A Start-Up’s Hiccups: Air Costa cancels 22 flights

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

AC_E190_inflight

Air Costa has cancelled a significant number of flights listed in its approved Summer Schedule. As a startup airline with a different model, it faces issues on many fronts: one of which is an insufficient number of sufficiently qualified pilots to fly its four airplanes: two Embraer E170s and two Embraer E190s.

The sectors affected are those that are operated by its smaller Embraer E170 aircraft-with a seating capacity of 67 each: Vijayawada <-> Hyderabad, Chennai <-> Madurai, Chennai <-> Vijayawada, Vijayawada <-> Vishakhapatnam, Chennai <-> Coimbatore, Coimbatore <-> Bangalore, Bangalore <-> Vijayawada, Bangalore <-> Hyderabad, and some of the Bangalore <-> Chennai and Hyderabad <-> Chennai flights.

The Embraer E170s fly the shorter, thinner southern routes, while the E190s fly the longer, and thicker routes northbound out of the southern region, to Ahmedabad and Jaipur, connecting these cities to Hyderabad, Bangalore, and Chennai. The E190s also fly between Chennai <->Hyderabad, and Chennai <-> Bangalore, and connect Vishakhapatnam to Bangalore and Hyderabad.

The E170s account for 22 flights a day, or 55% of the airline’s daily flights.

The airline is tackling the situation by phone-calling each and every affected customer, explaining the situation and offering a full refund, contrasting a situation in late 2011 when the DGCA had pulled up IndiGo, SpiceJet, and the then-operational Kingfisher Airlines for having allegedly cancelled flights without informing passengers. Although the airline seems to maintain a low key when it comes to publicity, this act seems to highlight the airline’s customer focus: something no airline can afford to ignore, especially at the start-up phase of an airline.

Customer focus and on time performance are key factors for many passengers when choosing between airlines that offer matching fares.

Air Costa’s commercial flight operations commenced on 14th October 2013, exactly 6 months ago. The start-up phase, and the fact that the airline is the only operator of the Embraer E170/E190 airplanes in India, makes this a very challenging period for the airline.

The Reason: Pilot Shortage

The airline presently has 22 pilots qualified to fly on the E170/E190 airplanes. Typically, an airline requires 10 pilots per aircraft, or 5 sets of crew per airplane. With 22 pilots, there are enough to fly just 2 aircraft, leaving the two other airplanes with no crew.

The airline has chosen to fly the E190 airplanes, as its utilization on its network is much higher: 14.5hrs a day, which is upto nearly 2.5hours more than the E170s. Besides, the E190 with 112 seats in an all-economy cabin has a lower operational cost per seat, when compared to the E170.

The airline had planned for a sufficient number of pilots to fly the routes in the summer schedule, starting 5th April 2014, but that plan didn’t materialize. 8 foreign commanders were supposed to have cleared the Foreign Aircrew Temporary Authorization (FATA) examination-an exam conducted by the Indian DGCA to ensure foreign pilots are up to speed with Indian regulations- at least 15 days before Air Costa was to have kicked off its full network under the Summer Schedule. However, the crew did not clear the examination, which is held fortnightly.

Another 21 pilots will be joining the airline in a week, of which are the 8 FATA licence holders. The other 13 type rated pilots are Indians, of which 7 are commanders and 6 first officers. Recently, the airline hired 40 commercial pilots with no previous airline experience. Ground classes for these pilots are in progress at Vijayawada, before they’re sent for their Embraer E170/190 type rating. The type rating program may very likely be conducted at Jordan.

Flights under the approved summer schedule are expected to commence shortly, once the 21 pilots are available.

Air Costa is finding it difficult to have a sufficient number of qualified flight deck crew who may remain on standby, and also faces a shortage of examiners, who are instrumental in the release of Indian commanders and first officers. The airline is the only operator of the Embraer E170/190 family of airplanes, while every Indian other airline flies Boeing 737NGs and Airbus A320 family airplanes, eliminating the possibility of poaching experienced and ready-to-fly-on-type pilots.

On March 30th, one of Air Costa’s E170s was grounded temporarily due to a windshield crack. The void left in the network was filled by one of the Embraer E190s: VT-LBR. The replacement windshield has arrived and been fitted on the aircraft, and is believed to have also been re-cleared for flight operations.

2014 Fleet Expansion Plans

The airline plans to add another 3 Embraer E190 aircraft to the fleet, one each in the months of August, October and December. As the fleet and flight crew members grown in number, the airline is expected to be less affected by such operational issues.

About these ads

Air Costa to commercially fly the first Embraer E190 flight today

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

AC_E190_Surprise_PK

Air Costa, which on March 27th obtained DGCA approval to fly its two brand new leased Embraer E190s, deployed an E190 on commercial service from today, to cater to an unforeseen operational issue.

One of Air Costa’s two Embraer E170s developed a windshield crack when operating into Bangalore, today, forcing the airplane to stay on ground for a few days till the windshield is replaced. To prevent disruption in operations, one of the E190s will be pulled into commercial service. Air Costa’s E190s seat 112 passengers in a single class, 45 more than their dual-class E170s.

VTLBR departureThe E190, registered VT-LBR, operated the Air Costa LB649 Hyderabad (ICAO: VOHS, IATA: HYD) – Jaipur (ICAO: VIJP, IATA: JAI) flight, marking the first commercial flight in India involving an Embraer E190. The flight, scheduled to depart at 14:05hrs IST, departed at 15:24hrs IST, picking up a 01:19hr delay due to the unforeseen pull-out of the E190 from parking into line operations, and the pull-out of the E170 from line ops.

The E190s were expected to be inducted into commercial service on 5th April, 2014. This bittersweet incident marks another milestone in Indian regional aviation, while also serving to emphasize how at the start-up phase of an airline, when the fleet is small, the non-availability of one aircraft can have significant operational ramifications.

Air Costa plans to stand out from the competition with its fares, connectivity, and unmatched cabin seating convenience and comfort.

Air Costa gets approval to fly the Embraer E190s

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

E190 Air Costa

Air Costa yesterday received the approval from the DCGA to fly the Embraer E190s. Air Costa is the first airline in the history of Indian aviation to operate Embraer E190s. The airline started operations in October 2013 with two Embraer E170s.

The two Embraer ERJ E190s, with manufacturer serial numbers 593 and 608, registered VT-LBR, VT-LVR respectively, were delivered to Air Costa towards the second half of December 2013, and are leased from GECAS. However, the approval to fly the E190s arrived only 3 months later, due to exhaustive DGCA paperwork, some of which related to getting the aircraft type approved in India. The airplanes have been parked at Hyderabad-Shamshabad’s Rajiv Gandhi International (ICAO: VOHS IATA: HYD).

The two Embraer E190s are expected to be deployed into commercial service in the first week of April, and will fly the longer routes in the approved summer schedule. Since the ERJ 190′s license endorsement, as recognized by the DGCA, is “EMB170″, and common with the ERJ 170, pilots in the airline can fly both aircraft variants.

The E190s will be based at Chennai, and will be deployed on the following sectors: Chennai-Ahmadabad, Ahmadabad-Bangalore, Bangalore-Jaipur, Jaipur-Hyderabad, Hyderabad-Chennai, Chennai-Bangalore, Bangalore-Vishakhapatnam, Vishakhapatnam – Hyderabad.

Each aircraft will start operations at 0600hrs IST, and fly till 2340hrs IST, accumulating a total of 29 block hours per day over 18 flights, representing 56% of the entire fleet’s utilization. The E190s will be utilized approximately 30% more than the E170.

