Aviation Week MRO Asia-Pacific

Air New Zealand inks 8 787-10 Dreamliners deal with Boeing

Air New Zealand and Boeing have inked a $2.7 billion (at list prices) worth contract for eight 787-10s. The Dreamliners are to replace the airline’s aging 777-200ERs. The airline, which already operates several Trent 1000-powered Dreamliners, appears to be tired with the never-ending Rolls-Royce engines issues, as it opted for Genx for its new purchase.

On September 25, 2019, Air New Zealand has confirmed the order for eight GEnx engine-powered 787-10s with option to increase the order by 12 more aircraft. The airline, Boeing and GE Aviation have initially made the deal in May 2019 by signing a letter of intent.

New Dreamliners, seating up to 330 passengers in a standard two-class configuration, are replacing the aging 777-200ERs in Air New Zealand’s fleet. Air NZ Chief Pilot, Captain David Morgan told NewsHub that the company has looked at Boeing 777X and Airbus A350 as potential replacement aircraft for its Boeing 777-200s, but decided to settle on Boeing 787-10 as it “is the right airplane for us”.

The deliveries are due to begin in September 2022 and last until 2027 (financial years of 2023-2028), unless the carrier decided to take the additional 12 787-10s, in which case deliveries would stretch until 2030 (financial year of 2031).

At that time, the carrier’s long haul fleet will consist of seven 777-300ERs, 14 787-9s and, of course, the eight 787-10s. However, the airline has also assured its shareholders that it has the right to switch from 787-10s to smaller 787-9s if it sees the need. The delivery schedule can also be delayed or accelerated by the airline.

“As many of you will know, in May, we announced our intention to replace our current fleet of Boeing 777-200 aircraft with the Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner powered by GE engines,” the airline’s CEO told shareholders before the voting on September 25, 2019. “Subject to shareholder approval later today, this multi-billion-dollar investment will be a game changer for our airline, offering a 25 percent improvement in fuel efficiency and opening up new opportunities for profitable network growth in the future”.

Air New Zealand currently operates 13 Dreamliners of the smaller -9 version (and is awaiting delivery of one more), which are powered by Trent 1000 engines. However, it appears that it had enough with problems plaguing Rolls-Royce engines. Of the two engine types available for Dreamliners (the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000 and the GE GEnx), the airline has settled for the latter.

“The issues we faced with the global Rolls-Royce engines which impacted not only the Boeing 787 fleet, but our entire network, as uncertainty around aircraft availability had numerous knock-on effects across the business,” the airline’s chairman told shareholders on September 25, 2019.


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Image: Stanislav Fosenbauer / Shutterstock.com

Indonesian investigators to further scrutinize 737 MAX software

The final findings by Indonesian investigators of the fatal Lion Air flight JT610 crash causes are expected to be published in October 2019. In their final report, the investigators will be more critical of Boeing and the role of MAX software systems malfunction in the accident than they were when writing the preliminary report, media reports suggest.

The official report into Lion Air JT610 accident, in which 189 people were killed in October 2018, is expected to be released the following month. Its conclusions, however, might be favourable neither for Boeing, nor for the FAA. While it will identify a series of pilot and maintenance mistakes, design flaws and U.S. regulatory oversight lapses will be deemed as having “played a central role” in the crash, according to the Washington Post publication on September 22, 2019, which quotes people familiar with the matter.

Indonesian authorities have released the preliminary report of the accident in November 2018. The preliminary findings revealed that the aircraft that downed on October 29 had suffered similar problems the prior day. Thus, the report looked into detail at Lion Air pilots’ behavior and maintenance practises.

The authorities found that pilots of the fatal flight struggled to control, as it is now known, the MCAS system, with was automatically pushing the aircraft nose down. The report also stated that aircraft Angle of Attack sensors indicated different altitudes. The difference between right and left sensors indications was approximately 20°.

The report included safety recommendations, specifically addressed to Lion Air. Referring to the CASR Part 91.7 Civil Aircraft Airworthiness and the Operation Manual part A subchapter 1.4.2, the report outlined that “the pilot in command shall discontinue the flight when unairworthy mechanical, electrical, or structural conditions occur”. The authorities also recommended Lion Air to “improve the safety culture and to enable the pilot to make proper decision to continue the flight.

While the report acknowledged Boeing’s Flight Crew Operation Manual Bulletin (OMB), issued to operators after the crash, no additional safety recommendations were addressed to the aircraft manufacturer at the time.

Contrary to Indonesian investigators, Ethiopian authorities, that investigated Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 crash in March 2019, focused on the MAX in their preliminary report.

“Ethiopian Airlines pilots followed all the correct procedures that Boeing offered to airlines following the Lion Air Flight JT610 accident,” the publicly announced in April 2019. “However, even when following the guidance of the manual issued by Boeing, pilots could not stop the nose of the plane going down”.

