COVID-19 – Take Care!

To our customers,

For SSA, serving our customers is the most important thing however, the health and well-being of our employees remains our top priority. We remain operational and available to serve you during this period of uncertainty. Our employees are following the public health guidelines, which includes, among other strategies, work from home, flexible working hours and social distance. We remain available by phone and email and we are looking forward to see you again in the near future.

We have our renewed hope to see communities, our nation and the world coming together to fight this pandemic. Please stay safe and know that you can always count on SSA!


Happy Women´s Day

To celebrate International Women’s Day, South Seas Aviation brought the 10 most inspiring women in aviation.

1. Raymonde de Laroche, 1910

In the early days of aviation, Raymonde de Laroche became the first woman in the world to receive a pilot’s license in 1910, paving the way for other women to follow in her footsteps and take to the skies.

2. Lilian Bland, 1911

Energetic, unconventional and adventurous, Lilian Bland became the first woman in the world to design, build and pilot her own plane. She playfully named it Mayfly (it may fly, it may not fly).

3. Hilda Beatrice Hewlett, 1911

Not only was Hilda Hewlett the first British woman to receive a pilot’s license, she also established the first flying school in the UK and co-founded a successful aircraft manufacturing business that contributed significantly to the UK’s effort in the First World War.

4. Harriet Quimby, 1911

The first woman to receive a pilot’s license from the Aero Club of America, she also became the first woman to successfully fly across the English Channel in 1912.

5. Bessie Coleman, 1921

At a time of both gender and racial discrimination, Bessie Coleman was the first person (male or female) of African-American descent, and the first of Native American descent, to hold a pilot’s license in the USA.

6. Amelia Earhart, 1928

Amelia Earhart was famously the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Other achievements include being the first woman to fly solo above 14,000 ft (1922); helping form The Ninety-Nines (1929) and becoming the first pilot to fly solo from Hawaii to California (1935).

7. Amy Johnson, 1930

Only one year after obtaining her pilot’s license, Amy Johnson became the first female pilot to fly solo from Britain to Australia. Her longest solo flight before that had been from London to Hull, her hometown.

8. Jacqueline Cochran, 1953

In 1953, Jacqueline Cochran became the first woman in the world to break the sound barrier in an F-86 Sabre. She also persuaded the US government to use women pilots in non-combat missions during the Second World War.

9. Emily Howell Warner, 1973

It was not until the early 1970s that the world would see the first woman pilot a commercial airline, when, in 1973, Emily Howell Warner was hired by Frontier Airlines.

10. Wang Zheng (Julie Wang), 2016:

After spending most of her life pursuing a career in advertising, Wang Zheng, also known as Julie Wang, decided to take up flying. She obtained her private pilot’s certificate in 2011 and became the first Asian woman to circumnavigate the planet by airplane in 2016.

Despite these amazing achievements, figures show that there is still a way to go for women in aviation. Today only 3% of pilots are women worldwide; in the UK the figure is 6%.

First PW1200G engine assembled in Japan enters flight testing

The first Pratt & Whitney GTF™ PW1200G engine assembled in Japan has begun flight testing. The maiden flight of the engine, which powers the upcoming Mitsubishi SpaceJet, was praised by the Japanese company as an important milestone for both the aircraft program and the Japanese aerospace industry.

The first PW1200G, assembled in Japan, made its maiden flight in the United States on February 14, 2020. The testing took place at Mitsubishi Aircraft Flight Test Center in Moses Lake; it was installed on the company’s Flight Test Aircraft 1 (FTA1).

The Mitsubishi Aircraft flight test team validated the basic functions of the engine in normal flight. In subsequent flights, the performances of both the engine and the aircraft were confirmed, and the engine has been cleared. It is scheduled to join the flight test fleet in the coming weeks.

In a statement, released on February 27, 2020, Mitsubishi execs praised the achievement as an important milestone for the development of the country’s commercial aviation.

“We are in the process of creating not only aircraft but also the foundation for the commercial aviation industry in Japan,” Mitsubishi Aircraft President Hisakazu Mizutani is cited as saying.

Similarly, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Aero Engines President & CEO Katsuyuki Shimauchi is cited as saying: “[…] In addition to manufacturing complete aircraft like Mitsubishi Aircraft, the ability to assemble aircraft engines in Japan is very important for the growth of the domestic aircraft industry as well as the development of a reliable supply chain needed to support future aircraft.”

The PW1200G engine is an exclusive power plant for the Mitsubishi SpaceJet. The regional jet is being developed by Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation, while the manufacturing of the aircraft is carried out by parent company Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The latter is also the parent company of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Aero Engines, which according to the company itself, “has one of the two sites that finalize and test its PW1200G engine”.

On February 5, 2020, the delivery of the Mitsubishi SpaceJet was delayed for the sixth time, reportedly due to a redesign of the electrical system, which will require further certifications. Mitsubishi Heavy initially envisioned for its jet to enter the market of regional aircraft in 2013. It should now enter service in late 2021 or 2022.



