Chinook Maitenance Contract Signed

01 Maret 2011

CH-47 Chinook of the Australian Army (photo: Chinook Helicopter)

Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare today announced that Defence had signed a contract with BAE Systems to maintain the Army’s fleet of Chinook Helicopters.

The $20.9 million contract means that BAE will maintain and support the Chinooks over the next six years.

“Chinooks were an important part of the Defence Force’s response to the Queensland floods,” Mr Clare said.

“They transported the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and emergency service workers as well as food and shelters into places like Condamine.

“They have also been hard at work supporting our troops in Afghanistan in recent times providing logistical support and moving combat units into battle.

“None of this happens if they aren’t well-maintained.”

Mr Clare said the Chinook fleet was based in Townsville and BAE Systems Australia is working there with Army Aviation.

“BAE Systems Australia’s bid represented the best value for money,” Mr Clare said.

BAE Systems have been maintaining the Chinook fleet since 1995.

There are currently six helicopters in the Chinook fleet operated by the 5th Aviation Regiment in Townsville.

Since 1995 Chinook helicopters have been the Australian Defence Force’s deployable medium-lift helicopter capability.

Question time # 122

An easy one from the archives !

All we need to know is :

What aircraft type ?

What engine type ?

What registration would you expect to find on it ?

To what address do I send the chocolate fish ?

Australia will Increase C-17 Fleet

01 Maret 2011

Australia may buy fifth C-17 Globemaster II (photo : Air Attack)

C-17A Globemaster III Letter of Request

Australia is investigating the purchase of an additional C-17A Globemaster III heavy lift aircraft Minister for Defence Stephen Smith said today.

Australia has sent a Letter of Request to the United States regarding the potential purchase of an additional C-17A aircraft through the United States Foreign Military Sales program, formally seeking cost and availability information.

Mr Smith said the Royal Australian Air Force currently had four C-17A Aircraft. They were delivered over the period 2006 to 2008. The first of these became operational in 2007, providing the Australian Defence Force with a global airlift capability.

Recent events in Queensland and Christchurch have underlined the C‑17s as an essential part of Australia’s capacity to respond to natural disasters both within Australia and within our region.

While disaster relief has been a recent public focus for C-17 operations, they continue to support Australian and International Security Assistance Forces in Afghanistan and the Middle East, meeting their primary purpose in providing military long-range heavy airlift.

The C‑17A aircraft can lift very large and heavy cargoes over long distances providing a significant contribution to Australia’s ability to reach and respond to events. One C‑17A can carry up to four C-130 Hercules loads in a single lift and cover twice the distance in three-quarters of the time of a C‑130 Hercules.

Members of No. 3 Royal Australian Regiment (3RAR) with cargo and vehicles inside a No. 36 Squadron (36SQN) C-17, prior to a para insertion to Charters Towers during Exercise Hamel. (photo : Australian DoD)

Mr Smith said that acquisition of an additional C-17 would almost certainly obviate any need for the acquisition of two additional C-130J-30 aircraft under project AIR 8000 Phase 1.

As outlined in the Public Defence Capability Plan, the additional C-130J acquisition is planned for final decision by Government in the period 2013-14 to FY 2014-15.

Following receipt of cost and availability information from the United States , the Government will make a decision about purchase based on capability, cost and schedule assessments of an additional C-17.

(Australian DoD)

Brunei will Increase CN-235 Fleet

01 Maret 2011

CN-235 of the Royal Brunei Air Force (photo : Airliners - matthew Johnston)

Government to evaluate defense-related SOEs

The government reaffirmed on Monday its commitment to support the domestic weapons industry by setting up programs for the Defense Industry Policy Committee (KKIP) to be implemented this year.

“This year’s programs include evaluating the performance of defense state-owned enterprises,” Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro told a press conference after a KKIP plenary meeting at the Defense Ministry.

“There are already plenty of funds for us to procure domestic-made weapons,” he said without giving exact numbers.

The one-day meeting also evaluated KKIP’s programs in 2010.

Purnomo, who heads the KKIP, said the government was also encouraging state defense companies to enter the ASEAN’s US$20 billion defense market.

Also at the meeting were State-Owned Enterprises Minister and KKIP vice chairman Mustafa Abubakar, Industry Minister MS Hidayat, Research and Technology Minister Suharna Surapranata, Indonesian Military (TNI) chief Adm. Agus Suhartono, National Police chief Gen. Timur Pradopo and Defense Deputy Minister and KKIP secretary Lt. Gen. Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin.

Executives from defense SOEs and other stakeholders also attended the meeting.

Mustafa said the state should empower defense SOEs, adding that a commercial approach would not be sufficient.

“We still have problems from the past, such as debts, which need to be resolved.“

Defense SOEs may need their organizations restructured, financial assistance and marketing drives,” he said.

Mustafa said that multi-year contracts had been awarded to defense SOEs to add and replace the TNI’s aging weapon systems.

“Defense companies have also received orders from foreign countries.

“They have received plenty of orders although have not yet reached an economy of scale or the break even point.”

Hidayat said while the country aimed to procure much of its weapons domestically, Indonesia might still need to create synergies with other countries for technologies it had yet to master through technology transfers.

The KKIP would allow users to define what they needed so that the Research and Technology Ministry could conduct necessary research, Suharna said.

The TNI and the National Police also asserted a commitment to use domestic-made systems, with Agus saying TNI would use as many local defense industries as possible.

Timur urged domestic defense industries to be competitive and efficient.

Currently there are three major state defense industries: aircraft maker PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PT DI), weapons and ammunitions maker PT Pindad and shipyard PT PAL Indonesia.

Sjafrie who recently returned from a visit to Brunei Darussalam, said the oil-rich sultanate has stated its interest in buying Pindad-made assault rifles and armored personnel carriers as well as increasing its fleet of PT DI-made CN-235 medium transport airplanes.

