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GE to Focus on Aviation Business with Spin-off Plans for Energy and Healthcare

General Electric plans on becoming an aviation-only company by 2024, under a newly planned structure that will spin-off its healthcare, energy, power and digital businesses over the next three years. (GE Aviation)

General Electric (GE) plans to spin-off of its healthcare division, while combining its energy, power and digital divisions into one business that will leave the industrial giant’s sole focus on aviation within the next few years, according to a Nov. 9 announcement from the company.

GE Aviation, GE Healthcare, and the combined GE Renewable Energy, GE Power, and GE Digital businesses will become three individual public companies based on their new aviation-focused strategy. GE Chairman and CEO H. Lawrence Culp will continue in his current role, including leading gate Healthcare business until it is spun-off in 2023, as well as the consolidated energy, power and digital company until it is spun-off a year later in 2024.

The new structure is subject to the “satisfaction of customary conditions, including final approvals by GE’s Board of Directors, private letter rulings from the Internal Revenue Service and/or tax opinions from counsel, the filing and effectiveness of Form 10 registration statements with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and satisfactory completion of financing,” according to GE.

“By creating three industry-leading, global public companies, each can benefit from greater focus, tailored capital allocation, and strategic flexibility to drive long-term growth and value for customers, investors, and employees,” Culp said in a statement. “Today is a defining moment for GE, and we are ready.”

John Slattery, who assumed the role of president and CEO of GE Aviation last year, will continue to lead the business until Culp assumes control in early 2024. Slattery released a note about the new GE structure via LinkedIn.

“Today, GE is announcing our plan to form three industry-leading, global public companies – focused on aviation, healthcare, and energy. When these actions are completed, GE will become an independent, aviation-focused operating company focused on shaping the future of flight,” Slattery said. “Innovation is core to who we are and who we will continue to be as we embark on this next chapter.”

Slattery has been leading the aviation division’s pursuit of the use of sustainable aviation fuels ISAF) and the development of a next generation CFM engine in partnership with Safran under their new revolutionary innovation for sustainable engines (RISE) research initiative that has a goal of lowering fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by 20 percent.

The new structure was announced following the recent release of GE’s third quarter earnings results, where its commercial aviation engines and services business showed signs of recovery.

Through the first three quarters of 2021, GE Aviation has generated $15.2 billion in sales, down 6 percent from a year ago while operating profits have more than doubled to $1.7 billion. Orders are up more than 17 percent to $17.9 billion. Their current engine installed base includes more than 37,000 commercial aircraft engines and more than 26,000 military aircraft engines.

“We power 2/3 of commercial flights, illustrating how impactful this business is today and to the future of flight. Our Military business, which has been a big operational focus has more than 26,000 military engines and servicing our vast global installed base keeps us close to our customers and able to anticipate their needs,” Culp said during an Nov. 9 investor call.  “The pandemic has really drawn a spotlight on this business. While our results have improved significantly, along with the broader market, admittedly, it’s still early.”

The post GE to Focus on Aviation Business with Spin-off Plans for Energy and Healthcare appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Viasat Sees Acquisition of Inmarsat Helping Growth of Passenger Demand for In-flight Connectivity

Viasat has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Inmarsat for $7.3 billion, in a deal that the company expects to become finalized within the next 9-18 months.

Viasat has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Inmarsat for $7.3 billion, in a deal that the California-based satellite communications believes will help to serve the surging growth of passenger demand for in-flight connectivity (IFC), according to a Nov. 8 conference call featuring executives from the two companies.

If approved, the combined company would hold a spectrum licenses across the Ka-, L- and S-bands and a fleet of 19 satellites in service with an additional 10 spacecraft under construction and planned for launch within the next three years. Viasat Executive Chairman Mark Dankberg highlighted commercial aviation IFC as one of the key market sectors that will benefit from the expanded bandwidth and capacity that will become available to existing and future users of the two networks.

