Tag Archives: Worldwide Aviation News

Swedish Medevac PC-24 Completes Successful Maiden Flight

The first of six PC-24s for the Swedish Air Ambulance Organisation took off from Buochs Airport for its maiden flight on 22 July 2020. Sporting the national colours of Sweden – blue and yellow – the Super Versatile Jet will cut a dash across Swedish skies.

Less than a year after the agreement between the Kommunalförbundet Svenskt Ambulansflyg (KSA) and Pilatus was signed, the maiden flight of the first Swedish medevac PC-24 marks an important milestone in the programme. Despite the disruption caused by the covid-19 pandemic, Pilatus still managed to meet the tight production schedule.

Six medevac PC-24s for KSA

As an air ambulance service organisation, KSA will provide advanced medical assistance and access to fast, professional aeromedical care, to everyone living in Sweden. The full KSA fleet will comprise six PC-24s, with all aircraft are scheduled for delivery in 2021.

The maiden flight heralds the start of numerous flight tests to be performed by Pilatus. On completion of these tests, the PC-24s for KSA will be transferred to Aerolite AG, the specialist Swiss company appointed to oversee the installation of the medevac interior.

About the PC-24 air ambulance

The outstanding flexibility of the PC-24 opens up a wealth of possibilities for use as a medevac aircraft. The cabin offers sufficient space for three patients plus medical personnel. The PC-24’s large cargo door also facilities speedy loading and unloading of patients. All these advantages, combined with the PC-24’s STOL credentials, make it the ideal aircraft for all air ambulance missions. After the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia and the US North Slope Borough Search and Rescue Department, KSA is the third organisation to deploy the PC-24 as a medevac aircraft.

MD Helicopters Launches Flight Support For COVID-19 Humanitarian Missions

MD Helicopter launches flight support for COVID-19 humanitarian missions

Mesa, Ariz., May 14, 2020 – MD Helicopters, Inc. (MDHI) begins flying humanitarian aid missions in a company-owned MD 520N supporting the fight against COVID-19.

An MDHI pilot flew the first mission in one of the Company’s helicopters to the Navajo Nation, whose border is approximately 150 miles north of MDHI’s Mesa, AZ base of operations.  The Navajo Nation covers 27,000 square miles that can be logistically challenging for transport of goods due to terrain and obstacles throughout its vast expanse.  During the COVID-19 crisis, large quantities of relief aid accumulated in the Phoenix area awaiting distribution.  The urgent situation called for a helicopter solution to deliver the desparately needed aid to multiple locations much faster than ground transport could provide.  MDHI accepted the opportunity to assist our neighbors to the north.

Relief goods were accumulated at MDHI’s Mesa base, loaded into an MD 520N helicopter, and flown to Chinle Municiple Airport deep in the Navajo Nation, where the aid was delivered to relief workers. The entire mission covered approximately 500 nautical miles, included 2 fuel stops, and lasted roughly 5 hours.  “MD Helicopters has been a proud part of the Arizona community since its birth over 20 years ago” said Chris Jaran, the Chief Operating Officer of MD.  “We have always stood ready to help our neighbors and contribute to the welfare of our community.”  Jaran continued, “Our helicopters are flown by first responders and military units all over the world, and we are pleased to join the efforts of Arizonans to address humanitarian needs here at home in these challenging times.”

MDHI will continue flying relief aid missions in support of the Navajo Nation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Airline Debt to Balloon by 28% Heavy New Debt Levels Will Weigh Down Airline Recovery

Geneva – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released analysis showing that the airline industry’s global debt could rise to $550 billion by year-end. That’s a $120 billion increase over debt levels at the start of 2020. 
 

  • $67 billion of the new debt is composed of government loans ($50 billion), deferred taxes ($5 billion) and loan guarantees ($12 billion).
  • $52 billion is from commercial sources including commercial loans ($23 billion), capital market debt ($18 billion), debt from new operating leases ($5 billion), and accessing existing credit facilities ($6 billion). 


Financial aid is a lifeline to get through the worst of the crisis without folding operations. But during the re-start period later this, the industry’s debt load will be near $550 billion—a massive 28% increase. 

“Government aid is helping to keep the industry afloat. The next challenge will be preventing airlines from sinking under the burden of debt that the aid is creating,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

In total governments have committed to $123 billion in financial aid to airlines. Of this, $67 billion will need to be repaid. The balance largely consists of wage subsidies ($34.8 billion), equity financing ($11.5 billion), and tax relief / subsidies ($9.7 billion). This is vital for airlines which will burn through an estimated $60 billion of cash in the second quarter of 2020 alone.