(The Jakarta Post)

Two "new" Scouts.

 Two Scouts appeared on our register on 17-02-2011.
Above is the SARO P.531-2 Scout AH/1 ZK-HJG4 , c/n S2/5311. This is a very early (historic) airframe from Saunders Roe and was originally G-APVL before becoming XP166 with the UK military, returniing to G-APVL later.
Below is the Westland Scout AH/1 , ZK-HQU2 , c/n F9475 which was XP849 and served with the Empire Test Pilots School and became G-CBUH on the UK civil scene.

Two more from Quake City

 Two of the Rick Lucas Helicopters seen on the HELiPRO pad yesterday (28-02-2011).
Above is Kawasaki BK117 A-3 ZK-HYE3 , c/n 1008.
Below is the Aerospatiale AS355F1 Twin Squirrel ZK-HYN2 , c/n 5286.

Hot Off The Water

To the answer “Progressive Aerodyne!” comes the Jeopardy question “What LSA company thumbs its nose at the bad economy?”
Certainly one of the most-fun LSA flights I’ve had in some time came at the controls of that company’s SeaRey amphibian.
Designer Kerry Richter and his SeaRey, buzzing the pond at Progressive Aerodyne's factory in Tavares, FL
My LSA pal Dan Johnson recently wrote up a piece on the amphib which spurred me to excerpt some highlights in advance of my own flight report on the lively sea bird coming soon in Plane & Pilot.
Kerry and Wayne Richter, second and third generation founders of Progressive Aerodyne, started back in the ‘70s with many memorable UL birds they created with dad/grandfather Stanley Richter.  The company then was Advanced Aviation and it put out, among other craft, several iterations of a very popular ultralight amphib: the Buccaneer.
Buccaneer SX-1.  Photo -
Building on that success, as Dan notes, Progressive Aerodyne popped out 31 Experimental Amateur Built kits in 2010.
After Sebring 2011, they sold 14!  That's impressive for any aviation company in these difficult times.
All those new builders will have lots of company: more than 600 SeaRey builders are already splashing into lakes and rivers all over the world.
The kit goes out the door at around $70,000.
And as I reported last month, Kerry tells me the SeaRey SLSA should be through ASTM accreditation by Oshkosh and will sell in the neighborhood of $120,000 -- "loaded" -- a very attractive price for an amphibian.
I went to Progressive Aerodyne's factory in Tavares, Florida after the show to shoot and get the tour.  Kerry is one busy designer.  He demonstrated a folding-wing option he’s developing that can be done, on land, by one person!
If you’ve got flying from water on your mind, this is one hot setup.  Other LSA amphibs have yet to make the big splash SeaRey has.  
A good part of that has to be its nearly two decades of design refinements and a cohort of happy owners.  Here's one well-seasoned, robust design...and one heck of a lot of fun to fly.

AA To Operate World’s Only Service Between New York And Japan’s Tokyo International Airport At Haneda

American Airlines today announced it will be the first U.S. airline to launch service between the continental United States and Tokyo’s International Airport at Haneda (Haneda) since the United States and Japan signed a historic Open Skies Agreement in October 2010. American is the world’s only airline to fly between New York and Tokyo’s Haneda in more than 30 years. American will begin its historic service on Friday, Feb. 18, from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, and on Feb. 20, from Haneda.

Haneda Facts:
  • Haneda is the most convenient airport serving Tokyo for customers travelling to or from the city center - located only 30 minutes from downtown Tokyo.
  • With almost 70 million annual passengers, Haneda is one of the busiest airports in Asia, and the fourth busiest airport in the world.
  • Once the route begins, the oneworld® alliance will have more flights between the U.S. and Haneda than any other alliance.
  • Haneda is Japan’s main hub for domestic flights, providing the widest range of options for connections to and from cities throughout the country.
American Airlines Facts:
  • With the New York – Haneda service, American will be the only airline to serve both Narita and Haneda Airports from New York.
  • In addition to its new service to Haneda, American will continue to provide service to Tokyo’s Narita Airport from New York-JFK, Chicago, Los Angeles and Dallas/Fort Worth.
  • American Airlines cornerstone markets are also some of the most traveled U.S. – Japan markets. Passengers traveling to or from AA cornerstone markets to Japan represent approximately 43% of the Continental U.S. – Tokyo traffic.*
  • American Airlines codeshares on Japan Airlines service between Tokyo’s Narita Airport and New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Honolulu as well as from San Francisco and Honolulu to Haneda – providing customers with even more travel choices to Japan and Asia.
  • The new AA flight will use a Boeing 777 with 247 seats, 16 in First Class, 37 in Business Class, and 194 in Economy Class.

Middle East Airlines - Air Liban - Joins SkyTeam

Beirut, 28 February 2011 – Middle East Airlines – Air Liban (MEA), the flag carrier of Lebanon, today signed an agreement to join SkyTeam in 2012. MEA will be the alliance’s second member from the Middle East, a strategic growth market for SkyTeam.

