Aviation

Virgin Atlantic Completes Sale Of 2 Boeing 787s For Leaseback

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Today, Virgin Atlantic revealed that it had completed the sale and leaseback of two of its Boeing 787-9 aircraft. The deal will allow the airline to pay down debt and improve its cash position as it looks to recover from aviation’s worst crisis.

Virgin Atlantic, Boeing 787, Sale
Virgin Atlantic has completed the sale of two Boeing 787-9s for leaseback. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

The past year hasn’t been great for most airlines. Indeed, as a result of the current crisis, we’ve seen significant airlines such as Lufthansa refinance Airbus A350s to generate cash. Meanwhile, other airlines such as Finnair have been selling Airbus A350s to lessors to lease their own aircraft back. Virgin Atlantic has now joined the second party.

Selling two Boeing 787-9s

Just over a month ago, Simple Flying reported that Virgin Atlantic was selling a pair of Boeing 787-9s to raise up to £70 million ($93 million) worth of funds. The airline today revealed that the process of selling these two aircraft is now complete.

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The two aircraft have been sold to Griffin Global Asset Management, which is backed by Bain Capital. Incidentally, Bain Capital was the successful bidder when another Virgin airline, Virgin Australia, was put up for sale last year.

virgin-australia-boeing-737-getty
They were sold to Griffin Global Asset Management, backed by Bain Capital, which owns Virgin Australia. Photo: Getty Images

Virgin hasn’t confirmed which Boeing 787-9s have been sold, but there were only four contenders as the remaining fleet was already under lease. The sale doesn’t mean that the Virgin Atlantic fleet will get smaller.

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The British airline will continue to operate the aircraft in its livery. There will simply be a different name on the ownership papers. This also means that Virgin will now have to pay the lease rates of the aircraft. While the sale provides Virgin with an instant cash boost, it will also put the airline’s expenditure up.

Commenting on the aircraft’s sale, Oliver Byers, Chief Financial Officer, Virgin Atlantic, said:

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“Since the beginning of the crisis, we have taken decisive action to reduce our costs, preserve cash and protect as many jobs as possible. This deal will allow Virgin Atlantic to further bolster our cash position and we are confident that we will emerge a sustainably profitable airline, with a healthy balance sheet.”

Virgin Atlantic, Boeing 787, Sale
The sale was reportedly worth £70 million ($93 million) for Virgin. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – JFKJets.com

What happens when an aircraft is sold for leaseback?

When aircraft are delivered new, they are usually either purchased outright by the airline or purchased by a lessor who will then rent the aircraft out to the airline. The advantage of buying an aircraft outright is that your long term expenditure is lower. However, when an airline wants an instant payout, they can sell the aircraft to a lessor and then pay the lessor to keep flying their plane, as is the case here.

What do you make of Virgin Atlantic’s Boeing 787-9 sale? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Source: https://simpleflying.com/virgin-atlantic-boeing-787-sale-complete/

Aviation

Air Côte d’Ivoire Takes Delivery Of Its First Airbus A320neo

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Air Côte d’Ivoire has become the first A320neo operator in the West-African region. On Thursday, the carrier took delivery of its first New Engine Option of the A320 family, as the plane carried humanitarian supplies from Toulouse to Abidjan. The airline will begin deploying the jet on regional routes but eyes an expansion to destinations in South Africa in the future.

Air Côte d'Ivoire A320neo
On Thursday, Air Côte d’Ivoire took delivery of its very first A320neo, and the jet did not come empty-handed. Photo: Airbus

Ferried a ton of supplies for health and education

On Thursday, February 18th, Air Côte d’Ivoire took delivery of its first Airbus A320neo. This makes the Abidjan-based carrier the first operator of the type in the West-African region. Ownership was transferred on Wednesday, and one day later, the aircraft took off from the manufacturer’s facilities in Toulouse.

Not only on delivery, the jet also had a second mission. It carried over a ton of humanitarian goods such as medical supplies and children’s toys. The initiative is a partnership between Aviation sans Frontiéres and the Airbus Foundation and part of Air Côte d’Ivoire’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) drive.

