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Flashback Friday: The Boeing 757

By Luis Linares / Published May 22, 2015

Boeing 757-200 rollout

Boeing 757-200 rollout on January 13, 1982: Photo courtesy of Boeing

Over the past year, an important topic in aviation news has been the future of the Boeing 757.  Despite 10 years passing since the last delivery of the iconic “flying pencil”, some airlines and aviation analysts would like to see an aircraft capable of filling the gap it left. Although, Boeing simply does not see enough demand to upgrade the 757, while making a profit, but instead prefers to develop a new successor in the 2020s. Meanwhile,  Airbus is offering some competition, but this does not completely fill the void.

While this continues to be a popular topic of debate in the AvGeek community, let’s take an opportunity to look at the history of the 757 on this Flashback Friday.

Origins

Over forty years ago, Boeing began to study further developments of its very popular 727, which had been in service since 1964.  The company considered two possibilities:  stretch the 189-seat 727-200 or develop a clean sheet aircraft.  While the stretched 727 was the cheaper approach, a new aircraft could take advantage of the latest improvements in aerospace technology offered at the time.

EXTRA:  Flashback Friday: The Boeing 727

Potential customers interested in a new aircraft outnumbered those wanting an improved 727.  The new technologies in the mid-1970s included high-bypass-ratio turbofans, new flight deck technologies, lighter materials, and improved aerodynamics.  Boeing intended to include these features in an all-new wide-body airplane, known at the time as the 7X7.

As many airlines experienced an economic rebound in the late 1970s, Boeing proceeded with developing two brand new aircraft in parallel.  The 7X7 became the 767 while the 7N7 turned into the 757.  The initial design would retain the 727’s cockpit and T-tail but would have two engines under a redesigned wing.

On August 31, 1978, Eastern Air Lines and British Airways became the launch customers for the new airplane with 40 orders.  Boeing officially unveiled the 757 designation in March 1979, when these airlines formally signed for their orders.  The company initially envisioned a short -100 series and a longer -200 but dropped the former since it did not get orders.

Airlines in the 1970s had a great interest in lowering operating costs, especially after the spike in oil prices from the Arab Oil Embargo of 1973.  As a result, Boeing targeted a 20% decrease in fuel consumption with the new engines, compared to the 727.  Furthermore, new aerodynamic improvements would provide an additional 10% improvement in fuel burn over the 727.

Additional improvements included being able to fly 10,000 lb (5,540 kg) heavier than the 727 with a maximum takeoff weight of 220,000 lb (99,800 kg).  Moreover, the new engines would provide a higher power-to-weight ratio allowing take off from shorter runways and improved operations and “hot and high” airports.  In mid-1979, Boeing dropped the T-tail design to allow for more passengers in a less tapered rear while avoiding the possibility of a deep stall.

Rolls-Royce (RR), Pratt & Whitney (PW), and General Electric (GE) competed to provide the two engines for the 757.  GE dropped out early because of insufficient demand while RR and PW survived as the two customer options.  RR’s RB2110535C could deliver 37,400 lbf (166 kN) of thrust while the PW2037 offered 38,200 lbf (170 kN).

Eastern and British opted for RR engines, marking the first time a Boeing airplane launched with engines manufactured outside of the U.S.  Delta Air Lines launched the PW variant in November 1980 with an order for 60 aircraft.  At 155 ft 3 in (47.32 m), the 757-200 was 2.1 ft (0.64 m) longer than the 727-200.

Boeing 757 flight deck

Boeing 757-200 flight deck: Image courtesy of AirwaysNews

Boeing essentially developed the narrow body 757 and wide body 767 in parallel, which resulted in many shared features.  One of these was a two-pilot glass cockpit with cathode-ray tube (CRT) displays and increased automation, which eliminated the need for a flight engineer.  In addition, this commonality allowed pilots to switch between both planes after a short conversion course.

Production and Testing

Production of the 757 took place at the Renton plant, where Boeing manufactured its narrow bodies while that of the 767 happened in Everett, the manufacturing home of the 747.  Boeing produced 50% of the 757’s components in-house while it outsourced the other half to manufacturers like Fairchild, Grumman, and Rockwell International.  Final assembly began in January 1981.

EXTRA:  Inside Boeing’s 737 Renton Factory as They Take it to “the MAX”: Part One

EXTRA:  Inside Boeing’s 737 Renton Factory as They Take it to “the MAX”: Part Two

The first 757-200 rolled out on January 13, 1982 and completed its maiden flight on February 19 of the same year.  The first flight experienced an engine stall, but test pilot John Armstrong and copilot Lew Wall successfully restarted the engine and proceeded with the flight as planned.  During the test phase, orders had reached 136 aircraft from seven airlines.

EXTRA:  Boeing 757 history, sales brochures, tech manuals, and memorabilia

Five aircraft participated in the seven-month test phase.  Lessons learned from the 767’s test program helped expedite that of the 757.  In addition, the prototypes turned out to be 3,600 lb (1,630 kg) lighter than planned and experienced a 3% better than expected fuel burn, which increased range by 200 nmi (229 mi or 370 km).

The RR-powered 757 received certification from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on December 14, 1983 and the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on January 14, 1983.  Eastern received its first example on December 22, 1982.  Moreover, the first PW-powered 757 rolled out in December 1983, and Delta received it on November 5, 1984.

Entry Into Service (EIS)

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Eastern Air Lines Boeing 757-200: Photo courtesy of Eastern Air Lines

On January 1, 1983, the 757 had its EIS with Eastern and British followed the next month on February 9.  The early customers immediately noted the improved reliability and quieter performance.  Moreover, Eastern, as the first 727 operator to fly the 757, confirmed improvements such as greater payload capability and lower operating costs from the improved fuel burn and use of a two-pilot flight deck.

A drop in fuel prices and a shift to smaller aircraft by many airlines during most of the 1980s resulted in stagnant sales for the 757.  Fortunately, for Boeing, new orders from Northwest and the launch of a package freighter (-200PF) from UPS averted what would have been a costly production rate decrease.  The 757 finally saw a boost in orders in the late 1980s because of increased airline hub congestion and new noise regulations.

American and United Airlines combined for 160 alone during a 322-order surge from 1988 to 1989.  These and other U.S. airlines shifted to the 757 for short-haul and transcontinental routes.  They saw major improvements with the 757 over their older Boeings, such as the 707 and 727, and Douglas aircraft like the DC-8 and DC-9.

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American Airlines and Icelandair Boeing 757-200s: Photos by Luis Linares / AirwaysNews

In Europe, the 757 became a mainstay with British, Iberia, and Icelandair.  Moreover, European charter airlines, such as Air 2000, Air Holland, and LTU, also ordered the aircraft.  While Asian carriers generally, preferred larger aircraft, the 757 still managed success in China.

In 1986, the RR-powered 757 received a significant boost when the FAA granted extended-range twin-engine operational performance standards (ETOPS) that permitted flights over the North Atlantic Ocean and later mainland U.S. to Hawaii.  This certification stemmed from a record of very reliable U.S. transcontinental services since EIS.  PW-powered 757s received their ETOPS in 1992.

One curiosity about the 757 is that in the mid-1990s it received a “heavy” designation, reserved for aircraft heavier than 300,000 lb (136,000 kg), by the FAA under its separation rules.  This happened because in some instances, small aircraft encountered wake turbulence when they were behind departing or landing 757s.  The most likely cause was wingtip vortices that were even stronger than those of the larger 767s and 747s.

A Stretch

Boeing produced 100 757s annually during the early 1990s and began to consider improvements.  The question was whether to lengthen the aircraft or give it a longer range.  European charter carrier wanted a higher-capacity variant.

In September 1996, Boeing formally launched the stretched 757-300 with orders for 12 aircraft from German charter carrier Condor.  This model stretched the original 757 by 23 ft 4 in (7.13 m), which allowed for 50 additional passengers and 50% more cargo.  Boeing wanted a short time line and, therefore, avoided major upgrades, but it still managed to improve the engines, avionics, and interior.

