F-35 manufacturer Lockheed Martin will retrofit early production lots of F-35Bs delivered to the U.S. Marine Corps with modified bulkheads to address cracking issues that came to light during durability testing of ground articles last fall. It will build redesigned bulkheads into the fighter beginning with low-rate production lot (LRIP) 9, said Rear Adm. Randy Mahr, deputy program manager with the Pentagon’s F-35 joint program office (JPO).
RwandAir of Kigali, Rwanda, took delivery of a dual-class Bombardier Q400 turboprop in late February, marking the fulfillment of an order announced last April.
RwandAir deputy CEO Jean Paul Nyirubutama accepted the aircraft during a delivery ceremony at Bombardier’s Toronto assembly site. Plans call for the airplane, which features a 67-seat interior, to replace RwandAir’s 37-seat de Havilland Canada Dash 8-200.
Colombia’s Avianca Airlines and ATR have signed a 10-year maintenance contract covering the Medellin-based carrier’s new fleet of ATR 72-600s. Under the so-called Global Maintenance Agreement, ATR will provide repair and overhaul services for the fleet and completely manage line-replaceable units, the maintenance and availability of aircraft parts and components, the advanced exchange pool of services, and a parts inventory at its logistics center in Miami. In late 2012 Avianca signed a purchase agreement with ATR for a fleet of 15 ATR 72-600s, and took an option for 15 more.
ExecuJet Europe is launching helicopter charter and management services from its London Cambridge FBO, having received a helicopter AOC from the UK CAA. The company’s managed and charter fleet includes two Airbus EC155s based at Cambridge Airport, and negotiations for two more contracts have been under way since September. ExecuJet is telling managed helicopter customers they will benefit from its buying power for items such as fuel and insurance. Operations director John Brutnell said he expects charter demand for both business and leisure travel.
The ATC phrases “climb via” and “descend via” were officially added to the pilot/controller glossary on April 3, indicating the FAA now expects pilots to understand and comply with the new abbreviated IFR clearances. Pilots can expect to hear these instructions when operating on standard instrument departures (SIDs) and standard terminal arrival routes (Stars) when ATC changes a procedure’s altitude restriction for some reason.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a number of recommendations to the FAA on April 2 related to flare cueing issues on the Boeing MD-11. The Board said the airliner made 13 hard landings between 1994 and 2010. It wants the FAA and Boeing to determine the effectiveness of new systems to assist MD-11 pilots in making timely and appropriate inputs during the landing flare. The NTSB expects to see a formal report to help determine how useful a new system might be.
Last week the NTSB released a letter it received in mid-March from South Korea’s Aviation and Railway Accident Investigation Board (KARAIB) claiming that the pilots of Asiana Airlines Flight 214 were not totally responsible for the accident last July at San Francisco International Airport that killed three people and destroyed a Boeing 777.
A Finnish-registered Bombardier Challenger 300 climbing toward St. Petersburg, Russia, experienced an uncommanded pitch-up that injured two of the six people on board. The aircraft had just departed Moscow Sheremetyevo (UUEE) Airport for a charter flight on Dec. 23, 2010 and quickly returned to Moscow, where the injured were taken to hospital.
The FAA issued a special ATC procedure Notam last week for the upcoming Masters Golf Tournament in Augusta, Ga. The Notam becomes effective April 7 and requires slot reservations for any of the Augusta-area airports: Bush Field, Daniel Field, Aiken Municipal and Thomson-McDuffie County.
The UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch reported last week that the cause of the March 16 accident in which an Airbus Helicopters EC135T2i crashed into a busy pub in Glasgow is still unknown. “[The] investigation to date has not identified any technical malfunction that might account for the accident.