​Korean Air in support deal for A-10 tank killer

Korean Airlines Aerospace Division (KAL-ASD) has received a $213 million contract to support US Air Force Fairchild A-10 Thunderbolt II attack planes deployed to South Korea.

The contract covers ten years to 31 December 2029, according the US Department of Defense.

A-10s deployed to Korea are based at Osan, south of Seoul. KAL-ASD will perform support work at its MRO facility in Busan. The company also supports other USAF aircraft.

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The A-10’s GAU-8/A 30mm cannon fires 4,200 rounds per minute.

Greg Waldron

South Korea’s other major aerospace firm, Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI), is also involved in retrofitting new wings to the legacy type.

The USAF introduced the A-10 in 1976 as a close air support aircraft. It is heavily armed, with one 30mm GAU-8/A seven-barrel Gatling gun and up to 7,200kg (16,000lb) of mixed ordnance, according to Boeing.

A-10 production ended in 1984, but the Enhanced Wing Assembly replacement programme was designed to prolong the lifespan of the aircraft into the late 2030s. Wings from that programme are supposed to last for 10,000h of flight before needing a depot inspection.

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Tecnam delivers P2012 Traveller to Zil Air

Italian airframer Tecnam has delivered the first P2012 Traveller to Seychelles-based charter company Zil Air, from a 2018 order for up to three of the high-wing piston-twins.

The aircraft and its three-strong crew arrived at Zil Air’s facility on the island of Mahe on 29 November following a six-day, 4,500nm (8,330km) ferry flight from Tecnam’s headquarters in Capua, near Naples.

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Zil Air is it now preparing its Lycoming TEO-540-C1A-powered Traveller for service entry in December, joining its fleet of fixed-wing and rotary aircraft.

Cirium fleets data records Zil Air as operating five Airbus Helicopters H120s, one H145, a Vulcanair P68C piston-twin and a Beechcraft King Air 250 twin-engined turboprop.

Tecnam says it “embraced Zil Air as a partner from day one”, with the two companies working together to customise the all-metal, short take-off and landing aircraft to Zil Air’s “exact requirements”. Key features of this model include air-conditioning, nine bespoke passenger seats with power sockets, storage, “excellent leg space and uninterrupted views from each window”.

“Good things take time and the final result is an aircraft answering all Zil Air’s operational requirements,” says Zil Air’s executive director, Francis Savy. It is “purposefully tailored for Seychelles operations”, he says.

The company is now working with Tecnam to develop a modular, quick-change air ambulance interior for its aircraft.

Tecnam’s managing director, Giovanni Pascale, calls the new delivery “another great achievement” for the airframer, with the Traveller demonstrating its “qualities in warm, hot countries”, as well as in “cold climates” – a reference the aircraft’s US-based launch customer, Cape Air.

The Hyannis, Massachusetts-based regional airliner has taken delivery of four Travellers since the first example arrived in July and is preparing the aircraft for service entry before the end of the year. Cape Air has orders and options for 110 Travellers, which will replace its fleet of decades-old Cessna 402Cs.

“We plan to ship another four Travellers to Cape Air this month and 12 more examples in 2020,” says Tecnam’s global sales and marketing director, Walter da Costa.

He says the company has secured an impressive order backlog for its €2.2 million ($2.6 million) flagship, with a further 13 Travellers destined for delivery next year to new international customers.

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Japan Transocean Air picks ST Engineering for 737 engine support

Japan Airlines subsidiary Japan Transocean Air has signed a long-term engine maintenance deal with ST Engineering’s aerospace unit.

The 15-year contract will see ST Engineering provide maintenance-by-the-hour support for the airline’s Boeing 737NG fleet. It includes off-wing maintenance support, on-wing services, as well as technical support, and will be done at ST Engineering’s engine facilities in Singapore.

Japan Transocean Air president Noriyuki Aoki says the agreement builds on the longstanding partnership between the Japan Airlines Group and ST Engineering.

“We believe this customised … programme will bring even greater value-add to our business through stability in engine operations in order to provide the highest possible standards in reliability and on-time performance for our customers. Furthermore, it provides us leverage through maintenance cost optimisation and cost control benefits,” he adds.

Japan Airlines Group, which already has several long-term maintenance contracts with ST Engineering, owns 70.1% of Japan Transocean Air. Cirium fleets data indicates the latter carrier operates 12 737-800s, all of them powered by CFM56-7B engines.

