A350 XWB Flight Test Campaign

Airbus produces great high quality videos. Here is one of the last ones, the A350XWB flight test campaign.

Since Feb 26, 2014, Airbus has doubled from two to four the number of A350 WXB flight test aircraft with the simultaneous maiden flights of MSN2 and MSN4 – both of which were performed from Toulouse, France. MSN2 is the first developmental aircraft to feature a full passenger cabin, allowing Airbus to begin validating all related systems; while MSN4 will be used for multiple test activities – including low-weight flight envelope certification and external noise measurements among others.

A New Creature is Taking Shape…

After more than 25 years of success, the A320 story continues with the start of final assembly for Airbus’ first A320neo (new engine option) – which incorporates numerous innovations, including the latest-generation engines and large Sharklet wing-tip devices. This video clip focuses on contributions from across Airbus’ international network of production sites.


Air Asia India Takes Delivery of its First A320

Air Asia India Airbus 320

India’s newest airline, AirAsia India, has taken delivery of its first aircraft, an Airbus A320 equipped with Sharklets, becoming the newest operator of the type. Chennai-based AirAsia India will take delivery of an additional nine aircraft for its initial fleet of 10 A320s, to serve India’s rapidly growing domestic air traffic. Powered by CFM engines, the aircraft is configured in an all economy layout with 180 seats.

The new airline is a joint venture between AirAsia Group, Tata Sons and Telstra Tradeplace.

“Indian domestic traffic is growing at an impressive rate and our well established and successful business model suits the market,” said Mittu Chandilya, AirAsia India CEO. “AirAsia and Airbus have a long-standing, special relationship. We are fully confident that with our new A320 fleet we will provide the Indian passenger the service and convenient travel options already offered by the AirAsia Group elsewhere in the region.

“In the next 20 years, more people will travel by air for the first time in India and China than anywhere else,” said John Leahy, Chief Operating Officer, Customers. “India’s domestic air transport growth is leading the world and will propel India to be one of the largest civil aviation markets by 2032. The launch of AirAsia India reflects this growth potential.”

AirAsia India’s fleet will be drawn from the 475 A320 Family aircraft ordered by the AirAsia Group. To date, almost a third of the aircraft on order have already been delivered and are flying  on AirAsia Group’s operations out of Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Jakarta, Manila and now Chennai. The AirAsia Group has also ordered 51 A330s and 10 A350 XWBs for its long haul affiliate AirAsia X.

The A320 Family is the world’s best-selling and most modern single aisle aircraft Family. To date, some 10,200 aircraft have been ordered and over 6,000 delivered to operators worldwide. With proven reliability and extended servicing periods, the A320 Family has the lowest operating costs of any single-aisle aircraft.

Source:  Airbus Media Room

Small is the Next Big Thing in Asia Aviation

After flying under the radar for many years, manufacturers of smaller jet and propeller-driven passenger aircraft are finding a bigger market in the Asia-Pacific with a slew of orders at the Singapore Airshow.

Canada’s Bombardier, Brazil’s Embraer, European joint venture ATR, Russia’s Sukhoi and Japan’s Mitsubishi Aircraft do not roll off the tongue as easily as Airbus or Boeing, but in the lucrative Asia market there is room for everyone.

Importantly, for the likes of Embraer, the world’s two largest aircraft manufacturers do not make aircraft that compete in the below-130 seat segment.

Low-cost airlines like AirAsia, Lion Air, and Cebu Pacific, with orders for hundreds of Airbus A320s and Boeing 737s, have driven much of the growth in the Asia Pacific airline market.

Increasingly, however, the major hub airports are getting crowded and there is growing demand for services to and between smaller second and third tier cities.

“The great opportunity in Southeast Asia is to get more people to fly, and that is about tier two and tier three cities,” said Torbjorn Karlsson, who leads aircraft sales for Bombardier in Southeast Asia.

He identified countries such as India, where only about 1 percent of country’s one-billion-plus population flies, and Indonesia and Thailand as inviting markets.

