Friday, October 9, 2015

Boeing’s new overhead bin design brilliantly fits 50% more carry-ons


Flying on planes has gotten worse and worse over the years, particularly since airlines now charge you extra to check in your bags.

Thankfully, Alaska Airlines and Boeing have decided to make some major improvements to how planes are designed that will open up significantly more space for you to store your bags so you don’t have to check them in.

The Today Show got a look at newly redesigned overhead bins on Boeing’s 737 series of planes that will fit 50% more bags than they could fit before.

The way Boeing redesigned these bins was fairly simple: It increased their depth to make it possible to put more bags in vertically instead of horizontally.

Essentially, Boeing figured if it could make overhead bins with a depth of just over 14 inches, it could squeeze in 50% more bags than it normally could, provided passengers slot their bags in the comAlaska Airlines hopes to have the larger bins fitted in 50% of its planes within two years and you can be sure that other airlines are looking to follow suit — indeed, The Today Show says seven other airlines are talking about expanding overhead bin size as well.

(Brad Reed -BGR / Yahoo Tech)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Southwest poised to add international flights from Houston

Southwest banks on adding international flights in Houston and eventually Fort Lauderdale.

Southwest Airlines Co. showed off a new $156 million Houston airport concourse, a big part of its plan to expand international flights.

Next week, Southwest will begin flying from Houston's Hobby Airport to Mexico City, Cancun, Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos in Mexico; San Jose, Costa Rica; and Belize City, Belize. On Nov. 1, it will add Houston to Liberia, Costa Rica.

Houston "will be our focus for quite some time," Gary Kelly, chairman, president and CEO, said Thursday during a Southwest media event at Hobby Airport. He said the airline would launch a similar campaign to expand international flying from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, in 2017 or 2018.

Southwest offered no international service when it bought AirTran Airways in 2011. Since inheriting AirTran routes to Mexico and the Caribbean, Southwest has slowly added a few more destinations on its own.

Other airlines are eager to serve Cuba. Kelly said only that Cuba is one of about 50 potential destinations for Southwest.

On another subject, Kelly said Southwest has no plans to start charging for checking a bag or two. Earlier this year, JetBlue Airways imposed bag-checking fees for customers who buy the cheapest tickets. Many Wall Street analysts believe Southwest is losing money by not also charging for bags.

Kelly said, however, that the bags-fly-free approach generates nearly $1 billion a year in extra ticket sales. Charging bag fees now, he said, "would be really dumb."

(Associated Press)

Cut Back After 9/11, Short-Haul Flights May Grow at Southwest

Southwest Airlines Co. may see a resurrection of shorter flights that once made up the majority of its system before demand collapsed following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Lower fuel prices, reduced fares and systems to ease security screening have made air travel a more attractive alternative to driving on trips of less than 400 miles (640 kilometers), said Andrew Watterson, Southwest’s vice president of network and revenue management. The routes make up about half the airline’s flights, “much less than it used to be,” he said.

“Short-haul is more viable than in the past 15 years,” Watterson said in an interview Thursday in Houston. “There’s optimism those routes could start to return.”

Southwest has added shorter flights from Washington’s Ronald Reagan airport after securing coveted slots there, including service to Indianapolis and Columbus, Ohio. The carrier has reinstated other routes such as Dallas to Memphis, Tennessee, and Boise, Idaho, to Sacramento, California.
“We’ll see what those do, and will look for other opportunities depending on how customers respond,” Watterson said. “If they work we will add more.”

Chief Executive Officer Gary Kelly estimated that there were 38 million fewer passengers on short-haul routes industrywide in 2013 than in 2000, “and that traffic has not recovered” fully.

Even so, “it does feel like we’re seeing some signs of life there,” he said.

  (Mary Schlangenstein - Bloomberg Business)

Southwest Airlines plans to roll out first new employee uniforms in 20 years, other changes

Southwest Airlines’ flight attendant Sandra Hall (at right) wears a proposed new uniform and flight attendant Joan Mast (at left) wears her first hot-pants uniform from the early 1980s.
 (Sheryl Jean/The Dallas Morning News)

Southwest Airlines is in the midst of rolling some changes, including uniforms for employees and a new inflight drinks menu for passengers, as it continues to grow.

The company’s last complete uniform redo was 20 years ago, Teresa Laraba, Southwest’s senior vice president of customers said today at a company event in Houston.