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Hartzell and Raisbeck secure STC for King Air 200 propeller

Hartzell Propeller and Raisbeck Engineering have secured US supplemental type certification (STC) for a five-blade, composite swept propeller on the Beechcraft King Air 200 series, and are preparing the first twin-engined turboprop for modification and redelivery in December.

Significantly quieter than previous four-blade aluminium designs, with a 30% noise reduction throughout the aircraft, the new propellers are made from structural carbonfibre composite with nickel cobalt leading edges, to protect against foreign object damage, says Raisbeck. Optimised aerofoil efficiency also allows for a larger 2.43m (96in) diameter propeller, with less blade tip noise.

This gives King Air operators an average of 22kg (48lb) in total weight savings compared with OEM-installed propellers, a 15% increase in take-off acceleration and 20% faster climb rate, Raisbeck says.

The propeller also has unlimited blade life, lowering maintenance and overhaul costs.

Cirium Fleets data records a global inventory of more than 2,000 King Air 200-series aircraft, including the 200, B200, B200GT and 250.

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Raisbeck Engineering

Certification for the upgrade is now being sought from Transport Canada and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, says Raisbeck.

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Air France prepares to begin A380 decommissioning process

Air France will return a first Airbus A380 to its lessor in February.

The aircraft (F-HPJB) is currently being repainted in Malta in preparation for being handed back to lessor Dr Peters, says Air France. But the carrier adds that the aircraft will briefly return to service after painting and operate a last commercial flight on 1 January.

Dr Peters says it is scheduled to receive a second A380 from Air France in 2020. The German lessor’s DS Aviation fund has leased a total five A380s to the French flag carrier.

The remaining three aircraft’s leases expire in mid-2021, mid-2022 and mid-2024, Dr Peters says.

Air France has 10 A380s and disclosed earlier this year that all of them would be retired by 2022.

The Engine Alliance GP7200-powered aircraft were built between 2009 and 2014, Cirium fleets data shows. Three of them are owned by Air France.

Dr Peters says it is in “close contact” with Air France and Airbus and is considering “all possible options” for placing the aircraft in the market. “We focus on delivering the highest value for our investors,” says the lessor.

Singapore Airlines in 2017 decommissioned the first of five A380s on which it had decided not to extend leases. Four of the aircraft were leased from Dr Peters.

One of these aircraft has been placed with Portuguese wet-lease carrier Hi Fly, which indicated interest in potentially taking further A380s. But thus far, no other second-hand A380 deal has been disclosed.

Earlier this month, Tarmac Aerosave revealed that it had completed its first dismantling of an ex-Singapore Airlines A380.

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Beechcraft King Air 350 gets nose modification

The Beechcraft King Air 350 twin-engined turboprop family is now available with a nose modification that adds an extra 0.34cb m (12cb ft) of volume, for up to 113kg (250lb) of additional payload.

Textron Aviation says it introduced the recently certificated feature following customer interest in “optimizing” the flexibility of the King Air 350 platform, and “equipping the aircraft with additional space for baggage or for special mission applications – and increasing loading configurations”.

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Textron Aviation

The added storage space can be used for equipment such as cameras and other sensors in surveillance configurations, or oxygen bottles and medical equipment for air ambulance missions, says the US airframer.

“The upgrade can be installed on various configurations of the King Air 350, including the 350C cargo and 350ER extended-range variants.”

Textron Aviation has no immediate plan to extend the offering to other members of the King Air family.

It says demand for the 350 modification has been strong, with “several orders” secured to date and “first deliveries now under way”.

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Juneyao Air starts fifth freedom route to Manchester

Juneyao Air is commencing fifth freedom flights to Manchester on 31 March 2020.

Manchester Airport says that this will be operated as a Shanghai Pudong-Helsinki-Manchester service on a thrice-weekly basis, using Boeing 787-9s.

It will be an extension of the existing Shanghai-Helsinki route operated by Juneyao, with the same frequency and aircraft type.

“Juneyao Air is delighted to launch its first fifth-freedom route to Manchester, and we look forward to developing Manchester’s traffic growth in the coming years. This route will further promote Greater Manchester’s tourism, as well giving Britain an opportunity to boost its trade and investment links to China,” says the carrier’s chairman Wang Junjin.

