Monthly Archives: October 2013

Lufthansa donates its Vickers Viscount 814 D-ANAF to the Museum of Technology in Speyer, Germany, will modify 157 Airbus A320 family aircraft

Lufthansa Viscount 800 D-ANAF (55)(Grd) FRA (Lufthansa)(LR)

Lufthansa (Frankfurt) has issued this statement:

Representatives of Lufthansa Technik and Lufthansa Technical Training officially handed over a Vickers Viscount 814 to the Museum of Technology in Speyer in southwest Germany. Lufthansa operated the aircraft on scheduled routes from 1962 to 1969, and in 1972 converted it into a technical training aircraft. To date, more than 2,000 young people in the Lufthansa Group have undergone basic training on this Vickers Viscount as an aircraft mechanic or electrician.

In cooperation with the workshop team at the Museum of Technology in Speyer, Lufthansa Technik trainers and apprentices have now restored the Viscount 814 with the registration D-ANAF for exhibition purposes. Before being transported to Speyer, the plane had to be dismantled. It was then re-assembled at the museum and repainted in its original livery with its 1960s registration. The Lufthansa Technik apprentices completed the work in a total of 2,096 man-hours, and visitors to the museum can now admire the results.

In the 1960s, the Vickers Viscount 814 was the workhorse on European routes and was one of the most popular propeller aircraft ever deployed on short and medium-haul routes. Since 1958, Lufthansa has operated a total of eleven of these aircraft on its domestic German and European scheduled services.

A close friendship has developed between the Museum of Technology in Speyer and Lufthansa Technik, which is an honorary member of the Museum Association. For many years, both companies have collaborated successfully on joint projects. Back in 2003, Lufthansa handed over a retired Boeing 747-200 with the registration D-ABYM to the museum for the symbolic price of one euro. There was an outburst of applause as “Yankee Mike” (the phonetic designation used by pilots for the last two letters “YM” in the aircraft registration) taxied to its final parking position. And now the Vickers Viscount 814 has also found a new home.

While the Lufthansa Group is currently investing 36 billion euros in new, even more environmentally friendly aircraft as part of the largest fleet renovation process in the company’s history, the Vickers Viscount represents a “historic fleet renewal” at Speyer’s Museum of Technology.

In other news, Lufthansa has announced it will add vortex generators to reduce noise for its 157 Airbus family aircraft. The company issued this statement:

Lufthansa is an active proponent of noise abatement and is investing in the nationwide modification of 157 aircraft from its Airbus A320 family. These planes connect Lufthansa’s hubs in Frankfurt and Munich with the destinations in its closely meshed European route network.

The manufacturer, Airbus, has even developed vortex generators especially for the A320 family. These are based on the findings of research carried out by Lufthansa and the German Aerospace Center. Flyover measurements showed that the vortex generators eliminate two unpleasant tones and therefore reduce the total noise generated by the approaching plane by up to two decibels. They can be fitted both to aircraft already in service as well as to the new Airbus A319, A320 and A321 models, which are still to be delivered.

“By fitting these vortex generators to our Airbus short and medium-haul fleet, we are continuing to invest in active noise protection”, says Kay Kratky, Member of the Lufthansa German Airlines Board, Operation & Hub Frankfurt. “In addition to the extensive modernisation of our fleet over the next few years, this is one of several steps that we are taking to reduce noise. It shows our commitment to working towards a balance between the interests of aviation and local residents, especially at our hubs.”

The tons that the vortex generators will eliminate are created on the underside of the wing by the pressure equalisation vents for the fuel tanks. Airflows passing over them in flight have an effect like blowing across the mouth of a bottle. The new components create a vortex in front of these vents and so prevent the noise. The modification of the existing fleet is to start in early 2014. All new deliveries of the A320 and A321 for Lufthansa will be fitted as standard with the vortex generators in future.

Top Copyright Photo: Lufthansa.

Lufthansa: AG Slide Show

Have you seen the “new look” AirlinersGallery.com photo library website?

Bottom Copyright Photo: Paul Bannwarth/AirlinersGallery.com. Airbus A319-114 D-AILF (msn 636) (Star Alliance) arrives in Zurich.

