The Ideal Pilot Candidate: What Regional Airline Recruiters Want Most

Even though regional air carriers are on a hiring binge, they still remain selective.

Envoy Air

Regional air carriers are on a well-documented pilot hiring binge, creating “one of the most exciting times ever” for aspiring airline pilots, says Captain LaMar Haugaard, director of pilot development, and chief pilot at Horizon Air. But recruiters remain selective, weighing candidates’ training backgrounds, flight experience, and even non-pilot qualifications, Haugaard says. Trainees should keep these hiring preferences in mind as they build hours toward the qualifications they need to fly for the airlines.

Flight Experience: Regional airlines typically require pilot applicants to have their commercial, instrument and multi-engine ratings, and be at least within striking distance of obtaining their airline transport pilot certificate from a flight training program. The ATP certificate, mandated by the FAA in 2013 to fly for Part 121 air carriers, represents the biggest change in what regionals want most — or require — in candidates for pilot positions, says Haugaard. An ATP certificate requires 1,500 hours of flight time (or somewhat less for a restricted ATP license). Holders must also be at least 23 years of age. Regionals often hire high-quality, young applicants, and pay for the type rating training, which counts toward their 1,500 needed hours.

Regional airlines also prefer applicants who’ve worked as certified flight instructors (CFIs), especially in instrument (CFII) and multi-engine instrument (MEI) training roles.

“CFIs working in structured programs outperform peers significantly” once hired by regionals, Haugaard says. “Instrument procedures are the foundation of how we operate. We don’t have time to train pilots in these skills — we’re assuming you bring that with you,” he explains. “If you’re teaching instrument procedures on a daily basis, you’re very familiar with these skills and techniques.”

Haugaard notes the Journal of Aviation Technology of Engineering’s Pilot Source Study 2015 found CFIs had fewer non-completions of training at regional airlines than expected, while pilots without CFIs had more non-completions and required more extra training than expected.

Part 135 cargo operations are also a plus, Haugaard says. “If you’re flying in the Rocky Mountains or North Carolina, and the weather’s at 200 and a half [200-foot ceilings and half-mile visibility], I’ll leave my Cessna in the hangar,” Haugaard continued. “But if you’re flying cargo in a Navajo Chieftain, you’re going to go, and learn a lot in the heavy instrument conditions.” In contrast, “banner towing and sky dive operations are almost worthless,” Haugaard says. “You’re not necessarily gaining experience, you’re just repeating more of what you know.”

Training Protocol: Recruiters view programs that train pilots in a standardized crew environment, as superior to ad hoc accumulation of required ratings. Crew-style training is a critical element of these programs, as they familiarize students with the standardized procedures commercial carriers rely on.

“In the airlines, we live and breath standardization,” Haugaard says. “You get in an airplane with a First Officer you’ve never met, and you know what they’re going to say, and they know what you’re going to say,” as crews work through the checklist and other operational procedures. “It’s very structured.”

Moreover, these immersive programs make students comfortable with the fast-paced learning and execution airlines expect of their pilots during training and beyond. Among the problems regionals face in meeting their hiring needs are the washout rates, or “non completions” of training by pilots they evaluate, and the extra training some candidates are found to need. Pilots trained under crew-style protocols are less likely to washout or need additional training. This helps explain an interesting finding of the Pilot Source Study: Regional airline applicants with 1,500 hours or fewer, like recent grads of such programs, had fewer non-completions and extra training events, and required less recurrent training than expected, while pilots with more than 4,500 hours had more non-completions than expected.

Education Requirements: College degrees are “preferred but not required” at regionals, Haugaard says. Major airlines all formerly mandated a bachelor’s degree for their pilots, but have begun to relax the rule “because of supply issues.” However, “it does not matter what the degree is in,” says Natalie Nielsen, a pilot and director of pilot recruitment at Envoy Air, simply that the candidate completed a four-year college program.

Extracurricular activities: Expect recruiters to look over social media profiles and postings. Trainees and applicants should also be aware of airlines’ grooming policies. “We do not allow visible tattoos, and hair should be off the ears and collar,” Haugaard says. “You cannot have full facial hair, unlike our European friends — we want a tight seal on the quick-donning oxygen mask.”

