Richard Branson: Russia Would Suffer Most From Closing Airspace to Western Airlines

Russia would be the biggest loser if it carried out a threat to ban Western airlines from flying over its territory, Richard Branson, the founder of British airline Virgin Atlantic, said.

“It would cost us quite a lot of money but it would actually cost Russia more money. They charge enormous amounts of money for the privilege of flying over Russia,” Branson said on the sidelines of a conference in Kiev.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signaled last week that Moscow might ban Western airlines from flying over its territory as part of an “asymmetrical” response to new European Union sanctions over the Ukraine crisis.

A new wave of EU and U.S. sanctions came into effect on Friday as the West steps up pressure on Russia, accusing it of fomenting the conflict in eastern Ukraine and arming the rebels battling Kiev’s forces. Moscow denies the accusations.

“What is interesting is that the EU to date have not charged Russian airlines anything for the privilege of flying over Europe. So I think Russia would lose a lot more than European airlines if they impose that,” said Branson.

He added that the EU would almost certainly retaliate to a flight ban with a similar move against Russian airlines.
Asked how his own airline would respond to such a ban, Branson said: “If we have to fly around Russia we will have to fly around Russia. And you know obviously we are ready to do that. But I’d rather fly around Russia than see people being killed in Ukraine. I think that has got to stop.”

Virgin Atlantic is 51 percent owned by Branson.

Last month, Branson organized an open letter signed by Western, Ukrainian and Russian businessmen calling on governments in Kiev, Moscow and Western capitals to “compromise and find a peaceful solution to the current conflict.”

On Friday he reiterated his call for greater efforts to end the five-month conflict, in which more than 3,000 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands displaced.

A cease-fire agreed one week ago between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists has been broadly holding in recent days, despite sporadic violations.

Source & Pic:  Moscow Times

 

Happy Birthday Beluga!

With its maiden flight on September 13, 1994, the popular Beluga cargo aircraft, affectionately named after the white whale because of its remarkable shape, is celebrating this week twenty years of transporting Airbus component parts between Airbus’ European manufacturing sites.

Since 1995, the fleet of five Beluga aircraft replaced the ageing Super Guppy transporters in order to supply the Airbus final assembly lines in Toulouse and Hamburg. Today, more than sixty flights are performed each week between eleven sites, carrying crucial parts for all of the Airbus programmes, including the A380*.

The Beluga fleet is operated by Airbus Transport International (ATI), an Airbus subsidiary airline, and each Beluga crew is composed of a pilot, a co-pilot and a flight engineer.

With the production start of the A350 XWB in 2012 and the production ramp-up on other Airbus programmes, the Beluga activities again will substantially increase over the next five years.

In order to accompany this challenge, Airbus launched in 2011 the Fly 10 000 project. Flight crew numbers and flight hours have grown and loading procedures have been further optimized, with the opening of new integrated loading facilities in Hamburg and Bremen in Germany and Saint-Nazaire in France. Broughton, UK and Getafe, Spain will follow soon. Fly 10,000 should allow the Beluga fleet to double its activities by 2017 (from 5,000 to 10,000 flight hours).

Six new loading hangars dedicated to Airbus' Beluga cargo carriers – the first of which opened May 2014 in Hamburg, Germany – will help these freighters increase their flight hour totals to support the company's latest production rate increases.

Six new loading hangars dedicated to Airbus’ Beluga cargo carriers – the first of which opened May 2014 in Hamburg, Germany – will help these freighters increase their flight hour totals to support the company’s latest production rate increases.

“The Beluga is an essential element of Airbus’ integrated logistics and production ‎system. It is thanks to its reliability and engagement of the Beluga teams that we can fulfil our constant pursuit of efficiency”, said Günter Butschek, Airbus Chief Operating Officer.

The Beluga is based on the twin-engine A300-600R, appreciated for its reliability and its cost-effectiveness. It is powered by General Electric CF6-80C2 engines. With its impressive dimensions (56 m long, 17 m high, a fuselage diameter of 7.71 m and a main-deck cargo volume of 1,400m3), the Beluga is the champion of its category (compared with the Antonov AN-124 or even the C-17). The Beluga can carry a maximum payload of 47 metric tonnes non-stop over a range of 1,660 km/900 nm.

*only the Vertical Tailplane and tailcone, all other A380 components being transported through the “multimodal transport system (sea, river, road).

