran) and GE.

Delta currently operates a large fleet of Airbus aircraft, including 126 A320 Family aircraft and 32 A330s. The order announced today brings Delta’s backlog to 45 single-aisle Airbus A321 and 10 widebody Airbus A330 aircraft.

“The A321’s economic efficiency and product offering relative to the aircraft they will replace ensures that this opportunistic transaction will enhance profitability, customer satisfaction, and shareholder value for Delta,” said Nathaniel Pieper, Delta’s Vice President – Fleet Strategy and Transactions.

“Airbus is excited to offer Delta comfortable and efficient aircraft that fit its demanding financial and customer satisfaction goals,” said John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer Customers. “It is clear that the quality, comfort and economy of the aircraft were the right fit.”

All of Delta’s A321s will feature fuel-saving Sharklets – lightweight composite wingtip devices that offer 4 percent fuel-burn savings. This environmental benefit gives the airline the option of extending its range up to 100 nautical miles/185 kilometers or increasing payload capacity by some 1000 pounds/450 kilograms.

Many of Delta’s A321s will be delivered from Airbus’ brand-new A320 Family assembly line, currently under construction in Mobile, Alabama. Hiring is underway at the facility, and aircraft assembly will begin there next year. By 2017, the Mobile facility is expected to produce four aircraft per month.

British Airways facility at Llantrisant acquired in a £7.8m deal

British Airways Avonics facility at Llantrisant

By Sion Barry,

A facility occupied by British Airways Avionic Engineering (BAAE) in Llantrisant has been sold to Karlin Real Estate for £7.8m.

DTZ acted on behalf of the vendor, BA Llantrisant Ltd, in negotiating the sale of the 111,000 sq ft building, located with a 12.5 acre site.

The entire site and buildings are let to BAAE Ltd for a remaining term of five years of a lease which was originally facilitated by the Welsh Government in 1994.

British Airways uses this BAAE facility to provide a one-stop solution for the repair and maintenance of a broad range of electrical aircraft components. In addition it also also carry out this repair and maintenance work for a number of third-party airlines.

The property is strategically located within close proximity to the M4 and British Airways’ other Welsh-based facilities in Blackwood and at Cardiff Airport.

Andrew Gibson, associate director at DTZ, said: “We are delighted to have executed the disposal strategy for our client on this asset in such a timely manner.

The asset created significant interest from a wide range of investors, both UK and overseas which culminated in a very competitive bidding process.

“The resultant pricing demonstrated strong appetite for shorter income in assets where tenants appear to be fully embedded.”

Karlin Real Estate was represented by James Mason and Gareth Lloyd of Knight Frank.

Sourced by Wales Online


Mechanical engineering is trying to turn a corner in Wales

Aerfin managing director Bob James

By Rupert Hall,

The environment is more like that of an operating theatre than an engineering workshop.

There is a sterility about the entire scenario, reinforced by men in spotless overalls who work noiselessly on pieces of intricately-designed metal which have been extracted from a nearby jet engine.

Even the most intrepid air travellers can but stand and marvel at their size and complexity, not failing to recognise the letters embossed on the engines’ housing – RR or Rolls Royce.

Fifty-year-old Bob James, founder and managing director of Aerfin, looks at them in the way some men would look at a picture of a sporting idol.

He said: “The cost of a jet engine such as the General Electric G90, Rolls Royce Trent 800 or the Pratt & Whitney 4120 would be in the region of $20m or £14m.

“Here we are providing the maintenance, repair and overhaul facilities, through a supply chain solution, to reduce engine maintenance cost.

“Today there is $58bn of annual aircraft production with $6bn spent on new engines.”

Mr James started Aerfin in 2010, having begun his career in the aviation industry at the age of 16 when he became an apprentice fabrication engineer, before transferring to a technical apprenticeship which he completed as a draughtsman.

Recalling his early years at Rolls Royce, he said: “I then moved into repair development, taking aircraft engine components manufactured by Rolls Royce which needed servicing and working on those.

“Doing that exposes you to a lot of other activities such as regulatory compliance, quality metallurgy, design and stress, while introducing you to the customer and customer relations.”

He added: “I did this for five years before feeling I wanted to work closer with the customer, and so I became a field service representative for Rolls Royce.”

His expectation was to travel the world. Instead he found himself in Treforest at a plant then owned by British Airways (BA).

By 1991 the aviation industry was changing rapidly and, within six months, he had moved between Rolls Royce, BA and General Electric, acquiring experience in a customer support and development role, which gave him exposure to such elements as maintenance, cost management, technical issues and engine testing.

He said: “In 1995 the leasing business was growing. The financial community weren’t as technically aware of the maintenance cost and risk associated with cost exposure as they are today.

