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October 2015

Rolls-Royce and American dissolve TAESL bookmark

Rolls-Royce and American Airlines are to dissolve Texas Aero Engine Services (TAESL), the 50/50 joint MRO venture based in Fort Worth, TX. The combination of reductions in demand and lack of future growth opportunities for the business has led Rolls-Royce to request the closure of TAESL, which American Airlines has accepted.


TAESL was originally established in 1998 to work on Rolls-Royce aircraft engines that were operated by American Airlines. These aircraft included the Tay 620/650, RB211 and Trent 800. Demand for work on those engines has fallen significantly, with the Tay engine leaving American’s fleet completely in 2004 and RB211 work declining as aircraft from American’s Boeing 757 fleet are gradually retired. After reviewing load forecasts for the TAESL programmes, Rolls-Royce has concluded that declining future volumes of overhauls for Trent 800 and RB211 will no longer support a commercially viable operation.


About 600 American Airlines employees currently work at TAESL, including 500 who are represented by the Transport Workers Union of America. The airline also employs about 100 management and support employees at this facility. American will provide continued employment opportunities for all 500 frontline mechanics and TWU-represented employees throughout its system, and is also creating more than 100 TWU-represented jobs in the Dallas-Fort Worth area as a way of offsetting the facility’s closure. Those in management and support functions affected by the closure will be offered a competitive severance and outplacement package if other opportunities within either Rolls-Royce or American are not available.


Work that is currently being carried out at TAESL for American and other airlines will begin moving to other Rolls-Royce approved MRO facilities in consultation with TAESL’s current customers. Final closure of TAESL is expected by January 2016.

IPR to convert ATR freighters bookmark
IPR Conversions has concluded the acquisition of the Alenia Aermacchi ATR passenger to freighter conversion STCs. The ownership transfer has been initiated and is pending EASA, FAA and Transport Canada approvals. This transaction entitles IPR Conversions to market and commercialise Large Cargo Door and/or Structural Tube conversions on ATR Aircraft.
This is the only conversion available on the market that will provide customers with a Large Cargo Door. The door size, 116in x 71in, allows the loading of very large single pieces and, if the containerised version is chosen, it will be possible to load five full height 88in x 108in containers or seven LD3s. The Alenia Class E cargo compartment has a floor length of 89in versus 81in from other STC providers, together with the highest floor weight resistance on the market. The conversions will be performed by ASI Maintenance (Part 145) in Toulouse under ASI Innovation engineering (Part 21J).
Airbus R&D projects bookmark

A team at the Airbus facility in Filton, UK, has designed, built and tested a performance-enhancing component as an option for the A320neo. The innovation, referred to as SHort AiRfield Package (SHARP), is a Kevlar composite panel that optimises the airflow over the root fillet fairing panel to increase wing lift at low speeds and thus enhance take-off and landing performance at restricted airports. It could be delivered as a retrofit option.


The UK team, working with their engineering colleagues in Bremen, had considered various proposals to reduce the approach speed at landing before selecting SHARP. Construction of a test panel took place in Filton’s ProtoSpace facility using rapid prototyping Additive Layer Manufacturing (ALM) technology to 3D print the moulds. Fibre glass was then layered into the moulds to create the new panel prior to final finish and paint. Metrology experts then scanned the panel to ensure that the exact profile being tested was well understood. The prototype’s subsequent flight-testing in Toulouse was successful and the engineering and industrial teams are now finalising this design for production.


The requirement for such a modification was driven in part by several operators wishing to fly their future A320neo aircraft into Santos Dumont airport in Rio de Janiero, where the runway is only around 1,300m long. As well as the short runway, there is Sugar Loaf Mountain to one side and the long Niterói bridge on the other, which makes this a challenging environment.


Another project could cut the amount of unusable fuel that remains in each aircraft by half. This is formed by puddles inside the tanks in areas that the fuel pump intake valve can’t reach. For large aircraft this has meant carrying excess weight – typically several hundred kilogrammes. Not only is this dead weight, it is also fuel which is not being used to power the aircraft. To tackle this, and to increase the efficiency of its aircraft, Airbus has assembled a dedicated Sprint team of engineers with extensive experience from across the company. The results from the project are promising: several proposed solutions could more than halve the amount of unusable fuel. Furthermore, the retrofit solutions would keep costs down by avoiding having to alter any structural components.


The ProtoSpace facility and Additive Layer Manufacturing (ALM) were used to create 3D printed test components and models. An example was a full-scale, quarter-size A330 centre fuel tank demonstrator with root-joint and stringers to validate how liquid actually moves around the tank and where the puddles form, as well as to explore how fuel can be redistributed to where the pump can extract it. To complement the physical models, digital modelling analysed fluid behaviour inside the wing for different flight phases.

737 completion centre for China bookmark

Boeing and Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) will partner to open a facility in China for the interiors completion, paint and delivery of Boeing 737 aircraft to Chinese customers. The joint venture facility will significantly expand Boeing’s collaboration with China’s aviation industry while also enabling future production rate increases at Boeing’s 737 final assembly factory in Renton, WA. This China-based facility will not reduce 737 programme employment in Washington State.


The announcement came as Boeing and China Aviation Supplies Holding Company (CASC) signed a General Terms Agreement related to the purchase of 300 aircraft with a value of approximately $38 billion at list prices. Orders and commitments included 240 aircraft for Chinese airlines, including 190 737s and 50 widebody aircraft, and 60 737s for leasing companies ICBC and CDB Leasing.

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