“Inmarsat brings international long haul in-flight connectivity plus essential cockpit and safety communications that are largely dependent on a highly resilient and weather proof L-band and that involves creating a lot more relationships with airlines. Inmarsat also serves business and general aviation with a combination of low cost narrowband and broadband which will also benefit from the depth and geographic focus of Viasat-3,” Dankberg said during the call.

Data released by Viasat during the call about Inmarsat’s aviation market position shows that the company currently enables IFC on 2,400 in-service aircraft and has another 2,900 in its order backlog awaiting. There is also a total of 9,000 aircraft that currently use Inmarsat’s legacy L-band network for safety services cockpit communications with air traffic controllers, while more than 15,000 business and general aviation aircraft are connected via Inmarsat as well.

Viasat shared an overview of what the combined Viasat-Inmarsat satellite network could look like. (Viasat)

Under the acquisition Inmarsat will be joining a company whose commercial aviation portfolio has continued to expand in recent years, especially in the North American market where prominent airlines like American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue and United now feature Viasat IFC. As an example, Delta announced it would start installing Viasat IFC on 300 of its Airbus A321ceo and Boeing 737-900ER/757-200s in January.

Dankberg also discussed how the combined company will be able to meet the growing in-flight passenger demand for more bandwidth intensive internet content, such as streaming and video-based applications. The combined company will also focus on serving the need for airlines to be able to give passengers on aircraft operating near busy airport hubs a reliable IFC experience that is not impacted the concentrated area of demand growth that can sometimes create.

Since Inmarsat and Viasat operate Ka-band networks, the IFC terminals developed by each can be made interoperable across the other’s network. Dankberg said Viasat already has experience enabling that type of interoperability for some of its existing government customers.

“There’s huge growth in broadband demand on all aircraft, not just those that transit oceans and it’s driven really by the passengers consuming more internet content and more video. As a result, the global air travel satellite bandwidth demand is becoming very concentrated over major hub cities,” Dankberg said. “You can pick an example like New York where you can have as many as 500 to 1,000 planes converging on the three major airports there from all over the world. That’s where Viasat’s current and future satellites provide enormous benefit to airlines and passengers. The airlines are really learning that the most difficult challenge to excellent in-flight connectivity is when their aircraft and everyone else’s converge at these hub airports.”

Dankberg also highlighted potential demand and need for connectivity that could eventually emerge from new airspace entrants such as unmanned aircraft systems and electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft.

Viasat’s acquisition agreement comes following more than a year of significant partnerships and network expansion plans announced by Inmarsat as well. In October 2020, Inmarsat partnered with Hughes Network Systems to establish GX+ North America, a Hughes Jupiter satellite fleet–the largest Ka-band satellite capacity over the U.S.–with Global Xpress (GX), the aviation satellite network launched by Inmarsat in 2016.

More recently, in August, the company unveiled its plans to establish Orchestra, a future communications configuration that will combine existing geosynchronous (GEO) satellites with low earth orbit satellites (LEO) and terrestrial 5G into an integrated network. The technology roadmap for Orchestra extends into the 2040s, operating as a dynamic mesh network that will eventually enable “direct-to-cloud” connectivity for airlines along with a significant expansion in the amount of capacity available for existing L-band and Swiftbroadband users.

“We have been moving fast at Inmarsat since I joined as CEO in March. Building stronger commercial capabilities, deepening our customer focus, targeting the largest, growth opportunities and accelerating our technology with the recent announcement of Orchestra, a dynamic mesh network of the future that still looks to integrate, GEO, LEO MEO and 5G and ELERA the global network for IoT safety and mission critical connectivity,” Rajeev Suri, CEO of Inmarsat, said during the analyst call.

Viasat’s executive team expects the acquisition to achieve global regulatory approval and become finalized within the next 18 months.

The post Viasat Sees Acquisition of Inmarsat Helping Growth of Passenger Demand for In-flight Connectivity appeared first on Aviation Today.

