Uplink ALPA - The Voice of Aviation

The New Zealand Air Line Pilots' Association Newsletter. As of April 2020 Uplink ALPA is a 6-monthly publication.

International aviation news

Boeing 747 celebrates 50th anniversary

The Boeing 747 celebrated its 50th anniversary last month. 

The four-engine ‘jumbo jet’ was an early travel icon and the first twin-aisle wide body commercial jetliner and cargo aircraft.

It’s had many notable roles in those 50 years, including carrying the space shuttle and performing the role of Air Force One – the United States presidential aircraft. Air Force One (a call sign rather than an aircraft) is currently used by one of two Boeing VC-25 aircraft – a military version of the Boeing 747 modified for presidential transport and operated by the United States Air Force (USAF). In 2015 the USAF ordered two new aircraft, again based on the Boeing 747. These aircraft are scheduled for delivery by 2024 and will replace the existing presidential transport. 

Other claims to fame for the Boeing 747: 

  • The first aircraft to offer a partial top deck (there were others with full top decks before the 747).
  • It carried more passengers than any other aircraft for its first 37 years. 
  • More than 1550 Boeing 747 were produced; there may be as many as 500 still in passenger service. 
  • The aircraft is still manufactured, but not for commercial passenger use. The last passenger version was delivered to Korean Air in 2017. 
  • Cargo versions were produced with a nose door. 
  • The first Boeing 747’s were delivered to Pan American and Trans World Airlines (TWA) in 1969 – which each took two aircraft. 
  • The biggest customer was Japan Airlines which received 106 Boeing 747 aircraft. 
  • Air New Zealand had five Boeing 747-200s and eight 747-400s. Its last Boeing 747 commercial flight was in September 2014. 
  • British Airways still operates 34 747-400 aircraft – making it the largest operator of the Boeing 747-400.
  • The wings of a 747 have been recycled and used as roofing in a Malibu house. https://davidhertzfaia.com/747-wing-house/ 

There is little demand now for the Boeing 747 or for Airbus 380, the world’s largest passenger plane. Airlines now prefer large twin-engine aircraft such as Boeing 777 or Airbus 350.

Read more HERE


End to Airbus A380 production announced  

The Airbus A380 was the wrong product at the wrong time, according to Airbus CEO Tom Enders. His comments came as he announced the A380 production line will end in 2021 after producing another 17 of the aircraft.

Airbus has already significantly scaled back production of the aircraft, considered the modern rival to the Boeing 747 (which has just celebrated 50 years of production). Airlines currently operating the aircraft are likely to do so for years to come – if only because they will be unable to find buyers for them. 

The double deck, wide body, four-engine aircraft is the world’s largest passenger aircraft and carries between 550 and more than 800 passengers, depending on how it is configured. 

By January of this year, Airbus had received orders for 313 Airbus A380 aircraft and had delivered 234. The decision to end production was likely promoted by Emirates confirmation that it was trying to change some of its A380 orders to the smaller A350, and Qantas cancellation of an order for eight more Airbus A380s. 

Since the A380 was designed in the late 1990s, much lighter, all-composite aircraft have emerged like the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350 that burn about 34 per cent less fuel per passenger. 

There are now more advanced engines than those on the A380, and the new Boeing777X soon to be introduced will burn around 40 per cent less fuel per passenger because of its new generation General Electric engine – the GE9X. 

Airlines have progressively moved away from four engine aircraft like the A380 and the Boeing 747-8 in favour of twin-engine long range aircraft like the A350 and the Boeing 777. These smaller aircraft can fly just as far as their larger counterparts while using less fuel. There is also less pressure to fill a smaller number of seats. 

The A380 aircraft was seen by some airlines as a way round limited landing slots available at Heathrow – their greater capacity enabling more passengers with fewer flights. But many of these airlines now fly to other destinations in the UK such as Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Cardiff. 

Read more HERE.


Expired parking 

Madrid’s Barajas airport is looking for the owner of an MD-87 which has been parked at the airport since mid-2015. 

If this is yours, airport management would be pleased if you made alternative arrangements for storing your aircraft.

EC-KRV was manufactured in 1990 and was last owned by Spanish carrier Saicus Air – which operated the aircraft for just a few weeks in late 2010. It was permanently retired in mid-2015. 

Spanish law requires the airport to advertise to try to locate the owner. After 12 months the aircraft is considered abandoned and can be auctioned, with proceeds going to the state. 

Read more HERE


Cathay Pacific Pilots Reject Agreement 

Cathay Pacific Airways’ pilots have rejected a tentative contract agreement, dealing a setback to the Hong Kong flag carrier’s turnaround efforts.

The proposal was voted down by a significant margin, despite being endorsed by the Hong Kong Aircrew Officers Association (HKAOA). With 96 per cent of eligible members voting, the deal was rejected by 78.6 per cent of voters. 

Cathay and its pilots have been in dispute over various contract terms since 2014. The stalemate led to the introduction of a work-to-rule campaign by pilots. A tentative agreement was also reached in 2016 but was rejected. 

HKAOA chairman Darryl Soligo says union leaders will now “meet to formalise our next moves.” 

The airline targeted cost-savings and productivity gains from labour groups as part of restructuring initiatives aimed at curbing financial losses. Cathay is now in its third year of restructuring. 

“All other staff groups have contributed toward a sustainable growth path for Cathay Pacific, including a leaner structure and the improvement of productivity in their respective areas,” the carrier noted. 

Cathay said it was “sorry to learn that the [HKAOA members] voted against the proposal, which was recommended by both the company and [union] leadership.” The airline is “committed to engaging positively with our pilots and pursuing opportunities to align interests … we will continue to look for ways to move forward together with our pilot community.” 

Read more HERE.


New Virgin Australia CEO 

Virgin Australia has appointed Paul Scurrah as its new Chief Executive and Managing Director. He will take over this month from John Borghetti. 

Paul Scurrah has previously worked at Qantas and at Ansett Australia, helped establish Regional Express Airlines (REX) and has held executive roles at Flight Centre, Tourism Queensland and Queensland Rail.

Virgin Australia is Australia’s second largest airline. Its share registry is dominated by major investors Singapore Airlines, Etihad Airways, and Chinese groups HNA and Nanshan, which each own about 20 per cent of its shares. Richard Branson's Virgin Group owns another 10 per cent. 

The company has run at a loss for the last six years, recording a loss of A$683 million last year. In mid-February the airline announced its strongest underlying interim pre-tax profit since 2008 and achieved record revenues. 

But the airline group hedged its bets about what will happen in the current economic environment by restricting its outlook to the third quarter ending in March. Based on current market conditions and forward bookings, it said group revenue was expected to grow by at least s percent on the prior corresponding quarter. 

Read more HERE and HERE



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