SkyTeam is actively working to strengthen its presence in the Middle East, one of the world’s most important and rapidly growing economic regions. The addition of MEA to the alliance network will enable SkyTeam to compete more efficiently, not only within the Middle East, but also to and from Western Africa. SkyTeam in return offers MEA a complementary global network. MEA customers will be able to connect to the world through traffic flows from the SkyTeam hubs in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas.
MEA has continued to improve its products and services to customers ever since it successfully concluded a thorough restructuring plan, intended to modernize and restructure the airline. Key elements of this plan included fleet renewal and rationalization, increasing the density of the carrier’s European, Middle East and West African network and improving product quality and consistency.
MEA Chairman- Director General Mohamad El-Hout stated:” By joining SkyTeam, MEA being relatively a small airline, will now be able to provide its customers an extensive global network covering Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. MEA customers will benefit from SkyTeam members’ loyalty program as well as ST members lounges at all airports worldwide.”
SkyTeam Chairman Leo van Wijk said: “Today marks yet another confirmation of SkyTeam’s growing global family. The Middle East is a strategic market for our alliance as we continue to extend the SkyTeam network to all corners of the globe. The region has seen an impressive growth in traffic over the past decade and we want to engage actively in this expansion. I am convinced that MEA will develop into a significant and valuable player in Middle East aviation.”  
SkyTeam Managing Director, Marie-Joseph Malé, illustrates the alliance’s continuing global expansion: “This year China Airlines and China Eastern with its daughter company Shanghai Airlines will effectively join us, according to plan. Garuda Indonesia, Aerolíneas Argentinas and Saudi Arabian Airlines have all confirmed their membership effective in 2012. We will continue to work on further expansion of our global network by looking for partners from India and Latin America.”

Source: Air Liban

Half of Jat’s fleet to be renewed

Jat reports strong growth as the never ending fleet renewal pledge continue
Vladimir Ognjenović, the acting CEO of Jat Airways, has announced that Jat plans to renew half of its fleet in 2012. Speaking at the Belgrade International Tourism Fair, the CEO said that the airline will purchase 4 Airbus A319 jets as well as the regional ATR 72-500 series to renew its regional fleet. “All of the terms for the purchase of new Airbus aircraft will be specified within the next several months by the Serbian Government”, Ognjnović said. The Serbian Government has already confirmed it will back 180 million Euros for the purchase of new aircraft. Ognjenović also said that Jat is planning to renew its regional fleet next year by introducing the newer ATR72 model which, he says, is one of the most economical aircraft in the sky.

Meanwhile, Jat is reporting strong growth in 2011. In February the airline saw a 30% passenger increase. Following a successful discount fare sale, which is said to have led to an increase in passenger numbers, another one has just been launched. The Serbian flag carrier is also expected to end code sharing on the Adria Airways Ljubljana – Belgrade – Ljubljana service from April, Ognjenović revealed.

Carried Away by Music

... Imagine there’s no music
I wonder if you can
No notes or rhythms to move us
A tragedy for man ...

Will art be man’s enduring legacy?  A recent discussion with one of my best friends, Peter Katz, urged me to ponder this question further.  The two of us usually have a lot to talk about, because he is a professional musician who is fascinated by science, and I am a scientist who is fascinated by music.

Peter and I met in the year 2000, when we played together in a Dave Matthews Band cover band called “Spoon”.  He sang, I drummed, and to this day, those Spoon days sit in my mind among my favourite adolescent memories.  Peter is a Montreal native, but moved to Toronto ten years ago to pursue a degree in Theatre, and was bit by the performing bug.  For the better part of the past decade, Peter has been busy writing a wonderful collection of songs, and winning the hearts of audiences throughout Canada and Europe.

How much does Peter Katz tour?  Toronto is where his home is, but he spent only two months living there in 2010.

I had the delightful opportunity to drum in his band in 2004, but logistics brought that to an end.  Peter has been performing as a solo artist in recent years, and brings more passion to his performance than just about any full band I have ever witnessed. 

For years, people of the press have been referring to him as a budding singer songwriter with a great deal of talent.  While his talent as a singer, poet, and guitar player is substantial, he is no longer merely “budding”.  A recent Peter Katz show that I attended at La Sala Rosa was a showcase of an artist in full bloom.

The parallels between science and art are very intriguing.  Science is man’s method of studying the physical, chemical and biological laws that govern the universe, but man did not create those laws.  The laws of science simply exist, or are God’s creation.  Art, on the other hand, is man’s creation, and is in many ways its most vital one.

Man has accomplished a lot over the past millennia, so to boldly place the discipline of art at the top of the heap on a whim would be irresponsible.  Can a proper analysis to verify this possibility be conducted objectively?  Let’s try.

At first glance, one might say that man’s technological achievements overshadow all others.  Our constructions, our manipulations of energy and DNA, our chemical formulations... Man’s list of science and engineering marvels seems endless and growing, like the expanding universe it takes place in.  Science allows engineers to tackle problems of all kinds, providing solutions that shape tomorrow’s future for the societies of Earth.

Yes, technology is impressive and often very useful.  Take a metallic bridge connecting two separated land masses for example: it is impressive to behold and serves a tangible purpose.  My first instinct to nominate science and engineering as man’s most pertinent field of study and application is a valid one.

However, the field of art is an equally valid nomination.  There is no other field that can match the passion of the arts.  I have attended meetings with engineers trying to optimize a satellite design, and I have witnessed a group of artists compose a song.  The engineers care, but do not inject their spirits into the endeavour with the same fury as do the musicians.  The satellite may serve the telecommunication needs of many citizens, but we must not overlook the very tangible positive impact that a song can have on people.  Music moves us, and flows through us at all levels of consciousness.  It affects us so deeply; I for one cannot fathom life without it.

Technology may be our best measure of progress, but at a philosophical level, I see no reason to move forward to a future if art is not a part of it.  Space-age gadgets are all well and good, but if my soul cannot be touched by art, then you can keep your gadgets.

I mentioned to Peter that if I were a political leader, I would have to put education, healthcare, and environment atop my list of priorities.  He agreed that those were essential to any society, but said that he would give as much focus to the arts.  I was initially baffled.  Is art really a need?  Can we eat art?  When the waters of Earth rise, will I play a sad song as I sink like the musicians aboard the Titanic?

After further consideration, I contend that yes, art is a need.  Richard Dreyfus’ character in Mr. Holland’s Opus expressed the importance of the arts perfectly when the music program at the high school where he taught was in the process of being cancelled in favour of more important subjects, like English: “Cancel the Arts, and your English students will be left with nothing to write about.”

