Now, Japanesse are worried about Boeing retreat

For five decades Boeing has awarded bigger and bigger shares of its supply contracts to Japanese firms, but that could change after Japan Airlines defection to Airbus and as the plane maker seeks to win orders in China.

Boeing’s carbon composite 787 is 35 percent made in Japan – as big a share as it builds in-house – but Japanese aviation insiders fear the Dreamliner could be the high water mark of the industry’s partnership with the U.S. company.

The close co-operation has not only benefitted Japan’s industrial giants Mitsubishi Heavy Industries , Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Fuji Heavy Industries – it has also enabled Boeing to dominate one of the world’s biggest aviation markets with a share of more than 80 percent.

That status quo crumbled on Monday, when JAL signed a deal to buy 31 Airbus A350s, its first purchase of European jets.

In rejecting the rival Boeing 777X, JAL can only have increased the likelihood that the U.S. company’s next project will be less Japanese.

“Negotiations for the 777X work share are ongoing, and that may be influenced by the JAL decision,” a government official who helps oversee Japan’s aerospace industry told Reuters on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks.

Tokyo, he added, was looking to win a work share for Japanese suppliers greater than the 21 percent that Mitsubishi Heavy, Kawasaki Heavy and others build of the current 777.

The fear in Japan is that Boeing, which says the business it gives Japan adds up to 22,000 jobs accounting for around 40 percent of nation’s aerospace workforce, may be tempted to shift more production to China, South Korea or elsewhere.

“If I was Boeing, I would hold their feet to the fire,” said Lance Gatling, founder of aerospace and defense consultancy Nexial Research in Tokyo. “International competition for what they build can only increase.”

Spokesmen for the Japanese suppliers involved and for Boeing in Japan declined to comment on the share out of work for the 777X, which Boeing has said it plans to officially launch later this year.

LURE OF CHINA

JAL’s defection to Airbus stacks on top of other reasons why the Japanese may find it harder to win bigger chunks of business from their American partner.

Boeing, having faced criticism it overextended itself on the delayed 787 with an ambitious global supply chain, has said it will take a more conventional approach to the 777X, a re-engine more fuel efficient upgrade of its long-range, wide-body 777.

That, industry watchers say, could mean it builds the aircraft wings at home, after allowing the Dreamliner wings to be made overseas – in Japan – for the first time.

A longer-term worry for the Japanese is that their country, once Asia’s biggest aircraft market, is no longer the goldmine that first drew Boeing to seek panel suppliers for its 747 there.

Both Boeing and European rival Airbus are now more focused on vying for business in burgeoning China. The entry price often imposed by the Chinese government is a share of the build.

Boeing, in its most recent 20-year market forecast that runs through 2032, predicts China will buy 6,000 new planes while the market in Northeast Asia, which includes Japan, North and South Korea and Taiwan, will be 1,360 aircraft.

“If the Japanese could put the arm on Boeing the Chinese have got the ability to put the arm on Boeing,” said Nexial Research’s Gatling. “The Chinese have cheap labor and a huge market.”

He added that the Japanese were also looking over their shoulders at upcoming South Korean firms such as Korean Aerospace Industries, which Boeing in 2011 named supplier of the year.

Part of Japan’s response to that challenge is the 70-90 seat Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ), its first commercial aircraft since it lashed itself to Boeing.

Apart from being a bid to claim a share of the expanding market for smaller passenger jets, it is an both opportunity to showcase its skills to Boeing and provide a hedge against a fall in orders from Western manufacturers.

One lure that could keep Boeing heavily involved in Japan is government financial support for R&D that could end up in its jets.

According to the European Union, which is locked in an aircraft subsidy dispute with the United States, Boeing benefits from support from the Japanese government for development of the 787, including financing of up to 70 percent of development costs incurred by Japanese suppliers.

NEW BATTLE LOOMS

Attention in Japan has now turned to Boeing’s battle with Airbus to supply JAL’s rival ANA Holdings.

