Raytheon Technologies on Tuesday posted higher sales and net income in the third quarter driven by a rebound in the aftermarket business for commercial aircraft and strong results in its defense businesses, leading the company to boost its earnings outlook for this year.
Net income of $1.4 billion, 93 cents earnings per share (EPS), was up more than 500 percent from $264 million (17 cents EPS) a year ago. Adjusted earnings, which exclude acquisition related accounting adjustments, and to a lesser extent debt retirement and restructuring costs, were $1.26 EPS in the quarter, topping consensus estimates by 17 cents per share.
Sales increased 10 percent to $16.2 billion versus $14.7 billion a year ago with all of the growth organic.
Growth in the quarter was led by the Pratt & Whitney engine business, which was higher due to the commercial sales in the aftermarket and passenger aircraft business, and also benefited slightly from an uptick in sustainment for F-135 engines that power the F-35 fighter jet.
Sales were also up at the Collins Aerospace segment related to commercial aftermarket support and the Raytheon Missiles and Defense Segment due to growth on an international National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System and the Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile program.
Income gains were driven by commercial aftermarket at the Collins Aerospace segment and a swing to profit at Pratt & Whitney, also due to improvements in the commercial aftermarket. RTC’s defense businesses also enjoyed double-digit percentage increased in operating income due to improved productivity and higher sales.
Raytheon will have about $350 million in lower defense sales this year, about $275 million of which will eventually be recovered, Greg Hayes, the company’s chairman and CEO, said on an earnings call. The U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan is responsible for $75 million of the lost sales through services to the U.S. and Afghan governments and won’t be recovered, he said.
Hayes described the $275 million in lost sales as supply chain and workforce issues. Raytheon hasn’t been able to hire enough new employees, which impacts revenue, he said. Supply chain issues are also preventing the receipt of raw materials and components, which can’t be billed to customers until they arrive, he added.
Hiring issues represent about one-third of the lost defense sales and the supply chain disruptions the rest, Hayes said. Lead times for some raw materials have doubled, he said, adding that logistics have also become a challenge with having trucks picking up and delivering materials. Suppliers are also facing labor shortages, he said.
President Biden’s Dec. 8 vaccine mandate for federal contractors is likely to add to near-term supply chain pressures. But in the long-term, as vaccine rates increase, this will boost confidence in the safety of air travel, Neil Mitchill, Raytheon’s chief financial officer, said on the earnings call.
A drop in production rates for Boeing’s 787 commercial airliner has also significantly impacted sales expectations this year, Mitchill also said.
Backlog at the end of the third quarter stood at $156.1 billion, up 4 percent from $150.1 billion at the end of 2020. Defense work accounts for $65 billion of the backlog, down $200 million from the end of 2020.
Raytheon acquired two companies during the third quarter, FlightAware and SEAKR Engineering, and Hayes said these are the types of deals the company will continue to make, particularly to enhance current offerings in software and space systems. The company continues to review its portfolio for potential divestitures of lower margin, lower growth businesses, he said.
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Alaska Air Group, the parent company of Alaska Airlines, has partnered with ZeroAvia under a collaboration that will develop a hydrogen-electric powertrain capable of flying a 76-seat regional aircraft with a range of 500 nautical miles, according to an Oct. 26 announcement made by the two companies.
The partnership marks the latest milestone for ZeroAvia, the California-based green startup that has been testing its hydrogen powertrain in the U.K. over the last year, in their effort to de-carbonize regional airline operations. Under the new partnership, the two company’s engineering teams will scale ZeroAvia’s existing hydrogen electric powertrain to produce the “ZA2000,” that will be retrofitted onto a 76-seat De Havilland Q400 previously operated by Horizon Air.
“Alaska is committed to creating a sustainable future for aviation, working on all aspects of a five-part path toward our goal of net zero by 2040,” Diana Birkett Rakow, vice president of public affairs and sustainability for Alaska Airlines said in a statement announcing the new partnership.