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United Airlines Boeing 757-300:  Photo by Luis Linares / AirwaysNews

On May 31, 1998, the first -300 rolled out, and the maiden flight occurred on August 2, 1998.  Aviation authorities certified the new aircraft in January 1999, and Condor commenced operations on March 19, 1999.  Furthermore, other carriers like American Trans Air, Arkia Israel Airlines, Continental Airlines, Icelandair, and Northwest Airlines became -300 customers.

Passenger Variants

The Boeing 757-200 and -300 share a 124 ft 10 in (38.05 m) wingspan and 44 ft 6 in (13.56 m) tail height.  They also have a typical cruising speed of Mach 0.80 (530 mph, 458 kt, or 850 kph) at an altitude of 35,000 ft (10,660 m).  In addition, their cabin width of 11 ft 7 in (3.54 m) allows for a 3-3 seating arrangement in economy class and 2-2 in premium.

757-200

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Santa Bárbara Airlines Boeing 757-200: Photo by Luis Linares / AirwaysNews

The 757-200 seats 200 people in a typical two-class layout and 239 in a single-class setting.  Its maximum range is 3,900 nmi (4,487 mi or 7,222 km).  With its maximum takeoff weight MTOW of 255,000 lb (115,680 kg), the airplane requires 6,500 ft (1,981 m) of runway.  Furthermore, with optional blended winglets, the -200 flies up to 4,100 nmi (4,722 mi or 7,600 km).  Boeing produced 913 passenger -200s.

757-300

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Delta Air Lines Boeing 757-300: Photo by Luis Linares / AirwaysNews

The 757-300 seats 243 passengers in a typical two-class arrangement and up to 295 in one class.  The -300 can fly up to 3,395 nmi (3,906 mi or 6,287 km).  Its 272.500 lb (123,600 kg) MTOW requires 7,800 ft (2,377 m) of runway.  Moreover, blended winglets allow for a range of up to 3,595 nmi (4,137 mi or 6,658 km).  Boeing produced 55 -300s, all for passenger operations.

The end?

Boeing hoped the 757-300 would be a 767-200 replacement for major customers like American and United.  However, these airlines were in a weak financial position to commit to the -300 during its introduction.  Furthermore, charter operators did not follow Condor’s footsteps.

The slower than expected sales for the -300 led Boeing to consider decreasing 757 production in November 1999.  Moreover, the chaotic airline financial environment post-9/11 resulted in many carriers opting for smaller aircraft like the 737 Next Generation and Airbus A320 families.  Boeing briefly considered a significant upgrade to the -300 with a higher MTOW and a potential range of 5,000 nmi (5,753 mi or 9,260 km), but the idea this not bring any customer interest.

In the early 2000s, many early 757s entered the freighter conversion market with the -200SF designation.  In 2003, Boeing started a new sales campaign for the -200PF and -300, but the effort only resulted in five orders.  The end of the 757 family came in October 2003, when Continental converted its remaining -300s to 737-800s.  The 1,050th and last 757 (a -200 series) rolled out on October 28, 2004 and went to Shanghai Airlines in 2005.

A surge in oil prices from 2004 to 2008 tripled the costs for typical domestic 757 flights in the U.S.  With fuel efficiency becoming a priority, Boeing and Aviation Partners, which already introduced blended winglets on the 737, offered these as upgrades on the 757.  The FAA certified the winglets for the 757 in May 2005, and they provided a 5% improvement in fuel efficiency, boosting range by 200 nmi (229 mi or 370 km).  Airlines also have the option to upgrade avionics to those of the 767-400, which uses larger liquid crystal displays (LCDs), as opposed to the smaller and older CRTs.

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Delta Air Lines Boeing 757-200: Photo by Luis Linares / AirwaysNews

So is the 757 really near the end of passenger operations?  It depends on the airline.  For example, the “Big Three” U.S. airlines (American, Delta, and United) are implementing different plans for their fleets.  These carriers reconfigured the relatively newer airplanes for six to seven-hour international flights across the Atlantic and to South America while they continue to use others in domestic operations and retire the oldest ones.  Furthermore, Delta, which has a unique fleet utilization strategy with older aircraft, will take five of the “newest” 757s from Shanghai Airlines by the end of this year.

Lastly, for any 757 fans hoping to see a “Next Generation”, “New Engine Option (NEO)”, “MAX”, or any other modern-sounding nicknamed 757, Boeing remains firm in its decision not to resurrect this venerable aircraft.  The company does not see enough orders to make such a move profitable, despite commentary from some analysts and competitive pressure from Airbus, which plans a long-range version of its A321neo.  Despite the popularity of the 757 on thin transatlantic routes, Boeing only sees this as a niche market and will likely introduce a clean sheet 757 successor later next decade.

EXTRA:  The Next Boeing Clean Sheet Will Probably Be a 757 Replacement

EXTRA:  Boeing Says No to Resurrected 757

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Contact the author at luis.linares@airwaysnews.com

Editor’s note: Keep up with AirwaysNews by subscribing to our weekly eNewsletter. Every Saturday morning, subscribers get a recap of our top stories of the week, the subscriber-only exclusive Weekend Reads column wrapping up interesting industry stories and a Photo of the Week from the amazing AirwaysNews archives. Click here to subscribe today!

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FedEx Says Open Skies Must Remain Open

By Jack Harty / Published May 22, 2015

On the U.S. side, only American, Delta, and United have been vocal when it comes to the Open Skies agreement between the United States and the Gulf carriers with Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar being vocal on the Gulf side. The DOT has not made any official statements other than that they are looking into the case that the U.S. airlines have presented to the DOT and Obama Administration.

Then, there is FedEx.fedex-boeing-md-10_10718

At the 2015 Phoenix Aviation Symposium, an executive was asked to make a few comments during the Open Skies panel; the executive pointed out that FedEx has more overlapping with the Gulf carriers than the U.S. carriers and that the Open Skies agreement impacts FedEx and UPS more than it does the U.S. airlines. He also said that FedEx would come out with an official statement sometime in the coming weeks.

Finally on Monday, May 18, FedEx released a statement on its blog made by Rush O’Keefe, Jr. the Senior Vice President and General Counsel at FedEx Express, and it read:

If you have opened a newspaper recently or visited our nation’s capital, you have probably read or heard about the Open Skies aviation policy. FedEx cares very deeply about Open Skies and seeks every opportunity to let others know how these agreements benefit our customers, our industry, U.S. shippers and the economy as a whole. Recently the President and CEO of FedEx Express, David Bronczek, sent a letter to the Secretaries of State, Transportation and Commerce on this critical issue.

Open Skies agreements are extremely valuable to FedEx and other U.S. cargo carriers because they provide access to important global marketplaces. Through these agreements with 115 countries, FedEx is able to:

  • Connect U.S. businesses with global marketplaces. Large and small businesses that employ Americans in every state depend on Open Skies to grow their business and expand U.S. trade.
  • Operate our own aircraft on major international routes, not only creating job opportunities for U.S. crews, but also offering our customers critical access to over 220 countries.
  • Create a global network of international hubs, supporting the work and employment of over 300,000 FedEx team members worldwide.

Delta, American and United Airlines want to avoid competition by closing the skies to trade and economic growth. Competition forms the basis for the FedEx business model and is at the very heart of our offering the best service at the best price to FedEx customers around the world.

FedEx established a hub in Dubai as part of our global network in order to effectively reach customers in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. As a result, we currently operate nearly two-thirds more flights to the Middle East than all the U.S. passenger carriers combined.

FedEx urges the U.S. government to honor all of its Open Skies agreements. Failure to do so will have significant repercussions for our global consumers, our more than 300,000 team members worldwide and the American economy.

We are proud to say we aren’t alone. We stand with others including the Cargo Airline Association and the Business Travel Coalition when we issue our strong support for Open Skies as well as other U.S. and international airlines. We all agree that we must keep our skies open for business.

The statement was definitely a slap in the face to American, Delta, and United who’s CEOs spoke  on the issue at the May National Press Club Luncheon. Now that most parties have presented their cases to the U.S. government, they should be making a decision on what actions they will pursue, if any, sometime relatively soon.

