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Lessor Avation Says Virgin Australia Owes It Nearly $75 Million

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Singapore-based Avation PLC says they are nearly US$75 million out of pocket following the collapse and sale of Virgin Australia. The lessor had 13 planes on lease to Virgin Australia when the airline went into voluntary administration in April. Five of those planes have gone to new operators, three are back at Avation, and five planes remain in Australia. All up, Avation PLC’s preliminary proof of debt claim against Virgin Australia amounts to US$74.7 million. Most of that derives from outstanding rent and end-of-lease return maintenance compensation.

A Virgin Australia ATR72-600 coming into Canberra Airport. Photo: Bidgee via Wikimedia Commons

Avation PLC had 13 planes with Virgin Australia

When Virgin Australia collapsed, its fleet included 79 leased planes comprising 40 Boeing 737-800s, six Airbus A330s, one Boeing 777, 13 Airbus A320s, five Embraer E190s, and 14 ATR 72s. The majority of these leases were expected to expire by 2025. The mixed fleet and high on-going costs associated with the leases were two of the many issues dogging Virgin Australia.

While in voluntary administration, a decision was made to simplify the fleet and relaunch the airline as an all 737 operation (Virgin Australia owns 41 Boeing 737s outright). That saw the airline’s administrators tear up existing contracts and start returning excess planes to their owners.

Avation PLC had six ATR72-500s, five ATR72-600s, and two Fokker 100 jets at Virgin Australia. The ATRs flew regional routes around Queensland and New South Wales while the Fokkers focused on charter and FIFO runs out to mines. Five of the ATR72-600 aircraft remain in Australia, but Avation PLC has commenced the return process.

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A Virgin Australia Fokker 100. Photo: Virgin Australia

Avation has entered into new lease arrangements for five former Virgin Australia aircraft, including finance leases for the sale of the two Fokker 100 aircraft, operating leases for two ATR72-500s with a new airline customer in Australia, and a five-year operating lease for an ATR72-500 aircraft with a new airline customer in Asia.

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The other three ATR72-500s are back at Avation and now undergoing maintenance in preparation for re-marketing for lease or sale.

Aircraft lessor upbeat about the future

Virgin Australia is not Avation PLC’s only customer who went broke this year. Avation PLC  had two ATR72-600 aircraft on lease to Braathens when it entered administration. Fortunately, the bulk of the company’s 48 aircraft are in places where the worst impact of 2020 is over or being contained.

“We are now observing a return to service of certain customers including VietJet, airBaltic, EVA Air and Mandarin Airlines which combined represent of the order of 60% of Avation’s future unearned contracted leasing revenue,” says Executive Chairman, Jeff Chatfield in a statement seen by Simple Flying.

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Virgin Australia will become an all 737 airline. Photo: Virgin Australia

With fewer people flying and airlines looking to operate smaller planes, Avation PLC’s emphasis on ATRs may stand it in good stead over the coming years. It owns just two widebodies planes, 18 single-aisle jets (including six A220s and the pair of Fokkers formerly at Virgin Australia). Over half (58%) of its owned planes are post-2020 friendly ATRs.

While Avation PLC can take its planes back, it faces next to no chance of recouping the full monies it is owed. A report to creditors released two months ago suggests unsecured creditors can expect back between 9% and 13% of the full amount owed.

Source: https://simpleflying.com/avation-virgin-australia-debt/

Aerospace

Valuechain’s MES solution now integrates PrintSyst’s AI Engine

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Valuechain’s MES solution now integrates PrintSyst’s AI Engine

Today marks an important milestone in the strategic partnership between Valuechain Enterprise Systems and PrintSyst, upon completing the integration of PrintSyst’s cutting edge AI engine, the 3DP AI-Perfecter, into Valuechain’s industrial-grade MES, DNA.am.

The two companies have partnered to develop an integrated MES that will leverage PrintSyst’s world class AI engine, which enables an automated pre-printing workflow and thus assists customers in industries such as Aerospace, Automotive and Defence, to significantly improve their productivity and scale up their 3D printing production.