Art is indeed among man’s most definitive creations.  While science outlines man’s desire to explore, no field highlights man’s creativity and desire for self-expression more than the arts.  Science shapes our society, but art gives it meaning.

Looking to the future, the importance of art in society will only grow.  Technological growth leads to automation of nearly everything.  When our last factory worker is replaced by a machine, and the service industry is filled exclusively by a monotone voice, what will humanity have to offer the world?  All humans will soon be called upon to do, is synthesize information.  Anything that can be made automatic will be made so, and many people will question their purpose in life.

In the twenty-first century, there will be great demand for scientists and engineers, for their ingenuity.  Artists will be called upon to inspire us; their creations motivate us all forward towards real progress.  I predict that by the end of this century, all jobs that require no ingenuity or creativity will be eliminated.

We often measure the significance of entities by their lasting impression.  Will the iPad be looked back upon in one hundred years as a significant contribution of man?  I doubt it.  However, in the year 2100, the music of The Beatles will still be called upon to take us to a place that a regular day in the life simply cannot.

As suggested in the movie A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, if aliens were to visit our planet centuries from now, they would consider man unique not because of its technological achievements, but rather, because of its artistic expressions: its sculptures, poetry, photography, film, and most certainly, its music.

Returning to my wonderful musician friend, Peter Katz, I want to introduce you to one of my favourite songs by him, which served as the primary motivation for this article.  His song entitled, “Carried Away,” describes the feeling of being absorbed by the performance of art – being taken to an ethereal place, where all troubles seem to disappear.  To see him perform the song, click on this link, and be swept away by his words and engaging melodies.

The reality is that we may all be carried away by whatever it is that we are passionate about, and enforcing a competition between the professions that fuel those passions, while intellectually stimulating, is merely a subjective exercise.

Sciences and the Arts have and will continue to lead mankind into the future.  If we heed the advice of John Lennon, and aim for a brotherhood of man, that future can be a brighter one. 

I would love to take a ride up in a space elevator some decades from now.  If I am so lucky, I hope to complete the experience by listening to Radiohead’s “OK Computer” as I ascend.

Jat to Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik awaits Jat
Jat Airways will return to Dubrovnik after 20 years. The Serbian carrier will return to the Pearl of the Adriatic with 2 weekly flights, which will compliment Croatia Airlines’ 2 weekly service, which commences on June 20. The CEO of Dubrovnik Airport, Roko Tolić, told the “Slobodna Dalmacija” newspaper that Jat will fly to Dubrovnik every Friday and Saturday. The airport’s CEO was part of a business delegation visiting Belgrade this week. Croatia Airlines will operate seasonal flights from Dubrovnik to Belgrade until September 7. Flight details for this service can be found here.

Meanwhile, Jat is enjoying unprecedented praise from local media following its swift and successful evacuation of Serbian citizens from Libya. Yesterday, the airline operated its fifth evacuation flight from the North African country. Four flights were operated from Tripoli and one from Sebha in South-western Libya.

As the 2011 summer season approaches, Source : EXYU aviation news : will begin publishing preliminary summer season timetables from next weekend.

Two from Quake City

 Other duties over the last few days have prevented me from my usual spotting activities.
I did manage to capture these two on the 25th.
Helilink's Aerospatiale AS355F1 Twin Squirrel ZK-HPA2 , c/n 5010 , was caught at the Heli Centre.
Whilst the Beech B200C Super King Air ZK-PLK , c/n BL-64 , was seen later in the day near the Engineering Training School hangar.

Mexicana's future

Ownership of Mexicana de Aviacion has been transferred to a group of investors known as PC Capital under a restructuring plan that will provide more than $200 million to the bankrupt operator in the coming days.
The agreement shifts ownership from current owners Tenedora K to a group led by local investors Alejo Peralta Terán, Rubén Vila Garciasordo and Alejandro Ampudia Marco. These three and a group of foreign investors still finalizing their funding issues will assume control of the holding company Nuevo Grupo Aeronáutico, the airline says in a statement.
Shares have already been transferred to PC Capital, and the new funding is expected to be distributed before the end of the week. This process also initiates a restructuring plan that in essence lays off Mexicana’s entire payroll and re-employs a skeleton staff for the launch of revenue service March 4. About 35% of this staff, or 4,000 employees, will eventually be rehired.
Plans to resume revenue service by Feb. 28 have been deferred (Aviation Daily, Feb. 17), says a source close to the airline, although an “expeditionary” flight is still planned for that date. And while the flight is expected to operate between Mexico City and Cancun, regulatory requirements may shift the destination to San Antonio.
As previously reported by Aviation Week, Mexicana plans to return to revenue service with a fleet of seven Airbus narrowbodies, including one spare, serving about six mostly North American destinations. The airline then hopes to increase the fleet to 19 aircraft by the third week in April for the busy “Holy Week” holiday season, and some 40 or so aircraft by the start of the summer schedule.
Where this fleet will be sourced is still under discussion, although most of the lessors that provided Mexicana’s pre-bankruptcy fleet—with International Lease Finance Corp. the notable exception—prepared to provide some of the carrier’s fleet requirements. Aircraft once owned by Mexicana now in the possession of Bancomext, a major creditor, were expected to form part of the fleet, but recent political pressure on the bank appears to have halted that deal, according to one source.
This source also notes that the revitalization program can change “at any time.”

Hawkei Prototypes Delivered to Australia’s Department of Defence for Testing

26 Februari 2011

Two Hawkei prototypes delivered to Australia (photo : Thales Group)

Thales Australia has delivered two prototypes of its ground-breaking Hawkei vehicle to Australia’s Department of Defence.The vehicles are being submitted for verification and validation under the Department’s LAND 121 Phase 4 program, which will replace part of the Army’s fleet of Land Rovers with light protected mobility vehicles.