While there may still not be enough passengers to use the A320 or a 737, there is enough for smaller aircraft. And that is where the likes of Embraer and Bombardier come in. Thousands of this type of aircraft have been sold across Europe and the Americas, but relatively few have found their way to Asia. That’s now changing.

Embraer announced its first major Indian deal in Singapore, with start-up Air Costa ordering 50 jets valued at $2.94 billion on Thursday.

In a country like India, where Airbus and Boeing aircraft have saturated the market with airlines like IndiGo, SpiceJet (SPJT.BO) and GoAir, Costa is trying to find a niche for itself by connecting the smaller cities with Embraer jets.

“”You don’t need larger aircraft. This is enough for us,” said Ramesh Lingamaneni, chairman of Air Costa, which began operations in October and now has four Embraer jets. “Regional air services have enormous potential in India.”

Bombardier did not get any orders for its CSeries or CRJ jet aircraft, but Thai low-cost carrier Nok Air NOK.BK said that it would order up to eight of the Canadian company’s Q400 turboprop aircraft.

ATR, which dominates the turboprop market, inked a deal to sell up to eight of its 72-600 aircraft to Thai carrier Bangkok Airways. It also agreed to sell 20 aircraft to leasing firm Dubai Aerospace Enterprise, with options for 20 more, in a deal valued at $1 billion.

Sukhoi displayed a Superjet in the livery of its customer, Indonesia’s Sky Aviation, on the static display at the show. Japan’s Mitsubishi Aircraft and China’s AVIC are also developing aircraft that are expected to compete in the segment, and their executives were busy trying to impress potential customers in Singapore.

“There is lots of room to penetrate more into this market,” Paulo Cesar Silva, president and CEO of Embraer Commercial Aviation, told Reuters.

“You have to have the right aircraft. In the U.S., until two years ago, Delta was flying four times a day on the Boston-La Guardia route using A320s. Now, they place the E-175 11 times a day. You keep the frequency, the load factor is high, and the passenger is happy as every time you head to the airport, there is an aircraft leaving.”

There is intense rivalry within the segment too, with turboprop operators like ATR pointing out that their aircraft are more efficient over these short-haul routes.

“I think it’s partly the economics. On this short distance route the turboprop is the most efficient aircraft. Jets burn twice as much fuel, so costs are much higher. And a lot of these airports are not accessible for jets,” said ATR’s head of Global Sales, John Moore.


Source:  Reuters

Photo:  Reuters

FAA Approved the Installation of Angle of Attack Indicator (AOA) in Small Airplanes

The Federal Aviation Administration – FAA approved the design requirements for installation of angle of attack indicator (AOA) on small aircraft by simplifying design approval requirements.  AOA devices, common on military and large civil aircraft, can be added to small planes to supplement airspeed indicators and stall warning systems, alerting pilots of a low airspeed condition before a dangerous aerodynamic stall occurs, especially during takeoff and landing.

ICON AIRCRAFT GAUGEAn “angle of attack” is the angle between a plane’s wing and the oncoming air.  If the angle of attack becomes too great, the wing can stall and lose lift. If a pilot fails to recognize and correct the situation, a stall could lead to loss of control of the aircraft and an abrupt loss of altitude. Stalls can happen during any phase of flight, but they are critical when planes are near the ground and have less room to recover, such as during landing and takeoff.

AOA indicators may help prevent loss of control in small aircraft because they provide a more reliable indication of airflow over the wing. Although they have been available for some time, the effort and cost associated with gaining installation approval has limited their use in general aviation. The streamlined requirements are expected to lead to greater use of the devices and increased safety in general aviation.

AOA“We have eliminated major barriers so pilots can add another valuable cockpit aid for safety,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “These indicators provide precise information to the pilot, and could help many avoid needless accidents.”