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The FAA relaxes its rules on electronic devices below 10,000 feet, JetBlue files to be the first airline

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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) (Washington) today (October 31) relaxed its rules (finally) on the passenger use of electronic devices below 10,000 feet. The decision to use these devices will still be left to the individual airlines and their ability to prove the use can be safely operated. The FAA will no longer prohibit electronic devices such as e-readers and games. Cell phone usage will still be prohibited during the entire flight.

The change reflects the recommendations of a 28-member panel that reported on September 30.

The FAA issued this statement:

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Michael Huerta today announced that the FAA has determined that airlines can safely expand passenger use of Portable Electronic Devices (PEDs) during all phases of flight, and is immediately providing the airlines with implementation guidance.

Due to differences among fleets and operations, the implementation will vary among airlines, but the agency expects many carriers will prove to the FAA that their planes allow passengers to safely use their devices in airplane mode, gate-to-gate, by the end of the year.

The FAA based its decision on input from a group of experts that included representatives from the airlines, aviation manufacturers, passengers, pilots, flight attendants, and the mobile technology industry.

Passengers will eventually be able to read e-books, play games, and watch videos on their devices during all phases of flight, with very limited exceptions. Electronic items, books and magazines, must be held or put in the seat back pocket during the actual takeoff and landing roll. Cell phones should be in airplane mode or with cellular service disabled – i.e., no signal bars displayed—and cannot be used for voice communications based on FCC regulations that prohibit any airborne calls using cell phones.    If your air carrier provides Wi-Fi service during flight, you may use those services.  You can also continue to use short-range Bluetooth accessories, like wireless keyboards.

“We believe today’s decision honors both our commitment to safety and consumer’s increasing desire to use their electronic devices during all phases of their flights,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “These guidelines reflect input from passengers, pilots, manufacturers, and flight attendants, and I look forward to seeing airlines implement these much anticipated guidelines in the near future.”

“I commend the dedication and excellent work of all the experts who spent the past year working together to give us a solid report so we can now move forward with a safety-based decision on when passengers can use PEDs on airplanes,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

The PED Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) concluded most commercial airplanes can tolerate radio interference signals from PEDs. In a recent report, they recommended that the FAA provide airlines with new procedures to assess if their airplanes can tolerate radio interference from PEDs. Once an airline verifies the tolerance of its fleet, it can allow passengers to use handheld, lightweight electronic devices – such as tablets, e-readers, and smartphones—at all altitudes. In rare instances of low-visibility, the crew will instruct passengers to turn off their devices during landing. The group also recommended that heavier devices should be safely stowed under seats or in overhead bins during takeoff and landing.

The FAA is streamlining the approval of expanded PED use by giving airlines updated, clearguidance. This FAA tool will help airlines assess the risks of potential PED-induced avionics problems for their airplanes and specific operations. Airlines will evaluate avionics as well as changes to stowage rules and passenger announcements. Each airline will also need to revise manuals, checklists for crewmember training materials, carry-on baggage programs and passenger briefings before expanding use of PEDs. Each airline will determine how and when they will allow passengers broader use of PEDs.

The FAA did not consider changing the regulations regarding the use of cell phones for voice communications during flight because the issue is under the jurisdiction of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  The ARC did recommend that the FAA consult with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to review its current rules. Cell phones differ from most PEDs in that they are designed to send out signals strong enough to be received at great distances

Top Things Passengers Should Know about Expanded Use of PEDs on Airplanes:

1. Make safety your first priority.

2.  Changes to PED policies will not happen immediately and will vary by airline. Check with your airline to see if and when you can use your PED.

3.  Current PED policies remain in effect until an airline completes a safety assessment, gets FAA approval, and changes its PED policy.

4. Cell phones may not be used for voice communications.

5.  Devices must be used in airplane mode or with the cellular connection disabled. You may use the WiFi connection on your device if the plane has an installed WiFi system and the airline allows its use.  You can also continue to use short-range Bluetooth accessories, like wireless keyboards.

6. Properly stow heavier devices under seats or in the overhead bins during takeoff and landing. These items could impede evacuation of an aircraft or may injure you or someone else in the event of turbulence or an accident.

