4,000th A320 type delivered

Airbus has delivered its 4,000th A320 ‘Family’ aircraft.

August 28: Airbus delivered its 4,000th A320 ‘Family’ aircraft with an A319 handed over to Brazilian flag carrier TAM at the manufacturer’s plant in Hamburg, Germany.

Maria Claudia Oliveira Amaro, Chairman of the Board of Directors of TAM said: “TAM’s acquisition of the 4,000th A320 Family aircraft is another milestone in our partnership with Airbus. It will be an even bigger excitement when the aircraft heads for Brazil, as it will also be contributing to an important initiative in the social responsibility arena.” On its ferry flight to Brazil, TAM will take equipment that was donated by ‘Aviation without Borders Germany’ to schools for handicapped children in the region.

TAM operates a fleet of 125 Airbus aircraft, having become an Airbus A319 operator in 1998.

An-12 crash claims six lives

An Antonov An-12 crashed with the loss of six lives near Brazzaville in the Congo.

August 26: An Antonov An-12 crashed with the loss of six lives near a cemetery at Nganga Lingolo on the outskirts of Brazzaville in the Congo. The aircraft belonged to Congolese cargo company Aéro-Frêt Business and was the only one in operation with the airline.

According to Yahoo news, the Congolese Transport Minister said the rear of the aircraft was on fire and the aircraft broke up before it hit the ground.

The aircraft involved is believed to be An-12BK registration TN-AIA, which was built in 1966. On February 20, 2009, an Antonov An-12 flown by Aerolift crashed after an engine caught fire on take-off at Luxor International Airport, Egypt with the loss of five crewmembers.

787 to fly ‘by the end of the year’

Boeing announced that the first flight of the troubled 787 Dreamliner is now “expected by the end of 2009”.

August 27: Boeing announced that the first flight of the troubled 787 Dreamliner is now “expected by the end of 2009”, with the first delivery in the “fourth quarter of 2010”.

The company has been under pressure to declare a flight programme since a major fix to a structural flaw was indentified in mid-June, shortly before its intended first flight. A fix to the wing-to-body join was necessary, where de-lamination of the structure was experienced during static wing-bending testing. Boeing’s new schedule allows the modification to be done to one aircraft and has “several weeks of schedule margin”, according to the company. The static test procedure that highlighted the stringer problem will be repeated and the results fully analysed before first flight is conducted.

“This new schedule provides us the time needed to complete the remaining work necessary to put the 787’s game-changing capability in the hands of our customers,” said Boeing Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Jim McNerney. “The design details and implementation plan are nearly complete, and the team is preparing aeroplanes for modification and testing.”

It was originally intended that the prototype and pre-production aircraft would be refurbished after flight testing and released to customers, but Boeing says this is no longer the case. The company has concluded that these airframes will have no commercial market value due to the inordinate amount of rework and extensive modifications made and will be written-off against a research and development budget. Boeing hopes to achieve a production rate of ten aircraft per month by late 2013. The first aircraft was originally scheduled to be delivered to All Nippon Airways in May 2008.

Air China booms

Air China reports a half-year profit of 2.88 billion Renminbi (RMB) ($3.38 billion), an increase of over 150% on the same period last year.

August 25: Air China reported a half-year profit of 2.88 billion Renminbi (RMB) ($3.38 billion), an increase of over 150% on the same period last year. Much of the profit came from gains in hedging against fuel increases, amounting to some RMB1.45 billion, but the company also cited a strong domestic market for its strong performance.

The airline carried a total of 19.52 million passengers, an increase of nearly 11% from the same period last year. Domestic traffic was up 20%, offsetting a 9% drop in international traffic, which the airline predicts will remain depressed for the rest of the year in a “cold winter for the aviation industry.”

During the first half of the year the airline has added eleven narrow-body aircraft such as the A321 and B737-800 and retired eleven older aircraft including B767, B737-300/600 and B747-200Fs. It currently operates a fleet of 243 aircraft.

KLM 777-300ER gets ‘green’ paint job

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines’ latest Boeing 777-300ER (Extended Range) has been delivered painted in a special ‘SkyTeam’ livery.

August 25: KLM Royal Dutch Airlines’ latest Boeing 777-300ER (Extended Range) has been delivered painted in a special ‘SkyTeam’ livery to celebrate the alliance’s tenth anniversary, but is also notable for being the start of an in-service evaluation using chrome-free decorative paint and primer.

The paint’s chrome-free status results in simplified health and safety monitoring requirements, reduces the environmental impact of the painting and stripping process and eliminates the need for special handling of paint waste with consequent designated offsite disposal areas. Boeing says it will apply the non-chrome paint and primer on up to 14 aircraft across all models in its range for in-service evaluation with the intention of making it a standard option in the future.

British Airways claims to be 90

British Airways is celebrating “90 years of leading the travel industry,” it claims in a press release today.

August 25: British Airways is celebrating “90 years of leading the travel industry,” it claims in a press release today.

On August 25, 1919 George Stevenson-Reece became the first fare-paying passenger on a scheduled international flight, flying in an Airco DH4A, piloted by Captain E.H. Lawford from Hounslow Heath to Le Bourget Airport in Paris. The fare was 42 guineas return (the equivalent of £1,706 today) and the service operated by Air Transport & Travel Ltd., which stopped services on February 28, 1921. Its assets were taken over by Lieutenant Colonel Frank Searle’s Daimler Air Hire company to form Daimler Airway.

