News: EASA/MAX, 787 structural issues,United, ANZ, Etihad

EASA & MAX

The Europeans Air and Space Administration is to begin testing the MAX in Canada for recertification from September 7th. It seems they’ll be working closely with the Canadian Authorities who are also working with the FAA.

Clearly this shows a little more unity than there has been of late and suggests the FAA has made some huge concessions – namely that it would take on board any discoveries the testing carried out by Canada & Europe brings up, and that everyone will share data.

There’s also the matter of testing and costs, with all parties working closer, time frames and individual agencies cost can be kept down.

Part of the problem was the travel bans between the EU/Canada and the US, and it was agreed that all three parties operating out of Paine Field & Vancouver would help get around some of the issues with enough advanced personnel planning.

The FAA said it had concluded its flight testing July 1st, Canada was operating out of Paine Field from August 26th.

EASA has started its process off with flight test simulations based at London Gatwick. Validating new software is key, but beyond that, pilots must agree that the new training process and materials are up to scratch – one of the major issue that came out of the disasters, was lack of pilot understanding about what happened in a given set of circumstances, because they just weren’t told.

UNITED

United Airlines announced the biggest cut in pilot numbers in its history yesterday, underlining further the massive shrinkage that’s happened in the aviation market.

With billions of dollars in state aid from the CARES Act running out at the end of September, the airline said it will have to permanently cut 2,850 pilots from its books to make ends meet.

You have two lines of argument here, firstly that the Republican Senate need to wake up and agree to another bailout that’s already been passed by the Democratic House, or secondly, everyone begins to face the fact that the V shape down and bounce back in demand isn’t happening and won’t. The market will be left to make its own adjustments and the airlines face the hard facts that the world they thought they’d be in has gone.

It sounds harsh, but bailouts and props are not going to force demand back when the US is racing towards 200,000 coronavirus deaths at a 1,000 per day, and infections are hurtling towards 6 million. People just don’t really want to fly that much.

American Airlines

The US Environmental Protection Agency has issued waivers to Texas to allow the spraying of what amounts to a germicide/insecticide spray American Airlines plans on using at its key hub, that apparently will kill all germs and virus particles on contact within two hours. The airline plans on spraying its cabins with the spray.

However…many at the EPA and in the scientific community are horrified at the prospect, saying its potentially dangerous and nobody has a clue what long term human exposure to it will result in, and that the use of its is irresponsible.

Why does American want to use it? Its cheaper and lasts, allegedly 7 days, rather than having to spray the aircraft down every flight with more conventional anti-virals.

Air New Zealand

The airline posted its first loss since 2002, warned of another significant loss in 2021, but most concerning, said it was not planning on returning to long haul international flying for the whole of fiscal year 2021.

New Zealand operates the British corporate/personal tax dates, which means that the end of FY2021 is in fact the 31st March 2021 having started on April 1st 2020. It coincides with the end of the aviation Southern summer season and start of the Northern.

The airlines loss was its biggest ever, at NZ$454 (US$306m).

Etihad

Etihad has begun testing a 787-10 in partnership with Boeing as an eco-demonstrator. The aim is to demonstrate reduced Co2 emissions and quieter engines.

“A series of flights will gather the most detailed information to date about aircraft acoustics from some 1,200 microphones attached to the outside of the 787 and positioned on the ground. The collaboration between NASA and Boeing will improve the agency’s aircraft noise prediction capabilities, advance ways for pilots to reduce noise and inform future quiet aircraft designs”.

The aircraft is using sustainable fuels during testing, however it should be pointed out that while they’re made from sustainable product, they don’t by themselves reduce Co2 emissions. That’s more a function of pilot technique and aircraft weight, coupled to burn and thrust efficiency.

The aircraft will be handed over to Etihad around September 10th.

Etihad is the unusual position of being in quite good shape financially, having gone through a really dire period from 2018 into 2019, it had reshaped itself and its operations, which made it far leaner and more capable of dealing with the current crisis.

Boeing yanks 787’s out of service from several airlines

Boeing has pulled 8 newly delivered 787’s from service from a number of airlines, including United, Singapore, and Air Canada.

Boeing had found a pair of weaknesses in the underlying composite structure of the tail section join, leaving it unable to sustain the maximum designed stress. The problem is the mating point between sections 47 and 48 where the two rear barrels of the fuselage meet, and the bulkhead that separates the pressurised cabin from the tail section.

The work is done at Charleston, and the parts once combined are flown to Everett for completion. An automated laser shimming scanner creates shims that fit each aircraft, helping join the sections as each can be slightly different, these shims have not been manufactured correctly.

Left unchanged, over years the shims would not do their job, cracks would begin to form in the carbon composite and eventually, could fail. It’s known to affect at least one SIA 787-10.