Chris Jenkins, Thales Australia’s CEO, said the delivery marked a significant chapter in a rapid development program that had made full use of the company’s protected mobility expertise.

“The Hawkei is an impressive vehicle that has been developed to meet the specific operational requirements of the Australian Defence Force,” he said.

“We have leveraged the experience gained on the highly successful Bushmaster program, and teamed with world-class partners including Plasan, Boeing Defence Australia and the PAC Group, to deliver a unique, innovative, and high performance vehicle to the Commonwealth.

"The speed the Hawkei team has demonstrated to develop these prototypes shows that we have the capability to manufacture and deliver this cost-effective and versatile vehicle in response to urgent requirements, as Australia's only genuinely local manufacturer of protected mobility vehicles.”

The Hawkei is characterised by a large protected interior space for crew, equipment and stores; four doors for easy access; Bushmaster levels of blast and ballistic protection; advanced technology for rapid up-armouring in the field; and straightforward reconfiguration between variants.

(Thales Australia)

Airlines hit by oil price spike

Vueling chief executive Alex Cruz is "worried" and no-one is going to argue when he adds: "I think everyone is worried." It is not, after all, turning out to be a good year for oil.
As airline bosses and other energy price-sensitive business people returned to work after the Christmas and New Year holidays, the International Energy Agency raised the alarm, as several weeks of steady price rises saw the Brent Crude benchmark open January trading with a push to $95 per barrel, its highest price in more than two years.
International Energy Agency chief economist Fatih Birol was blunt: "Oil prices are entering a dangerous zone for the global economy." By early February, Brent Crude had broached $100 per barrier mark, traders fearing a fully-fledged revolution in Egypt, which produces little oil but controls the crucial Suez canal and pipeline routes from the Middle East to the Mediterranean.
And as Tunisia's revolt has started to spread, nobody is prepared to say Saudi Arabia will be immune to the wave of unrest.
Regardless of whether rising fuel bills derail economic recovery generally, from an airline industry perspective oil prices - closely tracked by jet kerosene prices - are in a trouble zone.
In 2010, Brent Crude averaged about $80 per barrel, but IATA flags jet fuel prices at the close of the year were more than one-fifth higher than a year earlier. If those prices prevail for 2011, the industry's fuel bill will jump $22 billion, wiping out last year's record $15.1 billion industry profit.
IATA is forecasting 2011 will see industry profits slump 40% to $9.1 billion, assuming Brent at $84 per barrel. However, director general Giovanni Bisignani warns: "For every dollar increase in the average price of a barrel of oil over the year, airlines face the difficult task of recovering an additional $1.6 billion in costs."
By IATA's calculations then, if oil averages $90 per barrel this year, the industry will return to losses unless it can find significant cost savings. For an industry frantically cutting costs since the 2008 oil price spike took prices into the $140s, major cost-cutting will not be easy. So how worried should airline bosses be? "The oil price challenges everyone in the industry," says British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh.
"There's only so much airlines can do to offset the increased cost. It will drive airlines that are unprofitable out of the industry ­because they just won't be able to survive but, ultimately, it's going to lead to higher prices."
He adds that if five years from now oil is $150 a barrel, the industry will have adapted to the new levels. "There will be fewer airlines and prices will be higher, which will impact on growth."
Michael Cawley, Ryanair deputy chief executive, adds: "There will be a mass of collapses and merger pressure in the future [with higher fuel prices]. Airlines with the most fragile balance sheets will be poorly placed to withstand fuel price increases."
BA's most visible response so far has been a February rise in its fuel surcharge. At Delta Air Lines, the response to an extra $400 million in first-quarter fuel costs has been to reduce planned capacity growth and raise fares.
Raising fares is probably the first, obvious response to rising costs. Gareth Williams, chief executive of flight comparison website, says of BA's higher fuel surcharge: "The aviation industry suffered some significant setbacks in 2010, with new air duty, the volcano, strikes and snow cancellations. It's not financially viable for airlines to continue to absorb these costs indefinitely and stay solvent."
Aviation consultant Mike Boyd, of Boyd Group International, is optimistic airlines can adapt. "As the fare increases announced in the last week of ­December clearly indicate, carriers are looking over the horizon and pro-actively planning for future shocks to the system - in this case, the near-certainty of spikes in fuel prices."
However, industry analyst Chris Tarry, of CTAIRA, observes price rises only "stick" if there is excess demand for travel.
Asian markets are strong, he says, but in Europe, where the big volume market is for leisure travel, the demand outlook is not good so raising prices would be a volume killer. That condition puts airlines in a bind. They cannot go on absorbing rising fuel costs, says Tarry, but their greatest threat is lack of passenger demand.
Cruz also sees the fares dilemma in these terms. His worry is not his airline's viability but "how much flexibility we will have to pass on the price increases into tickets. Who among our competition might keep their fares low?"
One candidate is Ryanair. "The inevitable response of other airlines [to higher fuel costs] is to increase their fuel surcharges. This creates a slipstream effect," says Cawley. "Passengers vote with their feet and come to us, displacing demand to Ryanair which will inevitably drive up our average fares."
The other short-term response to rising fuel prices is hedging. Essentially a two-way bet against fuel price movements, hedging can keep a carrier's per-tonne fuel bill more or less constant.
According to Leo Drollas, chief economist at the Centre for Global Energy Studies, it is a technique used effectively by "strategic hedgers" such as Air France, British Airways or Lufthansa, which always maintain hedged positions. However, he suggests "tactical hedgers" such as ­Ryanair, which tries to dip into the hedging market when it fears rising fuel prices, often lose.
Airlines which panicked and hedged against sky-high prices in 2008 found themselves paying way over market prices after oil collapsed in August 2008.
Forecasting oil prices, he notes, is a mug's game.
Cawley believes hedging plays an important role in cost control. "The first thing to learn [about fuel hedging] is it's impossible to beat it," he says. "We form a rolling view of the trends and try to buy against the trend and buy earlier. You can't anticipate fuel prices. If we could, we wouldn't be running an airline. We simply fix it at a range which we are comfortable with running the business."
Alaska Air Group, as a policy, uses hedges to lock the price of half its annual fuel burn, which chief financial officer Brandon Pedersen admits costs $50-60 million in insurance premiums.
Those costs make US Airways alone among US network carriers in not hedging, and its president Scott Kirby does not see spiking oil prices leading to a rethink of that policy. Transaction and insurance costs, he says, make it "hard to understand how you can make a systematic hedging programme work".
At Vueling, Cruz says hedging must be done at prices near that which the competition is locking in, but what is more worrying to him is, simply, the price level. Hedging at $101 a barrel could be very difficult, he says, adding: "Most airlines will not be able to continue with sustained pricing of $100-plus per barrel. I think we will see airlines falling down at those pricing levels."
One concern among energy watchers is global oil supplies will soon see an increasing reliance on difficult-to-exploit oil reserves. In other words, the easy oil has just about been used up.
The rising price trend also got a push by a hard winter in Europe and North America. As jet fuel is a derivative similar to heating oil, Leo Drollas, of the Centre for Global Energy Studies, notes refineries have to choose between the two - and he says airlines are paying for a cold winter.
A third pressure is potential for turmoil in the Middle East to spark the sort of oil supply geopolitical shock that has kicked off several recessions since the 1970s. Nobody anticipated this one and it is simply too early to say what may come of it.
One factor mitigating market worries is slack in the supply and storage chain, not the case when prices spiked in 2008.
Forecasting oil prices may be a hopeless task, but before the $100 per barrel mark had been crossed, Airbus's chief salesman John Leahy said the airframer expected a steady rise this year, through $100, but falling back to average in the mid-$90s.
In December, Sabine Schels, commodity strategist for Bank of America Merrill Lynch, forecast Brent would break through $100 in 2011, but average $88. Drollas is less optimistic, expecting Brent to average $93.
The $100 per barrel mark is significant. Schels believes prices above $100 are not sustainable as they cross the "pain threshold" for OECD countries.
Drollas notes the Saudis want to keep oil trading in the $70-90 per barrel range and are raising output in a bid to take the edge off recent rises. So oil in the $85-95 range looks a good bet: not high enough to derail recovery but high enough to keep global growth in check - and airlines sweating over fuel costs.

