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26 February-4 March 2019 I flightglobal com


by design
Why Aero Vodochody’s new
L-39NG is heading for success

ISSN 0 0 1 5 - 3 7 1 0
£3.90 Bye, BMI Down wonder
0 9
As another UK regional Royal Australian Air Force
operator goes under, what transformation gathers pace
9 770015 371310
prompted carrier’s demise? 16 with F-35 introduction 30
The distribution strategies which deliver customers the right
services, at the right time, and through the right channels.

PARKROYAL on Pickering, Singapore, 23-24 May 2019

Key topics
Airlines are operating in a market where NDC / future distribution
digitization is making it constantly Retail / ancillaries
harder to add value. In order to avoid Chatbots
being left behind, airlines must identify PSS
the tools which allow them to build Loyalty
value into their offering, presenting Digital currency / Alternative Forms of Payment
customers with the right offers and Dynamic pricing
services, and on the right platform. Personalization
Blockchain and new payments

It is of increasing importance because, Steering committee

in today’s market, airlines’ bottom line is Dr. Narudh Cheramakara, Director of Aviation
being impacted by rising costs, shrinking Research, Nok Airline

margins, and fierce competition. To Greg Waldron, Asia Managing Editor,

counteract, they must capitalize on the
Donna Bahar, Manager Distribution and
demands from increasingly tech-savvy Reservation Systems, EL AL Israel Airlines
customers to deliver more personalized
Yanik Hoyles, Director NDC Program, IATA
offers, pricing, and products. .

To attend, visit: or contact +44 (0)2079 111 993

To sponsor, contact Rebecca Covey T: +44 (0)2079 111 490 E:
To speak, contact Luke Hill T: +44 (0)2079 111 813 E:
Volume 195 Number 5675

Commonwealth of Australia
F-35A takes up baton from
RAAF’s Hornets P30


Aaron Chong and Greg 24 Veteran returns
26 February-4 March 2019 I flightglobal com

Waldron were in Bengaluru, to the training game


THIS WEEK by design
for Aero India (P10). Prague Aero Vodochody’s
6 Battle of the Xs for Airbus Helicopters
Why Aero Vodochody’s new
L-39NG is heading for success

drew Murdo Morrison for updated L-39NG

our technical review of Aero 7 MTU sees benefit of European fighter.
Faury rises to challenge of steadier output rates may closely resemble
Vodochody’s L-39NG (P24), its communist-era
and Dominic Perry visited 8 Future looks bleak for A380 residuals as Airbus predecessor, but under
Bell in Fort Worth (P36) ends era the surface is a raft of
SHOW REPORT new technology
ISSN 0 0 1 5 - 3 7 1 0
£3.90 Bye, BMI Down wonder

10 Big two buoyant over twin-aisle sales.

0 9
As another UK regional Royal Australian Air Force
operator goes under, what transformation gathers pace
9 770015 371310
prompted carrier’s demise? 16 with F-35 introduction 30

Private firm pushes UCAV and swarming drones

11 Upgraded Tejas Mk2 piles on pounds. FEATURES
Lockheed on the attack with rebranded F-21

INTERVIEW 30 Fifth-generation fighting force

13 How Cirium data will transform travel Fully integrating people and modern platforms –
now including F-35s – is key to Australia’s goal of
NEXT WEEK CONCORDE AIR TRANSPORT seamless air power. We get the view from one of
Fifty years after it first took 14 NMA may offer path to 737 successor its senior commanders
to the sky, our celebration of 15 Mountain wave hit Iranian ATR during
34 Regional struggle
Concorde and the need for dangerous descent
Australia’s ageing feeder fleet is characterised by
speed. Plus, Avalon coverage 16 Regional pressures mount, as BMI folds types that have been retired from use in other
17 Passenger perception key to A321XLR. countries – but rough market economics mean
Azimuth sees way for Superjet corporate shuttle renewal will be slow in coming
REGULARS DEFENCE 36 Rotorcraft special report
18 Ottawa receives first stopgap F/A-18s Bell’s technologically innovative Nexus air taxi,
5 Comment Leonardo’s Next-Gen Civil Tiltrotor and the outlook
19 Madrid formally gets aboard Franco-German
45 Straight & Level for Sikorsky’s S-92 in our HAI Heli-Expo preview
FCAS programme
46 Letters 42 Flight through the years… from 1909
20 Gripen E production takes off at Saab
48 Classified As Flight International celebrates its 110th
50 Jobs BUSINESS AVIATION anniversary, we mark this milestone with a series
55 Working Week 22 Bombardier focuses future on flagship highlighting the evolution of the world’s “first aero
23 EASA warns of explosive door release weekly” through our 11 decades in print

Download the new

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CFM 2017 strip ad.indd 1 30/10/2018 10:12 26 February-4 March 2019 | Flight International | 3

19/07/2012 17:51

Image of
the week
Boeing’s KC-46A recently
performed its first refuelling
of a Lockheed Martin F-35
stealth fighter. The activity
took place during testing
conducted from Edwards
AFB in California in late
January. The US Air Force
plans to field an eventual
179 of the 767-adapted
Pegasus tanker/transports

View more great aviation

shots online and in our
weekly tablet edition:

US Air Force

The week in numbers Question of the week

Last issue, we asked: A380’s production end?
You said:

Total votes: 3,155
Percentage of Britons who would hail an air taxi to help tackle
city transport congestion and reduce their commuting time

Ultra-large flop
1,546 votes
Flight Dashboard 49% Gone too soon
1,077 votes

Cost – NT$114m – for China Airlines to increase the number

Respectable total
of rostered long-haul pilots as part of a deal to end strike 17% 532 votes

Years since Garmin opened the aviation satnav era with the
Garmin This week, we ask: Lockheed Martin’s F-21?
❑ Just marketing ❑ Hot-shot for India
❑ Outgunned by rivals
first FAA approach-approved IFR GPS receiver: GPS 155 TSO Vote at

FlightGlobal’s premium news and data service delivers breaking air transport stories with profiles,
schedules, and fleet, financial and traffic information

Download the Military

Simulator Census online now.
CAE – Your worldwide training partner of choice

4 | Flight International | 26 February-4 March 2019


Fighting fit
W hat’s in a name – particularly when
your product seemingly already
has more than enough of them to choose
Lockheed Martin surprised everyone
at the Aero India show near Bengaluru
by launching its F-21 fighter in pursuit of
a 110-unit opportunity with the nation’s
air force.
Was this product some masterstroke of
top-secret design work achieved by the
US giant, perhaps hidden behind the

scrutiny of its F-35 Lightning II activities?
No – it was instead a redesignation of its
rather clunkily titled F-16V Block 70
Due for a revival? product, but with some nifty additions
made to tempt New Delhi.

Flag carrier
So F-21, join the Fighting Falcon, Viper
and various other nicknames that the
single-engined type has gained since its
development by General Dynamics and
Attempting to celebrate the nation it serves without offending anyone in first flight 45 years ago (the “lawn dart”
divided Brexit Britain was always going to be a delicate balancing act, but among them). Be sure not to confuse it
with the F-21 variant of Israel Aerospace
by treading with such care, BA has simply glossed over the issues it faces Industries’ legacy Kfir, though.
But was the “launch” just a corporate

C elebrating British Airways’ centenary in

the year of Brexit was always going to
be difficult.
UK’s future relationship with the EU will be.
That was presumably a much harder sell.
Instead, it veers towards stereotype,
marketing manoeuvre, or something more
significant, in competitive terms?
What is clear from Lockheed’s latest
BA’s retro liveries will keep the #avgeek ­reminding us that the British are united by a push is that New Delhi is not just being
community happy, but the carrier’s most love of tea. offered some rebadged tired old fighter,
delicate marketing challenge is creating a It ends the film with the message: “We love but a decades-proven, multirole asset to
meaningful message that captures the mood you Britain. You make us who we are.” One be enhanced with valuable new features,
of a nation divided following a referendum is left to imagine the gritted teeth through such as cutting-edge avionics and a refuel-
decision in favour of leaving the EU. which this might have been said. ling probe to better support its needs.
“Dear Britain,” BA’s #BA100 video starts, Granted, this is just the beginning of a year Of course, all the Western and Russian
raising hopes that it might use the opportu- of celebration, and the first output from what fighter manufacturers preparing to do
nity to talk some sense into the country, as it will be a much wider campaign. battle for the air force deal will use
hurtles towards a 29 March deadline to leave phrases like “produced in India, for
the EU without a plan in place. As IATA director general India”, but perhaps Lockheed’s early
No such luck. Instead, BA tells Britain: “We strike could succeed in outmanoeuvring
love you,” and then goes on to explain why, Alexandre de Juniac is keen some of them?
albeit in a slightly non-committal manner. to remind people, aviation is To some it appeared that the F-16 was
BA is undoubtedly between a rock and a dead, but maybe there is plenty of life still
hard place with its marketing effort, and at “the business of freedom” left in the old Falcon/Viper/F-21... ■
least managed to produce something that See Show Report P11
probably will not offend anyone.
The reality is that while the overwhelming But in what might be the biggest challenge
majority of businesses view Brexit as a nega- for BA’s marketing department amid its home
tive development, few – with the notable country’s Brexit divisions, a true celebration
exception of Airbus – are willing to speak of the carrier’s history surely demands a
openly about it, as they fear the commercial ­recognition that open borders are at the heart
impact of being seen to take sides. of international travel.
A more accurate #BA100 video narrative As IATA director general Alexandre de Ju-
would show the airline finding itself in Brexit niac is keen to remind people, aviation is
limbo, with no clear idea about the status of “the business of freedom”.
Lockheed Martin

the open skies agreements that underpin its Dare we suggest a #BA100 initiative in-
services, its ownership structure in doubt, volving colourful tailfins that celebrate the
Looks familiar?
and where business planning in general is destinations BA serves?
difficult because no-one has a clue what the See This Week P7 26 February-4 March 2019 | Flight International | 5


Demonstrator “offers
a path” to armed scout

DEMAND Portuguese wet-lease specialist Hi Fly indicates that

it expects to take more Airbus A380s, with a decision likely after
it completes a “financial exercise” on the superjumbo. Its
­current example, leased from Doric, has attracted “significant
interest” since its introduction in mid-2018, and Hi Fly states:
“So far it looks like a few more units shall join the fleet.”


Airbus Helicopters
COLLABORATION Saab has had “very fruitful discussions with
the UK and partners” regarding the Tempest concept unveiled at
last July’s Farnborough air show. Chief executive Hakan Buskhe
says the company could be willing to collaborate on future
European combat aircraft programmes, but so far has seen “no TECHNOLOGY DOMINIC PERRY MARIGNANE

Battle of the Xs for

detail” about a Franco-German-Spanish project.


Airbus Helicopters
INCIDENT The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
says an uncontained engine failure involving a Korean Air
Airbus A220-300 (HL8314) occurred as it climbed through
29,000ft en route from Busan to Nagoya on 26 December
2018. The Pratt & Whitney PW1500G had accumulated just European airframer has submitted offer to US Army’s FARA
417h through 529 cycles since delivery in late September. contest derived from X3 high-speed compound rotorcraft
“Examination revealed damage to the turbines and several
holes in the low-pressure turbine case,” the NTSB says.


A irbus Helicopters has
pitched a design based on its
high-speed X3 technology for a
ade, which achieved a speed of
255kt (472km/h) with the com-
pound helicopter before the pro-
DATA Shipments of fixed-wing business and general aviation US Army programme to deliver a totype was retired in 2014.
aircraft rose in 2018 by 4.7% year on year, to 2,443 units, data new armed scout rotorcraft in the Since then, Airbus Helicopters
from the General Aviation Manufacturers Association shows. mid-2020s. has become involved in an EU-
There was a 1.5% rise in total shipment value, to $20.6 billion. The move, revealed by chief backed programme to demon-
Business jet manufacturers delivered 703 aircraft in 2018, up executive Bruno Even, will see strate the next generation of high-
3.8% year on year. Turboprop shipments climbed by 5.2%, to the European manufacturer at- speed civil rotorcraft, building on
601, while piston aircraft output rose by 154 units, to 1,139. tempt to break the stranglehold of the X3 with its Racer design.
US airframers on the army’s The manufacturer has not pre-
SUPERJET TAKES CITY BREAK ­Future Vertical Lift effort. viously indicated any military ap-
OPERATIONS Irish carrier CityJet has not used its fleet of Bell and a joint Sikorsky-­ plication for the technology, but
seven Sukhoi Superjets to operate services since 7 January, but Boeing team are currently com- Even says there is “not so much
disputes a claim by Sukhoi Civil Aircraft that it is “reconsidering peting to replace the service’s difference between civil and mili-
its business model”. The airline declines to comment further. Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk tary” uses for the X3-based design.
helicopters with their respective Scott Tumpak, head of govern-
AWHERO WORK LIFTS OFF AT PISA SITE V-280 tiltrotor and SB-1 com- mental programs and contracts at
PRODUCTION Leonardo has opened a dedicated facility in pound-coaxial designs. US subsidiary Airbus Helicopters
Pisa for the development and production of its AWHero rotary- In parallel, the army is also Inc, confirms the manufacturer
wing unmanned air vehicle. The Italian company completed a seeking to restore the capability submitted its proposal for the ini-
first 10min flight in December 2018 with a pre-production lost when it retired its Bell OH-58 tial design phase in December.
­example of the 200kg (440lb)-class type in Nettuno, near Rome, Kiowa Warrior fleet earlier this Tumpak declines to offer detail,
with a second to start flight tests in the “next few months”. decade. Under that initiative – the but notes that, just as Racer offers
Future Attack Reconnaissance one path to a commercial product,
FLIGHT INTERNATIONAL GETS NEW LOOK Aircraft (FARA) – an initial six de- “you could also envisage a path to
DESIGN As we mark our 110th anniversary during a year of signs will be selected by mid-year, evolve that [X3] technology for the
celebration, this issue of Flight International is the first using a potentially renewing European military mission as well”.
refreshed design. We have drawn on the title’s proud heritage to interest in the market for high- Although the army is only call-
inspire our new-look cover and logo, in addition to simplifying speed military helicopters. ing for a cruise speed of around
our contents page layout and also enhancing the appearance Even says the manufacturer has 180kt, Tumpak says a high-speed
of our news and feature pages. Our update coincides with the proposed an aircraft “based on the design will still be required.
launch of Cirium as the new name for FlightGlobal’s fast-growing technology that we have devel- Airbus Helicopters faces com-
data and analytics business. oped” and matured on the X3. petition from Bell, a combined L3
See Interview P13 & Feature P42 The X3 was a self-funded dem- Technologies-AVX Aircraft bid
onstration effort earlier this dec- and Sikorsky, among others. ■

6 | Flight International | 26 February-4 March 2019

Future looks bleak
for A380 residuals
as Airbus ends era
This Week P8


MTU sees benefit of European fighter

Engine maker believes overall sales would gain from single programme, but acknowledges its complexity concerns

M TU Aero Engines has not

ruled out the possibility that
the planned development of a fu-
sue the FCAS project, comprising
future manned and unmanned
combat aircraft, which are sched-
ture combat air system (FCAS) uled to enter service by 2040.
between France, Germany and Airbus and Dassault have been
Spain, in which it is involved, recruited to jointly develop and
could ultimately be combined build the airframe, while Safran

Jagadeesh NV/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock
with the UK’s parallel Tempest Aircraft Engines will partner
programme, to deliver a new pan- with MTU on the propulsion
European fighter. side. Spain joined the effort in
MTU chief executive Reiner mid-February.
Winkler acknowledges that the in- The UK government revealed
dustrial prospects, particularly at the 2018 Farnborough air show
around exports, for both the FCAS plans for a separate programme,
and Tempest could be undermined Rafale has achieved moderate export success, including Indian order comprising a manned fighter and
by competition between the two. unmanned aircraft, with BAE
Europe’s current three compet- than two or more new European With France and Germany hav- Systems and Rolls-Royce as the
ing fighter programmes – the Das- fighters, but warns that a broader ing been nominated as “lead na- respective airframe and engine
sault Rafale, Eurofighter and Saab shareholder base would also in- tions” for the current FCAS effort, suppliers.
Gripen – struggle to match the crease the project’s complexity. the small number of initial part- Winkler acknowledges that if
economies of scale, and therefore A number of multinational mil- ners should keep the development R-R were to join a combined ef-
lower unit costs, achieved by itary programmes, including the process comparatively straightfor- fort, it would dilute MTU and Sa-
their US rivals, making export Airbus Defence & Space A400M ward, Winkler said, speaking at a fran’s shareholdings in the pro-
sales harder to clinch. transport and the NH Industries financial results briefing in Mu- ject. But he says this might be
Winkler says it would make NH90 helicopter, have experi- nich on 20 February. acceptable if it delivered im-
commercial and political sense to enced difficulties relating to In 2018, the French and Ger- proved overall sales. ■
have a single programme, rather sprawling customer requirements. man governments agreed to pur- See Defence P19


British Airways
Faury rises to challenge
of steadier output rates
A irbus’s incoming chief has
highlighted smoother produc-
tion of the reconfigured A321neo
but admits: “Industrialisation of
the product is a bit of a challenge at
those production rates.”
as a primary aim for the airframer’s But he is confident that the air-
single-aisle line this year. framer will be able to smooth pro-
The company is raising duction of the aircraft, whose fuse-
monthly single-aisle output to 60 lage features a redesigned exit door CENTENARY
aircraft by mid-2019 but has been arrangement, enabling it to accom-
having to deal with customisa- modate over 240 passengers. BA rolls back years with BOAC livery
tion complexity on the “cabin Faury says the airframer’s target British Airways’ celebration of its 100th anniversary got under way
flex” version of the A321neo. is to “deliver much more single- on 18 February with the unveiling of the first of several aircraft with
Chief executive-designate aisles” in the first quarter. Prob- retro colour schemes. The initial jet, a Boeing 747-400 (G-BYGC),
Guillaume Faury, speaking in lems with Pratt & Whitney has been repainted in the BOAC livery of BA’s predecessor in the
Toulouse on 14 February, said PW1100G engines affected deliver- 1960s and early 1970s. “A big part of celebrating our heritage is
the “main challenge” this year, ies of A320neo-family jets during celebrating some great moments in BA’s history, such as BOAC,”
“primarily in the second half”, the first few months of last year. says Hamish McVey, head of brand and marketing at the carrier.
would be the ramp-up of this par- Over the course of January BA is expected to reveal further details soon of its plans for further
ticular model. 2019, Airbus delivered 33 A320- “retrojet” liveries, rumoured to include earlier British Airways
He describes the aircraft as a family aircraft, substantially up schemes along with that of BEA, BOAC’s short-haul contempo-
“great product” which is achieving from the level of 21 for the previ- rary, which is believed to be destined for an Airbus A319.
“fantastic success with airlines”, ous January. ■ 26 February-4 March 2019 | Flight International | 7