Regionals also expect candidates to have the right attitude and work ethic, which is becoming an issue as the current generation enters the workforce. “Millennials have some great things to offer,” says Haugaard. “They also bring an expectation of almost instant success, and we’re all dealing with that to a certain extent.” As a result, airlines are “adapting” polices, for example creating more flexible benefits packages, he says, but applicants themselves need to demonstrate “some level of adaptation and acceptance” of workplace realities.

Finally, recruiters and airlines are interested in more than a pilot’s flying capabilities. “We’re looking for that individual that is part of the community, a holistic individual who has technical skills,” Haugaard says. “Volunteerism, being a good citizen, giving back – those things are important to our corporation.”

Prospects are bright for pilots with these qualifications at the regionals, and for later advancement to a major airline. “The supply issue is very real,” says Haugaard, “and the pool of qualified applicants is indeed getting smaller.”

Airbus believes its AI can eliminate flight delays

Airbus BelugaXL


Airbus is a veritable titan of industry. In 2016, it generated more than $76 billion in revenue and employed a workforce of around 134,000. It’s the world’s largest space business. And it offers a range of passenger airliners from 100 to more than 600 seats and supplies tanks, combat, transport, and mission aircraft.

But at its heart, it’s AI- and cloud-forward

“In Airbus’ case, AI has been a journey for decades,” Adam Bonnifield, VP of artificial intelligence at Airbus, said onstage at VB Summit 2018 on Monday. “The price of using these technologies has plummeted, because of the explosion of computing power availability.”

Airbus takes a data lake approach to management and analysis. It builds a reservoir of data for in-service aircraft, which it subsequently makes available to companies and individual users.

JetBlue was a launch customer of the first module of Airbus’ Scheduled Maintenance Optimizer platform, which taps algorithms to determine the optimal maintenance schedule for fleets of more than 200 aircraft. It’s part of Airbus’ eponymous Services by Airbus offering, which includes training, flight operations, air traffic management, and other products.

“We can take some of the biggest problems in our industry — grounded aircraft, quality nonconformity problems, and operational delays — and use AI to solve them, period,” Bonnifield said. “About $40 billion is spent on delays in the United States, […] and about 80 percent of airlines are chronically late. It’s because they don’t have access to certain data that would help them manage when their plane lands and before it takes off.”

More than 200 airlines are using Airbus’ Smarter Fleet technology. And others are tapping the firm’s partnership with IBM, announced in 2013, which provides operators with IT services for maintenance, engineering, and flight operations.

Last year, Airbus partnered with Palantir Technologies to launch Skywise, a big-data integration and advanced analytics platform. The company claims it not only improves industrial operations performance across Airbus’ industrial divisions, it enables enhanced aircraft and equipment designs, improved operational efficiency for legacy fleets, and one-click workflows for reporting to regulatory bodies.

Bonnifield said arming employees with data allows them to spend more of their day doing “expert tasks.”

Skywise pulls in aviation data from sources across the industry — including work orders, spares consumption, components data, aircraft and fleet configuration, onboard sensor data, and flight schedules — and surfaces it for users in a unified dashboard. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Skywise also taps data sources that are traditionally hosted on isolated servers, such as operational interruption history, parts replacements, post-flight reports, pilot reports, and aircraft condition monitoring reports.

“We’ve taken sensor data from our aircraft […] and other operational data we use to service planes and maintain them into one […] environment,” Bonnifield explained.

The goal is to marry operational, maintenance, and aircraft data in a secure platform for storage, management, and analysis and to give users insights at the aircraft fleet and global levels. More than seven major airlines around the world use Skywise, which Airbus intends to make available for Airbus helicopters, military aircraft, and other products operators in the near future.

But Airbus admits it doesn’t have all the answers. That’s why it has recruited more than 100 companies to solve problems plaguing the industry — for example, how to extract data from flight manuals — as part of its AI Gym initiative.

“We need help understanding how to [parse] … technical diagrams that have a lot of captions and annotations,” Bonnifield. “A key lesson we learned was that bringing … data together is only solving the first part of the problem. The second part of the problem is understanding how that data interoperate[s].”


Is American Airlines Recession-Proof?

The world’s largest airline carries a massive debt load, and its profitability has been falling. Should investors worry about its ability to withstand a recession?

