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Boeing Is Working On A Solution For Grounded 737 MAX Jets





United States aircraft manufacturer Boeing continues to work on a solution for an electrical power system issue causing the grounding of 106 MAX planes. The grounding has seen three big US airlines, United, American, and Southwest, keep more than 60 jets out of the skies.

Boeing is working on a solution to an electrical issue resulting in over 100 MAX planes grounded. Photo: Boeing

106 Boeing 737 MAXs grounded

Earlier this month, Boeing “recommended” 16 MAX operators look at a potential electrical issue before sending some specific 737 MAX planes back into the air. Boeing was unsure if a sufficient ground path existed for a component of the electrical power system.

Specifically, Boeing was concerned about the electrical grounding inside a backup power control system. Boeing said in a statement at the time;

“We are also informing our customers of specific tail numbers affected, and we will provide direction on appropriate corrective actions.”

In addition to the three impacted US airlines, Cayman Airways, Copa Airlines, GOL Linhas Aereas, Icelandair, Minsheng Leasing, Neos Air, Shandong Airlines, SilkAir, SpiceJet, Sunwing Airlines, TUI, Turkish Airlines, Valla Jets Limited, WestJet Airlines, and Xiamen Airlines have all grounded planes. All up, the problem affects 106 Boeing 737 MAXs. The majority, 71 planes, are aircraft registered in the United States.

The current 737 MAX grounded has impacted Indian airline SpiceJet. Photo: Boeing

FAA says Boeing continues to work on a solution

On Thursday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said Boeing continued to work on a solution to the problem. The safety regulator also said “subsequent analysis and testing” showed the issue could involve additional systems. Systems flagged include the standby power control unit, a circuit breaker panel, and the main instrument panel.


In a formal notice to international air regulators, the FAA said it expected to soon issue an airworthiness directive outlining corrective action for relevant US-registered 737 MAXs. In a statement issued on Thursday, Boeing said;

“We concur with the FAA notice and continue to work closely with the regulator and our customers to address the issue.”


Reports suggest the big US carriers, while inconvenienced, are not overly concerned. The airlines say they know what the problem is. They know what needs to be done about it, and how swiftly it can get fixed. They expect to have their grounded MAXs back in the air reasonably quickly.

Boeing’s current electrical power system issue is unconnected to problems that saw the MAX grounded worldwide across most of 2019 and 2020. The FAA says the current grounding “is not related to recertification of the flight control system on the 737 MAX, ungrounding of the aircraft, or its return to service.

The FAA stress this grounding is unrelated to the previous long-running MAX grounding. Photo: Boeing

US Transportation Department’s Office of Inspector General to audit FAA – again

That has not stopped the US Transportation Department’s Office of Inspector General earlier this week confirming it would audit the FAA’s decision to inground the 737 MAX last year. The Inspector General’s office has previously cast its eye over the FAA’s management and certification of the 737 MAX program. Now, the accountability and integrity watchdog is going back for another look.

This audit will examine FAA’s actions following each of the two Boeing 737 MAX
accidents, including the grounding of the aircraft and its recertification. Matthew Hampton, Assistant Inspector General for Aviation Audits, says in a heads-up memo to the FAA on Tuesday.

“Our audit objective is to evaluate FAA’s processes and procedures for grounding
aircraft and implementing corrective actions.”

In response, the FAA said it would co-operate with the Inspector General’s audit, as it has done on previous occasions.

Meanwhile, the relative nonchalance among the big US airlines impacted by the current grounding provides the best timeline regarding a resolution of the electrical power system problems. Unlike the last mass grounding, this smaller aircraft-specific grounding may be for a matter of weeks.

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SLM Solutions partners with Safran on 3D-printed landing gear




SLM Solutions partners with Safran on 3D-printed landing gear

Safran Landing Systems has teamed up with German powder bed, metal additive manufacturing (AM) equipment specialists, SLM Solutions to evaluate the feasibility of using its technology to produce large, safety-critical aircraft components.

SLM Solutions’ sole agent for the UK and Ireland, Kingsbury, said the trial involved 3D-printing the main fitting for the nose landing gear of a business jet layer by layer from titanium alloy powder by selective laser melting.

It was a world first for such a large part measuring 455mm x 295mm x 805mm tall. The component was redesigned to optimise its production using metal powder bed AM, leading to a time saving in the build process and a significant weight reduction of around 15% compared with if the part were to be milled from a forging.