ZeroAvia notes that the ZA2000 will be an engine family capable of producing between 2,000 and 5,000 kilowatts of power allowing for a 500-mile range. A new facility will be established near Seattle to support the development of the ZA2000 engine. Alaska has also secured options for up to 50 kits to begin converting its regional aircraft to hydrogen-electric power, starting with the Q400.
Alaska is including the new partnership in the five-step plan it laid out earlier this year to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2040. Ben Minicucci, CEO of Alaska Airlines, previously commented on the carrier’s view of electric aircraft during an appearance on a U.S. Chamber of Commerce Aviation Summit panel in April, describing how it could eventually be used on small passenger carrying aircraft.
“I think we need to help these technology companies with investment, and research so we can really accelerate, the issue of batteries is very heavy, but I think you’ll see it on little passenger airplanes, whether they be 5-10 at first and then moving into the bigger regional market,” Minicucci said.
ZeroAvia’s Alaska Air Group partnership announcement came a day after another partnership agreement was announced with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Regional Jet Aviation Group (MHIRJ) to provide engineering services in support of their effort to certify their hydrogen-electric propulsion technology for regional jets. MHIRJ will also provide “advisory services evaluating the feasibility of a green retrofit program for regional aircraft,” according to an Oct. 25 press release.
Both the Alaska Air Group and MHIRJ partnership agreements come following a series of program development ups and downs for ZeroAvia, including an off-airport landing of their test aircraft near Cranfield Airport in April and the start of ground-testing for a 600 kilowatt powertrain designed for a 19-seat aircraft several months later in August.
“The aviation industry is one of the hardest industries to decarbonize; however, with this collaboration, we are one step closer to achieving our goal of making our skies emission-free,” Val Mifthakhov, CEO and founder of ZeroAvia said in a statement. “We are thrilled to see Alaska taking the lead to implement clean technologies into their operations and look forward to putting boots on the ground with Alaska’s team.”
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Mesa Air Group has become the first scheduled U.S.-based airline to launch a commercial drone delivery service, according to an Oct. 21 announcement.
The Phoenix, Arizona-based Mesa Air Group — a holding company of Mesa Airlines — signed an agreement with unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) manufacturer Flirtey for a firm order of four of its electric-powered Flirtey Eagle drones. Under the agreement, Mesa has the option to order an additional 500 aircraft.
Reno, Nevada-based Flirtey completed the first FAA-approved drone delivery in 2015 as part of the UAS Integration Pilot Program (IPP), and currently offers its Eagle drone, a portable drone launch point and autonomous software for commercial drone services.
“Mesa is excited to partner with Flirtey to become the first scheduled airline to launch drone delivery in the U.S. Drone delivery is a huge market and it’s here now. This is the future of small package last mile delivery,” Mesa Chairman and CEO Jonathan Ornstein said in a statement.
Mesa and Flirtey have formed a partnership as part of their purchase order agreement, where the two companies will initially focus on the last-mile food delivery industry to fulfill Mesa’s desire to move into the global food services market. One immediate goal of the partnership is to operate commercial drone deliveries for last-mile food and beverage options in the U.S..
Eventually, Flirtey and Mesa want to pursue expansion of their drone delivery service to more locations throughout the U.S. and New Zealand. Flirtey has conducted over 6,000 drone delivery flights in U.S. airspace, while Mesa will leverage its operational experience currently managing approximately 450 daily departure routes in the U.S.—as a regional subsidiary performing flights as either American Eagle, United Express, or DHL Express.
The Flirtey drone order marks Mesa Air Group’s latest effort to embrace new and innovative aviation technologies this year. In February, the regional carrier was part of a partnership formed between United Airlines and Archer Aviation for the purchase of 200 of Archer’s Maker eVTOL aircraft. Several months later in July, alongside Breakthrough Energy Ventures and United Airlines Ventures, Mesa announced plans to add 100 of the all-electric ES-19 aircraft being developed by Heart Aerospace to its feet.
Mesa has not specified a timeline as to when and where the airline plans to launch its new drone delivery service.