Future looks bleak

for A380 residuals
as Airbus ends era
Superjumbo’s prospects in secondary market seem poor,
with part-out a likely destination for many of current fleet

A irbus’s momentous decision

to end the A380 programme
was really the airframer’s only
tion’s cessation on used values
prior to the announcement. That
assessment was relatively posi-
logical option, given the almost tive: “It may actually benefit used
non-existent market faced by its A380 values a bit, although depre- new A380s, and if they do decide look for secondhand A380 values
sales team in recent years. ciation is likely to remain steep.” to acquire from the used market is not bright.
Those attempting to shift the Ascend’s global head of con- they will likely only be prepared “A380 values are already diffi-
few young, secondhand A380s sultancy Rob Morris says the sce- to pay a price that is net of the re- cult to establish, as nobody wants
that have become available so far nario under which this opinion configuration and maintenance to reveal how low they are. If four
have faced a similar scenario. One was formed has now changed. costs required to place the aircraft or five aircraft can’t find a home,
ex-Singapore Airlines (SIA) air- “The backlog of 87 firm orders into their network. any more coming off lease will
craft has gone to wet-lease special- at 1 January 2019 has reduced to worsen the situation,” he says.
ist Hi Fly – with a second acquisi- only 17 aircraft with the order PRODUCTION CYCLE He believes that with produc-
tion planned – but two others cancellations that came amid the “This is likely to drive n
­ egative tion to end within three years, the
have been sent for parting out. decision to end production,” he pressure on market values. The value even for parted-out air-
After a “painful” decision to says. “With the extremely limited relatively short production cycle frames will decline. “Compare it
close the programme, A ­ irbus will operator base, a number of whom and accelerated removal-from- to the A340-600 a few years ago,
make the final A380 deliveries in have already made negative com- service plans for several existing but with higher amounts,” he
2021, with around 250 aircraft ments about their long-term plans operators suggest depreciation says. “It will turn out [that] residu-
built. But what are the prospects for the aircraft, it is clear that the will be greater than typical for al-value risk on many A380s is
for trading among the used fleet? secondary market for the A380 commercial aircraft types.” with financial investors.”
Flight Ascend Consultancy will be extremely challenging.” Bert van Leeuwen, managing The cargo sector has been a key
made its most recent assessment Morris says existing operators director of aviation research at secondhand market for the
of the likely impact of produc- have largely declined to add extra DVB Bank, concurs that the out- A380’s large-capacity rival, the

A380 annual deliveries 2017 1994 A3XX concept selected

Total deliveries = 251
2012 A380plus proposed 2000 A380 programme launched
30 Repair programme
(winglets/11-abreast seating) 2005 First flight
to rectify wing cracks  ne-year delay due to
2006 O
2007 wiring production issues
First delivery
(R-R version) 2010 2018
and service- QF32 in-flight Emirates places final order
entry with SIA engine failure (subsequently cancelled)

2008 2019
First delivery (EA
version) to Emirates

10 2021
Final deliveries

2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Source: Cirium’s Fleets Analyzer Notes: Includes delivery projection for 2019-2020, excludes Amedeo and Air Accord orders

Engine Alliance (EA) Rolls-Royce (R-R)

Total = 130 Total = 121

8 | Flight International | 26 February-4 March 2019

Big two buoyant
over twin-aisle
Show Report P10


Cargo conversion is
unlikely to be feasible High-capacity gamble that faltered with the global economy
Chroniclers might argue that the (SIA) and Virgin Atlantic took it A380, how the world would look
Airbus A380’s fate was foretold a over the launch threshold. in 2010, 2020,” says Enders. “It’s
decade before the aircraft’s maid- Its complexity, however, ham- easy to say ‘Well, you guys
en flight in April 2005. pered early production. Airbus should have known that’.”
Airbus’s partners and Boeing celebrated the maiden flight in While Emirates and key 747
had been engaged in a joint 2005, but parent EADS’s co-chief operator British Airways managed
large commercial transport study Noel Forgeard was forced to quit to slot the A380 into their busi-
to examine design options for an over a delay crisis a year later. ness model, Airbus’s arguments
800-seat jet. Six months before Airbus that the A380 would inevitably be
This study had indicated a handed over the first aircraft to needed to overcome airport con-
­requirement for up to 1,000 SIA in 2007, the programme suf- gestion failed to convince other
­aircraft by 2020. But the effort fered further setback as the last customers.

was frozen in July 1995 as Orders stagnated, with major

­evidence emerged that twin- “It was clear it was carriers including Air France and
engined aircraft were fragment- Lufthansa cutting their commit-
Boeing 747. Many passenger 747s ing this market, and true risky because it was ments. Although Airbus achieved
have found a lengthy second life demand for a high-capacity jet clear, from the start, production break-even in 2015,
following freighter conversion. was far lower. outside of the colossal invest-
But this is unlikely for the A380, Boeing initially adopted a con-
this would not be a ment cost, output never reached
mainly due to its engineering de- servative strategy based on high-volume market” the four-per-month planned.
sign, which makes its secondary stretching its 747-400 into the Tom Enders The A380’s last order flurry
market even more challenging. proposed 747-500X and -600X, Chief executive, Airbus came in 2011. In the subsequent
No cargo conversion currently before turning to the potential of seven years Emirates almost sin-
exists and the A380’s design – a long-range 777 derivative that customer for the A380F cargo gle-handedly propped up the
specifically the positioning of the would become the 777-300ER. variant dropped out, illustrating backlog, accounting for 72 of the
upper-deck floor – is not optimal Airbus gambled that an all- its weakness as a competitor to 80 realistic orders, while several
for passenger to freighter (P2F) new “A3XX” would appeal to the 747 Freighter. other customers cancelled 36
conversion, says Morris. “Thus, hub airlines, particularly 747 op- As the A380 entered service, A380s. When SIA retired A380s
the likely cost of any solution erators. “Everybody was clear the global economy faltered, early, after just 11 years, the deci-
will be potentially prohibitive.” that it was risky,” said Airbus chief and an extraordinary spike in sion to part-out two of them em-
This could also have conse- executive Tom Enders on 14 fuel prices focused airlines’ at- phasised the difficulty in finding
quences for the payload perfor- February. “Because it was clear, tention on efficiency. The envi- buyers.
mance of an “A380 P2F”. As Mor- right from the start, this would ronment was hardly ideal for a Proposals to stretch the A380,
ris says: “The conversion would not be a high-volume market.” four-engined giant whose cus- take advantage of its wing, or of-
potentially be suboptimal since it The A3XX became the A380 in tomers were tempted to config- fer new engines failed to halt the
would have a lot of volume for the late 2000 – a designation reflect- ure it for passenger space rather demise. “We cannot get out of
potential weight payload. Conse- ing the two-deck cabin, and in- than maximum density, even if this trap by modifying the aircraft,
quently, we think there is an ex- tended to appeal to Asian none had been over-ambitious stretching it, or putting new en-
tremely low chance that the A380 cultures – as combined agree- in their layouts. gines on it,” says Enders.
will see a P2F conversion pro- ments from Air France, Emirates, “Little did we know in the year “Because these decisions made
gramme in the future.” ■ ILFC, Qantas, Singapore Airlines 2000, when we launched the no economical sense.” ■

Avionics for when it
is needed most.
Visit Heli-Expo booth C4028 to learn more. EVS-4000, SkyVis™ Helmet-Mounted Display 26 February-4 March 2019 | Flight International | 9

Aero India was as vibrant as ever this year, with the
cream of the world’s defence contractors promoting
aircraft and helicopters for a range of major military
requirements. Domestic industry also showed off its
increasing sophistication and assertiveness, with
ambitious updates to existing programmes and bold

Greg Waldron/FlightGlobal
new designs. In addition, Airbus gave a debut to its
A330neo as it seeks more customers for the widebody
twin. Aaron Chong and Greg Waldron report


Big two buoyant over twin-aisle sales

Strong projected growth of Indian economy gives competing airframers huge potential to market widebody products

A irbus and Boeing are confi-

dent they will be able to sell
more widebody aircraft in India,
March and first delivery is
scheduled for 2020.
Airbus gave its A330neo an
with both airframers pitching Aero India debut, with the jet par-
their latest twin-aisle products. ticipating in the show’s flying dis-
Boeing identifies the 777X as play and appearing in the static
an ideal replacement for ageing park. The aircraft (F-WTTN), a
widebodies in the subcontinent -900 variant, was the first of the

Jagadeesh NV/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock
– particularly for the total of 24 airframer’s test fleet to fly.
777s operated by Air India and Joost van der Heijden, Airbus
Jet Airways; the two airlines are vice-president of marketing for
also India’s only operators of Asia and North America, says the
twin-aisle types. synergies between the A330neo
Dinesh Keskar, Boeing’s and A321neo make them ideal for
senior vice-president for Asia-
­ Indian carriers.
Pacific and India sales, says the A330neo participated in flying display and also was static attraction “They are different sizes and
two 777X variants, the -8 and -9, airlines can use them for different
can each offer different benefits “The Indian economy is pro- ing in the need for 2,300 new air- applications. The A321neo is a re-
to Indian carriers. jected to grow by nearly 350% planes for India,” says Keskar. ally efficient route-opener on in-
The former allows for new over the next two decades, to be- Boeing is currently complet- ternational markets or markets
long-range routes to be operated, come the third largest economy in ing assembly of the first -9 test that are too thin for widebodies.
while the -9 offers “lower seat- the world, which will fuel the aircraft, which is powered by They can grow that route allowing
mile costs”, with reduced fuel continuous growth of India’s com- twin GE Aviation GE9X engines; a widebody to take over and con-
burn and more seat capacity. mercial aviation market – result- roll-out is expected in mid- tinue that growth,” he says. ■


Private firm pushes UCAV and swarming drones

L ocal firm Newspace is collabo-
rating with India’s industry
champion Hindustan Aeronautics
Newspace says the conceptual
aircraft was designed in Bengalu-
ru, but the artificial intelligence is
The vehicle is designed to form
part of a “distributed sensor fu-
sion” system, where radar, elec-
Although still in the design
phase, a prototype could be ready
within the next two years.
on an indigenous unmanned being developed in Delhi. The air- tronic warfare and intelligence Newspace, working with In-
wingman concept. craft will be small, with a maxi- data are shared between several dia’s National Aerospace Labora-
The unmanned combat air ve- mum take-off weight of 1,300kg UCAVs and a manned fighter. tories, also has a programme to
hicle (UCAV) is billed as suitable (2,870lb) and a payload of 250kg, The aircraft will be powered give India’s Jaguar strike aircraft
for “operations in contested air- which can include small guided by the locally-developed PTA7E the ability to generate swarms of
space”, ensuring “command of munitions. It has a low observable engine, fed by an S-duct from the UAVs launched from pods carried
the skies in the next decade”. body with twin canted tails. top of the fuselage. in place of external fuel tanks. ■

10 | Flight International | 26 February-4 March 2019

How Cirium data will AERO INDIA 2019
transform travel
Flight Interview P13
Show report


Upgraded Tejas Mk2 piles on pounds

Wing and fuselage modifications deliver increased range and higher payload, including additional weapons stations

I ndia’s Aeronautical Develop-

ment Agency (ADA) has de-
tailed a number of improvements
livered. The less powerful F404
powers the Tejas Mk1 and Mk1A.
Payload on the Mk2 almost
due to debut on the planned Hin- doubles to 6.5t of external stores,
dustan Aeronautics-built Tejas up from 3.3t for the original jet.
Mk2 fighter. The new fighter will have wing-
The new variant benefits from tip hardpoints added for air-to-air
Indian air force experience with missiles, as well as two cheek sta-
the previous version, says an tions for stores or sensors.
ADA official. A prototype of the To highlight the Mk2’s growth,
updated aircraft, which gains a a company brochure now bills it
pair of canards high on the fuse- as the Medium Weight Fighter,

Greg Waldron/FlightGlobal
lage, and just aft of the cockpit, rather than the Light Combat Air-
will likely fly in late 2023. craft name of the Mk1.
Changes requested by the air The Mk2 also receives an inter-
force were to provide additional nally mounted infrared search
range and the ability to carry ad- Updated jet adds canards as well as 6.5t external carrying capacity and track sensor, a missile ap-
vanced stand-off weapons, the proach warning system, and an
official adds. able to carry extra drop tanks. canards, which also help with improved cockpit.
The maximum take-off weight But the longer fuselage manoeuvrability. In addition, the Separately, the Tejas Mk1 ap-
will grow to 17,500kg (38,500lb), changed the fighter’s centre of new aircraft gains enhancements peared in the show static display,
up from 13,500kg for the Tejas gravity, requiring the addition of to its delta wing. with a locally developed active
Mk1, and the aircraft is 1.35m a forward lifting surface. The Other improvements include electronically scanned array
(4.42m) longer. That allows addi- ADA looked at a number of op- an upgraded engine, the GE Avia- radar installed.
tional fuel to be stored behind the tions, including leading edge ex- tion F414-INS6, of which four This should enter service in
cockpit, with the new variant also tensions, but finally settled on examples have already been de- around three years. ■


Lockheed on the attack

with its rebranded F-21
Meghana Sastry/SOPA Images/REX/Shutterstock
L ockheed Martin has redesig-
nated the F-16V Block 70 as
the F-21 in its offer for India’s lat-
fuselage to receive boom-deliv-
ered fuel. While retaining this, the
F-21 also features an e­ xtendable
est fighter contest. refuelling probe on its right-
“The F-21 addresses the Indian hand side. It also is equipped
air force’s unique requirements, with a large area display in the
and integrates India into the cockpit, just below the head-up One Surya Kiran display team pilot was killed when Hawks collided
world’s largest fighter aircraft display.
ecosystem with the world’s pre- The Indian air force has a re- ACCIDENT
eminent defence company,” the
firm says. “Lockheed Martin and
quirement for 110 new fighters.
As well as the F-21, the contest Fatal crash mars show opening
Tata Advanced Systems would has attracted interest based on the
produce the F-21 in India, for
Lockheed says the redesigna-
Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet,
Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Ty-
phoon, RAC MiG-35, Saab Grip-
A tragedy on the eve of Aero
India, involving the death of
one pilot, cast a shadow over the
two aircraft performing a manoeu-
vre where one jet flies inverted in
a slightly offset position, giving
tion reflects not just the aircraft, en E and Sukhoi Su-35. show’s opening. The fatality oc- the impression of the two aircraft
but the entire industrial package Boeing – which is also eyeing a curred after a collision between a “mirroring” each other.
the type offers. 57-unit Indian navy requirement pair of two-seat BAE Systems The video suggests the invert-
The aircraft has a number of – used the show to disclose its Hawk 132 jet trainers from the In- ed Hawk drifted lower, causing
unique attributes compared with manufacturing talks with Hindu- dian air force’s Surya Kiran dis- its nose to strike the other jet’s
other F-16s. Previous versions stan Aeronautics and Mahindra play team while rehearsing. wing. The other pilots involved
have a receptacle on the upper Defence Systems. ■ Social media footage shows the safely ejected. ■ 26 February-4 March 2019 | Flight International | 11

Leveraging data to deliver personalized loyalty marketing
strategies for airlines

PARKROYAL on Pickering, Singapore, 21-22 May 2019

Key topics
Loyalty programs were once a simple The future of lifestyle loyalty
marketing tool to get customers earning Creating hyper-personalised and in-the-moment mobile
points and flying with the same airline. Who owns the customer?
In recent times, they have morphed How do airlines monetize their data?
into complex but revenue generating, Mitigating fraud in loyalty programs

networks of partnerships, tiers and Emerging tech and disruptors

rules – providing a gateway to greater

customer data and insight. Steering committee
Georg Baust, Managing Consultant, Lufthansa Group
This conference looks at the future Frederic Kahane, VP Customer Loyalty, Air France-KLM
of loyalty, tackling challenges around
Nik Laming, GM Loyalty Division, Cebu Pacific Air
customer engagement and redemption;
how airlines can add value through Annich McIntosh, Editor & CEO, Loyalty
experiential and personalized rewards
Seth Miller, Principal, PaxEx.Aero
so that they can give loyalty members
the opportunity and freedom to earn Mauro Rodrigues, Information Technology, Commercial
Business Solutions, Tap Air Portugal
and redeem points through several
avenues. Majid Singh, Director of Marketing & Route
Development, Mahan Air

To attend, visit: or contact +44 (0)20 7911 1993

To sponsor, contact Rebecca Covey T: +44 (0)20 7911 1490 E:
To speak, contact Warka Ghirmai E:
NMA may offer
path to 737
Air Transport P14


How Cirium data will transform travel

Christopher Flook, chief executive of our rebranded data and analytics business, explains how it can define the future