Due to the stringent demands placed on this component, which is one of the landing gear elements that transfers the load from the front wheel to the aircraft structure and is retracted after take-off, titanium is the ideal material due to its good mechanical properties, durability and resistance to corrosion without the need for surface treatment.

Thierry Berenger, additive manufacturing project leader at Safran Landing Systems said: “We chose SLM Solutions as a partner because of their expertise and the availability of an SLM800 machine at their facility in Lübeck, which exactly met our requirements in terms of size and reliability.”

Having a vertically extended build envelope, the machine is equipped with SLM Solutions’ proven quad-laser technology and other innovative features such as a patented gas flow system and a permanent filter, which ensure high reliability. One of the strengths of SLM technology is its flexibility. Design changes can be quickly made and modifications printed and tested, so less time is spent in prototype development.

Gerhard Bierleutgeb, EVP global services & solutions at SLM Solutions added: “Additive manufacturing contributes to saving time in the qualification and certification phases by rapidly providing parts for testing.

“We were able to produce this main fitting in a few days on the SLM800, whereas it would take a few months using a traditional process based on a forging.”

The main fitting for the nose landing gear of a business jet 3D-printed from titanium alloy in a quad-laser SLM800 powder bed AM machine at SLM Solutions in Lübeck.


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Rise Of The Phoenix: One Of The US’ Fastest Growing Airports




Phoenix has bucked the trend. It is one of the US’ fastest-growing airports this summer and it is now well above pre-pandemic levels. This is mainly from big growth by Frontier, Delta, and Alaska, while Phoenix’s biggest carriers – American and Southwest – have both declined. For American, this is part of a longer-term pattern.

While Phoenix has grown robustly this summer and now has beaten its pre-pandemic capacity, neither American nor Southwest are responsible. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

Phoenix is the US’ seventh-best performing airport this summer. It has exceeded its pre-pandemic level, with almost 1.2 million additional seats versus summer 2019 (S19). It is in good company, with fellow major airports Miami, Salt Lake City, and Dallas Fort Worth ahead of it in the added capacity charts, while Denver is not far behind.

Given Phoenix’s outdoor nature and the city’s large size, it isn’t much of a surprise that Phoenix has done so well. It owes its growth to four airlines:

  1. Frontier: 612,250 added round-trip seats; +135%
  2. Delta: +406,348; +20%
  3. Alaska Airlines: +328,886; +54%
  4. Spirit: +62,160; +59%
New oneworld member Alaska Airlines has ‘just’ five routes from Phoenix this summer, up by one over S19. Its growth comes from big increases to Anchorage, Portland, and Seattle, together with adding San Francisco. Photo: Getty Images.

Frontier leads Phoenix’s growth

Frontier is Phoenix’s fifth-largest airline this summer, with a shade over one million seats. It has jumped one place and overtaken Alaska Airlines, despite that carrier’s decent growth too.

Frontier has 16 routes from the airport, up by four in S19. As is often the case, there has been a lot of route ‘churn’. Atlanta, Burbank, Los Angeles, Oakland, Ontario, Orlando, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose (California) have all been added. Burbank was announced in the past day; it’ll launch on July 15th and will be seven-weekly.

Meanwhile, while Cincinnati, Des Moines, Fort Myers, Grand Rapids, Madison, Milwaukee, and Raleigh Durham have all been dropped.

Frontier has grown the most at Phoenix since S19. It has 16 routes this summer. Image: GCMap.

No growth for American or Southwest

Conspicuous by their absence are Phoenix’s two largest airlines, American Airlines and Southwest. They have 78% of the airport’s capacity this summer, but cuts mean they’re down by nearly 300,000 seats. For American, this is part of a longer-term trend of decline at its Arizona hub.

Southwest is firmly Phoenix’s second-largest airline. The airport was important for Southwest’s transit passengers in 2020. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

American at Phoenix

If the whole of 2021 is looked at, American has 21.4 million seats at Phoenix, based on the latest data from May 10th. This makes the hub its fifth-largest, behind:

  1. Dallas Fort Worth: 75.2 million
  2. Charlotte: 52.2 million
  3. Miami: 32.5 million
  4. Chicago O’Hare: 29.8 million

Because of bigger cuts, Philadelphia is now smaller (20.1 million). The airport, a former US Airways hub like Charlotte and Phoenix, was crucial for American’s A330s, which were also inherited from the now-defunct carrier.

