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
By Jens Flottay & Guy Norris
Airbus has been lukewarm about reengining the A330 along the lines of the A320neo, even though many industry pundits believe such a step has merit. Now some high-level sources are saying the decision to proceed could be imminent.
With a total of 1,313 firm orders until the end of 2013, the A330 is by far the most successful widebody Airbus has built. That figure compares to 816 for the A300/A310 family, 812 for the A350, 377 for the A340 and 304 units for the A380. And even after Boeing launched the competing 787, the A330 continues to have remarkable market success: Airbus sold 534 A330s during the past five years; most were the larger A330-300.
There are two main factors behind why the murmuring about new engines for the A330 continues, in spite of Airbus’s best efforts. The first is that AirAsia X has been very vocal about the change up. The airline represents a new business model, similar to Jetstar’s introducing the low-fare concept (or an adapted version of it) to medium- and long-haul flying. Of course, the carrier has just ordered 25 more of the current A330s, which indicates its allegiance to that type too.
The second factor is the wider acceptance of installing a new engine underneath the wing of long-proven aircraft. Airlines and other industry-related entities are comfortable with the idea. The A320neo has been a resounding success; 2,600 have been ordered since it was launched. The Boeing 737 MAX is not quite there yet in terms of massive numbers of orders, but it too looks like a winner. And the concept has now been transferred to smaller jets on Embraer’s E2s, the next generation of the 175/190/195-family. And long-haul aircraft seem to be following suit; Boeing’s recently launched 777X will have new powerplants.
In fact, Emirates President Tim Clark has been lobbying for the reengining of the A380, saying: “It does not make sense” to have all other widebodies benefit from new engine technology, but not the A380.
The A380 actually is not the only aircraft stalled at that uneasy deciding point—the A330 (and the 767) are other current widebodies that can be seen as using what is quickly becoming outdated engine technology. Most operators will categorize the A380 as an extremely well-done, efficient machine that has one key disadvantage: fuel burn. With competing aircraft becoming more efficient, this is a big caveat.
Airlines are already coming to Airbus, as CEO Fabrice Bregier confirms, to escalate the reengining process. Even Airbus chief operating officer for customers, John Leahy, admits that the A330 has an average 10-12% fuel-burn disadvantage over the 787, but he notes that it benefits from lower capital expenditure required—it is simply cheaper to buy. Therefore, Leahy argues, the aircraft is very competitive. In a recent interview he said: “The current A330 is selling very well. The market understands that we are investing in this product family by both extending the range but also developing a regional version. Its economics are unbeatable today, so it is not obvious that we should propose a reengine.”
However, a senior executive at a large A330 operator offers another view: He sees the current A330 as “a very good base,” but says that a new engine would lead to a 7-8% fuel burn improvement if one factors in higher engine weight. That aircraft would have the potential to exceed 787-9 economics, he argues. It would also raise the question of why Airbus would still want to build the A350-800 in whatever shape or form.
This executive points out that Airbus could sell the aircraft as a low-risk proposal because much of it—even the engines—are well down the industrial learning curve. It would also likely appeal to a broader market by embracing smaller operators that do not require the longer-range capabilities of a smaller A350 derivative. Airbus no longer seems to be fundamentally opposed to the A330 reengining idea, but executive vice president of programs, Tom Williams, says he would like to see the latest 242-ton version in service before making that decision. The first aircraft is scheduled to be delivered to Delta Air Lines in mid-2015.
While the current backlog of 267 aircraft is not yet reason for concern, Airbus is producing the A330 at a high rate (10 per month). At the current rate, this would in theory extend production into 2016. Over the past two years, the manufacturer has delivered more aircraft than it has sold. And while it took in 99 new orders in 2011, the number dropped to 77 last year. It is probably too soon to label this a negative trend, but it would be only natural that the imminent introduction of the stretched 787-9 would affect new A330 orders.
Airbus has stated it wants to keep the A330 line open until well beyond 2020, but one must ask, with which A330? More specifically: with which engine?
