Monday, October 2, 2023

First Airbus A321neo for LATAM Airlines

LATAM Airlines has taken delivery of its first A321neo and placed an order for 13 additional aircraft to further expand its route network and drive its regional growth. This first A321neo is leased from AerCap. In total, LATAM has 111 A320 Family aircraft to be delivered.

The newly delivered A321neo for LATAM can seat up to 224 passengers and feature Airbus’ Airspace XL bins in the cabin. The larger bins provide a 40% increase in storage space and facilitate 60% more carry-on bags, allowing a more relaxed boarding experience for passengers and cabin crews.

In an Airbus press release, Ramiro Alfonsín, chief financial officer of LATAM Airlines Group, said the addition of the A321neo planes will help the airline cut down on harmful emissions into the environment.

“Our fleet renewal and modernization strategy is fully aligned with our sustainability commitment and brings us closer to the goal of becoming a carbon-neutral group by 2050,” Alfonsín said. “We will continue to work on enhancing the current fleet with next-generation aircraft to further improve our connectivity while caring for the environment.”

“This strategic move also accelerates LATAM decarbonization trajectory as the A321neos are at least 20% more fuel-efficient, emitting 20% less CO2 and 50% less noise compared to previous generation aircraft,” said Christian Scherer, chief commercial officer and head of Airbus International.

The A321neo is the largest member of Airbus’ best-selling single-aisle A320 Family. The aircraft allows operators to cover the entire market while offering the lowest seat-mile cost of any single-aisle available. To date, more than 5,200 A321neos have been ordered by customers worldwide.

LATAM Airlines Group and its affiliates are the leading group of airlines in Latin America, with a presence in five domestic markets in the region: Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, in addition to international operations throughout Europe, Oceania, the United States and the Caribbean.

Today, LATAM operates 240 Airbus aircraft, the largest Airbus operator in Latin America. In July, LATAM took delivery of a new Airbus A320neo.

Airbus has sold over 1,150 aircraft in Latin America and the Caribbean. More than 750 are operating throughout the region, with more than 520 in the order backlog.

February 2015 - Boeing delivers LATAM's first 787-9 Dreamliner

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Surf Air Mobility Inc. confirms order for up to 150 Cessna Grand Caravan EX aircraft

Textron Aviation announced Tuesday that Surf Air Mobility Inc. has confirmed its order and paid the deposit for the first 20 Cessna Grand Caravan EX aircraft to be purchased under its previously announced order of up to 100 aircraft.  In addition, the order has an option for 50 more aircraft.

Deliveries of the aircraft are expected to begin in the first half of 2024. The initial fleet delivery demonstrates progress in the exclusive relationship between the two companies supporting Surf Air Mobility’s development of an electrified Cessna Grand Caravan EX aircraft.

The Cessna Grand Caravan EX is designed and manufactured by Textron Aviation.

Surf Air Mobility is a Los Angeles-based regional air mobility platform expanding the category of regional air travel to reinvent flying through the power of electrification. The company intends to upgrade the single-engine turboprop Caravans to their proprietary electric or hybrid-electric powertrain technology. Surf Air Mobility is targeting the Federal Aviation Administration supplemental-type certification in 2026.

Surf Air Mobility will use the hybrid electric aircraft across its own network, connecting more airports with short-haul direct service across the U.S. on a path to creating a regional mass transport platform. The company will also be the exclusive provider to Textron Aviation of certain battery electric and hybrid electric powertrain technology for the Cessna Grand Caravan.

Sudhin Shahani, co-founder and chief executive officer of Surf Air Mobility, said the company’s relationship with Textron is paramount in its mission to help “revolutionize air travel.”

“This initial fleet delivery solidifies our commitment to bringing advanced electric aircraft to market to reduce fuel emissions and the cost of air travel,” Shahani said in a Textron press release.

The Cessna Caravan fleet of more than 3,000 aircraft is certified in 100 countries.