The aircraft, registered as TU-TSX, took off from Toulouse, France, at 11:12 local time. Following five hours and 38 minutes in the air, it landed at Félix-Houphouët-Boigny International Airport in Côte d’Ivoire’s financial capital of Abidjan. Viewers could follow the live event and ceremony of the delivery streamed via the airline’s social media.

The A320neo joins The West African flag-carrier’s fleet of four De Havilland DHC-8 Dash 8 turboprops, three Airbus A319, and two Airbus A320ceos. It is the third Airbus the airline has taken delivery of straight from the manufacturer.

Air Côte d'Ivoire
The airline intends to deploy its new jet (not pictured) on regional routes to Cameroon, Senegal, and Gabon. Photo: Getty Images

Regional with potential for expansion

Initially, it will deploy the jet on its regional network for Senegal, Gabon, and Cameroon. Meanwhile, the carrier intends to add South African destinations to the newcomer’s roster at a later stage, taking advantage of the jet’s operational flexibility.

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Air Côte d’Ivoire is the flag carrier of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire. The airline was founded in May 2012 and commenced operations six months later. It succeeded the country’s former national airline, Air Ivoire, which went bankrupt in 2011.

It is owned 58% by Côte d’Ivoire’s government, 11% by Air France-KLM, 23% by a consortium of private Ivorian investors called Golden Road, and 8% by other investors.

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Air Côte d'Ivoire welcome ceremony
The airline’s first A320s arrived in 2017. Photo: Getty Images

Air Côte d’Ivoire’s Airbus family

The airline took delivery of its first aircraft, an Airbus A319, on lease from Macquarie AirFinance and previously operated by Air France, in October 2012. The second jet of the type with the same arrangement and history arrived a few weeks later.

The third A319 did not arrive until 2017, when an aircraft leased from AirCap previously operated by Mexicana, AeroGal, and Avianca Ecuador arrived in Abidjan. The carrier’s two own A320s also arrived in 2017, the first in July and the second in September.

Have you flown with Air Côte D’Ivoire, or on the A320neo? Tell us about your experience in the comments. 

Source: https://simpleflying.com/aair-cote-divoire-a320neo/

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Aviation

Embraer Supports Brazil’s WTO Subsidy Complaint Withdrawal

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Embraer has signaled its support for Brazil’s decision to withdraw a complaint before the WTO over Canada’s support for the Bombardier C-Series program. While the support may come as a surprise (especially since Brazil filed the complaint to support Embraer), the manufacturer has laid out its reasons. Here is Embraer’s strategy to create a level playing field in aviation subsidies.

Embraer
Embraer is searching for new ways to combat unfair state subsidies to aerospace manufacturers. Photo: Embraer

Withdrawn

In a press release yesterday, Embraer supported Brazil’s decision to withdraw an ongoing complaint before the WTO. Brazil first filed a challenge with the WTO against Canada in February 2017, citing the $3 billion given to the Bombardier C-Series program as being illegal subsidies that distorted the market.

However, the market has shifted rapidly since the complaint was first filed against Canada. Airbus’ acquisition of the C-Series program (now known as the A220) and opening of new production lines meant a ruling would no longer have the same effect Embraer once hoped.

A220-300 Airbus Demonstration Tour in Asia - Yangon
Embraer argued that the deep subsidies to the C-Series distorted the market unfairly against them. Photo: Airbus

In a statement, Embraer said,

“After Bombardier exited the Commercial Aviation segment and transferred the C-Series program (now called A220) to Airbus, which has a second assembly line in the United States, the trade dispute against Canada at the WTO is no longer the most effective means to achieve Brazil’s and Embraer’s goal of re-establishing a level playing field in this sector.”

Competition

Embraer is now looking to other avenues to correct the effect of subsidies. Organizations like the OECD’s Aircraft Sector Understanding could provide other means to solving these disputes. However, the dispute signals an underlying competiton between the A220 and Embraer’s E-jet family.