For fullness and fairness, data includes US Airways. Source: OAG Schedules Analyzer.

Phoenix didn’t grow between 2011 and 2019

Looking at the pre-pandemic 2011-2019 period in the figure above, all of American’s core six hubs grew except Phoenix (-707,000) and Philadelphia (-1.9 million). And now, American’s Managing Director of Global Network Planning, Jason Reisinger, told Simple Flying that its Northeast Alliance will not affect Philadelphia.

American has 129 seats per flight at Phoenix, quite a bit higher than Philadelphia (104), O’Hare (106), and Charlotte (112). The reason? Far fewer regional jet flights. Photo: Getty Images.

As always, the stronger got stronger, with Dallas up the most (11.9 million), followed by Charlotte (8.9 million). It’s obvious that these two hubs are by far the most important money-wise, helped by American’s huge dominance at them. The carrier’s dominance at Charlotte is helped by the enormous use of regional jets, as recently shown by Simple Flying.

How do you think Phoenix will grow in the future? Comment below!

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Global Eagle Moves Closer To Bringing LEO Connectivity To Aviation




Global Eagle has announced this week that it has achieved a crucial milestone in its bid to bring low-Earth orbit (LEO) connectivity to airline passengers. The Airconnect Ka IFC terminal has achieved verification for use with Telesat’s Lightspeed LEO network, proving its capabilities on this groundbreaking new platform.

Telesat Lightspeed
Global Eagle has validated its Ka terminal for Telesat’s Lightspeed LEO network. Photo: Telesat

Network simulations

Global Eagle has been working with Telesat since 2018, when Telesat launched the first of its LEO satellites into orbit. The low-Earth orbit constellation is targeted to be the first to provide connectivity to aircraft, bringing with it a host of benefits for passengers.

Having conducted inflight tests in October 2018, using Global Eagle’s Albatross Onetest aircraft with Gilat’s aero modem and Telesat‘s Phase 1 LEO satellite, the companies have been working hard to develop the infrastructure to support the wide deployment of the service. At the time, it was the first demonstration of an aircraft in flight communicating at broadband speeds with a LEO satellite.

Now, Global Eagle engineers have carried out a series of network simulations to determine the efficiency of its Ka IFC terminal, Airconnect. They undertook studies that simulated real-world demand on the setup, including online gaming, cloud-hosted platforms and high demand social media use.

Telesat Lightspeed
The network promises fiber like speeds at 40,000 feet. Photo: Global Eagle

The system was verified to be a success, delivering industry-leading performance in all uses. Mike Pigott, Executive Vice President Connectivity at Global Eagle, commented on the verification, saying,

“Achieving this critical milestone lays the foundation for the eventual certification of our Airconnect Ka solution on the Telesat Lightspeed constellation. Our airline customers will benefit from the extraordinary advantages of Telesat Lightspeed network earlier and with few upgrades required after installation.

“Telesat’s expertise and the advanced Telesat Lightspeed network make us proud to be working together to show the industry-changing capability of LEO. Since 2018, our partnership with Telesat has demonstrated the smooth transition from existing GEO satellite networks to LEO satellites inflight. We now have the confidence to begin installations this year.”

Telesat Lightspeed
The company wants to begin installations later this year. Photo: Telesat

Why is LEO connectivity good for passengers?

The current tranche of inflight connectivity is usually provided by geostationary satellites (GEO), which are naturally a very long way away from Earth. This distance means they have a wider field of vision, but also means there is a good deal of slow-down in terms of transmission speeds.

With companies developing constellations of low-Earth orbiting satellites, the potential for much faster speeds and greater capacity is what’s drawing aviation to this solution. In the 2018 flight tests, Global Eagle established that LEO-based connections could support high demand activities such as movie streaming and video chat, with much more stable connections and lower latency than non-LEO connectivity could.

Tim Southard, Vice President of Networks at Global Eagle, explained some of the benefits of LEO connectivity for passengers, commenting,

“Our Airconnect Ka system, in conjunction with the Telesat Lightspeed network, will enable airline passengers to play online games like Fortnite and Roblox, live stream video, upload high quality holiday pictures and videos to Instagram and zip through Salesforce and Outlook tasks, as they would on broadband fiber, while at 40,000 feet.”