The preliminary report by Ethiopian investigators also had some safety recommendations, but both of them were addressed to Boeing, rather than the airline. It was recommended that Boeing reviews the flight control system related to the ability to properly control the flight. Also, Ethiopian investigators urged aviation authorities have to properly review the changes to the flight control system made by Boeing before clearing MAX to fly again.


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Image: Alexiushan / Shutterstock.com

SAS sports new livery upon renewing its fleet

The Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) has revealed a new livery that will be present on their aircraft, starting with newest jets ‒ the Airbus A350 and the A320neo. The new paint job is a contemporary “take on classic Scandinavian design”, highlighting the next chapter in the airline’s book, as SAS is undergoing a fleet renewal program.

The new and rather bland livery is a “symbol of our future, a more sustainable and competitive future for SAS, but one that also embraces our heritage”, said the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Scandinavian airline, Rickard Gustafson. “Travelers from Scandinavia will recognize their home” and foreign passengers will come across “the renowned feeling of the Nordics”, he added.

The changes from the previous colors are a “fresher shade of gray”, which features an advanced coating material, reducing the number of layers that need to be applied on the fuselage, which in turn reduces fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Furthermore, a “proud and confident” SAS logo will appear at the front of an aircraft, while the blue tail at the back of the plane will also extend to the underbelly. New addition will be the word “Scandinavian” on the belly of the aircraft, with the same word is changing color on the aircraft’s engines. In addition, the flags of Denmark, Norway and Sweden “have been updated in a modern, elegant way”.

The new livery will be present on all aircraft by 2024, according to the airlines’ plans. Currently operated aircraft will be repainted during planned maintenance, while newly delivered jets will feature the fresh coat of paint as soon as they roll out of the paint shop. SAS plans to have 96 new Airbus aircraft by 2023. The airline currently flies 159 aircraft, with an average age of 10.2 years, according to planespotters.net data. SAS aims to reduce its emissions by 25% by 2030, and one of those ways will be to replace the inefficient Airbus A340 quad jets with the new A350, while the A320neo will allow the aging Boeing 737s to retire from the airline’s operations.

Take a look at the new livery:

All pictures are courtesy of SAS.


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Image: SAS

Rolls-Royce admits Trent 1000 blade issues to prolong groundings

Rolls-Royce is facing yet another stumbling block in the way of solving its intermediate pressure turbine (IPT) blade problems on the Trent 1000 engines. Having previously announced being “about to fix” the issue, the manufacturer now is pushing back the date of when grounded aircraft numbers could return to a single-digit level.

In the past two months, Rolls-Royce accelerated defective intermediate pressure turbine (IPT) blade replacements with final standard ones on a “limited number” of Package B and C engines, which has led to more engine removals, the engine manufacturer explains in a statement on September 20, 2019.

Thus, the return to “single-digit level” of Trent 1000 powered aircraft on ground is now expected to be delayed until the second quarter of 2020.

Issues related to the high pressure turbine (HPT) blade on Trent 1000 TEN engines also remain a “challenge”, according to the company. As it had previously warned, the problem caused an additional MRO load, which means that the rate of un-grounding aircraft affected by Trent 1000 problems is “likely to be slower” than previously planned.

In August 2019, upon revealing 2019 half year financial results, the manufacturer stated that the number of aircraft grounded due to Trent 1000 problems was decreasing “slightly below our original plans”.

At the time it also explained thatTrent 1000 TEN HPT problem was being managed “through proactive inspections”, while new blade design and certification was “underway”. “We have made good progress on resolving the Trent 1000 compressor issue, though regretfully, customer disruption remains,” Warren East, Chief Executive was quoted in a statement as saying.

Unusual corrosion in Trent 1000 intermediate-pressure turbine (IPT) blades was detected in early 2016. The problem results in early wear and cracking on Trent 1000 Package C engines. Two years later, in June 2018, it was discovered that the Package B was affected too. In January 2019, early wear of the high-pressure turbine (HPT) blade of Trent 1000 TEN was also detected, prompting for more inspections.


Source: https://bit.ly/2kU1Pmw

Image: Steve Mann / Shutterstock.com

Aviation authorities critical of FAA Boeing 737 MAX certification

In the coming weeks, several world aviation authorities should submit a report on the certification of the Boeing 737 MAX. The conclusions will reportedly be critical of the way the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) handled the approval of the aircraft.

The Joint Authorities Technical Review (JATR), a committee set up by the FAA in April 2019, regroups the EASA, aviation authorities from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Japan, and Singapore, as well as NASA. It was tasked with reviewing the approval procedures of the Boeing 737 MAX, after suspicions of collusion between the manufacturer and the U.S. regulator emerged.

