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Carry-on’s top 13 of 2013.

2013 was exceptional proof that aviation is far from sclerotic. Beginning with continued fixation on the 787 as Boeing’s amour propre was tested by further incidents and a grounding. Eyes turned skyward for the equal greatest number of first flights in history. Rarely appreciating the continued challenging conditions airlines and the industry faces, politicians continued to provide opaque interference, compounding an already fractured dichotomy. There was awe as the world’s largest airline was replaced with with an even larger carrier, rosy profit turnarounds turned into sickening loss projections, and a renewed geopolitical rivalry in everything from aerospace manufacturing to air traffic rights. Here’s our 13 of 2013:

1. The 787.

The most exciting new aircraft in years became known for one thing in 2013: fire. In January the worldwide fleet was grounded – only the second aircraft since the DC-10 to be grounded in this way – following a series of electrical faults and battery fires caused by thermal runaway. The batteries were pulled out, boxed, and additional venting at a cost of approximately $500,000 per aircraft. Back in the air confidence has grown, the 787-9 is now flying and there has only been a small fiery issue relating to a locator beacon. Image: Richard Deakin.

 

2. CSeries flies.

110 years later Bombardier did it again for the very first time. This time with the first completely new narrow-body design since the A320 family.

 

3. ICAO’s emissions agreement.

ICAO’s member states reached a landmark multilateral agreement to develop a market-based measure that would reduce carbon emissions by 2020. The agreement will allow countries and airlines to operate under a single global standard rather than competing carbon regimes. Governments’ individual plans will be approved at the next assembly in 2016.

 

 

 

 

Continue reading “Carry-on’s top 13 of 2013.” »

aa livery

#keeptail or #switchtail? Doug Parker doesn’t care.

Debating the merits of certain aircraft liveries as much as anyone, I have always believed they are not particularly important to the success of an airline, and have yet to find a customer who based their purchase decision on the exterior design of the airplane. – Doug Parker, American Airlines CEO   Now, merger complete, employees of […]

The weekly rollerboard 10 November

The first of our weekly rollerboard wraps, neatly packing up a broader and atypical perspective on the industry.

Going to ground

Air India’s Boeing 787 fleet has been in a bit of a pickle over the last few weeks leading to the airline’s decision to preemptively ground one aircraft at a time from the end of November.

Ostensibly for software upgrades, each grounding will last for an undetermined length of time giving AI time to conduct more general repairs across its fleet of ten 787-8s. What is wrong outside the airline’s own 787 minimum equipment list (MEL) Air India hasn’t confirmed, but there has been multiple incidents including the loss of a mid-underwing-to-body fairing located on the belly of the aeroplane on the right side at Bangalore Airport, a cracked windshield grounding an aircraft in Melbourne, another grounding in Sydney due to undisclosed issues, and a braking issue on a flight from London to Delhi.

An unofficial Air India source says “Boeing has put out certain service bulletins which the airline will implement. This is not mandatory. The airline is doing it on its own to increase reliability of the aircraft.”

Continue reading “The weekly rollerboard 10 November” »

A350XWB takes to the skies on its maiden five hour long sortie.

Second A350 takes to the skies.

Sometimes I manage to come across the most random stories, while the Xtra large ones fly under the radar. A350-900 MSN3 has officially joined MSN1 in the sky on the A350 test programme after completing its maiden five hour long sortie earlier this week.

Both aircraft are fitted with a heavy flight test instrumentation package and will continue to be used for aircraft aeroelasticity, handling and performance testing. Since it’s first flight in June MSN1 has accumulated 330 flight test hours devoted to the identification and freeze of all flap and slat configurations, loads and aeroelastic testing and evaluation of the aircraft’s handling characteristics and systems’ operation throughout the operational envelope. Continue reading “Second A350 takes to the skies.” »

Emirates is taking over Auckland one A380 at a time. Image: Emirates.

Taking over the world one A380 at a time.

Alone, unafraid, last week Emirates’ inaugural A380 service on its daily Dubai – Brisbane – Auckland route winged its way south-east. The service becomes Brisbane’s first and only scheduled A380 service increasing capacity on the route by approximately 193,000 seats per annum. Meanwhile, across the pond, Auckland is now the only airport outside Dubai to host […]

Airbus' A350 MSN001 undertaking VMU speed testing. Image: Airbus S.A.S.

Unsticking the Airbus A350.

The A350-900 test flight programme continues apace. MSN003 started its engines for the first time yesterday; MSN001 having pushed past 250 flight hours – with its tail bumper installed (see right) – this week took to Châlons Vatry Airport to begin one of its most spectacular of tests: Velocity Minimum Unstick (VMU) testing.

VMU is an intense series of tests used to determine the minimum speed at which the A350 will become airborne. During testing the pilots over-rotate the aircraft as early as possible to the maximum angle of attack allowed on the ground, until the tail bumper settles and drags along the runway. This angle of attack is held until the aircraft becomes airborne, or ‘unsticks’.

Continue reading “Unsticking the Airbus A350.” »

Air New Zealand's first aircraft - A320 ZK-OXB - in the carrier's new fern livery. Image: Air New Zealand.

Air New Zealand’s new fern takes to the sky.

  Air New Zealand has unveiled its first aircraft – an Airbus A320 registered ZK-OXB – to be painted in carrier’s bold new monochromatic fern livery. The livery is the second iteration of Air New Zealand’s new corporate branding first revealed in July 2012, and part of a substantial NZD$20 million marketing campaign with Tourism […]

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