The integrated Valuechain-PrintSyst solution provides a state-of-the-art smart automation that learns from previous Additive Manufacturing builds and analyses the exact intent for which a specific part is going to be used to comply with industry specifications. It then accordingly suggests printing parameters that will have the highest probability of right-first-time Additive Manufacturing builds, accurately estimates 3D parts costs, recommends on the most suitable materials to be used based on 3D parts’ functional needs and eliminates the need for trial and error. Bottom line, this paves the way for transforming 3D Printing productivity through improved quality, cost and delivery responsiveness.

Tom Dawes, CEO of Valuechain, (pictured above on the right) commented: “Industrial 3D printing has continued to grow over recent months, as companies that initially trialled the technology are looking to scale up. Covid-19 has illustrated the importance of a robust supply chain structure, underpinned by secure collaboration and intelligence. However, many of these companies lack the digital solutions that drive 3D printing productivity while providing a path for an automated, standardized and certifiable digital workflow. Based on our customers’ feedback so far, I am confident that our collaboration with PrintSyst will be pivotal in addressing this critical need.”

Itamar Yona, PrintSyst’s CEO and co-founder, added that “combining our world class AI engine and hands on industry experience, with DNA.am’s leading industrial-grade MES, will step change the manual, costly and unscalable 3D printing workflow. We are now able to take into account multiple additional parameters that exist in DNA.am MES and automatically train our engine so we can provide instant, highly personalised and optimized printing recommendations to our joint customers.”

www.DNA.am

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Source: https://www.aero-mag.com/valuechains-mes-solution-now-integrates-printsysts-ai-engine/

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Paragraf drives electric transport revolution with graphene sensors

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Paragraf drives electric transport revolution with graphene sensors

Paragraf, a leader in graphene-based transformative electronic sensors and devices, is helping to realise an industry first by implementing a supply chain for graphene Hall-Effect sensors used in high-temperature Power Electronics, Electric Machines and Drives (PEMD) within the aerospace sector.

Named High-T Hall, the project stems from the UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) ‘Driving the Electric Revolution’ challenge and brings together Paragraf, Rolls-Royce, TT Electronics (Aero Stanrew) and the Compound Semiconductor Applications Catapult (CSA Catapult). It is set to demonstrate how graphene-based Hall Effect sensors can operate reliably at high temperatures, paving the way for more efficient electric engines in aerospace and beyond.

Hall Effect sensors play a major role in monitoring current levels and magnetic fields in PEMD applications, which is critical to monitoring drive power consumption and machine speed and position. The deployment of conventional silicon Hall sensors is, however, restricted to environments with temperatures below 150°C and frequencies below 100kHz, which can constrain system level design. Project High-T Hall aims to demonstrate that graphene-based Hall Effect sensors will operate reliably up to 180°C, and potentially even at temperatures of up to 230°C allowing them to be mounted within the machine or power module enclosure thus  enabling much greater flexibility in the design of new PEMD equipment aligned to Silicon Carbide power devices and higher performance more compact electrical machines. The ability to monitor current levels more accurately and reliably will enable better overall system control, which will in turn reduce size and weight and help design more efficient electric engine systems.

Ivor Guiney, co-founder of Paragraf, commented: “We are extremely proud to be part of this pioneering project that will hopefully lead to better efficiency in all-electric engines and help accelerate the adoption of e-planes and, more generally, electric vehicles. Our graphene Hall Effect sensors have already proven to possess unique cryogenic properties, so their resistance to high temperatures will help demonstrate how uniquely versatile graphene devices are from a thermal standpoint.”

As the lead partner in High-T Hall, Paragraf will design and manufacture custom Hall Effect sensors for integration into the systems of Rolls-Royce and TT Electronics. The CSA Catapult will provide their packaging expertise to develop innovative packaging solutions and advanced assembly process for realising the prototypes. The role of Rolls-Royce and TT Electronics will be to test the Paragraf’s graphene Hall Effect sensors in state-of-the-art, aerospace PEMD applications, with the former pioneering the use of this technology in their upcoming gas turbine product portfolio. TT Electronics will use it to develop a range of modular current sensors for use in rugged aerospace electrical systems to reduce Hall Effect sensor temperature-related errors.

