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Flybe–Aer Lingus deal opens North America to Southampton passengers
A new codeshare between Flybe and Aer Lingus means that passengers travelling from Southampton Airport can now access new destinations in North America such as Boston, New York, San Francisco, Orlando, Chicago and Toronto, with a single stopover in Dublin.
“Our new codeshare agreement with Aer Lingus is another exciting development for Flybe and we are delighted to be working with such an excellent and well-respected airline,” explained Paul Willoughby (pictured), Flybe’s regional general manager in the UK. “It further demonstrates our commitment to becoming ‘One Stop to the World’, providing seamless connectivity from the UK regions for our customers so they no longer have to endure the hassle of travelling long haul via the UK's over-crowded south east hub airports.”
Passengers who book through the Aer Lingus website or travel agents will travel on one ticket for the entire journey, also having the option to be pre-cleared for US customs at Dublin Airport.
In-flight Wi-Fi providers offer free internet access on first ‘Connection Day’
Verizon held its first ‘Connection Day’ on Wednesday 26th November, prior to Thanksgiving, partnering with companies like JetBlue and Gogo to offer passengers free in-flight connectivity services on one of the busiest travel days of the year.
As part of their connection day celebration, Verizon focused on the fact that the national long-distance travel average in the US increases by 54% during the Thanksgiving holidays.
Regardless of their network provider, passengers travelling on Gogo-equipped flights were treated to 30 minutes of complimentary in-flight Wi-Fi, whilst JetBlue passengers travelling between November 26th and December 31st will have access to the airline’s Fly-Fi connectivity service throughout the entire duration of their flights.
“As we approach the holiday season, we wanted to show how much we appreciate our customers,” remarked Ken Dixon, vice president of marketing for Verizon Wireless. “We hope that not only our customers, but everyone, will take advantage of this day—a day to connect with family and friends, to learn something new about their device, or just to provide a little more entertainment during what can often be a hectic kick off to the holiday season.”
Dragonair introduces Bluebox Hybrid on A320 fleet
Business class passengers travelling on Dragonair’s A320 aircraft will now have access to iPads fitted with Bluebox Avionics’ ‘Hybrid’ technology.
Bluebox Hybrid, which currently has 14,000 units flying, offers early window content from many studios as well as access to streamed in-flight entertainment (IFE) in one integrated proposition, using a secure app for iPad Air and iPad Mini. Bluebox claims the app interfaces with its Hollywood-approved wireless streaming solution to complete a premium IFE platform as content-rich as any fitted system.
“Out of the 25 airlines now employing Bluebox, Dragonair is the first customer to adopt our application specifically to integrate with in-cabin wireless IFE”, notes Bluebox spokesman Kevin Birchmore. “We like to take that as a vote of confidence in our recent work around hybrid IFE, from a highly respected and, quite rightly, a highly demanding new client.”
Inmarsat and ESA partnership aims to transform ATM in Europe
Inmarsat has signed a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) entering into the Iris Precursor partnership, under which Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadbandSafety product will be upgraded in order to play an integral part in the future European air traffic management (ATM) infrastructure.
The upgrades will see Inmarsat providing satellite overlays to terrestrial VHF data links in Europe, allowing the sending of information between aircraft and ground stations. The technology may also go on to be deployed across North America, Asia Pacific and other regions, where the growth of air traffic is placing strain on ground-based VHF networks.
The upgrades will then enable Single European Sky’s ATM Research (SESAR) flight management concepts, so flight plans can be continually updated during flight to maintain an optimal trajectory to destination.
This trajectory management allows air traffic control to offer better routings, sequence aircraft far in advance and maximise airport and airspace capacity, reducing flight time and airborne holding. It also supports other concepts such as continuous descent operations, creating less fuel burn, reduced delays and lower CO2 emissions.