Airbus A300-600ST (Super Transporter)

Airbus A300-600ST (Super Transporter)

Airbus 350 Fuselage

Airbus 350 Fuselage

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A380 Nose Section

Airbus A300-600ST (Super Transporter), dawn departure.

Airbus A300-600ST (Super Transporter), dawn departure.

Source:  Airbus Media Room

Photos:  Airbus

Boeing Responds to Al Jazeera English Documentary on 787

Boeing issued the following statement prior to the airing of the television program on Al Jazeera English. The company will not be providing any further comment.

We have not been afforded the opportunity to view the full program, but the promotional trailer and published media reviews suggest that what has been produced is as biased a production as we have seen in some time. It is unfortunate that the producers of this television program appear to have fallen into the trap of distorting facts, relying on claims rejected by courts of law, breathlessly rehashing as “news” stories that have been covered exhaustively in the past and relying on anonymous sources who appear intent only on harming The Boeing Company.
When first contacted by the producers, we accommodated them in order for them to produce a fair and objective report including facilitating factory access, interviews and providing full and open responses to their questions. The 787 is an outstanding airplane delivering value to our customers, but we have also talked candidly in public about its challenging development process. There are no tougher critics about our early performance than Boeing.

Unfortunately, the reporting team appears to have chosen to take advantage of our trust and openness and abused their position from the outset by deliberately misrepresenting the purpose, objective and scope of their planned coverage.

This specious production appears to have ignored the factual information provided by Boeing and instead based the majority of its reporting on unnamed sources pursuing their own agendas and a disgruntled former employee engaged in a legal dispute with Boeing. In one instance, the producers resorted to ambush tactics normally seen only in tabloid-style TV news. The anonymous sources the TV program depends on are clearly working with those who seek to harm Boeing and its workers. They appear to have no real interest in truth, safety or better informing the public.

Even on-the-record sources seem to have changed their stories for the producers. For example, former Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA) President Cynthia Cole said this about the 787’s first flight in 2009: “Today’s flight is a testament to the skill, hard work and diligence Boeing employees put in to get this airplane ready to fly,” SPEEA President Cynthia Cole said in a news release. “Boeing returned to engineering, and that’s what made today possible and successful.” Now, she states in the documentary trailer that Boeing “shortchanged the engineering process.”

Instead of an objective view of the 787’s development, viewers and our employees will see a television program that is neither balanced nor accurate in its portrayal of the airplane, our employees, or our suppliers. This program and those involved with it do a disservice to the hard-working men and women of Boeing and our supplier partners who designed and build the 787.

Furthermore, the program presents a false impression of Boeing South Carolina and the quality of work performed there. Airplanes, whether delivered from South Carolina or Washington, meet the highest safety and quality standards that are verified through robust test, verification and inspection processes. Our data of the current 787 fleet in service show parity in the quality and performance of airplanes manufactured in both locations.

Source:  Boeing Media Room

 

Boeing 787 – Broken Dreams?

Exclusive: Safety concerns dog Boeing 787
Al Jazeera Investigative Unit finds some workers with quality concerns, alleging drug use and fearing to fly the plane.

Al Jazeera has found that some Boeing workers have serious concerns about the safety of the 787 “Dreamliner” aircraft.

In a new documentary, Broken Dreams: The Boeing 787, current and retired Boeing employees discuss their worries about quality control with Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit.

Boeing’s 787 “Dreamliner”, which made its first commercial flight in late 2011, has been dogged with problems since plans for its launch were announced in 2003.
Two battery failures in January 2013 sparked safety fears and led to fleets being temporarily grounded worldwide for over three months.

Boeing says it does not compromise on product safety or quality.

Whistleblower
A worker at one of two Boeing 787 assembly lines in Charleston, in the US state of South Carolina, contacted Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit to share his worries about the “Dreamliner”.
The worker, speaking on condition of anonymity, says “with all the problems reported on the 787, there’s 90 percent that’s getting swept away”.

He describes the troubles with the plane as “an iceberg”. He claims only 10 percent of problems are visible to the flying public, with the rest “hushed up”.
“I’ve seen a lot of things that should not go on at an airplane plant,” the worker says. “It’s been eating me alive to know what I know, and have no avenue, no venue to say anything.”

In a statement to Al Jazeera, Boeing says that “787 airplanes delivered from both South Carolina and Washington final assembly and delivery operations meet the highest safety and quality standards that are verified through robust test, verification and inspection processes”.

Ten of 15 ‘wouldn’t fly’

Using a concealed camera, the worker films inside the Boeing South Carolina plant, recording his discussions with colleagues.