“Flirtey is excited to partner with Mesa to operationalize our best-in-class drone delivery aircraft and autonomous software platform. With Mesa’s operational excellence, we look forward to rapidly expanding drone delivery focusing on the trillion dollar last-mile food delivery market,” Flirtey Founder and CEO Matthew Sweeny said in a statement.
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Jaunt Air Mobility’s merge with the AIRO Group (US) will provide the financial leverage and business leadership necessary to continue the development of their Journey electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) and eventually an autonomous cargo drone. During the 2021 NBAA BACE in Las Vegas, Martin Peryea, CEO of Jaunt Air Mobility, explained how joining the AIRO Group will help achieve their eVTOL aspirations with Journey and provided some insight into how they’re approaching the development of Journey’s fly-by-wire flight control system.
Dallas, Texas-based Jaunt is aiming to develop Journey, a five-seat all-electric eVTOL to be ready for entry into service by 2026. Separately, the company is also developing a larger longer range hybrid-electric diesel-powered aircraft with VerdeGo Aero.
AIRO Group’s addition of Jaunt Air Mobility as a wholly-owned subsidiary now makes it the parent company of six companies, including Drone, Agile Defense, Aspen Avionics, Coastal Defense, Sky-Watch and VRCO.
“Financing and funding the development of our aircraft is an area where Jaunt needed some help, and we have never taken a company public, so joining AIRO allows us to participate in their business plans and collectively we know that the companies are worth more together than as individual companies,” Peryea said. “Having worked for Bell, a Textron company with a corporate governance model in place, I have a lot of experience working under this type of structure and I envision that this is going to be very similar to that model.”
Jaunt is developing an eVTOL that vertically takes off and lands like a helicopter, while transitioning into forward flight like a traditional fixed-wing aircraft. The company is developing Journey to certification requirements outlined by the rotorcraft Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Advisory Circular (AC) 29.1309-2.
“There is no new ruling that needs to take place or occur, because we’re certifying under existing Part 29 rules, which makes it easier for our engineers because they know what the design requirements are going to be. Certification specialists can validate our work because the familiarity with rotorcraft certification is already there. They will be able to understand how this aircraft operates and behaves in low-speed, its vertical takeoff and landing qualities and that gives us an advantage over some of the other aircraft configurations coming into this space that are truly not known today in terms of how they behave, especially in vertical modes of flight,” Peryea said.
Peryea said that one of the challenges for some of the newer never-seen-before aircraft configurations being proposed in the eVTOL space right now is how those designs will perform in extreme conditions or the “corners” of their respective flight envelopes.
“We call it the corners of the flight envelope,” Peryea said. “That’s one of the challenges that the rotorcraft industry has solved over the years of operating in high wind conditions, in urban areas. It requires a lot of control power and understanding of the flight dynamics of the aircraft and a lot of these new aircraft configurations don’t have any of that experience yet, it’s something they’re going to have to spend a lot of time testing and understanding. It’s really the corners of the flight envelope, because flying in nice calm easy air is no big challenge. It’s the extremes, the conditions where you really have to test your aircraft to make sure it remains safe for passengers in that flight mode.”
According to Peryea, the slow rotor capability of Journey is also a key element of its flight control system. Jaunt is using a computer system within the aircraft tasked with slowing the rotor tip speed in an effort to reduce Journey’s drag and associated vibration.
On the avionics side of Journey’s development, Jaunt is working with Garmin. Peryea said that the form factors of Garmin’s avionics systems that have been integrated into “smaller and lighter packages” in recent years, is complimentary to the space and weight savings necessary for achieving the payload, passenger capacity and payload targets that Jaunt has outlined.
Becoming an AIRO Group subsidiary also helps Jaunt Air Mobility’s funding of the development and testing of the battery technology key to Journey’s eVTOL performance and operational scope. BAE Systems first signed an electric energy management systems development agreement with Jaunt in December 2019, and has been working in conjunction with Triumph Aerospace Structures to integrate hardware and software for Journey’s battery management system as well as managing the actuation and high-voltage power distribution.