In recent years, American Airlines (NASDAQ:AAL) CEO Doug Parker has been one of the most vocal advocates of the idea that industry consolidation has permanently transformed the U.S. airline business. Whereas airlines have historically lost huge sums of money during periodic industry busts, Parker has boasted that American Airlines will never lose money again.
Yet on the surface, management’s optimistic outlook seems to clash with a trajectory of declining profits at American Airlines. If the company is struggling to maintain its profitability in a robust economy, one could reasonably wonder how it would do in an economic downturn. Indeed, American Airlines stock is down 38% year to date, so investors clearly are skeptical.

AAL Chart


Let’s take a look at what might happen to American Airlines if there is a recession in the next few years.

Pretax margin has been sinking

Over the past two years or so, American Airlines has experienced sharp margin erosion. In 2016, the company achieved a 12.6% adjusted pretax margin, but that fell to 9.1% in 2017.

In the first half of 2018, American Airlines’ adjusted pretax margin fell by another 4 percentage points. It expects a similar margin decline in the third quarter, although the year-over-year profit pressure should hopefully start to ease in the fourth quarter.

American’s management blames the margin declines on a combination of rising labor costs — as it brought employees’ wages up to industry-standard levels — and the speedy run-up in fuel prices. However, in the medium term, American Airlines executives expect to recover fuel cost increases through higher fares. A variety of other revenue and cost initiatives should add to its prospects for a profit rebound.

How American Airlines plans to turn things around

Last September, American Airlines announced ambitious profit-improvement goals at its investor day conference. Management touted opportunities to improve annual profitability by $3.9 billion by 2021.

An American Airlines plane.


This figure should be taken with a grain of salt. After all, American Airlines expected to capture about $1.5 billion of the total $3.9 billion opportunity in 2018, yet profit is on track to decline significantly year over year. Nevertheless, if fuel price headwinds moderate next year, these revenue and cost initiatives should help the carrier stabilize its profitability. American Airlines also increased its baggage fees recently, which should boost ancillary revenue in 2019.

Route optimization should also provide a sizable near-term profit boost. American is eliminating a number of underperforming routes (and cutting capacity on others), including several routes between Chicago and Asia. This capacity will be redeployed into more promising markets, particularly in Europe.

Last — and perhaps most significantly — American Airlines will receive extra gates in Dallas-Fort Worth and Charlotte and larger gates at Washington, DC’s Reagan National Airport over the next three years. This will allow the carrier to concentrate its growth in its three most profitable hubs, which will likely make them even more profitable. It will also make it easier for American Airlines to cut additional underperforming routes elsewhere in its network.

Economic disruption is still a risk

There’s a wide range in the profitability of different routes and hubs across American Airlines’ network, so the carrier has plenty of levers available to stabilize its profit margin if fuel prices continue to rise (i.e., it could make further cutbacks to lower-margin routes). This flexibility also offers some protection in the event of a recession that could cause unit revenue to fall.

That said, American Airlines could still be vulnerable, especially if rising oil prices and tariffs cause inflation to rise just as real GDP growth starts to stagnate. (Some prominent economists see this as a major risk, but others think it’s unlikely to happen anytime soon.) A “stagflation” scenario would push costs even higher while making it hard to increase unit revenue.

American Airlines’ high debt load makes it particularly ill prepared for a near-term recession. As of midyear, the company had about $24 billion of debt and capital leases. Furthermore, it expects to spend $5.6 billion on capex and pension contributions in 2019, which could cause its net debt to move even higher.

But the good news is that capex and pension contributions combined should total just $3.3 billion in 2020 and $2.7 billion in 2021. This will allow American Airlines to start reducing its debt burden in a meaningful way.

American Airlines has more than $7 billion of liquidity and enough unencumbered assets to raise another $2 billion of capital if necessary. While that should ensure its survival in any likely economic scenario, a recession would still be extremely painful if it hits in 2019. However, by 2020 or 2021, American should be much better prepared for a downturn, thanks to lower capex and pension costs and the benefits from its network changes and other revenue and cost initiatives.

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Lufthansa Is Giving Boeing a Shot at New Wide-Body Deal


Deutsche Lufthansa AG is trying to decide whether to take its first Boeing Co. 787 Dreamliners, or to expand its fleet of Airbus SE’s marquee A350 wide-body jets as it updates its long-range aircraft, according to people familiar with the plans.

Lufthansa has requested proposals from both Airbus and Boeing, and is looking to order about 20 jets in a deal that may be finalized in the next few months, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the discussions are private.