He randomly asks 15 of his co-workers who assemble the 787 “Dreamliner” if they would fly on the plane. Ten say they would not.

“I wouldn’t fly on one of these planes,” one worker tells him, “because I see the quality of the fu**ing sh*t going down around here”.
Another worker replies, “it’s sketchy”. Asked what he means, the worker adds, “yeah I probably would, but I kind of have a death wish too”.

A third says of the 787s assembled at South Carolina, “we’re not building them to fly. We’re building them to sell. You know what I’m saying?”

Larry Loftis, Boeing Vice President and General Manager of the 787 “Dreamliner” Program, told Al Jazeera, “The number one focus that we have at Boeing is ensuring the continued safe airworthiness of an airplane, the integrity of the airplane and the quality of the airplane going out”.

Drugs
The Boeing worker also says that he is concerned that some of his colleagues are on drugs, saying he has seen “people talking about doing drugs, looking for drugs”, specifically marijuana, cocaine and prescription painkillers.
In the footage, he records one man saying: “It’s all coke and painkillers” at the plant, adding, “you can get weed here, you can get some really good weed here”.

Another complains that Boeing “don’t drug test nobody”, adding that “there’s people that go out there on lunch and smoke one up”.

In 2011, US federal agents raided a separate Boeing plant in Philadelphia as part of a drugs investigation. They arrested dozens of workers at the facility, which builds aircraft including the H-47 Chinook helicopter and the V-22 Osprey.

In a statement to Al Jazeera, Boeing says “drug testing of employees is done in accordance with Boeing policy and procedures across all facilities in accordance with applicable laws. Boeing thoroughly investigates any employee reports of policy deviation, and appropriate corrective action is taken if needed.”

Memo
A memo obtained by Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit also shows that in 2010, Boeing altered its quality standards at a time when the 787 was already two years delayed.

The source of the memo, a veteran Boeing engineer, says it reveals that the company “changed basic engineering principles to meet schedule”.

On seeing the document, another long-time Boeing engineer says “they’re short-changing the engineering process to meet a schedule… I find that reprehensible”.

Cynthia Cole, former president of Boeing’s engineers union SPEEA, adds that she would no longer fly on a Boeing 787. “I’ve been kind of avoiding flying on a 787 and seeing this, I would definitely avoid flying on a 787.”
Boeing says its memo is fully consistent with the company’s robust quality assurance system. “While we will not discuss in detail our proprietary production processes, we note that the document itself concludes by saying that the process changes ‘do not signify authorisation to ship or accept parts which do not meet engineering and quality requirements.’ ”

The company also says that it uses one, FAA-approved quality system for the 787 in both of its assembly plants.

Source:  Al Jazeera

Cirrus With Unconscious Pilot Goes into Ocean

CHINCOTEAGUE, Va. (AP) — A Cirrus pilot lost consciousness and the plane drifted into restricted airspace over the nation’s capital, scrambling fighter jets that stayed with the small aircraft until it ran out of fuel and crashed Saturday into the Atlantic Ocean, the Coast Guard said.

Cirrus Route of FlightCrews searched the waters for the single-engine Cirrus plane, which crashed about 50 miles southeast of Chincoteague Island along the Virginia coast, Coast Guard Petty Officer Nate Littlejohn said. The plane took off from Waukesha, Wisconsin, and was headed to Manassas, Virginia, which is about 30 miles southwest of Washington, National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Peter Knudson said.

The Coast Guard was notified about 2:40 p.m. Saturday that the plane failed to land in Manassas and flew into restricted airspace. Two Air Force F16s took to the air and confirmed the pilot was unconscious. They stayed with the plane until it crashed.

No one else was on board.

The plane was registered to Ronald Hutchinson, of Brookfield, Wisconsin. Relatives reached at a phone listing for him didn’t want to comment Saturday night.

A Coast Guard helicopter found no sign of the plane before heading back for refueling. A C130 airplane based out of Elizabeth City, North Carolina, and an 87-foot cutter from Virginia Beach also were responding, Littlejohn said.

Source:  AP

FAA Bans US Based Carriers to Stop Flying over Syria

The FAA – Federal Aviation Administration, has ordered airlines based in the United States to stop flying over Syria, citing a “serious potential threat” to civil planes.

The FAA ordered last Monday to all airlines based in the United States to stop flying over Syria, citing a “serious potential threat” to civil planes, including armed groups with anti-aircraft weapons.