“We’ve been working closely with BAE, they’re developing the battery and battery management system and they have supplied to Boeing and Airbus and other aerospace companies and bring a tremendous amount of aircraft certification experience. They actually supply a lot of battery systems today for ground transportation and have a tremendous amount of experience developing these systems,” Peryea said.
In recent months, leading up to the new merge with AIRO Group, Jaunt has continued to expand into new partnerships and government-funded eVTOL competitions as well as research and development contracts. In May for example, the company appointed former Eric Côté, a former Bombardier executive, to serve as president of Jaunt Air Mobility Canada, where the company will open new design and manufacturing centers.
CAE has also been selected to lead the design and development of the Jaunt Aircraft Systems Integration Lab (JASIL) and VerdeGo Aero announced the results of 500 full-scale tests of the prototype hybrid system that they’re developing for Jaunt’s larger hybrid electric aircraft.
“AIRO has existing revenue in its current civilian and military operations and has historically reinvested earnings into Independent Research and Development (IRAD). Therefore, additional capital required to produce fully operational eVTOL aircraft is substantially reduced to our advantage compared with our competitors,” Dr. Chirinjeev Kathuria, Executive Chairman of AIRO, said of their merger with Jaunt Air Mobility. “The current market capitalization of companies in the eVTOL space and urban air mobility platforms are very significant. AIRO additionally delivers diversified services across the UAM/Avionics/eVTOL/Defense marketplace.
AIRO is poised to be the leading publicly traded mid-tier aerospace and defense company after the void created by acquisitions in the public marketplace.”
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On the final day of the 2021 National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) Business Aviation Conference and Exhibition (BACE), I participated in a demonstration flight of the SmartSkyNetworks in-flight connectivity (IFC) network poised to become available in U.S. airspace next year. Here, I provide a brief review of how SmartSky’s IFC allowed me to stream live YouTube channels, complete slack calls and face-time among other things at 35,000 feet over Las Vegas.
Arriving at Henderson Executive Airport at 8:00 AM, I joined five other passengers and two pilots for a one-hour flight on SmartSky’s Citation Excel, a sleek and clean private jet inside and out.
Prior to boarding, Ryan Stone, president of SmartSky Networks pointed to the SmartSky Networks receive and transmit antennas, both affixed to the bottom of the fuselage and showed us the Honeywell GoDirect Router that was being used to enable Wi-Fi in-flight.
Once onboard, I first ensured that my smartphone — a 5G iPhone 12 — had Wi-Fi calling enabled as instructed by Stone. At 10,000 feet, I was able to instantly connect to the SmartSky in-flight Wi-Fi network, which required no sign-in, registration or passcodes.
Basic web surfing, such as jumping around to different websites on the iPhone was seamless with loading times similar to those I’m used to on the ground. My first bandwidth intensive application of choice was Slack, which I primarily use to text chat and video-call co-workers. My first Slack video call was to Phyllis Abkin, my co-worker and Human Resources director who answered the call at her home office in Rockville, Maryland. We had a 10-minute video call, where I showed her around the interior of the aircraft and an out-of-the window view. After that, I immediately placed another Slack video call to another co-worker, Mark Holmes, editor-in-chief of Via Satellite, from his home office in U.K., just outside of London.
While the call to Mark was a little choppier and more difficult for him to hear me, I had the same crystal clear view on my end of Mark’s home office that I usually see when calling him on the ground. Some interruptions such as this could of course be expected considering SmartSky is still finalizing its network and expects to have 80 percent of business jet routes in U.S. airspace covered by the end of the year.
Next, I completed two FaceTime calls for five minutes each with two of my other co-workers, our group publisher Brian Nessen and director of business development, David Sheehan, who were both inside the Las Vegas Convention Center at the 2021 NBAA Press Room. Brian and Dave both commented on how crystal clear the connection was, I kept each of those calls to five minutes each.
I followed the FaceTime calls with about 10 minutes of live-streaming the YouTube channel of NBC News Now, which broadcasts live 24/7, another task that allowed the network to prove it was capable to live streaming video consistently and seamlessly.