“I remember because I was wearing it,” Laraba said. The estimate cost of replacing all employee uniforms is about $23 million, she said.

However, Laraba noted that the new uniform cost covers 80 percent of the Dallas-based airline’s workforce. She thinks the new look will last 10 years.

Southwest has involved employees in the research of the uniforms, the decision making process and “wear” testing being done now, chief commercial officer Bob Jordan said. The airline is awaiting feedback, which could lead to some tweaks to the proposals, he said.

Here are some other new offerings from the Dallas-based airline:

* Southwest just introduced a new drinks menu on board with a long list of $5 mixed-drink options and drinks. It’s also starting to offer craft beer selections, such as Lienenkugel’s Oktoberfest.

* It will introduce new blue seats on the new Boeing 737 Max planes and on all new planes delivered in or after May 2016, Jordan said. The economy-section seats will be the widest in the industry, with a 32-inch pitch and a 17.8-inch width.

Southwest doesn’t plan to squeeze in more seats on the 737 Max, Jordan said.

“Rather than squeeze in another row of seats, our desire is to make more comfortable seats for our customers,” he said. “We want the best seat for our customers. That means personal comfort and leg space.

(Sheryl Jean - The Dallas Morning News)

Monday, October 5, 2015

American Airlines Pilot Dies Mid-Flight

An American Airlines pilot died mid-flight after experiencing a medical emergency this morning, airline officials said.

The pilot, whose name and age were not released, was flying from Boston to Phoenix when the plane was forced to land in Syracuse, New York.

There were 147 passengers on board with five crew members, including the pilot. An airline spokesperson confirmed the incident to ABC News and said it is "incredibly saddened" and is focusing on taking care of the family members and crew involved.

Recordings of the crew's communications with air traffic control, obtained via, show that someone on the plane called in saying that the "captain is incapacitated" and at another point, saying "pilot is unresponsive, not breathing."

The nature of the pilot's sudden illness has not been disclosed.

An airline spokesperson said that one of the flight attendants is also a nurse and was trying to assist the ill pilot.

Airlines in the United States are required to have two pilots on board, and that was true in this case as well.

(Matt Hosford and Meghsn Kenrally - ABC News)

Air France seeks to cancel five Boeing plane deliveries

Air France will negotiate with Boeing and leasing company AerCap to cancel the delivery of five 787 passenger jets, Chief Executive Frederic Gagey said on Monday as he unveiled new cost-cutting measures for the troubled airline.

The five Boeing planes had been due for delivery in 2016 and 2017, Gagey said during a news conference, adding that additional orders for the 787 were also under review by the French carrier, a unit of Air France KLM.

Gagey also signaled willingness to negotiate with staff over the planned cutbacks and said the company's operating margin would be positive in 2015. Air France has no current plans to launch a low-cost long-haul service, he said.


Emirates airlines is betting $20 million on Jennifer Aniston to help sell more flights

Emirates has signed up Jennifer Aniston to front its latest global advertising push.
The airline says in a press release it has spent $20 million alone on securing global TV spots for the campaign, which was created by the ad agency RKCR/Y&R. It will also run on digital channels.
The ad sees the "Friends" star ridiculed by the cabin crew of an aircraft when she turns up wearing a dressing gown and asks where the shower is. The big reveal at the end is that it was a "nightmare," and she was actually aboard another aircraft, not an Emirates flight.
Boutros Boutros, Emirates divisional senior vice president of corporate communications, says in a statement: "In a departure from the usual airline industry ads, we chose to take a humorous approach to showcase the amazing products we offer on board.
We couldn't think of anyone better suited for the role than Jennifer Aniston and we wrote the script with her in mind. Her professionalism and comedic talent shone on the set and we are very pleased with the outcome."
The commercial comes shortly after Emirates' rival Etihad Airways signed up actress Nicole Kidman to front its latest multimillion-dollar global advertising push.
Over the past decade, Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar Airways have grown to become three of the world's best-regarded international airlines and have increased their presence in the US market.
But the three biggest US airlines — American, United, and Delta — say the explosive growth of the Middle East trio and their lavish spending are the result of billions of dollars of unfair subsidies.
The US airlines have been campaigning for the federal government to do something about those subsidies, which they say let the three airlines encroach on their turf.
This new campaign from Emirates — which will run in the US and which shows off its lavish first-class private suites — marks yet another threat to the US' big three.
(Lara O'Reilly - Business Insider)