The Embraer E190s are an all-economy four abreast-single aisle cabin, with 112 seats laid out over 28 rows, with a 29/30-inch seat pitch (some seats will have a comfortable pitch of 30 inches, while the others will have 29 inches). Each of the seats are as wide as 18.25 inches, armrest-armrest, which is a good 1.25inches wider (and more comfortable) than the seats on SpiceJet’s Boeing 737s, and IndiGo, GoAir and Air Asia India’s Airbus A320s, which are all 17 inches wide. In addition, there are no middle seats: only either window or aisle, making the overall experience very comfortable. This comfort will make the airline’s product a preferred one, among regional airlines, today.

The 112 seat E-190 has 62% the capacity of an Airbus A320, which the airline feels is the right capacity for the markets they serve today. Another 4 E190s are expected to join the fleet this year.

Air Costa has been flying the E-170s with load factors greater than 70%.

A Slew of single aisle firsts in March

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

737_A320NEO_E175Perf

Three jetliner manufacturers, Airbus, Boeing and Embraer, in alphabetical order, rolled out single aisle firsts in March this year.

It started on March 12th, when Embraer rolled out the first production E175 with fuel burn improvements. New winglets, and fuselage wide aerodynamic “cleanups”, and system optimizations have bettered fuel consumption by 6.4%: a good 1.4% better than the technical team had expected to see in fuel savings, on a “typical flight”, which, according to The Flying Engineer estimates, are in the 500-1000NM region. This 6.4% fuel burn reduction is close to double the figure Airbus achieved with its A320 when it strapped on the winglets it calls Sharklets: between 3-4%, and more than 3 times what Boeing achieved with its 737NG when it rolled out the 737 Performance Improvement Package (PIP) in 2012: 2%.

On March 17th, Airbus announced the final assembly of its A320NEO: the next landmark in mainline single aisle airplanes. The A320NEO will be the first single aisle airplane in its class to enter service, with a new type of engine in this thrust class: the Geared Turbofan Engine. The GTF is expected to set the A320NEO apart from the 737MAX; the latter is expected to fly with the CFM LEAP-1B engine that runs hotter, leaving little room for any engine growth in the future.

On March 20, Boeing rolled out the first Boeing 737NG at increased production rate: 42 airplanes a month, matching what Airbus had achieved almost a year ago: which then was the highest commercial aircraft monthly production rate ever. The interesting feat here is that Boeing achieves this at a single facility, while Airbus gets its 42 airplanes a month at its three final assembly lines: Toulouse, Hamburg, and Tianjin.

As for Bombardier, which is going through a very difficult period, the First CS300: the only aircraft variant in the CSeries program that is relevant today and has garnered much attention from customers, almost twice the firm orders as the shorter variant, the CS100, is in final assembly and the systems are being installed. First flight of the CS300 is expected soon, and the entry into service of the CS300 is expected 6 months after the CS100, the latter slated for the second half of 2015, with the hope that no further program delays are announced.

First Good Photo of Air Asia India’s A320 VT-ATF in Indian Skies

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

VT-ATF_Photo_Yogi_VOMM_22_Mar_2014

TheFlyingEnginner is proud to present the first good photograph of Air Asia India’s new A320, in Indian skies, that landed today at Chennai. Registered VT-ATF, and the 6015th A320 family aircraft to be produced, the A320-216SL is a slightly underpowered A320, but one that may fit in the scheme of operations envisaged by Air Asia India.

The photographer, Praveen “PhotoYogi” Sundaram, traveled all the way by road from Bangalore to Chennai just to catch the picture of her. He was directly invited by Air Asia India to come click the aircraft on short finals, as DGCA had not given the airline permission for any media coverage in the airport.

Praveen has permitted The Flying Engineer to be the first to upload his image. We thank you, Praveen.

Praveen is an established photographer, and has mentored some other well known aircraft/aviation photographers in the country. You may view his photos on Airliners.net, Jetphotos.net, and his website, by clicking on the links in this sentence.

Earlier, The Flying Engineer published the first good photograph of an Air Costa’s Embraer E170 sporting an Indian registration.

Air Asia India’s first aircraft, A320-216SL registered VT-ATF, lands at Chennai

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

AA320_VT_ATF

VT-ATF IndiaThe ferry flight started at Airbus’ delivery centre, Toulouse, on the southern part of the airfield which is reserved only for Airbus’ operations. VT-ATF, taxied out, and took off from runway 14R at Toulouse–Blagnac Airport (LFBO, TLS), at 1626hrsUTC (2156hrs IST) on 21st march, 2014, 9 days after the expected date of ferry. Faced with issues with the DGCA, the ferry flight kept getting delayed: something that went against the spirit of aviation growth in the country, and demonstrated unarguably that even an established player like Air Asia, with the clout of the TATAs, is unable to sail smooth with the India’s DGCA, which was downgraded to category 2 by the FAA recently.

With this delay, commercial scheduled flights at Air Asia India are expected to commence only late May or early June, 2014, as foreseen, today. The airline is yet to obtain its Air Operator Permit (AOP), only after which a schedule will be approved and the sale of tickets may begin.

But the ferry flight was smooth, and without any glitches. The initial leg of the journey was for 03:32hrs, over some 1,500NM (Nautical Miles) from TLS to Ankara’s (Turkey) Esenboğa International Airport (LTAC, ESB), via southern France, northern Italy, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, and finally Bulgaria, arriving at the Turkish city at 1958hrs UTC (0128hrs IST). The one-hour stop at Ankara was only a refueling stop, for the next leg: the 3000-odd NM flight from ESB to Chennai (VOMM, MAA).

At 2117hrs UTC (0247hrs IST), the brand new A320 departed ESB, flying over the north-eastern tip of Syria, through Iraq, avoiding Baghdad, brushing past Kuwait, over the Persian Gulf, overhead Dubai, over the Gulf of Oman, and entering Indian mainland over Maharashtra’s coast, 200km south of Mumbai, and through Bellary in Karnataka, before starting descent from 39,000ft (FL390) to approach and land at Chennai, at 0400hrs UTC (0930hrs IST), with a 0 minute delay. In reality, the actual delay is 9days, 0 minutes. This leg lasted almost 06:30hrs.

In total, the aircraft was in the air for 10 hours from Toulouse to Chennai, and the entire exercise lasted around 11 hours.

VTATF Crew

The Ferry crew, at Toulouse, before embarking on the 11 hour mission.

The flight had 10 persons on board, in total, all Air Asia employees: 5 pilots, and 5 engineers. Of the 5 pilots, 3 were captains, one from Air Asia Malaysia.

The aircraft was welcomed with a water cannon salute, parked, cleared by customs, and one of the crew members stepped out waving the Indian flag.

A milestone in Indian aviation has been reached. The first airline started with an FDI component has brought its first airplane to the country.

For the complete tracking of the flight, and details, please visit the previous post, by clicking here.

Airborne! Air Asia India’s first aircraft (A320-216SL MSN6015 VT-ATF)

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

VTATF airborne

Air Asia India A320Air Asia India’s first aircraft, Airbus A320-216SL, registered VT-ATF (MSN 6015),  has finally departed Toulouse (ICAO: LFBO, IATA: TLS) for its final destination Chennai (ICAO: VOMM, IATA: MAA). The ferry flight will however make one stop at Ankara’s (Turkey) Esenboğa International Airport (LTAC).

The aircraft is expected at Chennai at 09:30hrs IST (UTC+05:30) on 22nd March 2014. The callsign is the aircraft’s registration, VT-ATF.

The ferry flight is finally taking place after 9 days, due to issues the airline had with the DGCA that prevented it from ferrying it on the 12th of March 2014, as covered earlier here.