Cirium schedules data shows that Juneyao will compete with Finnair on the Helsinki-Manchester leg, and the latter also operates a Shanghai Pudong-Helsinki service.

Other connections between China and Manchester include a twice-weekly Beijing service operated by Hainan Airlines.

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New Air Tanzania Dash 8-400 seized before delivery flight

Tanzania’s foreign ministry has disclosed that Air Tanzania’s latest De Havilland Dash 8-400 has been seized in Canada before its delivery flight to the carrier’s base.

The aircraft has been impounded “just days” before it was due to be flown to Tanzania, says the office of foreign affairs minister Palamagamba John Kabudi.

It marks the latest development in a bizarre legal battle, centred on a compensation issue, with an individual identified as Hermanus Steyn who was behind the detention of an Airbus A220 in August.

Previous interventions have also attempted to impound Boeing 787s.

Kabudi’s office says he has expressed “regret” over the latest seizure which follows a lawsuit filed against the country in a Canadian court.

He has summoned the Canadian ambassador, the office adds, to explain why the Canadian government is “allowing” such judicial actions to take place.

Air Tanzania has five Dash 8-400s on order, through the Tanzanian government, of which three have already been delivered.

Two A220-300s are in service with the carrier but the airline is to take another pair under an order with Airbus placed in October.

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Air Peace chief denies US money laundering charges

Nigerian carrier Air Peace’s chief executive, Allen Onyema, and director Ejiro Eghagha have strenuously denied allegations of fraud after they were charged by US authorities.

The indictment by the US Attorney’s Office for the northern district of Georgia centres on transfer of more than $20 million from Nigeria through US bank accounts.

It says this involved falsified documentation based on the purchase of aircraft.

Onyema and Eghagha have each stated, through Lagos legal firm Alegeh & Co, that they will defend themselves “vigorously” against the charges.

The Attorney’s Office says Onyema has been indicted for fraud and multiple counts of money laundering while Eghagha is charged with bank fraud and associated aggravated identity theft.

US Drug Enforcement Administration special agent Robert Murphy accuses Onyema of corrupting the US banking system with a “trail of deceit and trickery”.

Lagos-based Air Peace emerged in 2013 and has built a fleet of Boeing 777s and 737s, as well as Embraer regional jets. It has orders for 737 Max jets as well as Embraer E2s – an order which, during the Dubai air show last week, was disclosed to have increased.

The Attorney’s Office says Onyema, in the years after founding the carrier, travelled to the USA and purchased multiple aircraft.

But over $3 million of the funds used to purchase the aircraft allegedly came from bank accounts for organisations including Foundation for Ethnic Harmony and International Center for Non-Violence and Peace Development.

Special agent in charge Robert Hammer, who oversees homeland security investigations in Georgia, accuses Onyema of setting up multi-million dollar asset purchase which were alleged “fronts” for illicit activity.

The two accused allegedly used letters of credit – purportedly to fund the purchase of five Boeing 737s from Georgia firm Springfield Aviation – to transfer over $20 million into Atlanta-based bank accounts controlled by Onyema.

But supporting documentation for the purchase was false, says the Attorney’s Office. Onyema owned Springfield Aviation and the company did not own the aircraft, it adds, and the company which allegedly drafted appraisals linked to the purchase did not exist. Over $16 million of the transferred funds were subsequently laundered, the Attorney’s Office says.

“We will diligently protect the integrity our banking system from being corrupted by criminals, even when they disguise themselves in a cloak of international business,” says Byung Pak, US attorney for the northern district of Georgia.

Alegeh & Co says the allegations are “unfounded and strange” to Onyema and Eghagha, and adds that both will take “all necessary steps” to clear their names and protect their reputations.

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Tajikistan’s Somon Air signs for E2 lease

Tajik carrier Somon Air is to lease a pair of Embraer 190-E2 re-engined regional jets, moving away from its current all-Boeing 737 fleet.

Somon Air has disclosed that it has signed a memorandum of understanding to take the aircraft through VTB Leasing.

The airline has a fixed-wing fleet comprising with two 737-900ERs and two -800s, plus a pair of -300s.

It also has an Airbus Helicopters H125.

Somon Air says it will sign an agreement early next year on the delivery of the two Embraers.

The airline has not identified the routes on which it will use the E2s.

Somon Air serves international connections from both Dushanbe and Khujand, with links to destinations in Germany, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and China, as well as Russia and the CIS.

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