The report, which the JATR should submit in the coming weeks, is apparently critical of the FAA’s methods, particularly of the way it delegated some of the approval processes to Boeing’s engineers.

According to a source close to the matter quoted by the Wall Street Journal, the report recommends an earlier involvement of the FAA in the design of new systems, particularly when they can influence pilot response times during emergency situations.

Shortly after the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, the Seattle Times revealed that the authority delegated some of the 737 MAX certification process to Boeing engineers, and specifically the review of the MCAS system which was blamed for two fatal 737 MAX crashes.

Discrepancies were found in the MACS report: the system is known for correcting the angle of the stabilizers by 2.5°, yet FAA documents state the maximum is only 0.6°. “The FAA believed the airplane was designed to the 0.6 limit, and that’s what the foreign regulatory authorities thought, too,” said an FAA engineer quoted by the media.

The MCAS relies on the reading of a single sensor while its potential failure was evaluated as one level below “catastrophic”, which goes against the usual FAA regulations. Preliminary inspection of the FDR data from the Flight 302 showed that “the two sensors differed by some 20 degrees not only throughout the flight but also while the airplane taxied on the ground before takeoff”.

The safety review also forgets to mention that the system can reset itself after each pilot input, ignoring the fact that it is able to repeatedly push the plane’s nose down.

The JATR report should be critical of the fact that these discrepancies did not alert the FAA, and will include new certification guideline suggestions to make sure it does not happen again.

“We will review all the recommendations and incorporate any proposal that would improve our certification activities,” an FAA spokesman told AFP. “We look forward to the publication of the JATR report when it is complete,” a Boeing spokesperson said in a statement, adding that the company continues to work with global regulators to safely return the 737 MAX to service.

On March 19, 2019, the EASA and Transport Canada had declared that they would not validate the decision of the FAA as it is custom but instead would run an independent investigation. The decision was confirmed by Patrick Ky, head of the EASA, in an audience with the European Parliament on September 3, 2019. More recently, it was reported that the Directorate General of Civil Aviation of India (DGCA) was also looking into testing and certifying the grounded 737 itself, rather than relying on the FAA‘s judgment.


Source: https://bit.ly/2lTICBI

Image: Chrisdorney

Embraer delivers most popular E2 to launch operator

Embraer’s newest passenger aircraft, the E195-E2, is ready for service. The Brazilian manufacturer has made the first delivery to Irish leasing company AerCap and launch operator Azul Linhas Aéreas Brasileiras (Azul Brazilian Airlines) on September 12, 2019.

The E195-E2 is the largest of the three members of the Embraer E-Jets E2 family, hich also includes the E190-E2 and E175-E2, succeeding the original E-jets. Seating between 120 and 146 passengers (depending on configuration), the E195-E2 has three additional rows of seats, when compared to the current generation E195.

The regional jet received its type certification from three regulatory authorities: ANAC, the Brazilian Civil Aviation Agency (Agência Nacional de Aviação Civil); the FAA (U.S. Federal Aviation Administration) and EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) in April 2019.

Azul, the global launch operator of the new jet, placed its first order for 30 E195-E2s in 2015, expanding it later to a total of 51. Besides the first aircraft, five other newcomer jets are expected to join the Brazilian airline’s fleet by the end of 2019.

When compared to Airbus A220-100, often described as directly competing aircraft, the sales of Embraer jet are strong. As of the end of Q2 2019, E195-E2 has accumulated 124 firm orders and 50 options. The regional jet by Airbus, which entered service three years ago, had only 90 orders as of August 31, 2019.

The E195-E2 is also the more popular of the two certified E2 family variants that already have type certification. The E190-E2, in service since April 2018, has 44 firm orders and 61 optional.


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Image: Clemens Vasters (Wikimedia CC BY-SA 2.0)

EASA to flight test 737 MAX individually; strips FAA delegation

While Boeing prepares for the un-grounding of the MAX, the aviation agencies are also doing their homework ahead of the eventual green light for the 737 MAX to fly again. However, one of the agencies is going to approve the MAX themselves, rather than delegating the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) to do so.

European Union Aviation Safety Agency’s (EASA) executive director, Patrick Ky, “exchanged views” before the European Parliament’s Committee on Transport and Tourism, which was just newly elected in May 2019. Ky shortly presented EASA’s role in the industry and of course, touched a very important topic – the Boeing 737 MAX and the type’s return to service.

During the presentation, Ky officially confirmed that the EASA will individually approve the MAX to fly only after Boeing has met four critical conditions. Firstly, the agency “insisted that any change proposed by Boeing on the resolution of these problems would need to be EASA approved”. Secondly, as the European Union and the United States have an agreement on air safety, the FAA approved parts that the EASA did not oversee. Thus, as the MAX re-enters service, the European agency will do a “broader review of the design of the critical safety systems on the MAX”, which the EASA delegated the FAA to certify back when the aircraft was approved for service in 2017 – a topic, “not very popular with our American colleagues”, according to Ky.

