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Boeing wins $15.7 billion Vietnam orders on Trump’s Hanoi visit

HANOI, Feb 27: Vietnam’s Bamboo Airways and VietJet Aviation JSC signed deals to buy 110 aircraft from Boeing Co. during President Donald Trump’s visit to Hanoi for a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

Bamboo agreed to purchase 10 787-9 Dreamliners worth about $3 billion, while VietJet’s order is for 100 737 Max planes valued at $12.7 billion, Boeing said Wednesday. VietJet’s 100-plane commitment was unveiled at the Farnborough air show last year.

The agreements were signed in the presence of Trump and Vietnam’s President Nguyen Phu Trong.

Vietnam’s airlines are expanding their fleets as rising incomes and the region’s growing economies are spurring many to fly for the first time, boosting demand in the Asia Pacific, whose air-travel market is projected to surpass that of North America and Europe combined. Demand in Vietnam is also expected to climb after U.S. regulators last month gave their approval to the nation’s air-safety system, making its airlines eligible to begin direct flights to the U.S. and codeshare with American carriers.

Vietnam’s jet-shopping spree is outsized for a country with a population of 95 million people, George Ferguson, an analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence, said before Wednesday’s announcement. While the main Vietnamese airlines only have 187 aircraft in service, there are another 245 planes on order, according to FlightGlobal data analyzed by Bloomberg Intelligence.

Separately, General Electric Co. signed a $5.3 billion deal with VietJet to service engines for 200 Boeing 737 Max aircraft on order.

Airbus to scrap production of A380 superjumbo

PARIS, Feb 14: Europe’s Airbus announced plans to scrap production of the A380 superjumbo on Thursday, abandoning its dream of dominating the skies with a cruiseliner for the 21st century after years of lacklustre sales.

The world’s largest airliner, with two decks of spacious cabins and room for 544 people in standard layout, was designed to challenge Boeing’s legendary 747 but failed to take hold as airlines backed a new generation of smaller, more nimble jets.

Airbus said in a statement that the last A380 would be delivered in 2021.

Confirming a shake-up, it said Emirates - the largest A380 customer - had decided to reduce its orders for the iconic superjumbo and order a total of 70 of the smaller A350 and A330neo models.

The European company said it would enter talks with unions in coming weeks over the 3,000-3,500 jobs potentially affected.

Airbus will produce 17 more of the planes including 14 for Emirates and 3 for Japanese airline ANA.

As part of the restructuring, Emirates placed a new order for 40 A330-900neo jets and 30 A350-900 aircraft, partially restoring a purchase of A350 aircraft which it cancelled in 2014.

Emirates, which had built its global brand around the A380 and Boeing 777 and which also has 100 of the Airbus superjumbos in its fleet, said it was disappointed by the closure.

“Emirates has been a staunch supporter of the A380 since its very inception,” said Emirates Chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed al-Maktoum.

“While we are disappointed to have to give up our order, and sad that the programme could not be sustained, we accept that this is the reality of the situation,” he added.

The A380 will remain a pillar of the Emirates fleet well into the 2030s, stated the airline.

Emirates’ local rival Etihad of Abu Dhabi also disclosed it was cutting some Airbus and Boeing jet orders, highlighting growing questions over the growth of Gulf airlines.

Making its maiden flight in 2005, the A380 was a major step in Airbus’s efforts to compete on equal terms with Boeing and challenge what had been a cash cow for its arch-rival.

But sales of the industry’s largest four-engined jets have fallen due to improvements in lighter twin-engined alternatives, such as the Boeing 787 and 777 or Airbus’s own A350.

The prospect of a premature halt to A380 production emerged last month as part of a restructuring of orders first reported by Reuters.

On Wednesday, Reuters reported that Airbus was poised to axe the superjumbo and would likely give an update coinciding with results due on Thursday morning.

The decision to scrap production is the last major step by outgoing Airbus Chief Executive Tom Enders.

Passenger volume at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport hits record high in 2018

By Deepak Arora

TAIPEI, Jan 9: Passenger volume at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport increased 3.69 percent to a record high of 46.53 million in 2018, according to Taoyuan International Airport Corp.