“Over half the relief provided by governments creates new liabilities. Less than 10% will add to airline equity. It changes the financial picture of the industry completely. Paying off the debt owed governments and private lenders will mean that the crisis will last a lot longer than the time it takes for passenger demand to recover,” said de Juniac.

Regional variations

The $123 billion in government financial aid is equal to 14% of 2019’s total airline revenues ($838 billion). The regional variations of the aid dispersion indicate that there are gaps that will need to be filled.

There are still large gaps in the financial aid needed to help airlines survive the COVID-19 crisis. The US government has led the way with its CARES Act being the main component of financial aid to North American carriers which in total represented a quarter of 2019 annual revenues for the region’s airlines. This is followed by Europe with assistance at 15% of 2019 annual revenues and Asia-Pacific at 10%. But in Africa, the Middle East and Latin America average aid is around 1% of 2019 revenues.

“Many governments have stepped up with financial aid packages that provide a bridge over this most difficult situation, including cash to avoid bankruptcies. Where governments have not responded fast enough or with limited funds, we have seen bankruptcies. Examples include Australia, Italy, Thailand, Turkey, and the UK. Connectivity will be important to the recovery. Meaningful financial aid to airlines now makes economic sense. It will ensure that they are ready to provide job-supporting connectivity as economies re-open,” said de Juniac.

The Impact of Debt

The kind of aid provided will influence the speed and strength of the recovery. IATA urged governments still contemplating financial relief to focus on measures that help airlines raise equity financing. “Many airlines are still in desperate need of a financial lifeline. For those governments that have not yet acted, the message is that helping airlines raise equity levels with a focus on grants and subsidies will place them in a stronger position for the recovery,” said de Juniac.

“A tough future is ahead of us. Containing COVID-19 and surviving the financial shock is just the first hurdle. Post-pandemic control measures will make operations more costly. Fixed costs will have to be spread over fewer travelers. And investments will be needed to meet our environmental targets.  On top of all that, airlines will need to repay massively increased debts arising from the financial relief. After surviving the crisis, recovering to financial health will be the next challenge for many airlines,” said de Juniac.

Last week, the IATA Board of Governors committed to five key principles for the industry re-start.  Among these are commitments to the safety and security of staff and travelers, to meeting the industry’s environmental targets and to being a meaningful driver of the economic recovery with affordable connectivity. 

Lockheed Martin Announces Proactive Measures to Mitigate COVID-19 Impacts to F-35 Production

F-35 Production Employees Will Temporarily Adjust Schedules to Sustain Aircraft Delivery

FORT WORTH, Texas, May 19, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — In response to previously reported COVID-19 F-35 supplier delays, Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT) is taking proactive measures to mitigate impacts and position the program for the fastest possible recovery by adjusting work schedules, maintaining specialized employee skillsets, and accelerating payments to small and vulnerable suppliers, to continue meeting customer commitments.

Lockheed Martin Logo (PRNewsFoto/Lockheed Martin) (PRNewsfoto/Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Com)

Today Lockheed Martin and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) agreed to a temporary alternate work schedule for F-35 production line employees in Fort Worth to maintain their skilled workforce.

The new schedule, which will begin May 23, divides each shift into three groups. On a rotation, each group will work for two weeks and then will have a week off. During the adjusted three-week work schedule, employees who work 96 hours or more will be compensated an additional 24 hours for their off week while receiving full pay and benefits.

The alternate schedule allows Lockheed Martin to staff the production line to meet a slower workflow resulting from supplier delays. In addition, it provides a work rhythm that retains the expertise of the talented workforce and provides opportunities to adjust work to better support production.

“These are challenging times, but managing tough challenges is when the F-35 program performs at its best. The alternate work schedule maintains the specialized skillset of the employees and provides opportunities to for us to adjust our workflow to account for supplier delays due to COVID-19,” said Aeronautics Executive Vice President Michele Evans. “Our F-35 workforce is the best in the world at what they do, and we will continue to deliver on our customer’s mission.”

The temporary alternate work schedule agreement will continue for its first three-week cycle. The company will then evaluate business needs and can alter the schedule as needed with the option to discontinue as warranted or continue until Sept. 4. Lockheed Martin and the IAM have also agreed to allow employees to volunteer to be furloughed for 30 days where they maintain their benefits but forgo pay during this period.

At Cruising Altitude in 2019 and Prepared for Turbulence in the Future-Pilatus

Pilatus reported another very successful business year in 2019, exceeding the one billion mark yet again with turnover of approximately 1.1 billion Swiss francs. Operating income totalled 153 million Swiss francs, incoming orders amounted to 1.1 billion Swiss francs. Pilatus staff enjoyed a share in this success with a generous bonus payout – even in the current difficult economic climate.