Boeing is widely seen as the favorite in that tussle, although some analysts think ANA will buy Airbus wide-body planes to hedge against delay and avoid getting left with older fleets while competitors fly new jets that consume less fuel.

Like JAL, ANA is looking to buy around 30 jets to retire its aging long-haul 777s and is considering the carbon composite A350 and the 777X as replacements.

A win for Boeing would offer a keen incentive for the U.S. company to stay deeply rooted in Japan, and industry sources expect a lobbying backlash as pressure from the aerospace industry’s political backers comes to bear.

And at ANA, political pressure may bear more fruit. In a reversal of roles, ANA now enjoys a closer relationship with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, a position once enjoyed by flag carrier JAL before its bankruptcy and bailout in 2010.

ANA this month won double the number of new landing slots at Tokyo’s Haneda airport, prompting a rare public complaint by JAL that it had been unfairly treated.

The question remains whether ANA is willing to do something for Team Japan in return.

“Obviously it (JAL’s decision) is a setback, but Boeing has been investing in Japan for decades and is not going to suddenly say from now on we don’t like you,” said Adam Pilarski, senior vice-president at Virginia-based aviation consultancy Avitas, on the sidelines of an aviation finance conference in Barcelona.

Source:  Reuters

After 787 Problems, JAL turns to Airbus

Japan Airlines is buying its first-ever jets from Airbus in a deal with a list value of 950 billion yen ($9.5 billion US). The purchase of 31 A350 planes deals a blow to U.S. rival Boeing, which had been JAL’s star supplier for decades.

Airbus chief Executive and president Fabrice Bregier and Japan Airlines President Yoshiharu Ueki signed the deal Monday in Tokyo, which includes an option for JAL to buy 25 more Airbus planes. They declined to give the actual price tag on the deal.

Ueki said the decision to turn to the European manufacturer, based in Toulouse, France, for replacements for retiring Boeing 777 jets was unrelated to the problems that have plagued Boeing’s rival offering, the 787 Dreamliner planes.

The 787 jets were grounded for four months earlier this year to confirm their safety after their lithium-ion batteries overheated. The batteries are now encased to prevent overheating from spreading.

The 787 development was also repeatedly delayed, frustrating JAL as well as rival All Nippon Airways, Japan’s other major carrier.

“We are sorry for the troubles we have caused our customers with the 787, but the decision on the aircraft was considered separately from that issue,” Ueki told reporters.

He repeatedly said the A350 was chosen because it was the “best match for our needs.”

He brushed off concerns about the additional training JAL pilots will need to fly Airbus planes, which they are not used to. Even after taking such costs and risks into account, the A350 was the best choice, he said without giving specifics.

Source:  AP

Photo Credits:  AP

Airbus announces lower weight A330 for regional & domestic operations

Optimized for shorter haul missions, offering higher capacity, long-range comfort and unbeatable economics.

Airbus has announced a new lower weight variant of its versatile A330-300 wide-body aircraft that is optimized for use on domestic and regional routes in high growth markets with large populations and concentrated traffic flows. China will be one of the most important markets for this new version of today’s world’s most efficient and reliable widebody aircraft.

The announcement was made by Fabrice Bregier, President and CEO of Airbus, at the Aviation Expo China (Beijing Airshow) 2013, which has opened its doors today in Beijing.

“The new lower weight A330-300 variant specially designed for regional and domestic use is Airbus’ solution for markets with large populations and fast growing, concentrated air traffic flows. Operators of the new A330-300 variant will benefit from a proven, mature and reliable aircraft that brings relief to limited airspace, airport congestion and pilot shortage,” said Fabrice Bregier. “We are announcing the new A330-300 lower weight variant today in China because here we see strong pent-up demand for efficient and reliable wide-body aircraft connecting mega cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Guangzhou.”