Although many companies are jostling for position in the LEO space, including SpaceX and OneWeb, Telesat’s Lightspeed constellation is the front runner in terms of inflight connectivity. While SpaceX has indicated it will make its network available to aviation, its first priority is connections on the ground. Lightspeed, in contrast, is targeting early uptake by the inflight segment of its customer base.

Erwin Hudson, Vice President of LEO at Telesat, explained,

“With Global Eagle’s Ka terminal evolution, airlines can be confident that they are future-proofing their connectivity decisions today. Telesat Lightspeed is the only enterprise-grade LEO network that can provide gate-to-gate, fiber-quality connectivity to every passenger on every flight, anywhere in the world.

“Collaborating with future-focused companies like Global Eagle will enable us to achieve our goal of transforming inflight connectivity with the Telesat Lightspeed network.”

This article is brought to you by Simple Flying Connectivity, a new category on Simple Flying dedicated to inflight connectivity. Click here to read all of our inflight connectivity content.

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Dogs Are Now Screening Islamabad Passengers For COVID-19




The latest airport to enlist dogs in detecting COVID-19 in arriving passengers is Islamabad International in Pakistan. With a close to 100% accuracy in detecting infections, the keen noses will screen samples from travelers in a bid to stop imported cases of coronavirus. They are far from alone, as dogs are being trained to sniff out asymptomatic cases all over the world.

COVID-10 sniffer dog Helsinki Airport
COVID-19 sniffer dogs are a new addition to airports worldwide. Photo: Getty Images

Sniffer dogs are a common sight around airports. Usually, the sensitive-nosed canines are deployed to detect the transportation and smuggle of narcotics or the prevalence of explosives. However, as the world and travel face a different calamity, man’s best friend is being called upon to discover COVID-19 infections.

The fantastic four on four legs

Following similar projects in Helsinki and Dubai, authorities at Islamabad International Airport have decided to bring in sniffer dogs to fight against the spread of coronavirus.  A pack of four specially trained dogs is being provided by the Pakistan Army. They will screen incoming passengers to the capital and are to function as a secondary tool, complementing the use of thermal scanners and rapid antigen tests.

However, it is not a question of dogs getting up close and personal to people as they would with a bag. A sample of sweat (a method that has been proven to be non-infectious) is collected from the traveler. These are then presented to the dogs in a separate and isolated room.

Islamabad Airport suffers damage from rain
Several incoming passengers to Islamabad airport have been caught carrying fake negative test certificates. Photo: Getty Images

Detecting infections earlier than PCR tests

The four dogs at Islamabad Airport are not unique. As research has shown that dogs can sniff out COVID-19 with about 95% accuracy even before symptoms begin to appear, canines around the world are undergoing special training. Studies say they can detect infection within seconds, even in the earliest stages when a PCR test would give a negative result.

The airport reportedly decided to enlist the four-legged super noses after several passengers had been caught carrying fake negative certificates and later testing positive for COVID-19. The country’s National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) approved the measure in a meeting earlier this week.

Beirut sniffer dog COVID
Beirut Airport is also recruiting sniffer dogs to detect COVID-19 in samples. Photo: Getty Images

A growing group of canine corona detectors

COVID-19 sniffer dogs are already in action at Helsinki’s Vantaa Airport in Finland and Dubai Airport in the UAE. Another project has been launched at Beirut-Rafic Hariri International Airport. The man responsible for the Beirut program, oncologist and professor Riad Sarkis, has spent years researching how dogs can detect cancer and thus facilitate early treatment.

“When COVID appeared, I thought, why not try. And it worked,” Mr Sarkis, who was also part of the research on COVID-19 detection done at France’s Maison-Alfort veterinary school, told Al Arabiya.

Two dogs, an Alsatian and a Malinois, have been trained by a handler at a special Beirut facility. It is unclear what breed the dogs working at Islamabad Airport are, but both Dubai and Helsinki have also brought in types of shepherd dogs. Although, in theory, research says, any dog could be trained for the job.

In Thailand, six Labrador Retrievers have been in COVID-training for six months. They can reportedly go through 60 samples within as many seconds. And not only airports are using dogs to detect coronavirus. As sports events opened to the public in the US, sniffer dogs have walked the queues of people waiting to get into the arenas.

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