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Delta Requests to Start Flying Between Orlando and Brazil

By Jack Harty / Published May 21, 2015

Delta Air Lines has requested for approval to start flying four weekly flights between Orlando and Sao Paulo, Brazil on December 19, 2015.

The new flights will be operated with a Boeing 767-300 that has 35 seats in Delta One, 32 seats in Delta Comfort+ and 143 seats in the Main Cabin.IMG_6890

“In keeping with our goal of being the best U.S. airline in Latin America and the Caribbean, we continuously listen to our customers and strive to offer them increasingly convenient ways to travel for business or leisure,” said Nicolas Ferri, Delta’s vice president for Latin America and the Caribbean.  “It is exciting to have the opportunity to offer a direct flight four times per week and to offer customers the reach of GOL’s network with 600 weekly codeshare flights to Brazil’s interior.  Delta’s continued expansion of routes important to Latin American customers demonstrates our commitment to the region and propels us toward meeting our goal.”

Flight Number Departs Arrives Frequency Effective
DL 59 Orlando (MCO) at 9:50 
p.m.
Sao Paulo (GRU) at 9:50 a.m. 4 times per weekMonday, Tuesday,Thursday, Saturday Dec. 19, 2015
DL 58 Sao Paulo (GRU) at 11:25 p.m. Orlando (MCO) at 5:35 a.m. 4 times per weekMonday, Wednesday,Friday, Sunday Dec. 20, 2015

Delta will go head to head with TAM on the new route, and Azul plans to launch flights between the two cities in December; however, it’s partnership with GOL is expected to help the airline as the new Delta flight will arrive just in time for many connections on-ward in Brazil and beyond to be made.

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Dutch Government Blocks Gulf Carriers From Expanding

By Jack Harty / Published May 21, 2015

The Dutch Government is blocking the Gulf carriers from expanding at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport. According to the newspaper Financieele Dagblad, the government cites “unfair competition with Air France-KLM” as the reason for its actions.ams-main-schipol-entry-ext-5_25627

The paper also says that KLM and other airlines are dealing with increased pressure from the Big Three Gulf Airlines on routes to the Middle East. Air France-KLM says that expansion of Middle East carriers in Amsterdam will have an impact on employment in Amsterdam.

Etihad and Emirates both operate twice-daily round-trip flights from Amsterdam to their respective hubs in the Middle East, and Qatar Airways is planning to launch flights between Doha and Amsterdam next month.

The Dutch’s Government Actions

In particular, the government is working to stop Gulf Airlines from obtaining more landing rights at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport which is the sixth busiest airport in terms of international passenger traffic.

European Union Currently Negotiating

So far, representatives from the E.U. have remained quiet on the Dutch’s actions. Although, they are currently working with the Gulf states on an air treaty which includes clauses on state financing.

Gulf Carrier’s Expand Beyond Europe

“Expand further from European hubs into the US? Yes we might do that,” Clark was quoted by The National newspaper. “The kind of abuse we’ve been getting might cause us to do it. And after Milan, we can see how profitable it is. If the Danes or the Swedes were to come to us and say ‘we haven’t got enough flights into the US, would you consider it?’, yes we might do that.”

Government Actions Further West

American, Delta, and United are pushing for the U.S. government to impose similar restrictions on the Gulf airlines; they want the Gulf carriers’ expansions to be stopped until the Obama administration has enough time to thoroughly review the U.S. airlines case and make a decision whether the Gulf carriers are violating the Open Skies agreement.

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Editor’s note: Our readers now have access to our weekly eNewsletter, which includes a recap of our top stories of the week, along with the subscriber-only exclusive Weekend Reads column and Photo of the Week from our extensive archives. The newsletter comes out every Saturday morning. Stay in the know; click here to subscribe today!

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Mainline, Regional, and Industry Views On U.S. Pilot Shortage

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Photo by author

By Jack Harty / Published May 21, 2015

CLEVELAND, OH - All throughout the 2015 Regional Airline Association (RAA) convention, the pilot shortage was a hot topic, and it was also brought up at the National Press Club luncheon–which Richard Anderson, Doug Parker, and Jeff Smisek were guests at–two days after RAA.

In our final story from the RAA convention, regional and mainline executives, pilots, and other industry employees weigh in on if the U.S. faces a pilot shortage and if they are seeing an impact.

The Mainline View

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Photo by Luis Linares

Richard Anderson, CEO of Delta Air Lines: “The industry has actually shrunk a fair amount because you had 9/11, and then you had fuel prices go up from $20 a barrel when we started in the industry to $50 in 2005 and up to $150 in March of 2008; then there was the financial meltdown. During that time, there was no hiring. Now, the demographics are catching up with the industrty, and there is a huge wave of retirements. At the same time, we are back adding airplanes, and all carriers are investing in their fleets. As a result, there is a significant demand in the industry.”

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Photo by Luis Linares

Jeff Smisek, CEO of United Airlines: “It’s not an issue for the mainline carriers. Everyone wants to work for a mainline carrier; they are terrific jobs, and they treat people very well. We are a solidly profitable industry at this point, and people recognize that they can join and have a terrific career. It really affects the regional carriers; part of that is the history of the pay structure at the regional carriers which it has historically been an issue. That’s why you have seen airlines–like United for one–dial down the dependence upon regional carriers and dial up regionals. It’s good for our employees and our customers as well. Although, our 76 seat regional aircraft are a lot more comfortable. From the perspective from the mainline careers, there is no problem hiring pilots, but it is a problem for the regionals.”

The Regional View

Richard Leach, COO of TSA: “There is a pilot shortage, but we are not creating new pilots; we are just moving them around.”

Mike Thompson, COO of SkyWest: “So far, we are able to continue to fill all of the training classes, but it is becoming more challenging. We are still able to fulfill our flying commitments, but we have to be strategic.”

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Photo courtesy of Empire

Tim Komberec, President and CEO of Empire: “I know pilots who have been with me for 25 to 30 years. Since it is regional flying, they tend to get home every night. We have paid better than industry average for many years. We are re-evaluating the pay system and will have to raise pay. But it is a lifestyle. They can be home a lot, and it is surprising how many we get back. And one of the largest sources of 135 pilots for our Caravans are retired airline pilots who can fly past 65 with us. That said, I am finding myself more and more turning down new contract flying because I don’t know if I can crew the operation. We think there are opportunities in the cargo side of the business for us to help develop the pilot pool for the regionals in the future.”cape-air-cessna-402-at-bos_9761

Linda Markham, President of Cape Air: “We are down about 25-30 pilots, and we are going to now have to make two markets seasonal which is a big issues for the communities we serve. Unfortunately, we will see no growth this year due to the pilot shortage…the Gateway Program is big for us as it is a big recruiting tool. It has been pretty successful with 22 successfully completing the program and sitting left seat at jetBlue, and we are working on adding larger airlines to the program to help expand it.”

Alex Marren, COO of ExpressJet: “We have over 3,000 pilots, and our mission is to help develop their careers and then help them get throughout the pipeline. We are also trying to encourage the next generation of young professionals.”

Others Weigh In

Eric Frankl, Executive Director of Lexington’s Bluegrass Airport: “We have significant concerns about service to our communities and our connection to the world. A 10% reduction in this activity is bad for economic development…We feel like we have a very good voice with our congressional leadership, and they hear us as an unbiased opinion. We can be advocates with ACI in conjunction with RAA.”

Kent Lovelace, Professor at University of North Dakota: “We asked, ‘what influences your decision when choosing a regional airline to apply to?’ Salary was the key predictor of where they’ll apply for an airline job; base location is next; upgrade time to captain followed; pathway program to a major airline job was number four in the list with the hiring bonus being at the bottom of the list.”

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Photo by JDL Multimedia

Krista Walsh, First Officer at jetBlue: “Getting someone to an aviation university is half the battle. We must go to middle schools and high schools so that kids can see these goals are attainable. Also, women and minorities are a tiny part of this industry, and this is a huge missing piece. We need to do a better job of outreach to convince these populations that aviation is a great career.”

