All posts by James Ronayne

Maiden Flight for Boeing 787-10

Boeing flew the largest member of its Dreamliner Family, the 787-10, for the first time on March 31. The aircraft made it maiden flight from the manufacturer’s facility at Charleston, South Carolina, undertaking a four hour 58 minutes sortie.

“The 787-10’s first flight moves us one step closer to giving our customers the most efficient airplane in its class,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President & CEO Kevin McAllister. “The airplane will give carriers added flexibility in growing their network routes and build on the overwhelming success of the 787 Dreamliner family.”

Boeing Test and Evaluation Captains Tim Berg and Mike Bryan conducted the first flight, testing the jet’s flight controls, systems and handling qualities. Boeing hopes to begin customer deliveries of the 787-10 in the first half of 2018.

Berg, who is also the manufacturer’s Chief 787 Pilot, said: “From take off to landing, the airplane handled beautifully and just as expected. The 787-10 is a fantastic machine that I know our customers and their passengers will love.”

Boeing has secured 149 orders for the 787-10, which is 18ft (5.5m) longer than the -9, from nine customers. Singapore Airlines is the launch customer with airframes scheduled for delivery to Air Lease Corporation, All Nippon Airways (ANA), British Airways, Etihad Airways, EVA Air, GE Capital Aviation Services, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines and United Airlines too.

Airbus A319neo Makes First Flight

Airbus has successfully completed the maiden flight of the A319neo, D-AVWA (c/n 6464). Powered by CFM International LEAP-1A engines, the smallest member of the A320neo Family, took off from Hamburg/Finkenwerder on March 31, landing at the manufacturer’s Toulouse facility after a five hour test flight.

Experimental test pilots Michel Gagneux and Eckard Hausser had the honour of conducting the first flight and were assisted by Test-Flight Engineer Jean Michel Pin and flight test engineers Sylvie Loisel-Labaste and David O’nions.

The A319neo, which can accommodate up to 160 passengers, will be based in Toulouse where the flight test programme will be completed. Airbus says the flight campaign will focus primarily on aircraft handling qualities, autopilot and performance and systems, building on the required engine tests that already have been performed with the A320neo and A321neo.

Experimental test pilots Michel Gagneux and Eckard Hausser conducted the first flight. Airbus

HIA Joins the Elite

Doha’s Hamad International Airport (HIA) has become just the sixth facility in the world to receive Skytrax’s ‘5-Star Airport’ ranking.  The rating is awarded by the London-based aviation institute to airports providing first class facilities for its passengers combined with excellent service from airport staff.  It takes into account the front-line areas for departures, arrival and transfer, including airport facilities, customer service, security, immigration, shopping outlets and food and beverage facilities.  Doha joins Singapore, Seoul, Hong Kong, Tokyo/Haneda and Munich as five star facilities.

Engineer Badr Mohammed Al Meer, COO of HIA, said: “Joining the elite of airports and being the first airport in the Middle East to earn five stars from Skytrax is an honour, and a direct result of the thousands of people who ensure HIA operates smoothly every day, every flight.  No matter how long our guests are with us, we strive to make their journey flawless and memorable.  This acknowledgement is highly gratifying, and will continue to motivate us to create an exceptional experience for everyone.”

HIA, which has only been operational for three years, has enjoyed several strategic milestones over the past 12 months, including the launch of its iBeacon enabled mobile app, the introduction of the dual passenger train shuttle to concourses D and E and the opening of multiple duty free stores.

The Qatari airport also enjoyed success at the 2017 Skytrax World Airport Awards, held in Amsterdam where it was named the “Best Airport in the Middle East” for the third consecutive year and awarded “Best Staff Service in the Middle East” for the second year running.

BOC Aviation Adds More MAX 8s

BOC Aviation has placed an order for 13 additional Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft.  The latest purchase agreement takes the lessor’s commitment to 209 aircraft from the Boeing Next-Generation 737 Family including 74 MAX 8s.

“Airlines are attracted by the 737 MAX 8’s lower operating costs and fuel efficiency, and we are delighted to announce the inclusion of these additional aircraft as we build our future delivery pipeline,” said Robert Martin, Managing Director and CEO of BOC Aviation.

Dinesh Keskar, Senior VP, Asia Pacific & India Sales, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said: “BOC Aviation’s purchase for an additional 13 737 MAX 8s is a testament to the superior value, performance and economics the 737 MAX will bring to airlines around the world.”

Swiss Opts for More CS300s

Swiss International Airlines has revealed it is converting its five remaining options for the Bombardier C Series to the larger CS300.

The company, which was the launch customer for the CS100, will eventually operate a fleet of ten CS100s and 20 CS300s. Swiss says new aircraft deliveries will reduce the average age of its fleet from 12.5 years to 8.5 years by the end of 2018.

The Star Alliance carrier is also investing CHF100m in refurbishing its five remaining Airbus A340s and launching a programme to introduce inflight connectivity to its medium- and short-haul fleets next year.

