August 2012 » AirInsight
A Commercial Aviation Consultancy

Monthly Archives: August 2012

Airbus Military have just announced that it will deliver the first four new generation A400M to customers in 2013 as planned, following the development of solutions to the recent engine issue. Flight tests had to be suspended after 160 hours of F&R flying because of the repeated detection of metallic chips in the oil system of one of the engines.  Airbus Military supported the engine manufacturer Europrop International (EPI) in its investigations of the root cause and fixes. EPI’s investigation showed that the failure does not impact an engines’ full capabilities and that the chip detection was provoked by a crack of a cover plate, a mechanical piece isolating elements within the Propeller Gear Box (PGB).

Consequently the civil Type Certification and military Initial Operating Capability (IOC) will now move into 1Q13, followed by first delivery to the French Air Force (MSN7) in the 2Q13. Despite this Airbus Military… Continue reading

Earlier this year we noted Airbus’ concern with the ETS and its China orders being held up.  China has been at the forefront of battling with the EU and its new carbon tax on air travel.  China is not alone of course,  but China wields a big stick with aircraft orders.  Airbus has suffered even though it plainly has nothing to do with the ETS implementation.

This morning’s news that China has ordered 50 A320s is noteworthy. Interestingly the order includes 20 A320neos, China’s first order of the type. On the face of it the order appears to indicate the Chinese freeze on Airbus may have thawed.  It helps that Airbus has a factory in Tianjin. Airbus advises that the order will deliver from both EU and Tianjin. So even if the freeze is not quite over, the Tianjin factory ensures the freeze is limited.

This image comes from this site. We captured today’s map because of the storm system over New Orleans.  We find this map fascinating because it shows how the wind patterns nationwide are impacted by the storm. This is clearly a map worth checking every day to better understand what is happening around the US.

The conventional wisdom from the 1960s through early 2000s that when Boeing or Airbus announces a new airplane, you can expect entry into service 48 months later no longer holds true.  We’ve seen significant delays for A380, 787, A400M and 747-8. Now, despite major lessons having been learned, additional, albeit smaller delays for A350XWB have been announced and we believe the first flight for the Bombardier CSeries will see a delay from December into the first quarter.

These delays occur despite longer development periods and additional slack in their schedules aimed at accommodating the “unknowns” that crop up in development.  What’s changed in the industry that is causing these delays, and will OEMs ever get “back on schedule” of delivering new technology aircraft on time?

Each of the new technology airliners under development had different reasons for delays, with one common thread — the complexities of supply chain… Continue reading

Bombardier provided this YouTube video showing the first flight of aircraft zero.  Note the moving parts on the mockup. Note also the extent of the technology deployed in the mockup site.  This demonstrates what we have been explaining about the next generation airplanes; the complexity is quite astounding. Don’t be surprised when the programs hit glitches and slow down.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-2yqKDU2AU&feature=player_embedded]

In South Africa there is a little airline called kulula that readers might enjoy learning about. The airline is owned by Comair, which also flies around Southern Africa as BA. Comair operates an LCC and a full service airline.

But, as one can imagine, its the LCC that generates the most fun.  Take a look at this video of the safety announcement. For non-African ears you may want to replay it a few times to pick up on the quirkiness.  kulula only has eight 737s.  But its impact is way bigger than its small fleet. Indeed, this private airline has to compete against a much larger state funded and supported competitor brings up instant comparisons with private Indian airlines competing with the same sort of (money losing, perennial tax payer supported) competitor.

Recently kulula took delivery of a new 737-800. Most places this sort of… Continue reading