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A Commercial Aviation Consultancy

The US scope clauses are seen by many as a market aberration.  After all, commercial logic demands that new technologies are quickly deployed. It happens like that in every industry, right?

Not in the airline business, and especially not in the US airline business.  In the US, pilots have seen their jobs degraded with every business cycle.  This is not a new thing – Bloomberg had this story in 2014, and this 2016 follow up. Being a US commercial pilot is, for many young people, an oddly risky career choice.  In 1980 there were 827,000 pilots in the US and by 2015 that number had shrunk to 590,000.  Despite average salaries well over $100,000 becoming a commercial pilot in the US is not an attractive career choice.  With a starting salary that does not allow for education debt repayment and ensure board and lodging… Continue reading

JSC “Sukhoi Civil Aircraft” reported today that it obtained EASA approval of Sukhoi Superjet 100 Long Range (SSJ100LR). The certificate enables Sukhoi Superjet 100 deliveries to the foreign customers with the range increased by 50% comparing to the basic version (SSJ100 Basic).

The new range for the aircraft rises from 3,048km (1,645 NM) to 4,578km (2,471 NM).  The LR version has been flying within Russia since 2014 (picture of a Gazpromavia SSJ100LR). The LR represents about a quarter of the SSJ deliveries.

The additional performance capabilities of the SSJ means the ~100 seat market will grow ever more competitive.  However focus for the SSJ will remain outside the US absent an FAA certification.  Whether Sukhoi might try to get the EASA certificate recognized by the FAA is an open question.  (We asked) The SSJ has built an order book of 370 and 96 have been delivered.… Continue reading

Today CFM International announced their LEAP-1C engine, for the COMAC C919, has won certification from both EASA and the FAA.

The certification from both agencies is unusual.  Another unusual feature of this engine is that CFM provided COMAC with a totally integrated propulsion system that includes the engine, nacelle, and thrust reverser.

While this news is welcome and should mean a first flight is coming soon, one needs to remember the engine was first flown on the GE test bed in 2014.  Only recently were the engines run for 10 minutes on a C919.  The equivalent engines for the MAX have been in flight test for some time and on the neo have started deliveries already.  COMAC has fallen behind on the C919 and consequently is more dependent on the home market than ever.

IRKUT provided an interesting PDF today – MC-21-ENG

In the document there are a number of links to videos of the program’s progress.

This reflects a new level of information openness to emerge from IRKUT and is to be commended.   The greater level of transparency, perhaps, demonstrates a growing confidence at IRKUT on their ability to achieve revised timelines.  It looks like first flight in the spring is achievable.

Impressions of Finnair’s A350 Business Class

The A350 XWB has been touted by Airbus and its operating airlines as representing a significant step forward when it comes to the passenger experience.

Does it live up to the expectations? With nearly 50 of the type already in service it was about time we gave it a try.

So when Finnair offered us to test theirs, we did not need to think it twice. We hopped on a flight between Helsinki and Hong Kong to see for ourselves what the hype is all about.

Helsinki Airport

But first of all, and before we get on-board of the A350 itself, a few words about Helsinki airport. As Finnair’s transit hub between Europe and Asia, and, as of the time of writing this article, a major A350 base, it plays a major role in the overall passenger experience.

And, in fact, it did not… Continue reading

On November 29th Portuguese flag carrier TAP retired its last Fokker 100.

When flight TP1937 from Porto, operated by “Albatroz” (CS-TPA), touched down at Lisbon Portela airport, it brought a quarter of a century of Fokker 100 service in Portugal to an end.

Two decades after the historical Dutch aircraft maker Fokker closed its doors (its MRO operation lives on as Fokker Aviation, though, after it was acquired by Stork BV), it is getting increasingly difficult to spot Fokker 100s anywhere in Europe. Austrian Airlines remains pretty much the only major airline still flying the type in the continent (and not for much longer!).

This was, thus, a hard to miss opportunity. It may well be the last chance to fly on an aircraft that, although belonging to an ageing generation, has proved itself to be a reliable workhorse for many airlines. Before the arrival of more… Continue reading

December has been a truly eventful month for both Bombardier’s CSeries program and airBaltic, the CS300 launch operator.

Earlier this week, the CS300 has received its type validation by the FAA (adding to the ones that it already had from Transport Canada and the European Aviation Safety Agency), the very same day that launch operator airBaltic completed the first ever revenue service of the type.

Letter from Riga

This two major milestones of the CSeries program were preceded, earlier this month, by a major event in Riga, the home base of airBaltic, marking the arrival of the first operational CS300 aircraft.

Proof of the relevance the entry into service of the CS300 has for the Latvian carrier is the high profile and large scale of the reception ceremony, that was held at airBaltic’s facilities at Riga international… Continue reading

Boeing confirmed that the announced production cut in the 777 line from 8.3 per month to five per month will begin in August, 2017, and then drop to 3.5 per month in 2018. The company had earlier announced a production cut from 8.3 per month to 7 per month beginning in January, 2017. This reduction of 68% from current levels by 2018 reflects a lack of new orders for the aircraft, which is scheduled to be replaced by the upgraded 777-X series, with first deliveries scheduled for 2020.

The problem for Boeing is that the 777-300ER is one of Boeing’s cash cows and it’s most profitable aircraft, typically selling at about $160 million, with development costs long amortized. But with the aircraft not selling, Boeing cannot afford to produce “white tail” speculative aircraft waiting for a customer that may never appear. Continue reading

Bombardier’s CS300, the larger of the two CSeries variants, successfully entered revenue service with airBaltic earlier today.  The first flight was from Riga to Amsterdam, and carried 120 passengers.  AirBaltic has configured its aircraft in a 145 seat two-class configuration.

Martin Gauss, airBaltic’s CEO, said that “airBaltic has been counting down the days  to this landmark moment.  During its maiden commercial flight today, the CS300 aircraft performed beyond our expectations and offered a new level of travel experience for our customers.”

airBaltic, founded in 1995 connects the Baltic region with 60 destinations in Europe, the CIS and middle east.  The company currently operates 25 aircraft – 12 Boeing 737s, 12 Q400s and now 1 CS300, with another 19 on order.

Since entering revenue service with Swiss, the smaller CS100 has completed more than 1,600 flights, carrying more than 156,500 passengers, and covering 1,181,500 km while… Continue reading