Caravan aircraft fulfill roles for multiple missions, ranging from flight training to recreation, commuter airlines to VIP transport, cargo carriers and humanitarian missions:

Condor Aviation takes delivery of new Cessna Grand Caravan aircraft

Special mission Cessna aircraft delivered to Belize Ministry of National Defense

New Mexican airline to begin service in first quarter of 2023

Cessna Grand Caravan EX: First fixed-wing aircraft to be put in service by Rwanda Defense Force

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

NetJets agrees to purchase up to 1,500 jets from Textron Aviation

Textron Aviation announced a record-breaking fleet agreement on Wednesday that enables jet service provider NetJets to purchase up to 1,500 additional Cessna Citation business planes over the next 15 years. This agreement extends NetJets’ existing fleet agreement and includes options for an increasing number of aircraft each year, enabling NetJets to expand its fleet with Cessna Citation Ascend, Citation Latitude and Citation Longitude aircraft.

Equally exciting is the announcement that NetJets has been named the fleet launch customer for Textron Aviation’s newest jet — the Citation Ascend. Deliveries of the Citation Ascend are expected to begin in 2025 when the aircraft, currently under development, is expected to enter service.

Cessna Citation business jets are designed, produced, and delivered by Textron Aviation Inc. NetJets is a Berkshire Hathaway company that sells fractional ownership shares in private business jets.

Since the inception of the more than 40-year relationship between the companies, NetJets has taken delivery of more than 800 aircraft from Textron Aviation, including exercising over 300 options for Citation Latitudes and Longitudes during the past eight years. Through the years, NetJets has owned and operated industry-leading Citations including the Citation SII, V, Excel/XLS, Sovereign, X, Latitude and Longitude models.

“Based on past demand for the popular Citation Latitude and Longitude, the new Ascend and all our new Citations will undoubtedly be well received by our owners, particularly those who depend on NetJets to help them do more and miss less,” said Doug Henneberry, NetJets executive vice president, Aircraft Asset Management.

There are currently six Citation models in production: Citation M2 Gen2, Citation CJ3+, Citation CJ4 Gen2, Citation XLS Gen2, Citation Latitude and Citation Longitude, with the Citation Ascend under development.

The New Citation Ascend

The Citation Ascend is designed to bring an entirely new cockpit, improved performance, and a more luxurious cabin to the midsize business jet market.\

The aircraft will offer Pratt & Whitney Canada PW545D engines designed to deliver fuel efficiency and increased thrust, as well as state-of-the-art Garmin G5000 avionics that feature the latest software and hardware, including autothrottle technology. The Ascend also features a Honeywell RE100 [XL] Auxiliary Power Unit approved for unattended operations.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Navy releases solicitation to replace E-6B Mercury planes

The U.S. Navy is pursuing a technically viable and cost-effective replacement for their aging fleet of E-6B Nuclear Command, Control and Communications aircraft, according to contract documents released Thursday.

The new replacement will take over the duties of the current E-6B to allow the aging fleet to perform other critical missions before it is retired.

The E-6B Mercury aircraft, known as TACAMO (which stands for Take Charge And Move Out), is a survivable airborne communication system plane that can take control of the Navy’s ballistic missile submarine force and overall strategic forces if needed.

The first E-6 was delivered in August 1989 with the final airplane coming in May 1992.

The E-6B version also has a secondary role as a “Looking Glass” Airborne National Command Post that has been used as a communications relay station over the front lines of combat.

The Naval Air Systems Command on behalf of the Airborne Strategic Command, Control, and Communications Program Office, intends to release a competitive solicitation for the procurement of the TACAMO Recapitalization (E-XX) Program.

“The competitive solicitation is for the Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) contract, including options for System Demonstration Test Articles (SDTA), and options for the first two production lots,” the Navy said in a solicitation document released Thursday.