Charlie Hills, V.P. of Sales and Marketing in North America for Embraer: “We have 130 opportunities in North America. We may not win them all, but we still have quite a few opportunities…although, we are still faced with many challenges such as the pilot shortage and scope clauses. If the scope clause was to go away, there would be more opportunities for new aircraft and growth.”

Related Stories From RAA:

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Editor’s note: Keep up with AirwaysNews by subscribing to our weekly eNewsletter. Every Saturday morning, subscribers get a recap of our top stories of the week, the subscriber-only exclusive Weekend Reads column wrapping up interesting industry stories and a Photo of the Week from the amazing AirwaysNews archives. Click here to subscribe today!

Contact the author at jack.harty@airwaysnews.com

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Etihad Reshaping Alitalia and Air Serbia

By Alan Dron / Published May 20, 2015

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Photo by JDL Multimedia

Two European carriers: one high-profile, the other almost invisible after past glories had faded. The common factor between them – both were failing.

Alitalia is the proud national airline of Italy but has been perennially loss-making. As recently as 2013 it was burning through more than $1 million a day and facing warnings that it was likely to finally and irrevocably run out of cash. JAT was the flag-carrier for the former Yugoslavia but had shrunk to a shadow of its former size, battered by Western sanctions in the 1990s and hamstrung by lack of money.

Within the past two years both have received an infusion of funds – and new management input – from Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways, becoming the latest airlines to take their place in the collection of ‘equity partners’ that the Persian Gulf carrier is assembling.

JAT – promptly rebranded as Air Serbia after Etihad’s arrival to better reflect the country it now represents – has apparently pulled out of its death spiral, moving from a €73 million ($79 million) loss in 2013 to a modest but creditable €2.7 million net profit last year.

Alitalia has yet to turn in its first annual figures under the new regime, but is under strict warning that it must do better. Etihad’s president and CEO James Hogan, has said that Alitalia has a great brand and staff, as well as a potentially great future, but that personnel have to learn to do things differently if the company is to prosper.

The deal under which Etihad took a 49% stake in Alitalia also involves what Hogan has referred to as removing the “shackles of the past”, particularly the huge weight of debt that was crushing the airline, from the shoulders of senior managers.

Etihad sees Alitalia as providing a major boost to its transatlantic services, an area where Etihad’s connections are, as yet, relatively thin.

Alitalia’s long-haul services are being prioritized and less emphasis given to short-haul. Etihad is trying to work this for the benefit of both companies by offering Alitalia A320/A330 pilots the opportunity of transferring to Etihad’s 777 fleet, thus helping to feed the fast-growing Abu Dhabi-based airline’s requirement for new pilots.

A major plank in Etihad’s plan to revive Alitalia appears to be to pull it upmarket. The latter currently attains just a three-star rating from airline ranking organisation Skytrax; last October, outgoing CEO Gabriele Del Torchio said Alitalia was aiming at achieving five-star status in three years. This would be a remarkable achievement, given that Skytrax ranks only eight carriers worldwide as five-star operations and all are from the Far East or Middle East.

In Air Serbia’s case, Etihad’s task of pulling it round is arguably simpler, as the only way the airline could go was up.

Like many former Eastern Bloc airlines, the old JAT was concerned merely with moving people from A to B, with few of the amenities expected in the West.

When Etihad-appointed CEO, Dane Kondić, took the helm in 2013, he found a lack of leadership and investment in training. The latter problem has been solved by a voluntary redundancy scheme for those cabin crew unable to make the leap to more modern standards and putting their replacements through Etihad’s training system in Abu Dhabi.

The passenger experience has been further helped by the replacement of 10 1980s-vintage Boeing 737-300s with eight leased Airbus A319s and two A320s to plug the gap until late 2018 when it buys 10 A320neos from Etihad’s large order for the type. Unusually, Air Serbia has installeda separate business cabin in the Airbuses with eight seats in a 2-2 arrangement, compared to the more usual European ‘business’ arrangement of a standard 3-3 layout but with the centre seat in each bank of three blocked off to give passengers slightly more space and privacy if they want to work en route.

As with Alitalia, part of the deal has been that the debt burden is removed from Air Serbia’s balance sheet, with the government effectively swallowing the cost. In any case, said Kondić, much of the former state-owned airline’s debt was basically owed by one part of the government to another.

Staff numbers in the carrier’s administration have been slashed, cutting costs. “By every and any measure, turnover per employee compared to any European carrier was horrific,” he added. The situation is now much improved.

Under the new regime, aircraft utilisation has been roughly doubled from its previously dire level of five to six hours a day. This has enabled Kondić to hugely increase the fleet’s productivity and new destinations are being opened up. Additionally, the regional fleet of five ATR 72 turboprops is being used to open or strengthen routes to neighboring countries.

It is a sign of the enthusiasm that the revamped airline is generating that a cabin crew recruiting weekend in February attracted 1700 applicants for just 35 positions.

Kondic believes that Air Serbia will grow through partnerships and codeshares, with May seeing a new codeshare with Greece’s Aegean Airlines and strengthening existing arrangements with KLM and Etihad.

In the longer term he sees “no reason” why Air Serbia should not follow in the footsteps of its JAT predecessor and re-establish long-haul services.

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ExpressJet and TSA Executives: 50 Seaters To Keep Flying

By Jack Harty / Published May 20, 2015img6644-1024x768_32435

CLEVELAND, OH - At the Regional Airline Association (RAA) convention earlier this month, executives from both ExpressJet and TSA discussed that many of the 50 seat ERJ-145s in their fleets will keep flying for several more years.

This is all thanks to United renewing contracts to keep more than 200 ERJ-145s flying the friendly skies, but the airline, like Delta, planned to shrink its fleet of 50 seaters immensely over the next few years.

The Issue

Despite how uneconomical it can be to operate a 50 seat aircraft, they have a purpose. During RAA, Rick Leach with TSA explained “that they still have an essential role in the industry.” Leach’s statement is quite true; without the 50 seaters, many communities would lose air service, or there would be even fewer frequencies with 50 seater aircraft.img8765_32421

Many airlines have been adding 76 CRJ-900 and E175s to their fleets to help replace many of the E145s and CRJ-200s, but again, the 50 seaters still have a niche. The manufacturers have mostly focused on developing larger regional aircraft such as the CRJ-900, CSeries, E175, E2, and MRJ aircraft. It would appear that the aircraft manufacturers want to develop even bigger regional aircraft, but the scope clause is forcing them to stick with improving the technology that is used

It’s probably unlikely that there will be a direct replacement for the 50 seat ERJ-145s and CRJ-200s for quite some time, but then again, they’ll be flying the friendly skies for several more years.

Other Airlines Keeping “The Barbie Jets”

Now, these are not the only two airlines that have had 50 seater regional jets’ contracts extended.

Ryan Gumm, CEO of Endeavor Air, explained that they will be keeping the 50 seat CRJ-200 aircraft in its fleet as Delta still sees a need for them. Part of the reorganization plan was to remove the CRJ-200s from the fleet.

Meanwhile, Republic Airways Inc. will also be keeping several ERJ-145s in its fleet as Delta recently extended its contract on them. Bryan Bedford, CEO of Republic Airways Inc., said that this “is really good for the company,” but he made it clear that he would have also liked to have seen a single fleet type.

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Alitalia Not To Renew Its Air France-KLM Partnership

By Jack Harty / Published May 19, 2015

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Photo by JDL Multimedia

Alitalia will not renew its joint venture agreements nor partnership with Air France-KLM when they come up for renewal in January 2017.

Silvano Cassano, Alitalia’s chief executive, told employees in a statement that “these agreements are no longer beneficial, either commercially or strategically, to the new Alitalia and its ambitious turnaround plan. They were negotiated when Alitalia was in a very different position, with the result that the agreements in their current forms favour the other party.”

Although, Cassano also said: ““We have indicated to Air France-KLM that we are willing to discuss more equitable arrangements that benefit all the parties involved, but thus far we have been unable to achieve this result. We remain open to further discussions to achieve a mutually acceptable solution.” 