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A320 Production, Supply Chain in Focus for Airbus Amid Commercial Recovery

Airbus is hyper-focused on increasing its monthly production rate for A320s, such as this British Airways featuring a new sustainability-themed livery, and remains on track to delivery 600 commercial airplanes this year, according to the company’s Oct. 28 third quarter earnings call. (Airbus)

Higher commercial aircraft deliveries helped Airbus achieve a net income of €2.635 billion ($3.055 billion) for the first nine months of 2021 compared to the COVID-19 Pandemic-fueled €2.686 billion ($3.114 billion) loss the company reported during the same period a year ago, according to the third quarter earnings results. Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury addressed the French airplane maker’s plan to ramp up production of its A320 during a third quarter earnings call on Thursday where analysts peppered him with questions about their supply chain.

A total of 424 commercial aircraft deliveries were completed by Airbus through Sept. 30, compared to 341 in 2020, and they have a backlog that now consists of 6,894 commercial orders. The company also notes that it has received 137 total cancellations and 133 net orders for new aircraft this year.

Faury said Airbus is on track to achieve its target of 600 aircraft deliveries by the end of the year, and a steady increase of A320 production to 65 per month by the summer of 2023. Faury said that some of their suppliers are “suffering” more than expected during a phase where they’re increasing A320 production every six months, but that their suppliers were not facing big enough challenges to impede their trajectory for the ramp up over the next two years.

“And that’s a rather small number of suppliers which are at the origin of our current challenges. But we think this will be, over time, managed. And therefore, we are not changing our trajectory for the ramp-up,” Faury said. “How do we plan to help? Actually, we don’t plan to help. We have been helping all along the COVID-19 crisis, and I would say, big time. There’s been a lot of Airbus resources that have been involved.”

One of the primary reasons Airbus is hyper-focused on ramping up production and keeping on pace to achieve 600 deliveries this year is to reduce the number of years airlines placing new orders for aircraft will have to wait. The company’s delivery slots are currently filled through the end of 2023, according to Faury.

Airbus also plans to make minimal production rate increases on the A220, A330 and A350 programs between 2022-2023, further increasing pressure on its supply chain to keep up. The Airbus CEO also said there’s not one single area of their supply chain that they can point to as a problem area for ramping up production.

“Preparing for the call this morning, we were wondering whether we should single out some commodities or some of the suppliers or the countries where we operate and looking at the issues we’re having with suppliers. It’s more case by case,” Faury said. “I don’t want to just to single out, to finger point some of the commodities or the supplies because we don’t see it as of today at Airbus. We think the things we are having at the moment, the topics, the issues we’re having are things that we will manage in the course of the next month.”

In his opening remarks, Faury also addressed the difference in commercial air travel passenger demand, which stood at about 70 percent of its 2019 levels domestically while still significantly lower on the international side. Airbus continues to expect the commercial air travel market to fully recover by “2023 to 2025 with domestic and regional market clearly leading the recovery,” Faury said.

The post A320 Production, Supply Chain in Focus for Airbus Amid Commercial Recovery appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Volocopter Eyes Air Taxi Operations in Italy

Volocopter is exhibiting a scaled version of its VoloCity eVTOL at Fiumicino Airport this week as part of a new partnership with Atlantia and Aeroporti di Roma that seeks to bring electric air taxi operations to Italy in the next 2-3 years. (Volocopter)

German urban air mobility developer Volocopter has established a new partnership with the largest airport operator in Italy in an effort to start developing the infrastructure that will enable electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) operations in Rome and other areas of the country, according to an Oct. 27 announcement from the two companies.

Under the new partnership, Rome has become one of the first cities in Europe to commit to establishing electric air taxi operations in the near future—following a commitment made last year by Paris to bring electric air taxis there in time for the 2024 Olympic Games. Together with the Italian authorities and regulators and with Atlantia’s full support, Aeroporti di Roma (ADR), and Volocopter will raise public awareness about UAM and bring it to Italy within the next 2-3 years.