C irium is the new identity for

the FlightGlobal data and
analytics business which com-
Diio Mi, a tool used by airlines
and airports to analyse routes,
and, the customer-
bines key databases and intelli- facing, real-time flight-tracking
gence tools for the aviation and service, which has more than 7
air travel industries. million users. Meanwhile, the fa-
Christopher Flook, Cirium mous Ascend consultancy name
chief executive, says the revamp will continue to be used in con-
will allow the organisation to nection with the Cirium brand in
communicate its breadth and the fleet valuations sector.
depth of expertise to an increas- Back in 1909, Flight magazine,
ingly diverse client base. “We as was, produced its inky pages
have been through a lot of changes in a tiny, dusty office in London.
in the last few years, and brought Today, Cirium employs more

together many businesses and as- than 400 people around the
sets,” he says, referring to the Distinct identity describes more than the sum of its parts, says Flook globe. The majority are technolo-
spree of acquisitions that has seen gists, data analysts, data scientists
the business more than quadruple says Flook. “But it meant we sets into a data lake to create ana- and market experts.
in size in less than a decade. were unable to clearly position lytics that will solve problems in Their skills are essential for the
The new name was chosen to ourselves as a technology busi- different ways,” he says. “It’s organic growth – “not dependent
deliberately steer clear of “any- ness, and put ourselves at the about creating a single company on acquisition” – Flook envisages.
thing that locked us into any sec- table automatically when cus- that draws on all these assets.” Strategic ties with other organisa-
tor”, says Flook. However, while tomers were looking for a data Flook acknowledges that un- tions are vital too. “We have col-
it had to be “neutral”, Cirium has and analytics solution.” veiling an entirely new name is a lectively secured the best data
associations with “being in the “challenge”, given that “the sets, but we are always looking at
cloud, being at high altitude, and “It’s about bringing brands we have are very powerful further partnerships to expand on
working with data sets in the with great reputations in their the data sets we have,” he says.
cloud that are always changing”. control to an industry niches”. Educating customers will
He adds: “It’s about bringing con- that is constantly not “happen overnight”, he says, ENDURING VISION
trol to an industry that is con- but “we are putting all our effort Cirium, he predicts, will become a
stantly in motion.”
in motion” into communicating as clearly as brand that resonates with a range
The business’s data and analyt- Christopher Flook possible what Cirium is”. The big of customers, including airlines,
Chief executive, Cirium
ics group – including acquired opportunity is explaining to the OEMs and financial institutions,
businesses Ascend, Diio, Flight- industry what Cirium “represents to metasearch and travel manage-
Stats and Innovata, and well- The creation of the umbrella as a group”, he says. “Nothing that ment companies. While the avia-
known products Ascend Values Cirium brand will allow the busi- our customers appreciate and tion sector has recognised the
Analyzer, Diio Mi, Fleets Analyz- ness finally to realise its poten- value in those premium brands is Flight name since 1909, Flook be-
er and web and mobile app tial, maintains Flook. “Through being lost. It’s about more than be- lieves Cirium will take the wider
FlightStats – come directly under our acquisitions, we have coming the sum of our parts.” business to the next level: “It’s a
the Cirium brand. brought together industry-lead- The reputation of some of brand”, he says, “that will last us
The FlightGlobal name contin- ing data sets, but those are often these legacy brands is why sever- for the next 110 years.” ■
ues as a distinct brand within the still perceived as being discrete al names will remain, not as Find out more about the new
Cirium portfolio, comprising the data sets. Our new product devel- brands but products within the data and analytics business at
aerospace publishing and confer- opment is about fusing these data Cirium portfolio. These include
ences businesses – key foundation
stones for what is now the most
powerful data, analytics and advi-
sory force in aviation, aerospace
and travel management.
A reason for the change is that
FlightGlobal was too deeply asso-
ciated in the industry’s mind
with publishing – flagship maga-
zine Flight International has been
in print for 110 years.
“We are proud of FlightGlobal
and the FlightGlobal products,” 26 February-4 March 2019 | Flight International | 13



NMA may offer path to 737 successor

Analysts predict mid-market jet could drive broad business changes, including redefining Boeing’s supplier relationships

B oeing’s New Mid-market Air-

plane (NMA) concept may
eventually yield more than just a
New contracts include revised
payment terms and provisions
like annual price reductions and
single aircraft programme. can require suppliers to pay roy-
Industry observers say Boeing alties on aftermarket revenue to
may view the NMA – also dubbed Boeing, says Michaels.
the “797” – as a means to initiate a He believes that model may be
broad business overhaul that will expanded on its next-generation
ultimately position the company aircraft to include aftermarket rev-
to develop a new narrowbody enues from engine suppliers too.
aimed at replacing its 737. “That will be a game-changer,”
That could see Boeing adopt Michaels says.
new aircraft design technologies,
rewrite relationships with suppli- INTENSE COMPETITION

ers and capture a larger slice of Aboulafia calls Partnership for
the aftermarket pie, they say. Success the “no fly list”, noting
“It’s a two-aircraft deal,” says Enhanced production systems would help build new narrowbody that Boeing has shown a willing-
Kevin Michaels, managing direc- ness to dismiss suppliers who do
tor at consultancy AeroDynamic 9,300km). It would take on mis- ment of the 777, Boeing intro- not play ball. In recent years, it
Advisory. “You work out this sions served by the 757 and 767, duced digital design techniques, replaced 777 landing-gear pro-
new business model on the 797, and help Boeing head off increas- forged closer relationships with vider UTC Aerospace Systems –
and you take this to the new sin- ing competition from the Airbus suppliers – including more non- now Collins Aerospace – with
gle-aisle later on.” A321neo. US companies – and glimpsed Heroux-Devtek.
Teal Group vice-president of Muilenburg also referenced the potential of aftermarket sales. Boeing has also brought some
analysis Richard Aboulafia agrees the airframer’s long-term pros- Then in the 2000s with the work in-house – including design
the NMA could be Boeing’s pects, saying production systems 787, Boeing developed a global and assembly of nacelles and
“driver” of broader business developed for an aircraft like the supply chain, shifted major sys- propulsion systems.
changes, particularly the relation- NMA could benefit “some future tems production to suppliers and The airframer faces particular
ship with its supply chain. narrowbody airplane”. expanded aftermarket offerings. pressure to cut manufacturing
“This is why so much of Boe- Boeing says it is unlikely to Such changes, however, costs because widebody produc-
ing’s efforts right now are fo- make large technological leaps moved aircraft programme value tion is inherently more expensive
cused on getting the cost down with its next new aircraft, instead from Boeing to suppliers, which than producing the narrowbodies
and the operating economics focussing its efforts on refining now scoop up 70% of profits, in- that the NMA would replace,
right,” he says. how the jet is built. cluding those from the aftermar- Aboulafia notes. “It is really
Michaels and Aboulafia were “We don’t see the next new air- ket. Some large suppliers post tough to bridge that gap,” he says.
speaking on 12 February at the plane, if we do middle of the 15-20% profit margins, signifi- The NMA could also play into
annual meeting of the Pacific market, as being a technology- cantly greater than Boeing or Air- Boeing’s aftermarket ambitions.
Northwest Aerospace Alliance, push airplane,” it says. “There is bus achieves, Michaels says. This became clear in 2017 with
near Seattle. significant technology reuse on Now Boeing is transforming the creation of its Boeing Global
things like composites manufac- again, wringing concessions from Services division, which has a
WORK AHEAD turing, and we would be more fo- suppliers, pursuing vertical inte- target to generate annual revenue
Boeing vice-president of market- cused on manufacturing transfor- gration through acquisitions and of $50 billion within 10 years.
ing for commercial airplanes mation for the NMA.” joint ventures, and investing in Although it achieved a figure
Randy Tinseth spoke at the event, Observers say the link between new engineering and modelling of $17 billion last year, analysts
telling attendees Boeing “has a the NMA and Boeing’s future is technology, Michaels says. doubt Boeing can hit its sizeable
little bit more work to do” before central to its deliberations, as it “The likely launch of the target without a new aircraft pro-
making NMA decisions. “Our en- could propel the next in a series NMA… or it could be the next gramme, as competition for after-
gineers are now working hard on of business transformations for single-aisle, is going to be the market work on the existing fleet
the production system,” he says. the airframer. next evolution of the jetliner is too intense.
Those comments came several Michaels notes that from the business model,” he says. “This “What Boeing really needs is a
weeks after Boeing chief executive 1950s to 1980s, Boeing was verti- next-generation business model white-sheet aircraft,” Michaels
Dennis Muilenburg said its deci- cally integrated: it controlled is actually shifting value from says. Such a project would “lock-
sion on whether to launch the much of the production chain suppliers to the aircraft OEMs.” up the [services] market and
NMA will come in 2020. and performed most engineering Boeing has achieved cost sav- make a hell of a lot more money”.
The NMA is likely to be a in house. Its suppliers were ings from suppliers under its Insiders suspect that aircraft
widebody with 200-270 seats and ­largely US-based. “Partnership for Success” initia- will be a project much larger than
a range of 4,000-5,000nm (7,400- In the 1990s, with develop- tive, now in its second iteration. the NMA: a 737 replacement. ■

14 | Flight International | 26 February-4 March 2019

Regional pressures
mount, as BMI folds
Air Transport P16


Mountain wave hit

Mizan News Agency/Mohammad Khademosheikh/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

Iranian ATR during
dangerous descent
Aseman crew were surprised by sudden downdraught after
their non-approved manoeuvre below minimum safe height

I ranian investigators believe an

ATR 72-200’s unauthorised de-
scent below minimum safe height
attitude, with its power levers re-
tarded to flight idle.
The inquiry believes this be- Turboprop struck peak just beneath summit, killing all 66 on board
resulted in its being caught in a haviour was “consistent” with
mountain wave, and that its crew the aircraft’s autopilot trying to aircraft at 14,000ft, given the high also provided correct information
failed to carry out the procedures hold altitude in an updraught, as descent rate of more than 4,000ft/ to the pilots until at least 3s be-
necessary to recover from a stall. the ATR approached a mountain min, and it overshot. fore impact.
The Iran Aseman Airlines ridge in the Dena region. This Almost immediately after the The inquiry states that “human
twin-turboprop (EP-ATS) struck a ridge featured peaks rising to autopilot re-engaged the crew start- factor” played the principal role
mountain peak as its crew tried to more than 13,000ft. ed receiving terrain alerts, which in the accident sequence, with
evade cloud while descending Owing to mountain wave phe- quickly evolved into a series of cockpit crew actions, including
towards Yasouj on 18 February nomena, however, the vertical “pull up” instructions from the the unauthorised descent, respon-
last year. None of the 66 occu- wind gradually shifted from an ground-proximity warning system. sible for creating the conditions
pants survived. updraught to a downdraught. It struck the north face of the that put the flight in jeopardy.
Iran’s Civil Aviation Organisa- The airspeed fell away and the mountain, just below its 13,400ft Investigators say the decision
tion says the ATR was cleared to aircraft’s pitch increased. summit, some 8.5nm (15.7km) to proceed to Yasouj, even though
descend from 21,000ft to 17,000ft, While the crew, apparently sur- north of Yasouj airport. cloud conditions were unsuita-
ahead of performing a circling prised by the sudden change while Although the crew had been ble, was against operating stand-
non-directional beacon approach the aircraft was in a low-energy aware of icing risk, and had acti- ards and the crew should have
to runway 31. state, increased engine power. But vated anti-ice systems, simulation diverted to an alternative airport.
But the crew, after learning the inquiry says the aircraft’s per- by French investigation authority The inquiry stresses that there
that the cloud ceiling was formance was “not enough” to BEA determined that there was no was a lack of effective communi-
15,000ft, unilaterally chose to overcome the effects of the down- evidence of wing ice degrading cation between the pilots.
continue the descent to this alti- draught, with vertical winds of the aircraft’s performance. But the findings also highlight
tude – below the minimum safe some 3,200ft/min (16m/s). “The aircraft behaviour was the mountain wave and its serious
height of 15,500ft – in an effort to The crew selected a new alti- due to aerodynamic effects [from effect on the aircraft’s perfor-
clear cloud and icing conditions. tude of 14,000ft but, as the aircraft downdraught] of a mountain mance, indicating that the crew
This descent was not authorised, started to descend, the airspeed de- wave,” the inquiry states. was unprepared for the phenome-
the inquiry states, and altitude clined to a minimum of 118kt, the Control of the ATR was still non. The investigation has recom-
alerts sounded in the cockpit. stick-shaker activated to warn of a available to the pilots, and the mended that airlines review their
As it levelled at 15,000ft the stall, and the autopilot disengaged. aircraft and engine responses routes to assess the risk of such
aircraft was travelling at 200kt The autopilot was re-engaged were in line with crew actions. encounters, and ensure pilots are
(370km/h), with a 5° nose-down at 14,200ft but too late to halt the The aircraft’s indicating systems adequately trained to respond. ■


Wing ice prompted Jazz CRJ200 stall on landing

C anadian investigators have
disclosed that a Jazz Bom-
bardier CRJ200 suffered a sud-
23 January, following a service
from Ottawa.
It descended through an area of
cording to the CRJ200 aircraft
flight manual; on-board systems
did not indicate the presence of
down initially on the right-hand
main landing-gear.
Post-flight inspection revealed
den wing drop, just as the air- cloud during the approach, travel- ice, it says. “an accumulation of ice” on the
craft flared for landing, ling at 230kt (426km/h) with tem- As the aircraft neared touch- leading edge of both wings, it
apparently due to a stall result- peratures below 10°C (50°F). down after a visual approach, it adds. The ice-detection system
ing from wing ice. The Transportation Safety flared and the starboard wing was functioning normally.
The aircraft (C-FDJA) had Board of Canada says the crew “suddenly dropped” while the jet Flight-data recorder informa-
been operating to Greater Monc- does not need to engage wing was 10ft above the runway, says tion showed that the aircraft had
ton airport, New Brunswick, on anti-ice systems above 230kt, ac- the board, resulting in a touch- stalled during the flare. ■ 26 February-4 March 2019 | Flight International | 15



Regional pressures mount, as BMI folds

Independent airline blames rising fuel costs and Brexit as main factors for decision after suffering six years of net losses

U K operator BMI Regional has

become the latest casualty of
the pressure on European air-
Loganair is to preserve five
routes formerly operated by its
sister carrier: three from Aber-
vour of pursuing niche connec-
tions with high levels of business
and corporate customers.
­ egional states that, over the last
six years, the carrier has benefit-
ed from an “extensive pro-
lines, with its decision to cease deen and two from Newcastle. The airline was primarily based gramme of funding” totalling
operations and file for adminis- BMI Regional’s failure follows at East Midlands, with stations at more than £40 million.
tration on 16 February. The com- six years of service as an inde- other UK airports, but established
pany blames prolonged uncer- pendent airline, during which it a continental base in Munich. CASUALTY
tainty regarding the UK’s failed to turn in a net profit. Airline Investments took over Statistics from the UK Civil Avia-
withdrawal from the EU for con- Its initial owner following di- Sector Aviation Holdings in tion Authority show that, last
tributing to its demise. vestment from Lufthansa Group, April 2015, bringing BMI Re- year, BMI Regional’s load factor
BMI Regional had emerged in Sector Aviation Holdings, under- gional under the same owner- ranged from around 51% in Janu-
2012 as a spin-off airline, under took a review to prepare the car- ship as Loganair. ary to about 70% in July, but these
new owners, after the mainline While BMI showed promising levels were far below those for UK
carrier BMI was sold to British “The challenges, growth, and even profits at EBIT- regional rival Flybe – which pri-
Airways parent IAG. It subse- DAR level, net profits remained marily uses 78-seat Bombardier
quently became a sister carrier to particularly those elusive. Its full-year losses deep- Q400 turboprops rather than BMI
Scottish operator Loganair, created by Brexit, ened to £11.5 million ($14.8 mil- Regional’s 50-seat jets.
when both airlines were brought lion) in 2013-2014 and £10.8 mil- Among the casualties of BMI
under the holding company Air-
have proven to be lion in 2014-2015, and even an Regional’s collapse is a shuttle
line Investments. insurmountable” improved performance in 2015- connecting Airbus sites in the UK
Operating services under the BMI Regional 2016 still left the carrier with a with its headquarters in Tou-
brand name Flybmi with a fleet of net deficit of £714,000. louse. Its route network included
17 Embraer ERJ-135/145 jets, rier for standalone operations, The most recent full-year fig- services to Chester airport – the
BMI Regional served 25 Europe- without the support of feed traffic ures showed a further downturn site of the Broughton wing plant
an destinations, and employed from its former parent. This activ- in profitability, with a net loss of – as well as Bristol, close to the
nearly 380 personnel in the UK, ity included overhauling its route £4 million for 2016-2017. Airbus facility at Filton. The
plus Belgium and Germany. structure, cutting the number of Despite better trading, leading carrier also served the Bristol-
The operator says the decision bases, positioning BMI Regional to its first fleet expansion as an Hamburg route, with Airbus op-
to file for administration was to serve niche markets including independent airline, the compa- erating a final assembly line near
“unavoidable” after it was unable the energy sector, and exploring ny suffered setbacks from the the German city.
to fend off the impact of “several charter services. March 2016 terrorist attack at Airbus shuttle operations had
difficulties”, including “spikes” The airline established code- Brussels airport, the effects of fu- already received a setback earlier
in fuel and carbon emission share partnerships with Lufthansa el-price volatility and weakness in February, when the collapse of
costs. It also cites the UK’s im- Group, including Air Dolomiti in the UK currency following the German operator Germania re-
pending withdrawal from the EU and Brussels Airlines, and strived EU membership referendum. sulted in a temporary loss of the
as an influencing factor, noting: to optimise its network. It sought Airline Investments had Toulouse-Finkenwerder link.
“Current trading and future pros- to exit markets in which it was placed £6.15 million in the com- This was subsequently picked up
pects have… been seriously af- facing harsh competition, in fa- pany over 2016-2017 and BMI by UK operator Titan Airways. ■
fected by the uncertainty created
by the Brexit process.”
It says this has resulted in an
“inability to secure valuable fly-
ing contracts” in Europe, and a
“lack of confidence” in the air-
line’s ability to continue operat-
ing between European cities.
These effects have exacerbated
“wider difficulties” in the region-
al airline industry, it adds.
BMI Regional’s shareholders
have been unable to continue fi-
nancial support for the carrier.
“We sincerely regret that this
course of action has become the
only option open to us but the

challenges, particularly those cre-

ated by Brexit, have proven to be
insurmountable,” it states. Operational fleet comprised 17 ERJ-135/145s, serving 25 European destinations including Toulouse

16 | Flight International | 26 February-4 March 2019

award faced with
legal challenge
Defence P18


Azimuth sees way for Superjet corporate shuttle

R ussian operator Azimuth is
participating in a programme
to establish a corporate shuttle
The project is the subject of an
agreement signed in Sochi be-
tween the carrier and partners in-
and Moscow Vnukovo airport.
UAC states that it envisages
using aircraft with an all-business
tive” niche. The Superjet would
be able to balance comfort with
economic efficiency, he adds.
using Sukhoi Superjet 100s con- cluding United Aircraft (UAC), interior, fitted with 56 seats, to Vnukovo airport’s business
figured with a low-density layout. National Reserve Corporation, conduct non-scheduled custom aviation centre would provide
flights in the interests of large cor- the infrastructure for such servic-
porations, sports teams, concert es from the Russian capital.
tour organisers and similar cli- The partners will examine the
ents. Azimuth already operates financial criteria for the project
eight SSJ100s in a 98-seat config- in order to determine the num-
uration, with a further four exam- ber of aircraft necessary and es-
ples on order, records Flight tablish a strategic outline to de-
Fleets Analyzer. velop the operation.
“Creating a corporate transport Financial firm VEB-Leasing
platform, based on a business says private organisations and
version of the Superjet, is an im- state institutions are showing in-
portant step in the development terest, and general director Artem

of our activities,” says UAC presi- Dovlatov says the agreement

dent Yuri Slyusar, adding that should have a “positive effect” on
All business-class service would operate from Moscow Vnukovo charter operations are an “attrac- the Superjet programme. ■


