Airbus A321 passenger-to-freighter conversion certified by EASA

Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW), a joint venture of Singapore-based ST Engineering and Airbus, announced that its newest product, the Airbus A321 passenger-to-freighter (P2F) converted aircraft received supplemental type certification from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

The first prototype Airbus A321P2F took off on its maiden flight on January 22, 2020, departing and arriving back in Seletar Airport (XSP) in Singapore. The aircraft, registered D-ANJA, completed several trial flights throughout January and February 2020.

Previously, the aircraft belonged to Onur Air. In November 2018, it was withdrawn from use and ferried to Singapore to undergo the conversion to a freighter aircraft.

Elbe Flugzeugwerke expects to deliver the converted freighter to Vallair, a Luxembourg-based asset manager, in Q2 2020. The latter company, in turn, would deliver the A321P2F to Qantas Freight, a subsidiary of the Australia-based Qantas Group.

While the converted freighter will offer cargo operators the chance to renew their aging narrow-body freighter fleets with younger aircraft, the A321P2F also introduces the feature to load both the main deck and the lower deck into the narrow-body freighter segment.




Image: Tooykrub,

FAA issues Emergency AD Boeing 777-300ER GE engines

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an emergency airworthiness directive (AD), warning Boeing 777-300ER powered by GE engines of a potentially unsafe condition affecting the power plants. This is the second emergency AD, which follows an uncontained engine fire incident back in October 2019.

The emergency AD, issued by the FAA on January 17, 2020, orders operators to have interstage seal removed from General Electric Company GE90-110B1 and GE90-115B model turbofan engines, listing 16 serial numbers. The AD comes in addition to a previous emergency AD, which listed eight engine serial numbers.

The requirement follows investigative findings into October 2019 event, during which a Boeing Model 777-300ER, powered by GE GE90-115B model turbofan engines, experienced an uncontained high-pressure turbine (HPT) failure. As a result, the aircraft suffered damage and had to abort a takeoff.

It is understood that the incident in question is Thai Airways Flight TG-970. On October 20, 2019, Thai Airways’ Boeing 777-300ER was due to operate a long-haul flight from Bangkok, Thailand to Zürich, Switzerland, with 359 people onboard. The widebody was accelerating for takeoff from runway 01L when the left-hand engine (GE90) failed.

The crew rejected the takeoff and safely returned to the apron. None of the 339 passengers or 20 crew were injured during the incident. The aircraft, on the other hand, was damaged by debris from the failed engine, which impacted the aircraft fuselage and the other engine.



Shortly after the incident, on October 23, 2019, the FAA issued an emergency AD, requiring operators to remove Interstage Seal from General Electric Company (GE) GE90-115B model turbofan engines, listing eight serial numbers of affected engines.

As was stated within the directive, it was prompted by an uncontained high-pressure turbine (HPT) failure that resulted in an aborted takeoff of a Boeing 777-300ER on October 20.

The authority has highlighted that uncontained HPT failure, if not addressed, could result in the release of high-energy debris, damage to the engine or airplane, and possible loss of the airplane.


Image: Sovxx, Zeugma fr, CC BY-SA 3.0

Airbus A330-800 certified; developing higher MTOW version

Joining its bigger A330neo brother, the Airbus A330-800 received its joint-type certificate from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on February 13, 2020. The wide-body started its flight test campaign in November 2018, when it first took to the skies.

All in all, the aircraft with the Manufacturer Serial Number (MSN) 1888, performed 132 test flights, spending 370 hours in the skies. The first built A330-800 performed its latest flight on February 13, 2020, departing from Brest Bretagne Airport, France (BES) at 10:55 AM local time (UTC +1) towards Toulouse Blagnac Airport, France (TLS), data indicates.

The plane is certified with a maximum take-off weight of 242 tons and is able to travel 7,500 nautical miles (13,890 kilometers). Airbus indicates that a three-class configuration will be able to seat between 220 and 260 passengers, while a high-density all-economy layout will raise the capacity of the aircraft to 406 people on board.

The bigger version of the A330neo, the -900, can fit between 260 and 300 travelers in a three-class layout or 440 in all-economy seating with a range of 7,200 nautical miles (13,400 kilometers).

And the big brother is more popular amongst customers: out of the total 337 orders for the A330neo, Airbus has only logged 14 orders for the A330-800. Airbus delivered 45 units of the A330-900, which entered service in 2018 with TAP Air Portugal.