“We are confident that the collaboration between ADR and Volocopter can give rise, in the short term, to important innovations from the industrial point of view. These two companies are strongly focused on the development of sustainable businesses and have a strong technical expertise,” Carlo Bertazzo, CEO of Atlantia said in a statement. “As Atlantia, we will continue to support the diffusion of Urban Air Mobility in our international hub in Rome and in our airport system of Nizza, Cannes and Saint Tropez, proud to be developing a new transport technology that we can then export to our other European airports, as well as on a global scale.”

Left to Right: Christian Bauer, CCO of Volocopter, Carlo Bertazzo, CEO of Atlantia and Marco Troncone, CEO of Aeroporti di Roma. (Volocopter)

Volocopter describes ADR as being industrially and technologically committed to the development of new vertiports in support of the new partnership. In particular, the new service will connect the international hub “Leonardo da Vinci” with various places in Rome, through vertical airports. In addition to the new partnership, Atlantia also recently became an investor in Volocopter.

Volocopter is exhibiting its VoloCity air taxi at Fiumicino Airport this week, with plans to move it to Piazza San Silvestro in Rome, Italy next week.

The partnership to bring eVTOL flights to Italy is the latest development for the German eVTOL maker, following a recent joint venture agreement with Aerofugia to be operated as Volocopter Chengdu in China. Volocopter is developing two electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, VoloCity and VoloConnect, and a heavy-lift drone, VoloDrone.

The post Volocopter Eyes Air Taxi Operations in Italy appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Eve to Start Urban Air Mobility Ecosystem Evaluation Flights in Brazil Next Month

Eve Air Mobility is starting a UAM simulation in Rio de Janeiro next month. (Eve Air Mobility)

Embraer’s electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) subsidiary Eve Air Mobility will start operating an Urban Air Mobility (UAM) simulation with six passenger-carrying flights a day from Barra da Tijuca to the Tom Jobim International Airport – RIOgaleão, according to an Oct. 26 announcement from the company.

The UAM simulation will use a helicopter with flights charged at a “more affordable cost than a conventional helicopter service,” Eve said in an Oct. 26 press release. On-demand private aircraft flight provider Flapper has already started selling tickets for the UAM simulation, scheduled to begin on Nov. 8.

“Eve’s human-centered approach to development seeks practical validation of concepts and assumptions that will help us understand and address the key challenges associated with delivering the service. Rio de Janeiro is one of the cities with the worst traffic in the world, and the simulation will help us to survey the real needs of users, partners, and the community who will benefit from our mobility solutions,” André Stein, Eve’s CEO said in a statement.

Eve is leading the simulation as part of a concept of operations that began in August in Rio De Janeiro, and will collaborate with more than 50 specialists from 12 institutions. A key goal for the simulation is to identify the needs of users, the community and other stakeholders involved in the type of operation that Eve is pursuing with the eVTOL aircraft it is developing.

The decision by Eve to launch the helicopter-operated UAM simulation comes several weeks after Brazilian private jet operator Aviation Management Services – Serviços Aeronáuticos Ltda. (Avantto) signed a letter of intention (LOI) to order 100 of its eVTOL aircraft.

Vertiports provider Skyports will be involved in the simulation, along with National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) and the Department of Airspace Control (DECEA) that will each be monitoring the operation. Eve is developing an all-electric air taxi that it expects to be ready for entry-into-service by 2026.

Universal Aviation, a global airport services company, will run ground operations for the simulation.

The post Eve to Start Urban Air Mobility Ecosystem Evaluation Flights in Brazil Next Month appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Archer Aviation VP of Design Talks Developing a Human-centric eVTOL

Avionics International recently caught up with Archer Aviation Vice President of Design and Innovation Julien Montousse to discuss his vision for the exterior and interior design elements of the passenger-carrying eVTOL they want to launch by 2024. Pictured here, is the two-seater Maker eVTOL demonstrator unveiled by Archer in June. (Archer Aviation)

With just over two years remaining until Archer Aviation’s goal of having a four-passenger electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) ready for a commercial launch by 2024, the California-based startup will need to make some key decisions about the design of its aircraft over the next six months, Julien Montousse, Vice President of design and innovation at Archer told Avionics International during a recent interview.