Also in the company statement, Cassano explains that the main problem is that Alitalia is having issues with Air France-KLM not allowing it to make the necessary network changes to help strengthen the airline.

Air France-KLM and Alitalia entered into the joint venture and partnership agreement in 2009 and 2010. Since, Alitalia had dealt with significant financial issues, but the airline plans to return to profitability by 2017.

Part of the transformation the airline has gone through is Etihad taking a 49% stake in the airline which made it the largest stakeholder in the airline. Meanwhile, Air France-KLM has slowly lost most of its stake as it now owns just 1%.

At the moment, it is not clear if this will have any impact with Alitalia’s relationship with the SkyTeam alliance.

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Mesa Air Continues To Strengthen After Bankruptcy and Ornstein Voices Opinion on 1500 Hour Rule

By Jack Harty / Published May 19, 2015

UALX-E75-DCA-LFL

Photo by Luis Linares / AirwaysNews

CLEVELAND, OH - Mesa Air Group has been growing since it emerged from bankruptcy in early 2010. At the reigns of the airline is President and CEO Jonathan Ornstein. Often known for “rocking the boat,” he spoke to media at the Regional Airline Association convention in Cleveland earlier this month about the 1,500 hour rule and how Mesa continues to grow.

Just last month, Mesa took delivery of its 100th regional jet which has helped it be one of the fastest growing airlines in the country.

Lots of Growth

Mesa Air Group operates flights for American and United to more than 180 cities in North America, and it keeps growing and growing as it adds more aircraft to its fleet. Since emerging from bankruptcy, Mesa has tripled its fleet as it takes on more CRJ-900 flying for American and E175 flying for United.

Part of the success Ornstein lies in the relationship Mesa has with Bombardier. They go back about 25 years since Mesa was the launch customer of the CRJ-900. Ornstein says he is very happy with Bombardier and their relationship as “they have stood behind us and with us.” He also knows the mainline airlines are happy with the CRJ-900 as American recently told him that the CRJ-900 is one of the most profitable regional aircraft they operate.americaneagle_banner

He went on to say that they are adding as many CRJ-900s they can get their hands on, and it has been looking at the used aircraft market quite a bit. 

Ornstein is also happy with the relationship it has with Embraer as it continues to add E175s for United.

Fixing the Problem

Ornstein believes that Mesa’s big problem was having too many 50 seat CRJ-200 aircraft in its fleet with very few contracts for them. Since, it has retired all but one CRJ-200. It also went through a restructuring in bankruptcy that Ornstein believes has made the regional airline a lot stronger and more flexible to compete which is why it was awarded some of the E175s United ordered.

Although, Ornstein says “there are good markets” for 50 seat regional jets, but “while fuel costs dropping has helped, the real problem is the engines. You can lease a fully operational hull for $10,000 a month. Leasing an engine costs $50,000 a month.”

Ornstein Speaks Out on 1500 Hour Rule

In regards to the 1500 rule, Ornstein says: “Last year, I made some fairly controversial statements about Congress. This year I’m going to tell you straight: the 1500 hour rule has zero foundation in safety; in fact it is the opposite. The pilots who are logging flight time on their own in an unstructured environment fail airline interviews at twice the rate of those who have worked in a structured environment, such as an air carrier. For the future of the industry we have to take this problem head on and not worry about the backlash. If the FAA truly wants to enhance safety it will get this 1500 rule repealed. The military has guys flying missions in Iraq with 400 hours. And when the quality of training was controlled, we had better pilots,” as quoted by Regional Horizons.

The 1500 hour rule was enacted in July 2013. When it was announced, the FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said: “The rule gives first officers a stronger foundation of aeronautical knowledge and experience before they fly for an air carrier. With this rule and our efforts to address pilot fatigue – both initiatives championed by the families of Colgan flight 3407 – we’re making a safe system even safer.”

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Cover and slider photo courtesy of Luis Linares.

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Endeavor Air Able To Wait Out Pilot Shortage

By Jack Harty / Published May 19, 2015DL-CRJ1

CLEVELAND, OH - The pilot shortage was a hot topic at the Regional Airline Association’s annual convention this year. Most regional airline executives said that they are seeing some minor impact, but how significant of the impact really depended upon the airline.  For example, Cape Air is down approximately 25 pilots which has caused them to make three markets seasonal, but some regional airlines are seeing very minor impacts, if any.

Ryan Gumm, the CEO of Endeavor Air, explained at RAA that the airline is able to wait out the pilot shortage just fine compared to carriers.

Endeavor’s Uniqueness

Endeavor is wholly owned by Delta Air Lines, and it flies 630-650 flights a day with a strong fleet of 81 CRJ-900s and 40 CRJ-200 aircraft to 103 different cities. The airline aims to offer Delta’s customers a seamless transition between the mainline Delta experience and the Delta Connection experience.

Gumm explains that they are focused on bringing in the Delta Culture into the airline, and he tries to ensure that Endeavor’s operations mirror Delta’s. For example, almost all of Endeavor’s flight procedures mirror those that mainline Delta pilots use.

Since the flight operations are mirrored, among many different things, Endeavor is the number one pilot supplier to Delta Air Lines which is great for all parties. More than 500 Endeavor pilots will join Delta over the next three years.

The Pilot Shortage Impact

Thanks to strong pilot recruiting efforts and many incentives, there is a minimal impact at Endeavor Air with the pilot shortage. The airline aims to replace the pilots it has contracted with Delta each year to switch from the regional airline to Delta.

There are several incentives to become a pilot at Endeavor. There is a $20,000 annual retention package for pilots that includes $80,000 to be paid to pilots who for the regional through 2018 as well as payouts and security for a stable future. Endeavor also offers $2,000 to its employees as part of a pilot referral bonus.

This year, Endeavor is contractually obligated to supply Delta with at least 144 pilots. Next year, it will supply about 180 pilots, and in 2017, Endeavor Air is to supply Delta with 240 pilots. Every Endeavor Air pilot is guaranteed an interview with Delta, but Delta typically picks which of the pilots to move over to the mainline based on their seniority at Endeavor.

Growth

Endeavor plans to keep most of its CRJ-200s flying under Delta for several more years, despite an earlier plan to retire the remaining 40. Gumm says that “Delta sees value with this aircraft, and they’ll still be flying.”

Gumm explains that the airline “is looking to grow, but it is doing so cautiously and trying to ensure that smart decisions are made.” Already, Endeavor has gone through a massive transformation since it was Pinnacle and exited bankruptcy a few years ago.

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Op-Ed: Penetration Testing Needs Public Focus After Hacker’s Tweet