7. During the safety briefing, put down electronic devices, books and newspapers and listen to the crewmember’s instructions.

8.  It only takes a few minutes to secure items according to the crew’s instructions during takeoff and landing.

9.  In some instances of low visibility – about one percent of flights – some landing systems may not be proved PED tolerant, so you may be asked to turn off your device.

10. Always follow crew instructions and immediately turn off your device if asked.

Current FAA regulations require an aircraft operator to determine that radio frequency interference from PEDs is not a flight safety risk before the operator authorizes them for use during certain phases of flight. Even PEDs that do not intentionally transmit signals can emit unintentional radio energy. This energy may affect aircraft safety because the signals can occur at the same frequencies used by the plane’s highly sensitive communications, navigation, flight control and electronic equipment. An airline must show it can prevent potential interference that could pose a safety hazard. The PED ARC report helps the FAA to guide airlines through determining that they can safely allow widespread use of PEDs.

The PED ARC began work in January, at the request of Administrator Huerta, to determine if it is safe to allow more widespread use of electronic devices in today’s aircraft.  The group also reviewed the public’s comments in response to an August 2012 FAA notice on current policy, guidance, and procedures that aircraft operators use when determining if passengers can use PEDs. The group did not consider the use of electronic devices for voice communications. A fact sheet on the report is available at http://www.faa.gov/news/fact_sheets/

The FAA is immediately giving airlines a clear path to safely expand PED use by passengers, and the Administrator will evaluate the rest of the ARC’s longer-term recommendations and respond at a later date.

A Portable Electronic Device is any piece of lightweight, electrically-powered equipment. These devices are typically consumer electronic devices capable of communications, data processing and/or utility.  Examples range from handheld, lightweight electronic devices such as tablets, e-readers, and smartphones to small devices such as MP3 players and electronic toys.

Meanwhile has just issued this statement:

JetBlue Airways (Nasdaq: JBLU) today announced that it has begun the process with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in order to become the first airline to allow customers to use personal electronic devices during all phases of flight.  The FAA endorsed the findings of a cross-industry panel of experts that recommended a certification path for airlines that maintains safety.

Currently, customers must turn off and stow all electronic devices during taxi, takeoff, landing and when the aircraft is below 10,000 feet. The new policy will allow JetBlue customers to use smart phones, tablets, games and other smaller electronic devices at any time during taxi, takeoff and during flight, unless otherwise instructed by a crewmember.

“The rules have caught up with today’s technology,” said Robin Hayes, JetBlue chief commercial officer. “This new policy vastly improves our customers’ experience, and giving everyone a chance to be more connected is good for business. We intend to be the first commercial airline in the United States to allow gate-to-gate use of personal electronics devices. To support that goal, we began the certification process with the FAA today.”

JetBlue A320 Captain Charles (Chuck) Cook, manager fleet programs and technology, led a subcommittee of the FAA’s Personal Electronic Devices Aviation Rulemaking Committee (PED ARC), which issued recommendations to the FAA to allow more liberal electronics use while maintaining flight safety.

“This is a landmark report that has been thoroughly discussed by experts from all of the appropriate areas of the industry,” Captain Cook said. “Ultimately, we want our crewmembers to focus on safety and customer service, and not to have a role in determining which devices should or should not be used. We believe the recommendations we put forth meet these goals.”

“Safety is always the first priority,” Mr. Hayes added. “We applaud the FAA in chartering the PED committee and bringing the experts together to determine the best way to allow the expansion of PED use without compromising safety.”

Once approved by the FAA, JetBlue will begin allowing gate-to-gate personal electronics use. Airline customers are reminded to pay attention to inflight crewmember instructions at all times, including what should be stowed and what is safe to use during different phases of flight.

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Air France-KLM writes off the value of its 25% share in Alitalia

Air France-KLM Group (Air France and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines) (Paris and Amsterdam) have written off the value 25 percent stake in Alitalia (2nd) (Rome) yesterday (October 30) raising doubt over its willingness to invest further in the struggling carrier according to this report by Reuters.

Air France-KLM posted a 119 million euro charge for its 25 percent stake in Alitalia.

What is the future for Alitalia with Air France and KLM?

