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

MH17 crash charges 

Three Russians and a Ukrainian have been charged over the crash of a Malaysian Airlines aircraft flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur in July 2017, according to Stuff

The aircraft lost contact with air traffic control about four hours after take-off and the wreckage was discovered in a Ukraine field. All 298 people on board were killed. 

Stuff reports that Dutch prosecutors have laid the charges against four officials of the pro-Russian Donetsk People’s Republic. They are charged with causing the crash and murdering 298 people – including one New Zealander. 

They will be tried, most likely in absentia, under Dutch law in The Hague in March 2020. 

Read more HERE.


Boeing 737 Max sales 

Boeing has taken its first order for 737 Max aircraft since the aircraft was grounded in March of this year. 

International Airlines Group (IAG), the parent company of British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia and Vueling, has signed a letter of intent for 200 of the Boeing 737 aircraft, according to a Stuff news report. The Max 8 and Max 10 aircraft would be delivered between 2023 and 2027 to airlines owned by IAG. 

IAG has also placed a firm order for Airbus A321XLR long range jets for Aer Lingus and Iberia. 

The announcement was made at the Paris Air Show, where Boeing had also gained attention for its sweeping apology to victims’ families and airlines. Boeing has said it is costing at least US$1 billion to address its 737 Max issues and also acknowledged that it has botched communications with regulators.

The Boeing/IAG announcement follows several months of lacklustre sales for Boeing. Boeing was also able to announce a deal with Korea Air and Air Lease Corporation for 30 long range 787 Dreamliner aircraft. 

Read more HERE.


Boeing stalled 

Boeing has problems with two of its aircraft types. 

Boeing’s new 777X jet, which started rolling out of the assembly plant in March, can’t fly until later this year because of a problem with its new GE Aviation GE9X engine, according to Stuff

This may well impact plans for the aircraft to enter service in mid-2020. 

The first customer for the 777X is Emirates. 

Read more HERE

It also has ongoing issues relating to the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max. 

There is still no word on when the Boeing 737 Max will fly again, with Boeing having technical challenges to overcome to the satisfaction of industry regulators, as well as having to earn back the confidence of the travelling public. 

The New Zealand Herald reports the aircraft manufacturer is even considering a change of name for the aircraft when it returns to the skies. 

Read more HERE.


Boeing forecasts strong airline growth 

Boeing is predicting massive growth in air travel over the next 20 years, which it forecasts will lead to global demand for 44,000 new jet aircraft, according to AirlineRatings.com

The aviation website reports that Boeing believes 44 percent of those new aircraft will replace ageing aircraft, while the remaining 56 percent will accommodate growth in air travel. 

The global commercial fleet is expected to reach 50,660 aircraft by 2038. Continued strength of low cost carriers, replacement demand, and continued growth in Asia Pacific will fuel demand for single aisle aircraft, while replacement of ageing aircraft will account for many of the new wide body aircraft. 

Boeing also acknowledges the resulting impact on a wide range of commercial aviation services, including flight operations and maintenance and engineering services. 

Read more from AirlineRatings.com HERE or from Boeing HERE.


Airbus sales 

Significant sales of Airbus aircraft were announced at last month’s Paris Air Show, according to Air Transport World (ATW) news

US private equity firm Indigo Partners announced a memorandum of understanding to purchase 50 of the newly launched Airbus A321XLR. This order includes conversions of 18 existing A321neo family orders. 

Indigo has major stakes in low cost carriers – Frontier, JetSmart, Volaris and Wizz Air. The four carriers operate 295 Airbus aircraft and have a further 636 on order. 

American Airlines will acquire 50 Airbus A321XLRs, adding 20 new aircraft to an order of A321neos that have been converted to the A321XLR, according to ATW. The new aircraft will be delivered between 2023 and 2025 and will enable the airline to open up new routes. American Airlines is already the world’s largest Airbus operator, with 422 aircraft. 

Read more HERE and HERE.


Scale of disruption for Heathrow expansion revealed

An expansion masterplan for Heathrow Airport will see rivers diverted, roads moved and the M25 motorway rerouted and lowered into a tunnel underneath the new runway, according to Britain’s The Guardian newspaper. The masterplan also requires construction of parks for nearly 50,000 cars. 

Consultation on the plan (which incorporates changes based on earlier consultation) is now open and continues until September. 

The development will be staged, with the new runway expected to open around 2026, and to cater for an additional 700 aircraft each day. 

The whole expansion masterplan is scheduled for completion in 2050 – by which time the airport expects to cater for 140 million passengers each year. 

Most homes in the town of Harmondsworth will need to go, to make way for the new runway. While another neighbouring village will find itself directly at the end of the new runway and will also host a 24,000 space multi-storey car park. Local people will be offered property compensation, noise insulation funding and a 6.5 hour ban on scheduled night flights. 

The airport has also outlined plans for low emission zones and congestion charges to stem local air pollution. 

The expansion plans are attracting criticism for their impact on local residents, loss of greenspace, increased air and road traffic, and environmental impact. 

Read more HERE.


Helicopter’s rooftop crash 

A helicopter crashed on the roof of a Manhattan skyscraper last month, sparking a fire and killing the pilot who was the only person on board. 

Stuff reports there was heavy rain and low cloud at the time the Agusta A109E crashed. 

The impact of the helicopter crashing into the building, followed by its evacuation, caused many inside to fear another 9/11 attack. 

More than 40 years ago four people were killed on a Manhattan rooftop helipad when a helicopter toppled over and they were struck by a rotor blade. A fifth person, a pedestrian, was also killed in that accident, which led to a push to close down private helipads in the city. 

Read more HERE.


Threat of British and Irish strikes 

Strikes are threatening to affect the approaching summer season.

Irish-based Ryanair pilots have lodged a claim for a pay rise, according to The Independent newspaper. There were flight disruptions last year after members of the Irish Airline Pilots’ Association mounted pickets. 

The newspaper says Ryanair dramatically changed its anti-union stance in December 2017 to recognise unions for the first time to avoid a strike by pilots. 

There are also threats of disruption for Ryanair in the United Kingdom where members of the British Airline Pilots’ Association have indicated they will support industrial action over their terms and conditions if they are balloted.

Ryanair cabin crew are also trying to improve their conditions. They also went on strike last year.

British Airways pilots have called for a strike ballot after rejecting a pay offer. Gatwick-based British Airways cabin crew are threatening to strike over roster issues which will result in them having less down time between long haul flights. 

Read more HERE and HERE.



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