The production system that promises to support a reduction in final assembly times for the Boeing 737 from 10 to nine days this year should become still more efficient with the introduction of a new automated panel assembly line (PAL) by early 2015. Built by Mukilteo, Washington-based Electroimpact, the PAL fastens stringers to wing skin panels at twice the rate Boeing now can manage using the current process at the 737 plant in Renton, Washington. Electroimpact designed the machine to “normalize” to the panel with an array of lasers that “see” the surface without touching it, allowing it to follow the panel curvature or contour. The process improves accuracy, consistency and “repeatability,” according to Boeing.
Air Transport and Cargo
News and issues relating to international air transport and cargo carriers, national airlines and regional airlines, including aircraft, engines, personnel, acquisitions, accidents, safety, security and training.
Chinese carriers have canceled several flights to Kota Kinabalu in response to poor market demand and safety concerns following a spate of kidnappings of Taiwanese and Chinese tourists in the east Malaysian state of Sabah since April.
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has determined that Asiana Flight 214 crashed on July 6 last year at San Francisco International Airport because the flight crew mismanaged the approach and inadequately monitored airspeed. Announcing the findings at a meeting on Tuesday in Washington, D.C., the Board also found that the complexities of the autothrottle and autopilot flight director systems and the crew’s misunderstanding of those systems contributed to the accident.
The number of training programs preparing flight crew for the new multi-crew pilot license (MPL) continues to multiply. Before year-end, there will likely be 30 or more active MPL programs around the world with well over 3,000 cadets in the pipeline. The MPL is intended as a competency-based training license focused on preparing new pilots to become airline first officers.
The aviation industry will see as many as 1,000 airplanes exit commercial fleets each year within the next decade as a combination of demographics conspire to create a retirement “tsunami,” IFC International principal Richard Brown told delegates attending the June 15 to 17 Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association (AFRA) annual meeting in Washington, D.C.
German air navigation service provider (ANSP) Deutsche Flugsicherung (DFS) said that its plan to significantly raise the user fees it charges airlines resulted from less-than-forecast air traffic. The Association of European Airlines (AEA) has denounced the plan and warned that Germany’s airspace will become the most expensive in Europe.
Industrial bioscience company Amyris and energy giant Total have begun to market a so-called drop in jet fuel containing a 10-percent mix of renewable farnesane under a newly revised ASTM standard, the companies announced Monday. Amyris and Total have worked closely on approval of the new fuel with Boeing, which, according to the airframer’s managing director of environmental strategy and integration, Julie Felgar, wants to see biofuel account for a 1-percent share of the total jet fuel supply within 10 years.
The U.S. Congress would have a say in White House plans to open customs pre-clearance facilities in foreign countries under legislation a House committee passed on June 11. Airline industry groups, which last year opposed but failed to prevent the opening of such a facility at Abu Dhabi International Airport, appear to have accepted the legislation even as news surfaced of U.S. plans to open a pre-clearance facility in Dubai.
Aeroflot low-fare subsidiary Dobrolet completed its first commercial flight from Moscow to Simferopol in Crimea, the Russian flag carrier announced Tuesday. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, senior executives from Russia’s transport industry and Aeroflot’s top management attended a ceremony at Sheremetyevo International Airport to mark the maiden flight.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) expects to complete a global standard for aircraft tracking in less than two years, Nancy Graham, director of the organization’s Air Navigation Bureau, said on June 5. Some airlines with the capability have already started automatic tracking, she told the RTCA Symposium in Washington, D.C.