Compared to current A330-300 variants that are adapted to longer-range missions of up to 6,100 nautical miles (nm), the new A330-300 regional and domestic variant will be optimized to seat up to around 400 passengers in Airbus’ best in class 18 inches wide economy seat comfort on missions up to 3,000 nm and offer significant cost savings through a reduced operational weight of around 200 tonnes. The reduction in fuel burn per seat and maintenance costs thanks to these innovations will result in an overall cost reduction by up to 15% compared with the today’s long-range A330-300 variants.

In addition, the new A330-300 variant will benefit from the latest A350 XWB and A380 technologies. These include cockpit functionalities such as dual head-up display and the latest navigational systems. The cabin will also be future proofed with innovations such as modern slimline light-weight seats, high broadband wi-fi connectivity throughout, the newest In-Flight Entertainment allowing HD TV, LED lighting and full color mood lighting.

Source:  Airbus

 

Vietnam’s VietJet may order up to 100 Airbus jets

Vietnamese low-cost airline VietJet may place a provisional order for as many as 100 Airbus medium-haul jets worth up to $10 billion, a source close to the airline said on Tuesday.

The deal could involve between 92 and 100 A320 or A321 aircraft and if confirmed, would be signed during a visit to Paris by Vietnam’s prime minister this week.

Talks are continuing and a deal has not yet been reached, sources familiar with the discussions said earlier on Tuesday.

Source:  Reuters

Global Market Forecast 2013-2032: Continuing the trend toward larger and more efficient aircraft

The growing worldwide demand for commercial air transportation – which is detailed in Airbus’ latest 20-year Global Market Forecast – will continue to drive the airline industry toward more efficient and operationally-effective aircraft, with large widebodies representing the majority in terms of sales value.

Unveiled during a press briefing in London today, the 2013-2032 Global Market Forecast anticipates that widebody jetliners such as Airbus’ A350 XWB, A330 and very large A380 will account for some 60 percent of the US$4.4 trillion in total sales value for the estimated 29,220 new passenger and freighter aircraft required in the next two decades.

The average size of aircraft has grown by approximately 25 percent worldwide in the past 20 years, and this trend will continue because of air traffic growth and the constraints on aircraft movements – particularly at airports, explained John Leahy, Airbus’ Chief Operating Officer – Customers, at today’s briefing.

He said Airbus is well positioned to compete in the widebody market with its A330, A350 and A380 families – which cover a segment that is expected to require six different aircraft from its competitor.  “The airline industry needs simplicity; it does not need ‘two of these,’ ‘four of these’ or ‘five of these,’ to cover the market,” Leahy added. “So we are very happy with the way we’re positioned today.”

According to Airbus’ latest Global Market Forecast, the acquisition of larger aircraft not only allows airlines to carry more passengers on a given flight, but also helps reduce fuel burn and cost per seat. In addition, airlines are up-gauging aircraft in their existing backlogs and adding more seats to cabin configurations.

Even in the single-aisle market segment – which represents 71 per cent of deliveries by unit numbers in Airbus’ 2013-2032 Global Market Forecast, with estimated requirements for 20,242 aircraft valued at US$1.80 trillion – the trend is toward larger jetliners with higher seating capacities, according to Leahy.  In this segment, Airbus’ product line is the in-production A320ceo (current engine option) and next-generation A320neo (new engine option) families.

“I remember when we had very strong demand for A319s, then it shifted to the larger capacity A320 version…and we’re now seeing very, very strong demand for [the longest fuselage] A321s,” he explained.

The Airbus Global Market Forecast is a regularly-updated 20-year outlook on aircraft demand and passenger flows, providing analysis based on the most comprehensive sets of data and calling on the very best forecasting techniques.

Source:  Airbus

 

Airbus introduces additional features to its iPad application for pilots

The “FlySmart with Airbus” application integrates Airbus’ EFB software with the tablet’s iOS operating system, providing its Electronic Flight Bag performance-calculating applications for pilots on iPad – making Airbus the first aircraft manufacturer to offer this feature. 