Berry Aviation Brasilia's visit Long Beach

Embraer EMB-120ER(F) Brasilia (c/n 120291) N223SW.
(Above Photos)

Embraer EMB-120ER(F) Brasilia (c/n 120305) N229SW.
A pair of Berry Aviation Embraer EMB-120 Brasilia's passed through Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on a gloomy September 21, 2015. Both aircraft are late of SkyWest Airlines and have since been converted into freighters.
(Photos by Michael Carter)

Amerijet International Boeing 727-227/ADV(F) (21243/1197) N794AJ "G-Force One"

This gorgeous aircraft is captured arriving at Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) following a short flight from Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (LAS/KLAS) on Saturday October 3, 2015.
(Photos by Michael Carter)

Ryukyu places launch order for Q400 Combi


Japan-based Ryukyu Air Commuter is the launch customer for the combi variant of Bombardier’s Q400.

When Bombardier launched the Q400 Combi program last year, it said it had a launch order from an unidentified customer, and it kept that customer’s identity under wraps until today, with the announcement of Ryukyu’s order for five of the type.

Ryukyu Air Commuter is a regional subsidiary of the Japan Airlines Group, serving the southern Okinawa islands from its base in Naha, with a small fleet of Bombardier turboprops – four Dash 8-100s, and one Q300.

As can be seen in the picture, the Q400 combi’s cargo compartment is in the rear. It offers up to 32.5 cubic meters of volume and a payload of up to 4 tonnes (9,000 lbs). The forward compartment can accomodate up to 58 passengers, depending on seat pitch. List price is about $33.6 million.

(David Harris - Cargo Facts)

Italy's first AEW-roled G550 nears delivery

The Italian air force’s first of two Gulfstream G550 business jets to undergo modification to an airborne early warning and control system configuration, appears set for delivery to the service.
Pictured during a stop at Shannon airport in Ireland on 30 September, the aircraft – which carries a temporary US registration – had been flown from Gulfstream’s Savannah facility in Georgia, and later departed for Tel Aviv.
Israel Aerospace Industries’ Elta Systems business unit is responsible for the integration of its AEW radars and other mission equipment.
Asset Image

Gulfstream G550 (c/n 5429) N849GA
The Italian air force – which ordered its new surveillance aircraft in July 2012 – is to follow Israel and Singapore in operating the AEW-adapted G550.
Flightglobal’s Fleets Analyzer database records its lead example as being scheduled for delivery on 15 October.
(Craig Hoyle - Flightglobal News)

Air France managers flee as staff storm meeting on job cuts

Air France managers fled a meeting on Monday about mass job cuts after angry staff waving banners and flags stormed the room, according to Reuters journalists at the scene.

Television images showed airline human resources and labour relations chief Xavier Broseta being jostled, his shirt ripped off and his tie hanging from his neck, battling his way through crowds of workers as he sought to escape.

Broseta and Air France Chief Executive Frederic Gagey had been outlining a drastic cost cutting plan, described by the company as "Plan B" after failing to persuade its pilots to accept a less radical one.

Violent protests by workers are commonplace in France, where the population has a long tradition of taking the law into its own hands. This year, as the country struggles to come out of an economic downturn, has seen many.
Traffic disruption, damage to public property and injuries to police officers have gone hand-in-hand with a spate of demonstrations by farmers, taxi drivers, ferry workers and even tobacconists.

Air France CEO Gagey had already left the room before the works council meeting near Charles de Gaulle airport north of Paris was interrupted after about an hour.

Parent Air France-KLM said it planned to take legal action over "aggravated violence" carried out against its managers.

"This violence was carried out by particularly violent, isolated individuals, whereas the protest by striking personnel was taking place calmly up until then," a spokesman said.

Air France confirmed in the meeting, which will not resume on Monday, that it planned to cut 2,900 jobs by 2017 and shed 14 aircraft from its long-haul fleet, two union sources said.

The cuts include 1,700 ground staff, 900 cabin crew and 300 pilots, the sources said. The long-haul business would be reduced by 10 percent.

The French airline also wants to cancel its order for Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, the sources added. Air France-KLM has 19 787-9 and six 787-10 jets on order.