Although neither General Electric nor Rolls-Royce will discuss the status of A330neo studies, industry sources say both engine makers are now in advanced discussions with Airbus, which is expected to make at least an informal “go, no-go” decision as early as March, with a formal launch conceivable in 2015.
Unlike the A320neo initiative, which was put in play in late 2010 and involved the launch and development of all-new engines, the potential development timescale for the “A330neo” is considerably shorter because suitable next-generation engines are already developed and in service on the competing Boeing 787. Pratt & Whitney, which offers PW4168/PW4170 versions of the PW4000 family as engine options on the A330, is not expected to submit a proposal. Although Pratt has outlined eventual plans for larger versions of the PW1000G geared turbofan that are in development for a range of single-aisle aircraft, notably the A320neo, the relatively short-term timescale of the aircraft, added to the engine maker’s already heavy development commitment, effectively rules them out of the race.
Industry sources report that both Rolls-Royce and General Electric are seeking exclusivity on the potential new A330 versions in an attempt to avoid a split in a program that is not certain to run as long as the original variant.
Rolls, which holds the lion’s share of the existing A330 market with its Trent 700, is believed to be discussing a new derivative based on the Trent 1000 TEN (thrust, efficiency and new technology) variant now in development for the 787-10. Although aimed at the slightly higher 76,000-lb.-thrust bracket for the double-stretched 787 version, the TEN will be certificated across a broad power range for application in de-rated form for lower-weight 787-8 and -9 applications, as well as an optional 78,000-lb. version for potential growth needs. Ground tests of the first Trent 1000 TEN will start this year, with flight tests set for 2015 and entry-into-service scheduled for sometime before mid-2016.
GE, which in contrast to Rolls has the bulk of the 787 market with its GEnx-1B, is discussing a version of the latest PIP II (performance improvement package) standard with Airbus. The latest upgrade, which increased flow and offered an improved low-pressure system, was certified on the 787 last December and has entered service. While the U.S. engine maker has no official plans to further upgrade the GEnx beyond the latest standards, it is expected to study longer-term life-extension or PIP options based on some technology items emerging from the GE9X program for the 777X. GE currently offers the CF6-80E1 on the A330 rated at 67,500-72,000-lb. thrust.
One key complication faced by both GE and Rolls is that while the 787 engines are suitably powerful for the A330, each lacks conventional bleed air power offtakes. The 787 was the first commercial airliner to replace standard pneumatic systems with electric power, and as a result both the GEnx-1B and Trent 1000 are configured with electric start systems that act as power generators when they are up and running. To adapt to the A330, which has conventional pneumatically powered systems, both engines would require significant modifications. GE is likely to take advantage of the design of the 66,500-lb.-thrust GEnx-2B, which is configured with a bleed air system for the 747-8. Rolls could look to adapt bleed systems from either the Trent 900 used on the A380 or the XWB in flight test on the A350-900. The Trent 1000 TEN also will use a new high-pressure compressor design based on that used in the XWB engine, making it the first version of the 787 engine to directly use specific technology proven earlier on an Airbus application.
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Sourced by Aviation Week
Press Release by Airbus
AirAsia X, the long haul affiliate of the AirAsia Group, has placed a firm order with Airbus for 25 more A330-300s. The contract is the largest A330 order received by Airbus in a single purchase agreement and increases the carrier’s total firm orders for the type to 51. These will be supplemented by another six A330-300s leased from International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC).
The contract was signed in Paris today by Azran Osman-Rani, CEO of AirAsia X and Fabrice Brégier, President and CEO, Airbus, witnessed by Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, Co-founder and Director of AirAsia X.
AirAsia X will start taking delivery of its newly-ordered A330-300s in 2015 as it begins a major expansion of its network across the Asia-Pacific region. The new order includes the latest extended range versions of the A330-300, providing the carrier with the ability to offer non-stop service to destinations in Europe or one-stop service to the US.
