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July 2015

New A320 freighter conversion launched bookmark

ST Aerospace has signed agreements with Airbus and Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW) for a collaboration to launch the Airbus A320/A321 passenger-to-freighter (P2F) conversion programme. This follows a similar collaboration for the A330P2F conversion programme launched in 2013. Under the agreements, ST Aerospace will be the programme and technical lead during the A320/A321P2F development phase, similar to current arrangements for the A330P2F. It will work in tandem with Airbus and EFW, with conversions to be undertaken at EFW in Dresden and in ST Aerospace’s global network of facilities. As an aircraft OEM, Airbus will actively support the programme by providing the OEM data and certification support. EFW will drive sales and marketing activities and lead the industrialisation phase.


Airbus currently holds a majority stake at the Dresden-based freighter conversion specialist together with its partner and co-owner, ST Aerospace. In order to implement the new business line for A320/A321 P2F aircraft, ST Aerospace will provide its specially developed conversion technology and will obtain another 20% of EFW’s shares, thus increasing its stake in EFW to 55%. Subsequently, Airbus Group will become a minority partner in EFW, reducing its shareholding to 45%.


Airbus foresees a significant market demand for more than 600 narrowbody passenger aircraft to be converted to freighters over the next 20 years. Addressing this requirement, the A320/A321P2F facilitates the change to environmentally-friendly, new technology converted freighters, while recognising the operators’ focus on capital cost. The A320/A321P2F will be the only freighters in this narrowbody segment to feature digital fly-by-wire technology, and the ability to accommodate containerised or palletised lower-deck cargo, which is more volume efficient than bulk loading in the lower hold. The A320P2F with 11 main-deck positions will be capable of carrying 21 tonnes of payload over 2,100nm, while the A321P2F with 14 main-deck positions will be able to carry up to 27 tonnes over 1,900nm.


Together with the larger A330F and A330P2F, the A320P2F and A321P2F will further complement the Airbus Freighter Family concept. Airlines will thus benefit from the flight-crew and operational commonality through cross crew qualification and mixed fleet flying across their Airbus freighter and passenger operations, leveraging on same cockpit and systems philosophies.


Separately, GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) has launched a Boeing 737-800NG passenger-to-freighter conversion programme. GECAS plans to convert up to 20 of its Boeing 737-800NG passenger aircraft to freighters. AEI Aeronautical Engineers Inc will perform the conversions at its facilities in the US and China. The first aircraft is scheduled for conversion starting in 2016 in order to earn FAA supplemental type certification (STC) in 2017 and subsequently enter service as a leased freighter.


Meanwhile, PACAVI Group has announced that Saab Aerostructures will be the manufacturer of the main deck cargo door including surrounding structure for PACAVI’s Airbus A320 and A321 passenger-to-freighter aircraft conversion programme. Saab will also provide support during the design phase. Passenger-to-freighter conversion of PACAVI’s Airbus A320 Freighter LITE prototype, started in January, is progressing on schedule at the HAITEC facility in Frankfurt-Hahn. PACAVI and partner GAMECO will commence conversion of the A321 Freighter LITE prototype in the fourth quarter of 2015 in Guangzhou (China).

LHT/GE to establish major engine MRO facility bookmark

Lufthansa Technik and GE Aviation will create a new engine overhaul facility in Europe to perform the full range of engine maintenance services for the GEnx-2B and GE9X engines, powering the Boeing 747-8 and Boeing 777X, respectively. Under the terms of an MoU, the new joint venture is expected to be operational in 2018. Closing of the joint venture is subject to receipt of required regulatory approvals. The partners will continue to collaborate on repair development and mobile support services.

SNC relaunches Dornier 328 in Turkey bookmark

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has announced the formation of a new wholly-owned subsidiary, TRJet Havacilik Teknolojileri Anonim Sirketi (TRJet). This follows the signing in May of an MoU involving the Savunma Teknolojileri Mühendislik ve Ticaret (STM) in support of the Turkish Ministry of Transport, Maritime Affairs & Communications to produce the country’s first regional jet as part of its Regional Aircraft Project.


TRJet will be based in Ankara, Turkey, and will serve the Regional Aircraft project as well as the commercial aviation sector. The newly launched Regional Aircraft Project utilises a modernised version of the Dornier 328 under the name TRJ328 for the jet version and T328 for the turboprop version, as a first step towards production of Turkey’s first domestically-built passenger aircraft, the TRJ628. The TRJet subsidiary will ultimately produce and sell the TRJ328, as well as other variants.


SNC subsidiaries, 328 Support Services, 3S Certification and 3S Engineering will play a support role to SNC in building and producing these aircraft, including assisting in the establishment of an EASA Part 21G aircraft production facility in Turkey.


