Vector Aerospace Helicopter Services North America (HS-NA) has been named an Airbus Helicopters D-Level certified repair center for the AS350/AS355 and EC130. D-Level structural repairs include landing gear, main gearbox, engine and component attachment points as well as fuselage/tailboom, vertical fin and horizontal stabilizer junction.
AAR has secured multiple contracts for work to be done at its newest maintenance, repair and overhaul facility in Lake Charles, La. These contracts, including agreements with two major U.S. carriers, represent a milestone for the repair station, which began operations at this location a year ago. With these commitments, AAR’s Lake Charles MRO has begun supporting a customer mix of major U.S. carriers, leasing institutions and private operators covering widebodies such as the Airbus A330 and A340 and Boeing 767 and 777.
Aerion’s long-awaited AS2 supersonic business jet (SSBJ) program received a major boost last month when Airbus signed up for a partnership involving an exchange of knowledge and capabilities in design, manufacturing and certification. According to Aerion, the collaboration will support the Mach 1.6, $100+ million AS2 through to certification. Although the industrialization plan for the new jet has still to be confirmed, the Reno, Nev.-based group said that this will happen “over the course of the next year” and confirmed that it is no longer searching for a manufacturing partner.
Airbus announced European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) type certification of the A350-900 widebody airliner on September 30. The manufacturer said U.S. Federal Aviation Administration certification should follow shortly.
Airbus Helicopters said Protean won its 2014 Vision Zero Aviation Safety Award for development of the LZControl.com landing-zone database, a free-flight safety service for the air medical industry. Pilots using the company’s LZControl can easily access landing-zone maps and satellite images, pull down current weather and IFR information and locate site-specific contacts.
The unveiling of a new livery on Thursday of Etihad Airways’ first A380 at Airbus’s Hamburg factory signaled the start of a new era for the Abu Dhabi-based carrier, as it prepares to launch its first services with the superjumbo in December.
Airbus began immediate processing of flight-test data from the A320neo’s September 25 first flight, which Single Aisle program experimental test pilot Philippe Pellerin described as “a lot of fun” as he emerged from the aircraft at the Toulouse-Blagnac factory in southwest France. The first A320neo, powered by Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-JM geared turbofan (GTF) engines in the 33,000-pounds thrust class, “really feels like an A320–which is good news,” remarked fellow experimental test pilot Etienne Miche de Malleray, who occupied the right-hand seat.
Airbus flew its new A320neo on its first test mission on Thursday, marking the start of a 3,000-hour flight-test program scheduled to lead to certification and entry into service in next year’s fourth quarter. Powered by a pair of Pratt & Whitney PW1100G geared turbofans, MSN6101 took off from Toulouse-Blagnac Airport in France at noon local time.
Airbus predicted that the airline industry will need to spend $4.6 trillion on some 31,000 new aircraft over the next 20 years in its latest market forecast, released Wednesday.
Controversy continues to swirl in India over whether excessive spending by Air India on a fleet acquisition order in 2006 has led to its present financial difficulties. The clamor follows a book by former Comptroller Auditor General (CAG) Vinod Rai titled The Diary of the Nation’s Conscience Keeper-Not Just an Accountant. The CAG acts as an independent authority established by the constitution of India to audit the expenditures of the government of India and its corporations.
“An airline with revenues of $1.2 billion was asked to take on a debt of $8.2 billion [including pre-existing debt],” said Rai during a recent television interview. He credited former aviation minister Praful Patel for having ‘nudged’ Air India to increase the Boeing order from the original 28 to 68 denied the allegation. The government has given the airline a $5 billion equity infusion until 2021.
Air India’s order consisted of 111 aircraft—43 Airbus A320- seriesfamily jets and 68 Boeings, including eight 777-200LRs, fifteen 777-300ERs, eighteen 737-800s and twenty-seven27 787-8s.
“Air India has been sliding—there is no doubt about it—probably [because of] certain decisions thatwhich were forced [upon it]…it has been pushed [into]…buying and selling of aircraft,” Indian aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju Pasupati said at a recently held press conference. “This does not appear to have been done with a commercial plan in mind.”
Air India has also drawn criticism for selling five newly bought 777-200LRs. “When any purchase has a debt portion of 97 percent, there’s no way it can be commercially viable,” said Rai. “Within five years of the 777s being bought, they had to be sold to Etihad for the price of one…at one-fifth of the price.”
Still, according to former Air India senior official Shakti Lumba, unforeseen market forces contributed to the 777s’ withdrawal.
“In all fairness, Air India was never able to use these aircraft to full capacity as the market went down,” he told AIN. “However, the carrier got value for its money as the remaining loan is now being paid by Etihad.” Besides, he explained, the order got placed before the merger of Indian Airlines and Air India, and both airlines listed individual requirements. “The main culprits of Air India’s poor dispatch reliability were the 777s and 787s, with their constant breakdowns,” Lumba added.
Air India has already taken delivery of 17 of 27 Dreamliners. It expects the final delivery by 2016. On whether Air India appears headed toward divestment, Pasupati said no decision hasd been taken. “I do not want to stir a hornet’s nest,” he added.
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