“Iris Precursor is a project within the framework of ESA’s Iris Programme, born in 2008 to provide a satellite system as part of a wider initiative driven by the European Commission for the modernisation of the air traffic management,” explained Magali Vaissiere, ESA’s director of telecommunications and integrated applications. “It represents a first milestone of a fruitful collaboration in the long-term modernisation of air traffic management: a challenge that we can only do if we join forces, ready to tackle step by step.”
Inmarsat’s CEO, Rupert Pearce, claimed, “Today’s announcement cements our role in providing aviation safety services. We have been committed since the launch of Future Air Navigation Systems in the 1990s to support safety communications for the world’s airlines. Our aim, and the purpose of this partnership, is to continue to provide airlines across the globe with improved safety services, aircraft routing, and environmental and cost efficiency benefits.”
VietJetAir receives 1st direct-from-Airbus A320
VietJetAir has marked the beginning of its major fleet expansion, taking delivery of the first of up to 100 Airbus A320 family aircraft at a ceremony in Toulouse – its first directly from the OEM.
63 of these potential new aircraft, including 14 A320ceos, seven A321ceos and 42 A320neos, are already on firm order with Airbus, with VietJetAir holding purchase rights with Airbus for another 30 aircraft, as well as planning to lease seven more from third party lessors.
“The A320 has proven to be extremely efficient in service with VietJetAir and is a favourite with our passengers,” announced Luu Duc Khanh, MD of VietJetAir. “Based on this experience, we look forward to developing our business across the Asia-Pacific region, with the most economic and comfortable aircraft.”
“This ceremony marks a new exciting milestone in our relationship with VietJetAir and with Vietnam, one of the fastest-growing markets in the world,” added John Leahy, COO–customers for Airbus. “We are confident that the reliable and proven A320 family will play a key role in enabling VietJetAir to fly to even greater heights.”
VietJetAir began operations in 2011 and currently has a fleet of 17 leased A320s.
JetBlue signs MTU Maintenance Canada for V2500 support
MTU Maintenance Canada has signed a six year contract to provide JetBlue with V2500 accessories and Line Replaceable Unit (LRU) coverage from its Accessory Repair Centre (ARC), which is co-located with MTU Maintenance Canada’s engine shop in Richmond, British Columbia.
The company has been the exclusive maintenance provider for JetBlue’s V2500 engines over the past nine years, with the airline being one of the largest operators of V2500 engines worldwide.
MTU Maintenance Canada’s ARC provides accessory repairs and LRU management solutions for CF34, CFM56, V2500, CF6-80, PW2000, and GE90-115B engines.
More capacity for Aegean’s Birmingham–Athens route
Following the launch of a new route between Birmingham and Athens in July this year, Aegean Airlines is upping capacity on the summer 2015 service between the two destinations by 8,500 seats.
“It’s no surprise that this Athens service from Birmingham has been such a success as it provides direct access to Athens and choice across the Greek Islands, which are hugely popular with British tourists,” noted William Pearson, aviation development director at Birmingham Airport. “We are therefore delighted that the team at Aegean has not only recognised the demand in the Midlands region to recommence services in April, but also increase capacity over the summer months from Birmingham.”
Between April and October 2015, the Birmingham–Athens service will be operated on a 168-seat Airbus A320 aircraft with a dual class configuration each Wednesday and Sunday.
Flybe to fly for SAS in new white label deal
From October 2015, Flybe will begin a six year agreement with SAS, initially operating four ATR 72-600s on short-haul services, with four extra aircraft being brought into service if required.
“We are delighted to announce this agreement with SAS which provides a turnkey regional capacity solution,” declared Flybe’s CEO, Saad Hammad. “This white label agreement with Scandinavia’s largest carrier confirms Flybe’s twin-engine growth strategy and we are excited about its long-term potential. We look forward to starting operations in Scandinavia next year.”
“It’s always a great pleasure to take in brand new aircraft in our traffic. We already have very good experiences with the ATR turboprop, and our customers can look forward to high quality and a pleasant and joyful journey with Flybe for SAS,” commented SAS COO Flemming Jensen. “This agreement means that SAS’s production can become even more effective and we also streamline our fleet with respect to the type of aircraft external carriers fly for us.”
