​Islamabad highlights defence aviation progress

The Pakistan military’s yearbook for 2017-2018 disclosed that Islamabad has obtained at least 60 CM-400AKG air-to-surface missiles, and that work continues on a future fighter concept.

During the two years covered in the yearbook, which covers all arms of the military, Islamabad spent $100 million to obtain 60 Chinese-made CM-400AKGs, a supersonic anti-ship missile that can be deployed from the Chengdu/Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) JF-17 fighter.

A mock-up of the missile has frequently appeared on static display with Pakistan Air Force (PAF) JF-17s at Air Show China held every two years in Zhuhai.

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A JF-17 at the Zhuhai static park in 2016 – note CM-400AKG on bottom left.

Greg Waldron

According to the manufacturer, the weapon uses “high [altitude] launching” to achieve “higher aircraft survivability.” AVIC has listed the 0.4m-diameter missile as having a range of between 54-130nm (100-240km), while carrying either a 150kg blast warhead or 200kg penetration warhead.

Meanwhile, work on Pakistan’s Next Generation Fighter Aircraft (NGFA) – named Project Azm – is proceeding, having completed its first cycle of conceptual design.

“The first configuration that was designed based on the challenging performance requirements of PAF will go through three more cycles within the conceptual design using higher fidelity analysis tools and codes,” it says.

The yearbook adds that a sixth airborne early warning & control (AEW&C) aircraft was added at a cost of $95 million. Pakistan defence analysis group Quwa suggests that this is the nation’s sixth Saab 2000 Erieye AEW&C asset.

Another acquisition involved a trio of Saab 2000 aircraft for $9.3 million. In addition to its Saab 2000 Erieyes, Islamabad also operates the type as multi-role platforms.

The two years covered in the yearbook also saw 12 Dassault Mirage III and V fighters overhauled at the PAC’s Mirage Rebuild Factory. In addition, there was significant overhaul work on engine types such as the Pratt & Whitney F100 and Rolls-Royce T56, and the acquisition of five Klimov RD-93 for $22.4 million for the JF-17 fleet.


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Business aviation must embrace green revolution

In business aviation, sales slumps are usually broken by the arrival of new products – and the latest shipment report from the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) shows that rule still holds true.

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Fleet expansion boosts BOC Aviation first half profit

BOC Aviation increased its increase in profit before tax for the first half of the year by 7% to $352 million owing to robust fleet growth.

“Revenue rose 13% to $930 million from $825 million, and our fleet net book value grew 6% to $15.9 billion from 31 December 2018, as we continued to take delivery of modern, fuel efficient aircraft,” says chief executive Robert Martin.

Nearly 90% of its revenue came from lease rental income, which grew by 11% as the lessor’s owned portfolio grew from 294 to 314 aircraft. It also had 23 managed aircraft.

Meanwhile, costs and expenses were up 17% to $579 million. Major factors included an 11% gain in depreciation costs due to the expanded fleet, and a 31% increase in finance expenses from taking on more debt at higher costs.

Overall, BOC Aviation’s net profit grew a healthy 8% to $321 million.

During the period, it signed 39 lease commitments and the average lease term of its portfolio held steady at 8.2 years, and committed lease revenue of $15.4 billion.

A further 162 aircraft are on order or committed to purchase, including 87 737 Max and 52 A320neo family jets.

The lessor observes a continued shift towards fixed rates in the leasing market. These accounted for nearly 80% of its leasing portfolio in the first half of 2019, though its net lease yield was broadly steady at 8.4%.

At 30 June 2019, cash and short-term deposits amounted to $295 million, up from $243 at the end of 2018. The lessor raised $1.5 billion in new financing in the first half of 2019, and closed the period with $3.8 billion liquidity.

During this time, BOC Aviation’s assets increased 5% to $19.2 billion. It took delivery of 25 aircraft, including five acquired by airline customers on delivery. It sold nine owned aircraft and two from its managed fleet; repossessed five owned and three managed aircraft from airlines that had ceased operations, and redelivered all eight to new customers.

Twelve Airbus aircraft scheduled to arrive in the first half of 2019 were delayed “primarily due to industrial constraints”, while six Boeing 737 Max jets were affected by the grounding of the type.

BOC Aviation maintains an optimistic outlook, on the back of healthy passenger growth forecast by IATA.

“We had solid performance in the first half of 2019, and we expect further expansion of our business in the second half,” the lessor says.


