United States Air Force (USAF) C-17A (P-189) 07-7189 returns to Long Beach Airport (LGB/KLGB) on October 10, 2014 following a test sortie to "Shots Intersection" prior to her re-delivery to the 437th Airlift Wing, Charleston AFB, South Carolina.
The C-17A was involved in landing mishap at Forward Operating Base (FOB) Shank, Afghanistan in early 2012. The aircraft sustained extensive damage to the landing gear, cargo floor, undercarriage, antennas, and main structural components and was dimmed a write-off by Boeing but the USAF insisted the aircraft be repaired and was done so at an estimated cost of $69.4 million. The Air Force is basically getting a new aircraft as she has all the new upgrades.
United Airlines is closing its flight-attendant base in Seattle at the end of January, the airline informed the flight-attendant union Tuesday.
United spokeswoman Megan McCarthy said 264 flight attendants based here are affected.
“We recognize that closing any domicile places a hardship on those who live in that location,” the airline said in a statement sent to the Association of Flight Attendants union (AFA). The statement added that “it simply does not make economic sense” to maintain the Seattle base. The flight attendants will be offered the option to relocate to San Francisco, the airline said.
April Moss, a United flight attendant and AFA secretary for its local unit, said another option is to commute.
“I don’t want to move. I’ll have to commute,” Moss said.
She said it’s common in the industry for crew members to fly standby — for free — on company flights to get to work, though it is “much more challenging” than flying out of your home base.
She said even her flight-attendant friends who have kids and must commute “make it work the best they can.”
“It’s a sad time for all of us,” Moss said. “United tells us they are evaluating every base every day for its financial viability. It’s sad they didn’t consider us viable anymore. They haven’t given us any details.”
Moss said the AFA president will schedule a meeting with United management as soon as possible to discuss mitigation of the impact on union members.
United has been the main loser as rival airline giant Delta has ramped up capacity at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport over the past year, going head to head with dominant local carrier Alaska Airlines.
For this year through August, Sea-Tac passenger traffic data show United’s share at the airport was down 7 percent compared with the previous year.
In January, United canceled its transpacific nonstop from Seattle to Tokyo, ceding the route to Delta and to its Star Alliance partner airline, All Nippon Airways of Japan. Last month, United also announced steeper than usual cuts to its domestic services during the winter months ahead.
United’s McCarthy said the airline now has “a reduced domestic and international schedule” out of Sea-Tac compared to recent years, but added that “we’re not announcing any changes to our flights going forward.”
“We still have a commitment to Seattle and will still fly there,” she said. The airline now has about 35 flights out of Sea-Tac daily, McCarthy said.
Some of the Seattle-based employees who are reluctant to move may be able to take advantage of a buyout offer United announced last month.
The airline reached a deal with the AFA to offer up to $100,000 in severance for flight attendants who volunteer to leave the company. McCarthy said the goal is to shed at least 2,100 of the airline’s 23,000 flight attendants.
However, the AFA’s Moss said, only employees who meet certain criteria — including 15 years of service — are eligible for that offer.
At the ceremonies the Gulfstream G500 rolled out under its own power.
During a ceremonies at Gulfstreams Savannah, Ga. headquarters, Gulfstream Aerospace took the wraps off the new G500 and G600, which are expected to enter service in 2018 and 2019, respectively.
At the ceremonies the G500 rolled out under its own power. Both models have a wider cabin cross-section than the G450 and G550, but not quite as wide as that of the G650. The new jets–nestled between the G450, G550 and G650–will also have more composite content than existing Gulfstreams.
According to the aircraft manufacturer, the new models will deliver “unmatched high-speed range.” At a normal cruise speed of Mach 0.90, the G500 and G600 will fly 3,800 nm and 4,800 nm, respectively; at Mach 0.85, they will have a range of 5,000 nm and 6,200 nm, respectively.
Each of the new large-cabin jets will be powered by a pair of Pratt & Whitney Canada PW800 turbofans–the 15,144-pound-thrust PW814GA for the G500 and the 15,680-pound-thrust PW815GA for the G600. The new aircraft also feature fly-by-wire flight control and they will be the first Gulfstreams to feature active sidestick controls.
The G500/G600 flight deck, branded as Gulfstream Symmetry, is based on Honeywell’s Primus Epic suite.
The first flight-test aircraft are already under construction, and the G500 is slated to fly next year, followed by the G600 in 2017. Pricing for the first 50 serial numbers has been set at $43.5 million for the G500 and $54.5 million for the G600.