Under the new policy, manufacturers must build the AOA indicator system according to standards from the American Society for Testing and Materials (ATSM) and apply for FAA approval for the design via a letter certifying that the equipment meets ATSM standards and was produced under required quality systems. The FAA’s Chicago Aircraft Certification Office will process all applications to ensure consistent interpretation of the policy.

The FAA believes this streamlined policy may serve as a prototype for production approval and installation of other add-on aircraft systems in the future.

Source:  FAA News


Nok Air to order Boeing 737 MAX

Thailand’s Nok Airlines is close to placing an order for Boeing 737 MAX.

The deal for the latest version of Boeing’s best-selling passenger jet, the 737 MAX, is expected to be announced at next week’s Singapore Airshow.

Both the airline and the manufacturer declined to comment.

The order could be worth between $1.5 and $3 billion and contrasts with concerns that aviation could be swept up in Thailand’s political and economic uncertainty which has helped fuel a recent slide in emerging markets.

Nok Air, 39.2 percent owned by Thai Airways International PCL THAI.BK, competes with Air Asia’s, Thai venture Asia Aviation PCL AAV.BK, a venture backed by Indonesia’s Lion Air and Bangkok Airways Co. Ltd BA.BK.

The new order would be the first major aircraft deal for Nok Air, which listed in Thailand in June in order to renew its fleet and which is expanding domestic and international routes.

Two sources said the airline’s requirements could include as many as 28 of the 737 aircraft family, but another said barely half of the total would be ordered directly from Boeing.

“Leasing companies will provide part of Nok’s requirements. Nok is looking at a number of arrangements as they need the aircraft,” said a further source familiar with the deal.

Nok Air operates 14 Boeing aircraft in its fleet of 21, with the remainder comprising ATR and Saab aircraft.

Source: Reuters


Building the Boeing 747-8 – Worlds Longest Airliner – Video

The Boeing 747-8 is a wide-body jet airliner developed by Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Officially announced in 2005, the 747-8 is the fourth-generation Boeing 747 version, with lengthened fuselage, redesigned wings, and improved efficiency. The 747-8 is the largest 747 version, the largest commercial aircraft built in the United States and the longest passenger aircraft in the world.

The 747-8 is offered in two main variants: the 747-8 Intercontinental (747-8I) for passengers and the 747-8 Freighter (747-8F) for cargo. The first 747-8F performed the model’s maiden flight on February 8, 2010, with the 747-8 Intercontinental following on March 20, 2011. Delivery of the first freighter aircraft occurred in October 2011; passenger model deliveries began in 2012. In July 2013, confirmed orders for the 747-8 totaled 107, including 67 of the freighter version, and 40 of the passenger version.

Capt. Ivan

Technique: What to do if you’re upside down

Koontz plane

Airshow star and aerobatic instructor Greg Koontz will gladly give us his one-flight upset training course.

Koontz, retired from a corporate pilot career, is a full-time aerobatic instructor at his ranch in Ashville, Alabama, a 45-minute drive northeast of Birmingham. Students are free to move into one of his two extra bedrooms for longer course.

The point of aerobatic training is to fly the aircraft precisely and under control in exactly the attitudes most pilots fear.

 “It’s a three-dimensional world up there, and we’re two-dimensional people,” Koontz said. “It’s not natural to us. We don’t have feathers poking out anywhere.”

Today’s flight training is taught as a two-dimensional exercise. “Don’t bank too much. Don’t pitch too much. Keep your passengers comfortable,” he said. “Even the airlines have the windows real low so you can’t see the motion and get airsick. They want the passengers to feel like they’re still on the ground.”

If that two-dimensional world gets upset, he said, pilots need to have three-dimensional thinking in their toolbox.

“Our airplane flies along with 3,000 pounds of lift overcoming 3,000 pounds of gravity. That keeps us in a world we’re very familiar with. As long as lift is going up against gravity that is going down, we can sip our tea and fly along and eat a cracker, and everything’s nice. As soon as that world gets upset, and that lift points another direction, all hell breaks loose.