Facility operator TIAC attributed this strong showing to the success of the government’s New Southbound Policy in boosting visitors to Taiwan as well as the rising popularity of budget airlines.

TIAC statistics showed that the number of travelers from NSP target countries arriving, departing and transiting at TTIA increased 9.84 percent year on year to 11.32 million, while volume on budget carriers rose 12.05 percent to 8.49 million.

A key plank in the government’s national development strategy, the NSP is enhancing Taiwan’s agricultural, business, cultural, education, tourism and trade ties with the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations member states, six South Asian countries, Australia and New Zealand.

According to TIAC, the 2018 total sees TTIA retain its status as one of the 50 busiest airports in the world. A number of large-scale projects are also underway to manage increasing traffic, the company said.

These include construction on the 45 million passenger Terminal 3, as well as the ongoing expansion of Terminal 2. The latter development, set for completion in April, will boost capacity from 17 million to 22 million.

These projects are also expected to help maintain the airport’s reputation for top-class service. In 2017, TTIA placed third globally among facilities handling over 40 million passengers per year in the Airport Service Quality Awards by Montreal-headquartered Airports Council International, and it won first place for immigration service in the 2018 World Airport Awards organized by U.K.-based air travel research group Skytrax.

Mid-air collision of three planes averted in Delhi region

NEW DELHI, Dec 28: In a rare incident, three planes of three foreign airlines, carrying hundreds of passengers, came perilously close in the Delhi flight information region and collisions were averted after multiple auto generated warnings and intervention from ATC, an official said Friday.

The Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) has started a probe into the incident, which happened on December 23.

Flights of Dutch carrier KLM, Taiwan’s Eva Air and the US-based National Airlines were involved in the incident, the official said.

The incident happened in the Delhi Flight Information Region (FIR).

An FIR refers to a specified airspace where flight information and alerting services are provided. Generally, an FIR can be land and sea territory as well as any international airspace as defined under global norms.

According to the official, at the time of the incident, National Airlines’ flight NCR 840 was on its way to Hong Kong from Bagram in Afghanistan while the KLM Flight KLM 875 was heading to Bangkok from Amsterdam. The Eva Air flight EVA 061 was flying to Vienna from Bangkok, the official said. “First it was NCR 840, which was flying at flight level 310 (31,000 ft) and EVA 061 at flight level 320 (32,000 ft) which breached mandatory separation. The pilots of both the aircraft were alerted by the onboard TCAS warning system,” the official said.

Around the same time, the KLM flight was at 33,000 ft, he added.

Following the TCAS (Traffic Collision Avoidance System) warning, the pilot of NCR 840 sought to climb to 35,000 feet but was told to remain at that current level till the time it gets a go-ahead. “However, when the air traffic controller (ATC) observed it climbing, it was immediately asked to take a left turn. In the meantime, EVA also continued climbing at flight level 330, a level at which KLM was already flying, and at this time, another TCAS warning went off, alerting the pilots to steer the aircraft to a safer distance,” the official said.

As the NCR 840 again descended to flight level 330, it came across the EVA flight, triggering another TCAS alarm, the official said.

Indigo worst performing airlines for consumers: Parliamentary panel

NEW DELHI, Dec 27: Private airline Indigo is the “worst performing” carrier for consumers, while national carrier Air India has the best luggage policy, said parliamentary panel on civil aviation chairman Derek O’ Brien.

TMC MP O’Brien, who heads the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Tourism, Culture, Road, Shipping and Aviation, Thursday said the panel had taken strong note that during festive season some airlines were charging 8-10 times more than the normal fares.

Addressing a press conference on the panel’s latest report, he said,”Our committee is very clear that the worst performing airline for consumers is Indigo. All 30 members agreed on this. Indigo has not responded despite many complaints. The way they behave with consumers and charge for just one kg or two kg overweight of air baggage...”

“Every single member (of the panel) is disgusted with the way some private airlines are operating but more so with Indigo, it is discourteous. The airline is very rigid, Indigo even charges for one-two kg overweight, this has not been taken very well and the committee is looking into the matter seriously,” he said.