“I saw an opportunity to work with the leasing companies and airlines, who were moving out of the older equipment, investing in new and focusing on their core business of flying passengers and not repairing engines.”

Against this backdrop Mr James set up Total Engine Support (TES) which offered technical, consulting and advisory services to commercially manage engine maintenance costs for airlines and leasing companies.

This led TES to have 1,000 engines under management and resulted in the move into engine leasing, engine buying, and then to buying old aircraft to remove the engines.

The company’s success came to the notice of DVB Bank which needed a bolt-on power plant engineering management organisation to assist in optimising its own assets, and in 2007 the business was sold.

“I stayed on as part of the succession plan before leaving to spend time with the family,” Mr James said.

“Then in 2010 I had the opportunity to come back into the industry when the financial crisis had hit a number of airlines and I felt there was an opportunity to look at distressed assets in a different way.

“So I started Aerfin with the purchase of eight aircraft engines and spent nine months recruiting people and attracting investors.

“This led to an opportunity to support a cost reduction exercise with a major airline, and that saw us take engines to Cardiff Bay where we recruited more staff, and we restructured our quality systems, management and HR activity in training and personal development programmes for staff.”

In the cathedral-like silence of the 45,000sq ft shop floor, staff are still working noiselessly.

Mr James said: “Our staff are specialist in nature. We have been successful in recruiting and we are careful who we take on, because it’s a difficult skill set to acquire.

“We look for those who have a power plant engineering and aerospace background or have gained experience with major airlines, the RAF and firms such as GE.

“So it’s challenging finding the right people with a detailed knowledge of manufacturing and engineering.”

After its move to a new site in Bedwas House Industrial Estate, Caerphilly, part-financed by a Welsh Government grant, the company now has all its aircraft disassembly services on one site, providing storage, warehousing and parts distribution.

Mr James said: “We’ve grown the technical department and continue to support the leasing companies we have been involved with on projects such as repossessing aircraft out of Egypt and Russia and taking distressed assets out of South America and Hungary.

“It’s all part of a strategy that sees us working closely with the original equipment manufacturer. We work with selective clients and manufacturers, shipping the material overseas for overhauling.

“Then the parts come back to us and we dispatch them with all the historical documentation and certification in a form that allows a company such as GE to install it as though it were a new part, thus saving the airline money.”

Aerfin is a business competing in an industry that is constantly changing. It’s a technically-driven organisation where safety is paramount and skills training integral to maintaining those standards.

The major manufacturers, along the supply chain, lead the way in introducing innovative components, and demands on noise, carbon emissions and fuel reduction become factors that drive the industry to improve the design and technology of aircraft.

These factors, Mr James explained, have a knock-on impact.

“Manufacturers are at the front end, driving the innovation and technology for new equipment at the expense of maintaining the low cost of legacy engines that still need to be serviced and operated. Every year there are a 1,000 new aircraft being delivered that will stay on the wing for seven to 10 years.”

Looking to the future, Mr James believes there will be significant growth opportunities for Aerfin that will see it working closely with manufacturers and maintenance, repair and overhaul organisations.

Within Europe there are few companies that have the tooling and equipment in an approved environment to completely disassemble an engine to the satisfaction of the major manufacturers.

All of which would indicate a secure future for the 20 highly qualified staff currently employed in the maintenance, repair and overhaul of jet engines.

This leads Mr Jones to say: “In order to achieve all this we have invested heavily in getting staff familiar with aviation process systems and they form a highly-skilled part of the Welsh economy which will remain here.

“The history of aviation in South Wales goes back a long way, to British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) days in Treforest, which became BA then GE.

“On the periphery are the supporting industries composed of tooling and equipment manufacturing firms, along with a Welsh Aerospace Forum.

“This brings aerospace businesses, of which there are many, together, and that’s not including Airbus in North Wales and Rolls Royce at Bristol.

“Finally we have the local colleges which are proactive in developing apprenticeships and sponsored scholarships to bring people through.”

His conclusion is: “The skill base in Wales has a strong history in mechanical engineering which sadly deteriorated through 1980s and 1990s.

“Now we are trying to turn the corner, and in this training and development are the keys to growth.”

Sourced by Wales Online

Is the end close for Boeing 747?

1By David Churchill,

The iconic Boeing 747 revolutionised global travel over the past half century, but is its time coming to an end? asks David Churchill

Regular travellers on the All Nippon Airways flight from Okinawa’s Naha airport to Tokyo’s Haneda at the beginning of April might have been puzzled to board a Boeing 777 rather than their usual 747 ‘Jumbo’, which had been used on the route for many years.

But this was no April Fools’ Day joke, because after nearly four decades of ANA being one of the most loyal supporters of Boeing’s flagship aircraft, on March 31, an ANA 747 commercial passenger flight had flown into Tokyo from Okinawa for the last time.