My final in-flight application of choice came through a brief Twitter live-stream that was also flawless and consistent, in fact the most challenging aspect of that stream was finding the actual Twitter live-stream functionality in their app, another task that SmartSky’s bandwidth carried through flawlessly.
Keep in mind, while, doing the above-mentioned streams, there were five other passengers simultaneously connected to the network, all combined there were 14 devices connected, including a mix of tablets, smartphones and laptops. At one point in the flight, while I was on one of the Slack calls, Stone was using his laptop to show us SmoothSky, their real time in-flight turbulence data service for business aviation. He also uploaded the 25 MB video below of everyone using their devices in-flight.
Back on the ground, Stone instantly provided us with an overview of how much data was consumed in-flight through a cloud-based download performed by SmartSky’s data center that instantly emails a per-flight data download. Over the course of 46 minutes, we consumed about 1.1 GB of data, 1.1 GB of data from the ground to the air and transmitted off the plane about 670 MB. On an hourly basis, this would have been 2.2 GB/hour, according to Stone.
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Mark A. Forkner, former Boeing 737 MAX Chief Technical Pilot, has been indicted by a federal grand jury in the Northern District of Texas, according to an Oct. 14 Department of Justice announcement.
Forkner is being charged with allegedly deceiving the Federal Aviation Administration’s Aircraft Evaluation Group (FAA AEG) in connection with the group’s evaluation of the Boeing 737 MAX, which returned to passenger carrying service late last year after being grounded when two separate Lion Air and Ethiopian Airline flights involving the aircraft crashed six months apart. An indictment outlining the investigation into Forkner notes that his alleged deception involves providing the FAA AEG with materially false, inaccurate, and incomplete information about a new part of the Boeing 737 MAX flight controls, the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS).
According to Forkner’s indictment, the alleged fraud occurred a change was made to the way MCAS functions. Originally, MCAS was included in the flight control system to fix the tendency of the 737 MAX to pitch-up during high-speed — approximately Mach 0.6-0.8) — wind-up turns, that was caused by the 737 MAX’s larger engines being situated differently under than wings compared to the 737 NG. Eventually, as the new aircraft type progressed closer to achieving final type certification, that characteristic was changed and the MCAS started operating at lower speeds, around Mach 0.2, investigators write in the indictment.
As the lead technical pilot for the program, Forkner was tasked with updating the FAA AEG with insights into the aircraft’s performance, and any issues or challenges they should be aware of. Forkner eventually learned of the change to MCAS’s operational scope during a simulated test flight of the 737 MAX in November 2016. However, following his discovery of this change, he withheld the information from the FAA AEG during a follow up discussion with them about the simulated flight he participated in where the change was discovered.
The indictment notes that Forkner withheld the information intentionally in an effort to prevent the FAA AEG from including a level higher than Level B in assessing the level of the differences between the 737 MAX and its predecessor aircraft type, the 737 NG. Training levels above Level B potentially can be much more expensive for airlines and they typically involve full-flight simulator training, an aspect of the re-engined aircraft that Boeing wanted to avoid so that the cost of adopting the new aircraft would not be preventatively expensive.
Thus, when the FAA AEG published its Flight Standardization Board Report that included the differences training determination for the new version of the aircraft, no mention of MCAS was included because the AEG was going off the original premise that it would only become enabled at speeds higher than the normal operational scope of a typical passenger carrying 737 MAX flight. Officials note in the indictment that the AEG did not learn of the change from MCAS operating at the higher speeds to the lower Mach 0.2 until the fatal crash of Lion Air flight 610.
“In an attempt to save Boeing money, Forkner allegedly withheld critical information from regulators,” Acting U.S. Attorney Chad E. Meacham for the Northern District of Texas said in a statement. “His callous choice to mislead the FAA hampered the agency’s ability to protect the flying public and left pilots in the lurch, lacking information about certain 737 MAX flight controls. The Department of Justice will not tolerate fraud – especially in industries where the stakes are so high.”
Forkner is being charged with two counts of fraud involving aircraft parts in interstate commerce and four counts of wire fraud, according to the indictment. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on each count of wire fraud and 10 years in prison on each count of fraud involving aircraft parts in interstate commerce.