The A220 has had a strong few years, with orders for the jet ramping up globally since Airbus’ acquisition of the program. As of today, Airbus has racked 630 orders for the jet, including major commitments from Delta, jetBlue, and Air France. This growing dominance threatens Embraer’s position as a market leader in the regional jet market.

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Embraer E175
The A220 is a direct challenger to the new E2 lineup of the E195 and E175. Photo: Embraer

Embraer has been heavily marketing its E195-E2 and E190-E2s, the latest iteration of the E-jet family. Aside from having a strong track record and fleet integration, the lower price of the E2 family could be a strong incentive for airlines.

Playing out

The A220 has had its fair share of disputes and opposition, including Boeing famous anti-dumping petition to the US government. However, as the regional jet soars in popularity (especially during the pandemic), Embraer and others are quickly trying to grow their footprints.

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Envoy Air American Airlines Embraer ERJ-145
Embraer remains a popular manufacturer and is integrated in fleets globally. Photo: Getty Images

2020 was particularly hard on Embraer after its planned deal with Boeing fell through. The Brazilian manufaturer was forced to institute workforce cuts and saw deliveries fall as it reeled from the failed deal. With 2021 signaling higher demand, Embraer is working hard to return to its growth track.

What do you think about Embraer’s move? Can the A220 subsidies be addressed now? Let us know in the comments.

Source: https://simpleflying.com/embraer-brazil-wto-subsidy-complaint/

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Aviation

In Pictures: A Look Inside Thailand’s Airbus A330 Coffee Shop

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About 160 kilometers or 100 miles south-southeast of central Bangkok (Thailand), you’ll find an old Airbus A330 that’s been converted into a coffee shop. Home of “331 Station Coffee War,” the old Airbus widebody, located in Sattahip, was so popular last year that it was even ordered to close after going viral on social media. Let’s look at the aircraft-turned-coffee shop in a series of photos.

The coffee shop-aircraft is located in Sattahip, which is a district in the south of Chon Buri province. Photo: Getty Images

Pattaya News notes that a Mr. Damri Sangtang, a former Royal Thai Navy officer, is the owner of the business. Sangtang’s history as a member of the military may offer a clue as to part of the business’ “Coffee War” name. The 331 portion of the name appears to come from the fact that it’s located on Road No 331.

The coffee shop A330 is about a two-hours-drive from central Bangkok. Photo: Google Maps

The $333,000 Airbus A330

According to The Thaiger, the decommissioned Airbus A330 cost 10 million Thai baht – which roughly converts to just over $333,000. Stripped of its engines, most of its passenger seating (and likely much more), the aircraft sounds like a deal considering the $240 million list price for a new jet (even if that figure is typically overinflated). Of course, the fact that the plane doesn’t do what it’s mean to do (fly) is probably the reason behind the steal of a deal. We’re guessing that the previous owner simply wanted to be rid of it, not wanting to pay for the scrapping fees.

Whatever the circumstances might have been that led to the aircraft purchase- it looks like it turned out to be a worthwhile purchase, given how popular the shop has become.

With many unable to travel due to travel restrictions caused by the global health crisis, setting foot on an airplane – functioning or not – might be appealing. Photo: Getty Images

In fact, at the end of June last year, the coffee shop was ordered temporarily shut down after it became too popular. Apparently, the aircraft cafe went viral on social media and thus was drawing thousands of customers a day.

While it’s not a crime for a business to be ‘too popular,’ it is a concern during a worldwide health crisis, where close human interaction in confined spaces can lead to the spread of disease. Thus, public health officials had to ask the coffee shop to close for a week, hoping that the pause would help to cool down enthusiasm and hype around the old jet.

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Inside 331 Station-Coffee War

With coffee at the cafe costing as little as 60 baht ($2.00), the next-to-nothing cost of entry seems like a great deal. It’s no wonder why it’s become so popular.

In order to ensure the health and safety of customers, the cafe reportedly conducts temperature checks, requires the wearing of masks, and regularly disinfects surfaces. Only 60 customers are permitted “on board” at any one time, for a maximum of 40 minutes.