Industry sources said Boeing would be keen to keep the order on its books, possibly by agreeing to defer delivery.

Air France-KLM is seeking to cope with growing competition. It has been at loggerheads with its main pilots union, the SNPL, over its plans.

Europe's big three flag carriers, which also include British Airways owner IAG and Germany's Lufthansa, have been squeezed between low-cost competition inside Europe and fast-expanding long-haul airlines in the Gulf, as well as Turkish Airlines (THY).

Turkish Airlines is set to become the largest carrier on routes to and from Europe by the end of this year, ahead of British Airways, aircraft financiers gathered in Prague were told on Monday. Dubai's Emirates would be in third place.

The data treats Air France and KLM separately.

Lufthansa, which is also battling with union opposition to cost-cutting, has managed to push forward plans for a revamped low-cost unit, Eurowings.

(Simon Carraud and Cyril Altmeyer - Reuters)

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Boeing's Troubled KC-46 Pegasus Hits a Key Milestone


The KC-46 Pegasus finally got off the ground on Sept. 25.

In July, Boeing investors got some unwelcome news, as the company said it would book an $835 million pre-tax charge related to the development of the KC-46 Pegasus aerial refueling tanker. Problems with the fuel system necessitated a redesign and retrofit program. Since Boeing agreed to a capped-price contract with the Air Force, it is responsible for cost overruns.

This was the second special charge Boeing has taken with respect to this contract. That's caused concern from some analysts that the KC-46 Pegasus could turn into a big money pit for Boeing, because of its aggressive bid.

Fortunately, the project appears to be getting back on track. Late last month, Boeing finally completed an initial four hour test flight for the first KC-46 tanker. There is plenty of testing left to do -- not to mention putting the plane into full production -- but Boeing still has a chance to salvage the KC-46 program and turn a decent profit.

A small step forward

The initial flight conducted last month checked the plane's basic systems. According to the company, "Boeing test pilots performed operational checks on engines, flight controls and environmental systems and took the tanker to a maximum altitude of 35,000 feet prior to landing."

The plane performed as expected. The actual refueling equipment -- the most complicated part of the plane -- was not part of the test, making it a relatively small victory. That said, Boeing had originally planned to test the KC-46 Pegasus in August, but mechanics accidentally damaged the fuel system by using a mislabeled chemical for a preliminary test. So just getting off the ground was an accomplishment.

Boeing still expects to be able to test the refueling system and then do aerial refueling trial runs before the end of the year. If those tests are successful, then Boeing will be in good shape to avoid taking any more big special charges for cost overruns.

Risks are real, but manageable

The KC-46 program does carry some real risks for Boeing. The company has committed to delivering an initial batch of 18 tankers to the Air Force by August 2017. However, delays in the development process pushed back the Air Force's final decision on whether to go ahead with the order until April 2016. To gain this approval, Boeing needs to demonstrate that the KC-46 Pegasus meets all of its requirements.

However, Boeing can't wait until next April to start production, or else it wouldn't have the initial batch of planes ready in time. Thus, it is producing planes without a guarantee that the Air Force will be satisfied.

The likelihood that the Air Force will leave Boeing in the lurch seems relatively low, though. Obviously, if Boeing is hit with a big setback with no obvious fix, the Air Force could reconsider, but it really needs this plane. The KC-135 Stratotankers being replaced are already 50 to 60 years old, and the procurement process for new aircraft takes years.

It's harder to measure the likelihood of further major development snags. However, the Air Force general in charge of the program has said he is "cautiously confident" and that the biggest issues at this point are schedule-related and not performance-related.

Meaningful upside

Today, many investors appear to view the KC-46 program as a potential liability for Boeing.
However, there is also a lot of upside if Boeing can just avoid big mishaps. The company is already in line to get more than $40 billion for the 179 tankers the Air Force wants. The total market opportunity could be double that amount, though, as Boeing will be able to market the KC-46 to foreign militaries.

That's a lot of potential future revenue relative to the extent of Boeing's cost overruns thus far. It's way too early for Boeing investors to write off the KC-46 as a lost cause.