“Based on an updated assessment of the risk associated with such operations and the lack of any requests from operators wishing to fly in this airspace, we believe it prudent to prohibit US operators from flying into, out of and over Syria,” the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said in a statement. The FAA’s previous so-called Notice to Airmen had strongly advised US operators against flying over Syria.

“The ongoing armed conflict and volatile security environment in Syria poses a serious potential threat to civil aviation,” the new notice said. “Armed extremist groups in Syria are known to be equipped with a variety of anti-aircraft weapons which have the capability to threaten civilian aircraft.” It noted that opposition groups have already shot down Syrian military aircraft over the conflict that began nearly three and a half years ago.

The ban affects all US companies and commercial operators. The FAA has also imposed a ban on US planes over Iraq, effective Aug 8.

Syria, like Iraq, is on a path that carriers can take when traveling between Europe and the Middle East or Asia.

Source:  AFP

A350 XWB route proving: Visiting 5 Southern Hemisphere airports

Airbus’ MSN005 developmental A350 XWB jetliner continues on the third trip of its global route-proving tour to demonstrate the aircraft’s readiness for airline operations. In this phase, the aircraft received warm welcomes in Johannesburg, South Africa; Sydney, Australia; Auckland, New Zealand; Santiago, Chile then flew to Sao Paulo, Brazil before returning to Toulouse, France.

Boeing Forecasts a Rising Demand of Pilots and Technicians

Boeing predicts a continued strong growth in demand for commercial aviation pilots and maintenance technicians as the global fleet expands over the next 20 years.

Boeing’s 2014 Pilot and Technician Outlook, released today at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, projects that between 2014 and 2033, the world’s aviation system will require:

• 533,000 new commercial airline pilots
• 584,000 new commercial airline maintenance technicians

“The challenge of meeting the global demand for airline professionals cannot be solved by one company or in one region of the world,” said Sherry Carbary, vice president, Boeing Flight Services. “This is a global issue that can only be solved by all of the parties involved—airlines, aircraft and training equipment manufacturers, training delivery organizations, regulatory agencies and educational institutions around the world.”

The 2014 outlook projects continued increases in pilot demand, which is up approximately 7 percent compared to 2013; and in maintenance training, which increased just over 5 percent. Pilot demand in the Asia Pacific region now comprises 41 percent of the world’s need, and the Middle East region saw significant growth since last year’s outlook due to increased airline capacity and orders for wide-body models which require more crew members.
Overall, the global demand is driven by steadily increasing airplane deliveries, particularly wide-body airplanes, and represents a global requirement for about 27,000 new pilots and 29,000 new technicians annually.
Projected demand for new pilots and technicians by global region:

• Asia Pacific – 216,000 pilots and 224,000 technicians
• Europe – 94,000 pilots and 102,000 technicians
• North America – 88,000 pilots and 109,000 technicians
• Latin America – 45,000 pilots and 44,000 technicians
• Middle East – 55,000 pilots and 62,000 technicians
• Africa – 17,000 pilots and 19,000 technicians
• Russia and CIS – 18,000 pilots and 24,000 technicians

 

Boeing Media Room

Government to Take Over Troubled Malaysia Airlines

Malaysia’s government will carry out a “complete overhaul” of its troubled national airline in an attempt to revive company after it was hit by two devastating disasters this year.

The move on Friday to de-list Malaysia Airline System and take it private had been expected since ticket sales slumped in the wake of the baffling disappearance of MH370 on March 8 with 239 passengers and crew. The airline’s crisis deepened on July 17 when another jet, Flight MH17, was shot down over Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.

State investment fund Khazanah Nasional’s [KHAZA.UL] proposed 1.4 billion ringgit ($436 million) buy-out of the shares it does not own paves the way for it to take steps such as cutting back on less-profitable routes, trimming the bloated payroll and installing a new management team.

A full-scale rebranding of the airline, which has reported losses for the past three years, could also be considered as it grapples with shaky customer confidence following the twin tragedies.
Khazanah said it will need cooperation “from all parties” to undertake the restructuring, covering the airline’s operations, business model, finances, staff and the regulatory environment.

“Nothing less will be required in order to revive our national airline to be profitable as a commercial entity, and to service its function as a critical national development entity,” it said in a statement.
Political considerations will play a important role in the restructuring of the company, which like other state-owned firms, has been used by the government to promote development goals such as affirmative action policies for majority ethnic Malays. Reuters first reported on the possible restructuring in July.
Khazanah has injected more than 5 billion ringgit ($1.6 billion) into MAS over the last 10 years, as it has increasingly struggled in the face of competition from upstart budget airlines such as AirAsia Bhd.