“There is no excusing those who deceive safety regulators for the sake of personal gain or commercial expediency,” said Inspector General Eric J. Soskin of the U.S. Department of Transportation. “Our office works continuously to help keep the skies safe for flying and protect the traveling public from needless danger. Today’s charges demonstrate our unwavering commitment to working with our law enforcement and prosecutorial partners to hold responsible those who put lives at risk.”
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Frontier Airlines is adopting Skywise Health Monitoring (SHM) technology from Airbus across its fleet of A320neo aircraft, according to an Oct. 14 press release.
SHM will give Frontier the ability to gather live fleet health diagnostics using the A320neo’s Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) link and Flight Operations and Maintenance Exchanger (“FOMAX”) data router and stream it to directly into their airline information sharing system. According to Airbus, Frontier has signed a five-year contract for SHM to be operated across a total of 111 A320neo aircraft.
Airbus notes that the FOMAX data router is capable of capturing over 20,000 real-time aircraft parameters to enable “end-to-end unscheduled event management/fixes, for example by anticipating tools and parts’ availability closest to the aircraft.”
“Frontier will use the solution for its A320 Family fleet. Airbus’ SHM will support the airline’s maintenance and engineering teams by enabling real-time management of aircraft events and troubleshooting,” Airbus said in the release.
During a June 30 media call, leadership from Airbus, Delta Tech Ops and GE Digital explained how the three entities were forming a new digital alliance to expand the data collection, storing and analysis tools provided by Skywise. According to Lionel Rouby, senior vice president, customer services innovation digital solutions at Airbus, the cloud computing infrastructure for the servers utilized by Skywise are contain a total of 15 petabytes, or 15 million total gigabytes of flight operational data points about individual in-service Airbus aircraft parts, systems, and engines.
“The first initial project we’re working on with Delta and GE is about predictive maintenance, monitoring the health of the aircraft, monitoring the messages generated by the aircraft, and collecting all the data generated to predict failure. The engine of this solution is the collection of analytics, of knowledge that will predict and anticipate the failure mode of the equipment,” Rouby said during the call, explaining how the company is trying to continually improve the capabilities of Skywise for airlines like Frontier and others using the platform.
Adoption of Skywise by Frontier comes amid a complete phasing out of their legacy A319s, the final aircraft — tail N949FR — of that fleet retired last month, completing its final flight after more than 15 years in service. The airline operates the largest A320neo fleet in North America, with an average age of 4.1 years and approximately 140 of the same aircraft model remaining on order, according to their website.
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Under a new partnership signed with Dublin, Ireland-based aircraft leasing company Avolon, Japan Airlines (JAL) will have the right to purchase or lease up to 50 Vertical VA-X5 electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.
Avolon-e, the investment and innovation affiliate to Avolon, is leading the strategic partnership signed with JAL that will focus on identifying partnership, customers, infrastructure requirements, certification and “a range of commercial models to introduce one of the world’s first eVTOL ride sharing businesses in Japan,” according to an Oct. 20 press release. The new partnership also includes an option for JAL to purchase 50 additional VA-X4 eVTOL aircraft.
JAL’s goal under the new partnership is to have their first VA-X4 eVTOL ready for entry-into-service in 2025, in time for the Osaka Kansai Expo occurring the same year.
“Today’s announcement represents an important step towards the social implementation of Air Taxi at Osaka Kansai EXPO in 2025. Our partnership with Avolon, lays out the pathway towards achieving Air Mobility revolution in Japan. The introduction of VA-X4 will also contribute to reduce our environmental impact and we fundamentally believe that sustainability will be the engine for future growth across our business and region. We look forward to collaborating closely with Avolon and Vertical on the roadmap to certification for the VA-X4 with the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau,” Tomohiro Nishihata, managing executive officer of Japan Airlines, said in a statement.