Passenger perception key to A321XLR

Lessor chief Kelly questions evolved twinjet’s ability to satisfy customer expectations on sectors with 8-9h duration

A erCap chief executive Aen-

gus Kelly believes the Airbus
A321XLR’s prospects are depend-
be worked out before it can be
certain that aircraft will be a suc-
cess flying that length. When you
Airbus sees big potential for
extended-range narrowbody
ent on whether an 8h narrowbody get to eight-plus hours on a nar-
flight can deliver good customer rowbody, is there enough real es-
service and carry freight. tate in the cabin to satisfy the
“Airbus clearly have a great minimum levels of customer ser-
airplane in the A321,” Kelly said vice you have to provide?”
during an earnings call on 14 Kelly adds that answering the

February. “Taking that airplane to customer service and freight ques-
eight or nine hours, the question tions will require Airbus to “look
is: in that size of a tube, what’s at the airframe as well as whether “leader in the space”. body which does not feature in
the passenger reaction going to any improvements would have to Kelly also gave his view on the AerCap’s portfolio.
be? And what’s your ability to be made to the engines”. implications of Airbus’s confir- “The A380 is a niche market,”
carry freight that far? For flying times in the 5-6h mation that it would in 2021 end he says. “Yes, it’s quite a number
“These are things that have to range, he sees the A321 as the production of the A380, a wide- of seats [being cancelled out of
the orderbook] but, when you
think about the numbers, that
PROGRAMME could easily get hoovered up by...
Boeing pact boosts E-Jet E2 marketability, AerCap indicates 50 or 60 A350-100s and another
30 or 40 A350-900s or combina-
Embraer’s partnership with and four E190-E2s. December 2018, the E190-E2 tion of A330-900s.
Boeing has facilitated AerCap in “We believe that the tie-up was delivered to Air Astana, “I think that it will have a posi-
placing its E-Jet E2 aircraft, the with Boeing has been very posi- which is “enjoying the aircraft’s tive impact for sure: there’s no
lessor’s chief executive indicates. tive for the marketability of the strong performance”, says Kelly. question that those airplanes
AerCap has placed “virtually E2, and we look forward to work- Fleets Analyzer shows that leaving will at the margin in-
all” of the 50 E2-family jets it has ing with them as our orders de- AerCap’s four E190-E2s are also crease demand for certain in-de-
on order, Aengus Kelly says. liver,” adds Kelly. bound for Air Astana, while mand new-technology assets and
Flight Fleets Analyzer indicates AerCap’s first new-generation Brazilian carrier Azul will take probably extend the life of [Boe-
that these comprise 46 E195-E2s E-Jet is already in service. In three of the lessor’s E195-E2s. ■ ing] 777-300ERs and A330s.” ■ 26 February-4 March 2019 | Flight International | 17



US Army ITEP award faced with legal challenge

T he Honeywell/Pratt & Whitney
joint-venture Advanced Tur-
bine Engine Company (ATEC)
plant for its rotorcraft fleets.
GE was awarded $517 million
on 1 February to complete engi-
will be installed as a “drop-fit” re-
placement on its Boeing AH-64
Apache attack and Sikorsky
T900 offering had 10% more
power growth capability and a
3-4% specific fuel consumption
has filed a protest with the US neering and manufacturing devel- UH-60 Black Hawk utility heli- advantage over a comparable sin-
Government Accountability Of- opment-phase work on its T901- copters, and equip its Future At- gle-spool design, among other
fice, following the US Army’s de- 900 for the army’s Improved tack Reconnaissance Aircraft claimed benefits. However, the
cision to award GE Aviation a Turbine Engine Programme (ITEP) (FARA). army selected GE’s single-spool
contract to develop a new power- by August 2024. The new model “In our review of the evalua- turboshaft, after the contractor
tion, we clearly offered the best had favoured what it believes is a
value through a combination of a simpler and more maintenance-
highly rated and technically su- friendly approach to meeting its
perior engine that was judged to requirements.
be much lower risk, and believe The ITEP engine is required to
we did so significantly under the have 50% more power than the
government’s budget,” says ATEC in-service GE T700, with a
president Craig Madden. “We are 3,000shp (2,240kW) output, and
requesting that the government to maintain high levels of
review these facts and award the ­performance at 6,000ft and 35°C
ITEP contract to ATEC, the best (95°F) operating conditions,
engine and the one that our such as those encountered in Af-
warfighters and taxpayers de- ghanistan. The replacement
serve,” he adds. powerplant will also be 25%
GE’s only rival for the lucrative more fuel efficient, and have a
US Army

ITEP contract, the joint venture service life 20% longer than the
Replacement engines will boost Black Hawk’s hot weather handling had argued that its dual-spool current system. ■


Ottawa receives first stopgap F/A-18s

Lead pair from acquisition of 18 ex-Australian jets arrives at Cold Lake base, with remainder due over next three years

C anada received its first pair

of interim Boeing F/A-18A
Hornets at Cold Lake air base in
88-strong future fighter fleet is
scheduled for release early this
year, to five shortlisted bidders:
Alberta on 17 February: the lead Boeing, Dassault, the Eurofighter
examples from an acquisition of consortium, Lockheed Martin
18 surplus Australian aircraft, and Saab.
plus additional spare parts. The Following detailed assess-
single-seat fighters arrived in ments, a contract award is ex-
Canada directly after participat- pected in 2021-2022, ahead of
ing in a Red Flag-series exercise first deliveries during 2025. Otta-
Royal Canadian Air Force

at Nellis AFB, Nevada with the wa’s transition to the new type
Royal Australian Air Force. should be complete by 2031 or
With Canberra’s F/A-18s having 2032, at which point the last of its
been produced to a similar stand- legacy CF-18s will be retired from
ard to Ottawa’s existing examples, Secondhand assets will be modified to Canadian fleet configuration operational use.
the customer says their purchase Flight Fleets Analyzer shows
will enable rapid introduction. dition of a night vision imaging modifications are completed”, the that the Royal Canadian Air
“Modifications and technical system, the Martin-Baker-pro- DND says. They will be assigned Force’s in-service fleet of 85 CF-
work will begin immediately so duced Navy Aircrew Common to the air force’s 4 Wing at Cold 18A/Bs are aged between 30 and
they can be brought to a similar Ejection Seat, landing gear modi- Lake, and also with its 3 Wing at 36 years. Australia is in the pro-
configuration to Canada’s CF-18 fications and repainting. Bagotville air base in Quebec. cess of replacing its “Classic” Hor-
aircraft,” its Department of Na- Additional aircraft will arrive Ottawa is, meanwhile, advanc- nets with Lockheed’s convention-
tional Defence (DND) says. To be in Canada “at regular intervals for ing with a review of its combat al take-off and landing F-35A. ■
performed by local companies, the next three years, and will be capability requirements. A re- Additional reporting by Craig
this process will include the ad- integrated into the CF-18 fleet as quest for proposals for an Hoyle in London

18 | Flight International | 26 February-4 March 2019

Gripen E
production takes
off at Saab
Defence P20


Madrid gets aboard Franco-


USAF spending
to keep soaring
German FCAS programme through 2030s
Defence minister says participation will create “quality opportunities” for Spanish industry
T he US Air Force’s acquisition
costs are likely to reach $104

S pain has formally joined a

Franco-German effort to de-
velop a future combat air system
billion by 2033, driven primarily
by the purchase of new aircraft
and weapons. The projection
(FCAS), which is scheduled to comes from a new report from the
enter service by 2040. Congressional Budget Office
During a NATO meeting in (CBO), which analysed the De-
Brussels on 14 February, defence partment of Defense’s (DoD) 2019
minister Margarita Robles signed five-year spending plan – called
a letter of intent with her respec- the Future Years Defense Pro-
tive French and German counter- gramme – and projected near-
parts, Florence Parly and Ursula term costs and likely long-term
von der Leyen, covering Spain’s financial impacts.
integration into the programme. With US Congress having ap-

Geoffrey Lee/Eurofighter
Madrid says it is joining the propriated $84 billion for USAF
initiative on “equal terms with acquisitions in 2019, the report
France and Germany” and that suggests that spending will rise
the project will give Spain “lead- 28.3% by 2033. This is primarily
ership visibility” within Europe- Developments under project are seen as Eurofighter replacements due to the acquisition of new
an security and defence policies. equipment including Lockheed
Noting that Spain is already a aircraft that can be operated to- Safran Aircraft Engines have Martin’s F-35 fighter, Northrop
partner in the Eurofighter pro- gether. Types developed under joined forces to build the air- Grumman’s B-21 stealth bomber,
gramme – together with Germa- the programme will replace the craft’s powerplants. Boeing’s T-X advanced jet trainer,
ny, Italy and the UK – the de- Eurofighters operated by Germa- Spanish manufacturer ITP is a a nuclear Long-Range Standoff
fence ministry says the new ny and Spain, as well as France’s shareholder in the Eurojet con- Weapon and ground-based strate-
commitment will provide “quali- Dassault Rafales. sortium that builds the EJ200 tur- gic deterrent ballistic missiles.
ty opportunities to the Spanish Airbus Defence & Space, bofan engine for the Eurofighter The CBO says nearly one-third
defence industry” and enable the which has extensive activities in – as is the company’s parent, of spending in 2033 – worth $31
country to maintain a “solid Spain, and Dassault have been Rolls-Royce. billion – could be assigned to clas-
base” of aerospace activities. selected as prime contractors for However, R-R has been select- sified activities. The USAF’s allo-
The FCAS programme will the FCAS programme, with the ed as propulsion partner for the cation would account for around
comprise the development of a French company leading the ac- UK’s Tempest next-generation 43% of the DoD’s entire acquisi-
manned fighter and unmanned tivity. MTU Aero Engines and fighter programme. ■ tion costs of $240 billion. ■


Growler approved for

Finnish HX tender bid
B oeing and the US Navy have “All strike fighter aircraft rely on
Aviation PhotoCrew/Boeing

received approval from the Growler escort to increase surviva-

US Department of Defense to bility during high-threat missions,”
offer the EA-18G Growler elec- says Dan Gillian, Boeing’s vice-
tronic attack aircraft to Finland. president, F/A-18 and EA-18G pro-
The approval came after Fin- grammes. “The combination of the Helsinki is eyeing electronic-attack variant alongside Super Hornet
land’s defence ministry issued a Super Hornet Block III and Growl-
query about the potential to ac- er would provide Finland with su- fered the US Navy’s EA-18G, after Martin F-35 and Saab Gripen.
quire Growlers as part of its HX perior technological capability par- Australia, which bought 12. A request for quotations will
procurement programme – the ticularly suited to HX mission Finland’s shortlist of candi- be issued in the second half of
process by which the nation will requirements.” dates include the F/A-18E/F this year, with a decision due in
replace its air force’s current 62 Helsinki becomes the second Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale, 2021 and deliveries expected to
F/A-18C/Ds. export nation approved to be of- Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed start in 2025. ■ 26 February-4 March 2019 | Flight International | 19



Gripen E production takes off at Saab

Serial production of new-generation type starts on schedule, as airframer eyes follow-on sales opportunity with Brazil

S aab is progressing on schedule

with the Gripen E, with chief
executive Hakan Buskhe reveal-
Other export opportunities are
also being eyed. “We just turned
in our proposal to Switzerland
ing that it launched serial produc- and Finland, and we are in dis-
tion of the fighter early this year. cussion with Canada,” Buskhe
Speaking during an annual re- says. Saab is also looking at
sults presentation on 15 Febru- ­Croatia’s requirements, after the
ary, Buskhe said the programme nation’s planned acquisition of

advance was made “in the first ex-Israeli air force Lockheed Mar-
week of January”. Saab is under tin F-16s collapsed recently. Deliveries will commence for Swedish air force before end of year
contract to produce 60 of the type Saab’s proposal to Finland to-
for the Swedish air force, and 36 tals 64 Gripen E/Fs, while Saab was awarded an initial Buskhe says he has already
E/F-model examples for Brazil, in ­Switzerland is being offered ei- $117 million contract in October visited “a handful of countries”
partnership with Embraer. First ther 30 or 40 single-seat exam- 2018 covering its involvement in to discuss the T-X product. “We
deliveries for both customers are ples. Procurement decisions are the T-X programme’s engineer- can already see huge interest for
scheduled before year-end. expected around 2021. ing, manufacturing and develop- the trainer system around the
Meanwhile, Buskhe confirms: Separately, the Swedish com- ment phase until 2022. It will be world,” he notes.
“We are in discussions on a next pany is close to picking the loca- responsible for producing the The US Air Force expects to
batch for Brazil,” with this fol- tion of a US facility to host its jet’s rear fuselage. buy an initial 351 of the new
low-on procurement likely to be production activities in support “It’s good for Saab and [its] type to replace its ageing fleet of
advanced from 2021 or 2022. The of the Boeing-led T-X jet trainer ­Aeronautics [unit] to have that ca- Northrop T-38 trainers, and
Swedish air force’s commander programme by mid-year. pacity in the USA,” Buskhe says ­Boeing has forecast a potential
also recently indicated his “In the first half of this year we of the future facility, noting that it future market opportunity to
service’s interest in potentially
­ will decide on where we will al- will bring the company “closer to produce 2,600 examples to meet
doubling its commitment to the locate our production in the the US customer”, as it eyes fur- additional US requirements and
new-generation fighter, he notes. USA,” Buskhe says. ther business opportunities. international demand. ■


Prototype L-39NG approaches return to testing

A ero Vodochody is set to
resume flight testing with
its first prototype L-39NG during
rently undergoing work follow-
ing its debut – and so far lone –
sortie last December.
status, test asset 7001 will
­complete a “very limited” cam-
paign of around 15 flights,
pair, as well as flight envelope
expansion work in support of
­future certification.
April, with the jet trainer cur- Once it is returned to active ­L-39NG chief engineer Jaromir The Williams International
Lang tells FlightGlobal. This will FJ44-4M-engined L-39NG has so
be focused on assessing the far secured commitments from
type’s speed, attitude and loads four customers for a combined
characteristics, he says. 40 examples. Senegal’s four-unit
An additional flight-test asset, order is the only current firm
aircraft 7004, is scheduled to deal, with the African nation
Aero Vodochody

make its debut in October. At expected to introduce the

this point, the Czech Republic- ­aircraft from 2020. ■
based airframer will launch See Cover Story P24,
Lead aircraft 7001 has been undergoing work since December debut ­flutter and loads testing with the & Cutaway P27

Download the 2019

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20 | Flight International | 26 February-4 March 2019
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Bombardier focuses future on flagship

After divesting CSeries and Q400 programmes, Canadian airframer is relying on success of Global 7500’s service entry

A t entry into service, any new

aircraft is the apple of its
manufacturer’s eye, and from that
As well as providing extra busi-
ness for the division, it helps se-
cure the production ramp-up of
have a purpose-built engine for
our programme,” he says.
“We are not sharing a common
Loubert runs the Global 7500
completions centre at Bombar-
dier’s Dorval plant, which re-
perspective the Bombardier the 7,700nm (14,250km)-range part with another aircraft – that ceives the green aircraft from its
Global 7500 is no different. Global. “The wing acquisition is helps a little bit.” Downsview assembly line near
But over the past 12 months, one of the areas that makes us a lot In addition, the main fuselage is Toronto. His team has been in-
the success of the ultra-long- more comfortable about the long- supplied by Airbus-owned S ­ telia, volved with the twinjet since its
range business jet – with a list term ramp-up,” says Stephen Mc- which has its hands full with the inception, he says, meaning the
price of $72.8 million – has be- Cullough, vice-president of engi- parent company’s airliners. “It’s process is “much more integrated
come even more vital to the neering and product development the first large, non-Airbus pro- than it could have been”.
­Canadian airframer. for the Global 7500 and 8000. gramme that Stelia has undertak-
First came the loss of control of Bombardier had no issues with en and they are keen to make it a CLEARER VIEW
the CSeries programme, ceded to Triumph’s output, acknowledges success. They are invested in the For example, McCullough says
Airbus in July 2018 and renamed McCullough, and says the compa- programme as much as we are,” that high levels of customer
the A220. Then came the an- ny is “excited” by the acquisition, says McCullough. ­feedback have helped to shape
nouncement that Bombardier was pointing to the wing-building Although the initial production the design of the company’s new
selling its Q400 turboprop line, ­expertise it already possesses. Global 7500 was delivered on 14 flagship – even down to the larger
with the future of the CRJ regional December last year, the jet remains cabin windows.
jet also under review. READINESS STUDIES with Bombardier and is being op- These were identified as a
Take away those programmes To maintain the ramp-up plan – erated as a customer demonstrator must-have feature from the begin-
and the company’s future be- 15-20 deliveries this year, and under a lease-back arrangement. ning and “we modified the struc-
comes much more tightly wedded 35-40 in 2020 – the airframer has Outfitted in a 15-passenger ture around that”, rather than let-
to the business aircraft market. been conducting rate-readiness ­layout, the cabin of that aircraft is ting the requirements of the
The company’s reliance on studies over the past three years. divided into four zones, includ- fuselage dictate the shape and
business aviation is clear in its That is simply best practice, of ing a dining area, entertainment size of the windows.
2018 results. The aerospace divi- course, but the need for such pre- section and a bedroom. It also fea- Bombardier is staying silent on
sion – comprising aerostructures, paredness has been heightened by tures two pairs of Bombardier’s the likely output for 2021, but says
business aviation and commercial the pressure felt throughout the new Nuage seats, which recline that its next available production
aircraft – brought in revenue of aerospace supply chain as output into beds, and a cabin control sys- slot is not until the following year,
$8.69 billion last year, of which on programmes such as the Air- tem developed in collaboration with the firm backlog “a bit high-
business jet sales contributed bus A320 and Boeing 737 Max are with Lufthansa Technik. er” than 110, says McCullough.
$4.99 billion and commercial taken to record levels. While most buyers so far have That annual delivery quantity
$1.75 billion, with EBIT before Power on the Global 7500 is de- selected fairly typical club seat- of around 40 aircraft per year is
special items at $420 million and livered by Passport 20s supplied ing towards the front of the air- “roughly stable”, says Mc-
$157 million, respectively. by GE Aviation, which is being craft, “as you move further back it Cullough, but he adds: “If you
And bear in mind those figures kept more than busy elsewhere by gets very, very diversified”, says look at other product lines then
do not incorporate the full effect of its involvement in the CFM Inter- Stephane Loubert, senior director the rate can go a little bit higher
CSeries deconsolidation, and national narrowbody engine joint of programme completions for than that for sure.” Bombardier
have only one Global 7500 deliv- venture. But, says McCullough, the Global 7500. “We have got a has achieved shipments of up to
ery included. Bombardier is yet to see any couple of eight- or 10-[passenger 55 per year for similar-sized jets,
With that financial position as a pinch-points from that side. “One layouts] where customers have he says, so “we have a bit of head-
backdrop, it is easy to see why se- advantage that we have is that we gone a little creative.” room above 40.” ■
curing a successful service entry
and production ramp-up for the
19-passenger flagship is vital.
If further evidence of the pro-
gramme’s importance were need-
ed, Bombardier’s recent acquisi-
tion of the wing manufacturing
operation for the twinjet from Tri-
umph Group provided just that.
Purchased in late January for a
“nominal fee”, fabrication of the
31.7m (104ft)-span wings will

transition to Bombardier’s aero-

structures unit, joining a similar
operation focused on the A220. Ultra-long-range type’s design has been shaped by customer feedback, including a larger window size