On March 31, 1924 Daimler Airway joined with Handley Page Transport, British Marine Air Navigation Co Ltd. and Instone Air Line Ltd. to form Imperial Airways. In 1935 smaller air transport companies merged to form the original privately owned British Airways Ltd., and four years later it and Imperial Airways were nationalised to form British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC). In 1972, the BOAC and British European Airways (BEA) managements were combined under the British Airways Board, with British Airways launched on April 1, 1974. The national company was privatised in 1987 with floatation on the London Stock Exchange.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: “British Airways has never lost the pioneering spirit and vision that saw it take to the skies with the world’s first daily international flight from London to Paris on this day in 1919. Ninety years on, the world’s most iconic airline is still proudly flying the flag and remains a great British brand.”

British Airways chairman Martin Broughton said: “Over the past nine decades, British Airways has played its part in many historic episodes. We provided the first air links to far-flung capitals in the days of empire, flew Winston Churchill across the Atlantic during wartime, brought Queen Elizabeth back to Britain after the passing of George VI, repeatedly led the way with aircraft innovation and have often proudly transported home our sports teams from success overseas. We have a rich history supporting Britain and will carry this forward to our centenary and beyond.”

Fourth A380 for Qantas

Qantas has taken delivery of its fourth Airbus A380.

August 24: Australian airline Qantas has taken delivery of its fourth Airbus A380, the aircraft touching down in Sydney after a ferry flight from Airbus’s plant at Toulouse in France.

“This fourth aircraft will allow us to increase Sydney-Singapore-London A380 services from three to five per week, and Sydney-Los Angeles services from three to four per week,” said Qantas Chief Executive Officer Alan Joyce. “Our fifth and sixth A380s are also due for delivery by the end of the year, after which we will offer customers daily A380 services to London and Los Angeles from Sydney and increase Melbourne to Los Angeles services from two to three per week.”

Due to enter service on September 7, the new aircraft is named ‘Fergus McMaster’ after the airline’s first chairman. The first three Qantas A380s are named ‘Nancy-Bird Walton’ after the first woman to fly a commercial aviation service in Australia and ‘Hudson Fysh’ and ‘Paul McGinness’, two founders of Qantas.

WestJet orders 737s

Canadian airline WestJet has announced an order for 14 additional Next-Generation (NG) 737-700s.

August 24: In a good news day for Boeing’s venerable 737, Canadian airline WestJet announced an order for 14 additional Next-Generation (NG) 737-700s. “The new order of Boeing 737-700s will give us one of the most modern fleets in the air,” said Sean Durfy, WestJet President and CEO. “At the same time, we’ll have enhanced flexibility to deliver on our vision of becoming one of the top five airlines in the world by 2016.”

The carrier’s fleet is solely based on the 737NG, with 81 currently in service. Although the new orders are good for Boeing, WestJet also announced it was deferring the delivery of 16 leased and direct-purchase aircraft. “Thanks to our strong partnerships with Boeing and Aviation Capital Group, we were able to revise our aircraft delivery schedule to better match our strategic plans,” said Durfy. “Our previously published schedule saw us growing to a fleet size of 121 aircraft by 2013. The combination of deferred delivery dates on our existing orders, 14 new orders and 23 leases expiring between 2013 and 2016 – each with the option to renew – gives us the flexibility to end 2016 with a fleet size between 112 and 135 aircraft.”

737 for Norwegian Air Shuttle

Low-cost airline Norwegian Air Shuttle received its first directly-purchased Boeing 737-800.

August 24: Low-cost airline Norwegian Air Shuttle received its first directly-purchased Boeing 737-800 at the company’s plant at Seattle in Washington State.

Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA, commercially branded ‘Norwegian’, is the second largest airline in Scandinavia and the fourth largest low-cost carrier in Europe. Norwegian currently operates 45 aircraft, consisting of 13 leased 737-800s, 28 older 737-200s and four MD-80s. It has 45 737-800s on order, of which today’s delivery is the first. It will have received all its new aircraft by 2014, with the MD-80s being phased out as soon as possible.

“Having already leased 13 Boeing 737-800s, we know there are good reasons why the Next-Generation 737 is the best-selling airplane in the world,” said Norwegian Air Shuttle CEO Bjorn Kjos. “It’s the right answer for a point-to-point airline like Norwegian Air Shuttle.”

All Norwegian Air Shuttle 737 orders will include Boeing’s ‘Sky Interior’ cabin based upon the 787 Dreamliner design.

Search for Flight 447 black box finally called off

The BEA has called off its search for the ‘black box’ flight recorders from Air France Flight AF 447.

August 20: The French Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses (BEA) has finally called off its second search for the ‘black box’ flight recorders from Air France Flight AF 447, the A330–200 that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean on June 1 with the loss of 228 passengers and crew.

The L’Institut Francais de Recherche pour l’Exploitation de la Mer (IFREMER) oceanographic ship ‘Pourquoi pas?’ has surveyed the ocean bed for the past weeks but the flight recorder’s locator beacons ceased transmitting in early July. The Pourquoi pas? has returned to port at Dakar. A circle with a radius of 75km, centred on the last position message transmitted by the aircraft, has been extensively surveyed using a side-scan sonar device, the Victor 6000 ROV and Nautile submarine.

As the search has so far proved fruitless, the BEA will analyze the data collected with a view to making a third search of the area.