Airliner World: Sep 2018 Preview


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This month we shine the spotlight on Air Canada, which has weathered many storms in its long history, but today it is financially stronger and can compete successfully in the global airline market.  The Canadian flag carrier and its regional partners carried more than 48m passengers last year, operating direct services to more than 200 destinations on six continents using its own aircraft, plus a further 1,100 more routes through its membership of Star Alliance.  It is undertaking a fleet modernisation programme, with more than 90 new aircraft still on order, which will ensure it has the future capacity to meet the growing demands of Canadians wishing to travel both at home and abroad well into the next decade.

(Air Canada)

Closer to home, we get an exclusive preview of Virgin Atlantic’s multi-million-pound Airbus A330-200 cabin makeover.  Drafted into service to “add resilience to [Virgin’s] flying programme in light of an industry-wide shortage of Trent 1000 engines used on our 787 aircraft,” the former airberlin examples were initially intended as a stop-gap but are now fulfilling a key role as a flying lab, providing the carrier a unique opportunity to test and develop new elements of its offering.

(Virgin Atlantic)

Moving on from flying labs to flying firsts, we join Cathay Pacific for the delivery of its maiden A350-1000.  The Hong Kong-based carrier has endured a turbulent spell of late but, according to CEO Rupert Hogg, is making considerable progress in the first year of its transformation programme.  Expanding the fleet and network are – he revealed – the two biggest priorities for 2018 and the arrival of the carrier’s first A350-1000 will enable new “and interesting” destinations to be added to its network.

(Key-Barry Woods-Turner)

Continuing our semi-regular series on jetliners of the Red Star, we chronicle the remarkable story of the Tupolev Tu-204.  Setting out to design and develop an airliner is not an easy task, and when that aircraft is intended to replace one of the definitive types of the Soviet era – the iconic Tu-154 – it becomes even more difficult again.

The resulting Tu-204 twin jet was cutting edge for its time but with only 79 examples of all variants were built over a 26-year period, it could at first glance be considered something of a dud.  However, it’s worth noting this machine was born in the middle of a revolution and built against a backdrop of ongoing political upheaval as Russia, freshly shorn of its empire, was trying to find its feet.  Not only was production sustained, but the aircraft itself is as efficient and safe as any contemporary Western type, leading many observers to opine the Tu-204 was simply the right aircraft at the wrong time.

( Terekhov)

The call from air traffic control fills your headset, “Star 103, the heavy you’ve been chasing has just switched to tower and is now on final for runway 24R.”  Your heart starts pounding as the Iron Maiden-liveried Boeing 747-400, Ed Force One, passes over Interstate 405 on short final to land.  You and your camera are 1,000 feet above Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and this is your moment to capture that once-in-a-lifetime photo…

We join Hawthorne Airport-based Star Helicopters for a photo mission with a difference!

(Don Brunjes)

Heading Down Under, Regional Express (commonly known Rex) is unlikely to pick up accolades for best embedded inflight entertainment selection or first-class cabin suite, but at award ceremonies around the world where a role in delivering regional airline services is lauded, the New South Wales-based carrier has featured aplenty.

Created in 2002 by combining two Ansett subsidiaries – Kendell Airlines and Hazelton Airlines – after the parent company went bust, Rex has turned a profit in almost every year of its existence.  We find out how it has built and maintained its imperious position.

(Bastiaan Hart/Avstock)

Meanwhile in Europe, Switzerland has endured more than its fair share of aviation turmoil.  In the last two decades alone, it has seen the failure of flag carrier and national icon Swissair and leading regional operator Crossair, which was merged into the new-look Swiss International Air Lines.  More recently, Zurich-based airberlin subsidiary Belair was grounded last October when its parent filed for bankruptcy.  Similarly, Darwin Airline closed its doors in late 2017 after its Etihad Regional operation, flown on behalf of Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways, was withdrawn the previous July.


But for all the turbulence and disruption, one carrier has continued to connect its Bern base to the outside world – SkyWork Airlines.  The carrier has endured many highs and lows during three decades of operation, but has emerged from the brink of financial ruin to become a shining star in Switzerland’s aviation sector.

(Sebastian Schmitz)

Staying on the Continent, we head off the beaten track to Western Germany and the Rhineland-Palatinate state to the privately owned Flugausstellung Hermeskeil museum, home to a fine and diverse aviation collection that’s well worth a visit.  Founded in July 1973 by enterprising aviation enthusiast Leo Junior, the museum is still in the family today.  Since its humble beginnings, the impressive collection has grown to 115 aircraft and helicopters spread over a vast open-air exhibition site measuring just over 800,000 sq ft (around 76,000m²), along with four display halls.

Lastly, we bring you a full round-up of the news and stories from one of the world’s leading aerospace events, the Farnborough International Airshow.  The 2018 edition got off to a scorching start both literally and metaphorically as aerospace manufacturers from around the globe went into battle for orders at the sun-drenched Hampshire airfield.  Not only were the temperatures soaring, so too the backlogs of the major aircraft manufacturers which, even before the show started, stood at record levels.

A general lack of pre-show hype hinted at an air of caution in the industry, suggesting that the 2018 event could pass with something of a whimper.  But while there were no mega deals or new aircraft launches this year, it proved to be very much business as usual as manufacturers racked up billions of pounds worth of orders.  Even swelling order backlogs and a straining supply chain did little to deter demand, particularly for narrowbody types from the Airbus and Boeing stables.

(Key-Barry Woods-Turner)

We also have our usual comprehensive coverage of worldwide news, including a full round-up of the news and stories from the Farnborough International Airshow, plus we have details of the first orders for the new Airbus A220, Boeing and Embraer close on tie-up, ATR celebrates a raft of orders, Air Nostrum and CityJet announce partnership plans, Iberia takes delivery of its maiden A350 and Singapore Airlines takes the top spot at this year’s Skytrax awards.  We also have all our regular sections covering the latest commercial aircraft acquisitions, up-to-date accident reports and developments from the world of aviation training and MROs.

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