22 | Flight International | 26 February-4 March 2019

Veteran returns to
the training game
Cover Story P24


Swiss government adopts PC-24

P ilatus has delivered a PC-24 to
the Swiss government. The
superlight business jet – serial
that other governments will
adopt the PC-24 once they see the
unrivalled opportunities and
number 121 and carrying the mil- flexibility which it offers.”
itary registration T-786 – was Certificated in December 2017,

handed over during a ceremony the Williams International
Aircraft will be operated solely by an “ultra-high-net-worth” owner in Berne on 18 February. It will FJ44-4A-powered aircraft has a
replace a similarly-sized Cessna range of 2,000nm (3,700km), a
COMPLETIONS KATE SARSFIELD LONDON Citation XLS aircraft. cruise speed of 440kt (810km/h)

Initial BBJ Max 8 arrives

The eight-seat PC-24 will be and is designed to take off from
used for government transporta- and land on runways with a
tion “primarily around Europe”, length of only 856m (2,810ft), in-

for outfitting at Comlux and will be operated by the Swiss

air force’s Lufttransportdienst des
Bundes unit from Berne.
cluding grass and gravel strips.
The Stans-based airframer has
delivered 22 PC-24s to date, in-

T he first Boeing BBJ Max 8 has

arrived at Comlux Comple-
tions’ Indianapolis facility for
says Comlux. Details of the inte-
rior layout will not be revealed, it
adds, as the aircraft is to be oper-
Pilatus chairman Oscar
Schwenk describes the addition
as “the new Swiss Air Force
cluding 18 last year – slightly
short of the 23 shipments fore-
cast. Output of 40 PC-24s is
cabin outfitting, with the finished ated solely for private use by its One” and says he is “confident planned for in 2019. ■
aircraft due for delivery to its un- “ultra-high-net-worth” owner.
named US owner before year-end. In 2020, the firm is scheduled
The green VIP narrowbody to take delivery of two more
was originally delivered to Com- green BBJ Max 8s, one of which
lux in late November 2018 – 14 will be owned and operated by
months after the company was its sister company, Comlux Avia-
named as the interior outfitter for tion, and available for charter.
the re-engined aircraft. It was Boeing holds 19 orders for the
then flown to another firm for ex- BBJ Max family: 12 -8s, four -7s
terior painting. and three -9s. Three orders remain
The cabin of the CFM Interna- in the backlog for the original BBJ,
tional Leap-1B-powered BBJ has based on the 737NG airframe.

been designed by New York- Boeing also holds a commitment
based architect Peter Marino, for a BBJ 787-8 widebody. ■ Superlight type will be used for transport “primarily around Europe”


EASA warns of explosive door release

Safety agency issues bulletin identifying risk caused by air pressure differential in parked jets, after fatal Finnish accident

E urope’s regulator has warned

about the hazard of passenger
doors on parked business jets
These include an incident at
Kittila airport in Finland on 4
January 2018, when the captain
ing mechanism was released, it
“blew open with excessive force,
hitting the captain”.
handlers, airport o­perators, fire-
fighting and other emergency
workers are made aware of the
­exploding open following a string of an Austrian-registered Gulf- EASA says while closing the risks described in the SIB.
of serious incidents, including stream G150 (OE-GKA) died from aircraft doors helps to reach and Personnel must verify, if possi-
one in which the aircraft’s cap- injuries sustained when the maintain the “desired” cabin ble, that all relevant outflow
tain was killed. ­passenger door blew open as he temperature during the heating or valves are in the open position. A
In a safety information bulletin was attempting to release it. cooling process, it can also result pressure build-up relief mecha-
(SIB) issued on 12 February, the The midsize jet was being in an “undesired build-up” of a nism should also be operated
European Aviation Safety Agency ­prepared for its flight, with an at- pressure differential between the ­before opening a fuselage door on
(EASA) identifies “an excessive tendant on board, the auxiliary cabin and the outside environ- a pressurised aircraft, EASA says.
differential pressure between the power unit (APU) running and ment, particularly if the outflow Where flightcrew or mainte-
inside and the outside of the air- the cabin heating on. However, valve is closed. This can happen nance personnel are unable to
craft”, as the cause of the problem. the doors and the air pressure during normal operation of the control the outflow valve or other
The agency says such events outflow valve were closed. aircraft, maintenance, or training. “external valve” positions with-
have resulted in injuries and Finnish investigators conclud- The safety agency recommends out the APU or engine, one cabin
even fatalities to people inside ed that the cabin was “over-pres- that aircraft owners and operators, fuselage door must remain open,
and outside the aircraft. surised”, and once the door-lock- maintenance personnel, ground the safety agency mandates. ■ 26 February-4 March 2019 | Flight International | 23


Model was launched in

Aero Vodochody
2014, with deliveries
targeted from 2020

Veteran returns to
the training game
Aero Vodochody’s updated L-39NG may closely resemble its communist-era predecessor,
but under the surface is a raft of new technology, backed by 21st-century service principles

MURDO MORRISON PRAGUE in a few weeks and comes in light-attack and tems flightdeck, a one-piece canopy from
CUTAWAY DRAWING BY TIM HALL trainer configurations – can make an impact Swiss manufacturer Mecaplex, and Martin-
on the military training market, albeit not Baker ejection seats, all replacing Soviet-era

ost of the pilots who honed their quite as dramatic as its predecessor’s. products and technology.
combat skills in the Aero Vodo- So far, Aero Vodochody has had commit- In addition, Aero Vodochody has had to
chody L-39 Albatros single-en- ments from a quartet of customers for 40 ex- resurrect a local supply chain for the L-39NG,
gined jet trainer were defending amples, although Senegal’s – for four light-at- as well as the larger L-159 advanced trainer
the Soviet empire. The 21st century-born avia- tack variants – is the only firm order. and light-attack aircraft that is also back in
tors who fly its successor – the L-39NG – will Scheduled certification is later this year, with limited production after a decade-long hiatus.
only know of the Cold War from history books. first deliveries in 2020.
More than two decades separate the closing The resurrected version of the jet, which LEG UP
of the original L-39 line in 1996 – after 2,900 the Czech airframer launched at the Farnbor- The move has given a welcome boost to many
examples were shipped over 25 years – and ough air show in 2014, shares a shape and of the country’s small machining shops and
first flight of the L-39NG on 22 December 2018. structure with its communist-era antecedent. other specialists that have struggled for work
However, the Czech manufacturer is confi- However, much has changed beneath the since the winding down of Aero Vodochody’s
dent that the “new generation” version of the skin. Those updates include a Williams Inter- flagship programmes. The Prague-based
famous aircraft – which resumes flight testing national FJ44-4M engine, a Genesys Aerosys- ­airframer has also had to re-engineer crucial

24 | Flight International | 26 February-4 March 2019


parts of the aircraft in house, including a new shareholder, development of a utility turbo- conditions and support they were offering.”
wet wing and landing-gear. prop axed and production of its flagship pro- The FJ44-4M is a variant of the FJ44-4A
“We had to develop a new undercarriage our- gramme at a standstill, the embattled manu- that powers the Textron Aviation Cessna Cita-
selves,” explains Jaromir Lang, L-39NG chief facturer had to take on a range of build-to-print tion CJ4 and Pilatus PC-24. The -4M delivers
engineer and a veteran from the manufacturer’s aerostructures jobs simply to stay in business. 3,790lb-thrust (16.9kN), 5% more than the
days as a state-controlled enterprise in the 3,600lb-thrust commercial version, although
1980s. “The one on the original L-39 was built WIDE-RANGING REVIEW Lang says there is a small trade-off in service
from Eastern materials produced in the Czech The L-39 had been out of production since the life and maintenance intervals. Because the
Republic by a company that has not existed mid-1990s, but – given changes in the mili- engine is smaller than its predecessor, integra-
since the 1990s.” Other than that, the company tary training market, with governments look- tion was relatively easy, although Aero Vodo-
has engaged a “very big network” of local sup- ing at value-for-money solutions – the com- chody had to redesign the frame. The compa-
pliers, says Lang, including a subcontractor in pany’s new owners began to look again at a ny had done much of the work already, by
Moravia that builds the trainer’s tail section. segment that had been especially lucrative for retrofitting it in the L-39CW, a re-powered ver-
The wet wing increases the aircraft’s range to their communist-era predecessors. The prob- sion of the L-39 it flew in 2014.
1,150nm (2,130km), but also its agility. The orig- lem was that Aero Vodochody had designed According to Matt Huff, senior vice-presi-
inal L-39 wing had tip tanks to supplement its the aircraft in the 1960s, with Soviet-era mate- dent business development and programme
central fuel compartment. Integral wing tanks rials and production standards and the management at Williams, several L-39 owners
increase fuel capacity by around 150 litres Ukrainian-built Ivchenko AI-25 engine. “We and maintenance, repair and overhaul houses
(39USgal), but getting rid of the tip tanks pushes knew it was impossible to continue with that had approached the Michigan-based compa-
the mass of fuel closer to the aircraft’s centre of design,” says Lang. ny over the years, asking if Williams might
gravity, improving manoeuvrability, notes Lang. To make a redesigned aircraft viable, he put its weight behind a programme to re-en-
Aero Vodochody based the wet wing on a de- says, the company had to deploy western ma- gine the trainer with the FJ44. “Until we intro-
sign it developed for the L-159, but “simplified, terials and quality standards to reduce the duced the Dash 4 around 2011, the FJ44
with fewer longerons”, he says. empty weight and prolong the fatigue life at wasn’t the right size,” he says. “But even then,
December’s first flight – a 26min sortie from least threefold. Beyond that, it decided to we said that unless the OEM got involved, we
Aero Vodochody’s own airfield in Odolena keep the aluminium frame and basic struc- weren’t interested.”
Voda – met a promise from Italian chief exec- ture, although it has made a few aerodynamic Although Williams is a specialist in e­ ngines
utive Giuseppe Giordo to have the aircraft in tweaks to the shape and streamlined the pro- for business aviation types, this is not its first
the air before the end of last year. However, duction process. For example, it now ma- foray into the military world. In the 1990s, the
with the test example, serial number 7001, re- chines the bulkhead as a single part, rather Swedish air force chose the “Dash 1” version
turning immediately to the hangar for further than in multiple sections. of the FJ44 to re-engine its Saab 105 trainers
work, that is likely to be its only outing before One of the most crucial choices the com- (known as the SK 60). Leonardo, Giordo’s for-
a “very limited” campaign of around 15 mis- pany had to make was the engine. Aero Vo- mer employer, also selected the FJ44-4 for its
sions begins again in April to test speed, atti- dochody at first considered using the Honey- M-345 jet trainer. That aircraft flew for the first
tude and loads, says Lang. well TFE731 – a development of which, the time late last year and is due to enter service
Following ground vibration testing in May F124, powers the L-159 that the manufactur- with the Italian air force in 2020.
and June, “the flight-test campaign proper”, er began producing in the late 1990s. “We “From the beginning, we envisaged the FJ44
focused on aircraft systems, will resume in knew the engine,” says Lang. “But after as an engine for military trainers, as well as
August. Flutter testing will begin in October Williams contacted me around 2013, we
­ GA,” says Huff. The M variant – it stands for
before “we open the flight-test envelope for began to have discussions with them, too. “manoeuvrability” rather than “military” – in-
loads testing and other performance testing”, We decided to go with them because of the volves only a few small design changes, he ❯❯
says Lang. With aircraft 7002 used for static
testing, and 7003 for fatigue trials, the second
aircraft to join the flight-test programme, in AERO VODOCHODY L-39NG
October, will be 7004. Those two will com-
plete the certification effort.
Early in 2020, Aero Vodochody will with-
draw 7001 from flight tests and rebuild it as a
light-attack variant, before resuming flying in
the second half of next year, while 7004 will
remain in trainer configuration. The trainer
version has two under-wing pylons for carry-
ing drop tanks, but the light-attack variant has 0 2m
five, capable of carrying weapons. The Czech 0 6ft
airframer is discussing various integration op-
tions with suppliers, but says the munitions
will largely be the customer’s choice.
The story of the L-39NG starts in the late
2000s, when Aero Vodochody was still
­reeling from a decision in 2003 by the Czech
military to reduce its fleet of the new L-159
advanced jet trainer and attack aircraft from Tim Bicheno-Brown/Artscreatif/FlightGlobal

72 to just 24, furloughing its unwanted exam-

ples. With Boeing having also pulled out as a Key design changes cover wing, landing-gear and add Williams International FJ44-4M engine
Originator XX
Magazine FlightGlobal 26 February-4 March 2019 | Flight International | 25
Size 114 x 67 / Feature
File name FIN N-39NG GA

❯❯ says, “allowing the aircraft to pull some of production and 12 in 2021. “After that, we
stronger g-forces”. The deals with Aero Vodo- will go to a rate of 20 a year,” he says. “This
chody and Leonardo, he adds, are “highly sig- will be our baseline. Our current projections
nificant in that they open a new market for this mean we are covered through 2022, but we
engine after our breakthrough with the SK 60”. could increase our rate by introducing a sec-
Other improvements over the original ond shift or asking more from suppliers.”
L-39 include the single-piece canopy from The world has changed in many ways from
Mecaplex, and two Martin-Baker ejection the heyday of the L-39 when air forces had
seats, with both companies working together their own training capabilities, or, in the case
to d­ esign the canopy fragmentation escape of smaller nations, shipped their student pi-
system. Aero Vodochody offers its own
­ lots to the air bases of larger allies to receive

Aero Vodochody
­ejection seat on the L-159 that will be availa- their qualifications.
ble to any customer who objects to using a Today, with the old Cold War alliances
UK-supplied product for political reasons. fragmented and cash-strapped defence minis-
However, “for most people, once you say you Genesys avionics stem from longstanding ties tries looking for value for money, Aero Vodo-
are using a Martin-Baker seat, there are no chody has had to develop a sophisticated ser-
other questions”, says Lang. options, while US training specialist RSW vices offering alongside the aircraft itself.
Aero Vodochody’s relationship with Aviation, an existing L-39 operator, signed for “We are not just providing aircraft, but a
Genesys goes back to the late 1990s, when the 12 examples. complete training system,” says Giordo. To
Czech manufacturer was developing the Aero Vodochody is also negotiating a deal reflect that most students flying the L-39NG
short-lived Ae270 single-engined utility tur- with Czech military training provider LOM will have grown up in a high-tech world,
boprop with AIDC of Taiwan and had worked Praha for four aircraft, plus two options. After Aero Vodochody has developed courses
with Chelton Flight Systems (now part of winning Senegal as an overseas launch cus- “based not on the old ways of training pilots,
Genesys) on the avionics. After it cancelled tomer for the new variant, an order from a but on elements millennials can appreciate,
the Ae270, Aero Vodochody found itself with government-backed organisation would be an making the most of artificial intelligence and
surplus stock of the avionics equipment and additional welcome endorsement for the pro- tablets”, he says.
incorporated the technology into the single gramme, says Giordo, adding that the compa- Similarly, with support, the Czech firm –
example of the L-39CW. ny is in “final negotiations” with a further un- like Williams – is offering operators guaranteed
“When we announced the programme, disclosed nation for 10 aircraft. “time in air” packages. “We will take care of
Genesys decided to support us and provided While Giordo admits that the nature of de- everything. That is something that is not very
us with new displays,” says Lang. While fence procurement makes it difficult to pre- common in the defence market,” he says.
Genesys supplies the 10in multifunction dis- dict when customers will confirm orders, he Aero Vodochody is pitching the L-39NG in a
plays, standby sensors and other systems, a says he is happy with the programme’s suc- broad segment that ranges from the Pilatus
Prague-based company, Speel, manufactures cess to date. “It would be great if we could ac- PC-21 and Embraer EMB-314 Super Tucano
the mission computer, head-up display, flight celerate some of these final signatures, but for high-performance turboprops through to the
data recorder, data acquisition unit and air any aircraft to win commitments before it flies M-345 and even the M-346 advanced jet trainer.
data computer. Another US firm, Borsight, is is very hard, particularly in the international While Giordo admits that the M-346 is a much
behind the universal management unit. market, so I think our results so far have been more capable trainer aircraft, he maintains that
Aero Vodochody secured its first series of very good,” he says. the L-39NG can “meet 80% of the advanced
customer agreements last year, with Senegal training syllabus at one-third of the cost”: a
committing to its four combat-roled aircraft in ON SCHEDULE price-tag comparable with that of a turboprop.
April. In addition, Portuguese private compa- Giordio, who heads a team of former Leonar- Giordo believes that out of a potential mar-
ny SkyTech, which provides aircraft to “ad- do executives recruited by private sharehold- ket of around 1,000 basic jet trainers over the
dress shortfalls in military aviation” an- er Penta Investments in 2016, also says the next 15 years, Aero Vodochody should be
nounced a letter of intent at the July 2018 programme itself is “firmly on track”. The able to secure orders for “easily 150 aircraft”.
Farnborough air show to acquire 10 plus six company plans to deliver six in the first year He admits that marketing the type will be a
challenge for a company that is a minnow in
revenue terms compared with most of its ri-
vals and does not have sales offices around
the world. “We cannot afford the fixed costs of
some of our competitors,” he says.
Instead, he says, it will “focus our attention
on countries where we know product, costs
and operational capabilities are the three driv-
ers”. He also credits prime minister Andrej
Babis, who “has been one of the best salesmen
for the L-39NG”, and says the fact that the
central European nation is not a military or
economic power helps.
“If a country signs a strategic relationship
with the Czech Republic, it doesn’t affect their
Aero Vodochody

relationship with France, the UK, or Italy,” he

says. “That sometimes actually makes it easier
Initial example first flew in December 2018 and will return to the air by April after further work for us to do business.” ■

26 | Flight International | 26 February-4 March 2019


This issue should hold a cutaway poster of the

Aero Vodochody L-39NG. If yours is missing
or damaged please contact:
Gillian Cumming
Quadrant House, The Quadrant,
Sutton, Surrey, SM2 5AS, UK 26 February-4 March 2019 | Flight International | 27

K N O W I N G M O R E P U T S Y O U A B O V E T H E C L O U D S.