The aircraft will operate under Flybe's Airline Operating Certificate (AOC) and are being provided with full flight and cabin crew as well as maintenance. The companies say that there is scope for the agreement to be extended.
Trans State Holdings’ carriers to use Lufthansa Systems’s iRouteManual
Trans State Holdings, which operates three regional airlines – GoJet Airlines, Compass Airlines and Trans States Airlines – has signed a five-year agreement with Lufthansa Systems for pilots to use electronic iRouteManual charts from the Lido product group.
iRouteManual, optimised for Apple iPads, contains apps giving pilots access to general maps, takeoff and landing charts, instrument flight rules (IFR) charts and depictions of airport runways, all of which are generated directly from the Lido navigation database and are always up to date.
The charts provide true-to-scale depiction of terrain and topographical information, such as the height of mountains and course of rivers, to improve a pilots' situational awareness. Pilots can also access additional flight information – communication frequencies, control zones, route-specific features – by switching between charts and other relevant documents using the touchscreen.
Lido’s iRouteManual product is not a permanently installed device. This means pilots can not only use the charts for flight preparation wherever and whenever they like, but also that they can individually select the desired level of detail on the charts using the touchscreen and zoom function as well as the usual iPad controls.
Dan Reed, vice-president flight operations for Trans States Holdings, stated, “Lido/iRouteManual gives our pilots the flexibility they need in terms of time and space to optimally prepare for a flight. The clear, self-explanatory charts reduce the flight deck workload during a flight and help ensure safe flight operations.”
Trans State Holdings also opted for Lufthansa Systems’s Integrated Operations Control Center (IOCC) platform – an integrated, modular IT platform for monitoring and controlling all of an airline’s operating processes across departments – in May this year.
First ATR 72-600 delivered to Bangkok Airways
Bangkok Airways has received delivery of the first of nine ATR 72-600s, ordered to complement the airline’s existing fleet of ATR 72-500s, at a ceremony in Toulouse, France.
The nine new aircraft, which are equipped with a new full-glass cockpit and feature a high comfort layout with larger overhead bins, are all scheduled to be delivered by 2017 and will operate on Bangkok Airways’ expanding network of both domestic and regional services.
“Today's delivery is part of Bangkok Airways' strategy of matching our growing network and frequency requirements with the right aircraft. Choosing ATR for our regional operations is a logical step,” announced president of Bangkok Airways, Captain Puttipong Prasarttong-Osoth. “The ATR aircraft has the lowest seat-mile cost in its class, is ideally suited for regional and domestic operations, and enables us to provide the highest level of comfort and service to our customers.
“By focusing on quality service and comfort, Bangkok Airways does its utmost to ensure the best passenger experience and these improvements on the new ATR 600s are well in line with this strategy,” he added.
CTSAT gives priority to AirMedia in-flight connectivity service
China Telecom Satellite Communications (CTSAT) has formed a strategic partnership with AirMedia, specialists in air travel advertising, to offer the latter priority access to satellite and on-the-ground network and operation services to develop an in-flight connectivity service in compliance with the laws and regulations of China.
Herman Guo, AirMedia’s CEO, explained, “The strategic partnership with CTSAT is crucial and instrumental for us to further increase our market share of the in-flight Wi-Fi sector in China. So far, CTSAT is the only operator of in-flight satellite communications in China duly licensed by the competent authority in China.”
“We have made substantial progress on our transformation to an in-flight and on-train Wi-Fi operator,” added Guo. “We have already obtained a leading position in the on-train Wi-Fi sector in China. We expect to also establish a leading position in in-flight Wi-Fi business in China by leveraging our long-term relationship with airlines, years of operation experiences on advertising in the air travel sector, our extensive contents and copyrights in the air sector, and our business chain integration capability.”