“By the end of next year we will have one of Europe’s most advanced and efficient aircraft fleets,” explained Thomas Klühr, Swiss’ CEO.

Investments will also be made at the airline’s Zurich Airport hub. A new First Class Lounge will be introduced on the Check-In 1 concourse by the end of the year providing guests with their own security checkpoint and a dedicated walkway to their limousine transport. The 650m2 facility will also have an à la carte restaurant, a staffed bar and an area equipped with workstations and showers.

The Business Class and Senator Lounges in Terminal A will be refurbished with work scheduled for completion in the first quarter of 2018. These investments total more than CHF15m.

“Our new premium product on the ground will offer our customers genuinely new levels of air travel comfort and convenience,” explained Klühr.

This news came on the back of a strong financial year for Swiss in 2016. The carrier reported earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) of CHF429m.  “All in all, Swiss can look back on a very successful 2016,” said Klühr.  “We are in sound financial health, and we will continue to invest in our premium air travel product, for the benefit of our customers.”

The carrier warned it expects to post an EBIT for 2017 “slightly below” its 2016 level. It attributed this to the “challenging competitive environment, the strength of the Swiss franc, the present geopolitical uncertainties and the recent tangible increase in the price of oil”.

Introducing LEVEL

International Airlines Group (IAG) has named its new low-cost long-haul carrier LEVEL. The airline will launch in June with flights from Barcelona to Los Angeles, Oakland, Buenos Aires and Punta Cana. It will fly two new Airbus A330s configured with 293 seats in Economy and 21 in Premium Economy. Initially the airline will operate with flight and cabin crew supplied by Iberia.

Willie Walsh, IAG Chief Executive, said: “LEVEL is an exciting new IAG airline brand which will bring a stylish and modern approach to flying at prices that are even more affordable. It will benefit from having the strength of one of the world’s largest airline groups behind it.

“LEVEL will become IAG’s fifth main airline brand alongside Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia and Vueling. It will complement our existing airline portfolio and further diversify our current customer base.

“Barcelona is Vueling’s home base and this will allow customers to connect from Vueling’s extensive European network onto LEVEL’s long-haul flights.

“This is just the start. We’re really excited about the opportunities for expansion and we plan to bring LEVEL to other European destinations”.

Customers flying in Premium Economy will enjoy complimentary checked luggage, meals and seat selection. Those travelling in Economy will be able to purchase these extra services while high speed internet will be offered to all passengers with prices starting at €8.99. Travellers will also be able to earn and redeem Avios – the loyalty currency for IAG’s airlines.

Flights to LA begin on June 1 operating twice weekly while Oakland will launch the following day and be flown three times per week. Services to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic will be flown twice weekly from June 10 with Buenos Aires coming online on June 17 with three flights per week.

bmi regional Borrows Superjet

bmi regional is wet-leasing Sukhoi Superjet 100, EI-FWB (c/n 95108), from CityJet to provide extra capacity. The 98-seat aircraft has been operating from the carrier’s Bristol hub since March 12 flying on its connections to Paris/Charles de Gaulle and Aberdeen.

Talking exclusively to Airliner World, bmi regional’s Chief Commercial Officer, Jochen Schnadt, said the move was predominantly because the carrier has “more opportunities than we are able to fly ourselves”.  He added: “I think it is also fair to say it gives us a great opportunity to use it as a bit of a testbed commercially to see how we can make it work in our setup.”

Schnadt said bmi regional would only have the SSJ100 for a “number of weeks”.

DAE Acquires ATR Portfolio

Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE) has purchased a portfolio of ATR 72-600s from GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS). This addition takes DAE’s fleet of the type to 57 while the lessor has options for a further 20 examples from the manufacturer.

Khalifa AlDaboos, Managing Director of DAE said: “DAE firmly believes in the potential of the ATR 72-600 in regional networks, both in terms of its technical capabilities as well as the superior customer experience it provides. Especially in emerging markets, the ATR 72-600 has proven to be an invaluable asset that we will continue to invest in.”

KAIR Airlines Opts for A320s

South Korean start-up KAIR Airlines has placed a firm order for eight Airbus A320ceos.  The new low-cost carrier is based in Cheongju and will operate international services throughout North East Asia.

“We see enormous potential for the development of a low-cost model linking central South Korea with destinations in China, Taiwan and Japan”, said Byung Ho Kang, KAIR Airlines Representative Director and Chairman.  “KAIR Airlines will focus on point-to-point services at low fares while offering passengers a modern and fun product offering.  Brand new A320 aircraft will be perfect for our business model and customers, combining the lowest operating costs with the widest cabin in the single aisle segment.”

John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer, Customers, said: “We have been impressed by the business model developed by KAIR Airlines.  We are confident that the efficiencies offered by the A320 will contribute to a successful launch by KAIR Airlines, bringing more choice for passengers flying in the North East Asian region.  The selection of the A320 by KAIR Airlines underscores once again the position of the Airbus single aisle product line as the preferred choice for low cost airlines in Asia.”