A s m a r t e r w a y.


fighting force
Fully integrating people and modern platforms – now
including F-35s – is key to Australia’s goal of seamless air
power. We get the view from one of its senior commanders

GREG WALDRON SINGAPORE Air Vice Marshal Steve Roberton, Air Com- such as the Boeing E-7A Wedgetail airborne
mander Australia, says the F-35A is part of early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft,

n December 2018, the Royal Australian Air the RAAF’s continuing evolution into a “fifth- F/A-18Fs, and its EA-18G Growlers. Still,
Force (RAAF) truly entered the era of the generation air force” – a well-oiled machine Roberton views the arrival of the F-35A as
Lockheed Martin F-35, with the arrival of that works seamlessly together. the biggest development.
its first two examples. After a long flight Roberton has served with the RAAF since “It’s been a busy couple of years, but we’re
across the Pacific from Luke AFB in Arizona, 1989 and has over 3,000h in the cockpit, really pleased with the progress that we’ve
the pair of jets were welcomed by Boeing F/A- mostly in F/A-18As but also in the F/A-18F made, both in the development of the plat-
18A/B “classic” Hornets, the venerable fighter Super Hornet. forms and making them work together in that
they will replace. In an interview with FlightGlobal on the fifth-generation force, but also with our peo-
The moment was a long time coming: eve of Australia’s biennial Avalon air show, he ple. It’s been a very successful intervening
RAAF pilots and support crews have been says: “We are in a fairly privileged position of two years.”
training at the Luke AFB F-35 school since being one of the first all fifth-generation forces The F-35A, of which has Australia currently
2015, with the service’s first F-35A delivered in the world. In terms of platforms, we’re well has 10, is due for initial operating capability
in 2014. Ultimately, Canberra could obtain up on track.” in late 2020. This involves a fully operational
to 100, making it among the largest interna- Since the last Avalon show in 2017, the squadron in Australia, as well as a training
tional operators of the type. RAAF has been working to integrate assets squadron. Full operating capability is due in

30 | Flight International | 26 February-4 March 2019


Commonwealth of Australia
Geography makes KC-30A tanker crucial strategic asset; a seventh will arrive this year

Commonwealth of Australia
Commonwealth of Australia

F-35A will follow

Hornet as RAAF’s
fighter backbone
Options to extend Super Hornet force’s service life beyond 2020s are under consideration

2023. This will see three operational units – 3 prises mainly navy types such as the Hornet, While the Hornets are set to depart the
Sqn, 75 Sqn and 77 Sqn, in addition to the Super Hornet and Growler. RAAF after decades of service, Canberra will
training squadron. For the time being, eight “We’ve already adapted fairly well to it,” he continue to operate its powerful force of 24
aircraft remain at the Luke AFB training says. “We’ve had women and men in the USA F/A-18F Super Hornets, which were obtained
school. An additional eight will be delivered for some time now training with US systems to fill a capability gap caused by delays in the
in 2019. and becoming familiar with not just the main- F-35 programme.
tenance philosophy, but the documentation Original plans for the Super Hornets
SHIFTING MINDSET and the means of doing it. It’s progressing well called for their retirement in the 2020s, but
Roberton – essentially the RAAF’s chief op- and we’re pretty confident about it.” there is speculation that Canberra may opt to
erating officer – discusses aircraft in the con- As for the 71 F/A-18A/Bs that the F-35As keep the type, possibly upgrading them to
text not just of capability, but also logistics will replace, Canberra has entered a deal to the USN’s Block III standard. This activity
and human resources. He says F-35A sus- sell up to 25 examples to Canada for A$95 includes a range of structural and sensor up-
tainment has required a cultural shift, given million ($68 million). Of these, 18 will serve grades, as well as the ability to receive and
that the type is fundamentally a US Air as combat assets and seven will be used for transfer large amounts of sensor data with
Force platform and the USAF’s maintenance spares. These aircraft will fill a capability gap other aircraft.
philosophy differs from that of the US Navy while Ottawa holds a competition for a future On the long-term prospects for the RAAF’s
– and Australia’s existing fast jet fleet com- fighter aircraft. Super Hornets, Roberton says in the “next few ❯❯ 26 February-4 March 2019 | Flight International | 31


❯❯ years” a proposal will be made to the gov-

ernment about the air force’s future asset mix. “Hard to imagine”
“Having tied ourselves in with the US conflict with no
Navy and their plans and upgrades – and role for EA-18G
what’s more, the US Navy’s integration of
Super Hornet, Growler and their own F-35
variant – I believe there are more options for
extending the life [of the Super Hornet]. But
these are matters for the Australian govern-
ment, and part of this planning will be put
forward to the government to consider.”

He adds, however, that the air force is “very
confident” that this future force structure will
be based on the F-35, EA-18G and the E-7A.

Commonwealth of Australia
“We’re in a great place. We’re not being
driven by ageing platforms like many other
services around the world. The Super Hor-
nets are still in very, very good nick. They
are very capable of course. But we need to
find where we get the right cost benefit, and
what that future force requirement looks being explored, but the air force is still famil- The E-7A has operated effectively in the
like. This will be driven by government poli- iarising itself with the capabilities inherent in complex environment over the Middle East in
cy and our own defence strategy in the com- the platform. At some point, it will present support of Australia’s contribution to efforts
ing years. More to come.” options to the government. against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. The
Originally, Canberra obtained 12 Despite the accident, Roberton has very aircraft have operated missions of up to 13h,
­EA-18Gs, adding a new electronic attack ca- high marks for the capability the EA-18G made possible by its in-flight refuelling capa-
pability to the Australian Defence Force. One brings to the RAAF. bility. The RAAF is in discussions with the
aircraft, however, was lost, owing to the cata- “The Growler is such a capable platform Royal Air Force and the USAF, both of which
strophic failure of a fan disk in its left side and very flexible up and down that entire will need to replace their ageing, Boeing 707-
GE Aviation F414 engine. The aircraft was conflict spectrum. It is capable of penetrating based E-3 aircraft.
attempting to take off from Nellis AFB near [enemy airspace] with strike assets to help “Wedgetail has garnered a great deal of in-
Las Vegas during a Red Flag-series exercise. control that electromagnetic spectrum, but terest from the USA and the UK, who are
No personnel were injured, but the aircraft equally it contributes to joint roles or working working with us on how we iteratively up-
was a write-off. with our naval platforms or land forces in grade it,” says Roberton.
With the Growler force reduced to 11 air- stand-off roles. It’s hard to imagine a scenario The RAAF’s tanker ability continues to ma-
frames, there has been speculation about where a Growler couldn’t make a pretty ture, with the delivery of its sixth KC-30A (the
whether Canberra will obtain a replacement meaningful contribution to the joint effect Australian designation for the A330 multi-
for the lost example. Another option is recon- you’re after.” role tanker transport) in late 2017; the seventh
figuring one of the baseline F/A-18Fs as an Roberton is also happy with progress on is due to arrive in the middle of 2019. The air-
EA-18G, because 12 of the RAAF’s Super Hor- two critical enablers for the RAAF’s combat craft has played an important role in both
nets are configured for conversion to the elec- power, the E-7A AEW&C capability and the combat deployments to the Middle East and
tronic warfare type. Roberton says options are Airbus Defence & Space KC-30A tanker. in supporting deployments to Australia’s
neighbours in Southeast Asia.
“We’re yet to invent an air war security sce-
nario where we have too many tankers,” says
Roberton. “Australia is expeditionary by na-
ture being where we are on the globe, espe-
cially given the distances just to get up and
work with our allies in the near region or in
the Middle East. The KC-30A has been an ab-
solute fundamental enabler for us.”
Looking forward, Roberton feels that there
are several emergent technologies that will
impact air forces, namely the deployment and
increased capabilities of large unmanned air
vehicles. Of import will be the mix of manned
Commonwealth of Australia

and unmanned assets, and how these ele-

ments work together.
“There are rapidly developing technologies
in that area around the world. It’s safe to say
the air force in 2029 is not going to look ex-
In-flight refuelling enabled 13h Wedgetail missions against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria actly like it does in 2019.” n

32 | Flight International | 26 February-4 March 2019


The new generation H160 boasts a range
of unparalleled safety features. Maximized
pilot visibility, intuitive information display,
unrivalled pilot assistance with Helionix,®
and unmatched flight envelope protection.
What’s more, it carries up to 12 passengers
with a radius of action of 120 NM, while
burning 15% less fuel. With so many
impressive features, the H160 is a huge
step forward not just for its category,
but for the environment, too.

Safety. We make it fly.

Regional struggle

Australia’s ageing feeder fleet is characterised by types that

have been retired from use in other countries – but rough

market economics mean renewal will be slow in coming

ELLIS TAYLOR PERTH relatively low purchase prices, which helps Pel-Air unit on charter and freighter opera-
offset the types’ high operating costs. tions, according to Fleets Analyzer.

cross vast Australia’s far-flung re- Alliance managing director Scott McMillan The carrier has had to mitigate some obso-
gions, many people naturally rely tells FlightGlobal that his carrier has no plans lescence issues – for example, replacing its
on air transport to get around, and in the near future to replace its Fokker aircraft, Saab 340 cathode ray tube displays with newer
many of the services they fly rely although its five F50 turboprops could be re- liquid crystal units. That upgrade also allowed
on ageing turboprops and regional jets. In- tired if they are no longer needed. “We are for the integration of newer avionics and will
deed, Flight Fleets Analyzer shows that Aus- provisioned to operate circa 40 Fokker jets for keep the aircraft flying for many more years.
tralia’s 300-strong regional aircraft fleet has an the next 10 years,” says McMillan.
average age of just over 23 years. Key to that is a large number of spare air- MIXED OPERATIONS
Tellingly, the most-used aircraft is the craft amassed by the operator, the expertise of Not surprisingly, a key consideration guiding
Saab 340, with 61 in passenger service, its engineers, and heavy maintenance support Australian regional carriers’ fleet choices is
­followed closely by the Fokker 100, with 57. from KLM UK Engineering and Austrian the type of service they offer: scheduled
But while the country’s regional fleets are Technik Bratislava. It has also acquired major ­passenger or fly-in, fly-out resource charter.
showing their age, new aircraft have proved stocks of spare parts, spare engines and tool- Fly-in, fly-out contracts tend to be short
to be a hard sell. ing from other operators. term with low aircraft utilisation, which
Dutch-built Fokker jets illustrate the McMillan adds that it also has a strong rela- makes it hard to rationalise investment in
­challenging nature of Australia’s regional air tionship with Rolls-Royce, the manufacturer new aircraft.
service market. F100s and F70s have long of the Tay jet engines powering F70s and “If you are just relying on fly-in, fly-out
been out of service in other parts of the world, F100s. “Our relationship with Rolls-Royce is agreements of a few years with low utilisa-
but in Australia they are a mainstay for fly-in, absolutely pivotal to ensuring that these tion, it is difficult to justify new aircraft unless
fly-out charter operators such as Alliance ­aircraft go for the next 10 years,” he says. there is a specific requirement of the end
­Airlines, Qantas’s Network Aviation unit and Regional Express made a similar move some ­customer. That is what we have found,” says
Virgin Australia Regional Airlines. time ago, buying out the spares inventory of ATR’s sales general manager for the ASEAN
As European operators Austrian Airlines US carrier Pinnacle Airlines to support its fleet region, Christophe Potocki.
and KLM withdrew their fleets of F100s and of Saab 340s – comprising 54 B-models in its He notes, though, that some operators are
F70s, Australian carriers took advantage of passenger fleet and four A-models flown by its starting to run a mix of charter and sched-

34 | Flight International | 26 February-4 March 2019


props are in the midst of a cabin refurbish-

ment programme, which is seeing them fitted
with new cushioning, leather ­upholstery, tab-
let holders and floor coverings.
Older Dash 8s also remain a mainstay of
­carriers including Perth-based charter opera-
tors Maroomba Airlines and Skippers Avia-
tion, along with scheduled north Queensland
carrier Skytrans.
A number of operators of smaller aircraft,
such as Fairchild Metroliners, also face a lack
of options to replace their aircraft. In some
cases, operators have turned to Beechcraft
1900s, but with only nine in the c­ountry
against 36 Metroliners and both types out of

Rex relies on Saab 340s (left), while Virgin (above) has had mixed success with its ATR 72s production, there are few a­ lternatives around.

With Fokker jets set to be a fixture in
­Australia for many years to come, regional jet
manufacturers are more focused on the
major carriers for future sales. But while
signs are encouraging, orders still appear to
be some time off.
Last year, Qantas signalled that it is
­evaluating the Embraer E-Jet E2 series and
the A ­ irbus A220 for its future fleet. However,
it did not give a timeline for when it was
­looking to make a decision. The carrier is ex-
pected to focus its attention on choosing an
ultra-long-haul jet for its “Project Sunrise”
requirement this year.
Virgin may also be forced to reconsider the

paring down of its regional aircraft fleet due to

recent uncertainty over the fate of its
Fokker jets like this F70 remain a mainstay for fly-in, fly-out charter operator Alliance Airlines ­wet-lease partner, Alliance. In February, arch
rival Qantas made a surprise strike on Alli-
uled operations, blurring the “boundary To underscore the dynamics of Australia’s ance, taking up a 20% stake in the ­carrier and
between fly-in, fly-out and scheduled”
­ regional air market, the capacity gap created suggesting that it plans to apply for regulatory
services, making it more difficult to see
­ as Virgin cut its ATR fleet was largely filled by clearance to lift its stake and eventually take
where opportunities lie for aircraft manufac- Alliance’s Fokker jets, through a combination control.
turers in Australia. of wet-leases and codeshares. For its part, Alliance has said publicly that
For pure scheduled operators that fly mul- In theory, high utilisation and its effect on its board has not been approached by Qantas,
tiple segments each day, Potocki says ATR’s ageing aircraft could push Regional Express while obtaining competition clearance to
-600 series has strong economics, while its (also known as Rex) to replace its Saab 340 grow its stake looks to be a long road ahead.
cabin options can offer passengers a ­similar fleet – but a number of routes in its network Virgin has, understandably, expressed its
experience to a much larger aircraft. would not support the next best option, ­concerns, but has not signalled any plan to
Virgin has had ATRs in its fleet since 2011, which appears to be the 46-50 seat ATR 42. make a play for the independent operator.
initially operated by then-independent carrier For a carrier that averages loads of around McMillan is unfazed by the Qantas ap-
Skywest, predominantly on services along 61% on 34-seater aircraft, those additional proach, and says that even after the stake was
Australia’s east coast. Freight operator Toll seats could be more of a burden than a help. bought, Qantas had not held any discussions
also operates two ATR 42 Freighters, Fleets Potocki notes that the carrier “is doing with Alliance management, which is not
Analyzer data shows, while Hevilift flies two ­really well with its existing fleet”, but hopes changing its long-term plans.
ATR 42/72s on charter operations. that future growth could see it look to add Fellow charter jet operator Cobham has
But ATR’s success in selling its products ATR 42s. “I don’t feel that Rex would be look- also given no signal that it plans to move
to Virgin has been tempered in recent years, ing at replacing all of the Saabs on all of the away from its fleet of 16 BAe 146s and Avro
as the carrier reduced its ATR 72 fleet from routes. I don’t think it would make sense for RJs, despite its youngest one being almost 18
14 to eight as part of a cost-cutting exercise to them. If there are any routes where there is years old, according to Fleets Analyzer. It
arrest major losses. At the same time, Virgin growth, that could provide some better fit,” he points to the unique rough- and short-field ca-
dealt a major blow to Embraer, withdrawing says. pability of the type as an asset that is hard to
the last of its E190s last year. That has left Across the ramp, Bombardier has the match with more modern types.
Airnorth as the only E-Jet operator in the ­monopoly on the Qantas group’s turboprop So, while Australia’s regional aircraft fleet
country, with five E170s in service that fly fleet, with 31 Q400s, 16 Q300s and three continues to age, many of those aircraft are set
both charter and scheduled services. Q200s, Fleets Analyzer shows. Those turbo- to have much longer lives down under. ■ 26 February-4 March 2019 | Flight International | 35

Special report


Air taxis get

vertical lift
HAI Heli-Expo visitors will not fail to
notice that companies like Bell are
scrambling to turn visions of urban
mobility into hybrid-electric reality


