Five Bombardier Dash 8-100 regional turboprops at Norway’s Widerøe’s Flyveselskap had undergone 80,000-flight cycle (FC) inspections by last month as part of an extended-service program (ESP) approved by Transport Canada and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in 2009. Of the 299 Dash 8-100s built, some 100 constitute the near-term market for the life-extension modifications, according to the manufacturer. Bombardier expects a further 128 will reach the 80,000-cycle threshold during the coming nine years.
The FAA has certified a new functionality on the Sikorsky S-92: an automated rig approach for offshore operators intended to decrease workload when the crew is in a critical flight phase. Sikorsky intends eventually to bring the same capability to the smaller S-76D.
The S-92’s autopilot already had a search-and-rescue (SAR) mode that could fly the rotorcraft to a point in space. Sikorsky design engineers, collaborating with operator PHI, built on this mode to create the new functionality. In addition, the weather radar ensures the flight path is free from obstacles.
Bombardier’s Flexjet subsidiary reported a strong first quarter, led by growth in new buyers as well as higher levels of activity by existing fractional-share, jet card and lease customers. In the first quarter, new business was up 83 percent, fractional share sales up 108 percent and jet card sales up 48 percent over the same period last year. “Our flying is not only up with all the new sales,” said Flexjet president Deanna White, “but also our existing customers are ramping up their flying time. People are starting to open their wallets again.”
Eurocopter performed a demonstration flight of an “optionally piloted vehicle” (OPV) version of the EC145 in late April, with the goal of eventually employing any of its models in unmanned operations such as automated surveillance and cargo hauling. Secret flight-testing began two weeks earlier at Istres air force base in France. The project’s coordination team is based at Eurocopter’s research and development center in Donauwörth, Germany, where the first flights, with a monitoring pilot, took place.
The civil aviation authorities of Indonesia and Myanmar have ordered the grounding of Merpati Nusantara Airlines’ and Myanmar Airways’ Xi’an Aircraft Industries MA-60 fleets for airworthiness checks following a series of accidents.
A Merpati MA-60 crashed at El Tari Airport in Kupang, in east Indonesia, on June 10. On the same day a Myanmar MA-60 skidded and overshot the runway after landing at the Kawthaung Airport.
The Department of Transportation’s inspector general (IG) released an update last month on the FAA’s progress with the standard terminal automation replacement system (Stars), the program to modernize terminal ATC equipment. The IG report identified a number of problem areas slowing Stars implementation caused by early, as yet unresolved, hardware and software delays that have put the entire program in jeopardy.
On June 27 construction concluded on an engineered materials arresting system (Emas) added to the new runway safety area (RSA) at the departure end of Boston Logan’s Runway 33L. The new crushable concrete system sits atop a 300-foot-wide concrete pier that extends nearly 500 feet into the water. The Emas itself covers an area 500 feet long and 170 feet wide.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), working with the Changi Airport Group, has introduced a number of new procedures on June 19 to ensure safe operations at Singapore’s Changi International Airport (WSSS). The efforts are specific to operations during low-visibility conditions resulting from recent severe haze caused by fires set to clear land in Sumatra. An extra one or two miles of separation will be added between arrivals, and the airport will keep runway lights on during daytime operations.
Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic Airways took the first step toward confronting the formidable threat of the recent British Airways-American Airlines pairing as regulators approved Delta’s acquisition of Singapore Airlines’ 49-percent stake in the UK carrier last week. The acquisition means that Virgin Atlantic and Delta have cleared a major hurdle in their effort toward forming a full joint venture, an antitrust review of which the U.S. Department of Transportation expects to complete during this year’s third quarter.
Unspecified and apparently last-minute computer software problems prompted Bombardier to scrap its end-of-June target for first flight of the CSeries, the company announced last Wednesday. It now expects first flight to happen by the end of this month.