The second member of the #A330neo Family, the #A330-800 receives Joint Type Certification by @EASA and @FAAnews. Deliveries of the lowest financial risk, entry-level widebody are ready to start mid-2020.



But Airbus is not done with the A330-800 just yet. The manufacturer is in the process of developing a higher MTOW version that would allow the aircraft to weigh 251 tons at take-off, resulting in a range of 8,150 nautical miles (15,100 kilometers), an Airbus spokesperson confirmed to AeroTime. The A330-800 with a higher MTOW is planned to operate its first flight in 2021, with the certification to follow the same year, stated the Airbus representative.

Airbus plans to start deliveries of the A330-800 to airlines in mid-2020.


Image: Jordan Tan

Brazil regulators approve Boeing and Embraer tie-up

Boeing and Embraer have obtained the authorization for their joint venture by Brazilian regulators. The two companies are now waiting for the final approval from European authorities.

After several months of political debates in the midst of the Brazilian presidential elections, the proposal to establish a joint venture with Boeing had received the green light from the government in January 2019. A month later, Embraer shareholders approved the tie-up during an extraordinary general shareholders’ meeting. From then, both parties had to obtain regulatory approvals and the satisfaction of other customary closing conditions to close the transaction.

That has now been partially done. Having gained approvals from the United States, China and Japan authorities, Boeing and Embraer have received “the unconditional approval of their strategic partnership” by the Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE) of Brazil, the companies announced on January 27, 2020. The decision will be final within 15 days, “unless a review is requested by the CADE commissioners.”

“This latest clearance is yet another endorsement of our partnership, which will bring greater competition to the regional jet marketplace, better value for our customers and opportunities for our employees,” said Marc Allen, Boeing’s president of Embraer Partnership & Group Operations in a joint statement. “Brazil’s approval of the deal is a clear demonstration of the pro-competitive nature of our partnership,” said Francisco Gomes Neto, president and CEO of Embraer.

Now, the European Commission remains to be the only thing standing in the way of the merger. Their antitrust investigation was suspended after “the parties fail[ed] to provide, in a timely fashion, important information that the Commission has requested from them”. It resumed in early January 2020. EU’s final decision is expected by April 30, 2020.

Since 2018, Boeing has been trying to acquire an 80% stake in Embraer commercial aviation activities, including aftermarket support services, for $4.2 billion. The new company, renamed Boeing Brasil, should be led by a Brazilian-based management team with a president and CEO. Boeing would have “operational control and management”.

Their second enterprise, called Boeing Embraer – Defense, and set to develop and sell the C-390 Millennium multi-mission airlifter, is also pending regulatory approvals.



Image: Boeing

Airbus shows what Beluga XL work day looks like

Following the service entry of Airbus next generation super transporter, the BelugaXL, earlier in the month, the European manufacturer now invites to “enter the cockpit” of its “smiling whale”.

The BelugaXL, just like its predecessors, is used by Airbus to transport large aircraft components across its production sites in Europe. For instance, it can carry a set of A350XWB wings or the largest fuselage section with “room to spare”, according to the company.

While Airbus, which has manufacturing sites in France, Germany, Spain and the UK, uses other forms of transportation (by road, rail and sea) as well, air transport unsurprisingly is the “primary method” preferred by the aircraft manufacturer.

Airbus super transporters essentially are highly modified twin-engine A330 airliners, tracking their beginnings to the company’s “cornerstone” A300 aircraft. The BelugaXL, the first of which entered service earlier in January 2020, is a successor to the previous version the BelugaST.

Eventually, five more “smiling whales” will join the newest oversize cargo airlifter. But until that happens, both BelugaXLs and STs will be flying until mid-2023, the company estimates. The second XL is expected to be delivered in mid-2020, followed by a third in early 2021.

“With 30% more capacity than the existing BelugaST, it really will help us to better support the production ramp-up for A350 XWBs and the single-aisle A320 Family,” according to Philippe Sabo, the head of oversized air transport at Airbus Transport International (ATI) – an Airbus subsidiary, which manages all Beluga operations.

“And its high-speed cargo loading system means we can significantly reduce turnaround times – something which is key to achieving our targets,” Sabo also said, as quoted in a statement by Airbus.



Image: Airbus