Concorde, the Anglo-French supersonic airliner that is the flagship of British Airways and Air France, could become a victim of the current economic downturn. Almost exactly 34 years after its first flight and less than 18 months since the aircraft returned to service after being grounded following the July 25, 2000 accident in Paris, British Airways confirmed that it is reviewing Concorde’s future.
A November airline takeoff incident in South Africa, reportedly involving foreign object damage (FOD), has attracted the attention of aviation safety officials worldwide and could be of concern to corporate operators of aircraft with powerful low-slung engines, such as the Boeing BBJ and 757/767 and the Airbus ACJ.
British and French authorities were expected to issue ADs for the grounded Concorde supersonic jetliners on August 28, some 13 months after the July 25 fatal crash of one of the SSTs. Subject to final modification work being completed (see story on page 58), British Airways could resume Concorde commercial flights to New York later this month, with Air France expected to follow suit next month.
Saudi Arabian Airlines has signed a MoU for 22 A320 narrowbodies, heralding the eventual signing of the first order by the Kingdom’s flag carrier for Airbus airplanes in some two decades, Airbus announced here yesterday. The agreement allows the flag carrier to increase the order by eight aircraft of the same type.
Both local and Western companies are enjoying a strong market for maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services in the Middle East, due to increased airline activity and military aircraft fleets.
The variety of types and average size of business and private aircraft is changing here in the Middle East, with new customers increasingly willing to fly in medium-sized jets that would have seemed out of the question in this market a few years ago.
Blue skies over the Atlantic may look a little greener over the next few years as the U.S. and European Union member states work together to reduce aviation’s environmental impact.
European authorities apparently do not share the qualms the Federal Communications Commission and FAA have about the in-flight use of personal cellphones. At the Paris Air Show in June, mobile telephony service provider OnAir announced that the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has certified the airborne GSM equipment that supports OnAir Services for use on the Airbus A318.
The Air France-KLM Group revealed itself yesterday as the customer that placed a previous order for nine Boeing 777-300ERs and seven 737-700s. Air France will add the 777s to its existing fleet of 46 of the type, while KLM replaces older 737s and expands its European short-haul operations. KLM plans to align the interior specification and operation of the -700s with its low-fare affiliate, Transavia.
Boeing has released half of the defined design for the 777F cargo aircraft to its factories and suppliers to begin manufacture of tools, parts and assemblies. The large twin-engine freighter is said to be on track to meet Boeing’s performance commitments. Launch customer Air France, which ordered the aircraft in May 2005, expects to receive the first of five examples in the last three months of next year.