China plans 45 new airports over next five years

Authorities in Beijing have unveiled plans for a mega aviation infrastructure construction spree that includes 45 new airports over the next five years.
Li Jiaxing, the head of Civil Aviation Administration, China’s industry regulator, told reporters that the new investments would take the total number of airports in the country to 220.
However concerns have been raised about overcapacity, given that most of China’s existing airports are currently losing money.
Li Jiaxing, who is also a vice minister for transport, said that the government would invest Rmb1500bn ($228bn) in aviation between 2011 and 2015, although he did not disclose how much of that would go to airports.
According to Reuters, Li Jiaxing, who is a former chief executive of the country’s biggest airline Air China, admitted that 130 of the country’s 175 existing airports were currently loss-making, with the combined loss amounting to Rmb1.68bn.
Analysts warn that although demand for air travel has grown rapidly over the past decade as the purchasing power of Chinese consumers has risen, the expansion in airport infrastructure has become one of a number of potential sources of over-investment across the economy.
But officials argue that the new mega airports in some of China’s major cities have quickly found themselves operating near to capacity because of rising traffic. 
Goldman Sachs also forecasts that passenger demand will rise by 15 percent this year, as the growing middle class in China travels more.
Another cause for concern in the country’s rapid roll-out of its high-speed rail network has also raised questions about over-investment. This month an investigation began into the minister of railways Liu Zhijun for “a severe violation of discipline”, according to the Financial Times.
Supporters of the huge railway investment argue that the growing capacity of the passenger network will free up space on the existing network for cargo transportation.
However, the new high-speed rail routes, such as the Wuhan-Guangzhou line, which cut the journey time from 10 hours to three hours, are also a strong competitor for the aviation sector.
One potential market for China’s new airports could come from smaller aircraft, after the government announced in November that civilian aircraft could fly in airspace below 4000m. The decision could prompt a big increase in the use of helicopters and light aircraft.

Source: BTN

Montenegro Airlines in crisis

Montenegro Airlines treading on thin ice
For a second day in a row, Montenegro Airlines finds itself in the firing line. After it was revealed the airline owes 500.000 Euros to Skopje and Priština airports, the airline’s own pilots have now announced they will be launching legal action against the carrier. The Montenegrin daily “Dan” reports that pilots received their final pay checks in November. Furthermore, the airline owes millions to other airports in Europe. Montenegro Airlines’ CEO, Zoran Djurišić, admits that the carrier owes 40.000 and 60.000 Euros to Vienna and Frankfurt airports respectively. He explains that the carrier urgently needs 2 million Euros and notes that pilot salaries have been slashed by 30% so the airline can live another day.

Djurišić launched a scathing attack on low cost airlines, which are expected to enter the Montenegrin market this summer. He maintains that if low cost airlines come to Montenegro they should operate an all year round service and as a result, struggle. “Montenegro Airlines struggles for 8 months while low cost airlines will operate for 3 months and fill their aircraft to London, Paris and Moscow, services which we have nurtured for 8 months. I have cut pilot and engineer salaries by 30% so we can survive”, Djurišić says.

On Wednesday the airline suspended flights to Priština and Skopje indefinitely without prior notice. The Montenegrin Government attempted to sell 30% of the airline last year but there was no interest in the carrier.