ANA’s decision to stop flying the giant aircraft was not taken lightly, especially as it came almost 45 years to the day since the Jumbo first flew from Boeing’s Seattle base. Yet ANA was not alone in signalling that the 747 era was seemingly coming to an end.

Singapore Airlines and JAL, for example, have already stopped flying passenger Jumbos, while others are scaling back their fleets. The number of 747s in service (both passenger and cargo) has fallen by about a third since the turn of the century to some 685 at the end of last year.

IAG-owned British Airways, which is now the world’s biggest single operator of the 747-400 passenger aircraft with 50 in its fleet is reportedly planning to ‘retire’ about 25 of these by the end of the decade to make way for new aircraft. But it has baulked at buying the next generation Jumbo – the even bigger Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental – despite of it having had an extensive technology upgrade to make it competitive with newer rivals.

Only Lufthansa among the major airlines has so far taken delivery of the 747-8
passenger Jumbo since it entered service a couple of years ago, with US and Japanese carriers, who traditionally supported the 747, notable by their lack of interest.

Falling out of fashion

Why has the iconic ‘Queen of the Skies’,as the 747 was dubbed when it first flew, fallen out of fashion? After all, it revolutionised air travel in the latter decades of the 20th century and captivated billions with its sheer size and distinctive hump-back fuselage. BA says more than 3.5 billion people have flown in a 747 during the aircraft’s lifetime so far.

Although the Jumbo is unlikely to disappear anytime soon – many aviation analysts expect the 747-400 model (the most common type flying today) to be in service with some carriers for at least another decade – there are others who think that once the Jumbo as a passenger plane starts to lose support, the end could come more quickly.

The basic problem with the 747 is that it has four giant, fuel-guzzling engines which have proved increasingly expensive to operate as oil – and hence aviation fuel – prices rose sharply in the late 2000s. Fuel represents about one third of flying costs facing airlines, according to IATA. Moreover, the 747’s brash new rival – the giant (some would say ungainly) A380 produced by the Franco-German Airbus Group – is more fuel-efficient than the Jumbo, given its use of new lighter materials and engine technology.

Wide-bodied competition

Yet for a long time the 747 held significant advantages over most other jets: notably, a longer range and ability to carry more passengers than rival aircraft. But all that changed in the mid-1990s when Boeing and Airbus developed new wide-bodied jets – the 777 and A330, in particular. Both aircraft utilised new engine technology for power, performance and efficiency, enabling them to compete more closely with the 747 for the first time in terms of routes and capacity.

Boeing moved further in this direction in 2011 with the 787 Dreamliner, albeit with some unfortunate launch problems, and has high hopes for the bigger and more powerful 777X aircraft expected in about 2020. Airbus has a new aircraft named the A350XWB (extra wide body) that is able to carry up to 350 passengers in a three-class set-up. It is due to enter service later this year with Qatar Airways as the launch customer.

But the key point about all these aircraft is that they only have two engines; historically twin-engine carriers have been restricted by regulators on how far from a ‘diversion airport’ they are able to fly on one engine, limiting the length of time they can travel over water without reaching a safe airport if one engine fails.

From the mid-1980s onwards, however, the restrictions were relaxed to take account of engine improvements, enabling flights by twin-engine jets to most parts of the world. From an airline’s financial point of view a twin-engine, long-haul jet is a no-brainer – a point emphasised by IAG chief executive Willie Walsh when recently presenting the airline group’s full-year results. He said the four A380s delivered last year to BA showed a “significant reduction in seat costs” in comparison to BA’s 747s.

Also, the rise of the new generation of smaller, yet wide-body jets with longer ranges and fuel-efficient engines is also having an impact on one of the basic tenets of the airline world: the ‘hub-and-spoke’ model that has dominated for decades. Hub-and-spoke enables airlines to achieve substantial economies of scale by operating out of large hub airports, feeding in traffic from smaller airports. The world’s biggest hub airport, according to figures released in April this year by Airports Council International, is Atlanta, Georgia, which saw some 94.4 million passengers pass through last year, followed by Beijing (83.7 million) and Heathrow (72.4 million).

But the fastest growing hub in the top ten is Dubai in seventh place, with more than 15 per cent growth in passengers last year to 66.4 million. Behind this growth has been the success of Emirates in positioning Dubai as a more convenient hub than Europe for Asian traffic to the West. Not surprisingly, Emirates has become the most prominent cheerleader for the giant A380, and accounts for about 30 per cent of the aircraft’s 452 deliveries and confirmed orders so far.

Hedging bets

Yet demand for the A380 has appeared to stall recently (as it has for the 747). This perhaps suggests that many airlines are hedging their bets over whether the hub-and-spoke model will continue in its present form, especially given the flexibility that buying new generation twin-engine aircraft gives them in providing what passengers want: frequent departures at main hubs and direct flights between smaller airports.