The 9 day delay will have an effect on the start of operations. With this aircraft, the airline can undertake the last hurdle in the grant of the AOP: Route proving flights. With the AOP expected in April, operations may start either late May or early June. The airline can start selling tickets only after the AOP is granted and flight schedules approved. No information is yet available on the second aircraft, which is reportedly planned to be registered as VT-ATB.

The aircraft taxied out at  16:15 hrs UTC, line up on runway 14R at Toulouse at 16:19hrs UTC, started take off roll and was airborne at 16:26 hrs UTC. (21:56hrs IST)

The aircraft’s MODE-S transponder’s ICAO 24 bit unique aircraft address’ Hexadecimal code is 800B09. The ferry flight was assigned a squawk (transponder) code of 4041 by Toulouse, which is subject to change as it passes through different flight information regions.

Updates

FLT_Path_Stage_II_LTAC_VOMM_VT-ATF

Update18: Aircraft landed at 0400hrs UTC (09:30hrs IST), with a 0 minute delay, on runway 25, Chennai. Exited via taxiway F. Water cannon salute to be followed by flag waiving. Flight time LTAC-VOMM 06:43hrs.

Update17: Aircraft begins descent from FL390 at 140NM from MMV, at 0316hrs UTC

Update16: Aircraft leaves Mumbai flight information region and enters Chennai FIR at 0243hrs UTC.

Update15: Aircraft enters Indian mainland over the western Indian coast, over the coastal town of Guhagar, 215km south of Mumbai, Ratnagiri district of Maharastra, at  0231hrs UTC.

Update14: Aircraft is in Mumbai FIR, waypoint PARAR, at ~0115hrs UTC. Another 1.5hrs to the Indian coast. Squawk is 1101.

Update13: Aircraft refuels, and departs Ankara’s Esenboğa International Airport, airborne at 2117hrs UTC. Spends total 01:19hrs on ground including taxi in/out. Squawk 2514.

FLt_Path_Stage_I_LFBO_LTAC_VT-ATFUpdate12: Established ILS for 03R at 1955hrs UTC. Aircraft landed on runway 03R at Ankara’s Esenboğa International Airport (IATA: ESB, ICAO: LTAC) at 1958hrs UTC. Expected time on ground 30 minutes. 03:32hr flight concludes stage one of the ferry. Route is shown in image above.

Update11: Aircraft begins descent from FL390 at 1935hrs UTC, ~100NM from Ankara.

Update10: Aircraft enters Turkish Airspace at waypoint RIXEN at 1918hrs UTC!

Update09: Aircraft enters Bugarian airspace at 1839hrs UTC.

Update08: Aircraft brushes past the northern tip of Montenegro, and enters Serbian Airspace at 1817hrs UTC.

Update07: Aircraft enters Bosnia and Herzegovina at 1803hrs UTC

Update06: Aircraft crosses over into Croatian Airspace at 1747hrs UTC.

Update05: Aircraft leaves Italian Coast at 1742hrs UTC. Winds slow acft down to 438kts G/S.

Update04: Crew witness twilight over San Marino, Italy, at 1736hrs UTC.

Update03: Aircraft crossed into Italian Airspace at 1702UTC, 466kts, FL390. Squawk changed to 1212.

Update02: Aircraft step climbed and reached FL390 at 1649hrs UTC.

Update01: Aircraft is cruising at FL340 and maintaining a ground speed of 466kts.

Airbus A320NEO Enters FAL (MSN6101)

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

A320 MSN 6101 FAL

Airbus’ first A320NEO, MSN 6101 (A320-271N) has entered the final assembly line (FAL) at Toulouse, marking yet another milestone in the A320NEO program. The forward fuselage, which arrived from St. Nazaire in France, and the aft fuselage, which arrived from Hamburg in Germany, were mated at the FAL, marking the start of the final assembly.

The next stage is the joining of the wing to the fuselage. Overall, it takes about one month to complete the final assembly of an A320 Family aircraft.

The A320 program crossed a major milestone in November 2013, when the assembly of the first major component- the engine pylon- took place.

First flight is expected in the Autumn of 2014, almost 4 years after the program was launched in December 2010. Airbus took the landmark decision of re-engining the A320 Family after sensing imminent competition from Bombardier’s C-Series airplanes.

Airbus will retain 95% airframe commonality with the present A320, offering the benefit of high dispatch reliability associated with a mature airframe. Airbus has also effected incremental changes to its traditional Airbus A320, thereby eliminating the risks associated with too many modifications in one shot.

In the November of 2011, Airbus flew the first A320 with the version of the sharklets that are now seen on all new production Airbus A320 airplanes, first sharklet-equipped A320 being MSN 5428 delivered in December 2012. The sharklets, which will feature on the A320NEO as well, introduce fuel savings of upto 4% on long flights. Preliminary wing strengthening to handle the aerodynamic loads introduced by the sharklets, and airplane-wide weight reduction to offset the weight due to the strengthening have already been effected.

NEO’s difference from today’s in-production A320 aircraft is the further strengthening of the wing and fuselage to handle the loads associated with the heavier and larger New Engine Option (NEO): The Pratt and Whitney PW1100G and the CFM LEAP-1A. The new more efficient engine together with the sharklets realize a 15% fuel savings on 800nm route lengths, and up to 16%+ on the longer routes, compared to non-sharklet fitted Airbus A320 aircraft.

The Pratt and Whitney Geared Turbofan Engine PW1100G series for the A320, took to the skies in May 2013, on a Pratt and Whitney Boeing 747SP flying test bed.

Changes to the A320 are minimal and the least among other airplanes which are being re-engined and  modified to a larger extent, such as the Boeing 737MAX and the Embraer Second Generation E-Jets E2. Historically, all new airplane programs have been met with significant dispatch reliability issues related to technical or maintenance issues associated with an immature airframe. The A320NEO program has the least changes, followed by the MAX and E2 program. The all-new Bombardier C-Series introduces many firsts for Bombardier, making it the program that may likely have the most number of issues, initially atleast: a reason which explains the low number of firm orders: 201, despite having 3 flying airplanes in the test campaign.

 In contrast, the Embraer E-Jet E2 program, which airplanes are still “paper” (conceptual), has 200 firm orders. The Boeing 737MAX has 1,807 firm orders and the Airbus A320NEO program has firm orders for 2,667 airplanes.

Least changes with benefits where it matters to an already proven and mature airframe, incremental modifications, early introduction into service (Q4 2015), a dual engine source (all other new/re-engine programs have only one engine supplier), keeping up program development schedule, and the smallest training impact have contributed in large to the sales success of the program.

IndiGo has an order for 180 Airbus A320NEO Family aircraft, which include the A320NEO and A321 NEO. Go Air has 72 airplanes on order, and Air Asia 264 A320NEOs on order. Both IndiGo and GoAir’s A320NEOs will be powered by the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G. IndiGo operates the IAE engines, of which Pratt and Whitney is a part. Go Air which flies CFM powered A320 aircraft, has switched engine suppliers, to Pratt and Whitney. The PW1100G engines offer two advantages: Room for growth, and availability sooner than the CFM LEAP-1A Engines. Air Asia, which flies CFM powered A320s, has opted for the CFM LEAP-1A to power its NEOs.

A 10 Minute Boeing 787 Flight: The Hyderabad Shamshabad to Hyderabad Begumpet ferry

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

B787_VT_ANBVery rarely do few lucky aircrew get to experience something off-beat. For India Aviation 2014, Air India’s second newest Boeing 787-837, MSN 36279, registered VT-ANB, had to be positioned at Hyderabad Begumpet (ICAO: VOHY) from Hyderabad Shamshabad (ICAO: VOHS) on 11th March 2014. Below is the short hop, described.