The campaign to woo an influential blue-chip customer will probably hinge on more than the customary discounts for a deal valued at about $5 billion at list prices. The German airline is also asking the planemakers to help it get rid of its aging and fuel-hungry Airbus A340 models, the people said.

Representatives of Lufthansa, Airbus and Boeing declined to comment.

While Boeing and Airbus have on occasion taken back used jets to seal deals, they probably wouldn’t consider A340 trade-ins from just any potential buyer, said George Ferguson, an analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence. Demand and book values for the four-engine aircraft have dwindled as airlines shifted to flying more-efficient twin-engine models.

Complex Fleet

The purchase of wide-body aircraft can define a carrier’s strategy for decades, as the jets have a lifespan of 25 years or more and resale values vary widely. They are also a major investment for both airlines and manufacturers, with the latter depending on large orders to help the multibillion-dollar programs turn a profit.

Lufthansa has already ordered 25 A350s, 12 which will begin operating in Munich by year-end, and holds options for 30 more. While it has vowed to reduce fleet complexity, five years ago the carrier ordered 34 Boeing 777-9 jets, with the first one due to arrive in 2020. Those would be on top of any potential order for the smaller 787s.

Second Thoughts

The Boeing 777-9 deal has come under internal scrutiny, and Lufthansa has said it is considering stretching outdeliveries, concerned about the cost and size of what will be the industry’s largest-ever twin-engine jetliner. The accord includes 14 jets that Lufthansa can opt out of taking.

Lufthansa is paying the price for investing too little in its fleet for two decades. The carrier’s 728 aircraft were, on average, 11.4 years old last year, twice the age for Dubai-based Emirates, the world’s largest long-haul carrier.

Lufthansa’s fleet includes almost 100 four-engine aircraft, which produce the highest fuel bill of any airline in Europe. Its 50 A340s, almost a fifth of the models still in operation worldwide, are increasingly a liability with oil prices near the highest in about four years. The oldest -300s, delivered between 1996 and 2001, are considered likelier candidates for retirement over the stretched -600s, some of which are less than a decade old.

Both planemakers have acquired used A340s over the years. Airbus repurchased models as resale prices plunged below the amount it had guaranteed customers. Boeing accepted trade-ins from China Eastern in 2012 and Singapore Airlinesin 1999 — both as part of complicated transactions that helped land sales for its largest twin-engine jet, the 777.

A340 Dilemma

Airbus made only 375 of the A340, which were rendered obsolete as twin-engine aircraft like the 777 and Airbus A330 were certified for long-range flights. Since production ended seven years ago, secondary-market values have plunged.

The A340 did enjoy a brief resurgence this year, which peaked over the summer, as a short-term replacement for Dreamliners grounded while their Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc Trent 1000 engines were repaired, said George Dimitroff, head of valuations for Flight Ascend Consultancy.

“That’s literally the only limited demand we can see for that aircraft, and trading prices are all in the single-digits millions of dollars,” said Dimitroff. “If you tear it down, some parts have value. A lot of the airframe parts are common with the A330.”

How the Best Hub in Latin America Helped Copa Airlines Shares Gain 18% in 2017

How the Best Hub in Latin America Helped Copa Airlines Shares Gain 18% in 2017

This story has been updated with comments made Monday morning by Delta Chief Financial Officer Paul Jacobson.

The combination of Latin America’s burgeoning airline economics and a first-class hub have boosted the fortunes of Copa Airlines (CPA – Get Report) .

The Panamanian carrier recently reported a fourth-quarter unit revenue gain of 10.7% and bested earnings estimates, triggering a one-day gain of 6% in its shares, which are traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Shares closed Friday at $106.85 and have risen 18% year to date.

“Latin America is coming back after two really hard years,” said Copa CEO Pedro Heilbron in an interview. “The main {problem} had to do with the Brazilian economy, which has recuperated since, and currencies devaluating. That affected traffic and yields.

“Latin American seems to be coming out of that, but we are still very careful,” he said.

In the fourth quarter, all three global U.S. carriers saw their best unit revenue gains in Latin America, although none matched Copa. American gained 10.3%, United (UAL – Get Report) gained 7.7% and Delta (DAL – Get Report) gained 5.2%.

On Monday morning, Delta CFO Paul Jacobson called Latin America “the shining star in the network.”