Demand for point-to-point flights is clearly shown by the success of Ryanair and Southwest Airlines in Europe and America respectively. This trend is also borne out by new research published last year by academics at Leeds University’s Institute for Transport Studies, based on a survey of travellers using Glasgow and Edinburgh airports. This concluded that there was a “strong aversion” to being forced to use connecting flights via a hub airport. “In particular, we observed a very high willingness to accept higher airfares in return for direct flights,” the survey added.

This poses a potential dilemma for travel buyers in seeking to enforce fare discipline on travellers who prefer direct point-to-point flights rather than the hassle of flying via a hub. One global travel director I speak to says her policy allows  “the most economical direct flight to be chosen”, while another buyer says: “We would not generally allow direct flights to be chosen if there was a cheaper flight including a connection.”

Yet cheaper fares may be on the way in any case as a result of global airlines currently “replacing their fleet at unprecedented levels”, according to James Stamp, global head of aviation at consultancy group KPMG.

BA, for example, is already in the midst of a fleet upgrade, including adding further A380s and B787s, starting in 2017. But it is also considering buying more jets in the early years of the next decade.  “We see aircraft like the A350-1000 and the new extra-long 777X as being natural replacement aircraft for the 747s we have,” said Willie Walsh recently, although stressing that no commitments have been made as yet.

Other airlines are also bullish: ANA has ordered a total of 70 new jets from Boeing and Airbus, worth almost US$17 billion, for delivery between 2016 and 2027.

These and other big orders, according to KPMG’s Stamp, will see a significant increase in capacity. “In this event, falling operating costs and competition to fill capacity should result in further downward pressure on ticket prices, which would be good news for airline passengers and their companies,” he added.

But while there may not be much good news ahead for the future of the iconic Boeing 747, there is still one ray of hope for its many fans. Two specially adapted 747s are used by the president of the United States when flying domestically and abroad, and whichever one is flown carries the radio call signal Air Force One – hence its popular name.

These Jumbos, however, are nearly 25 years old and, not surprisingly, the White House is seeking replacements before the end of the decade. Although approaches were made to both Boeing and Airbus, the European company has reportedly passed on bidding. Now the likelihood is that a new generation 747-8 will be adapted for the president, with its four engines preferred over the 787 Dreamliner’s two. So size does matter, after all.

Sourced by bbt

Airbus wins £10bn order from China

Airbus wins £10bn order from China

Airbus has secured a deal to supply 70 aircraft, worth more than $10 billion, to China’s state-owned purchasing agency.

The order had been on hold due to a row between the EU and outside countries over carbon emissions tax on flights.

The breakthrough came during a state visit to France by Chinese president Xi Jinping.

The order includes 27 long-haul Airbus A330s and 43 A320s.

China also signed a new 10-year agreement allowing Airbus to continue building aircraft in the northern city of Tianjin until 2025.

A fifth of Airbus’s global production takes place on the Chinese mainland.

French president Francois Hollande told his Chinese counterpart that he wanted to “re-balance trade between our two countries,” thr BBC reported.

Aerospace already accounts for 29% of French exports to China.

Sourced from Travel Weekly

Tigerair to order up to 50 A320neo

Press Release by Airbus

Singapore’s Tigerair has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Airbus for the purchase of up to 50 A320neo aircraft for future fleet renewal and growth. The deal covers 37 firm orders plus 13 options. The aircraft will be powered by Pratt & Whitney PW1100 engines and will be operated by the airline across its Asia-Pacific route network.

“We are delighted to conclude this agreement, which will allow us to introduce the latest single-aisle aircraft into our fleet,” said Mr Koay Peng Yen, Tigerair’s Group CEO, “This agreement also underscores Tigerair’s commitment to continue building on our leadership position in the budget travel sector at a measured pace.”

“We are pleased that Tigerair has reaffirmed its commitment to the A320 Family with this important new order,” said John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer, Customers. “This order once again highlights the unbeatable operating economics offered by our single aisle product line for airlines from both the low cost and full service markets.”

Tigerair, established in 2004, comprises three airlines – Tigerair Singapore, Tigerair Mandala (Indonesia) and Tigerair Australia. Collectively, the Group’s network extends to over 50 destinations across 14 countries in the Asia-Pacific region. The Group currently operates an all-Airbus fleet of 48 A320-family aircraft, averaging less than three years of age.

The A320 Family is the world’s best-selling single aisle product line with more than 10,200 orders to date and over 6,000 aircraft delivered. The latest version A320neo will enter service in 2015 and incorporates new engines and “Sharklet” wing tip devices which together deliver up to 15 percent in fuel savings. As at the end of February 2014, firm orders for the NEO already stood at 2,667 from 50 customers around the globe.


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