POLITICAL SENSITIVITIES
Attempts to restructure the airline over the years have been politically fraught due to heavy opposition to job losses from its influential labor union.

“There is no point in going to another airline or getting some private equity team involved or anything like that because the government will effectively have to offer some sweeteners to the union to diminish their power and diminish their size,” said Timothy Ross, Asia transportation analyst at Credit Suisse. “They probably employ 5,000 people too many.”

The carrier has a fleet of 151 planes and a total staff of nearly 20,000 employees.
The head of Malaysia Airline’s main labor union said it would support the plan only if the current top management team, led by chief executive Ahmad Jauhari, was replaced.

“Ahmad Jauhari has had three years to turn things around. We’ve made it very clear, we will support a new team that has the aviation knowledge and integrity for the job,” Mohd Jabarullah Abdul Kadir told Reuters.
Khazanah will offer 27 sen for each share in the company it does not own, amounting to 1.38 billion ringgit, a 12.5 percent premium to the closing share price on Thursday, MAS said in a statement after suspending its shares.

“DRAMATIC IMPACT”
Khazanah, which owns 69.37 percent of MAS and is chaired by Prime Minister Najib Razak, said it expected to give more details of the planned restructuring by the end of August after it has secured approval from shareholders.
The airline and its key stakeholders are in talks with banks for a strategic overhaul that could include the partial sale of its engineering unit and an upgrade of its ageing fleet.

The company turned in its worst quarterly performance in two years in the January-March period and has been burning through its operating cash.

The carrier warned in May of a “dramatic impact” on passenger traffic from the loss of Flight MH370. The July 17 disaster, in which MH17 was believed to have been shot down by Russian-backed rebels in Ukraine, sped up government efforts to restructure the airline, sources said.

Sources had told Reuters in July that planned to take the airline private as the first step in a major restructuring. The state investor is working with CIMB Investment Bank on the restructuring, the sources added.
“This is the sensible way forward given that massive surgery is required,” said Christopher Wong, a senior investment manager at Aberdeen Asset Management Asia.

Mohshin Aziz, an analyst from Maybank Investment Bank Research, said the price offered by Khazanah was a fair deal for minority investors.

Source: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Pilatus PC-24 Rollout

A world premiere took place yesterday, on Swiss National Day, when Pilatus Aircraft Ltd officially unveiled its first ever PC-24 prototype. Some 25,000 spectators watched as the show took place at Buochs airfield in central Switzerland.

PC-24-10

The show got underway at 12.35 when a team of 24 horses, chosen to symbolise the number appearing in the PC-24 product name and its future mission profile as a ‘workhorse’, pulled the first prototype out of the production halls.

The new jet sports an eye-catchingly elegant design in Swiss style, featuring chrome and gold-coloured Alpine flowers.

The rollout was preceded by a fly-by of all the aircraft which have ever reached series production in the company’s 75 year history. Over 120 performers and more than 160 children of company employees made the rollout an unforgettable event for high-ranking guests, customers and fans of Pilatus.

Oscar J. Schwenk, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Pilatus, is enthusiastic about the new PC-24 and the event:
“Today’s celebration is a clear sign of our commitment to Switzerland as a centre of vision and action. Our company was established here in Stans exactly 75 years ago. We have seen our activities grow and expand here in Stans, and this is where we want to be in the future: in Stans, producing our aircraft for sale to customers around the world.

It’s wonderful that so many thousands of guests from Switzerland, and also from countries nearby and further afield, have made the effort to be with us here today, to celebrate this event together. The PC-24 marks a really important milestone in our 75-year history!“.

The 100% newly developed PC-24 is the first time that traditional Pilatus values such as versatility, efficiency and Swiss precision have been combined in a jet. The PC-24 is the world’s first ever business jet to come equipped as standard with a cargo door, with the kind of performance specification that allows it to operate in and out of very short runways or even unmade strips.

A total of three prototypes will be produced for the PC-24 test flight programme. The maiden flight of the first prototype, which was presented at the rollout, will go ahead in spring 2015. Final certification and start of deliveries to customers are planned from 2017.

Pilatus sold 84 PC-24s at the European Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (EBACE) in May this year.

pilatus-04yourfile743919_m2h500q75v36003_17286547363195PC-24-10

Source:  Pilatus Media

Photos:  Pilatus Aircraft Corp.

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