O’Brien asserted these were not only his views but of all members of the panel who are from different parties. Underlining that there were many problems in the aviation sector, the TMC leader said, “The committee has recommended that cancellation charges can’t be more than 50 per cent of basic fare. Tax and fuel surcharge collected should be refunded to passengers. Airlines are charging too much.”

On the luggage policy, Brien said the national carrier had the best luggage policy and the other private airlines should also enhance the baggage limit.

“Air India has best luggage policy...the maximum luggage limit prescribed by the airlines, except Air India, should be enhanced,” he said, adding that baggage charges are also on higher side.

Brien said there are five ministries under the purview of the standing committee unlike other panels, where there is only one ministry.

He also applauded Nitin Gadkari, who is heading the Shipping Ministry for improvement in cargo handling in India.

Crashed Lion Air jet’s airspeed indicator had malfunctioned on 4 previous flights

JAKARTA, Nov 5: The “black box” data recorder from a crashed Lion Air jet shows its airspeed indicator malfunctioned on its last four flights, investigators said Monday, just hours after distraught relatives of victims confronted the airline’s co-founder at a meeting organized by officials.

National Transportation Safety Committee chairman Soerjanto Tjahjono said the problem was similar on each of the four flights, including the fatal flight on Oct. 29 in which the plane plunged into the Java Sea minutes after taking off from Jakarta, killing all 189 people on board.

Erratic speed and altitude on the plane’s previous flight, from Denpasar on Bali to Jakarta, were widely reported and “when we opened the black box, yes indeed the technical problem was the airspeed or the speed of the plane,” Tjahjono told a news conference.

“Data from the black box showed that two flights before Denpasar-Jakarta also experienced the same problem,” he said. “In the black box there were four flights that experienced problems with the airspeed indicator.”

Indonesian investigators, the plane’s manufacturer, Boeing, and the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board are formulating a more specific inspection for Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes related to the airspeed problem, Tjahjono said.

“If there are urgent findings to be delivered, we will convey them to the operators and to the manufacturer,” he said.

Lion Air has said a technical problem with the jet was fixed after problems with the Bali to Jakarta flight.

Investigator Nurcahyo Utomo said investigators need to review maintenance records, including what problems were reported, what repairs were done including whether components were replaced, and how the repairs were tested before the 2-month-old plane was declared airworthy.

“Currently we are looking for the cause of problem,” he said “Whether the trouble came from its indicator, its measuring device or sensor, or a problem with its computer. This is what we do not know yet and we will find it out,” he said.

At the meeting with family members, Tjahjono had said that information downloaded from the jet’s flight data recorder was consistent with reports that the plane’s speed and altitude were erratic after takeoff on its final flight. Searchers are still trying to locate the cockpit voice recorder.

Rusdi Kirana, Lion Air’s co-founder, was not invited to speak by Transport Minister Budi Karya Sumadi, who moderated the meeting between relatives and the officials who are overseeing the search effort and accident investigation.

But he stood and bowed his head after angry and distraught family members demanded that Kirana, who with his brother Kusnan Kirana founded Lion Air in 1999, identify himself.

“Lion Air has failed,” said a man who identified himself as the father of passenger Shandy Johan Ramadhan, a prosecutor in a district on the island where the flight was headed.

“I want Mr. Rusdi Kirana and his team to pay attention,” he said. “Since the time of the crisis, I was never contacted by Lion Air. We lost our child, but there was no empathy that Lion Air showed to us.”

After the meeting, Kirana left in a hurry, avoiding questions from reporters.

Many families face an agonizing wait for missing relatives to be identified. Police medical experts have received nearly 140 body bags of human remains and have identified 14 victims.

Relatives questioned why the plane had been cleared to fly after suffering problems on its Bali to Jakarta flight on Oct. 28 that included a rapid descent after takeoff that terrified passengers.

“Lion Air said the problem was fixed, is it true the problem was cleared?” asked Bambang Sukandar, whose son was on the flight. “If not, technicians in charge must be responsible,” he said.