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

Boeing 777X makes maiden flight [Video]

Seven years since the program was launched, Boeing’s newest, state-of-the-art airliner, featuring cutting-edge technology such as folding wingtips and the biggest turbine engine in the world, the Boeing 777X, finally embarked on its maiden flight, taking off for the first time on January 25, 2020.

The first of four dedicated 777X-9 flight test aircraft, the WH001, took off from Paine Field (PAE) in Everett, Washington, United States. After a three hour, 51-minute flight over Washington state, it successfully landed at Seattle’s Boeing Field.



Over the coming months, the test aircraft would be used in a series of tests both on the ground and in the air. But prior to the resumption of testing, which is expected “in the coming days” according to the manufacturer, the aircraft would first undergo checks.

Previously, the airliner was expected to have it’s first go for the skies in the middle of 2019, around the time of the Paris Air Show (June 17-23, 2019). However, problems in the development of the massive GE9X engine, purpose-designed for the new jet, pushed the schedule by several months.

The engines were finally installed on the aircraft in December 2019. Boeing’s new wide-body airliner left the paint shop and was moved for primary flight control system testing on January 7, 2020.



“Our Boeing team has taken the most successful twin-aisle jet of all time and made it even more efficient, more capable and more comfortable for all,” said Stan Deal, president and CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “Today’s safe first flight of the 777X is a tribute to the years of hard work and dedication from our teammates, our suppliers and our community partners in Washington state and across the globe.”

What is all the fuss about?

The Boeing 777X, which includes the 777-8 and 777-9 variants, is a successor to the manufacturer’s previous Triple Seven aircraft models. Once it debuts, the newest Triple Seven will be the largest plane Boeing ever built, powered by the biggest turbine engine in the world. The 777-9 variant is also going to be the first twin-engine jet to be able to carry more than 400 passengers.

With a truly impressive 235 ft, 5 inches (71.8 m) extended wingspan (both 777-9 and 777-8 versions), the 777X is the first commercial aircraft to feature folding wing technology. The aircraft’s tips can be folded up to decrease the wingspan to 212 ft, 8 inches (64.8 m) when the aircraft is on the ground, thus allowing it to fit onto taxiways and into regular gates. Extended, the larger wingspan increases lift capacity and allows to maximize fuel efficiency, according to Boeing.

As no similar technology exists on a commercial aircraft, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had to create airworthiness conditions from scratch. However, while folding wing technology is a novelty for commercial passenger aircraft, it already exists on military planes operating from aircraft carriers, such as the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

GE Aviation, an operating unit of General Electric (GE), is building the GE9X exclusively for the latest version of Boeing’s long-haul wide-body 777 airliner. The engine is developed on the foundations of the GE90, which powers the earlier versions of Boeing 777.

Launched in 2013, the GE9X engine will be the most fuel-efficient jet engine the company has ever produced on a per-pounds-of-thrust basis, according to GE. When it enters service with the 777X, power plant, which is roughly the size of a 737’s fuselage, will be the largest commercial jet engine available.

The 777-9, which is the one that has just entered flight testing /entered the flight testing on January 25, is the larger of the two versions, seating up to 426 passengers in a typical two-class configuration. Its range is 7,285 nautical miles (13,500 km). Meanwhile, the smaller 777-8, could seat up to 384 passengers but has a longer range of 8,730 nautical miles (16,170 km).

Boeing expects to deliver the first 777X in 2021.



Image: Dan Nevill, Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0)

Boeing’s “MAX brand is damaged and should be dropped”: customer

Steven Udvar-Hazy, Executive Chairman of the Board at Air Lease Corporation (ALC), an aircraft leasing company with 15 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in its disposal and 135 more on order, bluntly told what the manufacturer should do with the MAX brand during a conference in Dublin on January 20, 2020.

“We’ve asked Boeing to get rid of that word MAX. I think that word MAX should go down in the history books as a bad name for an aircraft,” said Hazy. “The MAX brand is damaged and there is really no reason for it.”

With no end in sight to the ungrounding of the troubled jet, the situation is seemingly getting worse for Boeing, as Hazy shared a sentiment that the President of the United States Donald Trump expressed back in April 2019.


Further issues

Boeing‘s hole in the 737 MAX crisis is getting bigger: reports on January 17, 2020, revealed that the manufacturer found a new software issue with flight-control computers onboard the narrow-body. The problem relates to monitoring functions of the jet, as one of the system monitors did not power-up correctly and did not communicate with the second flight-control computer, reported ABC News.

Previously, in early-January 2020, regulators found further issues with the aircraft‘s wiring systems that control the horizontal stabilizer of the jet. Potentially, the wires could short-circuit, causing the pilots to lose control of the aircraft.

Airlines have issued grim predictions on the return-to-service date of the grounded aircraft: American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines indicate that they expect the 737 MAX to fly commercially only in June 2020. If the provisional schedules prove to be right, the 737 MAX would be sat on the ground for more than a year since aviation authorities around the world banned it from carrying passengers after the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302 crash in the early morning hours on March 10, 2019.

For Boeing, meanwhile, 2019 is looking like a year that needs to be forgotten: with record-low orders and deliveries numbers and a damaged brand of its poster-boy aircraft, the manufacturer is looking to move on, including a change at the helm of the company.



Image: Marco Menezes