VT-ANB operated as Air India AI 555, a revenue flight from Delhi (VIDP) to Hyderabad (VOHS), with the Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh and the Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) of the airline, Rohit Nandan on board. In total, 115 passengers and 11 crew flew on ANB to Hyderabad.

After landing, ANB was towed from bay 54 to 58, for “deep cleaning”. The aircraft was delivered to the airline on 31st January 2014, and the one month of use needed to be cleaned out.

After spending 01:35 (1hr 35 min) on ground, VT-ANB was ready to fly to VOHY with the same flight deck crew, but with just one cabin crew, raising the total persons on board to 3.

The aircraft had fuel from the previous sector in its tanks: a massive 12.2 tonnes. The aircraft had a take off weight of just 127 tonnes, against 227.9 tonnes maximum take off weight.

VTANB taxi out

Taxi Out VOHS

The crew pushed back from bay 58 at 14:10UTC (19:40 local), and taxied to the runway in use: 09R. The CG (Centre of Gravity) of the aircraft was at 19.1% MAC (mean Aerodynamic Chord), and the trim was set to 4.75 units. Flaps were extended to 5 degrees, and for the purposes of setting thrust, an assumed temperature of 42 degrees C and a derate of 83% was applied. The FMS was left as a flight plan discontinuity, as radar vectors were expected to VOHY.

The crew lined up on 09R, and applied take off power. The FMA (Flight Mode Annunciators) read TOGA-TOGA, and no VNAV and LNAV. At 133 knots, which was the Vr (rotate speed), the pilot flying gently pulled back on the  control column, and at 14:29 UTC (19:59 local), VT-ANB was airborne.

VTANB Path

Flight Path, VOHS/VOHY

Autopilot was engaged at 300ft RA (Radio Altimeter), and the aircraft maintained runway heading for about 2NM (nautical miles), before receiving radar vectors. VOHS is at an elevation of 2,000ft, and VT-ANB was climbed to 4,600ft. The aircraft was further vectored left by ATC, and asked if the crew could accept an ILS runway 27 approach for VOHY. The original plan was for a VORDME 09 approach into VOHY, but the crew confirmed their ability to fly into runway 27.

VT-ANB was made to descend to 3,600ft, and at 10NM from touchdown, intercepted the localiser for runway 27 VOHY. Autopilot was disconnected at 1,100ft RA. Flaps were taken in steps to 30 degrees, the approach speed maintained at 133kts, and autobrakes set to level 3.

The Boeing 787 touched down at 14:40 UTC (20:10 local), and felt extremely light when flaring. Reversers were deployed, and the aircraft slowed down, making a 180 degree turn at the end of runway 27 to backtrack towards taxiway “A”, as directed by Begumpet tower.

VT-ANB took a graceful right turn at 3-4kts taxi speed onto taxiway A, where it was welcomed with a water canon salute. Continuing its taxi, the Dreamliner turned right onto the Apron, where she was marshaled to her parking stand,. Parking brakes were applied at 14:50 UTC (20:20 local), and the short hop had consumed 1.3 tonnes of aviation turbine fuel (ATF).

 

The “Airshow” & “Exhibition”: India Aviation 2014

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , ,

India Aviation 2014 Apron

Airplanes on display; Modest  display by the small number of international exhibitors; Civil Aviation Minister talks of robustness and reforms; Same ministry’s DGCA is responsible for the delay in Air Asia’s ferry flight.

The photo above shows you how many airplanes were present at the show. There are only two wide bodies, essentially representatives of Boeing and Airbus, and the business-jet-segment representatives of Bombardier and Embraer. Beechcraft, which abandoned the “Hawker” in its earlier name “Hawker-Beechcraft”, after deciding to abandon the jet segment and focus on turboprops, and which was recently bought over by Textron, the parent company of Cessna, had three turboprop representatives at the show, from the Kingair line: B250, B350, and C90. Cessna had its Citation 560XL, Gulfstream brought in its G150 and G650, Bombardier its Challenger 605, Piaggio Aero its Avanti, Embraer its Phenom 100, Legacy 650, and Lineage 1000, Dassault its Falcon 7X, Airbus and Emirates their A380, and Boeing its 787. GMR-APFT, the new Hyderabad based flight school, positioned their Diamond DA-40D fitted with a diesel engine, and the UK based Mark Jefferies Air Shows and Display Aerobatics’ two Extra 330SC and 300L  aircraft.

Few aircraft, including helicopters, did not turn up after the exhibitors decided not to participate in the airshow.

In total? Just 17 civil aircraft present for a country with the world’s second largest population and in a region with phenomenal aviation growth, at the 4th International Exhibition & Conference on Civil Aviation- India Aviation 2014.

Just one order marked the highlight of the day: SpiceJet and Boeing, which had for long dragged the decision to announce the airline’s purchase of 42 Boeing 737 MAX 8s, finally went public with the US$4.4 Billion worth order, pegging the price of each 737 MAX 8 at US$ 104.7M. The 737 MAX’s first flight is scheduled in 2016 with deliveries to customers beginning in 2017. SpiceJet is to receive 17 Boeing 737-800s directly from Boeing, in addition to the order for 737 MAX 8s.

Jet Airways’ order for the Boeing 737 MAX has yet to be announced.

Ajit Singh, Minister for Civil Aviation, stated in his speech at the show, “….is happening at the time when Indian Aviation is witnessing several policy changes and reforms to provide a robust aviation sector.” It is unclear whether the robustness was in reference to protecting existing players (airlines) from competition, or referring to a system that simply does not exist, evidenced by the FAA’s downgrade of the Indian DGCA.

Air Asia India, which was to have ferried its first Airbus A320 to India, today, has postponed the flight by a few days due to certain issues with the DGCA, invalidating the claims of the aviation minister.

The minster also went on to say, ” Civil aviation in India has been scripting a major success story due to progressive policies of the Government”, and that, “commercial fleet size is expected to grow from 400 today to 1000 aircraft by 2020″. There was no reference made to general aviation.

The same progressive Civil Aviation department did not permit few composite airplanes from flying into the show.

Only 26 International Exhibitors are present at the show, most with extremely modest presences.

Edit: Boeing 737 Max unit price corrected; A380 operator corrected.

Hall layout

Air Asia India’s first A320 to leave Toulouse today for Chennai

Tags

, , , , , , ,

AA320_VT_ATF

First Air Asia India A320 arriving at Chennai tomorrow: landmark event in Indian regional aviation; Air Asia set to clear last hurdle in grant of AOP: Route Proving Flights.

Sources in Toulouse have confirmed that VT-ATF, Air Asia India’s first A320, will depart Toulouse today evening (12th March 2014) to reach Chennai on the morning of the 13th at 09:30hrs local (IST).

Air Asia’s flight crew are already at Toulouse.

This is in agreement with an earlier estimate by the Flying Engineer, on when the aircraft will be delivered (click here).

The great circle direct distance between Toulouse (LFBO) and Chennai (VOMM) is 4,390NM. The ferry flight will however make one stop at Ankara’s (Turkey) Esenboğa International Airport (LTAC).

The aircraft is an A320-216SL (A320 airframe powered by the CFM56-5B6 engine and featuring the Sharklets (Airbus’ term for Winglets). The 56-5B engine delivers 23,500 lbf (100 kN) of thrust, per engine.

In comparison, Go Air flies the A320-214SL, which features the more expensive CFM-56-5B4, which delivers 27,000 lbf (120 kN) of thrust, per engine, and consequently allows for a higher maximum take off weight.