Read the full report: CLICK HERE

Copyright Photo: Pepscl/AirlinersGallery.com. Air France’s Airbus A321-111 F-GMZB (msn 509) taxies at Paris (Orly).

Air France: AG Slide Show

KLM: AG Slide Show

Alitalia: AG Slide Show

Delta’s flight 208 diverts to Cold Bay, Alaska, population 60

Delta logo

Delta Air Lines‘ (Atlanta) flight DL 208 with a Boeing 767-300 ER from Tokyo (Narita) to San Francisco yesterday (October 30) was forced to divert and make a safe landing at Cold Bay, Alaska (population 60) in the Aleutian chain of islands . The crew diverted due to a possible problem with one of the engines. Passengers and crew members were taken to a small community center where they waited for another aircraft. The long 10,000 foot runway was built by the military during the Aleutian campaign during World War II. The 167 passengers and 11 crew members finally made it to their final destination of San Francisco after another aircraft came to their rescue.

Read the full story from the Anchorage Daily News: CLICK HERE

Delta Air Lines: AG Slide Show

 

American Airlines and US Airways consider a settlement agreement with the DOJ

American Airlines (Dallas/Fort Worth) and US Airways (Phoenix) are now considering a settlement agreement with the Department of Justice (DOJ) according to this report by Reuters. The reported deal would involve giving up an unspecified number of Washington Reagan National Airport slots. The trial to block the proposed merger is due to start on November 25.

Read the full report: CLICK HERE

Copyright Photo: Brian McDonough/AirlinersGallery.com. The battle and approval of the merger has always been about the “fortress” number of Reagan National slots. American’s Boeing 737-823 N924NN (man 33486) banks on the river approach into Washington’s downtown Reagan National Airport.

American Airlines: AG Slide Show

US Airways: AG Slide Show

IAM members ratify new contracts with United Airlines

United Airlines‘ (Chicago) fleet service, passenger service and stockroom employees, represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), have ratified a new contract with the company.

The IAM issued this statement:

After more than four years of negotiations, a merger of three airlines and numerous representation elections, the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) today announced members at United Airlines ratified agreements covering approximately 30,000 fleet service, passenger service and stockroom employees.

“I thank all IAM members for their patience and solidarity through this entire process,” said IAM District 141 President Rich Delaney. “These contracts provide IAM members at United Airlines the best overall terms in the airline industry. It’s now time to move on, unify as one and make our union stronger.”

With over 65 percent participation, each contract was approved by more than 70 percent of voting members.

The agreements run through 2016 and provide immediate wage increases ranging from 7-29 percent, and from 19-56 percent over the term of the agreements. The accords also preserve and improve both defined benefit and defined contribution retirement plans, provide 96 percent of the workforce protection from outsourcing, maintain affordable health insurance options and increases vacation time, among other enhancements.

“IAM members demonstrated perseverance and patience during these difficult negotiations,” said Airline Coordinator Ira Levy. “There haven’t been negotiations in recent memory as complex as these, and our negotiators should be proud of what they accomplished.”

Approximately 1,500 IAM fleet technical instructors, maintenance instructors and food service and security officers remain in negotiations.

Copyright Photo: Brian McDonough/AirlinersGallery.com. Boeing 767-424 ER N69059 (man 29454) climbs away from the Washington Dulles hub.

United Airlines: AG Slide Show

Spirit Airlines’ Third Quarter adjusted net income increases 130.3% to $57.9 million

Spirit Airlines, Inc. (Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood) today reported third quarter 2013 financial results.

  • Adjusted net income for the third quarter 2013 increased 130.3 percent to $57.9 million1 ($0.79 per diluted share) compared to $25.2 million1 ($0.35 per diluted share) for the third quarter 2012. GAAP net income for the third quarter 2013 was $61.1 million ($0.84 per diluted share) compared to $30.9 million ($0.43 per diluted share) in the third quarter 2012.
  • Spirit achieved an adjusted pre-tax margin of 20.3 percent1, the highest quarterly adjusted pre-tax margin in the Company’s history. On a GAAP basis, pre-tax margin for the third quarter 2013 was 21.4 percent.
  • Spirit ended the third quarter 2013 with $540 million in unrestricted cash.
  • Spirit’s return on invested capital (before taxes and excluding special items) for the last twelve months ended September 30, 2013 was 31.3 percent. See “Calculation for Return on Invested Capital” table below for more details.