The solicitation will be available for “courier pick up only” on Sept. 21 to those offerors that meet the requirements contained herein for the E-XX effort, the Navy said.

“The solicitation is for a prime contractor to integrate mature, government-defined, TACAMO mission systems, including the Collins Aerospace Very Low Frequency (VLF) subsystem, into a government-furnished C-130J-30 aircraft,” the Navy said.

The solicitation requests proposals for both the EMD and production phases. During EMD, the contractor will design, develop, integrate, deliver, and test up to six E-XX aircraft (three Engineering Development Models and up to three SDTAs).

VLF and C130J-30 Original Equipment Manufacturers Rockwell Collins Inc. and Lockheed Martin will be directed subcontractors under this effort, the Navy said.

The Navy plans to award the contract in October 2024.

In the meantime, the Navy is updating and modifying its current fleet of E-6Bs.

First Modified E-6B Delivered

In June, Northrop Grumman Corp. (NGC) announced that the first modified E-6B Mercury was delivered back to the Navy.

“Five kits were successfully integrated onto the E-6B platform, implementing efficiencies and improving aircraft command, control, and communications functions,” NGC said in a press release.

Northrop Grumman was awarded the Integrated Modification and Maintenance Contract for the Navy’s E-6B Mercury platform, a derivative of the commercial Boeing 707 aircraft, in February 2022. The contract has a value of $111 million. The work was performed at Northrop Grumman’s Aircraft Maintenance and Fabrication Center in Lake Charles.

The E-6B operates across a wide frequency spectrum to transmit and receive secure and non-secure voice and data information. The aircraft provides survivable, reliable, and endurable airborne command, control and communications in support of the President, Secretary of Defense and United States Strategic Command.

The second aircraft has already arrived in Lake Charles, and capability upgrades, integrations and tests on the aircraft are underway.

Over the next several years, NGC will continue to perform these modifications to the current Navy E-6B aircraft.

Related story: Navy schedules Classified Industry Day meeting to discuss TACAMO aircraft replacement

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Betfred USA appoints Spajic as CEO

U.K.-based global gaming operator BetFred announced on Thursday that Kresimir Spajic has been appointed the new CEO of Betfred USA.

Kresimir Spajic, a recognized online gaming industry leader, will spearhead the sportsbook's vision, strategy, and operational execution across ten U.S. states, like Colorado, Ohio, Nevada and Virginia.

In a company statement, BetFred said Spajic has decades of experience in domestic and international online gaming. He has previously held various executive and principal consulting roles with Great Canadian Entertainment, Apollo Global Management, Hard Rock International, Rush Street Interactive, Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, and Bwin.

He holds a multidisciplinary graduate degree in management, law, and humanities from SDA Bocconi School of Management (Italy), the University of Neuchâtel (Switzerland) and De Montfort University (England).

“I am looking forward to working with our exceptional domestic and global talent and partners,” Spajic said in a company press release. “Together, we aim to build a sustainable business in the U.S. by delivering unparalleled value and support to our customers while upholding a strong commitment to responsible gaming."

“Our team in the U.S. have worked tirelessly to expand our operation, and with Kresimir's vast experience we have the right person to take our U.S. business to the next level,” said Betfred Group Chief Executive Joanne Whittaker.

The company entered the U.S. sports betting market in 2019 when Betfred USA was formed. The company is based in Las Vegas, Nev., but Betfred is now available online and in-person across ten U.S. states.

Betfred USA is the official sports betting partner of the Cincinnati Bengals, the Denver Broncos of the NFL, and the Vegas Golden Knights of the NHL.

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Quotes on space from AFA’s 2023 Air, Space & Cyber Conference

State of the Space Force

Gen. B. Chance Saltzman, Chief of Space Operations

“Ladies and gentlemen, the space domain that I learned to fly satellites in is no more. The new space domain is far different. It has taken on characteristics of a more dangerous and dynamic security environment worldwide.”

