Eurocontrol’s Maastricht Upper Area Control Center last week introduced a system to dynamically manage upper airspace to suit traffic flow. The new variable division flight level (VDFL) enables a flexible distribution of traffic between upper and lower sectors (from 24,500 feet to unlimited), by altering the division flight level to match changing traffic patterns. The division flight level between the upper and lower sectors was previously fixed at 33,500 feet.
The captain who lost control of a Boeing 737 that subsequently crashed in Kazan, Russia, on November 17 may have been operating with a false pilot certificate, according to Associated Press reports on the investigation. The aircraft was executing a go-around when it entered a near-vertical dive before the impact that killed all 50 people on board.
No sooner did Boeing begin evaluating bids from 22 U.S. states to build all or part of the new 777X last week when it re-entered talks with its machinists union, suddenly brightening the prospects for the incumbent, Washington state. By Thursday, however, it seemed the sides had gained little or no ground in their efforts to strike a deal for a contract extension, as union leaders quickly rejected Boeing’s most recent “best and final” offer.
Airlines will continue to enjoy ready access to financing for new aircraft acquisitions, as funding sources such as bonds grow in importance as options for financial support, according to Boeing’s seventh annual aircraft finance market forecast. The report, released in London on December 10, said that while export credit agency funding will decline in significance in the coming years, the industry will see a more even balance among carriers’ use of bonds, leases and loans from banks and capital markets.
Aiming to reduce exposure to potential residual-value guarantee (RVG) claims for the A340 twin-aisle quad-jet, Airbus plans to recertify the aircraft to carry 475 passengers, while Rolls-Royce works to improve the type’s engine efficiency and maintenance costs. The European manufacturer told a stakeholders’ forum on December 4 that with increased capacity and lower maintenance charges and ownership costs, the A340-600 can compete against the Boeing 777-200ER and -300ER and replace larger 747-400s.
Riding the favorable winds of increasing passenger traffic, slightly better fuel prices and revenues from ancillary services such as baggage fees, the world’s airlines should post record absolute profits in 2014, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). But some parts of the air transport system, particularly cargo and business-class passengers, remain at pre-recession levels.
The U.S. air traffic management (ATM) system outperforms Europe’s more fragmented system on both cost and operations, according to two reports issued by the Eurocontrol Performance Review Commission (PRC).
Iraq has signed a contract with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) to buy 24 T-50 Golden Eagle advanced jet trainers. According to KAI, the deal at the outset is worth $1.1 billion, including initial pilot training, but will almost double in value with the addition of support over 20 years. Iraq also evaluated the Aero Vodochody L-159, BAE Hawk Mk 128 and Yakovlev Yak-130, according to KAI.
Boeing and Saab signed a joint development agreement for the U.S. Air Force’s T-X jet trainer requirement. They join three other industry teams offering aircraft for the T-X competition, which is expected to begin with a request for proposals (RFP) in 2016.
Bombardier closed the sale of Flexjet to Flexjet LLC, a newly created company funded by Directional Aviation Capital, last week, though aircraft are still being transferred to the new owner. When the deal was announced on September 5, the acquisition price was $185 million; following “purchase price adjustments,” it is now estimated at $195 million, including the “assumption of an estimated $70 million of customer advances” by Directional’s Flexjet LLC.