Head of Electronics, Stephen Dennison at Rolls-Royce stated: “Rolls-Royce is committed to playing a leading role in reaching net zero carbon by 2050 and this includes championing sustainable power. This project with Paragraf and the other partners will help develop a resilient supply chain that enables companies to source made-to-measure, innovative electronic components to enhance the efficiency and performance of power, electronics, machines and drives.”

Owen Rolfe, Business Development Director at TT Electronics stated: “Now more than ever it’s important we make a proactive effort to accelerate innovation within the Aerospace supply chain. In this case, higher temperature operation of these sensing solutions has the capability to deliver significant efficiency benefits to power electronics systems and that’s something we’re extremely proud and well placed to support.”

Martin McHugh, CTO and Acting CEO at the CSA Catapult stated: “The aim of project High-T Hall is to demonstrate an integrated UK supply chain solution for advanced Hall sensing within PEMD. This will address the issues PEMDs experience when switching frequencies across a broad range of temperature conditions. We are very pleased to be involved in the sensor test platform and reliability testing on this project.”

The use of a graphene-based Hall Effect sensors in high-temperature aerospace environments could not only be replicated in other industries such as automotive. It may also open new opportunities for other graphene-based electronics, beyond sensors, which can help improve efficiency and performance even further in applications such as the engines of EVs.

Project High-T Hall started in July 2020 and is now due to run for one year. It is funded by UK Research and Innovation.

www.paragraf.com

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Source: https://www.aero-mag.com/paragraf-drives-electric-transport-revolution-with-graphene-sensors/

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Major US Airlines Pause Nonstop Flights To Shanghai

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American Airlines and United are putting their nonstop Shanghai plans on hold, the carriers confirmed Tuesday. Reports on long waits to enter the country and restricted accommodations have given rise to concerns regarding crew rest requirements. Services, including cargo-only, will continue to operate via Seoul Incheon. Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines is reportedly going ahead with nonstop flights to China.

American and United Airlines are pausing their plans for nonstop Shanghai flights due to concerns over crew rest requirements and accommodations. Photo: Getty Images

Both American Airlines and United have halted their plans to fly nonstop to Shanghai in China. Concerns have been raised from unions about reports on lengthy waits for tests upon arrival.

There is also apprehension regarding the government-mandated hotel for crew at Pudong airport, where movement is reported to be severely restricted. These cumbersome procedures take a large chunk out of the federally regulated rest requirements for airline crew.

Crew continues to change in Seoul

American had planned to initiate non-stop cargo-only flights from Los Angeles to Shanghai in December. However, it will now continue to operate the service with a stop in Seoul, South Korea, for a crew change, CNBC reported Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the return journey will go straight from Shanghai to LA. Sources told the publication that American would continue to include stops in Seoul for its flights from Dallas-Fort Worth to Shanghai and from LAX to Beijing.

“We started operating passenger service from DFW (Dallas/Fort Worth) to PVG (Shanghai Pudong) on Nov. 11 through Seoul (ICN) due to testing requirements for crews,” a spokesperson for American Airlines told Reuters. They also added that cargo flights are continuing to operate through Seoul for the same reason.

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United previously eliminated its Seoul stopover on its way to Shanghai but has now added it back to the itinerary. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | JFKJets.com

United adding the stop back in

United Airlines previously flew to Shanghai via Seoul on the way there. However, on October 21st, the airline removed the stop on its San Fransisco to Shanghai Pudong route. Now, due to the same concerns over crew rest time and limited local accommodations, the carrier is adding Seoul back to the itinerary.

“Due to changes in operating conditions, we adjusted service between San Francisco and Shanghai to now include a stop in Seoul, South Korea for a crew change as we did earlier this year,” a United spokesperson said to CNBC.