Tan Sri’ Tony Fernandes, Co-Founder and Director of AirAsia X said, “This order stamps our firm intent to dominate the long-haul, low cost carrier space and marks the next phase in our development to be the undisputed global market leader. Our commitment would allow us to remain as the youngest wide body fleet age in the region at under five years throughout 2019, with corresponding competitive fuel efficiency, reliability and cabin comfort benefits.”
“The aircraft orders would further cater to our expansion plans in Malaysia, and the proposed new Thai AirAsia X hub as well as other long-haul ventures planned across Asia. The developments will complement the AirAsia Group’s long-term vision of developing its presence in key markets in Asia and strengthen the connectivity between long-haul and short-haul low-cost network.”
“AirAsia X has proven that it is possible to build a highly successful low cost long haul business,” said Fabrice Brégier President and CEO, Airbus. “And the A330 is the perfect platform for such operations, with the lowest operating costs, true long range flying capability and a proven track record of exceptional technical reliability. We look forward to working with AirAsia X as it continues to innovate in the low cost long haul market.”
AirAsia X currently operates 16 A330-300s on services linking its Kuala Lumpur base to destinations in Asia, the Middle East and the Pacific. In addition to A330s, the carrier also has 10 A350-XWB aircraft on order for future delivery.
The latest order from AirAsia X further consolidates the position of the AirAsia Group as one of Airbus’s largest airline customers in the world. In total the Group has now ordered 536 aircraft from the manufacturer. These include 475 A320 Family single aisle aircraft for AirAsia’s short haul operations based out of Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Jakarta and Manila, plus the 51 A330s and 10 A350 XWBs for AirAsia The twin engine A330 is one of the most widely used widebody aircraft in service today. To date, Airbus has won more than 1,280 orders for the various versions of the aircraft. More than 1,000 A330s have already been delivered and the aircraft is currently flying with almost 100 operators worldwide.
Air Algérie has signed a Memorandum of Understanding for three A330-200 passenger aircraft as part of the carrier’s continued growth plans. This order has been placed at Dubai Airshow 2013.
The new aircraft will be deployed on medium and long haul routes from the Air Algérie hub in Algeria. Air Algérie has already ordered a total of five Airbus A330, which have all been delivered to date.
“We are expanding our commercial strategy to strengthen our position in the market by extending Air Algérie network to long haul routes. This is now made possible with the A330 family aircraft,” said Boultif Mohamed Salah, CEO of Air Algérie. “This new order for A330s reinforces our commitment to a family of aircraft which already helps us to achieve our ambitious expansion plans, in a profitable and sustainable manner.”
“The A330 family aircraft is part of the best-selling widebody programme with its unique combination of unbeatable economics, versatility and fuel efficiency,” said John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer, Customers. “Air Algérie is one of our key partners who have managed to expand as an airline with the A330 aircraft and it’s no surprise as we’re consistently investing in the A330 development to ensure its continued leadership in reliability and operating economics.”
The A330 Family, which spans 250 to 300 seats, and includes Freighter, VIP, and Military Transport/Tanker variants, has now attracted more than 1,200 orders, with over 1,000 aircraft flying with more than 100 operators worldwide. The A330 is one of the world’s most efficient aircraft with best in class operating economics. With numerous ongoing product improvements, it still remains the most cost-efficient and capable aircraft, averaging dispatch reliability well above 99 percent.
Airbus is a leading aircraft manufacturer with the most modern and comprehensive family of airliners on the market, ranging in capacity from 100 to more than 500 seats.
Strong long-term traffic growth with the emerging countries set to outpace the growth of developed countries;
Dedicated freighters will remain an essential part of world cargo – belly cargo proportion to remain unchanged;
Mid-sized aircraft account for largest freighter segment, requiring almost 1,300 new aircraft by 2032;
Airbus well positioned with A330-200F & A330-P2F.
According to Airbus’ new Cargo Global Market Forecast, world-wide air freight traffic will grow by an average of 4.8 per cent annually over the next 20 years, almost doubling the required global freighter fleet to nearly 3,000 aircraft. This projected growth is driven by numerous positive global trends in economic activity, including world trade, private consumption, and industrial production.