Since the official launch of FlySmart with Airbus, the company has added new applications, which are accessible from pilots’ hand-held digital devices:

• FlySmart with Airbus/Manager, which allows the user to update the operational data of its Electronic Flight Bag applications suite in a centralized manner;

• FlySmart with Airbus/Loadsheet, enabling pilots to compute weight and balance data of the aircraft according to the type of operations and aircraft loading, and considering easy handling of last minute changes.

Additionally, new features have been developed for the takeoff and landing applications such as optimum configuration, multiple runway computations, export of computations and computation time improvement.

Source:  Airbus

NTSB: UPS Pilots received rate of descent warnings before impact

A flight recorder revealed that pilots of a UPS cargo jet that crashed short of a runway at Birmingham’s airport received warnings about their rate of descent seconds before impact, investigators said Friday.

National Transportation Safety Board member Robert Sumwalt told reporters during a briefing that a recorder captured the first of two audible warnings in the cockpit 16 seconds before the sound of an impact, either with trees or the ground.

The warnings indicated the A300 cargo plane was descending at a rate outside normal parameters given its altitude, Sumwalt said, but investigators haven’t made any determination on the actual cause of the crash into an Alabama hillside.

“We haven’t ruled anything in, haven’t ruled anything out,” he said.

The aircraft went down less than a mile from the end of Runway 18 at Birmingham’s airport before dawn Wednesday. UPS has identified the victims of the crash as Capt. Cerea Beal, Jr., 58, of Matthews, N.C., and First Officer Shanda Fanning, 37, of Lynchburg, Tenn.

Landing on the runway can be tricky for pilots, an expert said, particularly those flying big jets like the twin-engine UPS cargo carrier. Sumwalt said the plane was being flown by the captain — who had 8,600 hours of flight experience, including 3,200 hours in an A300 — but investigators don’t know whether Beal or Fanning had ever before landed on Runway 18.

“We’re going to do our best to find out,” he said.

Sumwalt said investigators will analyze the airplane’s weight to determine whether it should have attempted a landing on the runway, the shorter of two runways at Birmingham Shuttlesworth International Airport.

With a large hill and trees at one end, the runway lacks the electronics for a full instrument landing. That forces pilots to make key judgments about altitude while aiming a descending aircraft at a runway that’s 5,000 feet shorter than the airport’s main runway, which was closed for maintenance work at the time of the crash.

Some pilots simply avoid landing on Runway 18 when possible, said veteran commercial pilot Ross Aimer.

“When I heard they were using Runway 18 it caught my attention because of that hill,” said Aimer. “It’s sad, but it didn’t surprise me.”

Aimer, a retired United Airlines captain, is now chief executive of Aero Consulting Experts, a firm based in Los Angeles.

The NTSB previously said a preliminary investigation didn’t reveal any evidence of engine failure before the plane struck trees about one mile away from the end of the runway. It crashed into the bottom of a hill less than a quarter mile after hitting the trees.

The A300, which weighs about 172,700 pounds when empty, was at the end of a 45-minute flight from Louisville, Ky., to Birmingham when it went down. A flight summary from flightaware.com, which tracks airplanes, shows the aircraft made a descent in steps, which Aimer said is a “dive and drive” method common on runways with the same navigational guidance as Runway 18.

Sumwalt said the aircraft went down during its first landing attempt. Sumwalt said investigators have not found any problems with the runway’s lights or navigation system, which typically provides pilots with information about their lateral position but not about their altitude, unlike those on runways where pilots can land using only instruments.

National Weather Service records from the morning of the crash show the plane would have descended through overcast conditions to only a few clouds at 1,100 feet. Within seconds after the plane hit a tree and at least one turbine sucked in wood, the twin-engine plane crashed.

It hit the base of that large hill mentioned by Aimer, who said he had landed on Runway 18 about a half-dozen times, including on some flights as a cargo pilot.