Thirdly, the EASA will have to have “a complete understanding of the two accidents” and finally, it will require that “flight crews are adequately trained” regarding the changes that Boeing made to the 737 MAX software. EASA’s executive director also noted that the agency is in “regular and in very strong contact” with the manufacturer and the FAA, as every party involved is trying to get the jet back up in the air.

Meanwhile, the FAA expects to conduct certification flights with the grounded jet in October 2019, as reported by the Seattle Times. Boeing stated that the company “assumes” that the 737 MAX will return to service “early in the fourth quarter 2019”. However, during his presentation, Ky noted that Boeing has not implemented changes that would provide “appropriate response to Angle Of Attack integrity issues”, questioning whether the assumption will come to fruition. MAX operators share the skepticism, as they look forward to for flights to resume in January 2020.

The changes to certification show how much the crisis has shaken up the industry, creating a rift between agencies. A recent example of how the agencies still worked together could be the Boeing 787 Dreamliner groundings back in 2013 when the aviation authorities grounded the type worldwide due to issues with batteries and electronic systems. The EASA followed the FAA’s directive and noted that the agency is “working closely with the FAA as the primary certification authority”.

But when the second 737 MAX suffered a fatal accident, the FAA was not seen as the “primary” agency anymore – Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) was, as it was the first aviation authority to ground the MAX. In contrast, the FAA had “not been provided data to draw any conclusions or take any actions”.

Two days later, the FAA joined the rest of the agencies and banned the narrow-body from operating commercial flights, one of the last agencies to do so. And, as Boeing aims to return the newest 737 family member to service as soon as possible, it seems like the FAA has lost its status as a leading agency, adding further complexity to the last chapter of the 737 MAX crisis.


Source: https://bit.ly/2kIrFtD

Image: Mark Van Scyoc

Boeing: 777X “exploding doors” issue not to affect test schedule

Boeing expects the “exploding door incident” to have no significant impact on the 777X design. The incident is unlikely to affect the overall test program schedule of the new widebody jet, the planemaker said in a statement on September 10, 2019.

The incident took place during the final structural testing of the 777X static test airplane at Boeing’s plant in Everett, Washington, on September 5, 2019, according to The Seattle Times, which first reported the incident. Subject to a high-pressure stress test on the ground, the cargo door of the airplane failed – exploding outward.

Without confirming or denying the “exploding doors” fact, Being now explains that the issue involved a depressurization of the aft fuselage. It occurred not only during the final test for the static test article, but also during the final minutes of the test, at around 99% of the final test loads. The 777X was undergoing static testing since June 2019.

While the manufacturer is now trying to determine what caused it, it claims that it will not have a drastic effect on the 777X testing program. “While our root cause assessment continues, at this time we do not expect that this will have a significant impact on aircraft design or on our overall test program schedule,” according to the statement.

The 777X program has already taken several hits related to issues with the General Electric GE9X engine. While officially denying that 737 MAX grounding has affected 777X program, Boeing has also reportedly pushed back the entry into service of a smaller 777X variant, the 777-8.


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Image: Dan Nevill, CC BY 2.0

Boeing 777X program takes another hit, door blows out during test

Boeing’s new wide-body jet program, the 777X, has taken another hit. Reports indicate that the manufacturer has had to suspend load tests of the new model after the cargo door of the airplane exploded outward during a recent ground stress test.

According to a report by The Seattle Times, the incident took place during the final structural testing of the 777X static test airplane at Boeing’s plant in Everett, Washington, on September 5, 2019. Subject to a high-pressure stress test on the ground, the cargo door of the airplane failed – exploding outward.

“During final load testing on the 777X static test airplane, the team encountered an issue that required suspension of the test,” Boeing spokesperson Paul Bergman said in a statement, as quoted by The Seattle Times.

The cargo door failure occurred during the final testing in 777X’s certification process by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the newspaper writes. Boeing stated it is reviewing the incident to find out what exactly happened during the test.

Static test airplanes are built for ground testing only and are not intended to be flown or enter commercial service. Flight testing is a whole new ball game.

The 777X program has already taken a hard hit from issues with the General Electric GE9X engine. In June 2019, pre-delivery testing glitches detected on the new GE9X necessitated fixes that are now expected to push back first flight and delivery of the 777X, the 777-9 variant, into 2020.

A fresh and disappointing delay was also announced in August 2019, when Boeing, strained by the ongoing 737 MAX crisis, pushed back the entry into service of its smaller, ultra-long-range variant of the 777X, the 777-8, Reuters reported at the time.


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Image: Dan Nevill (Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 2.0)