2019 will go down in the company’s 80 year history as another very successful twelve months overall. The figures were very similar to those reported in 2018. Total aircraft deliveries came in at 134 – 83 PC-12 NGs, 40 PC-24s and 11 PC-21s – the most extensive production programme yet.

Successful PC-24 market launch

The market rollout of the brand-new PC-24 is now complete and Pilatus has well and truly left the build-up phase. 75 PC-24s have been delivered to date and are in use on every continent. The PC-24 with the most hours in the air has already flown over 1,800 hours. The order book re-opened in May last year and demand for the world’s unique Pilatus Super Versatile Jet remains as high as ever. The PC-24 has won prestigious new clients such as Volkswagen and KSA, the Swedish air ambulance service – important milestones in a programme which is still young as yet.

Pilatus PC24

A comprehensive post-certification test campaign was performed in 2019 to have the Super Versatile Jet approved for operations on rough field runways and in other conditions. All PC-24s are now authorised for use on wet and snow-covered unpaved and grass runways. In the same vein, other PC-24 product improvements have been made to eliminate initial teething problems and provide customers with extra added benefits.

Excellent response to the PC-12 NGX

Pilatus launched the PC-12 NGX in autumn 2019: compared to its predecessor, this further development of the world’s best-selling single-engine turboprop in class now boasts an improved engine, smarter avionics and a completely re-designed cabin with larger windows. The new PT6E-67XP engine by Pratt & Whitney Canada is particularly impressive: its electronic propeller and engine control system is a worldwide first in this market segment. After obtaining certification in 2019 and making appropriate changes to the production line, the market launch generated a large number of orders. This month saw the first customers take to the skies aboard their new NGXs.

Pilatus PC12 NGX

Major PC-21 order from Spain

Finalised in 2019 and signed in January 2020, the PC-21 order from Spain is a very important step in securing future operations. From 2021 onwards, Pilatus will deliver a total of 24 PC-21s to the Spanish Air Force, the Ejército del Aire. Spain is the third European air force to opt for this Next Generation Trainer. If the General Aviation Division is indeed heavily impacted by the current economic difficulties, this order will prove essential for Pilatus in terms of providing sufficient activity for the workforce and continued business success for the company. It also demonstrates the importance of the two-pillar strategy – civilian and military business – in guaranteeing future economic viability.

Pilatus PC21

Pilatus delivered the last of a total of 49 PC-21s to the Royal Australian Air Force in November 2019. This delivery – the final one for the time being – brings the worldwide fleet of PC-21s up to a total of 211 aircraft. An impressive figure indeed, and proof that the PC-21 is now the world’s most modern, most efficient training system.

Employee profit-sharing – nothing changes

At 2,289 the number of full-time jobs across the Pilatus Group increased slightly in 2019. The very good figures for the year deliver the most effective means of thanking Pilatus employees: from apprentice through to senior manager, all employees received their personal share in the profits for 2019 as usual. This year’s bonus, paid in April 2020, is equivalent to almost 1.5 times the respective monthly salary. This performance-related employee profit-sharing model is contractually agreed with the company’s own Workforce Committee and has been in place for over 25 years.

Turbulent times in 2020

Pilatus started the year with orders worth over two billion Swiss francs, not including the major order from the Spanish air force. But the corona crisis is bound to leave its mark, and the promising outlook of the early weeks of the year has had to be revised downward. Pilatus was quick to take appropriate countermeasures, including the introduction of short-time work for large numbers of staff. In the meantime, fewer than 20 percent of employees are still affected by this measure. Supply chains remain disrupted, necessitating continuous reassessment of the situation.

Oscar J. Schwenk on 2019 and the future

Oscar J. Schwenk, Chairman of Pilatus, commented on the annual results as follows: “I am very pleased with our performance in 2019. I note, however, that the corona pandemic has pitched us – and many others – into a period of severe turbulence requiring constant fact-based readjustment of our chosen heading. Every pilot learns how to make the all-important corrections to flight path and altitude. We are doing exactly, reverting to the basics, as taught from the first hours of flight instruction – encompassed in the term good airmanship: aviate, navigate, communicate. In other words, retain control of the business, apply an analytical approach to problems and, finally, define a fact-based plan of action and communication.

Under the leadership of CEO Markus Bucher, I have always tailored my management style to economising during the good times in preparation for the challenges of the future, all the time keeping our feet firmly on the ground – all entrepreneurs know that healthy liquidity comes before everything else! Specifically, that means paying realistic salaries, monitoring fixed costs at all times and distributing profits with prudence. Happily, our investors have supported this sustainable corporate strategy – one which we have deliberately kept free of external loans – for years.