Vertical Aerospace’s eVTOL, the VA-X4, has a range of over 100 miles with a top speed of 202 mph and a five-person capacity, according to the company’s website. Vertical Aerospace is expecting the VA-X4 to be certified in 2024. The aircraft is also expected to take its first test flight this year.
Avolon recently established another similar future-facing purchase order agreement with GOL Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes S.A., the largest airline in Brazil. In September, GOL committed to the purchase or lease of up to 250 VA-X4s, and will also be collaborating with Avolon on identification of local partners, infrastructure and certification requirements, with the goal of launching an eVTOL network for the South American country in the near future. The aircraft leasing provider signed a purchase agreement for 500 VA-X4s in June to become Vertical Aerospace’s eVTOL launch customer.
“We continue to identify partners who share the same vision to revolutionise air travel through zero-emissions eVTOL aircraft and shape the future of travel. This latest long-term partnership with JAL aligns us with one of Japan’s leading airlines on their journey to sustainability and to decarbonizing air transport. The VA-X4 will be certified to CAA and EASA’s stringent safety regulation,” Dómhnal Slattery, Avolon CEO, commented. “We believe JAL’s multi-decade experience will prove invaluable as Vertical seeks type certificate validation with the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau, demonstrating that the VA-X4 will be a global eVTOL, unconstrained by borders.”
Vertical Aerospace now claims — including Avalon’s 500-eVTOL order — that it has for a total of up to 1,350 aircraft preorders from American Airlines, Avolon, Bristow and Iberojet, which includes pre-order options from Virgin Atlantic and Marubeni. The company was also recently named as one of two eVTOL aircraft — Lillium being the other — that will be the launch platform for Honeywell’s next generation cloud-native Anthem cockpit system.
Vertical Aerospace has also continued to expand its aerospace engineering and leadership expertise in recent weeks, adding former Rolls Royce Chief People Officer Harry Holt as their new Chief Operating Officer (COO), and Justin Paines — previously Joby Aviation’s test pilot — as their new chief test pilot.
“The VA-X4 will transform how we travel. We are delighted to be working with Avolon and our newest partner Japan Airlines as we bring zero-emissions aircraft to the Japanese market,” Stephen Fitzpatrick, Vertical CEO said in a statement. “JAL’s experience will strengthen the certification roadmap in Japan demonstrating our global view as we make eVTOLs a reality.”
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On this episode of the Connected Aviation Intelligence Podcast, we feature a discussion with Leona Qi, president of the U.S. division of VistaJet.
We recorded this interview live at VistaJet’s booth during the 2021 National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) conference and exhibition in Las Vegas. Leona provides some insightful perspective on some of the personnel and aircraft related supply chain issues that VistaJet and the entire business aviation segment as a whole is facing right now.
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Building on what the company describes as growing investment and interest in the super midsized segment, Gulfstream has introduced new avionics and cabin upgrade options to its G280 business jet.
According to an Oct. 12 press release, the series of new avionics upgrades are being made available as V3.6.1 to the G280’s PlaneView 280 cockpit system. Among the new enhancements included in the upgrade options are SiriusXM graphical weather with real-time updates, dual electronic charts and a new surface management system that provides verbal and visual cues on unsafe ground and arrival conditions.
The aircraft’s controller to pilot data link data link communications (CPDLC) system is also now “FANS-E compliant,” providing pilots the ability to perform CPDLC messaging in en-route airspace. The G280’s RVSM heigh-monitoring validation interval has also been reduced from 96 to 24 months. Access to vertical weather and predictive windshear information is also made available via the V3.6.1 upgrade.
Inside the cabin, the G280 has a new option for Gulfstream’s plasma ionization clean air system. The G280 is certified for steep approaches, and has recently been certified to the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Stage 5 noise standards.
Gulfstream’s new G280 upgrade package comes following the unveiling of their new G400 and G800 jets during a launch ceremony at their Savannah headquarters last week.
“We are seeing tremendous demand for the G280, further proving the aircraft is the high-performing super-midsize leader,” Mark Burns, president, Gulfstream said in a statement. “We remain confident in the G280’s proven track record and are committed to investing in enhancements that further increase the benefits it offers customers.”