D esigning a new aircraft is, relatively speak-

ing, a simple task. If you know the fine de-
tail of the market it is aimed at – who will fly it
and why – and the regulatory environment in
which it will operate, then you can develop
something that addresses those concerns.
And if you are experienced in the field,
then you will know how to translate those
ideas into a manufacturable, marketable prod-
uct. Of course, not every programme unfurls
without a hitch – and some go more awry
than others – but there is at least a known
quantity to the process.
But what does a manufacturer do – experi-
enced or otherwise – when attempting to de-
sign and build a product that is meant to serve
an entirely new market, to operate in an envi-
ronment that does not yet exist, for which
rules are not yet drawn up, using unproven
technologies and which, it is hoped, will be
built in such prodigious quantities that the ex-
perience drawn from other industries will be
of more relevance than anything learned from
But such are the potential rewards from the
nascent urban air mobility (UAM) market that
countless firms are attempting to unravel this
tangle of challenges. They include Silicon
Valley start-ups, offshoots of the automotive
world and, in Airbus and Boeing, two of aero-
space’s biggest names.
Also present in that list is Bell – formerly
Bell Helicopter – which will attend the 5-7
March HAI Heli-Expo event in Atlanta with a
major presentation of its UAM vision as a key
component in its bid to reshape itself as a
more agile, dynamic, and innovative player in
the vertical-lift world. Its bid to address the
market for urban air taxis is the Nexus, a de-
sign that bears a­ lmost no resemblance to any-
thing the ­airframer has previously produced.
Destined to take flight early next decade,
the concept features six tilting ducted fans,
driven by a hybrid-electric powertrain.
Nexus, which is intended to have a 2,720kg
(6,000lb) maximum take-off weight, will be
able to accommodate four paying passengers

and one pilot – although with advances in au- Potential for autonomous control means aircraft could carry up to five paying passengers

36 | Flight International | 26 February-4 March 2019

Urban mobility

serve those other considerations. “It does look like the new folks are thinking
While having just four frameworks seems more about technology and less about
manageable, each is made of up hundreds of ­certification and manufacturing. There are
different strands. For instance, Drennan de- some cases where it’s an ‘unknown un-
fines the operational framework as “the func- known’, but they are certainly getting ex-
tional requirements for on-demand UAM posed to some of it now as they develop their
network”. In practice that means thinking flight-test vehicles and are asking questions
about how it would be operated commercial- about how they might do this in the future,”
ly, the infrastructural challenges, air traffic says Drennan. “Manufacturing is not just
management, safety and acoustic require- about [capital expenditure], but the long-
ments and, c­ ritically, delivering “a solution term manufacturing and quality processes.”
that is affordable to most people”. As he points out, it is not sufficient to focus
Regulatory considerations cover some of solely on gaining an aircraft’s type certificate:
the same ground, but are being worked on to make any programme a success, a manufac-
with NASA, the US Federal Aviation Ad- turer also requires a production certificate and
ministration and other rule-makers to help continued airworthiness approval. “Of course
define an integrated approach across the ve- we have [experience of] all three of those
hicle, as well as the operational and air traf- things, but it’s something that others should
fic management requirements. In addition, be thinking about as well,” he says.
the certification authorities have been regu- For all that Bell is looking to the future and
larly consulted during the design process, seeking to tap into experience from outside
including encouraging their attendance at the industry, Team Nexus – the programme’s
review meetings “so that we can all see what core suppliers – are traditional aerospace
the challenges are together”. companies through and through.
Ultimately the regulatory framework is
driven by the need to “clear paths to compli- PROVIDING POWER
ance and [gain] permission to operate for Power will be delivered by a Safran-built hy-
urban air mobility concepts”, says Drennan. brid-electric system – a gas turbine engine
As for manufacturing, Bell needs to devel- coupled to a generator. Excess power will be
op “dependable and repeatable fabrication stored in a battery pack from EP Systems.
and assembly processes”, he says. With Moog will supply the all-electric actuators for
­quality and safety as baseline requirements, the control surfaces, while Thales will devel-
Drennan says, a great deal of focus within the op the flight-control computer and avionics
manufacturing stream is instead on “cost, are to be delivered by Garmin.
weight and environmental impact”. Traditional as they may be, the applications
Nexus features six tilting
Manufacturing on the scale envisaged is a are in many cases an entirely new direction
ducted fans driven by a
puzzle for any traditional airframer like Bell, for the firms involved.
hybrid-electric powertrain
which is used to turning out at most hun- Take Safran, for example: it has extensive

dreds of a particular aircraft in a year. If expertise making small gas turbines, both in
tonomous flight technology, Bell is already UAM takes off as forecast, then Bell and oth- its helicopter e­ ngines business – the former
eyeing the 25% efficiency gain that eliminat- ers will be required to build thousands of ve- Turbomeca – and the Safran Power Units op-
ing the crew would deliver to operators. hicles annually. eration. Although it has not previously pro-
Nexus, at least according to Bell’s market- “At that different scale we need to start duced a hybrid-electric architecture, even
ing material, will be “creating a new era of thinking less like a [traditional] manufacturer, prior to the announcement of the selection
flight” and “helping to solve real-world chal- more like an automobile manufacturer. It’s not by Bell, Safran built and ran a ground-test
lenges now and in the future”. quite all the way there – but the methodolo- version of such a system. That, says Kyle
But to achieve that vision, Bell has identi- gies in automotive look to be a lot more help- Heironimus, Bell’s propulsion lead for
fied the importance of thinking beyond the ful,” says Drennan. Nexus, is a “testament” to its partner’s belief
air vehicle itself. As Scott Drennan, the com- That means, he says, fewer traditional, in the technology.
pany’s vice-president of innovation, puts it, high-temperature composites that would re- “The fact that Safran already has a cycle of
the first challenge in guiding the design of the quire a “whole city of autoclaves and presses learning under their belt with this type of
aircraft is to “define [the] operational require- and ovens” to meet the output requirements. ­system clearly means that, number one, they
ments it must meet, as well as the transport Instead, these would be used selectively – are the perfect partner for Bell. But, two, they
network it will operate within.” “where we need to have those materials for believe this [system] is going to be the future
weight or certification purposes” – with other in VTOL markets.”
KEY PILLARS structures formed via out-of-autoclave pro- As with anyone involved in the
Bell has defined four key pillars – “integrated cesses, which “will start to unlock the rates ­programme, there has to be a belief that “we
frameworks”, it calls them – that have driven we are talking about”. can make this happen and this will come
the vehicle’s configuration: operational, regu- Technology, therefore, is not the end itself, true”, he says.
latory, manufacturing, and technological, but a means to an end; it needs to support one The EP Systems-supplied batteries are also
with the latter very much subordinate to and of the other three frameworks. vital to the project; as Heironimus puts it, they
informed by the other three. In other words, Although Bell’s approach is more or less are an “enabler” for the rest of the propulsion
Bell has no plans to use technology for tech- mirrored by its “more traditional friends”, system. “We could create a system with no
nology’s sake; instead it must be adapted to Drennan is not sure that applies universally. storage – but to get the safety and redundancy ❯❯ 26 February-4 March 2019 | Flight International | 37

Special report

we would have to have multiple turbines and Drennan points out that if an operator can in- PROGRAMME

generators – maybe even more than two in crease payload by 25% through removing a
some instances.” pilot, then it “becomes significant to take
That would quickly become both complex them out of there and stop them being a cost

at full tilt
and heavy – two things to be avoided at all on the system”.
costs. Instead, the use of the battery allows the In the short term, Bell is researching what
size of the turbine and generator to be opti- control interfaces and aircraft responses will
mised for the mission, cutting weight, cost be required for Nexus by current and future
and complexity. pilots. That includes part of its exhibit at the Leonardo Helicopters is leveraging
But as Heironimus notes, the configuration Heli-Expo event, which will present visitors its long experience developing the
is not yet a “home run” for VTOL applica- to the stand with a number of potential con- AW609 – and EU funding – to
tions, as “until very recently” energy storage trol options.
and battery technology, notably weight, were The aim, as company test pilot Jim Gibson create a greener, larger civil tiltrotor
ill suited to the mission. On top of that, VTOL puts it, is to eventually design a flight-con-
aircraft require lots of both power – for take- trol system that “allows individuals with DOMINIC PERRY LONDON
off and to hover – and energy for the cruise limited training to safely and efficiently
phase. Traditionally, batteries were able to
provide one or the other, not both. “Only very
recently are we getting into a place where bat-
­operate urban air vehicles”. A lower stand-
ard of entry for prospective pilots – or “safety
officers” as Drennan refers to them – will be
O ne might think that given the decades
so far required to bring its AW609 to
market that Leonardo Helicopters would shy
teries are reaching both the power and energy key to ensure there are, initially at least, away from developing another tiltrotor
densities necessary to enable this mission,” ­sufficient crew for the thousands of UAM ­aircraft. But despite still not having gained
says Heironimus. envisaged by Bell and others. certification for the AW609 – that milestone
Cells, currently using a lithium-ion chemis- And Gibson believes that aviation regula- is due in 2019, more than 20 years since the
try, have been carefully selected for the mis- tors are aligned with that view. “I think they programme began – the Italian airframer is
sion that “met all of our requirements at a mini- understand that something has to change,” he already working on its successor, called the
mum weight” and then integrated into a pack says. “They understand the economics of Next-Gen Civil Tiltrotor (NGCTR).
with a battery management system for safety. what it takes to become a pilot today. That’s Leonardo is seeking to develop a family of
not going to work in a situation where you ­aircraft that would make their commercial
SAFETY FIRST need 2,000, 3,000 or 4,000 more pilots.” debut in the 2030-2035 timeframe. But first,
While Heironimus will not be drawn on the There may be hundreds of other designs the company will build and fly a technology
specifics of the system, citing supplier confi- competing in the UAM space, but Drennan demonstrator aircraft under the EU’s Clean
dentiality, the design is such “that even if believes this will only help spur Bell on. “I try Sky 2 effort in its Fast Rotorcraft workstream.
there were a failure of any single cell… that to be really optimistic about people who work
would not cause any critical failure of the air- on difficult problems like this. I always ad- PERFORMANCE CRITERIA
craft itself”. The design attempts to both pre- mire people getting involved. That helps me Leveraging funding from both the EU and
vent a thermal runaway of a cell, and if one stay honest about our own position – you Leonardo’s own research and development
does occur, ensure that it does not then affect can’t be too conceited or arrogant,” he says. investment, the project works on two levels.
the safety of the aircraft. “But I do think there’s going to be a cooling Firstly, there are a set of performance criteria
“It’s a pretty holistic approach that you down. You will see it as people get closer to that the NGCTR must meet: measured
have to take to assure aircraft safety, not just those [operational, regulatory and manufactur- against a conventional AW139 helicopter, it
the pack itself,” he says. ing] frameworks. Once they understand the should produce 50% less carbon dioxide,
The hybrid architecture should enable an capital investment and process rigour required 14% less nitrogen oxides and noise should
additional degree of safety, says Drennan, al- for manufacturing, we will start to see folks be cut by 30%.
lowing the Nexus to perform a “controlled combine together with people like ourselves or Secondly, the funding should spur
descent to the ground under power” should go on to different skills and missions.” industrial and productivity advances and
the engine fail. In addition, the simplicity of Those approaching the problem of UAM will allow Leonardo and its partners to
the powertrain, which eliminates gearboxes from a non-aviation standpoint can some- ­evaluate and mature – to technology readi-
and transmission shafts in favour of direct- times be confounded by the industry’s regula- ness level 6 – a number of technologies cru-
drive electric motors, should bring additional tions, he says. There are, “some hugely cial to any future programme. These include
benefits through better reliability and reduced ­accomplished software folks” already work- composite wings, tilting proprotors with
weight and maintenance costs. ing in autonomous ground transport applica- fixed nacelles, a V-tail and a distributed
One intriguing aspect of Bell’s proposal is tions who are often interested in working flight control system.
the acknowledgement that pilots – or at least with Bell. “Then we sit them down and ex- However, two key elements are not new
highly trained aviators – may not be required plain to them [aviation-specific regulations]. on the aircraft: the fuselage and the engines.
for the Nexus’s operation. “We may find out They see them as a barrier.” For power, 2,000shp (1,490kW) GE Aviation
that as we go into service, people want to look Some also think that simply getting the ve- CT7s have been selected, in part for their
left and see somebody with them for the initial hicle flying is “the end-game” itself. “But “scalability”, says programme manager
flights, depending on who you are or how you have to build in redundancy and you ­Andrea Artioli.
comfortable you feel with autonomy,” says have to build structures that can last for mul- For the fuselage, Leonardo will use a stand-
Drennan. “But there might be a lot of folks, or tiple flights.” ard AW609 structure, seeing little benefit in
even certain markets, that adopt it more quick- But for all that, Drennan is still keen to developing an all-new part when the size of
ly from just an autonomous state off the bat.” stress that Bell remains open to non-aviation an eventual production aircraft may vary.
However, economic considerations are experience: “Our approach doesn’t mean we “There is no interest [in the fuselage] as an in-
likely to drive the advance of autonomy: are right on everything,” he says. ■ novation item,” says Artioli.

38 | Flight International | 26 February-4 March 2019

Civil tiltrotors

Leonardo Helicopters
NGCTR is expected to make its commercial debut in the 2030-2035 timeframe, and will be preceded by a technology demonstrator

Given the scalability of the design, Leonar- some experience in this field, having built a and collective levers. This will be fitted with
do could opt for an interior layout in the similar structure for the Bell V-280 military “active inceptors” to provide tactile feedback
18-25 passenger range, he says. “The idea is tiltrotor demonstrator. to pilots. “That is the kind of improvement pi-
that it is scalable to a number of passengers Windtunnel testing of the design will take lots are chasing for,” says Artioli.
which is quite large.” Comparatively, the place this year, says Artioli. The V-tail config- Leonardo has, like other rotorcraft manu-
AW609 can accommodate a maximum of uration has been preferred, he says, for aero- facturers, significant in-house expertise in the
nine people, plus two crew. dynamic efficiency and scalability – by com- development of transmission components.
Leonardo began the preliminary design re- parison, the AW609 uses a more traditional However, for the NGCTR effort, it will collab-
view for the NGCTR in December 2018 and T-tail shape. A separate group of companies is orate with Milan technical university to incor-
expects the process to close in the first half of developing the aircraft’s wing and control porate ALM-built parts.
this year. A critical design review is due in ­surfaces under the T-Wing umbrella, led by Although the technology demonstrator
2020, followed by final assembly in 2022 and Italian aerospace research institute CIRA. will not receive certification, it still has to be
first flight in 2023. Meanwhile, Milan’s technical university is declared safe to fly by European regulators,
The flight-test phase for the technology heading a project to investigate the use of notes Artioli.
demonstrator will last for “a couple of years” components produced by additive layer man- Leonardo has yet to launch any future
as it “opens the envelope in helicopter and ufacturing (ALM) in the NGCTR. tiltrotor programme, but Artioli is adamant
aircraft modes”, says Artioli. “We want to ex- Leonardo will be responsible for the trans- that the company remains fully committed
plore and validate all our innovations.” mission, including the tilting proprotors, and to the architecture.
The nature of the EU-backed programme, the flight-control system. This crucial element “In five or 10 years’ time, we want to be
which aims to spread work – and therefore of the design will use a distributed solution, there with the next-generation tiltrotor
innovation – across the bloc, is such that a which sees flight-control computers located ­following the AW609.”
number of partners have been recruited for near control surface actuators, rather than via But given that Bell, its tiltrotor rival – and
the NGCTR effort. These include Fokker, a central system. former partner on the AW609 – could already
which heads the Lift consortium that will In addition, the full fly-by-wire aircraft will be building its first production V-280 by that
design and develop the type’s thermoplastic feature a joystick-type control interface, re- point, a response is vital if Europe is not to fall
V-tail. GKN, which owns Fokker, already has placing the traditional conventional cyclic behind the USA in the sector. ■ 26 February-4 March 2019 | Flight International | 39

Special report

perior economics of their helicopters for the

Well worth majority of offshore missions would see them

gain significant market share.
There has been some evidence of super-me-

the weight
dium growth – operators such as Babcock,
CHC, Era and NHV have all put helicopters in
this class into offshore service – but in a market
where there is already low-cost capacity avail-
Sikorsky is consolidating the S-92’s able and capital expenditure is being kept to a
position as the helicopter of choice minimum, expansion of that fleet has been
for the oil and gas market, seeing off gradual. Both the AW189 and H175 have strug-
gled to reach maturity in a “low-demand envi-
smaller, less-expensive alternatives ronment”, according to Flight Ascend Consul-
tancy, despite being cheaper to acquire and
DOMINIC PERRY LONDON with lower direct operating costs than the S-92.
Sikorsky, which does not have a super-me-

O ne unheralded aspect of the crisis in the

market for offshore helicopter transpor-
tation supporting the oil and gas market is the
dium helicopter in its line-up, takes a differ-
ent view, of course. The S-92 is perceived as
the ideal platform for long-distance opera-
rise – by default, some would argue – of the tions, where range with a 30min fuel reserve
Sikorsky S-92 to become the heavy rotorcraft is 480nm (855km). But when the manufactur-
of choice in the West. er analysed flight-plan data, it found that over
By default, because the absence of the half of the missions carried out with the heli-
­Airbus Helicopters H225, and slow uptake of copter were at ranges of less than 150nm.
other models has limited the choice for opera- “Competitors have tried to convey that su-
tors. It is also critical to note that the S-92’s po- per-medium-size helicopters can do 80% of
sition has not translated into new orders; idled the missions of an S-92… but a medium can
or underutilised assets have served to pick up do 80% of the missions of a super-medium –
slack in the market. there is a very narrow band where the super-
Nonetheless, Sikorsky’s operating statistics medium is more efficient than a medium or a
are heading in the right direction: since 2016, heavy,” argues Martin.
annual flight hours have grown. Utilisation The message from the market, he says, is
rates last year for the offshore fleet hovered at that “we don’t need a third weight class of air-
around 60% – and a little under 12% of the craft. With the S-92 you have an aircraft that
S-92 is perceived
200-strong oil and gas fleet was idled in 2018. has so much utility that is applicable across
to be ideal for
The airframer does acknowledge that it has mission profiles, whether 100nm offshore or
derived some benefit from the H225’s high- 300nm, the S-92 is a great aircraft to do that
profile woes following a fatal accident in mission.”
April 2016. That saw the rival heavy-twin
grounded for over a year in some jurisdic-
tions, as well as suffering a reputational hit in
the oil and gas community.