Air Asia India’s A320 will allow the airline to finish off its last formality: route proving flights, which essentially are dummy flights (real flight, but with no paying passengers) to either one or more of its destinations from its base, to prove to the DGCA that it can smoothly handle and meet operational requirements. Once done, and if the DGCA is satisfied, the airline will be granted its AOP, paving the way for operations to start.

The airline is expected to commence commercial operations in May 2014.

Air Asia India’s first A320′s cabin fitted

Tags

, , , , , , ,

Air Asia India A320

Almost a week after its first flight, and less than a week ago, Air Asia India’s Airbus first A320, to be registered as VT-ATF, returned to Toulouse from Hamburg on 26th February 2014, after having its cabin fitted with seats, and other interiors.

The cabin is all economy, with 180 seats, similar to IndiGo’s cabin layout.

Delivery of the aircraft is expected anytime soon, in line with what was mentioned in a previous post on the aircraft for Air Asia India.

Indian Aviation: Stepping Forward and Backward, again.

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

VOBG slips to darkness. Image: Google Earth

VOBG slips to darkness. Image: Google Earth

HAL Airport “went dark” for a few days; GAGAN system goes operational; Aviation Ministry holds “CEO Exchange” discussion with airline and airframe representatives.

HAL Airport (ICAO: VOBG) had slipped into darkness for a few days. The airport, which belongs to HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited) and formerly served as the domestic and international airport in addition to supporting HAL’s and other various DRDO (Defence Research Development Organisation) arms’ test flights, did not support night operations.

A HAL official stated that there was an issue between Airport Authorities of India (AAI) and HAL, which resulted in the temporary “blackout” of night operations, for a “few days”. Runway lights, and apron lights were reportedly* not “available”. As a result, pilots, especially those operating charter and private jets, which usually use HAL airport as it is in the heart of the city, were forced to fly (and plan) to Bangalore’s Kempegowda International Airport (ICAO: VOBL, IATA: BLR) if their arrival or departure was after dusk or before dawn.

During that period, HAL airport was rendered a “Day IFR field” for a while. Had this HAL-AAI issue continued, it would have been a sad state of affairs (or the lack of it at night) for the airport that made Bangalore the “Aviation Capital of India”.

Such a move, temporary or permanent, is viewed as retrograde, especially when the country is looking forward to progressing aviation.

A “CEO Exchange” discussion was held at the aviation Ministry (MoCA), today, bringing together high level representatives from IndiGo, SpiceJet, Air Costa, Air India, Go Air, Blue Dart, Boeing, Airbus, Embraer, and ATR, amongst others. The aim was to figure out ways to take aviation to the next level.

However, with the AAI taking actions that affect airfields such as HAL, and flight schools, such as Orient Flight School at Pondicherry, everyday aviation becomes more difficult for operators, and hoping for a step up to the next level is a challenge.

The more progressive face of AAI was seen when the GAGAN system, according to the General Manager, General Manager (CNS) heading the Ground Based Elements of the GAGAN Project at Bangalore, India, Mr. C R Sudhir, “has been put into operation on 14.02.14 at 1000 hrs IST to support RNP0.1 operations in en-route phase of flight over entire Indian Flight Information Region.”

This opens up GPS as a primary navigation aid for enroute navigation, allowing for more direct or shorter routes to be introduced in the Indian airspace. This saves fuel, may help increase aircraft utilization, and support higher air traffic density, which can boost passenger traffic if the savings are passed on to passengers. It also can give a boost General Aviation by allowing airplanes to fly lower on airways, as there no longer is a need for higher altitudes to receive land based radio navigation signals.

Mr. Sudhir also stated, “work is on to achieve APV 1/1.5 certification by fourth quarter of this year.”

*Source: Flight crew operating into HAL/ VOBG.

Two A350s take to the skies, and A320 production set to ramp up

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , ,

A350_CF_NW_in_flight

A350 MSN 2 (F-WWCF) and MSN 4 (F-WZNW) in flight. Photo: Airbus

MSN 2 & MSN 4 take to the skies for the first time; A350 performance penalties on the first few airplanes; Timelines more important than performance; A350 program gets costlier:why; A320 production ramp up.

Today marks four things: The Airbus Group press conference, the first flight of MSN2, the first flight of MSN4, and the Airbus announcement of the Airbus A320 production ramp-up.

On 2nd January, 2014, EADS, which comprised Airbus, Eurocopter, Cassidian, and Astrium, was been rebranded as “Airbus Group”. The Airbus Group press conference must not be confused with the Airbus press conference, which was held on 13th January, 2014. But, very obviously, Airbus was discussed today.

Aviation Week today reported that “Airbus Group is taking a €434 million extraordinary charge in its 2013 results for the A350 program” due to “higher than expected recurring costs for the new widebody aircraft”. Airbus, unlike Bombardier: the only other airliner airframer to be engaged in a flight test campaign of an all-new aircraft, has ensured that the program has stuck to schedule, at any cost. And that cost, for now, is an added Euro 434M.

A very interesting insight provided in an article in Aviation Week, in August 2012, which was highlighted today by Rupa Haria, quoted Richard Aboulafia, vice president for analysis at the Teal Group, “If you are missing important milestones, you get beaten up by the financial markets or your customers. . . . You want to meet time guarantees more than performance guarantees.”

In other words, the first few airplanes won’t be as good as those that will roll out of the line later.

Which also means that the Airbus A350 airplanes that took to the skies today, F-WWCF(MSN2) and F-WZNW(MSN4), could have benefitted from the later roll out at a cost: the cost to Airbus and its suppliers, who have to manufacture different variants of the same part, for the sake of keeping up with the program schedule. Different variants are due to part/product maturity which comes eventually with time. The most important reason for maturing the part is to result in weight savings, which impact the performance guarantees that Richard Aboulafia was talking about. The financial implications arising out of these performance penalties incurred by the first few operators of the A350, will be passed on to Airbus. This also affects the resale value of the first few aircraft, even with modifications that will be effected on the aircraft in service.

Such relatively immature aircraft, very obviously, come cheap to the airlines, but attract higher subsequent costs of ownership.

According to Aviation Week, there will be three batches of Airbus A350s, based on the design changes, and consequently, performance.

F-WWCF is the first of two A350 flight test aircraft to be equipped with a full passenger cabin interior, and features a distinctive “Carbon” signature livery to reflect its primary construction from advanced materials. 53% of the A350 XWB’s airframe is made-up of carbon-fibre reinforced polymer (CFRP) including Airbus’ first carbon-fibre fuselage. Hence the registration, F-WW”CF”, for Carbon Fibre.

MSN 2 will be the first A350 to transport passengers when it undertakes the Early Long Flights (ELF) later in the year. The “passengers” will be Airbus employees. The eye-candy A350 will do well for promotions, especially when it lands at airports outside Toulouse, and even Europe.

The other aircraft to be fitted with a cabin will be MSN 5, which is in the final assembly line and is expected to fly in a few months. MSN 4 joins MSN 1 and 3, the first two airplanes to have taken to the skies, in being those three airplanes dedicated to avionics, noise testing, and various other systems work through the flight test program. These three aircraft will not be fitted with a cabin, but rather, equipped with heavy flight test installation. The aircraft has on its fuselage the logo of Qatar Airways, and “A350 XWB Launch Customer”.

It will, however, only be MSN 6 which will be delivered to Qatar Airways. MSN 6 is already in the A350 Final Assembly Line (FAL). This aircraft is expected to take to the skies in the October of 2014, and delivered less than a month later.