Gulfstream has strengthened its dominance of the coveted ultra-long-range business jet sector with the launch in May of its G650ER. The 7,500nm (13,875km), 16 passenger aircraft will sit at the top of the Savannah-based airframer’s family of twin-engined business jets, and will possess the longest legs of any in-service business jet to date. Gulfstream now boasts a family of six business jets positioned in the top half of the business aircraft spectrum. The line-up includes Gulfstream’s entry-level offering, the $15.7 million, 3,000nm range midsize G150 as well as the $24.5 million, 3,600nm super-midsize G280. In the large cabin sector the company has the $42.2 million, 4,350nm G450 and the $60 million, 6,750nm G550; while in the ultra-long-range sector it now has the $64.5 million 7,000nm G650 and the $66.5 million G650ER. This niche business aircraft category has been left largely unscathed by the financial downturn due to the continued demand for these high-end aircraft from the world’s wealthy elite and global corporations. “We had a great response to the aircraft following its launch,” says Gulfstream’s senior vice president of sales and marketing, Scott Neal. “Customers had been asking for more range and capability. While the baseline G650 covers a huge numbers of city pairs with its 7,000nm range, there are always people who need to fly further. The 650ER will be the only business aircraft in the world capable of travelling 7,500nm.” This additional range opens city-pairs such as Dallas and Dubai and San Francisco and New Delhi, according to Gulfstream. The G650ER demonstrator recently completed long-distance flights from Los Angeles to Melbourne and from Hong Kong and New York, to establish the aircraft’s performance credentials. To accommodate this extra range, the G650ER incorporates about 1,810kg (4,000lb) of extra fuel compared with the G650. This has been added without the need to strengthen the airframe structure and landing gear or increase engine thrust, the airframer says.
Although the structure is maintained, Gulfstream had to tweak the system that monitors fuel flow and the G650ER‘s flight management software.
Take-off distance for the flagship model is extended slightly by just over 440ft (134m) to 6,299ft, in order to preserve the 10,000h time between overhaul rating of the Rolls-Royce BR725 A1-12 engines, which also power the G650, Gulfstream says.
Maximum ramp weight and fuel weight are also increased by 1,810kg to 46,990kg and 21,860kg respectively.
Despite the extra weight the G650ER will share the same ceiling and operating speeds of the G650, including its Mach 0.85 normal cruise and Mach 0.925 maximum cruise speeds.
“The G650ER provides the mission flexibility to fly longer routes at higher cruise speeds or carry heavier payloads on shorter missions,” says Gulfstream. “Cruising at near Mach 0.90 the G650ER will comfortably carry eight people 6,400nm.”
With the exception of the minor adjustments, the G650ER is identical to its stablemate. It features the same choice of 12 interiors and floorplans, 16 large panoramic windows and Gulfstream’s bespoke cabin management system, along with its Honeywell Primus Epic-based PlaneView II cockpit with enhanced vision systems and head up display.
“The ER will build on the success of the G650, which already flies father than any other in-service traditional business jet to date,” says Neal.
The G650 was launched in 2010 and became “Gulfstream’s most successful product introduction ever,” Neal says.
The aircraft was originally unveiled with a 6,000nm range, but Gulfstream added 1,000nm to the specification sheet as the type achieved certification in 2012.
The G650 has been in service for around 20 months and by the middle of July, 70 examples of the type were in service, according to Flightglobal’s Ascend fleet database.
Half of the G650 customers are based in North America, followed by Europe with 19% and Asia-Pacific with 9% of the global inventory.
Gulfstream will not disclose the size of the orderbook for the G650ER, but Ascend reveals the airframer has secured 61 sales for the G650 family, and a letter of intent for another ten aircraft. “Many of our G650 customers have converted to the ER model and we have also secured new ER orders since its launch,” Neal says.
Private individuals, government and corporations are the bedrock of the G650 global customer base, Neal says. Global brands such as ExxonMobil, Nike, Pfizer, Starbucks and Walt Disney are already members of this exclusive owners’ club, according to Ascend.
For Gulfstream, the corporate sector is less stable than other markets. “There is always more pressure on corporations to assess their spending requirements when the economy isn’t doing well, and this will have an impact on aircraft sales,” says Neal. In contrast the exclusive high net worth individual segment has provided a constant and steady stream of new customers.
“Private customers have predictable purchasing cycles which are less affected by a financial downturn,” says Neal. “Despite this, we are seeing good activity and encouraging signs across both of these sectors now.”
The popularity of the G650 series is manifested in the three-year waiting list for the twinjet.