But David Martin, vice-president oil and gas
at Sikorsky, believes that the majority of the
impact was felt in the early stages of the
H225’s grounding. “That was a factor maybe
two years ago and it had a significant impact
on Sikorsky when the S-92 had to pick up that
work overnight,” he says.
“But through 2017 and 2018 demand stabi-
lised, and we are really in a state of balance
now where it is more incremental workload
being picked up as oil companies look to do a
bit more project work.”
Martin also argues that the S-92’s perfor-
mance in tenders last year, notably in Brazil
and Mexico, when facing bids from smaller
super-medium-class helicopters, is a testa-
Leonardo Helicopters

ment to the platform’s desirability. Providers

of super-mediums, such as Airbus Helicop-
ters with the H175 and Leonardo Helicopters
with its AW189, have long argued that the su- Despite attractive economics, AW189 has struggled in a “low demand environment”

40 | Flight International | 26 February-4 March 2019

Offshore transport

However, the reality is slightly more nu- notes Martin, and would offer a performance ready for civil applications, largely because of
anced. Thanks to a surfeit of capacity on the boost in hot conditions over the current CT7- passenger reservations. “We are a little way
market, values and lease rates for S-92s have 8A turboshafts. away from an environment where any of us is
reduced, encouraging greater uptake of the But he stresses that Sikorsky’s focus is on going to get into an aircraft without anyone up
aircraft. “The type is heading towards becom- three “pillars” of speed, automation and intel- front, but that’s certainly the type of technolo-
ing cost-competitive with the super-medium ligence. “We are investing in each of those,” gy we are actively painting a path to [in] a
market and, as such, may find opportunities says Martin. “You will see Sikorsky bring to phased approach into the cockpit.”
for stabilisation and recovery [of values] in market packages of enhancements to our ex- In addition, the airframer is looking to
2019,” says Flight Ascend Consultancy. It isting civil product line that will deliver value standardise configurations on the S-92, easing
gives the average half-life value for an S-92 as for our customers”, adding that all the up- the transfer of helicopters between different
$18 million, but notes that most idled equip- grades will be retrofittable. operating locations. “There is lots we can do
ment or helicopters held for sale or facing An increased use of automation is one area as an OEM to standardise configurations. It
lease return would be below that figure. of emphasis, he says, building on the features makes aircraft more mobile around the world
introduced in 2015 with Sikorsky’s Rig Ap- – they can be moved to where the demand is,”
FUTURE ENHANCEMENTS proach system. This provides a fully coupled says Martin. “The name of the game in the fu-
Despite its market position, Sikorsky is not and automated approach to offshore plat- ture is efficiency” for the end-user and a
staying still. Although light on detail at pre- forms, significantly reducing pilot workload “more stable asset class”.
sent, Martin hints that there are performance during a critical flight phase. Future develop- Although Martin acknowledges that there
improvements on the way for the S-92, likely ments will see the helicopter able to “perform have been no new orders for offshore-config-
to be revealed at Heli-Expo. The most obvious more of the tactical operations… perhaps ured S-92s in recent years, he sees that as
of these is new engines, with the manufactur- faster or more efficiently than a pilot can”, being of benefit to the industry. “There’s a
er having previously identified the -8A6 vari- says Martin. positive message in that – it means that OEMs
ant of the GE Aviation CT7 powerplant as the Although Sikorsky has been researching are not stuffing the channel for the sake of or-
likely upgrade. That engine already has US fully autonomous operations for the US mili- ders to push aircraft out into the fleet that
Federal Aviation Administration approval, tary, he cautions that technology is not yet aren’t needed.” ■ 26 February-4 March 2019 | Flight International | 41


Flight through the

years… from 1909
As Flight International celebrates its 110th anniversary, we mark this milestone with a series
highlighting the evolution of the world’s “first aero weekly” through our 11 decades in print


hen our first issue of Flight was
published 110 years ago on 2
January 1909, the objective was
to report on the nascent indus-
try now called “aerospace”.
Our mission statement back in our first dec-
ade was to be “devoted to the interests, prac-
tice and progress of aerial locomotion and
transport”. Today’s Flight International contin- Christopher Flook. “We will continue to draw
ues on that original mission, having followed on the resources of the wider group, including
the industry through its incredible journey the extensive data sets.
over the last 11 decades. “The publishing and conferences brands can
And as our parent company rebrands under now follow more closely than ever the interests
the Cirium name to focus on delivering indus- of our readers and advertisers, without being
try-leading data and analytics for the aviation ­constantly drawn back to what is in the wider
and air-travel industries, we are delighted to interests of Cirium,” Flook says.
unveil a refresh inside and out. As we turn Back in 1909, the creation of Flight as the
110, we are welcoming back a more familiar “first aero weekly in the World” marked the cul-
look which we believe reflects Flight’s core mination of efforts by a weekly motor magazine
values and principles as the world’s leading – The Automotor Journal – to track the slowly
aviation publication. evolving aviation sector. Flight was launched as JTC Moore-Brabazon pictured on first cover
To celebrate our big birthday, @FlightGlobal a stand-alone weekly at the beginning of 1909,
is tweeting 110 of our favourite covers over the not long after UK aviation pioneer Alliott Flight was launched in January
years with the hashtag #Flight110. ­Verdon (AV) Roe had taken his first hops and
“The FlightGlobal name remains as a divi- the American Samuel F Cody became the first 1909 as a weekly spin-off of
sion of Cirium, with responsibility for publish- person in the UK to fly when he took to the air at
ing and conferences,” says chief executive Farnborough in October 1908. The Automotor Journal

1910 1911 1912 1913 1914

42 | Flight International | 26 February-4 March 2019


Our first edition reported the exciting news entire independence, and to render our pages
that “England” could now boast that two of its
citizens had taken to the air, with the headline:
as interesting, concise and accurately instruc-
tive as lies within our powers…”
Trip down memory lane
“A second Englishman flies”, following British He emphasised that our readers would “find to magazine’s early HQ
aviation pioneer Mr JTC Moore-Brabazon on his that simple language and clear explanations
Voisin biplane in France the previous month. are and will remain a feature of our articles” – Flight magazine was originally set up in
As Flight magazine emerged, our founder an intent that continues to this day. ­offices at the lower end of St Martin’s Lane in
and original editor Stanley Spooner laid out Under Spooner’s leadership the pages of central London, but by 1917 it had relocated
the magazine’s principles, which remain valid Flight brought our readers all the exciting news to No 36, Great Queen Street off Kingsway.
to this day: “It is… our firm determination to of the evolving aviation industry, but within This would be our home for two decades.
establish the same lofty traditions for Flight five years we found ourselves reporting on the Located directly opposite the grand
that have ever guided the editorial pen of The dramatic political developments that would Freemasons Hall, Flight’s editorial team
Automotor Journal in the automobile sphere, lead to the Great War. worked from this four-storey building until
our chief aims and objects being ever to throw On the eve of war breaking out, our cover of 1934, when we moved to Dorset House in
our full weight on the side of all that seems to the 31 July 1914 edition speculated on what the Stamford Street.
us to make for the highest permanent good of ensuring hostilities could have for aviation: The building in Great Queen Street still
the aeronautic industry, to pursue a policy of “If this catastrophe of war should be let stands today – a short walk from Cirium’s
loose, what shape will it take initially, and ­current home in High Holborn – and presents
what bearing will the airfleets of the nations a nostalgic reminder of the magazine’s
have on the ultimate results? Almost beyond ­beginnings a century ago.
doubt the first move will be made by aircraft,
but who can say what their work will be?
26 February-4 March 2019 I flightglobal com

“Naturally, reconnaissance will be the first

CUTAWAY and principal object, but it can hardly be imag-
Better ined that they will be allowed to carry it out
by design without interruption from hostile air fleets.”
Why Aero Vodochody’s new
L-39NG is heading for success
The article went on: “Will it be found that
aircraft after all are comparatively valueless to
their armies because of the impossibility to
collect information of vital consequence be-
cause of the enemy’s craft?”
History, of course, will inform us that far
from being “valueless”, the use of aircraft
would in fact play a crucial role in the First
World War, as well as many conflicts thereaf-
ter. Appropriately our edition published on 14

Max Kingsley-Jones/FlightGlobal
November 1918, following the cessation of
ISSN 0 0 1 5 - 3 7 1 0
£3.90 Bye, BMI Down wonder
hostilities, carried on its front page King
George V’s “message to the Royal Air Force”,
0 9
As another UK regional Royal Australian Air Force
operator goes under, what transformation gathers pace
9 770015 371310
prompted carrier’s demise? 16 with F-35 introduction 30

paying homage to the recently created service:

Classic designs inspired milestone refresh “The birth of the Royal Air Force, with its
wonderful expansion and development, will Flight was edited in this building until 1934
“Devoted to the interests, ever remain one of the most remarkable
achievements of the Great War.”
practice and progress of aerial This retrospective is the first in a series that A century of Flight magazine’s issues can be
will reflect on each of Flight’s decades through searched online in our digital archive at:
locomotion and transport” to the end of the year. Next month: the 1920s. n

1915 1916 1917 1918 1919 26 February-4 March 2019 | Flight International | 43

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From yuckspeak to tales of yore, send your offcuts to

Heading for

Max Kingsley-Jones/FlightGlobal
the chop A new dominion
The greatest weakness of
Airbus heartlessly chose the Empire is the distance
Valentine’s Day to ditch its between Mother
A380, but the airframer has Country and the
previous form when it comes to Dominions. Now
unveiling big strategic decisions we have in the
on significant dates. aeroplane a means of travel
It officially revealed its plans capable of outstripping the
to develop the A330neo on 14 steamship in even greater
July 2014 – the national day of Did British Airways inadvertently invert the Union Flag proportion than the latter
France, and the 225th on the retro-liveried BOAC jumbo unveiled on 18 outstrips the sailing-ship.
anniversary of the storming of February? The versions on either side of the cockpit are
the Bastille, a flashpoint of the different, judging by the tell-tale thickness of the white Shark repellent
French Revolution. diagonal stripes. Our resident protocol expert assures Airmen who have to bail out
Even though that particular us, however, that Her Majesty’s airline has committed no over the Pacific have another
announcement fell during the flying colours faux pas. The image on the port side is deadly enemy to
Farnborough – rather than the “correct”, assuming the flagpole on the left. The contend with –
Paris – air show, that didn’t stop starboard version is also faultless, as it has the mast on the man-eating
a revolutionary ripple through the right, as if the viewer is looking through the aircraft. shark. As
the assembled journalists when protection they now carry a
it became apparent that the special chemical sewn into
A330neo would effectively Enders has a point about buying European”, stating: “To their belts which combines
replace the slow-selling smallest crystal balls sometimes being a be perfectly honest, it would be with sea water to form a wall
version of the A350. bit foggy. However, what does quite nice if BA were to buy of liquid which the shark
“It’s Bastille Day,” noted one, that say about how much some A380s as well, because it finds thoroughly obnoxious.
grimly. “And the -800 is going to credence we should give the would support British aerospace
the guillotine!” airframer’s ­­20-year commercial and it would support Europe.” Towards Tornado
aircraft forecast, which – like One of these two airlines A meeting to decide the
Boeing’s version – claims to today operates a dozen A380s. final design of the European
Four-sight? inform us with pinpoint The other finally officially multi-role
Meanwhile, Airbus’s outgoing accuracy how many airliners cancelled its superjumbo combat aircraft is
chief Tom Enders conceded on will be needed in a certain commitment last year, after it due to be held in
the day that the A380 segment two decades from now? had languished on Airbus’s London today.
programme was cancelled that, backlog for 17 years. Representatives from the
rather than being ahead of its MRCA member countries
time, the world’s largest airliner Lost in space are expected to reach
might in fact have arrived 10 The death notice of the A380 Name that plane agreement on the
years too late, with the glory gave us aviation journalists an Finally, Total Aviation Persons powerplant to be used, for
days of the four-engine jumbo opportunity to haul from the among us can, of course, tell some time now the only
already on the wane by the turn archives some of the hyperbolic immediately from this (since major source of dissension.
of the century. promises that were made about deleted) Virgin Group tweet that
In fact, barely had the A380 the superjumbo in the early the aircraft in the picture is not Drugs and alcohol
taken to the skies when 2000s, when “cruise liner in the actually a Boeing 747. The US may cut mandated
Toulouse was preparing to sky” concepts were floating There is one subtle clue. See drug testing of transportation
cancel production of its other around, and airline chiefs were if you can spot it. workers,
thirsty quadjet, the A340. given free rein to wonder what including airline
When the superjumbo was they could do with all that room. pilots, by half, but
launched in December 2000, Who remembers the cheeky it is imposing
“we did not know what the claim by Virgin Atlantic alcohol-abuse testing for the
world would be like in 2010 or chairman Sir Richard Branson same staff. The US airline
2020”, Enders admitted. that – with casinos and private commission recommends
double beds on board the six that the random drug testing
A380s his airline had ordered – rate be established at 25%.
passengers would have “two
chances to get lucky”? 100-YEAR ARCHIVE
The bearded billionaire also Every issue of Flight

could not help having a dig at from 1909 onwards

old foe and then-Boeing 747 can be viewed online at
loyalist British Airways for
Future of air travel… circa 2000 “buying American, rather than The ladder may be hiding… 26 February-4 March 2019 | Flight International | 45



Ariane 6 needs major rethink

Since the breakthroughs by SpaceX and Blue Origin in the
We welcome your letters on any
aspect of the aerospace industry.
fields of reusable rocketry, the European Space Agency’s desire
Please write to: to plough on with the expendable ballistic missile Ariane 6 is a
The Editor, Flight International, concern, as the rocket will be obsolete before it even flies.

Quadrant House, The Quadrant, Could the core stages of the Ariane 5 be used as a basis for a
Sutton, Surrey, SM2 5AS, UK vertical take-off/horizontal landing space plane? Stretched to Superjumbo still a crowd-pleaser
Or email: allow for more fuel, and fitted with extra, modified Vulcain engines, this would bring down the cost of space access. Two towards lighter, more fuel effi-
The opinions on this page do not canard-winged stages mounted belly-to-belly with the boost- cient widebodies was always
necessarily represent those of the editor.
Letters without a full postal address sup-
er could be flown back after sending the upper stage to orbit. going to be hard to pull off.
plied may not be published. Letters may Upper stages for certain tasks, such as tanker, space station I know there will be many
also be published on module delivery and satellite deployment, as well as space people in Airbus who have put
and must be no longer than 250 words. tourism and space station resupply, could be built. their life and soul into making
Edward Philpott the A380 a success who will be
Neston, Cheshire, UK even more devastated than pas-
A380: beaten sengers like me that things have
by economics European aerospace industry has most comfortable and quietest of
not worked out.
Luckily, the A380 will not
I must admit to hearing with a been a pioneer when it comes to aircraft. Perhaps in an age of disappear from our skies just yet.
heavy heart the news that Airbus technology, but has not been able lower fuel prices, more airlines I look forward to flying on this
is to cancel the A380 (Flight to build a sufficient business case may have been convinced. marvel of engineering for many
International, 19-25 February). to make it work. However, designing a four- years to come.
I suppose it is another exam- I have flown on the A380 engined airliner at a time when John Biddlecombe
ple, like Concorde, where the several times, and found it the the industry seemed to be moving Worthing, West Sussex, UK

Let your recruitment drive take flight

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Start attracting the right talent. Speak to the experienced Flight Jobs team about our bespoke
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46 | Flight International | 26 February-4 March 2019



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Building up business buying power

Richard Tilghman is chief operating officer for AVIAA, a start-up that streamlines purchasing for private
aircraft operations using a collective model that saves its members money on products and services

How did you get into aviation? will have massive upside for the
I cut my teeth in New York’s Sili- community. Businesses need
con Alley in the late 1990s, predictability and solid forecast-
working for an array of agencies, ing to be successful, and that’s
incubators, and consultancies. simply not possible in an opaque
Then I joined PayPal, where I environment where projections
worked for a few years before are too often month to month.
founding a consumer data start- What are you working on at the
up. I have worked with every moment?
­industry you can imagine, from My big priorities are growing our
financial services to government customer success team, evolving
to sports. I’ve been friends with our business processes, growing
Gillian Hayes (AVIAA’s chief ex- our data infrastructure, and de-
ecutive) for about a decade and livering our product roadmap.
when she founded the Universi- On the latter, we’re finishing our
ty of California ­Irvine’s master of analytics platform, which will be

human-­computer interaction a big part of many of the exciting
and design programme, I became Sector has witnessed rapid change in software use, says Tilghman services we plan to deliver for
a volunteer mentor at its incep- members and suppliers in 2019,
tion. Gillian reached out about an array of people and tasks to ad hoc meetings. Everyone wears so that’s a huge priority.
AVIAA and the rest is history. successfully deliver them. Avia- a lot of hats. I might go from a Where do you see yourself in five
What is AVIAA? tion is similar, with a host of peo- meeting with executives for a years?
AVIAA is the only global group ple beyond the cockpit enabling supplier partnership to cleaning Five years is a long time, and I’ve
purchasing organisation (GPO) every flight. The interdependency up member data, then unwinding found there are too many varia-
in business aviation that works and systemic collaboration of the problems with our phone system. bles to project things out that far.
across all areas of fleet purchas- industries are similar. I also think How far can AVIAA grow? My hope is that in the next two
ing. It helps its member aircraft both require flexibility and adapt- The insularity of business avia- years we will have recruited
owners and operators increase ability. In aviation, all sorts of tion delayed some data and tech- 2,000-plus members, selected a
their buying power to secure the things can go wrong, from the air- nology ideas that have trans- robust network of preferred sup-
best value for key operational craft to regulatory problems. In IT, formed other industries over the pliers and have a comprehensive
services such as fuel, insurance, you start with a plan, but unex- past decade – at least in terms of suite of services and products to
maintenance and ground han- pected business needs, data is- spending and procurement. support our business, members,
dling. As well as helping private sues, and technology challenges However, the past few years have and suppliers. My hope for me
jet owners and operators to better surface all the time. If you can’t seen accelerating changes in soft- personally is that I find a way to
compete with larger companies adapt or bootstrap, you aren’t ware as a service, big data, and get more than 5h sleep a night. n
who already benefit from econo- going to succeed in either field. application programming inter- Looking for a job in aerospace?
mies of scale, the GPO model re- What is a typical working week? faces. If you compare commer- Check out our listings online at
wards AVIAA’s preferred suppli- My role involves overseeing and cial aviation 10 years ago – when
ers, who benefit with committed working with our supply chain, airlines were struggling and had
volume and reduced friction customer success, engineering, little insight into costs – with If you would like to feature in
costs in service delivery. marketing, and operations teams. what we see today, you get a Working Week, or you know
Are IT and aviation similar? Each requires an investment of sense of the scale of the impact. someone who would, email
Each is deceptively complex. time, with regular team meetings, AVIAA’s focus on streamlining your pitch to kate.sarsfield@
Technology projects can seem collaborative problem solving, spending through transparency,
straightforward, but they require high-burn delivery priorities and intelligence, and reduced friction 26 February-4 March 2019 | Flight International | 55

an event by