(Adam Levine-Weinberg - The Motley Fool)

Alaska Airlines CEO says his airline lost his bag

Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-890 (39043/2711) N512AS "Spirit of Seattle" taxies at John Wayne Orange County Airport (SNA/KSNA) on January 20, 2014 sporting the carriers "Dreamliner" livery.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

Alaska Airlines is so confident in its baggage delivery system that it became the nation's first major carrier to offer a guarantee to deliver your bag within 20 minutes of reaching the gate.

If the airline fails, you get a $25 credit toward a future flight or 2,500 miles in the airline's reward program.

So, Alaska Airlines Chief Executive Bradley Tilden was visibly embarrassed when he attended an airline summit last week in Washington, D.C. and admitted on stage that Alaska Airlines misplaced his bag during his flight to the summit.

The bag was delivered to him the next day.

And it wasn't the first time. He said the airline misplaced his bag on a flight 25 years earlier.

“The media is here and I'm hoping that you don't write this down and print it,” Tilden said with a smile.

Tilden did not say whether he got the $25 credit or the 2,500 miles.

(Hugo Martin - Los Angeles Times)

Boeing 777 Has Enabled The Growth Of Emirates, Which Flies 150 Of Them

Emirates Boeing 777-31H(ER (38982/830) A6-ECX departs Los Angeles International Airport (LAX/KLAX) on March 21, 2012.
(Photo by Michael Carter)

In the U.S., it is typically the low fare, low cost carriers, starting with Southwest,  that are most closely associated with specific types of aircraft.

Not so in Dubai.

As it has grown rapidly into the world’s biggest international airline in terms of revenue passenger miles (or revenue passenger kilometers), Dubai-based Emirates Airlines has relied primarily on the Boeing 777, and secondarily on the Airbus A380. It is the world’s biggest operator of both aircraft.

A month ago, Emirates took delivery of three 777s on a single day, bringing its total to 150 including 13 freighters. (The cargo fleet also includes two Boeing 747s).

Of the 777s, 107 are 777-300 extended range seating 354 to 427 passengers. As of Sept. 3, Emirates’ 777s had flown 859,053 flights.

The carrier also has 65 Airbus A-380s. Additionally, it has orders for 196 Boeing 777s and 73 A380s.

The Emirates strategy has been to establish a global hub in the Mideast and to connect passengers from throughout the world, particularly passengers from Asia and the Middle East to Europe and the U.S. The strategy requires a fleet of long-haul aircraft.

“Everything we do follows an extremely well mapped out vision,” said Hubert Frach, Emirates divisional senior vice president of the west. “The vision was clear from the very beginning: It’s about connecting people, places and economies.”

Frach said the carrier takes advantage of Dubai’s location: two thirds of the world’s population lives within four hours by air, and three quarters of the world’s population is within eight hours by air.
Additionally, he noted, throughout the world people “are becoming more affluent in terms of buying air travel. “

But you need the right aircraft. The 777 “is a very reliable aircraft in terms of size, configuration and performance parameters. It can fly almost 17 hours, and its on-time reliability is 99.5%,” said Frach, who previously headed global marketing for Lufthansa.

In a prepared statement, Tim Clark, Emirates president, said “The Boeing 777 makes up the majority of our fleet, and gives us the range and flexibility to provide non-stop services to almost any city within a 16 hour flying range of our hub in Dubai.”

Emirates serves 147 destinations in 79 countries, including 98 destinations served by the 777. It serves 10 U.S cities including Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Orlando, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington. It also operates a Milan-JFK route and a cargo route to Atlanta.

On Sept. 3, Emirates began Dubai-Orlando service with an A380; on Oct. 1 it added a second daily Dubai-Boston 777 flight.

Emirates’ strategy has become controversial not only because of its own rapid expansion but also because of the similar, duplicative strategies employed by Mideast competitors Etihad and Qatar.

Particularly rapid U.S growth has prompted American, Delta and United to respond by calling attention to the government subsidies that have enabled it and have violated Open Skies policies.

(The Gulf carriers deny that they receive subsidies.)

Emirates notes that flying Boeing aircraft creates thousands of U.S. jobs, not just at Boeing but also related jobs. The US Department of Commerce has estimated that 5,359 U.S. jobs are created for every one billion dollars in value of U.S. export goods.

Boeing is the biggest U.S. exporter, and also one of the leading U.S. lobbyists, given its importance not only to commercial aviation but also to defense. For obvious reasons, however, Boeing has taken no position on the ongoing battle over subsidies to Mideast carriers, which pits one group of its customers against another group of its customers. Boeing’s position has been described as “aggressively neutral.”