“I want to say thanks to our team members that contributed to our strong third quarter results. It is becoming clear that Spirit’s customers understand that our ultra-low fares plus optional services offer them a total price that’s tough to beat,” said Ben Baldanza, Spirit’s Chief Executive Officer. “Spirit is known for doing things differently than other air carriers, and we celebrate those differences because they allow us to offer our customers the freedom to pay for only what they value while earning a return for our shareholders.”

Revenue Performance

For the third quarter 2013, Spirit’s total operating revenue was $456.6 million, an increase of 33.4 percent compared to the third quarter 2012.

Total revenue per available seat mile (“RASM”) for the third quarter 2013 was 12.55 cents, an increase of 8.9 percent compared to the third quarter 2012 as a result of higher load factors and higher average passenger yields.

Passenger flight segment (“PFS”) volume for the third quarter 2013 grew 19.9 percent year over year. Average revenue per PFS for the third quarter 2013 increased 11.3 percent year over year to $135.34 primarily driven by an increase in ticket revenue per PFS.

Cost Performance

Total operating expenses for the third quarter 2013 increased 22.6 percent year over year to $358.8 million on a capacity increase of 22.4 percent.

Spirit reported third quarter 2013 cost per available seat mile excluding special items and fuel (“Adjusted CASM ex-fuel”) of 5.86 cents, a decrease of 2.7 percent year over year, primarily driven by lower aircraft rent and other operating expense per ASM. During the second quarter 2013, the Company negotiated lease extensions at reduced rates for 14 of its A319 aircraft which was the primary driver of the decrease in aircraft rent per ASM. The decrease in other operating expense per ASM, as compared to the same period in 2012, was primarily driven by the in-sourcing of certain contract work and a decrease in software consulting costs associated with the implementation of the Company’s ERP system. Partially offsetting the benefit of these items was higher depreciation and amortization expense related to the amortization of an increased number of heavy maintenance events.

Selected Balance Sheet and Cash Flow Items

As of September 30, 2013, Spirit had $540 million in unrestricted cash and cash equivalents, no restricted cash, no debt on its balance sheet, and total shareholders’ equity of $724 million.

For the nine months ended September 30, 2013, Spirit incurred capital expenditures of $17.0 million. The Company paid $41.3 million in pre-delivery deposits for future deliveries of aircraft, net of refunds, and recorded an increase of $10.2 million in maintenance deposits, net of reimbursements.

Fleet

In the third quarter 2013, Spirit took delivery of one new A320 aircraft, ending the quarter with 51 aircraft in its fleet. The Company also took delivery of one new A320 in October 2013 and has two more new A320 aircraft scheduled for delivery by year-end 2013.

Third Quarter 2013 and Other Current Highlights

  • Recently added/announced new service between (service start date):
— Dallas/Fort Worth – Phoenix Sky Harbor (10/24/13)
— Phoenix Sky Harbor – Chicago (11/7/13)2
— Phoenix Sky Harbor – Denver (11/7/13)2
— Minneapolis/St. Paul and Los Angeles (11/7/13)
— Minneapolis/St. Paul and Orlando (11/7/13)2
— Minneapolis/St. Paul and Phoenix Sky Harbor (11/7/13)2
— Minneapolis/St. Paul and Tampa (11/7/13)2
  • Ratified a new five-year contract with its dispatchers which are represented by the Transport Workers Union.
  • Executed an agreement with Pratt and Whitney and IAE for the provision and servicing of engines to power its fleet of A320-family aircraft.
  • Elected H. McIntyre (Mac) Gardner as Chairman of the Board of Directors following the resignation of William A. Franke.
  • Maintained its commitment to offer low fares to its valued customers (average ticket revenue per passenger flight segment for the third quarter 2013 was $82.84).

Copyright Photo: Eddie Maloney/AirlinersGallery.com. The first Airbus A320 with Sharklets, Airbus A320-232 WL N620NK (msn 5624) touches down in Las Vegas.

Spirit Airlines: AG Slide Show