This is not a setback for Gulfstream, however. “This is a short waiting time compared to the eight-year backlogs that were typical at the height of the market in 2007,” Neal says. “Owners that don’t want to wait for an aircraft are given the choice of a G550 or G450 to use until their aircraft is ready for delivery. This is a popular option.”
Less patient buyers have turned to the used aircraft market for instant gratification. However, the strong demand and lengthy lead times have impacted the price and availability of the G650. According to Tim Barber, director of international aircraft broker Jet Brokers Europe, G650 sellers can ask for prices in excess of $70 million. “We seem to be back to the heady days of 2007 as far the G650 is concerned,” he says. “It is simply a case of supply and demand. The demand is there but the supply is not. There isn’t a single G650 for sale right now.”
This is welcome news for Gulfstream and its customers, many of whom Neal says have converted their existing G650 orders into the ER versions that will begin rolling off the production line in the second half of 2015.
A number of existing G650 owners have signed up for the $2 million ER retrofit, which will be offered throughout Gulfstream’s service centre network from early next year. “People are taking the ER because of its resale value,” says Gulfstream’s vice president of communications Steve Cass.
Aerospace analyst Richard Aboulafia praises Gulfstream’s strategy in blazing a trail in the lucrative ultra-long-range sector. “Gulfstream is also doing a great job leveraging its brand, which is about the best in the business,” he says.
“It is very smart to attack this segment for the following reasons. One, it’s clear that part of the market will pay any price for the very biggest and most capable product it can get, so why not seize the high ground? Two, Bombardier, its direct competitor, clearly has its hands full with the CSeries and Lear 85. That gives Gulfstream complete dominance of this new segment for five years, at least.”
Gulfstream’s product has a lengthy head start on its nearest rivals – Bombadier’s 7,300nm range Global 7000 and 7,900nm range Global 8000 – which are scheduled to enter service in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
Dassault’s 6,450nm range Falcon 8X, which sits at the lower end of the ultra long-range sector, is also slated for service entry in 2016.
“We expect to have delivered more than 200 G650/ERs by then,” Cass says, “firmly establishing our dominance of this sector.”
While the Gulfstream dominance of the ultra-long-range sector is not in doubt, Aboulafia warns that the market appeal of the G650ER will inevitably impact sales of the G650. “The 650 and 650ER are basically pursuing the same market segment,” he says. “Either the 650ER will cannibalize the 650's market presence, or make the 650 altogether obsolete.”
Cass dismisses these concerns. “There is plenty of demand for both models, and we continue to produce them side-by-side,” he says.
Gulfstream is taking aim at new models in development by rival Dassault and at Bombardier’s Global 6000 by launching a pair of business jets on the eve of the NBAA gathering in Orlando, Florida.
The G500 will run against the Dassault Falcon 5X, while the G600 takes on ultra-long-range contenders the Falcon 8X and Global 6000. Describing the aircraft as “the dawn of a new era in flightdeck design, integration, functionality, ergonomics and even aesthetics“, Gulfstream is also packing in new technology including enhanced and synthetic vision and fly-by-wire flight control systems, with active control side-sticks, auto-brake, auto-throttles, emergency descent mode and avionics.
The 6,200nm-range (11,500km) G600 will feature two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW815GAs at 15,700lb-thrust (69.8kN).
The 5,000nm-range G500 will be powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW814GAs at 15,100lb-thrust.
Both models will boast a 2.13m wide and 1.88m high cabin, with a capacity to seat up to 19 passengers.
The G500 will be first to market. Maiden flight is scheduled for 2015 leading to US and European certification in 2017 and service entry the following year.
The G600 flight-test program will begin between 12 to 18 months after the G500’s, says Gulfstream, with entry-into-service projected for 2019.
Gulfstream now boasts a family of eight business jets; all positioned in the top half of the business aircraft sector. These range from the 3,000nm midsize G150 to the 7,500nm G650ER, which is scheduled to enter service later this year.
Gulfstream has announced two major orders for its new G500 clean-sheet business jet, which was unveiled at the airframer's Savannah, Georgia headquarters on 14 October alongside its longer-range stablemate, the G600.
Middle East VIP operator Qatar Executive was present at the launch, where it signed a memorandum of understanding for up to 20 Gulfstream types. The deal includes firm orders and options for the large-cabin, high-speed G500 and flagship G650ER, which is scheduled to enter service later this year.