Still, it’s hard not to like a customer whose business strategy is so closely tied to one of your products.

(Ted Reed - Forbes)

Emirates hints at no Dubai Airshow orders, pushes decision on A350/787 to next year

Emirates airlines indicated on Sunday that it won't be announcing any big orders at next month's Dubai Airshow and said it wouldn't make a decision this year on whether to purchase Airbus A350 or Boeing 787 twin-aisle jets.

Tim Clark, the airline's president, asked at an event whether any orders were likely to be announced at the air show which runs Nov. 8-12, said the carrier was still taking delivery of planes announced at the last show in 2013.

"We're still running the program we signed for (in 2013), we've got aircraft coming in as you know," Clark told reporters.

"The Xs (777s) come in late-2018 and 2019. That's enough for the time being," he said.

Dubai's flagship carrier has said it is looking at an order for 50 to 70 twin-aisle jets - with the main competitors being the Airbus A350-900 and Boeing's new 787-10, a stretched Dreamliner.

"We're looking at both of them ... we've got a good comparison opportunity," Clark, told reporters on the sidelines of an aviation security conference hosted by the airline.

"Now we're going to the manufacturers about the numbers that we need and the prices they're prepared to offer. We haven't got there in detail yet," he said.

Emirates has received the needed performance data on the A350 as well as from Boeing's 787-8 and 787-9, variants on the Dreamliner which are already in service, Clark said.

However, he raised doubts about the 787-10's ability to carry heavy passenger and cargo loads to distances beyond eight hours due to its performance in hot climates - an issue for a Gulf-based airline.

"It (787-10) doesn't have the capability of lifting the payload to distances that we would want beyond about eight hours," Clark said.

The A350 meanwhile, can fly for about 14 hours, Clark said, although he also said 85 percent of Emirates' flights do not exceed eight hours.

Many analysts had expected Emirates to announce a big order at its home air show next month as it has done previously.

At the show in 2013, it placed a record-breaking order for 150 Boeing 777x, valued at $76 billion at list price, and added another 50 A380 jumbo jets to an existing order for 90 of the Airbus aircraft in a deal valued at $21.4 billion at list price.

The carrier, which is based at Dubai International airport, is having to make difficult purchase decisions due to space constraints at the airport.

Emirates, which is pushing Airbus to make a stretched and re-engined version of the A380, is unlikely to shift its base to the new airport for another decade.

(Nadia Saleem - Reuters)

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Air Canada Jetz Airbus A319-114 (c/n 831) C-GBIK

Arriving at 14:38 pst from Denver International Airport (DEN/KDEN) as "ACA7015."

 Taxies on "Delta" towards a Rwy 30 departure.

Rolling for take-off on Rwy 30 at 16:11 pst as "ACA7080" bound for Ontario International Airport (ONT/KONT).

Air Canada Jetz A319-114 was a nice visitor on October 1st as it brought the NHL Vancouver Canucks to Southern California to play the Anaheim Ducks at the Honda Center in Anaheim.
(Photos by Michael Carter) 

Bombardier turns to Caisse for cash

A Bombardier CS300 participates in a flying display during the 51st Paris Air Show at Le Bourget airport near Paris, June 16, 2015.
 (Reuters - Pascal Rossignol)

Bombardier is in discussions with the Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec, which manages Quebec's public pension plans, on a deal that could inject more cash into the troubled plane and train maker, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

It was not immediately clear how a potential deal would be structured. One source familiar with the company's thinking said the Caisse, already one of Bombardier's biggest shareholders, was contemplating taking a larger stake in the Montreal-based company.

"It's not a done deal yet," said a source from Canada’s second-largest pension fund.

If it closes a deal with the Caisse, it will be the second surprise financing in less than a year, a humbling turn for one of Quebec's best-known companies.

In February, Bombardier raised C$1.1 billion in equity and $2.25 billion in debt.

At that time, the Caisse bought C$13.3 million worth of Bombardier stock, the Globe and Mail reported in June.

The root of Bombardier's problems is the CSeries, a new medium-range, narrow-body jet that is set to enter service next year, years late and billions over budget. To support it, sources have told Reuters, Bombardier is willing to consider selling stakes in all its business units, not just rail.