By John Walton / Published May 18, 2015
It happens every year: conveniently prior to a major information security conference, a researcher claims to be able to hack a plane and the general media demonstrates its negligence in aviation. (Headline: “FBI: Computer expert briefly made plane fly sideways”.) This year, it was the turn of network researcher Chris Roberts, who claimed he was able to access a variety of systems by connecting a cat-6 Ethernet cable to inflight entertainment seat electronic boxes (SEB) from both Thales and Panasonic Avionics on board United Airlines Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 aircraft.
According to an FBI warrant, which was used to confiscate a variety of devices and drives from Roberts, he claimed to have “exploited vulnerabilities with IFE systems on aircraft while in flight. He last exploited an IFE system during the middle of 2014. Each of the compromised occurred on airplanes equipped with IFE systems with video monitors installed in the passenger seatbacks”, and “to exploit/gain access to, or ‘hack’ the IFE system after he would get physical access to the IFE system through the Seat Electronic Box (SEB) installed under the passenger seat on airplanes. He said he was able to remove the cover for the SEB under the seat in front of him by wiggling and squeezing the box”.
Continues the FBI, paraphrasing Roberts’ claims, “After removing the cover to the SEB that was installed under the passenger seat in front of his seat, he would use a Cat6 ethernet cable with a modified connector to connect his laptop computer to the IFE system while in flight. He then connected to other systems on the airplane network after he exploited/gained access to, or ‘hacked’ the IFE system. He stated that he then overwrote code on the airplane’s Thrust Management Computer while aboard a flight. He stated that he successfully commanded the system he had accessed to issue the ‘CLB’ or climb command. He stated that he thereby caused one of the engines to climb resulting in a lateral or sideways movement of the plane during one of these flights. He also stated that he used Vortex software after compromising/exploiting or ‘hacking’ the airplane’s networks. He used the software to monitor traffic from the cockpit system.”
On two separate occasions in February 2015, “Special Agents with the FBI in Denver advised Chris Roberts that accessing airplane networks without authorization is a violation of federal statute, and that Roberts may be prosecuted for obtaining access to airplane networks or scanning airplane networks. Chris Roberts advised that he understood he would not access airplane networks.”
On 16 April, Roberts tweeted:
Tweet - Chris Roberts
Shortly after, the FBI gained a warrant and confiscated a laptop, iPad, hard drives and thumb drives from Roberts. United banned Roberts from its aircraft, but a month later the airline has issued a bug bounty program for its websites or apps — though, notably, the “bugs that are not eligible for submission” category includes “bugs on onboard Wi-Fi, entertainment systems or avionics”. Testing on aircraft or aircraft systems will lead to “permanent disqualification from the bug bounty program and possible criminal and/or legal investigation,” United states.
It’s good to see an airline taking a public interest in tech industry style penetration testing by the security research community, but United is only offering frequent flyer miles for bugs — not actual money. As the top comment on YCombinator’s Hacker News forum story covering the piece says, “paid in United miles? Not really an incentive there.”
For the top bugs involving remote code execution, United is offering a million miles, while Google offers US$20,000 for bugs affecting its top products. Facebook has no maximum limit, but paid out $1.3m to 321 researchers worldwide last year, with the top five bug reporters receiving a total of $256,750. (Yes, it would probably be possible to get more than $20,000 of value from a million United miles for a knowledgeable miles-and-points hunter or a points booking service, mainly by booking first class travel on airlines that are not United, but the fact remains that there is already a standard currency in use: money.)
Somewhat tellingly, neither Panasonic Avionics nor Thales, cited by the FBI as the reported route to Roberts’ ability to access flight systems, would appear to offer a publicised bug bounty program.
Now, it’s important to take the FBI’s warrant reporting of Roberts’ claims in context. There are a number of points in the search warrant application that should raise eyebrows, not least that apparently a Special Agent with the FBI who notionally has either a working knowledge or a set of specialists with expertise of consumer technology would call an iPad an “I-PAD”. And Roberts is not the first white hat who claims to be able to penetrate an aircraft.
Yet whatever the facts of this case — and let me be the first to say that I am firmly skeptical of the story being as dramatic as is being made out — there are real questions that need to be answered, and not just to the satisfaction of airlines.
The reaction to Germanwings flight 9525 reminded us that passengers (and human beings in general) are not entirely rational about dread risks, the high-consequence, low-probability occurrences that represent most incidents in commercial aviation. Airlines need to satisfy their customers (and their regulators) that they are taking every practicable step to ensure their safety.
Incidents like the recent FAA Airworthiness Directive concerning the Boeing 787 Dreamliner’s onboard electrical systems requiring a restart every 248 days thanks to what appears to be an entirely predictable integer overflow — issued “to prevent loss of all AC electrical power, which could result in loss of control of the airplane” — do not smack of adequate testing and cross-industry competence.
Regulators, airlines, airframers and IFE manufacturers need to take this seriously, consider whether their inhouse staff has the correct set of skills, offer real money bug bounties for their actual products, and provide access to their systems in order to provide assurance that the increasingly electronic aviation industry remains the safest way to travel.
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Republic’s Third Strategy: Employee Engagement

By Jack Harty / Published May 18, 2015IMG_8361

CLEVELAND, OH - Bryan Bedford, the CEO of Republic Airways Holdings Inc., says that the airline is working on its third different strategy which is all about employee engagement.

The airline is going through some big changes; it’s reducing it Q-400 fleet, adding 60 E175 aircraft, and picking up more flying for American Airlines. Plus, the airline has had many leadership changes, especially with the pilot group.

Republic’s Third Strategy

Earlier this year, Republic brought in consultants to help conduct a company-wide survey among all of the employees at Chautauqua Airlines, Republic Airlines, and Shuttle America to try to determine what the parent company can do better to help strengthen the three carriers. This time, Bedford opted not to go undercover nor have a large TV crews for an episode of Undercover Boss like he did at Frontier Airlines, but he explained that the survey truly helped him and his staff realize that they need to shift their focus to the employee engagement.

A big part of the employee engagement plan is to help understand and demonstrate to the employees that their work is appreciated. Plus, labor negations also play a big role in engaging employees.

Pilot Contract: Beyond Wages

Meanwhile, the airline is still working on many things such as the pilot contract which has been in progress since 2008 when the contract negioations stalled and fell through. However, Bedford says the new pilot leadership is helping the company keep the negotiation process moving along.

Bedford also says “negotiations are beyond wages. It’s also about the quality of life which is typically about working less while still making a good salary.” Therefore, the company agreed to open all 30 sections of the labor agreement for the pilots, and to date, Republic has been able to finalize 22 of the 30 sections.

Minor Turbulence

Now, the pilot contracts are not the only challenge the airline is facing; it still has multiple operating certificates which Republic has been diligently working on to combine. By being able to dump the 50 seat aircraft, it would be able to not have to combine one of its operating certificates, but just recently, Delta extended its contract for several ERJ-145s to continue flying for five more years. Bedford this “is really good for the company,” but he made it clear that he would have also liked to have seen a single fleet type.

Looking Down The Road

Republic plans to be able to expand the airline since Bedford believes that it has “the best product, employees, and performance.” It is still considering the CSeries, and Bedford says “Republic continues to have deep engagement with the development and entry-into-service process, but it is waiting to fully commit once it knows more about the performance.” Meanwhile, Republic continues to eye the MRJ, but the scope clause is making it a challenge for some airlines to commit to operating the aircraft in their fleet.

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Flashback Friday: Bombardier’s Dash 8 Family

By Luis Linares / Published May 15, 2015

QXE DH4 SEA - LFL

Alaska Airlines (Horizon Air) Bombardier Dash 8-Q400: Photo by Luis Linares / AirwaysNews

Twenty years ago, regional jets (RJs) began to challenge turboprops in the regional carrier market.  However, a spike in oil prices a decade later, combined with a competitive response from turboprop manufacturers like ATR and Bombardier, led many regional airlines to reconsider using turboprops.  On this Flashback Friday, we look at one of these major turboprop competitors – Bombardier’s Dash 8 family, which has sold over 1,200 aircraft to date.

Roots

The forbearer of the Dash 8 family is the four-engine Dash 7, which de Havilland Canada developed and introduced in the 1970s.  The company specifically designed the Dash 7 for short takeoff and landing (STOL) performance, which was ideal for small airports.  However, de Havilland only built 113 aircraft as a result of customers being more interested in operating costs rather than short-field performance.

In 1980, de Havilland took airlines’ preferences into account and began to develop a twin-engine aircraft based on the Dash 7 design.  Pratt & Whitney (PW) Canada manufactured the PW100 engine, which was twice as powerful as a dingle Dash 7 engine, for the project.  The new aircraft would become the Dash 8.

PW conducted over 3,800 hours of tests on the new PW100 series engines even before the first Dash 8 rolled out on April 19, 1983.  The maiden flight of the Dash 8 took place on June 20, 1983.  In addition, PW improved the engines and gave them an updated PW120 designation, and they were certified in late 1983.  Defunct Canadian carrier NorOntair received the first Dash 8 in 1983.

Design

RPA DH4 DCA - LFL

United Express (Republic Airlines) Bombardier Dash 8-Q400: Photo by Luis Linares / AirwaysNews

The Dash 8 design consists of a T-tail, high-mounted wings, and long engine nacelles that also hold the main landing gear.  Despite not having the STOL capabilities, the Dash 8 is able to operate from 3,000 ft (910 m) runways, compared to the 2,200 ft (670 m) required by a full Dash 7.  In addition, the airplane has a cruising altitude of 25,000 ft (7,620 m).  Starting in 1996, Bombardier, which absorbed de Havilland in 1992, implemented an Active Noise and Vibration Suppression (ANVS) system to reduce cabin noise and vibration levels and renamed the Dash 8series “Q-Series” to emphasize the quieter characteristics.