Speaking at an investor conference, Jacobson said Delta’s gains in the region are being “led in particular by the Brazilian economy.”

Copa’s gain followed two years of negative unit revenue numbers. But analysts had mixed reactions to the strong fourth-quarter results.

“The LatAm region is emerging from a recession which could provide further upside earnings,” wrote Deutsche Bank analyst Mike Linenberg. In the case of Copa, improvements in unit revenue, load factor and yields “are expected to continue into 2017,” he said. He has a buy rating and a target price of $110.

Cowen & Co. analyst Helane Becker has a market perform rating; she worries about capacity growth.

“As a result of this improved performance and weak results elsewhere in the world, particularly the North Atlantic, we are seeing airlines increase capacity growth into the region,” Becker wrote. “If this growth continues, we would be cautious about the region as the economies in LatAm remain fragile and the currency environment remains somewhat unsteady.”

Heilbron said U.S. carriers are “adding back capacity that was taken out.” He noted that Copa’s capacity grew just 2% last year. “This year we are guiding to 6% growth, but that’s all from {aircraft} utilization and putting back some frequencies, not adding aircraft,” he said.

“We’re in a very good position to take advantage” of regional growth, he said. “There will always be competition, but our centrally located hub gives us a unique advantage.”

Panama City “is right in the middle of the Americas and being right at sea level it allows for smaller narrowbodies to fly longer distances, so we connect a lot of small thin markets {and} we also have a lot of traffic to bigger cities,” he said.

GE unveils new supersonic commercial jet engine

GE Aviation engineers have unveiled Affinity, a new family of supersonic jet engines for civilian aircraft

GE Avionics has given impetus to the revival of civilian supersonic flight by revealing a new family of engines designed to fly faster than the speed of sound. Called the Affinity, the new engine will be incorporated into the Aerion AS2 supersonic business jet, which is being developed in partnership with Lockheed Martin, GE Aviation and Honeywell, and could cut the time of a transatlantic flight by three hours.

Since the retirement of Concorde, supersonic passenger flight has become something of a lost art, but new initiatives by NASA and various companies promise a renaissance as new technologies tackle the problems of cost, fuel efficiency, and noise.

Key to this it the development of new engines that can do a better job than the old Rolls-Royce/Snecma Olympus 593 that hurled Concorde through the sky at up to Mach 1.8 (1,350 mph, 2,173 km/h). GE claims that the Affinity, which is based on the company’s supersonic fighter jet experience and lessons learned from building engines for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, will be up to the job.


GE isn’t giving out any details at the moment, but it says that the new family of engines will operate at up to 60,000 ft (18,000 m) and be able to meet the new noise requirements currently under revision by various air authorities, so it will be able to fly subsonic over land as well as supersonic over water.

To do this, it will use Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC), which is a computer system capable of overseeing all aspects of engine operations without the need for manual override. In addition, the new engines will work with Aerion’s natural laminar flow concept, which uses a modestly swept leading edge on the wing and a new fuselage design to reduce air drag over the wing by up to 60 percent, and overall drag by 20 percent.

Aerion says that this will not only reduce operating costs, but appreciably increase the aircraft’s range.

The AS2 is scheduled to make its first flight in 2023 and is aiming for certification in 2025.

GE’s promo video for the new Affinity engine is below.

Source: GE Aviation

BAE Systems’ Active Stick brings tactile feedback to civilian jets

Active Stick provides pilots with tactile feedback


In an aerospace industry first, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has certified BAE Systems’ Active Stick technology for use in civilian aircraft. Standard equipment on the new Gulfstream G500 business jet, the new technology provides tactile feedback to fly-by-wire systems, allowing the pilot to feel how the aircraft is handling instead of only relying on instruments.

Fly-By-Wire (FBW) is one of the miracles of modern aerospace engineering. Since it became industry standard for larger aircraft about 25 years ago, it has revolutionized civilian aviation. Previously, all aircraft were controlled by means of wires, cables, pulleys, and hydraulics. This added considerable weight to aircraft, hampered design, and even with servo motors it placed a serious limit on the size of airframes.

However, FBW changed things considerably. By replacing mechanical control systems with electromechanical actuators controlled by digital computers sending commands via data links, aircraft were now lighter, easier to maintain, had fewer design constraints, and could be any size desired from a control system point of view.