Flight_Paths_CF_NW

Composite image generated from Flight Radar 24

Singapore Airlines will receive MSN 8, the third aircraft intended for commercial operations. Vietnam Airlines will receive MSN 14, and Finnair MSN 18. The 21st A350 airframe is expected to be the A350-800, and the 41st A350 airframe is expected to be the A350-1000.

MSN 2 and MSN 4 flew together in formation close to the southern border of France, over the Pyrenees mountains, for a photo shoot.

Airbus A320

A320_production

A320s in production. Photo: Airbus

While one program bleeds the finances, the proven narrowbody family: a proven market that allows airliner manufacturers Boeing and Airbus to not only earn their bread but offset costs from other programs.

The A320 program is ramping up production, as announced today by Airbus, to 46 a month in Q2 2016, up from the current rate 42. The new higher production rate will be achieved gradually, with an intermediate step at 44 aircraft per month in Q1 2016.

“Based on the healthy market outlook for our best-selling A320 Family and following a comprehensive assessment of our supply chain’s readiness to ramp-up, we are ready to go to rate 46 by Q2 2016,” said Tom Williams, Executive Vice President Programmes. “With a record backlog of over 4,200 A320 Family aircraft and the growing success of the NEO, we have a solid case to increase our monthly output to satisfy our customers’ requirement for more of our fuel efficient aircraft.”

Over the past five years, Airbus has steadily increased A320 Family production, going from rate 36 at the end of 2010 to rate 38 in August 2011, then up to rate 40 in Q1 2012 to reach 42 per month in Q4 of the same year.

Air Asia’s Airbuses, and those who wish fly them

Tags

, , , , , , ,

Air Asia India A320

Air Asia’s first aircraft may not arrive before March 2nd 2014. How many pilots the airline has, and what crew who switch airlines look for. Operations in Summer. This, and more, below.

Air Asia India had intended, in the October of 2013, to start operations with MSN 5200, an Airbus A320 now flying for Indonesia Air Asia as PK-AZI, and was formerly flying with Air Asia Japan. The timing of the closure of Air Asia Japan (October 2013), and the starting of Air Asia India, intended in the December of 2013, was coincidental.

But on 20th January, 2014, the DGCA issued a public notice, stating, “In order to comply with the requirements of Schedule Xl of Aircraft Rules 1937, a notice is hereby given to the public and all the persons likely to be affected by the grant of this permit to M/s Air Asia (lndia) Pvt. Ltd. for the purpose of providing scheduled air transport services in lndia, submit their objections or suggestions, if any, within twenty days of issue of this public notice”

That only meant one thing: delay.

A committee was setup under A.K. Sharan, Joint Director General, DGCA to review the objections and suggestions received in respect of application for grant of permit to Air Asia (India) Pvt. Ltd.

A month later, on 21st February 2014, the DGCA issued a second public notice to do with Air Asia India, in which the following statement was made, “The Committee in its report have not found any reason to keep on hold the processing of application of M/s. Air Asia (India) Pvt. Ltd., for issuance of Air Operator Permit (AOP) .”

This paves the way for the issuance of Air Operator’s Permit “subject to compliance of various requirements in terms of CAR, CAP 3100 and other applicable rules and Air Information Circulars.”

Aircraft on short finals

A photo showing MSN6015, an Airbus A320-216SL, was caught flying at Toulouse on 19th February, 2014 (image on top). The aircraft, flying under the test registration F-WWBV, will be registered VT-ATF. VT-ATB, MSN6034 will be the next aircraft to join the fleet, according to ch-aviation. Route proving flights, the last stage in the process to obtain an Air Operator Permit, will be done on these aircraft. MSN5200 will, for now atleast, remain with Indonesia Air Asia.

Air Asia A320 Fleet Breakup“The A320 delivers fantastic reliability, and we work these aircraft very hard: flying them almost 14 hours a day – conducting eight landings and takeoffs, performing turnarounds in 25 minutes,” said Tony Fernandes, in 2012 when receiving the airline’s 100th Airbus A320 at Toulouse.

When IndiGo and GoAir started operations, their first set of Airbus A320 aircraft took almost one month between the first flight and the delivery to the airline. The time period has now reduced to between 11-15 days, though it occasionally takes a month. If the trend continues, AirAsia’s first airplane may not arrive before 2nd March 2014, and not later than 19th March, 2014.

The award of the AOP is expected 1 – 2 weeks after the route proving flights, if all goes well. This pegs, as of today, the AOP award toward the later part of March 2014, and the start of operations in April 2014, coinciding with the Indian Summer.

Apparently, the airline plans to start operations with 5 aircraft, which is expected to grow to 10 in one year of operation. The airline declined comment on its fleet expansion plans.

The airline presently has 35 pilots. With such a number, the airline can comfortably operate 3-4 aircraft.

As per Indian Civil Aviation Requirements, “Before the Scheduled Operator’s Permit is issued, an applicant shall have a fleet of minimum five aeroplanes.” The same CAR offers a relaxation, “To facilitate the start of the operations, operators will be permitted to operate with one aeroplane/ helicopter and will be given one year’s time from the date of securing operator’s permit, to have the fleet size of five aircraft.”

Airline in the sights of flightcrew.

Air Asia India presently has 35 pilots: 15 Captains and 20 First Officers. And the hiring is still on.

A Spicejet first officer, who  flies the Boeing 737NG, has an Airline transport license, and  goes by the alias “spiceflyboy” expresses his thoughts on joining Air Asia. He feels that getting an Airbus Fly-By-Wire rating and experience is good, as he can later move on to an Airbus A330, A340, A350 or A380 operator. With his Boeing experience, he feels he can possibly fly for Boeing 777 and 787 operators. “Globally, Airbus pilots are in greater demand”. With 2000+ hours on the Boeing 737NG, another 2000+ hours on the Airbus A320 will, in his opinion, make him “future proof”. “Air Asia, being a LCC, will give me a lot of flying, which I need at this stage of my flying career. But I’d go only if they hire me as a transition captain”.

Would there be any reasons for not joining Air Asia? “If they don’t take off, I wouldn’t join them. If they pay less, or keep me as a first officer, I wouldn’t want to be with them”.

For many senior first officers, who may have to wait long for their command, Air Asia is their target. At this stage of an airline, pushing for command is easier: there is a lot of flying, and the need for captains will make the airline push qualified first officers to the left seat. An expedited command, even with a slightly lower remuneration, means a lot for a senior first officer: the “P1″ stamp on the license throws open the job market. It was a similar case at IndiGo when the airline was in a dire need of pilots. That scenario no longer exists at the blue airline.

For others, work culture is more important than the money. There are pilots who are willing to accept INR 20,000-30,000 lower gross pay per month, if they are promised a better work culture, in line with what Air Asia offers today.

In any case, Air Asia India is attracting, on average, 10-15 sufficiently qualified aircrew, for each interview session, even if most are uncertain of switching airlines.

Switching Fleets: More Boeing to Airbus than the other way around

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Silkair_Boeing737

This piece covers Boeing’s slipping grip on the low-cost airline market, with a focus on Asia: how, why, and where.

Air Asia, and EasyJet, operators of Airbus A320 airplanes, were once Boeing 737 operators. Airbus has been on a “rampage”, trying to trespass Boeing’s narrowbody territory, and plant what is today the world’s best selling airplane family.

Air Asia, which until as recently as 2010 operated Boeing 737-300 aircraft, is now an all Airbus A320 operator: operating 73 of them. Air Asia Indonesia, which also operated Boeing 737-300s, now flies 30 Airbus A320 airplanes. Lion Air of Indonesia, which operates 99 Boeing 737 aircraft, most of which are 737NG airplanes, placed a firm order for 234 Airbus A320 aircraft, including 60 Airbus A320 classic engine option airplanes. Garuda Citilink, established in 2001 as a low-cost subsidiary of Garuda Indonesia, which operated an all Boeing 737-300 and 400 fleet, now flies 24, more efficient Airbus A320s with the callsign “Supergreen”.

