Boeing rolls out first 787 Dreamliner to go into service

Three years after it was first due for delivery, Boeing has rolled out the first 787 Dreamliner that is to be delivered to a customer. Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA) were to take delivery in May 2008, but will now receive the aircraft next month.

The plane promises increased fuel efficiency as it is the first model to be built out of plastic and carbon composites, more lightweight than conventional materials. Boeing says they have 800 orders at $200 million per aircraft. Launch customer ANA have ordered 55.

The first flight of a B787, back in December 2009

Delayed by Boeing’s outsourcing system to a variety of subcontractors, two models have been developed. The 787-8 holds between 210 and 250 passengers; the 787-9 holds 250 to 290. Airlines choose the seating layout they want.

After the 787, already bearing ANA’s livery, arrives in Tokyo next month, the airline will use its first commercial flight for a special charter from Tokyo to Hong Kong. “We plan to use the 787 to expand our business, particularly our international routes,” says ANA senior vice president Mitsuo Morimoto. “We plan to increase our revenue from international route significantly and the 787 will play an instrumental role in this,” he adds, noting flights to Europe or the US are possibles for 787s.

“We are rolling out the first delivery airplane, the first 787,” enthused Scott Fancher, 787 project manager and Boeing vice president. “That’s an amazing thing for those who have worked on the program five, six, seven years, here at Boeing and our partners around the world.”

Boeing says they must increase the tempo of production from two a month to ten, if they are to meet customer demand. “It’s an extraordinary challenge, no one has ever built a wide body aircraft at the rate of 10 per month before,” claims Flight International writer John Ostrower.

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Air France, pilots union, victims group criticise transatlantic disaster probe

More than two years after Air France Flight 447 crashed into the Atlantic, killing 228, a French pilots union, a group supporting victims’ families, and Air France have all criticised the ongoing investigation. The Bureau d’enquêtes et d’analyses (BEA) is being accused of trying to blame the pilots in order to absolve Airbus.

The controversy follows the release of the BEA’s latest interim report detailing findings so far. At the last moment, the BEA removed a recommendation added by chief investigator Alain Bouillard which called for alarms on Airbus A330s to be modified.

The National Airline Pilots Union (SNPL) is concerned the investigation is degenerating “into a simple charge sheet against the crew,” and says the latest revelations left them with “seriously damaged” faith in the investigators. The SNPL has withdrawn all support in the probe. Air France claim alarms on the A330-200 were “misleading” and contributed to the disaster. Robert Soulas, president of French victims’ families group Entraide et Solidarité AF447, claims the move proves bias in the BEA.

The Air France-owned Airbus that crashed. Both airline and manufacturer are at the center of a controversy over responsibility.

The dispute surrounds stall warning systems. An aircraft stalls if it no longer has sufficient speed to keep itself airbourne. The warnings cut out at extremely low speeds, meaning if a stall progresses far enough the warning can cease. The correct course of action in a stall is to lower the nose, increasing an aircraft’s speed; if the speed increases, the warnings can sound again. This may confuse pilots into abandoning corrective measures.

The BEA have responded that the last-minute call to remove a recommendation calling for changes to stall warning design was owing to a need to examine the issue further. They say behavioral psychologists and cockpit designers have been teamed up to look into the warnings and how crews respond to them. The BEA intends to make a recommendation on the issue in the future, and a spokesperson expressed “deep regret” at the SNPL’s response.

Friday’s 117-page report did examine the actions and training of the pilots. The report says they were untrainined in high-altitude manual flying and in how to identify react to failure of speed sensors. Neither was a standard part of training at the time.

The speed sensing system failed, causing the autopilot and autothrust to switch off. This was followed by stall warnings, which the interim BEA report say were ignored by pilots during a three-and-a-half minute fall of 38,000 feet into the ocean.

“The haste with which these authorities and these officials accused the pilots without any forethought aroused our suspicions,” said Soulas. “We now have confirmation that the affirmations coming from the BEA were not only premature, (but) lacking any objectivity, partial and very oriented towards the defence of Airbus.” For weeks his organisation has mounted protests against the direction taken by the investigation.

Air France, who are battling legally with Airbus over responsibility (both firms are also under criminal investigation), wrote to the European Aviation Safety Agency asking that they examine the stall warnings and seek that they be changed in need be. Air France previously upgraded the speed sensors on their A330s.

Junior Transport Minister Thierry Mariani defended the BEA. “There has never been such a transparent enquiry: it was filmed, took place under the judiciary’s control, with Brazilian [and] American investigators. These controversies discredit an enquiry that is exemplary.” Airbus also responded. “Can you imagine for an instant that, because of economic interests or links between the BEA and Airbus, we’d put in peril all the other airlines operating this plane? It’s neither conceivable nor admissible,” said a statement. About 180 airlines use the Airbus A330.

The Boeing 787 Dreamliner made its debut in India.

The Boeing  787 Dreamliner made its India debut landing at New Delhi International Airport at 11:09 a.m. (IST), arriving from Tokyo.