The Republic of Turkey took a low-risk, cost-effective strategy for the Project by electing to work with SNC, a well-established, global aerospace company, and capitalising on the existing intellectual property and assets of the D328 aircraft recently acquired by SNC. With Turkey’s STM as the prime contractor, the project also leverages the capabilities of national companies, with Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) as subcontractor, along with several companies including Aselsan, TEI, Havelsan, Alp Aviation, Kale Aviation and Turkish Cabin Interior (TCI).


Parallel with the manufacturing of the TRJ328 and T328 aircraft, which will have 32 seats, the project includes the future design and certification of new higher capacity TRJ628 jet and TR628 turboprop aircraft, with a proposed passenger seating capacity up to double that of the TRJ328. These aircraft, with short take-off and landing characteristics, fill a niche market for direct and frequent flights between smaller cities in Turkey that cannot be served with larger aircraft.


Extensive market studies show that these aircraft are not only needed in the domestic arena, but that there are regional and international demands as well. As a result, SNC anticipates that it will secure licensed production of such aircraft for sale in the United States, including sales to the US Government. The 328 is currently certified in 85 countries around the world, and is in use in many countries, including the US, Switzerland, Germany, the UK and Denmark.

Boeing 757 ecoDemonstrator flight tests bookmark

Boeing has announced the next phase in its ecoDemonstrator 757 testing, designed to accelerate the testing and use of technologies to improve aviation’s environmental performance. NASA and TUI Group are collaborating with Boeing on the tests. Among more than 15 technologies on the 757, Boeing has begun testing solar and thermal ‘energy harvesting’ to power electronic windows, as a way to reduce wiring, weight, fuel use and carbon emissions. Also, on the 757’s flight deck, Boeing has installed a 3D-printed aisle stand made from excess carbon fibre from 787 production to re-purpose this high-value material and reduce aircraft weight and factory waste.


In cooperation with NASA, the 757 flew in June from Seattle to NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA, using a blend of 95% petroleum jet fuel and 5% sustainable green diesel, a biofuel used in ground transportation. Boeing is working with the aviation industry to approve green diesel for commercial aviation by amending the HEFA biojet specification approved in 2011. This would make aviation biofuel more widely available and price competitive with Jet A including US government incentives. Diamond Green Diesel in Norco, LA, produced the 757’s green diesel from waste animal fats, inedible corn oil and used cooking oil to reduce lifecycle CO2 emissions by up to 80% less than petroleum jet fuel.


This spring, under contract with NASA’s Environmentally Responsible Aviation (ERA) Project, the ecoDemonstrator 757 tested active flow control on the vertical tail and bug-phobic coatings on the right wing. With the exception of Boeing proprietary technology, NASA’s knowledge gained by collaborating with Boeing on ecoDemonstrator research will be publicly available to benefit the industry. The green diesel flight to Langley was coordinated with the FAA, Pratt & Whitney and Honeywell, among others; EPIC Aviation blended the fuel. In December 2014, the ecoDemonstrator 787 made the first-ever flights with green diesel, which is a different fuel product than biodiesel.


Since it was launched in 2011, the ecoDemonstrator Program has tested more than 50 technologies with a Next-Generation 737 (2012), 787 (2014) and 757 (2015).


Boeing and Embraer intend to collaborate to test environment-focused technologies through the ecoDemonstrator Program, and are planning to conduct ecoDemonstrator tests with an Embraer aircraft in 2016. The ecoDemonstrator cooperation between Boeing and Embraer advances a relationship that began in 2012. Since then, the manufacturers have worked together to improve runway safety and support Embraer’s KC-390 defence aircraft programme. In addition, in 2015 Boeing and Embraer opened a joint biofuel research centre in São José dos Campos, Brazil, to perform biofuel research and coordinate research with Brazilian universities and other institutions.

New Beluga takes shape bookmark

Airbus has selected its major aerostructure suppliers for the Beluga XL, the new oversize air transporter set to expand Airbus’ industrial air transport capability. Stelia Aerospace has been selected to design and build the nose fuselage and main cargo door which gives the Beluga XL its signature shape; Aernnova will design and build the rear fuselage and dorsal fin; Deharde, in partnership with P3 Voith Aerospace, will design and build the fuselage of the cargo bay; and Aciturri will design and build the horizontal tail plane box extension and auxiliary fins. Further suppliers are being selected and will be announced in due course.


The new Beluga was launched in November 2014 and named Beluga XL for its increased dimensions on the current aircraft in operation. The additional one metre in width and six metres in length will allow the Beluga XL to carry two A350 XWB wings at a time, twice that of the current Beluga. The Beluga XL was launched to address the transport capacity requirement for the A350 XWB ramp-up and other aircraft production rate increases. Compared to the current Beluga, the Beluga XL will provide Airbus with an additional 30% air transport capacity.


The new oversize air transporters are based on the A330, with a large re-use of existing components and equipment. The design concept is similar to the current Beluga, with the distinctive lowered cockpit, cargo bay structure, rear-end and tail being amongst the items which are newly developed.


The first of five Beluga XLs will enter into service in 2019.

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