Two more at Nelson

 Two  unexpected aircraft noted at Nelson on 18-02-2011 were (above) the engineless Mitsubishi MU-2B-30 ZK-KOH , c/n 521 , of Search and Rescue Services Ltd of Taupo.
The latest Pitts Special to come onto the register is this S-2A ZK-UFX , c/n 2140. An Aerotek built 1977 example which has been flying with Jonny White of Old South Way Inc out of Abingdon, Virginia as N80P before sale to Tasman Bay Aviation of Motueka, with whom it was registered on 23-11-2010. It is to replace the Pitts S2E Special ZK-ELI.

A few from Nelson

Robinson R22 Beta ZK-HIR3 , c/n 2620 , as seen at Nelson on 22-02-2011. It is on line with the Nelson Aviation College at Motueka.
Also spied at its base in Nelson, but on the 18th, was the Cessna 402B ZK-MAP2 , c/n 402B-1056 , of Aerial Surveys Ltd of Nelson. It is not long back from a major rework and repaint. Below is close up of the vertical fin markings.

And MAN is it raining. Beech B200 Super King Air ZK-MAN2 being pushed back into its hangar after returning in the rain at Nelson on 22-02-2011.

North Shore Airfeild Open Day

The North Shore Airfield held an open day today which drew many resident aircraft out on display, plus quite a few visitors from as far away as Dunedin (ZK-NJS)and Kerikeri (ZK-LPM).

By my count there are around 25 sport aircraft now based at North Shore. Below I post 2 recent arrivals that have migrated to North shore as completed aircraft.

ZK-DES is our latest Vans RV 7, and joins 5 other RV's on the feild. It is ex N174RL. It is owned by Spectrum Trade Ltd of Silverdale, and it was first registered on 3/11/10.

Another immigrant is the Periera GP 4 that was built by John Evans of Blenhiem, and which was first registered on 10/12/03. It has a Subaru motor and a 4 bladed propeller, and sounds amazing when it flies over. It was registered to The Logan Family Trust of North Shore on 27/11/10.

Korean Air Airbus A380.

Korean Air has released these photos showing its first fully-painted Airbus A380.

The carrier's distinct turquoise livery stands out against a backdrop of a wintery Toulouse day. Korean Air is intending to deploy the aircraft on services from Seoul to Tokyo Narita in June, and has also identified Bangkok, New York and Los Angeles as other A380 routes to be operated this year. Read more about the aircraft and also how it will have the least dense A380 configuration to date, in part thanks to an all-business class upper deck.

Source: Flightglobal

AERO...and e-Flight Expo...coming soon

The e-flight Expo kicks off for the third time at "AERO" in Friedrichshafen, Germany, April 13-April 16.  
Bunches of new aircraft and propulsion technologies along with the awarding of the Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize (LEAP) will mark the gathering of 550 exhibitors from 26 countries.
The e-flight name stands for more than electrical flight innovations: ecological and evolutionary advances in flight regardless of their nature are embraced, although electric is certainly leading the show.
Erik Lindbergh, grandson of Charles Lindbergh, will present his foundation’s prize for outstanding achievements in the development of electric flight.  
This year should bring several exciting advances in electric flight .  I’ll be doing a broad story for the magazine soon on what’s up and what’s coming.
Another highlight of the Expo is
"History for the Future of Flight”, a tantalizing assemblage of descendants and close relatives of last century’s aviation pioneers:  Claude Dornier, Igor Sikorsky, Marcel Dassault and Count Zeppelin.  
Bertrand Piccard, globe-circling balloonist and grandson of the atmospheric scientist Auguste Piccard, will also be there...unless test flights for his ongoing electric flight project "Solar Impulse" interfere.
Mr. Lindbergh, a tireless environmental champion in his own right, will also bring Albert II, Prince of Monaco, to augment support for Lindbergh’s championing of “electric mobility”, which includes  – aviation but also other forms of more planet-friendly transportation.  

Yuneec's new Viva two-seat electric powered motorglider
The expo will feature flight demonstrations from Yuneec’s e430 and E-Spyder electric aircraft, and the Chinese company’s new Viva.  The two-seat, side-by-side all-electric motorglider has a folding prop in the nose, run by a 40-kilowatt electric motor.
Top Slovenian LSA maker Pipistrel will display a four-seat hybrid airplane.
And Flight Design, top U.S. LSA producer, plans to display the latest version of its hybrid engine: a Rotax 914 combined with an electric motor.
But wait: There’s more!  36 teams will take to the air in the Berblinger Flight Competition, created to demonstrate "flying using innovative techniques" based on the latest research, knowledge and developments in aviation.
Germany, Slovenia, Italy, France, Australia, Czech Republic and Austria will field teams...but none from the U.S.  What’s up with that?

Yuneec E-Spyder (based on FlightStar ultralight)
The prize will go to aircraft capable of “carrying people and incorporating original and innovative ideas of environmental sustainability, economy, safety and/or construction.”
The first, technical part of the competition happens April 15, 2011 at AERO.  The winner gets €100,000 in prize money - that’ll work!
The second part takes place in the German city of Ulm on its 200th anniversary of Albrecht Ludwig Berblinger’s attempt to cross the Danube River in a hang glider of his own design.  Studies of his failed attempt indicate the design was sound...he could very well have succeeded, in 1811, if he’d had more knowledge of thermal air currents over the cold river. 
Expect AERO's e-flight to once again be the premier showcase of cool new stuff that will change all our lives in years to come.

Hughes 269B ZK-ING.