“The space domain is now more contested than in any other point in history.”

“As Secretary Kendall so clearly stated, the challenge we need to be ready for is not the one we have been focused on for many years.”

“We must recognize that we cannot just take our old structures and processes, rename them and expect different outcomes.”

“One way we are understanding future challenges is by exploring ways to better integrate commercial space, commercial capabilities, services and activities are expanding rapidly.”

Global Threats and Opportunities

Dr. Christopher Scolese, Director, National Reconnaissance Office

“Russia is mostly focused on denying our ability to operate in space. And the threat is not only in space, it’s also in cyberspace.”

Lt. Gen. Dan Caine, Associate Director for Military Affairs, Central Intelligence Agency

“Russia is our acute enemy and security problem. Putin’s war [against Ukraine] has been a strategic failure for him. But he remains committed and that causes strategic challenges for us and for our NATO allies.”

Maj. Gen. Gregory J. Gagnon, Deputy Chief of Space Operations for Intelligence, USSF

“Last year, the PLA [People's Liberation Army], and China, were successful in putting almost 200 satellites up into orbit. In 2014, they put 26 up. Of those 200 satellites, over half of them are remote sensing satellites. To see and sense, not just inside China, but the Indo-Pacific region and the world. In fact, China is overhead right now. Downlinking data to Beijing and other command centers, to understand where the joint force is. What the joint force is doing. And what the closing time for the joint force will be into the western Pacific. Our monopoly on space superiority is over unless we earn it.”

Monday, September 11, 2023

Secretary of the Air Force says war with China is not inevitable, but be ready

Based on recent meetings held with Secretary of Air Force Frank Kendall, it was noted that China’s President Xi Jinping is pursuing the same military improvements as the U.S., and a pending war may be on the horizon. Kendall has made it clear several times in recent comments that China is preparing to go to war with the United States.

During Kendall’s keynote address at the Air & Space Association’s Air, Space and Cyber conference on Monday, the secretary said its time to “think about what we've accomplished, what we need to prioritize as we move forward.” Kendall mapped out five lines of effort that are under review for reorganization within the Air Force: organization, equipment, personnel, readiness, and supporting the force.

“Last week we briefed some of our outside advisers on this effort,” Kendall said. “One of them was born in China and is a leading expert on Chinese culture, history, and government. Her reaction was interesting; her view is that the Department of Air Force's five lines of effort—organizing, equipping, personnel, readiness, and support—are essentially identical to the lines of effort Xi Jinping has been implementing since 2016 to prepare China for war with the United States.”

But China’s true military reorganization efforts have been in the works for several years.

“After the first Gulf War, China recognized that it needed to redesign and modernize its military if it hoped to compete with the United States, and to achieve its goals in the western Pacific. Particularly with the integration of Taiwan to Communist China,” Kendall said.

Kendall said China has been reoptimizing its forces for great power competition and to prevail against the U.S. and Western Pacific for over 20 years. “We must do the same,” he said.

“War is not inevitable,” he added. “And our job first and foremost is to deter aggression. We are in a race for technological and operational superiority that we can expect to last for the next several decades. Even though China is currently experiencing serious economic problems, which the President noted yesterday. This has not reduced the risk of aggression.”

The goal is to identify and begin execution of the five lines of effort by January, a range of changes that will reoptimize as part of the Air Force for great power competition.

“If we are going to deter, we must be ready for war,” Kendall added. “Again, war is not inevitable, and no one can predict when or if it will occur.”

Kendall also touched on a looming deadline to fund the federal government for the upcoming fiscal year. The White House has called on Congress to pass a short-term spending bill, a continuing resolution, to avoid a government shutdown while lawmakers try to reach a compromise on federal spending.

“As we approach the end of the fiscal year in two weeks, I do have some requests for the Congress,” Kendall said. “Do not shut down the government. Many of us have been through shutdowns, they are extremely damaging to our readiness, retention, and morale.”