The design of the Dash 8 was very advanced for its time, and introduction of the aircraft came during a period in which many airlines were retiring their older turboprops.  This meant the company could not keep up with demand.  Furthermore, these circumstances led France’s Aérospatiale and Italy’s Alenia to team up to produce the ATR turboprop.  The competition continues to this day between their latest models, the Dash Q400 and ATR 72-600.

Competition with Regional Jets

In the 1990s many regional carriers turned to new RJs offered by Bombardier and later Embraer.  Despite having lower fuel consumption and being able to operate from shorter runways, turboprops had higher engine maintenance costs, shorter ranges, and lower speeds, compared to RJs.  Moreover, RJs could fly higher, meaning less encounters with weather-related turbulence, which made them more popular with passengers.

EXTRA:  Can Bombardier’s Q400 Save Regional Air Service in the US?

One factor that helped the Dash 8 family was lower fuel costs.  In the mid-2000s, oil prices surged, which affected the bottom line of regional carriers and forced many to opting for turboprops over regional jets.  This resulted in more turboprop sales for Bombardier and ATR. Furthermore, these newer turboprops can break even on costs with lower load factors, especially on routes that are less than 350 miles (500 km) in which a Dash Q400 has a similar gate-to-gate schedule to a RJ.

Q400 cabin Q400 flight deck
Horizon Air Bombardier Dash 8-Q400 cabin and cockpit: Photos courtesy of AirwaysNews

Variants

The Dash 8 family consists of four models, originally known as the Dash 8-100, -200, -300, and -400.  With the ANVS introduction, these are designated today as Dash 8-Q100, -Q200, -Q300, and -Q400. Specifics characteristics of each variant are as follows:

100 Series

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US Airways Express (Piedmont Airlines) Bombardier Dash 8-100: Photo by Luis Linares / AirwaysNews

As mentioned earlier, the first Dash 8-100 entered service in 1984 with NorOntair.  This aircraft typical seats 37 passengers in a 2-2 layout economy class configuration.  The airplane measures 73 ft (22.25 m) in length; has a wingspan of 84 ft 11 in (25.89 m); and a height of 24 ft, 7 in (7.49 m).

The -100 is powered by PW120A or PW121 engines and cruises at a speed of 310 mph (269 kt or 500 kmph).  In addition, its maximum range is 1,020 nmi (1,174 mi or 1,889 km).  Bombardier delivered the last -100 in 2005.

200 Series

UCA DH2 IAD - LFL

United Express (CommutAir) Bombardier Dash 8-200: Photo by Luis Linares / AirwaysNews

The Dash 8-200 is identical in size to the -100 but more advanced.  Entry into service (EIS) took place in 1995.  The -200 is powered by PW123C or PW123D engines.  Moreover, it is faster than the -100 with a cruise speed of 334 mph (290 kt or 537 kmph) but has a slightly shorter range of 925 nmi (1,065 mi or 1,713 km).  Finally, the -100 and -200 require 2,625 ft (800 m) of runway distance for takeoff.

300 Series

BHS DH3 MIA - LFL

Bahamasair Bombardier Dash 8-300: Photo by Luis Linares / AirwaysNews

The -300 is longer than the -100/-200 models with a length of 84 ft 3 (25.68 m) and has a larger wingspan of 90 ft (27.43 m).  The aircraft had its EIS in 1989.  In a single class layout, it can seat an average of 50 passengers and flies up to 1,098 nmi (1,264 mi or 2,034 km) and requires a takeoff filed length of 3,865 ft (1,178 m).

PW123B engines power the -300, and the airplane has a typical cruising speed of 328 mph (285 kt or 528 kmph).  Bombardier decided to discontinue the -100/-200/-300 (classics) series in April 2008 to focus on the modern 400 series.  One month later, the last -200s and 300s rolled out of Bombardier’s Downsview, Ontario plant.  The company produced a total of 671 classics.

400 Series

The pressure from regional jet competitors spurred Bombardier to upgrade its family of turboprops.  The response was the development of the Q400, designed to have a cruising speed close to that of regional jets and with modern engines resulting in less maintenance and decreased costs and digital avionics on the flight deck.  The manufacturer’s aggressive marketing has resulted in 539 orders to date, with almost 500 delivered since EIS in 2000.

The Dash 8-Q400 became a topic of negative press after a series of landing gear malfunctions in 2007.  Investigators determined that a rapid rate of corrosion in the landing gear mechanisms led to these incidents . The company had to reach settlements with major clients like Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) and also executed a managerial shakeup.

QXE DH4 SEA - LFL

Alaska Airlines (Horizon Air) Bombardier Dash 8-Q400:  Photo by Luis Linares / AirwaysNews

At 107 ft 8 in (32.81 m) in length, the -400 fits into the 70-seat market with a typical economy class capacity of 78 passengers . In addition to being the longest model of the Dash 8 family, it also has the largest wingspan at 93ft 2 in (28.4 m).  The aircraft is powered by PW150A engines.

The -400 also has the highest cruising altitude of all the variants – 27,000 ft (8,230 m) and can cruise at 414 mph (360 kt or 667 kmph).  Furthermore, a fully-loaded -400 requires 4,600 ft (1,402 m of runway).  Finally, it has a maximum range 1,361 nmi (1,567 mi or 2,522 km).

The Future

Over the last few years,  Bombardier has struggled to get new Q400 orders and has been talking to customers and evaluating a more advanced, and possibly stretched, Q400X.  With current jet fuel at a relatively low price, the shift from regional jets back to turboprops has not been much of a news item.  However, if or when oil prices rise again, we could hear more details about the Q400X.

EXTRA:  Program Analysis: Bombardier’s Q400 Struggles May Persist

EXTRA:  Bombardier Q400 Program Head Discusses Cargo Combi; Q400X

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Contact the author at luis.linares@airwaysnews.com

Editor’s note: Keep up with AirwaysNews by subscribing to our weekly eNewsletter. Every Saturday morning, subscribers get a recap of our top stories of the week, the subscriber-only exclusive Weekend Reads column wrapping up interesting industry stories and a Photo of the Week from the amazing AirwaysNews archives. Click here to subscribe today!

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VivaAerobus Takes Delivery of its First Airbus A320

By Roberto Leiro / Published May 14, 2015

Mexican ultra-low-cost carrier VivaAerobus has taken delivery of its first Airbus A320 from an order placed in October 2013 for 52 aircraft (12 A320ceo and 40 A320neo), which at the time was the biggest Airbus aircraft order by a single airline in Latin American history, recently surpassed by Avianca.1_original

RELATED: Avianca Firms Order for 100 A320neos

Although the airline is currently operating a mixed fleet of six leased A320s—received in March 2014—and 19 aging Boeing 737-300, these are going to be phased out as more A320s join the fleet. It is expected that this transition to an all-Airbus operation will be completed in early 2016, together with the new satellite training operation in Monterrey’s North International Airport, which includes an Airbus A320 simulator under the “Training by Airbus” program.

“Our new fleet of A320s will enable VivaAerobus to continue enhancing our operational efficiencies by lowering our costs and fares for our passengers, while offering a significant upgrade with the A320 cabin comfort,” said Juan Carlos Zuazua, CEO of VivaAerobus. “We couldn’t be more pleased to integrate this new aircraft into our growing Airbus fleet and we look forward to expanding our network and allowing even more passengers to fly for the very first time.”

VivaAerobus has been a pioneer in Mexico’s ’Bus to Air’ business model, which is an initiative to convert bus passengers to air travelers, and the airline has relied on the Airbus A320 for its massive domestic network based in four main cities (Cancun, Guadalajara, Mexico City and Monterrey), and its first international service from to Houston, launched in December last year.

To date, the A320neo program has 345 firm orders from six customers in Latin America. With more than 950 aircraft sold and a backlog of nearly 500. In the last 10 years, Airbus has three folded its in-service fleet in Latin America, while delivering more than 60 percent of all aircraft operating thereby.