Jet Airways has evaluated Airbus A320NEOs, and Neil Mills, the then CEO of SpiceJet, publicly announced the evaluation of a fleet switch to the A320NEO.

Boeing’s comeback: an order of 54 Boeing 737s, comprising 23 737-800s and 31 737 Max 8s from SilkAir, the regional wing of Singapore Airlines, which welcomed its first Boeing 737-800 (9V-MGA) at the Singapore Airshow 2014, marking the start of SilkAir’s transition to an all-Boeing fleet, from the existing fleet of 24 Airbus aircraft, comprising 6 A319s and 18 A320s. (see photo on top)

After SilkAir, Boeing is now trying to sway TigerAir to adopt its airplanes.

How: Airbus’s Successes.

Said Dinesh Keshkar, vice president, Asia-Pacific & India Sales for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, in February 2013, after Spicejet and Jet Airways performed financially better, (after the demise of Kingfisher), “Can they sustain these yields, which I think they can because of the balance of capacity in the market. They will continue to do well and aviation will continue to grow profitably. The Indian commercial aviation market is improving with higher yields and stability in fuel charges”.

The same Keshkar in February 2014 admitted that Indian carriers are “not doing well” due to the decline in the rupee, high fuel costs, and high capital costs and taxes in India. “Certainly the Indian market is not for the faint-hearted. It’s hard to make money there. Nevertheless, everybody realizes that it’s a great market and that’s why more and more people are trying to get into that market.”

Said Kiran Rao, executive vice president for strategy at Airbus, in January 2013, “It’s quite understandable that with the high fuel prices and the Indian taxes, the neo really works in India,” he says. “Jet Airways and Spicejet are predominately Boeing airlines today, but we will give it a good shot.”

Two things make the Airbus A320NEO attractive: Great operating economics, and its availability atleast 2 years before the Boeing 737MAX. That gives operators the chance to start reaping the benefits of an economical airplane two years before its competition, and that amounts to saving big money.

To put things in perspective, final assembly for the first Airbus A320NEO will start in March 2014, for the planned maiden flight in autumn, kicking off a flight-test campaign with 8 Airbus A320NEO airplanes, all flying with PW1100G Geared Turbofan Engines. In contrast, the engine that will power the 737MAX, the GE-SNECMA CFM LEAP-1B variant may not take to the skies this year, as the engine manufacturer plans to begin flight tests of the A320NEO’s alternate engine, LEAP-1A, on GE’s Boeing 747 flying testbed in September 2014.

The A320NEO is expected to enter service in late 2015, while the Boeing 737MAX is expected to enter service in late 2017.

“In a high fuel cost environment, it only makes sense to consider all of the available options. We must look at the aircraft that will have the lowest operating costs and see how it fits into our fleet,” said Neil Mills in March 2013, talking about the possible switch to the Airbus A30NEO, to meet medium term fleet requirements.”We will switch from one aircraft type to another if needed. I was with Easyjet when we switched from Boeing to Airbus and we can do the same here.”

The Boeing 737-800, which compares & competes directly with the Airbus A320, burns more fuel for the same payload. The Boeing 737-800 with winglets burns as much fuel as the A320 for the same range, payload, and cruise altitude. The A320 with “sharklets”, however, beats the Boeing 737-800W, and the A320NEO, goes unmatched.

But getting efficient airplanes two years earlier isn’t everything.

A continuing fight in the World Trade Organization is between the U.S. and the European Union over government support to Boeing and Airbus. The U.S. charges that European government subsidies have allowed Airbus to undercut Boeing prices, giving Airbus an unfair advantage in the marketplace and harming the U.S. aerospace industry: Boeing has significantly streamlined its 737 production during the past two years, but company officials said their cost improvements still don’t enable them to break even at the prices Airbus is quoting for the A320.

Although Keskar says that he is “not even going to try” reaching out to AirAsia because of the large number of A320s the carrier has on its order books, Boeing apparently hasn’t stopped trying to sway the airline in its favour. However, Boeing isn’t willing to sell at any price, even though Airbus is charging far less than Boeing is willing to accept. Boeing marketing Vice President Randy Baseler said “the only standard Airbus is setting is with price” on the 2004 Air Berlin deal, in which the German carrier ordered 70 Airbus A320 aircraft . “If you cut your prices enough, anybody will take them,” he said.

Few analysts feel Airbus offers a discount of as much as 60% to sway orders in their favour, while Airbus plays down the discount.

The matter only worsens with the projected 737MAX development costs expected at twice that for the A320NEO. The 737MAX is undergoing far more changes than the famous Airbus narrowbody family.

The territories.

Boeing has lost out the no-frills, low cost airline segment to Airbus. Boeing once had monopolized this segment, especially with Southwest operating 588 Boeing 737 airplanes, and RyanAir operating 298 airplanes. Now, almost all start up low cost airlines fly the Airbus A320.

India’s “model” airline, IndiGo, and other start-ups: Air Deccan, Go Air, and Kingfisher Airlines (which eventually added the low cost arm Kingfisher RED) either fly or flew Airbus A320s. New airlines on the Indian horizon, whether credible or not, plan an A320 fleet: Skyjet Airways, and Volk Air.

TATA-SIA, the most talked about airline, will have an A320 fleet of 20, all leased, and AirAsia India, in line with the other AirAsias, will also fly with Airbus A320 aircraft.

SilkAir, with a brand that is not low cost but rather full service, will feature a cabin layout of 12 Business Class and 150 Economy class seats, representing an eight percent increase on SilkAir’s current seating capacity on the dual class A320s.

The only advantage in switching to a 737NG, for SilkAir, is increasing capacity without compromising on comfort through seat pitch. But it takes a lot to convince an airline to switch; especially when they could have flown more economical with the A320 sharklets, and saved on fleet transition costs. The real reason lies behind closed, motionless lips.

Stating a SilkAir press release, “A full-service carrier that is committed to creating enjoyable and reliable travel experiences, enhancements that customers can look forward to on the new aircraft include features such as the Boeing Sky Interior, which highlights new modern sculpted sidewalls and window reveals, LED lighting that enhances the sense of spaciousness, larger pivoting overhead stowage bins as well as in-seat audio and power supply for added convenience.”

Then why was Spicejet, a low cost, missed by Airbus? SpiceJet began services in May 2005, when Air Asia was still flying an all Boeing 737 fleet, and just one year after EasyJet began transitioning to a predominantly Airbus A319 fleet. It was only in the December of 2005 that AirAsia received its first Airbus A320.

Said Kiran Rao, “We should have won the SpiceJet order the first time around, but it is just that at the time we had so many orders and took our eye off the ball,”.

But TATA-SIA, a full service carrier, should have been the target of Boeing. Dinesh Keshkar said that with the huge backlog for the 737, it was not able to provide narrowbodies to Tata SIA in line with its target to start operations in 2014.

The Indian MAX announcement that never came

Boeing in late 2012 had hoped to take its first order for the 737 MAX from an Indian airline. This hope was rekindled when Boeing had mentioned revealing a “sizable order” for the MAX from an Indian carrier, during the 2014 Singapore Airshow.

Twice, Boeing’s announcements never came, although media reports Jet and SpiceJet have signed for Boeing 737MAX airplanes, in the double digit range.

This is in sharp contrast to Airbus A320NEO orders placed by IndiGo and GoAir. Further widening the Airbus-Boeing gap are reports of the likelihood of IndiGo placing an order for 200-250 “more” aircraft.