“Indian air carriers have recognized the tremendous value the Boeing 787 offers airlines,” said Dinesh Keskar, president Boeing India.

Water salute to Boeing 787 Dreamliner at Indira Gandhi International Airport

 Air India is one of the early customers and has ordered 27 787s. Jet Airways also has ordered 10 Dreamliners. The 787 offers the potential to enhance the revenues of customers due to its passenger appeal and reduction in maintenance costs and fuel burn.

Boeing 787 Dreamliner Taxing at Indira Gandhi International Airport.

“We look forward to the airplane’s introduction into the fleets of our valued customers in India,” said Keskar. He also mentioned that the 787’s visit was a great day in the long history of Boeing’s partnership with India.

The airplane will depart for the Mumbai Airport in the evening of July 15 and will fly back to Seattle on the morning of July 16.

The 787 Dreamliner is built by an international team and will provide airlines around the globe with a new level of efficiency in operations, with a 20 percent reduction in fuel use when compared to similar-sized airplanes. The 787 also brings a new level of passenger comfort to travelers including bigger windows and more personal space as well as an environment designed to help them arrive at their destinations feeling refreshed.

South Korean troops mistakenly attack passenger jet

Troops in South Korea attacked a passenger jet Saturday after mistaking it for a North Korean aircraft. The Asiana Airlines plane was out of range and escaped undamaged; the 119 on board were unharmed.

Soldiers fired 99 rounds, including two blanks, from their K2 rifles at the Airbus A321 as it approached Incheon International Airport on a flight from China. That airport serves Seoul and is 25 miles (40.2 kilometres) from the border between the two Korean states.

An Asiana A321, Image: Ellery Cheng.

 The plane’s route is disputed. One aviation controller said that the plane was “flying normally” and “did not deviate from its normal route,” a claim with which Asiana agrees. However, Yonhap reports that the South Korean marines who attacked the aircraft say it was off-course. A Marine Corps official said the shooting lasted ten minutes as the plane flew over Jumun island. The marines fired from nearby Gyodong.

Relations between the two Korean countries have been tense since the end of open hostilities in the 1953 Korean War. The South Korean military has recently used photos of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il’s family for target practice, with the north threatening retaliation. South Korean media claimed yesterday that the south has US-built missiles capable of reaching the northern capital, Pyongyang, and blamed the north for twin bombings that killed 50 people last year.

The troops opened fire with K2s, but the jet was out of range. Image: W:User:Kahuna028.

South Korean troops have been told by Defence Minister Kim Kwan-Jin to fire at attacking North Koreans without waiting for or seeking instructions. “Don’t ask your commanders whether to fire back or not. Take actions first and then report afterwards,” he said on the front line in March. The South Korean military was criticised in November for a slow response to the north’s shelling of Yeonpyeong island, which killed four.

The two marines who attacked the plane yesterday had recently been told that the North was increasing military action due to heightened tensions. As a result of the incident, increased training on aircraft identification will be performed. Asiana said they were unaware of the attack until contacted by the military and asked if the jet had been hit.

The game-changing A380 comes to Korean Air

Airbus’ A380 will soon be in service with Korean Air as its sixth international operator, further expanding a global route network that every day is underscoring this aircraft’s undisputed role as the world air transport industry’s new flagship airliner.

During a ceremony today at Airbus’ Toulouse, France headquarters, the Seoul-based carrier celebrated its first A380 delivery, becoming one of two airlines – along with China Southern – that are to join the growing operator list during 2011.

Korean Air - Airbus A380.

Already flying the A380 in commercial revenue service are Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Qantas, Air France and Lufthansa, which together have carried more than 12 million passengers while logging excellent passenger load factors and demonstrating high operational reliability.

Destinations served – and also announced for A380 service – has reached 23 cities linked by 32 different routes, including the upcoming non-stop flights planned by Korean Air from Seoul to North America and Europe. Overall, this network covers 11 of the world’s top 15 international airports, and encompasses such major hubs as London-Heathrow, Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Hong Kong, Frankfurt, Dubai, Singapore and Tokyo; along with destinations such as Manchester, Zurich, Toronto and other cities.

Airbus A380 delivery to Korean air.

“The A380 continues to be a game-changer: it is recognised by passengers as something definitely better, while airlines are benefitting from its lowest fuel burn, cost per seat and noise of any large aircraft,” said Richard Carcaillet, Airbus’ director of A380 product marketing. “With the A380 now in its fourth year of revenue operations, this aircraft is all that it meant to be, and is now recognised as the worthy successor to the legendary – but now venerable – 747.”

A total of 234 A380s have been ordered from 18 customers to date, including carriers from all three major global airline alliances: oneworld, SkyTeam and Star Alliance. This order book tally includes the 10 A380s being acquired by Korean Air, of which the first five are to be delivered by the end of 2011, with the additional five received by 2014. · For additional information on Korean Air’s A380 first delivery celebration, see the dedicated event website.

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