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Southwest Announces New International and Domestic Flights

By Jack Harty / Published May 14, 2015

Southwest Airlines has released its latest schedule extension, and there are several new international and domestic flights it will operate this Fall. However, the airline is also making some cuts to its Akron/Canton operations.

New International Flights

Southwest Airlines announced that it will also serve Liberia, Costa Rica from its new international gateway in Houston this Fall. Southwest-737-800-New-Livery-Ian-Petchenik

On October 15, 2015, Southwest will commence twice daily service to Cancun, Mexico. Plus, it will commence once daily service to Mexico City, Puerto Vallarta, San Jose del Cabo/Los Cabos, Belize, and San Jose, Costa Rica. Belize and San Jose are subject to government approval.

On November 1, Southwest will fly once daily to Liberia/Guanacaste, Costa Rica and Montego Bay, Jamaica; these two routes are also subject to government approval. Also on this day,  Southwest is planning to add new once-daily service between Denver and Puerto Vallarta, pending government approval.

“Houstonians have endured some of the highest international airfares in the country,” said Gary Kelly, Southwest’s Chairman, President, & CEO, to a crowd assembled at a pop-up beach party featuring international food and music.  “Southwest is putting our promise, our People, and our planes on these routes because you deserve lower fares and better service.”

New Domestic Flights

Southwest Airlines also released its extended flight schedule which includes several new domestic flights. It will offer new, twice daily service between Indianapolis and New York LaGuardia, daily service between Denver and Cleveland, and new flights between Austin and both Seattle/Tacoma and Boston (Logan) all on November 1, 2015.

On November 15, Southwest will add new daily service between Akron/Canton and Las Vegas, and on November 22, Southwest will begin new daily flights between Orange County/Santa Ana to both St. Louis and Kansas City.

Cuts to Akron/Canton

Also with the schedule extension, it became known that the airline will drop service between Akron/Canton to/from New York, Washington, Denver and Boston The airline remains committed to the airport, and it will add new flights to Las Vegas in November 2015.

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Frontier’s President and CEO Resigns

By Jack Harty / Published May 13, 2015

2014-09-09-00.00.01-2

Photo by Benjamin Bearup / AirwaysNews

David Siegel has resigned as Frontier’s CEO “for personal reasons,” and the carrier’s chairman and president have taken over.

Instead of just replacing him with one person, the airline is creating an Office of the Chief Executive which will be made up of Frontier’s President Barry Biffle and the board chariman Bill Franke. These two will now direct the airline.

The announcement was a surprise to many. Siegel has been at the reigns of Frontier since January 2012, and quite a bit has happened at the company since he started. A little more than a year after Siegel started, Franke’s investment firm, Indigo Partners, purchased Frontier, and the new management started the process in shaping Frontier into a Ultra-Low-Cost-Carrier.

The road in moving Frontier has been difficult to say the least; many loyal Frontier customers in the carrier’s hometown were very unhappy with the changes to Frontier, especially since the airline has been reducing its presence in Denver. Plus earlier this week, the U.S. government came out and said that Frontier had the highest complaint rate and worst on-time performance in March.

Maybe with Biffle and Franke directly overseeing Frontier’s operations day to day will help Frontier’s transformation into a ULCC. Biffle and Franke both have previous experience in running and turning a LCC into a successful ULCC-Spirit.

EXTRA: Frontier Announces Major Cuts to Its Denver Hub

EXTRA: Frontier Announces Major Outsourcing

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United To Upgrade Los Angeles LAX Customer Experience

By Jack Harty / Published May 13, 2015 / Photos Courtesy of United

United Airlines offered a sneak preview on how it will bring its customers traveling through Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) convenience, comfort, and class.LAX+ticketing

The airline held a small event at LAX on Wednesday with employees from each of the airline’s work groups, United executives, Eric Garcetti the mayor of Los Angeles, Tom LaBonge a Los Angeles city councilmember, Sean Burton the president of the Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) Board of Commissioners, and Gina Marie Lindsey the executive director of LAWA.

LAX+securityUnited executives outline the current plan to upgrade the passenger experience in which the airline will spend more than half a billion dollars to refresh almost every inch of its LAX facilities. Some of the upgrades include an updated ticket lobby with self-tagging machines and more kiosks; plus, there will be updates to the security screening technology to help expedite the curb to gate time, and there will be renovations to the gate area.

As far as the United Club is concerned, it will be renovated, and there will be an outdoor terrace quite similar to Delta’s Sky Decks at select SkyClub locations.LAX+United+Club+terrace

“From a state-of-the-art ticketing lobby to a sleek and spacious United Club lounge, we are enhancing the airport experience at LAX and giving our customers more of what they want when traveling – greater choice and control, consistency and comfort,” said Sandra Pineau-Boddison, senior vice president for Customers at United. “We are grateful to the City of Los Angeles for its partnership on this project, which helps ensure this key United hub remains one of the country’s premier global gateways.”

“Today’s investment by United is the latest in our more than $7 billion overhaul of LAX,” said Garcetti. “Whether by upgrading nearly every terminal or bringing in ridesharing services to pick you up, we’re making LAX a world-class airport befitting of our global city.”LAX+baggage+claim

“The partnership we have with United will create the world-class experience we want for all LAX passengers,” said Burton. “As our passenger base continues to grow, we are working hard to improve the guest experience, making their journey through LAX more efficient and comfortable today and in the future.”

LAX+baggage+claimThe airline has been investing quite a bit in its hubs lately. On Monday, the airline held a ground breaking ceremony in Houston for its new Terminal C North Concourse that will open in early 2017. Plus, executives explained at the Phoenix Aviation Symposium last week that the airline is testing some new concepts to upgrade its gate areas at a handful of gates at Chicago O’Hare.

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Cape Air’s Pilot Shortage and Future Aircraft Order

By Jack Harty / Published May 13, 2015

CLEVELAND, OH - Linda Markham, Cape Air’s President, spoke to the media at the Regional Airline Association Convention Wednesday morning.cape-air-cessna-402-at-bos_9761

The airline is doing pretty well overall; Markham explained that the airline has seen its largest growth in about 20-25 years. Last year, the airline flew about 750,000 passengers in the five different regions, and the airline recently added two Cessna Caravan Amphibious aircraft to its fleet for a start-up operation between a resort in Bimini, Bahamas and Miami’s Watson Island seaplane base near downtown. Plus, the airline continues to be profitable.

The airline plans to upgrade its fleet to replace the 84 Cessna 402s in its fleet, but Markham explained that the airline is taking the decision very seriously as it will have a big impact. Last year, Markham said it would be about 24 months until a decision will be made, but now, she declined to give any sort of timeline. Although, it was noted that the airline plans to have 10-15% fewer aircraft when its new fleet is fully integrated into its operation, but the airline plans for there to be some growth with the new aircraft.

Not a lot of growth is expected in the near future, although. Markham went on to explain that the pilot shortage is causing some issues for the airline. Two of its cities, Anguilla and Nevis, will become seasonal, due to the pilot shortage. She said that this is difficult for the company as well as the communities it serves.

Right now, Cape Air is down 20-25 pilots. Now, the airline is hiring pilots and many are coming through the Gateway Program; the JetBlue University Gateway Program has a partnership at six universities in the United States which students apply to to then complete an internship at Cape Air, ExpressJet, or JetBlue, flight instruct for a year at their educational institution, and then transition to flying at Cape Air or ExpressJet. After gaining 2-3 years of experience and accruing approximately 3500 flight hours, the Gateway Program aviator can then transition to JetBlue in a First Officer position.  This talent pipeline was one of the first of its kind and has proved to be a great way to flow pilots from their respective AABI-accredited universities all the way to JetBlue.

Markham said that this has proved to work well with the airline with 22 of the participants already sitting in the left seat at JetBlue, and Cape Air sees this as a big recovery tool with the pilot shortage. Though, the airline continues to look at expanding with other universities and companies to help establish more opportunities for pilots at Cape Air for when they are able and ready to move on.

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