An improving economy worldwide, record orders for new commercial airliners, plus an emerging market for used equipment is for now improving the aircraft leasing business. But industry analysts worry about overcapacity of new aircraft with marginal airline growth expected in some areas for the foreseeable future.
Air France’s recent unveiling in Paris of a new coach class seat and other onboard enhancements is emblematic of the airline’s long-term strategic plan to better compete against domestic and international carriers in a tough operating environment.
When the Boeing 737-100 first flew in 1967, the single-aisle, short-haul twinjet was equipped with only basic avionics. No so-called “glass cockpits” were available at the time. And 737 customers would likely not have bought them if they were. Times have changed.
It wasn’t the New Year’s Eve 2012 memorythat the passengers and flight crew wanted. Spirit Airlines Flight 403 had just landed at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida. While taxiing to the gate the Airbus A320 clipped the tail of a US Airways A320 parked in a remote part of the runway. The collision caused a gash in the tail cone section of the US Airways aircraft. The Spirit aircraft suffered no damage, but the incident caused consternation at Spirit Airlines, which said it was not advised by air traffic control of the presence of the other aircraft.
A J Walter Aviation’s (AJW) recent acquisition of the component maintenance business of bankrupt Montreal-based Aveos Fleet Performance is a two-part story. One half tells how an opportunistic London-based company continues to strengthen its aircraft services empire worldwide with this purchase. The other half of the tale reveals how component maintenance is growing faster than airframe and engine maintenance and how AJW is capitalizing on the trend.
Fuel hedging has helped ensure airlines for years against revenue-eroding fuel spikes, but fuel price volatility today is prompting some carriers to reevaluate their hedging programs and, in some cases, look elsewhere for savings.
When Boeing purchased Dallas-based Aviall in September 2006, the acquisition sent a two-part message to the aviation community. Boeing had snagged a top player in the aftermarket community, and the news also seemed to indicate a change in its mindset that everything had to be controlled tightly in-house, even the sale of aftermarket parts. Acquiring Aviall showed that the once-resistant-to-change OEM was willing to delegate some of this segment of the business to another company and concentrate on what it does best: Building airplanes.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF AFTERMARKET parts specialist AirLiance Materials could be compared to that of a child. For the first years, parents watch the child carefully. But as it grows, the more-confident offspring seeks out others to broaden its horizons.
When airline alliances first were formed in the late 1990s, joint purchasing revolved mainly around the areas of marketing and customer service and rarely produced significant savings. In some cases, the purchases were more trouble than they were worth, alliance executives remember.
WHEN IT SURFACED YEARS AGO, radio frequency identification technology was heralded as a breakthrough tool in supply chain management. But while manufacturers and users continue to refine and test it through pilot programs, RFID still is not considered ready for prime time, interviews with the technology's experts indicate. Cost of implementation, resistance to switching from existing technology and competing budgetary demands have slowed its adoption by OEMs, airlines and maintenance, repair and overhaul facilities.
IS IT SAFE? WILL IT MITIGATE A
looming pilot shortage? Will it reduce training costs over time? These are but a few of the questions raised by ICAO's new Multi-Crew Pilot License, an alternative method of training air transport pilots by relying far more heavily on simulators than on actual flying time and greatly compressing the amount of time it takes to train an airline pilot (ATW, 10/05, p. 51). For example, under the MPL the applicant may spend as few as 60-70 hr. at the controls of an actual aircraft.