Airbus Helicopters (formerly Eurocopter) is here exhibiting the Hermès luxury version of its EC135, and is soliciting new possibilities for customization. The helicopter manufacturer (Booth 6613) is seeing a steady market in private and business aviation, with a combined 150 helicopters sold in the world last year by rotorcraft OEMs. Company design engineers are now working on the VIP version of the EC175, with hinged doors and an escalator for passengers.
In the annual announcements by Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier, Embraer and other aircraft manufacturers about the half-million or so additional pilots who will be needed to fill cockpits over the next 20 years, often overlooked is the need for an even greater number of maintenance technicians: about 600,000 by 2031, according to Boeing’s most recent forecast. So if there is already, or will soon be, a shortage of qualified pilots, is there not also a shortfall in maintenance personnel? And not just in commercial aviation but business aviation and civil helicopter operations as well?
TrueNorth Avionics is on track to receive the first FAA technical standard order (TSO) certification for its new FANS 1/A-capable Simphone data link unit (DLU), which enables FANS-over-Iridium communication over oceanic routes. The new DLU has already achieved RTCA DO-178B level-D software certification, and the TSO is expected shortly.
Statistics released this week by Airbus showed that commercial aircraft bookings for 78 airplanes in April increased its net order total for the year to 142, while Boeing’s order total for the month stood at 70, raising its 2014 net total as of May 6 to 291.
SriLankan Airlines appears poised to expand its reach into the neighboring Indian air transport market after becoming the 14th member of One World alliance late last month. The move is a boost to a country trying to bounce back after a 25-year civil war and also makes SriLankan the first carrier from the Indian subcontinent to gain admission into a global airline alliance—ahead of rival operators in the far larger Indian market.
AAR’s Duluth repair station has completed its 100th aircraft since it re-opened an abandoned 188,000-sq-ft hangar in November 2012. Today, AAR Aircraft Services Duluth supports three lines of aircraft maintenance and 305 jobs. The Duluth facility is currently dedicated to the single-aisle Airbus fleet, exclusively servicing the A319, A320 and A321. AAR is on track to open a fourth line of maintenance in September, creating another 70 positions.
Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways announced first destinations and unveiled premium cabin configurations for its coming Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 widebodies on May 4. The Gulf carrier plans to start service of both aircraft types in December.
Calling this the year of design execution for the Boeing 737 Max, program chief Keith Leverkuhn finds himself immersed in the challenges of orchestrating the re-engined narrowbody project to support a factory production rate due to rise to 47 a month around the time the first Max 8 enters service in 2017.
Alaska Airlines was the most fuel-efficient U.S. carrier for domestic operations in 2011 and 2012, according to a nonprofit organization’s analysis. Allegiant Air and American Airlines were the least fuel-efficient carriers during the survey period, the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) says in a study released on April 30.
Airbus Group’s electric E-Fan experimental aircraft made its first public flight on Friday during an E-Aircraft Day event in Bordeaux, France. The all-composite, electric E-Fan training aircraft is an experimental technology demonstrator. Airbus Group and its partners are using the platform to perform electric and hybrid aircraft research and development. The research efforts also support the environmental protection goals of the European Commission, as outlined in its “Flightpath 2050” program.