“When you’ve got that 3,000 pounds of lift pointing down, plus gravity, you’ve got a 6,000-pound pull on the airplane. When that airplane flips upside down, for an instant everything seems fine, but it immediately starts pulling towards the ground. During an attempt to roll the airplane, within a quarter of a roll you’ll be pointed straight down.

“It takes a long time to think it through when you’re turned upside down. What we’re more likely to do is pull. After thousands of students, I’ve seen people come out here, and no matter what I’ve explained to them on the ground—if I flip them over in the air before they have had any practice—they’re gonna pull.

“In reality we’ve got to get rid of that lift and go at least to zero G, and then roll the airplane. It takes training and it takes time. It takes more than one flight. It takes a number of flights to build up an understanding of three-dimensional flight,” Koontz said.

He suggests the four aerobatic fundamentals: loops, rolls, hammerheads, and spins. All of those maneuvers require three-dimensional thinking. The loop, for example, teaches you how to get out of a dive, but the roll is the most important thing. “When a person has a good roll, they can get out of anything,” he said. He teaches rolls on all four flights, for a total of at least 20 by the end of the four-flight course.

Koontz has taught continuously since 1993, training 16 to 80 students a year. More than half of them did not come so they could do aerobatics after they leave. They came to improve their general skills, Koontz said. The course is $1,390, but includes a room in his home and breakfast. A few insist on the one-flight upset course for $300. “If they want it, I definitely want them to have something,” Koontz said. Some people get it and do well, while some are frustrated after one flight.

Koontz worked for eight years as chief pilot for Aero Sport in St. Augustine, Florida, and learned aerobatics from the late Jim Moser and Moser’s fellow aerobatic pilots.

So did any of his students save an aircraft after it tumbled out of control? “It goes the other way,” Koontz said. “They prevented the aircraft from getting into such an attitude in the first place.”

Web: www.gkairshows.com

Source:  AOPA – Technique

Email alton.marsh@aopa.org



Airbus Takes the 350 to Canada for Cold Weather Testing

Airbus’ A350 XWB MSN3 development aircraft with a team of 48 Airbus specialists have arrived at Iqaluit, Canada for several days of cold weather trials. The various tests for the aircraft its engines and its systems include a ‘cold soak’ down to minus double-digit temperatures. The scope of the trials include: APU and engine starts after cold soak; verification of system behaviour; low-speed taxi and rejected take-offs; thrust-reverser tests with snow.


This latest phase of the development test programme comes only days after MSN3’s completion of the “hot-and-high” tests in Bolivia. Since the A350 XWB’s first flight with MSN1 on June 14th 2013, over 890 flight test hours have been performed in close to 200 test flights by both MSN1 and MSN3. In total the A350 XWB flight test campaign will accumulate around 2,500 flight hours with the fleet of five aircraft. The rigorous flight testing will lead to the certification of the A350-900 by the European EASA and US FAA airworthiness authorities, prior to entry into service in Q4 2014.

Source:  Airbus

Boeing Rolls Out First Dreamliner at Increased Production Rate

Boeing has rolled out the first Boeing 787 Dreamliner built at the rate of 10 airplanes per month. The airplane, a 787-8 and the 155th Dreamliner built, will be delivered to International Lease Finance Corp. for operation by Aeromexico.

The new 10 per month rate is the highest ever for a twin-aisle airplane. The 787 program has now increased its production rate three times in just over a year, including to five airplanes per month in November 2012 and seven per month in May 2013.

“This rate increase reflects the continued strong demand for the 787,” said Larry Loftis, vice president and general manager, 787 program, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “A disciplined approach that combined employee teamwork with technology was key to achieving the higher rate.”

Boeing assembles and delivers 787s in two locations: Everett, Wash., and North Charleston, S.C.

To date, 115 787s have been delivered to 16 customers. The program has 1,030 total orders from 60 customers worldwide.

This airplane will be the fourth 787 operated by Aeromexico and will be used on the airline’s Mexico City – London Heathrow route.

Source:  Debbie Heathers – Boeing Media Room.


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