Last month, Archer announced two key eVTOL development program milestones, including receiving its a G-1 issue paper from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) outlining a path to certification and a merger with Atlas Crest Investment Corp. that made it a publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Montousse joined Archer in November 2020 after serving as the head of design for Mazda’s North American operations for several years, but notes that his experience as a consultant on the design of the SpaceX Dragon 2 cabin sparked his interest in aerospace and made him jump at the opportunity to work with Archer.

“We have a short timeframe to bring this aircraft to market, with our goal being 2024, and that means that a lot of the design decisions are going to have to happen over the next six months,” Montousse said. “There will still of course be some smaller tuning, but in terms of the core architecture itself, and the overall understanding of how it will be shaped inside and outside—a lot of that will be decided over the next six months. We’re going to try to come as close as possible over the next six months to have the A-side—the A-side is everything you see and touch, the B-side is everything you don’t see or touch—decided and finalized.”

The design that Archer ultimately decides upon will most likely have noticeable exterior and interior differences from the two-passenger Maker eVTOL demonstrator that they unveiled in June. While the passenger-carrying capacity of the aircraft could change, Montousse said that as of now they’re initially sticking to the configuration that was announced in February along with their United Airlines partnership and purchase order, a design for one pilot and four passengers.

Montousse said that another key focus for the Archer design team right now is ensuring that the overall design is simplistic and visually appealing to future passengers. He said the team has already come up with a number of design improvements on the Maker.

Montousse said he believes passengers should be able to enter and exit Archer’s eVTOL hands-free. (Archer Aviation)

“If you look at the Maker demonstrator, and even some of the designs of our competitors, as an aircraft it is still very complex in its assembly, its construction and where you have a typical fuselage to wing box integration and rotors that are split from the wings. Visually, it still appears as a very complex product,” Montousse said. “One of the key goals for us visually is to simplify the aircraft and that really requires a focus on integration. How do we integrate all of those key components in a way that is more digestible to the eye?”

Archer’s design team is currently working on those improvements with the use of computer-aided design (CAD) as well as virtual reality-based models that show how different eVTOL models would appear in operation or how a vertiport could support one design versus another. According to Montousse, three of the principles guiding their considerations for design changes are operational efficiency, payload and FAA certification requirements.

Lessons learned from the cabin interior design and materials featured on the majority of today’s smaller fixed and rotary wing aircraft will also be incorporated into Archer’s first production-ready eVTOl as well.

“If you think about some of the smaller business aircraft flying right now, the majority of people have to crouch down when they get inside or grab a handle and hoist themselves into the cabin. I think that your connection to the aircraft should be as simple as possible. You should be able to get in and get out completely hands-free. In a way, we’re going to be competing with cars, and people that are accustomed to getting into and out of their cars in a fluid manner. We should expect that same desire for such an experience on our aircraft. No one wants to crawl into a small space and be crammed in anymore,” Montousse said.

There will also be a focus on ensuring there is space between seats within the cabin to allow passengers to have more privacy in the event that they could be sharing the air taxi with strangers. Creating a more interactive passenger experience is also a desire for Montousse’s team, as they’re currently studying the use of retina capture and holographic displays as windows that could provide passengers with information about points of interest within their flight as they look outside.

“Even if its just a 10-minute flight, we want that to be an amazing 10 minutes of comfort. We know passengers will be fairly constrained, you won’t have the space to get up and go to another seat or stand up in the aisle in between. You’re going to be sitting in that space for 10 minutes and we want it to be as comfortable as possible. That is extremely important,” Montousse said.

In a recent blog post, Archer provided a comparison of its Maker demonstrator eVTOL’s 45 A-weighted decibels (dBA) noise output to other forms of transportation, with the company claiming it will be “1,000 times” quieter than a traditional helicopter. The 45 dbA noise level is based on Maker flying overhead at 2,000 feet.

