UK carrier EasyJet said it will apply new technologies, including operating small unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), to maintain its Airbus fleet. The airline is also developing 3D virtual reality and augmented reality technology, customized engineering applications and early fault prognosis. It is installing Panasonic Toughpad tablets in cockpits fleetwide.
Business aviation services group Comlux has strengthened its management team as it seeks to further differentiate itself from competitors in both the completions and refurbishment and aircraft management sectors. In an interview ahead of this week’s EBACE show, the Zurich, Switzerland-based group’s president and CEO Richard Gaona told AIN that Comlux will not be following the cost-cutting approach apparently favored by some competitors.
Comlux has increased its managed fleet to 19 jets with the addition of an Airbus ACJ318. The aircraft is based in the Middle East and will be operated by a European crew entirely for the private use of its undisclosed owner.
According to the group’s president and CEO, Richard Gaona, Comlux’s approval to operate under ETOPS 180 extended-range-over-water rules and conduct Cat IIIB approaches has been a key differentiator from rival management companies. For Airbus aircraft alone, the company has logged more than 12,000 flight hours over the past six years.
Airbus Helicopters (formerly Eurocopter) is here exhibiting the Hermès luxury version of its EC135, and is soliciting new possibilities for customization. The helicopter manufacturer (Booth 6613) is seeing a steady market in private and business aviation, with a combined 150 helicopters sold in the world last year by rotorcraft OEMs. Company design engineers are now working on the VIP version of the EC175, with hinged doors and an escalator for passengers.
In the annual announcements by Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier, Embraer and other aircraft manufacturers about the half-million or so additional pilots who will be needed to fill cockpits over the next 20 years, often overlooked is the need for an even greater number of maintenance technicians: about 600,000 by 2031, according to Boeing’s most recent forecast. So if there is already, or will soon be, a shortage of qualified pilots, is there not also a shortfall in maintenance personnel? And not just in commercial aviation but business aviation and civil helicopter operations as well?
TrueNorth Avionics is on track to receive the first FAA technical standard order (TSO) certification for its new FANS 1/A-capable Simphone data link unit (DLU), which enables FANS-over-Iridium communication over oceanic routes. The new DLU has already achieved RTCA DO-178B level-D software certification, and the TSO is expected shortly.
Statistics released this week by Airbus showed that commercial aircraft bookings for 78 airplanes in April increased its net order total for the year to 142, while Boeing’s order total for the month stood at 70, raising its 2014 net total as of May 6 to 291.
SriLankan Airlines appears poised to expand its reach into the neighboring Indian air transport market after becoming the 14th member of One World alliance late last month. The move is a boost to a country trying to bounce back after a 25-year civil war and also makes SriLankan the first carrier from the Indian subcontinent to gain admission into a global airline alliance—ahead of rival operators in the far larger Indian market.
AAR’s Duluth repair station has completed its 100th aircraft since it re-opened an abandoned 188,000-sq-ft hangar in November 2012. Today, AAR Aircraft Services Duluth supports three lines of aircraft maintenance and 305 jobs. The Duluth facility is currently dedicated to the single-aisle Airbus fleet, exclusively servicing the A319, A320 and A321. AAR is on track to open a fourth line of maintenance in September, creating another 70 positions.
Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways announced first destinations and unveiled premium cabin configurations for its coming Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 widebodies on May 4. The Gulf carrier plans to start service of both aircraft types in December.