A deal with the Caisse could shore up Bombardier's balance sheet relatively quickly, with minimal political fallout or impact on cash flow. By contrast, selling a major asset to a foreign buyer would likely kick off a lengthy government review, and sap it of badly-needed cash flow. A direct government bailout may prove unpopular ahead of an Oct. 19 federal election.

But there is no guarantee Bombardier will close a deal with the Caisse, and the process has been difficult, coming so soon after February's multi-billion dollar debt and equity financing, said one source at the Caisse.

"They lack negotiating power," the Caisse source said of Bombardier. "It's like you lend money to a friend who says everything's fine – only to come back a month later and ask for more money."

A deal with Caisse would likely require some change in the voting rights structure which currently favours Bombardier's founding family, said a second source familiar with the talks.

Bombardier spokeswoman Isabelle Rondeau declined to comment on "speculation or rumours" and reiterated remarks from February, that it is "exploring other initiatives such as possible participation in industry consolidation."

The Caisse also declined to comment.

The Quebec government has repeatedly offered to bail out Bombardier - an offer that one banker familiar with the company said sounded like "code" for increased investment by the Caisse.

"The Caisse, unlike any of the other pension funds, has a dual mandate, so it is not only to maximize risk adjusted returns for their beneficiaries, but also to promote the interests of the province of Quebec," said the banker, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Some investors have exited Bombardier over the last year, as it veered towards penny stock territory, with shares touching C$1.03, their lowest point since 1991.

The stock recovered somewhat after Reuters reported last month that the company had turned down a Chinese offer to buy the rail unit.

But a portfolio manager at one top shareholder remains very concerned.

"There's no single voice for the company. Since the message is not clear, it's an indication that they don't have a plan in place. That's what worries me," said the investor.

Rondeau said Bombardier's "investor relations service is in constant contact with the Street," and pointed to the company's upcoming investor day on November 24 in New York.

The Caisse held net assets totalling C$240.8 billion as of June 30, 2015.

(Allison Lampert and Andrea Shalal - Reuters)

Forest Service Doubles Fleet of Large Firefighting Planes

The U.S. Forest Service is putting seven more large airtankers into the skies in an effort to double down in the fight against an "above-normal" fire season, two years after an ABC News investigation found the aging firefighting fleet was struggling to protect American homes and lives.
The investigation in 2013 found the Forest Service had been plagued for a decade by a dwindling fleet of large and very large airtankers, aging aircraft often converted from military use that once were relied on by states to aid in large forest fires but were often grounded over safety issues or crashed and were never replaced.

The addition of the "next generation" aerial firefighting planes -- older passenger jets refurbished to drop 3,000 to 11,000 gallons of fire retardant, depending on the aircraft -- is badly needed in western states, notably California, which is suffering a years-long drought and nearly 60,000 wildfires.

“The Forest Service has made significant progress in modernizing the Large Airtanker fleet, which we believe is critical to protect lives, property, and valuable natural and cultural resources from wildfires that are becoming bigger, more dangerous, and more costly,” Tom Harbour, Director of Fire and Aviation Management for the Forest Service, said in a statement Wednesday.

The ABC News investigation found that Forest Service officials for more than a decade had lost more than half their fleet of large firefighting planes but failed at the time to come up with a viable plan to replace them, even as the drought-stricken West battled more fires threatening homes and businesses increasingly developed in dry forested areas.

Defense and aircraft contracting giant Lockheed Martin had mounted an aggressive lobbying effort to get the agency to buy their planes, which were the only new models being proposed at a price rage of $90-120 million per C-130J.

No airplane has ever been designed specifically to drop retardant and historically all firefighting aircraft were modified to do it. Lockheed was also the only company to hire a former top government official as chief lobbyist, who once oversaw the Forest Service.

The ABC News investigation found that Mark Rey, a paper industry lobbyist who served for all eight years of the Bush administration as the U.S. Department of Agriculture undersecretary directly overseeing the Forest Service, has been Lockheed Martin's chief lobbyist in selling C-130 planes -- used as a workhorse transport aircraft by the military -- to the Forest Service.

Since 2009, lobbying records filed in the U.S. Senate show Rey has been paid $430,000 by the defense contractor to lobby the Forest Service for "firefighting aircraft."