As the company moves closer to finalizing the design of its production eVTOL, Montousse said that his team is evaluating the use of noise-cancelling technology to reduce the sound of rotors to the passengers in the cabin as well. And while Archer desires a simplistic eVTOL design, Montousse said the goal is still to produce a design that is “sexy, progressive and pushes the world into this new era of transportation.”

“We want it to perform aerodynamically and structurally of course, but we’re also focused on making a product that is extremely sexy and progressive. When I was at Mazda, we really tried to bring to life a product with an appealing design. This is something that I brought with me to aerospace and I my quest is to bring emotion into a world that is 100 percent mathematical. When people see it, it won’t look 100 percent mathematical,” Montousse said.

The post Archer Aviation VP of Design Talks Developing a Human-centric eVTOL appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Boeing Gives 737 MAX, 777X and 787 Program Updates with Third Quarter Earnings Report

During a third quarter earnings call on Wednesday, Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun said he expects the 777X, pictured here, to be ready for deliveries and entry into service by late 2023. (Boeing)

Boeing executives provided several program updates for three of their flagship commercial aircraft programs including the 737 MAX, 777X and 787 as the manufacturer reported $15.3 billion in third-quarter revenue on Wednesday, driven primarily by higher commercial aircraft deliveries and services.

Revenue for Boeing’s commercial airplanes division amounted to $4.5 billion during the third quarter, a 24 percent increase from the same period a year ago while the company also secured a total of 106 commercial aircraft orders while completing 85 total deliveries. Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun and CFO Brian Davis each provided updates and some insight on some of the ongoing progress and work remaining on the 737 MAX and 787 production and delivery rates while sticking to the same timeline they have previously provided for initial deliveries and entry into service of the 777X.

“Our commercial market is showing improved signs of recovery with vaccine distribution and border protocols beginning to open. As demand returns, supply chain capacity and global trade will be key drivers of our industry and the global economy’s recovery,” Calhoun said.

While still working through some manufacturing quality and material related issues with the 787, Boeing is still focused on establishing the developmental foundation for its next generation aircraft program.

“In addition to the 737 MAX-7, the MAX-10 and the 777X, we’re investing in our future, laying the foundation for our next commercial airplane development. This quarter, we stood up an integrated product team to bring together a digital environment where the next commercial new airplane and production system can be designed together. While we have not launched a new airplane, this is an important step in our digitization journey and our development journey to evaluate how we holistically design build test certify and support the airplane and production system,” Calhoun said.

 

737 MAX

Between July and September, Boeing completed 62 deliveries of the 737 MAX—the most it has recorded in a quarter for that aircraft type since the first quarter of 2019. Since the un-grounding of the MAX by the FAA a year ago, 31 total airlines have returned more than 200 previously grounded aircraft to service and have safely operated more than 500,000 flight hours with the MAX.

The 737 program is currently being produced at a rate of 19 per month and continues to progress towards a production rate of 31 per month in early 2022. Calhoun told investors that flight testing for the 737 MAX return to service in China was completed in the third quarter, and Boeing continues to anticipate final approval from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) by the end of the year.

“We also continue to make progress on the certification of the 737 MAX-7 and the MAX-10. We currently anticipate the first delivery at the MAX-7 in 2022 and the first delivery of the MAX-10 in 2023. As always, we’ll follow global regulators lead in the steps ahead on all certification matters,” Calhoun said.

70 of the 106 commercial aircraft orders secured by Boeing during the second quarter were for 737 MAX aircraft.

The latest program updates on the 737 MAX come following a recent report published by the Department of Justice outlining an indictment of former 737 MAX Chief Technical Pilot Mark A. Forkner on fraud charges related to the original certification of the aircraft.

Calhoun also acknowledged in an Oct. 27 statement issued to employees the three-year anniversary of the fatal Lion Air Flight 610 accident occurring on Friday Oct. 29.