The forecast shows that the overall worldwide air cargo demand by the year 2032 will require around 2,700 new and converted aircraft. Over half of these will be needed for fleet replacement – driven by current old aircraft retirements – with the remainder being for growth. Of these 2,700 aircraft, 870 will be factory-built freighters worth approximately US$234 billion, while around 1,860 will be converted from passenger aircraft. A further 175 in 2032 will be aircraft which are already in service as freighters today. Belly freight usage in passenger aircraft is taken into account – which will remain largely unchanged at around half of commercial air freight on international traffic.
Andreas Hermann, Airbus’ Vice President, Head of Freighters says: “Looking forward after a difficult few years, world trade is showing improvements and diverse emerging markets will call for increased flexibility in air cargo transportation – for which mid-size freighters will be the primary means to achieve this.” He adds: “This is why Airbus forecasts that the core of future freighter requirements will be in the mid-size category, where modern-technology freighters will play a large part in future fleet replacement and long term growth.”
Illustrating the rise of the emerging economies as the fastest growing markets for air cargo, Asia-Pacific (including India and the PRC) currently represents 36 per cent of the world freight traffic, increasing to 42 per cent by 2032. Overall, China is the single largest individual nation driving air cargo growth: Today China’s share represents 15 per cent, and by 2032 this will rise to around 22 per cent of the global air freight market. By comparison, the combined developed nations’ share in Europe/CIS and North America accounted for 51 per cent of the total traffic in 2012, and although traffic will continue to grow, by 2032 their combined share of total world freight traffic will reduce slightly, to around 45 per cent.
Freighter aircraft fleet segmentation
Small freighters account for about 23 per cent of the fleet today and although the express freight market boom in China and India will boost the number of small freighters from 380 in 2012 to more than 600 aircraft by 2032, their overall proportion of the world fleet will nevertheless decrease slightly, to around 21 per cent.
Mid-size freighters, whose inherent flexibility allows airlines to adapt to changing markets, represent about 45 per cent of the fleet in service and are increasingly used for regional express services and regional and long-haul general cargo operations. Their numbers are expected to boom in the coming years driven by growth in emerging markets, especially in China. The mid-size segment is expected to grow to over 1,290 units by 2032, up from 744 units at the end of 2012. In doing so, this category will retain its dominant 45 per cent share of the world freighter fleet. Airbus is well positioned in this segment not only with the A330-200F, but also with passenger-to-freighter (P2F) converted A330 Family freighters in cooperation with EFW and ST Aerospace.
Meanwhile, large freighters represent about 32 per cent of the fleet today and are mainly used on long-haul operations between three main markets: USA, Europe and Asia. The fleet of large aircraft will reach over 1,000 aircraft by 2032, while slightly increasing its share of the world freighter fleet.
Airbus is the leading aircraft manufacturer with the most modern and comprehensive family of airliners on the market. To date, more than 13,200 Airbus aircraft have been ordered by some 500 customers and operators worldwide since the company first entered the market in the early seventies. Airbus has design and manufacturing facilities in France, Germany, the UK, and Spain, and subsidiaries in the US, China, Japan and the Middle East.
Arthur Coakley, 61, of Whitby and Neil Warrier, 48, from London, both died.
The Airbus A330 crash, during a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris on June 1, 2009 was blamed on technical failure and pilot errors.
Recording a narrative verdict on the men, who both died from multiple injuries, the coroner said there had been a series of “systematic failures”.
These included a blockage of the aircraft’s pitot tubes, which are used to measure fluid pressures, as well as human error, the BBC reported.
“[There was] a lack of comprehension of the aircraft’s situation between the pilots during the flight,” Oakley said.
“The pilots were not adequately trained to handle the aircraft safely in the particular high-altitude emergency situation that night.
“The air disaster highlights serious public concern of whether pilots are overly dependent on technology and are not retaining the skills required to properly fly complex commercial aircraft.”
The official report into the crash by the French aviation authority highlighted faults with the air-speed sensors on the aircraft which had confused the pilots, but it also said they had made several errors.
Sourced from Travel Weekly