“The law is absolute, because they have stated that the plane was cleared to take off again. These bad technicians must be processed by law to prevent plane accidents from continuing in Indonesia.”

Tjahjono said the large amount of small debris and the relatively small area the debris was found in showed the plane hit the water at a very high speed.

“The plane was intact when it plunged to the sea, it did not explode in the air, and the aircraft engine was running when it touched the water at high RPM — it’s marked by the loss of all blades of the turbine,” he said.

The Lion Air crash is the worst airline disaster in Indonesia since 1997, when 234 people died on a Garuda flight near Medan. In December 2014, an AirAsia flight from Surabaya to Singapore plunged into the sea, killing all 162 on board.

Lion Air is one of Indonesia’s youngest airlines but has grown rapidly, flying to dozens of domestic and international destinations. It has been expanding aggressively in Southeast Asia, a fast-growing region of more than 600 million people.

189 killed in Indonesian plane crash

PAKISJAYA (Indonesia), Oct 29: An Indonesian aircraft with 189 people on board crashed into the sea and sank on Monday soon after taking off from the capital, Jakarta, on a flight to a tin-mining region, officials said.

Lion Air flight JT610, an almost new Boeing 737 MAX 8, lost contact with ground officials 13 minutes after takeoff, and crashed about 15 km (9 miles) off the coast.

Indonesia is one of the world's fastest-growing aviation markets, although its safety record is patchy. If all aboard have died, the crash would be the country's second-worst air disaster since 1997, industry experts said.

"We don't know yet whether there are any survivors," search and rescue agency head Muhmmad Syaugi told a news conference, adding that no distress signal had been received from the aircraft's emergency transmitter.

"We hope, we pray, but we cannot confirm."

Items such as handphones and life vests were found in waters about 30 meters to 35 meters (98 to 115 ft) deep near where the plane, a Boeing 737 MAX 8, lost contact, he said.

"We are there already, our vessels, our helicopter is hovering above the waters, to assist," Syaugi said. "We are trying to dive down to find the wreck."

Ambulances were lined up at Karawang, on the coast east of Jakarta and police were preparing rubber dinghies, a Reuters reporter said. Fishing boats were being used to help search.

At least 23 government officials were on board the plane, which an air navigation spokesman said had sought to turn back just before losing contact.

Edward Sirait, chief executive of Lion Air Group, told reporters the aircraft had a technical problem on a flight from the resort island of Bali to Jakarta but it had been "resolved according to procedure".

Sirait declined to specify the nature of the issue but said none of its other aircraft of that model had the same problem. Lion had operated 11 Boeing 737 Max 8s and it had no plan to ground the rest of them, he said.

The accident is the first to be reported involving the widely sold Boeing 737 MAX, an updated, more fuel-efficient version of the manufacturer's workhorse single-aisle jet.

Privately owned Lion Air said the aircraft had been in operation since August, was airworthy, with its pilot and co-pilot together having accumulated 11,000 hours of flying time.

The head of Indonesia's transport safety committee said he could not confirm the cause of the crash, which would have to wait until the recovery of the plane's black boxes, as the cockpit voice recorder and data flight recorder are known.

"The plane is so modern, it transmits data from the plane, and that we will review too. But the most important is the blackbox," said Soerjanto Tjahjono.

Safety experts say nearly all accidents are caused by a combination of factors and only rarely have a single identifiable cause.

The weather was clear, Tjahjono said.

President Joko Widodo told a news conference authorities were focusing on the search and rescue, and he called for the country's prayers and support.

Indonesia's worst air disaster was in 1997, when a Garuda Indonesia A300 crashed in the city of Medan killing 214 people.

Founded in 1999, Lion Air's only fatal accident was in 2004, when an MD-82 crashed upon landing at Solo City, killing 25 of the 163 on board, the Flight Safety Foundation's Aviation Safety Network says.

In April, the airline announced a firm order to buy 50 Boeing 737 MAX 10 narrowbody jets with a list price of $6.24 billion. It is one of the U.S. planemaker's largest customers globally.

 

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