“Friday, Oct. 29 marks three years since the Lion Air Flight 610 accident, which claimed the lives of 189 people. In remembrance, I ask all Boeing employees to join me in taking a few, solemn moments on Friday to remember those lives lost,” Calhoun said. “The memories of those 189 victims, as well as the 157 people who lost their lives on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, drive the important work we do and forever remind us of the trust the flying public places in us to bring them to their destination safely. Across Boeing, we must continue to learn from our past, let our strong values guide us, and honor the memories of those lives lost by ensuring a steadfast focus on safety, quality, integrity and transparency in all we do.”

 

777X

Calhoun said that Boeing is seeing strong demand for freighter aircraft, including freighter versions of the 777 right now, and expects to increase its 777 freighter production capacity in the near term.

Regarding the 777X, that latest program development came earlier this month when Boeing started engine performance flight testing for the re-engined 777.

“The airplane is performing well and in-line with our customer commitments based on the data that we’ve collected to date, we will validate these results and we will continue to work with the FAA to ensure we meet their requirements prior to beginning the certification flight tests,” Calhoun said. “We still expect we will deliver the first 777X in late 2023. Given the continued robust freighter demand, and the compelling economics of the 777X, were currently evaluating the timing of launching a freighter version of our 777X airplane.”

Boeing has been developing the 777X since 2013, and originally projected its entry into service to occur last year.

 

787

The 787 program currently has the least amount of certainty around when it will return to a normal production rate and when Boeing can start resuming deliveries to airlines. Boeing first suffered a setback with the 787 in July, when the production rate was lowered to less than five per month and deliveries were halted due to a manufacturing issue associated with some components of the aircraft located in the forward pressure bulkhead and within sections of the fuselage.

Calhoun said Boeing currently had 105 total 787s in its inventory waiting to be delivered at the end of the third quarter. Timing for Boeing to resume those deliveries is dependent upon ongoing inspections and re-work of some of those aircraft as well as some ongoing work with the FAA.

“We did have a sort of a late breaking [issue] from a parts supplier that unfortunately is a sub tier supplier to other suppliers where we have to track a particular material substitution question that was brought to us by their regulators and track it through every part and then through supplier to us. So that process just takes time. We have segmented those parts, we believe we’re in a good place, we don’t believe there are any safety ramifications. On the subject of compliance, we just have to make sure we’re compliant with the material specs that are included in our design,” Calhoun said.

 

The post Boeing Gives 737 MAX, 777X and 787 Program Updates with Third Quarter Earnings Report appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Commercial Aerospace, Defense Power Raytheon Technologies In Third Quarter

Raytheon subsidiary Pratt & Whitney saw an uptick in commercial aircraft aftermarket engine and services demand during the third quarter associated with what the company describes as a rebound in the aftermarket business for commercial aircraft. (Raytheon)

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.

 

<<This article was first published by Defense Daily, a sister publication to Avionics International, it has been edited, click here to view the original version.>>

The post Commercial Aerospace, Defense Power Raytheon Technologies In Third Quarter appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Alaska Air Group Partners with ZeroAvia to Develop Hydrogen Power for Regional Airliners

ZeroAvia is gaining altitude as a developer of zero-emission passenger aircraft as it announces a development collaboration with Alaska Air Group, the parent company of Alaska Airlines, for a hydrogen-electric powertrain capable of flying 76-seat regional aircraft in excess of 500 NM. (ZeroAvia)

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.”

 

The post Alaska Air Group Partners with ZeroAvia to Develop Hydrogen Power for Regional Airliners appeared first on Aviation Today.

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Mesa Air Group First Scheduled US Airline to Launch Commercial Drone Delivery Service

Mesa Air Group has an order agreement to purchase four Flirtey Eagle drones, with the option to purchase an additional 500. (Flirtey)

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.

The post Mesa Air Group First Scheduled US Airline to Launch Commercial Drone Delivery Service appeared first on Aviation Today.

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