AirMedia’s advertising platform includes digital frames, billboards, light boxes and TV screens in airports, as well as on routes operated by several airlines. CTSAT is a wholly-owned subsidiary of China Telecom.
VietJetAir signs A320 engine flight hour deal with CFM
VietJetAir has signed a rate per flight hour agreement with CFM, under which the latter will guarantee maintenance costs for a total of 45 CFM56-5B engines on a dollar per engine flight hour basis.
This 12-year agreement supports VietJetAir’s fleet of 21 Airbus A320ceo aircraft, which are powered by CFM56-5B engines. The deal is valued at $300 million.
“With this agreement, we are looking to CFM to help us keep our maintenance costs in check,” explained VietJetAir board member, Chu Viet Cuong. "They have proven themselves to be a real partner in our operations and will continue to be an asset to support our continued growth.”
All of VietJetAir's new engines will be the CFM56-5B Performance Improvement Package (PIP) configuration, which became the new production configuration for the model in 2011. The improvements, which provide a 0.5% improvement in fuel burn, include hardware changes to the core, new high-pressure turbine blades, as well as manufacturing changes to the fan.
Flybe introduces Liverpool–Belfast City service
From 2 February 2015, Flybe will offer a year-round service between Liverpool John Lennon Airport (LJLA) and George Best Belfast City Airport.
The airline will operate three departures from LJLA per day during the week, which are expected to be popular with business passengers who can reach Belfast’s city centre 10 minutes after landing at the airport. Flybe will also offer one service per day on Saturday and Sunday.
“Flybe have been operating from Liverpool for a number of years and we’re delighted that they are committed to expand their business from here,” remarked Mark Povall, director of air service development at LJLA. “We know that demand for this service to Belfast City is strong and we will also continue to look at further opportunities for Flybe to serve the Liverpool city region, at what is an exciting time for both the airline and ourselves.”
Paul Simmons, CCO of Flybe, averred, “Flybe has, over the last twelve months, undergone a significant overhaul of the business and this has resulted in a more cost-effective, efficient and flexible operation, enabling us to increase the number of routes we can offer to better serve the travelling needs of both our business and leisure customers.”
SSJ100 receives STC for use of vertical navigation
The basic version of the Sukhoi Superjet 100 (SSJ100) has become the first Russian built aircraft to receive a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) from the Aviation Register of Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC AR) for the use of vertical navigation (VNAV) in all stages of flight.
VNAV calculates a vertical profile of the flight in accordance with the assigned path, considering aircraft performance and speed and height restrictions. The IAC AR confirmed the SSJ100 has been granted permission to use VNAV in the airports with non-precision approach.
“At the moment, Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company is working on VNAV certification at IAC AR for the SSJ100 Long Range version,” stated Igor Vinogradov, the first VP for quality and certification at Sukhoi. “Moreover, the company plans to achieve validation by European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) of the VNAV functionality, certified by IAC AR, for the SSJ100 Basic and Long Range versions.”
The SSJ100 VNAV functionality was tested on both the ‘Electronic Bird’ integration bench – designed to test new equipment, software and aircraft systems – and during real flights on SSJ100 prototype 95003 at Ramenskoe airfield in Zhukovskiy, near Moscow. There were 58 test flights on the “Electronic Bird” integration bench and 24 flights performed by the test aircraft.
ATR becomes AEO for customs activities
ATR has achieved Authorized Economic Operator (AEO) certification from customs authorities for its import–export processes, a move which followed large growth in the sales of its products and services.
Now that ATR is an official AEO, the company will benefit from a streamlined customs process, meaning greater responsiveness for delivering aircraft, shipping spare parts and equipment to operators, as well as for receiving equipment for the aircraft's final assembly line.
The certification, granted by the French Ministry of Finance, was cleared after verification of ATR's existing import and export records, and is recognised across the EU, United States, Canada, China and Japan.
ATR currently issues over 3,000 customs declarations per month.
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