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Aeroplane derivative design era begins

“We have every justification for taking an optimistic view on the mid- and long-term prospects for this program,” Franz-Josef Strauss, the chairman of Airbus Industrie on the A320 programme in 1987.

It was a grand declaration. Just over 27 years and 7 months after Airbus’ first A320-100 MSN001 took to the sky Airbus’ A320neo flew for the first time yesterday commencing the type’s certification campaign.

The original A320-100 was the first fully fly-by-wire aircraft, and the beginning of Airbus’ now conventional side stick in replacement of the traditional yoke. At the time of the first flight there was significant psychological aversion of pilots and certifiers to full electronic control with the belief that hardware was still more reliable that electronics. On this note, it’s worth reading a flight test report written during the original A320 test campaign.

Innovation and willingness to take industry leading chances made and broke both Airbus and Boeing. It was this mentality also drove both to greatness. But the wounds of the last few years still raw, appetite for risk is minimal. The neo’s first flight is significant in this respect because it marks the embodiment of the derivative era. Re-engined efficiency has begun.

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Featured images via Airbus SAS.

 

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Amazing footage from Swiss’ accompanied A330 flyover of Air14 at Payerne in celebration of the Swiss Air Force’s centenary.

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Onboard the A350 during ‘Airline 1′

Over the last two weeks A350 MSN5 F-WWYV has been undertaking Airline 1. The 110,000 kilometre route proving campaign mirrors airline service, testing and hopefully accelerating the maturity of the aircraft by measuring its performance against KPIs such as dispatch reliability.

With major testing already complete, Airline 1 is the last major milestone before the Airbus applies for certification. Following certification the first four A350-900s will be delivered, in order, to Qatar Airways, Vietnam Airlines, Finnair and TAM.

“The concept is simple: to operate and test the aircraft as much as possible in an operational environment, use the maintenance and support systems that our customers would have, capture their findings as soon as possible, and fix small issues quickly,” says Didier Evrard, Head of the A350XWB Programme.

While MSN5 arrived in Perth from Doha today on the final leg of Airline 1, over the last two weeks the campaign has already brought the aircraft to Sydney and Hong Kong where av journalist Will Horton and I were lucky enough to take a look ground and in the sky. Enjoy the tour.

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A350 arrives in Australia, Airbus confirms 420-minute ETOPS

Airbus A350 world tour landed in Sydney this morning at 06:36. The fifth test aircraft MSN5 which is undertaking the three week long route proving campaign touched down after flying direct from Johannesburg in a little over 12 hours. MSN5 was unrestricted by ETOPS operations as they were test flights carrying only crew and Airbus technical staff.

After approximately seven hours on the ground where it was shown off to Qantas, Virgin Australia and local media it rotated off Sydney’s runway 16R for Auckland at 14:21. It will continue to Chile on Wednesday evening.

While on the ground A350 project test pilot Frank Chapman confirmed a long unconfirmed rumour that Airbus was indeed pursuing 420 minute ETOPS approval for all members of the A350 family. 420 minute approval – 7 hours flying time from a suitable diversion – would deliver the A350 the ability to operate virtually anywhere in the world unrestricted, except over the south pole.

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Feature image by Jaryd Stock, other images by Carry-on. Original post updated 10 August, 22:00. 

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Thai Retires the A300

Almost 37 years after the love affair began Thai Airways marked the end of A300 operations last week with the retirement of its final three A300s HS-TAT, -TAW and -TAZ.

Thai took its first A300B4-2C in October 1977, eventually operating 33 of the type. This later included the A300-600 and A300-600R which entered the fleet in 1985 and 1988 respectively. It took one of the last -600R passenger models off the production line in December 1998.

Images courtesy of Thai Airways, and hspit and panuwutp on Instagram.

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75 years and a new PC-24

What better way to celebrate your 75th anniversary than rolling out your first jet aircraft. Yesterday in celebration of the milestone anniversary and Swiss National Day, Pilatus rolled out its new Williams International FJ-44-4A powered PC-24 line CN: P01 at Buochs airfield.

The slightly delayed rollout kicks off a two-year type certification campaign with first flight tentatively scheduled for March 2015.

Three aircraft will eventually be involved in the certification campaign. The first prototype, pictured, registered HB-VXA will be used to develop the flight envelope. Of the design process to date Pilatus Chairman, Oscar Schwenk says “the design is OK as far as we can tell, but you only find out for sure when you are airborne. We want to open all corners of the envelope and see what happens.”

“When you are building an aircraft, every day is a compromise. Either you are too heavy, or not fast enough or you are not innovative enough on the avionics” – Oscar Schwenk, Pilatus Chairman.

A second aircraft to be used in avionics and system testing will roll out in February, while a third will follow in Summer 2015. The aircraft remains too heavy, within the never exceed weight, but outside the specs initially promised, with work on weight reduction continuing.

Certification is expected in 2017 with production spots sold out for next three years. Locally, the RFDS has ordered 3 PC-24s with an option on one additional aircraft for its Western Australian division.

e5f1b4a158569bb8d87dc2faf746f8ff-DSC_2521All images courtesy of Pilatus.

 

737 Max Confusion

Announcing the introduction of a 200-seat version of its 189 seat 737 Max 8 that will really only seat 199 caused Boeing’s Commercial Airplane team quite some confusion at Farnborough last week.

The amusing exchange kicked off when a reporter asked, what should we call the new variant of Boeing’s re-engined narrowbody?

“Max 8,” replied Ray Conner, president of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. But isn’t that what Boeing already calls the 189-seat version? “The other one will be the -8,” Conner said. So what will the 200-seat version be called? “The Max 8,” replied Conner. Many in the audience looked at each other, perplexed. Conner continued, “Look, we’re not going to be doing the NG anymore, so [the 189-seater] is going to the be the 737-8. So the other is going to be the 737 Max 8.” Another baffled journo prodded further, so what will be the 200-seat variant be called? “Max 8,” said Conner. Himself now confused, Conner turned to his colleague Boeing’s chief salesman John Wojick for help, “Isn’t that right, you guys?” Now even Wojick seemed uncertain, cautiously replying “I don’t know if we’ve decided exactly what we’re going to call it.” The room proceeded to nod in silent agreement, and the briefing moved on. An hour later as proceedings wrapped up Conner returned to his muddled narrative. “Forget what I said about the name. We’ll go back and figure it out.”

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ANZ’s Black Bird in SYD

Air New Zealand brought its new 787-9 to Sydney for the first time today kicking off a series of ad hoc route proving flights before the aircraft enters commercial service.

The airline says “the 787-9 is schedule to operate between Auckland and Sydney on a surprise and delight basis from 9 August.” Ad hoc services to Perth will start in September ahead of the formal launch of scheduled services on 15 October.

Flightglobal’s comprehensive report on why the -9 is more than just a stretch of the -8 is well worth a read.

Feature image courtesy of Jaryd Stock.

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