In addition, FBW meant that the pilots had an ever-attentive computerized co-pilot on hand that constantly monitored and adjusted the flight systems. This took a lot of work off the shoulders of the pilot and also allowed aircraft to operate with a degree of precision that was previously unimaginable. In fact, the computer could keep the aircraft within the flight envelope so well that many military fighter aircraft today would be literally unflyable without FBW.

However, FBW does have its drawbacks. Not the least of these is that operating a computer joystick reduces flying to the feel of a video game. In aircraft using mechanical systems, the pilots could fly “by the seat of their pants.” That is, they could feel the feedback from the controls and determine how well they were flying as if the plane was an extension of their bodies.

Until now, FBW didn’t have that. But BAE Systems’ Active stick, also called active control sidesticks or active inceptors, changes that. First developed for military fighters and first certified for use in the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, it analyzes what is happening to the aircraft’s control system and feeds that data back to the joystick, so the pilot can feel what is happening in situations like an excessive bank angle or a stall.

“The certification of our active sticks on the G500 marks the completion of an eight-year development program,” says Ehtisham Siddiqui, vice president and general manager of Controls & Avionics Solutions at BAE Systems. “We originally developed a variant of this technology for the F-35, and Gulfstream will now be the first in business aviation to offer our active control sidesticks to its customers.”

The Active Stick system was awarded the 2017 Aviation Week Technology Laureate Award and will be installed in all Gulfstream G500 jets.

Source: BAE Systems

Airbus Helicopters showcases EMS capabilities at Helitech 2018

Show display includes EMS configured H145 and H160, Oil & Gas configured H175, Racer virtual experience and Airbus’ Skywise offer for helicoptersH160_EMS.jpg


Marignane, Airbus Helicopters will highlight a wide range of products and digital services at this year’s Helitech International air show, taking place October 16-18 in Amsterdam. Special focus will be given to Emergency Medical Services (EMS) missions, a segment the company leads with 60% of the in-service fleet, thanks to its long expertise and wide range of dedicated solutions.

On the stand (Hall 8, booth E60), will be an EMS-configured H145 in operation with Dutch operator ANWB. One of the company’s best sellers for such demanding missions thanks to its high performance and spacious cabin, this light twin helicopter is also extremely versatile and can quickly convert from EMS to other roles such as disaster relief or mountain rescue, thanks to its optional equipment and a plug-and-play design philosophy.

Show goers will be able to take a close look at a full scale mock-up of the H160 fitted in an EMS configuration. With the largest cabin in its class, wide opening sliding door and roll-in stretcher capacity, the H160 is the next generation high intensive care helicopter ideal for long distances critical patient or incubator transport.

In the static display, visitors will have the opportunity to see a H175 equipped for oil & gas missions and operated by Heli-Holland. With 29 H175s now in service, having accumulated 40,000 flight hours, this best-selling super-medium helicopter has been endorsed by 14 oil companies across the world and it’s setting new standards for offshore transport operations.

The company will also present an update on Airbus’ Skywise offer for helicopters. Skywise is Airbus’ cloud-based open data platform, capable of storing vast amounts of data from airlines, helicopter operators, manufacturers and suppliers, and turning it into actionable intelligence that could reduce operational interruptions, increase safety, and better anticipate maintenance actions.

A scale model of the Racer (Rapid And Cost-Efficient Rotorcraft) technology demonstrator, developed by Airbus Helicopters in the frame of the European Clean Sky 2 research programme, will be on display, highlighting the company’s commitment to prepare the future of vertical lift solutions. Don’t miss the opportunity to try out the interactive Racer virtual experience to learn more about the demonstrator performance and future mission capabilities.

Follow all our news and events throughout the show at:

Twitter: @AirbusHeli


About Airbus

Airbus is a global leader in aeronautics, space and related services. In 2017 it generated revenues of € 59 billion restated for IFRS 15 and employed a workforce of around 129,000. Airbus offers the most comprehensive range of passenger airliners from 100 to more than 600 seats. Airbus is also a European leader providing tanker, combat, transport and mission aircraft, as well as one of the world’s leading space companies. In helicopters, Airbus provides the most efficient civil and military rotorcraft solutions worldwide.

Airbus May Beat Boeing to Market With Range-Boosting Plane



Airbus SE could build a longer-range version of its newest narrow-body jet by 2023, according to prospective buyer Air Transat, beating a competing Boeing Co. model to the market.