We are not the only ones having to tighten our belts. In a situation which no one could have foreseen, it is reassuring to know that the financial reserves set aside in the past will ensure we are able to navigate the current crisis in preparation for a clean landing and a renewed take-off into the future, together. In the final instance, our business success benefits everyone!”

Gulfstream G700 Development Accelerates

SAVANNAH, Georgia, May 8, 2020 — Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. today announced the second and third all-new Gulfstream G700™ test aircraft have taken flight, further advancing toward certification and customer deliveries of the industry’s new flagship.

The second G700 flight-test aircraft had its first voyage on March 20, departing Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport (SAV) and flying for 2 hours and 58 minutes. The aircraft reached an altitude of 45,000 feet/13,716 meters and a speed of Mach 0.85. Also departing from SAV, the third flight-test aircraft flew for the first time today, soaring over Savannah for 3 hours and 2 minutes. It also reached an altitude of 45,000 ft/13,716 m and a speed of Mach 0.85.

“The G700 flight-test program is running very well, a reflection of the extensive testing we conducted in our ground labs,” said Mark Burns, president, Gulfstream. “All three flight-test aircraft are performing exactly as we expected them to, and that helps us ensure a safe and thorough certification of the highest performing, most spacious and technologically advanced aircraft in business aviation.”

The three flight-test aircraft have flown more than 100 hours since the program’s first flight on Feb. 14. The G700 has reached a maximum altitude of 54,000 ft/16,459 m and a maximum speed of Mach 0.94.

The current flight-test aircraft are being used for envelope expansion, flutter testing, flying qualities and flight control, as well as mechanical systems, flights into known icing and environmental control systems, among other tests.

The G700 features the longest, widest and tallest cabin in the industry with 20 Gulfstream panoramic oval windows and up to five living areas, along with an ultragalley with more than 10 feet of counter space and a crew compartment or passenger lounge; a master suite with shower; and the industry’s only ultrahigh-definition circadian lighting system.

The G700 is powered by Rolls-Royce Pearl 700 engines and can fly at its high-speed cruise of Mach 0.90 for 6,400 nautical miles/11,853 kilometers or at its long-range cruise of Mach 0.85 for 7,500 nm/13,890 km. The G700 also includes the Gulfstream Symmetry Flight Deck™ with the industry’s only electronically linked active control sidesticks; the most extensive use of touch-screen technology in business aviation; and Gulfstream’s award-winning Predictive Landing Performance System.      

Rolls-Royce Celebrates International Women’s Day By Signing Up For IATA’S 25by2025 Gender Diversity Campaign

As a member of 25by2025 we will deliver on the below commitments:

  • Increasing the number of women in leadership positions to a minimum representation of 25 per cent by 2025
  • Reporting annually on key diversity metrics

Rolls-Royce is celebrating International Women’s Day by announcing that we have signed up for IATA’s 25by2025 campaign, an initiative to advance gender diversity in the aviation industry by 2025. We are proud to be the first aerospace business, outside of the airline community, to support this campaign, which recognises the valuable contribution that women make to the industry.

By joining many of our airline customers in supporting this campaign, we confirm our commitment to diversifying our workforce and promoting more women into leadership roles.

Jacqueline Sutton, Rolls-Royce, Chief Customer Officer – Civil Aerospace, said: “With only three per cent of CEO positions in our industry held by women, we have a clear and recognised gender imbalance challenge that must be addressed. We are proud to be the first non-airline to participate in this exciting IATA initiative, which leads the way in taking the necessary steps to solving this issue. As a company, we are committed to the diversification of our workforce and to developing the many talented and gifted women among us into leaders of the future.”

Alexandre de Juniac, IATA Director General and CEO, said: “25by2025 aims to improve gender diversity in aviation. With Rolls-Royce joining, we are adding a new dimension to the campaign, which initially focused on airlines. Gender diversity needs to be a priority across the value chain. I hope that the leadership of Rolls Royce in signing up to 25by2025 will inspire more of our industry partners to join.”

About Rolls-Royce Holdings plc

  • Rolls-Royce pioneers cutting-edge technologies that deliver clean, safe and competitive solutions to meet our planet’s vital power needs.2
  • Rolls-Royce has customers in more than 150 countries, comprising more than 400 airlines and leasing customers, 160 armed forces, 70 navies, and more than 5,000 power and nuclear customers.
  • Annual underlying revenue was £15.3 billion in 2019, around half of which came from the provision of aftermarket services.
  • In 2019, Rolls-Royce invested £1.45 billion on research and development. We also support a global network of 29 University Technology Centres, which position Rolls-Royce engineers at the forefront of scientific research.
  • The Group has a strong commitment to apprentice and graduate recruitment and to further developing employee skills.
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