Recording the largest aviation growth, Asia is where all airplane manufacturers have trained their guns. But Asia is a cost conscious market, where the likes of low cost airlines sprout often and thrive. That makes, statistically, a great market for Airbus, and a bleak outlook for Boeing, for now atleast. Few orders for Boeing 737 airplanes are overshadowed by Airbus’ wins.

Is Boeing going?

50 Embraer Jets for Air Costa

Tags

, ,

Air Costa E2Embraer has signed a definitive agreement with Air Costa for a firm order for 50 E-Jets E2s with an additional 50 purchase rights. The acquisition is a mix of 25 E190-E2s and 25 E195-E2s and has an estimated value of USD 2.94 billion based on 2014 list prices.

Air Costa has become the first customer of E-Jet E2s in the Indian market and will take delivery of the E190-E2 in 2018. The E195-E2 is scheduled to enter service in 2019. Today, the airline flies four E-Jets: two E170s (VT-LNR, VT-LSR) and two E190s (VT-LBR, VT-LVR).

According to an Embraer press release, “The three new airplanes (E175-E2, E190-E2, and E195-E2) have geared turbofan engines from Pratt & Whitney, new aerodynamically advanced wings, full fly-by-wire flight controls, and advancements in other systems that will deliver double-digit improvements in fuel burn, maintenance costs, emissions, and external noise compared to current-generation E-Jets.”

SpiceJet’s new management appointments: The Tiger is roaring

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

SGQ400tigerFor a country where the mainstream media is expected to sensationalise any and every news related to aviation, it comes as a surprise how the otherwise over-enthusiastic media has not been able to connect the dots in the recent developments at SpiceJet.

In November 2013, SpiceJet “appointed” Sanjiv Kapoor as its Chief Operations Officer (COO). Sanjiv Kapoor held the position of Senior Director, Temasek Holdings for 1yr 8 months. Temasek Holdings, directly and indirectly through Singapore Airlines has a significant stake in Tiger Airways, which operates as Tigerair.

Now, in February 2014, SpiceJet announced the “appointment” of Kaneswaran Avili as Chief Commercial Officer, effective April 1st 2014. Interestingly, the position he holds today is Director-Commercial at Tiger Airways, and has held that position since October 2012.

Men with very, very impressive resumes are being “appointed” by SpiceJet, a sure sign of good times to come. Interestingly, men related to Tiger Airways, in the past and the present, are joining Spicejet, which seems less of an “appointment” and more of an insert. In simple language: Tiger Airways seems to be actively reforming the airline with its own people before it can invest in SpiceJet.

The experience that the COO and the CCO bring seem to be complimentary: Sanjiv Kapoor has had experience only with full service, legacy carriers. That is great from the operational perspective. Although successful low cost airlines have been known for streamlined operations, the experience Sanjiv gained at leading airlines can help transform the way in which the SpiceJet brand is viewed today. Dirty seats, dirty airplanes, and unhappy services are on their way out.

Kaneswaran, on the other hand comes with a solid experience of 12 years not the “airline” industry, but the low cost airline Industry. He was part of the start up team of AirAsia in 2001, played a pivotal role in Air Asia’s expansion into neighbouring countries. He’s been associated with famous low cost brands: Air Asia, and Garuda Indonesia Citilink. Importantly, he was engaged by Viva Macau, Macau first LCC start up, where he was tasked with the responsibility for re-engineering the commercial unit and implementation of new commercial and network strategies to return the airline to route profitability. Recently, Kanesh completed a short but intense commercial transformation project for Citilink Indonesia. These responsibilities and experience are what SpiceJet can do with.

Sanjiv’s full service experience in operations and Kaneswaran’s rich low cost experience can, if well leveraged, make SpiceJet the preferred low cost airline: based on fares, and on service. Something that IndiGo is already known for.

 “His deep domain knowledge on airline commercial across sales & distribution, revenue management, marketing, network planning, airline system and market penetration strategy would be key in transforming SpiceJet commercial capability and improving overall route and airline profitability,” said Mr. Sanjiv Kapoor, Chief Operating Officer, SpiceJet Ltd.

Interestingly, Sanjiv Kapoor, more than a week ago, said, “SpiceJet is also demonstrating that you do not need foreign airlines to show India the power of low fares and market stimulation; we are just as capable of doing it ourselves, and are committed to creating multiple opportunities for as many Indians as possible to fly.” That ambiguous statement was clarified by SpiceJet as referring to “Air Asia’s constant claims that they will stimulate demand.”

And now we have on board the airline the very man who was part of the start up team of AirAsia.

Says Sanjiv Kapoor, “Kanesh’s joining is part of an ongoing refresh of SpiceJet’s management team, with further announcements to be made in the coming weeks”

FAA Downgrades India to Category 2

Tags

, ,

Downgrade_crash

As released by the FAA:

FAAThe U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today announced that India has been assigned a Category 2 rating under its International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) program, based on a recent reassessment of the country’s civil aviation authority. This signifies that India’s civil aviation safety oversight regime does not currently comply with the international safety standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO); however, the United States will continue to work with India’s Directorate General for Civil Aviation (DGCA) to identify the remaining steps necessary to regain Category 1 status for India. With a Category 2 rating, India’s carriers can continue existing service to the United States, but will not be allowed to establish new service to the United States.

India achieved a Category 1 rating, signifying compliance with ICAO standards, in August 1997. A December 2012 ICAO audit identified deficiencies in the ICAO-set global standards for oversight of aviation safety by India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). Subsequently, the FAA began a reassessment of India’s compliance with ICAO standards under the FAA’s IASA program, which monitors adherence to international safety standards and practices. The FAA has consulted extensively with the DCGA and other relevant Indian government ministries during its evaluation, including consultations in India in September and early December, and meetings this week in Delhi.

“U.S. and Indian aviation officials have developed an important working relationship as our countries work to meet the challenges of ensuring international aviation safety. The FAA is available to work with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation to help India regain its Category 1 rating,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

The Government of India has made significant progress towards addressing issues identified during the September 2013 IASA assessment. On January 20, the Government of India took further steps to resolve outstanding issues when the Indian Cabinet approved the hiring of 75 additional full-time inspectors. The United States Government commends the Indian government for taking these important actions, and looks forward to continued progress by Indian authorities to comply with internationally mandated aviation safety oversight standards.

Additional Background on the FAA’s IASA Program:

As part of the FAA’s IASA program, the agency assesses on a uniform basis the civil aviation authorities of all countries with air carriers that operate or have applied to operate to the United States and makes that information available to the public. The assessments determine whether or not foreign civil aviation authorities are meeting ICAO safety standards, not FAA regulations.

A Category 2 rating means a country either lacks laws or regulations necessary to oversee air carriers in accordance with minimum international standards, or that its civil aviation authority – equivalent to the FAA for aviation safety matters – is deficient in one or more areas, such as technical expertise, trained personnel, record-keeping or inspection procedures.

Countries with air carriers that fly to the United States must adhere to the safety standards of ICAO, the United Nations’ technical agency for aviation that establishes international standards and recommended practices for aircraft operations and maintenance.

Oxygen: Airbus A320: Project Airbus Tech

Tags

, , , , , , ,

LOGO_1280

Project Airbus Tech is pleased to announce the availability of the chapter on the A320′s Oxygen: ATA 35.

This is a milestone in the project, with just 3 chapters left to complete this A320 Q&A Bank.

We thank each and every one of you for the support lent, in any which way possible, including reviewing the answers. Hats off to Sushank Gupta for taking the efforts to answer the questions.

To view the chapter on Oxygen, click HERE.