E-mails obtained by ABC News through a Freedom of Information Act request in 2013 showed that Rey has enjoyed easy access to Harbour, a former subordinate. An official told ABC News Rey and Harbour met every few months to discuss aerial firefighting, in which Rey is recognized by many in the field as an expert.

Despite the close relationship, Lockheed has failed to convince the Obama administration and Congress for the past six years to buy their costly new C-130J planes, with contracts instead going to other firms modifying re-purposed older civilian aircraft that are much less expensive.

Rey told ABC News Thursday that "the company is still interested," adding that Lockheed Martin will submit future proposals to the Forest Service to buy its planes.

Harbour indicated the company may yet succeed in winning a major contract.

"I am still bullish on the C-130J," Harbour told ABC News.

Rey said the problems with the aging Forest Service large airtanker fleet "have only gotten worse" over the past two years. But he said he sees hope in the Federal Aviation Administration approving a civilian version of the C-130 which will be lighter and likely less expensive than the estimated $90-120 million cost per plane to convert new C-130J's into aerial firefighting platforms.

The seven new planes added to the Forest Service's "exclusive use" contract fleet will include four BAe-146's from Neptune Aviation Services, two Avro RJ85's from Aero-Flight and a DC-10 from 10 Tanker Air Carrier, which has wowed woodland firefighters with its jumbo jets that fly as low as 100 feet over raging fires and dropping as much as 11,000 gallons of orange fire retardant.

With these additions, a total of 12 large and two very large airtankers make up the Forest Service fleet, along with much smaller tankers and seasonal loaners from the military. Two additional very large airtankers are available for severe situations, officials said.

In June 2013, 19 elite woodland firefighters from Prescott, Arizona, known as the Granite Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew, were killed fighting a blaze on Yarnell Hill, a half hour drive from their home base. Only one hotshot, lookout Brendan "Donut" McDonough, survived the disaster.

A 10 Tanker DC-10 was orbiting in the skies overhead at the time awaiting orders to hit the blaze but could not have swooped in to save the hotshots, who were killed by the flames within only two minutes of the team leader's first radio call that their escape route was cut off.

"My captain was right overhead when those guys got killed," 10 Tanker owner Rick Hatton told ABC News in 2013.

Only 34 airtankers have been flying for the Forest Service this year as fires raged throughout hard-hit California, mostly made up of a hodge-podge of Korean War-era prop planes to the DC-10s jets, a surplus military HC-130H and more C-130s borrowed temporarily from the National Guard, which spray retardant rather than drop it from the belly using gravity, which is more effective, government and private fire experts agree.

(Brian Ross, James Gordon Meek and Cindy Galli - ABC News)

British Airways recieves first 787-9 "Dreamliner"

Boeing marked the delivery of the first 787-9 Dreamliner to British Airways on Sep 30.
The latest delivery is related to the airline’s first order for 22 787-9. Boeing has already delivered eight 787-8s to the airline and has a backlog of 12 B787-10s. The 787-9 aircraft is scheduled to fly the London-Delhi route later this month.
Compared with its predecessor, the 787-9 model has an extended fuselage structure, which enables it to carry 242 to 335 passengers over distances as far as 8,500 nautical miles. Travelers can choose from a four-class configuration – Club World, World Traveller Plus and World Traveller, along with a new first class. The 787-9 Dreamliner has eight seats in the first class, compared to the 14 in 787-8.
The first class features enticing facilities for travelers, which include a new ottoman beside the adjustable footstool which has ample space for personal items, shoes and even handbags; an individual suiter for jackets and coats; and a new locker with a mirror on the door for important documents and gadgets.
British Airways is the first European airline to install the top-class First cabin on a Dreamliner. China Southern was the first airline in the world to enjoy the same.
Other benefits of the 787-9 include fuel efficiency and lower emissions. It burns 20% less fuel, resulting in an exceptional environment-friendly performance. It incorporates the design of the 787-8 model, while boasting features like modern LED lighting, large windows, lower cabin altitude and cleaner air, thus enhancing passenger comfort. To date, there have been a total of 304 Boeing 787 Dreamliner deliveries.
The Dreamliner had in the past faced difficulties related to design problems, cost overruns and delays. But the aircraft has not looked back since its first flight in Dec 2009. Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner is a one-of-a-kind aircraft, combining innovation, efficiency, comfort and environmental awareness to ensure the ultimate flying experience.