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Delta, meanwhile, the first US carrier to resume air traffic ties with China, is reportedly going ahead with nonstop services from Seattle and Detroit. Photo: Getty Images

Union making sure Delta’s decision is airtight

Delta Air Lines, however, is, thus far, still going ahead with the reintroduction of direct flights to China’s largest city. The carrier is set to offer nonstop services from both Seattle and Detroit starting this week. As the first US airline to reconnect the US and China since the flight suspension in February, Delta resumed a twice-weekly service to Shanghai in June. Since then, flights have also operated with a stop at Seoul Incheon.

“Delta has shared with us their plan and the logistics surrounding the initiation of nonstop service to Shanghai. Right now, we are studying it to make sure that it is airtight,” the ALPA told CNBC in a statement.

Simple Flying has reached out to the above-mentioned airlines with a request for further comments but was yet to receive a reply at the time of publication.

Source: https://simpleflying.com/us-airlines-pause-shanghai-flights/

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HOP’s Embraer Fleet To Be Rebranded As Air France

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CEO of Air France-KLM Ben Smith has confirmed plans to fully integrate the Hop! brand into Air France. The airline will become a regional feeder for Air France, rebranded in line with the main airline. Smith is targeting a shrink of around 50% for Hop!, which will see it emerge as an all-Embraer airline.

Hop! will become all-Embraer and Air France branded. Photo: Getty Images

An all-Embraer Air France brand

Air France-owned regional airline Hop! has had mixed success as a standalone operator. It’s distinct branding and separate marketing and operations led to inefficiency in the Air France Portfolio, something that the new boss at the group is keen to iron out.

Speaking at this week’s Routes Reconnected, CEO of Air France-KLM Ben Smith explained the position with Hop!. He said,

“For Hop!, we’ve shrunk it by 50%. It’s going to be at Roissy, CDG, and it’s got a sort of mini-hub at Lyon.

“Hop will become an all-Embraer fleet around those two cities or those two airports. We’re removing the brand, so it’s basically like most regional operators’ airlines; it will be Air France operated by Hop!”

While the rebrand is no big surprise, the news that it will become an all-Embraer fleet is new. Right now, the airline operates a mix of Bombardier and Embraer aircraft, with 25 CRJs and 45 ERJs. The CRJ-700s are aging, averaging 16.5 years across the fleet. However, many of the CRJ-1000s are still quite young, most under 10 years of age.

Does this mean an end to the CRJ-1000s? Photo: Getty Images

Also aging is its fleet of ERJ-145s. These 13 aircraft are all over 15 years old, with some as old as 23. Since being grounded earlier this year, none has flown for Hop!. With Smith talking about a 50% shrink, he’s got to be targeting 35 or so aircraft for Hop!. This may well mean only the E-170 and E-190 will stay; perhaps we could even see an order for the reimagined E2 jets in future as well.

Simplifying and boosting efficiency

Smith talked at length about his plans for the main Air France brand, as well as for Transavia and Hop! during the interview. Since his arrival at Air France-KLM in 2018, Smith has been on a mission to drive down the inefficiencies at both airlines, and to streamline every element of its operation.

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We’ve already seen the impact of this in a number of moves. Closing down Joon made sense to Smith, because it was really just replicating the work of Air France to no benefit of the business. The downturn in demand gave him his window of opportunity to get shot of the A380s, leaving future large-capacity widebody operations focused on the more efficient A350 and Boeing 777.

Bringing Hop! more tightly into the Air France brand makes sense from an efficiency perspective. Photo: Getty Images

Bringing Hop! into the Air France family more closely is simply an extension of everything else he’s been doing. It’s not driven by the pandemic, but has certainly become more urgent. He talked about the inefficiencies of running Hop as a separate entity, saying,

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“Hop! was actually marketed separately. It had its own revenue management system, it had its own scheduling depot, and then it would codeshare with Air France. So it’s really going to be a regional feeder carrier.”

In the US, having regional feeders for big airlines at their hubs is normal. Look at American Eagle or Delta Connect, operated by other airlines but with a greater alignment of operations and branding. For Air France, it’s about time – KLM has had Cityhopper for many years, and now both Air France and Hop! will benefit from a similar degree of integration.

Source: https://simpleflying.com/hop-rebranded-as-air-france/

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