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Digest
October 2017

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Aerostar has been awarded FAA Air Agency Certificate No 4BRY 586 C, allowing it to bid for overhaul work from customers whose aircraft are leased from US-based lessors and under FAA jurisdiction. It has also developed its capability for aircraft cabin interior items using SATTO Rapid Repair Systems on commercial aircraft, which is fully compliant with European Union REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) standards and Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) requirements.

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Aerostar of Romania is planning to expand, with the signing of a 49-year lease agreement with the local authorities for 16,000m² of land at Iasi International Airport to enable it to build a new MRO facility. A new four-bay hangar, which is expected to be open for business in the summer of 2019, will increase Aerostar’s throughput of Airbus A320 Family and Boeing 737 Classic/NG overhauls by up to 40%. The planned new facility lies 130km north of Aerostar’s existing business operations at Bacau where two dedicated hangars provide six to seven aircraft bays which are invariably full during the peak maintenance periods. During 2016, a total of 80 aircraft completed C and D checks at Bacau and, so far in 2017, 53 aircraft have been maintained.

In April 2018, it will overhaul its first A320neo, believed to be the first contracted overhaul of the type in Europe. This will follow a period of theoretical and practical training to extend the scope of its EASA Part 145 approval.

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AFI KLM E&M and long-standing partner GMF AeroAsia have signed an LoI under which their cooperation will move up a stage to become a strategic alliance designed to develop a range of multi-segment MRO products delivering high value-added maintenance solutions for the market. This latest commercial partnership between the two players confirms their joint determination to combine their respective strengths to offer a range of unique MRO capabilities in the global marketplace. The products jointly developed by the two companies in the framework of the LoI will be deployed in the Airframe, Components and Engines products sectors and possibly beyond. In this way, both AFI KLM E&M and GMF AeroAsia are aiming to consolidate their respective positions by seizing the many commercial opportunities arising on this market.

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Airbus has initiated its latest research in further reducing the fuel consumption of airliners with the flight from Tarbes to Toulouse of the Airbus A340 Flight Lab’s modified A340-300 prototype equipped with 10m-long outer wing sections designed for natural laminar flow. This creates less drag than the airflow on traditional wings, potentially reducing fuel burn by as much as 4.6% on an 800nm trip. The sections represent about two-thirds of the wing size on a short- or medium-range airliner, for which the laminar flow technology is deemed best suited.

 

The aircraft first flew on 23 August, with the transfer flight taking place three days later, which investigated basic handling characteristics over 3:38hrs.

Designated as Breakthrough Laminar Aircraft Demonstrator in Europe (BLADE), this research effort is organised through Europe’s Clean Sky aeronautical research programme. The BLADE project involves 21 European partners with 500 contributors, including GKN Aerospace: designer of the starboard laminar flow wing panel, and Saab: designer of the port wing segment.

 

(See MRO Management, September 2017, for a feature on the BLADE project.)

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Airbus has reached an agreement with Qantas to upgrade 12 A380 cabins to further improve passenger comfort on long-haul operations whilst maximising economics. In particular, the new interior takes advantage of the A380’s large floor area to most efficiently embody Qantas’ latest seat products for Business Class and Premium Economy. Airbus will be responsible for the overall upper-deck integration. In addition, Airbus will develop specific tailored monuments for Qantas and a new and unique business lounge area in the forward upper-deck. The installation phase will start in 2Q19. All 12 aircraft are planned to be upgraded by around the end of 2020.

 

The capacity of Qantas A380s after the upgrade will be as follows: 14 First Suites (unchanged), 70 Business Suites (up by six), 60 Premium Economy (up by 25) and 341 Economy (down by 30) for a total of 485 passengers (up by one). In particular, the upgrade will meet the airline’s increased demand for revenue-enhancing premium cabins on flights to the US, Europe and Asia.

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AJW Group has extended its contract with Russian airline NordStar to perform Engine Shop Visit Management for seven of their CFM56-7B engines. AJW previously managed three of NordStar’s shop visits between 2015 and 2016, delivering efficiencies that saved the airline in excess of $1 million, and this new agreement builds on the success of that partnership.

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Alaska Air Cargo has put into service the first converted Boeing 737-700 cargo aircraft. The aircraft was converted over 19 months in Tel Aviv by Israel Aerospace Industries. Alaska pilots flew the convertedplane from Tel Aviv to Belfast, Ireland, on 6 September. From there, the plane touched down on US soil in Bangor, ME, and continued on to Greensboro, NC, for scheduled maintenance. The aircraft was painted in Victorville, CA, before arriving in Seattle, WA.

 

Alaska will take delivery of two more converted 737-700 freighters, allowing the new, all-cargo fleet to carry 15% more capacity overall. Currently, Alaska operates one 737-400 freighter and four 737-400 combi aircraft, which carry both passengers and cargo. Alaska plans to retire its entire 737-400 combi fleet by 18 October.

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Anjou Aeronautique has secured a new STC for the replacement of passenger seat belts on Boeing 737-800 aircraft. The STC is valid specifically for Recaro seat types 3510, 3510A and 3410. The STC further extends Anjou’s capability on 16g aircraft, and opens the opportunity for operators of 737-800s with Recaro seats to replace the incumbent solution without the need for recertifying the seat.

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Aviation Partners Boeing (APB) has announced that Hainan Airlines has committed to install Split Scimitar Winglets on 36 of its fleet of Boeing 737-800 aircraft. Hainan was the first airline in China to operate with APB’s Blended Winglet technology, and now will be the first airline in China to operate with APB’s latest product, Split Scimitar Winglets. Hainan’s aircraft will be modified during routine maintenance visits at Hainan Airlines’ maintenance facility, HNA Technology, in Haikou.

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British Airways has become the first airline worldwide to introduce remote controlled devices to push back aircraft across its short-haul operation. In partnership with Heathrow, the eco-friendly Mototok tugs will allow British Airways staff to prepare aircraft for departure more efficiently. The airline is the first commercial operator to deploy the devices across multiple aircraft stands. The equipment, used to move Airbus short-haul aircraft, replaces traditional diesel tugs, allowing a single ramp agent to push an aircraft backwards from the gate remotely.

 

Emissions-free and capable of moving planes with precision, five Mototoks are currently in operation across 25 stands at Terminal 5. They were integrated into the operation in August, and more than 100,000 customers have benefited from smoother departures already.

 

British Airways plans to roll out the Mototok across its short-haul operation by the end of the year, and is exploring the possibility of introducing the technology to push back long-haul aircraft in the future.

 

The Mototok’s electric battery can hold its charge for up to three days, and charging points will be installed on each of the 25 stands at Heathrow’s T5.

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