 First noted on 04-02-2011 in the Heli Maintenance hangar at Christchurch was this early production model Hughes 269B N9309F. It is a rather tired looking helicopter with I believe about 5000 airframe hours and a high time engine.
 Above is the manufacturers plate with tells us that it is a 269B model and has a build date of 123 which translates to  December (12) 1963 (3) and that it is the eleventh (0011) 269B production model.
Now despite the moves of certain people : there is still some humour, mirth and merriment among the aviation fraternity. Above is a pic of the battery box and below is one of a couple of bullet hole transfers on the tail boon.
This helicopter has aspirations of becoming ZK-ING for Neil Gray of Hokitika.

Motueka during the week.

 I popped into Motueka on 20-02-2011 and found these three interesting aircraft.
The Champion 7GCBC Citabria ZK-CRH , c/n 7GCBC-32 , was registered with the Middle Districts Aero Club on 05-12-1966 and has been raced, rolled and rallied by numerous operators ever since. In 1992 it joined a Queenstown Syndicate which included the Wakatipu Aero Club, to whom it was ultimately registered on 17-09-1995. It then spent a short period with Jagair from October 2008 until being listed with the CRH Syndicate on 30-12-2009. Here it is on line with the Nelson Aviation College at Motueka.
Tucked in the back corner of a hangar was this TEAM Hi-Max ZK-JBM , c/n 245. This was the Alistair McKenzie machine which was first registered on 23-10-1992. It was withdrawn and cancelled on 16-09-2008. Malcolm Belcher returned it to the register on 27-04-2009, selling it to the Kudrass Family Trust at Motueka on 14-04-2010.
In the other rear corner of the hangar was this Zenair CH701 STOL ZK-JLN2 , c/n 7-2026. This was the John Lowther built STOL which appeared on our listings on 29-03-2006. It was transferred to Shafid Khan of Motueka on 07-08-2010.

Lufthansa FlyNet WiFi service receives very positive response

The inflight broadband connectivity offered by Lufthansa has been very well received by customers. Since the launch of Lufthansa FlyNet in December, many passengers on longhaul flights to the United States have used the new service. “Email accessibility is immensely important, particularly for business travellers, but many leisure travellers are also taking advantage of the service,” says Christian Körfgen, Vice President Product Management and Innovation. “Meanwhile our surveys show that passengers are very interested in browsing the latest news on the Internet and accessing social networks.” Lufthansa is well on schedule and has already equipped 17 of its long-range aircraft with Lufthansa FlyNet, Körfgen explains. “Only two months after the introduction of this service, almost 20 per cent of our long-haul fleet is WiFi equipped.”
Through a hotspot, passengers have high-speed wireless access to the Internet via their laptop, iPad or smartphone. Thanks to the high bandwidth connection, e-mails – even with file attachments – can be sent and received without any time delay. Furthermore, FlyNet enables business travellers to connect to their corporate server via a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Data communication using the GSM and GPRS international cell phone standards will soon also be possible. In addition to WLAN, the communication options on board will then include cell phone text messaging and data transfer with smartphones such as the iPhone or BlackBerry. As before, however, passengers will not be permitted to use their mobiles phones to make calls.

Lufthansa offers the service in cooperation with its partners Panasonic Avionics Corporation and Deutsche Telekom. FlyNet is extremely easy to use. From any point in the aircraft cabin, passengers with a WLAN-enabled device can log on to the Internet in the same way as they would do at a public hotspot. After opening up their browser, they are automatically connected to the exclusive, free of charge Lufthansa FlyNet portal, which provides constant updates on business, political, sports and entertainment news. For Internet use various different billing options are available: passengers can pay by credit card or by redeeming Miles & More award miles. Alternatively, they can choose to be billed by Deutsche Telekom if that is their mobile service provider, or by an affiliated roaming partner. The one-hour flat rate is 10.95 euros or 3,500 miles; a 24-hour flat rate is available for 19.95 euros or 7,000 miles. Within the 24-hour period of validity, passengers can surf the Web on any connecting Lufthansa flight equipped with a hotspot or at a Lufthansa lounge after their flight.

Source: Lufthansa

Earn American Airlines AAdvantage Miles on Facebook

To celebrate the recent launch of social media channels dedicated to earning miles in the AAdvantage® program, American Airlines is launching the AAdvantage "Mystery Miles" promotion. Through March 31, 2011, members can simply "like" the AAdvantage program on Facebook at and quickly earn between 100 and 100,000 miles. The actual number of miles members will earn is the mystery.
When members visit the AAdvantage Facebook page, click the Mystery Miles tab and enter their AAdvantage number, they will be taken on a "Mystery Miles Journey." The journey will end with a randomly generated mileage amount between 100 and 100,000 AAdvantage miles, which will be deposited into their AAdvantage account within 3-5 business days.
"The opportunities to reward our customers through these new dedicated social media channels are endless and we're delighted to find fresh and innovative ways to connect with our loyal members," said Maya Leibman, President – AAdvantage Loyalty Program. "Just the click of a mouse lets our members earn miles towards their next getaway or dream vacation. Everyone's a winner – and what's not to 'like' about that?"
The AAdvantage Facebook and Twitter channels are the first social media channels dedicated to earning miles with a U.S. airline loyalty program. The channels are designed to regularly share with members various ways to increase their mileage balance, and encourage them to share their methods of earning miles.
During the promotion, members are also encouraged to become followers of the @AAdvantage Twitter handle. For more information about the AAdvantage program, visit, or to enroll in the program,

About the AAdvantage® Program
The AAdvantage program was the first frequent flyer program.  Established in 1981, the program now has more than 66 million members.  Members can earn miles at more than 1,000 participating companies, which include 27 hotel chains representing more than 60 brands, more than 20 airlines, eight car-rental companies, 11 financial companies, and over 500 brand name retailers.  In addition, members can earn miles when making purchases with one of more than 100 affinity card products in over 40 countries.  In 2010, AAdvantage members redeemed more than 165 billion miles to claim just fewer than 7.2 million awards for flights, upgrades and car rentals. For more information and a listing of AAdvantage program participating companies, visit

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