Category: Aviation News

World’s largest aircraft nearing production with EASA’s go-ahead



The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has given the green light to Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) – the developer of the Airlander hybrid airship – its approval to start flight testing airships for type certification. It is a move that recognizes the UK- based manufacturer’s expertise in large aircraft design and enables the company to start type certification and eventually, commercial operation of the Airlander 10, world’s largest aircraft.

Hybrid Air Vehicles announced on October 4, 2018, the company has been awarded EASA’s Design Organisation Approval (DOA), essentially clearing the company to launch a full flight test program towards the type certification of its Airlander 10. The company has previously operated the prototype Airlander under temporary permission from the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and EASA.

HAV has hailed the EASA’s go-ahead as an “important milestone” for the company – certainly a step closer to the commercial production of the airship. “Achieving our DOA was always an important milestone in our Airlander 10 production plan,” said Executive Director Nick Allman in a statement. “Working directly with EASA, we have made excellent progress on developing the appropriate regulations for an aircraft like Airlander. Having our DOA will support our preparation for a type certification programme as we move ahead with the production aircraft.”

Hybrid Air Vehicles joins the ranks of only eight other organizations that currently hold an EASA Design Organisation Approval for type certifying large aircraft. The DOA means that a manufacturer has been acknowledged as capable of designing large aircraft, it also demands tha companies have the “right organization, procedures, competencies and resources” for the task,Aerospace Testing International explains.

“[…] we have worked hard to make sure that we were thoroughly prepared for every step of the DOA process. As a result, we have succeeded in securing our DOA,” commented Nikky Pittkin, Safety and Airworthiness Engineer for HAV, in the company’s statement. The manufacturer says it expects to receive certification of a customer version of the Airlander 10 aircraft and have it enter into service „from the early 2020s“. It has also announced that its order book is now open.

The European regulator’s recognition is about the best news HAV has had in a long time. According to Aerospace Testing International, the development of the Airlander started in 2007, right at the time Hybrid Air Vehicles was founded. The design was originally produced for the U.S. Air Force. Since then, the project has suffered several setbacks related to crashes, including a collapse of the Airship last year.

In November 2017, a prototype of the hybrid aircraft break free of its mooring mast, triggering a safety feature that collapsed the hull and caused the structure to sustain serious damage. Following the incident, HAV had to cancel its initial flight test program. Prior to that, in August 2016, a hard landing on the Airlander’s second flight wrecked the gondola leading to eight months of repairs, Flight Global reports.

Rethinking the skies – with an Airlander 10

According to Hybrid Air Vehicles, the Airlander can take off and land from virtually any flat surface, and can be configured for multiple roles in both military and commercial sectors: from surveillance and border patrol operations, search and rescue missions, to cargo transportation and expeditionary tourism.

The Airlander 10 is a helium-filled hybrid airship that is part lighter-than-air blimp (a “pressure airship”, which is not to be confused with a zeppelin) and part airplane. Its shape gives the airship an additional lift to minimize fuel usage. With that, the Airlander can stay airborne for up to five days at a time.

The airship is 302 feet (92 meters) long, 143 feet (43.5 meters) wide, with a height of 85 feet (26 meters). It can reach a maximum altitude of 20,000 feet (6,096 meters) and top speed of 90mph (148km/h). It is also capable of carrying up to 10 metric tons, or 22,050 lbs (10,000 kilograms).

Check out the new Airbus jet that will rival Boeing’s 777 and replace the 747 jumbo jet


An Airbus A350-1000 prototype landing at the 2018 Farnborough International Airshow.Airbus

  • The Airbus A350-1000 entered service earlier this year with Qatar Airways
  • It’s the latest in a new generation of fuel-efficient, carbon composite airliners to launch in recent years.
  • The A350-1000 is seen as a rival for Boeing 777-300ER and a replacement for the Boeing 747 jumbo jet. 

The Airbus A350-1000 entered service with Qatar Airways in February. It is the latest in a new generation of the fuel-efficient, carbon-composite, wide-body airliners to launch in recent years.