The Canadian carrier’s president, Jean-Francois Lemay, has been briefed by Airbus on its thinking regarding service entry for the proposed aircraft, as well as by leasing firm AerCap Holdings NV, the biggest supplier to its fleet, he said in an interview in London.

A development of the existing A321neo known as the XLR for extra long range, the Airbus plane is under consideration as Boeing mulls a launch decision for a family of mid-range jets with the working title New Mid-Market Aircraft, or NMA. That model is a wholly new design and wouldn’t reach airlines until about 2025, Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg said on a July earnings call.

“We’re a natural buyer for the XLR,” Lemay said Thursday, adding that the current LR — or long-range version — of the A321neo that will join its fleet from next year has the capability to reach Britain, France, Spain and Portugal from Canada, but won’t be able to serve European locations further east.

No Date Yet

Airbus hasn’t yet indicated a service-entry date for a new plane. Asked about the 2023 timing, a company spokesman said that “it’s no secret the A321 still has lots of potential.”

Lemay also gave some insight into the likely range of the aircraft, saying it would easily reach destinations such as Split in Croatia, which Air Transat plans to serve from 2019. The route will initially use the carrier’s fleet of Airbus A330 wide-bodies as it’s beyond the reach of the A321neoLR, he said.

The A321neo is already nibbling away at the bottom end of the 220-to-270-seat market Boeing is targeting for the NMA, with the LR variant racking up orders from carriers like Air Transat that see it as the best prospect to replace the U.S. firm’s out-of-production 757 and the 767 on some trans-Atlantic routes.

Lemay said he’s braced for a lag of four to six weeks in the delivery of Air Transat’s first LR, scheduled for February, as Airbus grapples with delays prompted by faults afflicting the model’s engines. A second jet is due in March but the slippage won’t be problematic so long as both are available by the time the peak summer timetable kicks in June, he said.

Not in Running

Air Transat isn’t in the market for the NMA — also dubbed the 797 — since it’s moving to an all-Airbus fleet, Lemay said, with a total of 15 A321 LRs set to allow the retirement of five Boeing 737s, as well as older Airbus A310s. Operating aircraft that all its pilots can fly will help save as much as C$15 million ($12 million), he said.

The executive predicted that trans-Atlantic flying will become increasingly narrow-body dominated as carriers from Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA to IAG SA’s Aer Lingus embrace the potential of smaller planes with longer ranges.

The market is vital for Air Transat, he said, generating 90 percent of revenue during the summer lull in travel from Canada to the Caribbean, a flow that’s busier in winter when it accounts for 85 percent of sales. With the A321 LR — and potentially the XLR — the carrier will have planes perfectly suited to both markets for the first time, Lemay said.

(An earlier version of this story was corrected for the executive’s name.)

Branson says Virgin Galactic to launch space flight ‘within weeks’

  • Branson said the company was “more than tantalisingly close” to launching its first mission to space
  • Branson’s Virgin Galactic is racing against Amazon creator Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin to launch the first out-of-this-world passenger flight

SINGAPORE: British entrepreneur Richard Branson said he expects his Virgin Galactic company to conduct its first space flight “within weeks, not months” in comments broadcast Tuesday.
Speaking to CNBC in Singapore, the billionaire Virgin founder said the company was “more than tantalisingly close” to launching its first mission to space, and that he himself hoped to briefly leave Earth within “months not years.”
“We will be in space with people not too long after that,” he added.
Branson’s Virgin Galactic is racing against Amazon creator Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin to launch the first out-of-this-world passenger flight and take paying passengers into space.
Both companies will offer customers a weightless experience that will last just minutes, passing through the imaginary line marking where space begins — either the Karman line, at 100 kilometers (62 miles), or the 50-mile boundary recognized by the US Air Force.
At this altitude, the sky looks dark and the curvature of the Earth can be seen clearly.
The first space tourists, who visited the International Space Station (ISS) in the 2000s, paid tens of millions of dollars for the privilege.
Branson said the proposed $250,000 price tag of a Virgin Galactic ticket would allow those who dreamed of visiting space to lift off in larger numbers.
“If I have a room full of 10 people, eight out of 10 would love to go to space if they could afford it,” he said.
“Ultimately,” Branson said he hoped the price of a space flight would come down to around $40,000 or $50,000 over the next decade.”

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