Qatar Airways group chief executive Akbar Al Baker said of the deal: “Qatar Executive has been on an accelerated growth path since its inception. In order to keep pace with the future strategic growth plans of our private jet division, the fleet is being expanded with aircraft that meet the needs of our guests, providing a wide range of options. Today's announcement signals a next step for Qatar Executive's relatively young and buoyant history."
The 5,000nm-range (9,260km) G500 will link Doha non-stop with London, Geneva and Paris at Mach 0.90. The maiden flight of the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW814GA-powered G500 is scheduled for 2015, leading to US and European certification in 2017. Service entry is earmarked for 2018.
US fractional ownership company Flexjet will take delivery of the first G500 as part of an order for up to 50 Gulfstream types, including the G450 and G650.
The 6,200nm-range G600 is scheduled to enter service in 2019.
Southwest Airlines 737-7H4 (32533/2294) N280WN "Penguin One" caught at John Wayne Orange County Airport (SNA/KSNA) on September 7, 2013.
(Photo by Michael Carter)
Starting last fall, passengers on Southwest Airlines' usually reliable flights began noticing a sharp deterioration in on-time performance.
More flights arrived late, and more flights sat on the ground past their departure times, waiting for connecting passengers from flights that arrived late, and so on and so on.
Southwest was going to operate the equivalent of 16 new airplanes' worth of flying without increasing its fleet at all.
Luckily for Southwest, the airline had built up a reservoir of goodwill from years of low-frills but effective service so that its statistics on customer complaints didn't soar even as its on-time performance collapsed.
The airline explained to the press, blandly, that its problems were caused by "scheduling too many flights at the most popular takeoff times," and shortening the turn -- the time set aside for loading and unloading passengers -- to accommodate the super-packed schedule.
Now, courtesy of Brett Snyder of the popular travel website crankyflier.com, we're getting a fuller explanation. The problem was caused by Southwest's deliberate, and very ill-advised, strategy to cram more flights into its schedule without expanding its aircraft fleet and while adding seats to its existing planes.
The carrier looked at its performance during 2012, a mild weather year, and decided to roll the dice that it could squeeze more out of the same collection of stones. As Snyder puts it, "Southwest was going to operate the equivalent of 16 new airplanes’ worth of flying without increasing its fleet at all."
It was wrong, with disastrous results. Southwest has spent much of the last year trying to undo the damage. It's still not home; in August, according to FAA figures, the airline's on-time performance still lagged all domestic carriers by a couple of percentage points. In early 2013, Southwest was consistently beating the industry in on-time arrivals.
UK leisure carrier Thomson Airways will take delivery of two further Boeing 787s and 47 new 737 MAX aircraft by 2020 as part of its “five-year vision to change the face of holiday flying,” the airline said.
This will give Thomson Airways an average fleet age of five years.
The Dreamliner aircraft will increase long-haul capacity, and new destinations will include the only direct flight from the UK to Costa Rica in November 2015, with expanded operations in the Eastern Caribbean and the Antilles. Vietnam and Malaysia in Southeast Asia are under consideration.
The 737 MAX aircraft are expected to be around 14% more fuel efficient than the current 737s, contributing to Thomson’s favorable carbon performance. New seating concepts will include a “family booth,” which provides “more social seating for four to six people situated at the back of the aircraft around a table,” the airline said. A further innovation is “duo-seating”—whereby three pod-style seats become two with a refreshment table, in-seat charging and mood lighting.
Other new features include an onboard kids’ club, an onboard HolidayMaker resort representative, new inflight entertainment content and channels, and iPad-enabled crew to personalize customer service.
The existing 737 and 757 fleets will undergo a “multi-million pound refresh” this winter to provide “a more contemporary onboard environment,” the airline said.
TUI MD-UK & Ireland David Burling said: “Our airline business has traditionally been categorized in the charter sector, which is often perceived as the poor relation to scheduled and, in reality, bears little resemblance to the Thomson Airways' experience today. We want to define and lead a new category of flying—the holiday airline category. This describes an airline designed for the specific needs of the holiday maker and fully connected to the holiday experience in the destination.”
Having delivered 8,224 737s of all variants from 1967 through September, Boeing’s workers are now starting to build the single-aisle's newest model launched in 2011 – the 737 Max. The structural stringers for the fuselage fabricated in Auburn, Washington, look similar to any previous 737 stringer, but Boeing's workers likely noticed a slight increase in gauge, which is the first visible mark of the re-engined and heavily updated 737 Max model.
The stringers will be shipped to Wichita, Kansas, where they will be joined with longerons, panels and other components by Spirit Aerosystems. The completed fuselages will then be sent next year by train to Renton, Washington, where Boeing’s final assembly workers will mate the wings and distinctive split-tip winglets, install landing gear and electronics and complete the interior.