With four-engine jumbo jets like the Boeing 747 and the Airbus A380 quickly losing favor with airlines, smaller, more efficient twin-engine widebodies have taken their place as the industry’s workhorse long-haul jets. In fact, Virgin Atlantic is expected to replace its 747-400s with a fleet of A350-1000s over the next few years.

Thus far, the Boeing 777 is the most successful of the twin-engine wide-bodies with 1,988 sold since its debut in 1994. Launched in 2002, the Boeing 777-300ER is, by far, the most popular version of the twin-jet and accounts for about 42% of the plane’s sales total.

Airbus has 890 orders for the A350; 168 of which are for the Dash 1000.

Until the A350-1000’s arrival, Airbus didn’t really have a true rival for the 777-300ER. The A330-300 had the size, but not quite the range while the quad-engine A340-600 had the range and the capacity, but was far less efficient.

In fact, Qatar is actually operating the A350-1000 alongside its existing fleet of 777-300ERs.

“The A350-1000 is performing very well in our fleet,” Qatar Airways Group CEO Akbar Al Baker said to a roundtable of reporters at the 2018 Farnborough International Airshow in July. “Actually, it’s performing better than what we envisaged.”

According to Airbus, the A350 is capable of delivering 25% better fuel efficiency and a 25% unit costs compared to previous generation aircraft like the 777.

“Yes, they are right,” Al Baker said regarding Airbus’s efficiency claims. “And this is why Boeing has launched the 777X to compete against the fuel efficiency of the Airbus A350-1000.”

Qatar Airways also has orders in place for 60 of Boeing next-generation 777X airliners that are expected to enter service in 2020.

The Doha, Qatar-based airline was also the launch customer of the smaller A350-900 back in 2014.

At the Farnborough Air Show, Airbus brought along an A350-1000 prototype for flight demonstrations while Qatar Airways showed off one of its Dash 1000s for guests and journalists.


Viva Aerobus firms up order for 25 A321neo, 16 A321neo upconversions


Viva Aerobus, the ultra-low-cost carrier based in Mexico, has firmed up an amendment for 25 incremental A321neo and 16 upconversions of A320neos to A321neos to their existing purchase agreement. This latest order brings the all-Airbus operator’s total orderbook to 80 A320 Family aircraft (including 15 A320ceo, 24 A320neo, and 41 A321neo) and the airline’s total backlog from 36 to 61 aircraft. Viva Aerobus has not yet decided on the engine selection and will announce at a later date.

Gian Carlo Nucci, CEO of Grupo Viva Aerobus, said: “Our decision to introduce the A321neo to our fleet reflects our long-term commitment to cost reduction, to innovation, operational and environmental efficiency, and enhancing our passenger experience. These additional aircraft will allow us to capture opportunities in Mexico, and we can think of no aircraft better suited than the A321neo with 240 seats with which to endeavour our growth objectives. Of course, these new aircraft will help us offer even lower fares, more destinations and allow us to continue improving our customer service.”

Eric Schulz, Airbus Chief Commercial Officer, said: “We are proud about this repeat order by Viva Aerobus; it serves as a testament to the A321neo being the aircraft of choice in the mid-market segment. Viva Aerobus will benefit from the A321neo’s additional capacity, superior performance, and the very lowest operating cost as they strive to meet the growing demand for cost-efficient air travel in Mexico.”

Viva Aerobus has based its fleet renewal strategy on the A320neo Family. In 2013 Viva Aerobus placed an order for 52 A320 Family aircraft, the largest Airbus aircraft order placed by a single airline in Mexico at the time. Since then, Viva Aerobus has ordered three additional A320ceo aircraft, which were integrated into the airline’s fleet between 2017 and 2018. To date, Viva Aerobus operates 26 A320 Family aircraft, including four A320neo.

The A321 is the largest member of the A320 Family, seating up to 240 passengers, depending on cabin configuration. Incorporating the latest engines, aerodynamic advances and cabin innovations, the A321neo offers a reduction in fuel consumption of at least 15 per cent per seat from day one and 20 per cent by 2020.

2018 list price: A321neo US$129.5m

@VivaAerobus @airbus #A321neo #FIA18