Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner earns government certifications

Boeing‘s 787-9 Dreamliner has been certified for commercial service by the Federal Aviation Administration and the European Aviation Safety Agency.

Boeing is in the final stages of preparing for the first 787-9 delivery to its launch customer Air New Zealand.

The 787-9 is a stretched version of the 787-8 now in service. Its fuselage is 20 feet longer over the 787-8 and will fly more passengers and more cargo farther distances, the company said.

Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita builds the plane’s nose section.

Boeing has taken 413 orders for the 787-9 from 26 customers. That accounts for 40 percent of all 787 orders, the company said.

“Certification is the culmination of years of hard work and a rigorous flight-test program that started with the 787-9′s first flight in September,” Ray Conner, Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO, said in a statement. “With this validation that the airplane is ready for commercial operations, Boeing along with our airline and leasing customers now look forward to introducing the newest member of the Dreamliner family to passengers around the world.”

The FAA has also granted Boeing an Amended Production Certificate, which validates that Boeing’s production system can produce 787-9s that conform to the design.

The certifications follow a comprehensive test program using five airplanes accumulating more than 1,500 hours of flight testing, plus ground and laboratory testing.

 

 

Boeing sells 777-300ER for use as a business aircraft

Boeing has sold a Boeing 777-300ER for use as a business aircraft to an undisclosed customer, the company said.

The year has been good for Boeing business jet order activity, Capt. Steve Taylor, president of Boeing’s business jet division, said in a statement. “Customers are showing strong interest in our wide-body VIP products, and the BBJ 777-300 ER is an airplane that really provides unmatched comfort and range on long-haul flights.”

It’s the second widebody business jet order this year, the company said.

Boeing introduced the commercial 747-8 and the 787 in 2006 for business use. Since then, widebody jets have accounted for about 40 percent of the business aircraft orders, the company said.

The 777-300ER has a cabin size of 3,641 square feet and a range of 9,220 nautical miles.

Boeing delivers the VIP planes to customers without the customized interior. A completion center of the customer’s choosing then installs the interior.

Boeing’s business jet line includes modified 737 single-aisle commercial airplanes as well as the twin-aisle 747-8, 767, 777 and 787.

Since 1996 when Boeing formed its business jet division, the company has delivered 195 business aircraft and taken orders for 217.

Cessna’s Citation Sovereign+ receives European certification

Cessna Aircraft has announced that its Citation Sovereign+ business jet has received European Aviation Safety Agency certification, Europe’s equivalent of the Federal Aviation Administration.

“We have a number of European customers ready to take delivery of their aircraft, and with EASA certification we can now get the Sovereign+ into the marketplace, ” Chris Henne, Cessna’s vice president of jets, said in a statement.

The Sovereign+ is an upgraded Sovereign, with a new cockpit, winglets, enhanced climb performance and range and Garmin G5000 avionics.

It has a range of 3,188 nautical miles and a top speed of 529 mph.

The plane recently completed a demonstration tour in Europe, where it debuted at the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition in Geneva, Switzerland.

 

NetJets a step closer to providing service in China

NetJets Business Aviation Limited, called NetJets China, is moving closer to providing charter service and aircraft management in China.

The company, a joint venture among U.S.-based NetJets and a consortium of Chinese investors, said it has obtained an operating permit from the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

The approval moves NetJet China closer to the final step of certification of its operating certificate.

Then, NetJets China will be able to begin providing private jet services in China.

The company hopes to receive its operating certificate over the next few months.

In the meantime, NetJets China has been preparing for the start of flight operations, it said.

It’s hired staff, established the needed internal structures and process for flight operations and has begun forming relationships with key vendors, the company said.

It’s also bought and imported two planes into China — Wichita-built Hawker 800s — to offer charter services as soon as it gets approval.

The business is a joint venture among NetJets; Hony Jinsi Investment Management, a Chinese private equity firm; and Fung Investments, a private investment company.

Operations are based in the Zhuhai Jinwan Airport.

 

 

Analyst: Spirit AeroSystems outsourcing of fab work would make sense; Tulsa sale a ‘wild card’

It would make sense for Spirit AeroSystems to outsource its fabrication operation, Cowen and Co. analyst Cai von Rumohr wrote in a note to investors.

A story in The Eagle last week said Spirit appears to be exploring that option.

“It would make sense to outsource fab work to a major Tier 2 build-to-print supplier, like PCP (Precision Castparts), which offers lower costs in return for higher market share,” von Rumohr wrote.

Cost savings could include more efficient machining utilization rates and lower material costs, such as internally sourced titanium, he wrote.

“Thus, while it’s impossible to size a potential outsourcing deal, it likely would be a win-win-win,” von Rumohr wrote.

In addition, Spirit’s recent update of its master contract with Boeing reduces risk for Spirit, he said.

Spirit and Boeing announced the master contract in April.