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Much of the A330’s regular passenger seating has been removed- mostly replaced by small coffee tables and wooden chairs. Photo: Getty Images
Of course, a few old aircraft seats were retained. Photo: Getty Images
Some economy class seats were even kept onboard. At least they were rearranged to provide more legroom. Photo: Getty Images
The aircraft once flew with Thai Airways. Photo: Getty Images

Before it was a coffee shop

The Airbus A330-300 once flew with Thai flag carrier, Thai Airways, registered as HS-TEA. The jet was delivered new to the airline in 1995 and was configured to seat 42 in business and 263 in economy class.

HS-TEA A330
A look at HS-TEA when it was still flying. Photo: Aero Icarus via Wikimedia Commons

The jet was withdrawn from use in March of 2015 and then stored at U-Tapao–Rayong–Pattaya International Airport (UTP) airport in May of that year. UTP is a common storage airport for Thai’s unused jets. Interested in other aircraft re-purposing stories like this? Check out the 727-turned-event-space, and the 737 converted into a cabin.

If you were in Thailand, would you go out of your way to see this coffee shop? Let us know in the comments.

Source: https://simpleflying.com/thailand-a330-coffee-shop/

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Aviation

What Is The Shuttlecock That Hangs Off The Tail Of Test Planes?

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If you look at photos and videos of aircraft conducting their initial test flights, you may see a little object tethered to the top of the vertical stabilizer. This object, known as a trailing cone (or static cone), almost looks like an oversized badminton birdie or shuttlecock. Indeed, it does have a key role to play in the test process. Let’s look at it in this article.

737 max
Known as a trailing cone, it’s shown here on a 737 MAX test flight. Photo: Getty Images

Measuring static pressure

When developing new aircraft, the trailing cone is fixed on to test jets in the early weeks of test flights and is there to measure static pressure or ambient atmospheric pressure. Thus, beyond trailing cone and static cone, some have also referred to it as a static pressure line.

When the line is reeled out in flight, AeronewsTV notes that the nylon cable is generally one to one and a half times the wingspan length or about 50 metres. This gets reeled in and is much shorter when the aircraft is on the ground, however.

Aviation International News gets a behind-the-scenes look at a test aircraft, including inside the cabin. Fitted with computer workstations for the development team, the aircraft shown in the video below also provides a brief glance at the line and reel from the inside of the aircraft. Appearing for just a few seconds at 1:48, the reel in the video is clearly about the same height as the passenger door it is situated beside and thus stands taller than most people.

In terms of an outside look, the trailing cone and its line can be seen quite well in Boeing’s 777X “first flight video” embedded below:

Calibrating sensors

A former flight test director at Airbus explains to AeronewsTV that getting an accurate read on the static pressure is necessary to measure the plane’s exact airspeed and altitude. “The static pressure is therefore fundamental to measure the performance of a test aircraft.”

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a350 test
The trailing cone and its line can be removed once accurate data is collected and integrated into aircraft sensors. Photo: Getty Images

When it is let out to its proper length, the object’s location is far enough behind the aircraft so that it can give a proper indication of the pressure away from the air flowing around an aircraft. Its presence gives the aircraft test team an idea of the difference in pressure between it and the pitot pressure at the front of the aircraft. This difference between the static pressure and pitot pressure helps to calibrate the airspeed measurements. 

Advanced digital electronic air data computers make it possible for aircraft to correct for pitot-static “errors,” as veteran pilot Mac McLellan explains,

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“Those errors can be caused by configuration change, such as extending the flaps, or flying at higher or lower altitudes, and faster or slower airspeeds. But the errors must first be documented in flight test and that’s why the static cone is so essential. The air data computers are terrific at correcting errors, but only after the errors themselves have been documented.” -Mac McLellan via Air Facts

Once the data is collected and analyzed, sensors can then be properly calibrated and adjusted. This, then, allows for the trailing cone to disappear.

Did you know notice this trailing cone before reading this article? Did you already know why it was there? Let us know in the comments.

Source: https://simpleflying.com/test-plane-shuttlecock/

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