Located near the southern tip of the Appalachian foothills, Birmingham’s airport is nestled in a low spot between Red Mountain to the south and hills that lie at the northern end of Runway 18, which is 7,000 feet long. The main runway is 12,000 feet long and runs east and west, meaning pilots don’t have to negotiate the rough terrain.

The NTSB said the longer runway was closed for maintenance work on its lights early Wednesday, leaving the shorter runway as the only path to the ground. Runway 18 is an approved runway with a valid approach, Aimer said.

“It is definitely legal, but it I had a choice I’d use another runway first,” he said.

A key task for investigators will be determining why the UPS jet was low enough to hit trees. The impact sheared off pieces of the aircraft and sent them crashing onto two homes along with large pieces of limbs.

Keenen Brown, 17, said he witnessed the crash while getting ready for work before dawn. Brown, who lives with relatives across the street from the crash site, said it was unusual to see such a large aircraft attempting to land on the runway.

“I saw the sky turn orange and I looked up and I saw it in the air on fire,” Brown said. “I watched it hit the ground and dirt flew up. This whole area just shook.”

Aimer said the flames could have been shooting from the plane after it struck the trees.

Member Robert Sumwalt briefs media on UPS flight 1354 crash in Birmingham, Alabama.

Sources:  NTSB, Fox

Airbus releases an statement on UPS Flight 1354 accident

Airbus regrets to confirm that an A300-600F operated by UPS was involved in an accident shortly after 9-50 utc, at Birmingham- Alabama today 14-08-2013. The aircraft was operating a scheduled service, Flight 1354, from Louisville, KY to Birmingham AL

The aircraft involved in the accident, registered under the number N155UP was MSN 841, delivered to UPS from the production line in 2003. The aircraft had accumulated approximately 11000 flight hours in some 6800 flights. It was powered by Pratt & Whitney engines. At this time no further factual information is available.

In line with the ICAO Annex 13 international convention, Airbus will provide full technical assistance to the French BEA as well as to the authorities who will be responsible for the accident investigation. A team of specialists from Airbus is being dispatched to Alabama.

The A300-600F is a freighter twin-engine widebody. The first A300-600F freighter entered service in 1983. By the end of June 2013, 104 A300-600F were in service.

Airbus will make further factual information available as soon as the details have been confirmed. However, the investigation remains the entire responsibility of the relevant authorities and it would be inappropriate for Airbus to enter into any form of speculation into the cause of the accident.

The concerns and sympathy of the Airbus employees go to the families, friends and loved ones affected by the accident of Flight 1354.

Source:  Airbus –  Press Release

UPS Airbus 300-600 Crashes at Birmigham – AL

A United Parcel Service – UPS, Airbus A300-600, from Louisville,KY to Birmingham,AL (USA) with 2 crew, was on approach to Birmingham’s runway 18 at 04:51L (09:51Z) but touched down near the intersection Airport Road/Tarrant Huffman Road about 1nm short of the runway in open terrain and burst into flames leaving a trail of debris of about half a mile. Both pilots died on the accident.

The FAA confirmed a UPS cargo aircraft crashed at Birmingham Airport and confirmed death of the two crew members.

Birmingham Shuttlesworth International Airport reported a UPS Cargo Airbus A300 went down just outside the airport perimeter fence, the Mayor of Birmingham said, that both crew perished in the crash.

The NTSB have dispatched a go-team to Birmingham,AL.

http://flightaware.com/live/flight/UPS1354/history/20130814/0849Z/KSDF/KBHM

UPS Airbus 300-600 Accident (5)UPS_birminghamA300Fcrash_NTSB

UPS Airbus 300-600 Accident (1)UPS Airbus 300-600 Accident (2)UPS Airbus 300-600 Accident (3)

Source: The Aviation Herald
Photos: AP/Hal Yeager – K.A. Turner – Graphics: AVH/Google Earth –

City of Birmingham/April Odom

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