The pricing covers the Boeing 737, 747, 767 and 777 programs through Dec. 31, 2015.

The contract allows for price increases if production rates dip and for continued 737 and 777 profitability, he said. It also avoids locking Spirit into a risky long-term fixed price agreement.

In the meantime, a possible sale of Spirit’s Tulsa operation is still a “wild card,” von Rumohr wrote.

Spirit has been exploring a sale of that operation.

“We retain our ‘show me’ attitude toward (Spirit’s) possible sale of its Tulsa wing business,” he said.

That’s because Boeing and Gulfstream programs, which it has there, may attract two different buyers, von Rumohr wrote.

In addition, the work is done in one location, and any sale will require new contracts with Boeing and Gulstream. who might require price concessions in return for the agreement, von Rumohr wrote.

The sale of the Tulsa facility or a major fabrication outsourcing deal, however, would bolster investor confidence in Spirit’s cash flow outlook, he said.

Boeing continues to send 787 sections to Wichita

Boeing 787 center fuselage sections continue to be shipped to Wichita from Italy for temporary storage, according to an analyst who is monitoring the situation.

David Strauss, an aerospace analyst with UBS, is tracking movements of Boeing’s Dreamlifter fleet to gauge the progress of 787 Dreamliner production.

Boeing is using four heavily modified 747s called Dreamlifters to move 787 sections built by its suppliers to its assembly lines in Everett, Wash., and Charlotte, N.C.

A number of flights from Italy that are supposed to go to Charleston are instead coming to Wichita, Strauss wrote in a note to investors.

“We believe deliveries are being diverted to Wichita to help alleviate the bottleneck in Charleston around the 787-9,” he wrote.

Specifically, Strauss said UBS has tracked 30 Dreamlifter flights into Everett from major structural suppliers in May, slightly lower than in April. There also have been 10 arrivals into Charleston from Japan and Wichita to support Boeing’s second final assembly line. That was slightly lower than in April.

It also tracked 11 deliveries from Boeing supplier Alenia in Italy to Charleston in May, a new high.

 

April passenger traffic up at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport

The number of passengers flying in and out of Wichita Mid-Continent Airport rose nearly 4 percent in April when compared to the same time a year ago.

In April, 119,265 passengers used the airport, compared to 114,939 for the same month a year ago, according to airport statistics.

For the first four months of the year, traffic increased 8 percent.

The airport is served by 34 daily scheduled airline flights compared to 32 last year.

So far this year, air carrier and commuter operations are up 5 percent and military traffic is up 15 percent.

General aviation traffic is down, however.

Itinerant traffic is down nearly 2 percent for the year, while local general aviation traffic has fallen 8 percent so far this year.

Boeing delivers fourth P-8I aircraft to Indian Navy

Boeing has delivered the fourth P-8I maritime patrol aircraft to India, which fulfills the first half of a contract for eight planes, the company said.

The shipment was made on schedule, it said,

Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita builds major portions of the plane, including the fuselage.

The P-8I is the Indian Navy variant of the P-8a Poseidon that Boeing has developed for the U.S. Navy.

The aircraft is based on Boeing’s 737 commercial jetliner.

“The Indian Navy is putting the first three P-8Is through their paces operationally, and the P-8I delivered today (Friday) will begin flight trials in the coming months,” Leland Wright, Boeing P-8I program manager, said in a statement.

EBACE 2014 showing strong, say organizers

Europe’s largest business jet show, which wrapped up Thursday, ranks among its strongest to date, organizers say.

The European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition is held each year in Geneva, Switzerland.

Attendance was up more than 7 percent over last year’s show, show organizers say.

The number of exhibitors this year increased 8 percent over last year and booth spaces grew by 4 percent.

That gave this year’s show its largest footprint of its 14 years.

EBACE also was an effective news-making venue, they said, with several manufacturers announcing new aircraft models.

Wichita planemakers Textron Aviation, which includes Cessna Aircraft and Beechcraft, along with Bombardier Learjet exhibited at EBACE.

The show ran Tuesday through Thursday this week.

EagleMed begins flying medical transports in Houston

Wichita-based EagleMed is adding 14 employees and a Beechcraft King Air B200 to a new critical care air medical operation near Houston in Spring, Texas.

In addition to serving south Texas, the Houston operation will conduct critical care flights into Mexico.

“At EagleMed, we are very pleased to add this important resource to a medical community that annually serves hundreds of thousands of patients with critical needs,” EagleMed president Larry Bugg said in a statement.

The King Air is EagleMed’s 20th. It is medically configured, is capable of instrument flight and has a range of about 900 miles round trip.

EagleMed is a subsidiary of Air Medical Group Holdings.

EagleMed employs more than 400 people and operates 15 medically-equipped Eurocopter helicopters, 20 King Airs and six ground ambulances in 14 states.