Boeing’s schedule calls for completing first flight of the 737 Max 8 by 2016 and beginning deliveries in the third quarter of 2017.
Engines always lead commercial aircraft programs and the 737 Max is no different. CFM International, a GE Aviation-Snecma joint venture, began ground testing of the first Leap-1B turbofan engine last June. It will begin flight testing in 2015 on one of GE's Boeing 747 flying test-beds.
Boeing will build the 737 Max on a third assembly line now being constructed in the historic Renton factory. Two lines are already in operation, building 21 737 NGs each at current rates. The third line will increase Boeing’s capacity, with output scheduled to rise to 47 per month by 2017 and 52 per month by 2018.
Both the current 737NG and 737 Max are expected to remain in production simultaneously until around July 2019, when Ryanair is scheduled to receive the last 737NG assembled by Boeing.
Indonesian flag carrier Garuda will add 50 Boeing 737 Max 8 narrowbodies to its fleet between 2017 and 2023.
The aircraft will replace 737-800s as leases expire, says the airline.
Flightglobal's Ascend Fleets database lists 75 in-service 737-800s within Garuda's fleet. A deal for the Max jets was signed with Boeing last month, the carrier indicates.
"The fleet revitalisation programme is in line with the airline's effort to keep pace with the industry's rapid growth in both the domestic and regional market, as well as helping to sustain Garuda's core business and market share as a full-service carrier," it adds. "In relation to the current increasing demand for the 737 Max 8, Garuda feels impelled to promptly execute its long-term fleet plan."
Taiwanese flag carrier China Airlines has taken delivery of its first of 10 Boeing 777-36N(ER)s B-18051.
The aircraft will be used on routes to Hong Kong in October and will eventually be introduced on transpacific routes, connecting Taipei with major cities in North America, including, San Francisco and New York.
“The introduction of the Boeing 777-36N(ER) fleet is an important milestone for China Airlines,” China Airlines chairman Huang-Hsiang Sun said. “Over the past two years, China Airlines has taken a broad new approach and philosophy to cabin design.
In addition to enhancing safety and fuel efficiency, China Airlines is making a pioneering move in the airline industry to incorporate Taiwan's cultural creativity into its cabin interior. I am confident that this will leave a lasting impression on passengers and enhance our competitiveness.”
The airline configured its 777-36N(ER) to seat 358 passengers in a three-class layout highlighted by the new “Family Couch” seats in economy class, where three seats convert into a flat surface for rest and relaxation.
Australia is looking to acquire at least two additional C-17s. (Defense)
The RAAF could operate a total fleet of up to 10 Boeing C-17A Globemasters after Defence Minister Senator David Johnston announced on Friday that Australia is to acquire at least two additional C-17s and is considering the acquistion of a further two examples of the heavylift transport.
Six C-17s are already in service with the RAAF’s 36 Squadron, based at Amberley west of Brisbane.
“Should the government elect to exercise this option, the two extra Globemasters would significantly enhance the Royal Australian Air Force’s capacity for operational tasks, disaster relief and humanitarian assistance in our region and around the world,” Minister Johnston said in a statement.
Further, the Minister said that the government has requested pricing and availability data through the US government’s Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program for a further two C-17s, which would take the total RAAF fleet to 10.
Decisions regarding the acquisition of the ninth and tenth aircraft are being informed by the Force Structure Review being develped as part of the 2015 Defence White Paper process, he said in a statement on Friday.
“Since the first delivery in 2006, we have seen the C-17A Globemaster perform exceptionally well at the forefront of Australia’s military operations and humanitarian work. Recent global events have seen Australia’s national capabilities like the C-17A come to the fore to assist our friends and allies.”
The additional C-17s would integrate seamlessly into the existing fleet based at RAAF Base Amberley, the Defence Minister added.
The Minister first revealed the government was considering extra C-17s in an August interview with News Limited, where he called the acquisition a “no-brainer“.
The opportunity to acquire additional C-17s is limited. Boeing is currently building its 269th and last C-17 at its Long Beach, California plant, with production due to wind up next year.
However, the company is building 15 “white tail” aircraft without a customer to date. India (which already has 10 on order) is reportedly interested in a numbr of these, and Boeing remains in ongoing discussions with other existing C-17 operators and potential new customers regarding the remaining aircraft.
Australia initially ordered four C-17s in 2006 which were delivered between December that year and January 2008. The fifth and sixth aircraft were delivered in 2011 and 2012.