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BOC Aviation places four A321neos with Scoot

Scoot will lease four new Airbus A321neos from BOC Aviation, with deliveries of the jets scheduled for the second half of 2020.

They will be powered by Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-JM engines.

“We are delighted to add Scoot as a new customer, as we support the low-cost arm of Singapore Airlines Group in its fleet expansion plans,” says Robert Martin, BOC Aviation managing director and chief executive.

“Low-cost travel continues to enjoy strong demand, and Scoot’s selection of the A321neo allows it to leverage this growth and further develop its regional network.”

Scoot announced this week that it will introduce 16 A321neos to its fleet, with the first delivery due in the last quarter of 2020.

Six of the aircraft have been converted from existing A320neo orders held by the carrier, while the other 10 will come from lessors.

“We are pleased to work with BOC Aviation, and we look forward to receiving the A321neos, which will inject growth possibilities to our network plans for 2020 and beyond,” says Lee Lik Hsin, Scoot’s chief executive.


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BBA Aviation to sell Ontic

BBA Aviation, the owner of the Signature Flight Support network of business aviation private terminals, has agreed to sell parts distributor Ontic to private equity company CVC for $1.37 billion.

Ontic, which BBA acquired for $67 million in 2006, makes and distributes out-of-production components under licence from original manufacturers. It has manufacturing sites in California, North Carolina, New York State, Cheltenham in the UK and Singapore, and supports 39,000 aircraft with 165 licences for more than 7,000 parts.

UK-headquartered BBA, which also owns MRO business Engine Repair and Overhaul, expects the deal to complete by year-end. BBA plans to focus on the business aviation market.


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GE Aviation Q2 profit slips as 737 Max grounding hits earnings


GE Aviation Q2 profit slips as 737 Max grounding hits earnings

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BOC Aviation expects up to 30 jet deliveries to slip into 2020

Lessor BOC Aviation expects that up to 30 aircraft that were due for delivery this year could be pushed into 2020, primarily due to the Boeing 737 Max grounding.

Previously, the lessor had forecast that it would receive 79 aircraft this year, but now forecasts that up to seven A320neos and 23 737 Max jets will be pushed into next year.

BOC Aviation cites Boeing’s ongoing delays with returning the 737 Max to service as the main issue behind the delays.

We therefore expect that some or all of our 23 remaining 737 Max aircraft that were scheduled for delivery in 2019 will be delayed out of this year and we are working with Boeing on a revised delivery timeframe,” it states in an operating update for its second fiscal quarter.

At the end of June, 18 aircraft were behind schedule for delivery in the first half of 2019. Of these, 12 Airbus aircraft were delayed primarily due to “industrial constraints,” while six were 737 Max aircraft.

Separately, the company signed 32 lease commitments in the quarter ended 30 June, during which it took delivery of 14 new aircraft, including two that were transferred to airline customers on delivery.

It sold eight owned aircraft and two from its managed fleet; repossessed five owned and three managed aircraft from airlines that had ceased operations, and redelivered them to new customers.

That leaves the lessor with 314 owned and 23 managed aircraft in its portfolio at the end of June. A further 162 aircraft are on order or committed to purchase, including 87 737 Max and 56 A320neo family jets.

Compared to the year-ago period, BOC Aviation’s average age of its owned portfolio inched up to 3.1 years, while the average remaining lease term is marginally lower at 8.2 years.


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Aviation faces increasingly uncertain outlook


Glass-half-empty people generally do not run airlines; as the old saying goes, the industry has never made money. Like most old sayings, that one is not strictly true – but it is fair to note that “airlines” and “troubled” often go together.

As Flight International‘s survey of the world airliner fleet highlights, the industry right now is healthy enough but slowing down, as a long-standing economic recovery threatens to run out of fuel while world events keep financial markets on alert. There are three possible near futures, none very good for airline economics. One, characterising widespread recession, is that oil stays cheap, interest rates stay low and air travel demand growth stays positive with help from ticket price discounting. A second is that government and central bank policy keeps the world economy more or less on its current track – so while the oil price keeps edging up, interest rates stay low and demand growth stays positive but weak; here, airlines retain some pricing power but, over time, operate at borderline break-even.

The third possible outcome is much worse. War in the Gulf is not so unlikely and, if it happens, will be wildly disruptive. Think very high oil prices and severe disruption of air traffic.

The last two great aviation downturns followed huge external shocks. The financial crisis of 2008 hit airlines hard but growth returned rapidly. After the 9/11 ­attacks, the industry plunged into loss and stayed in the red until 2006.

Today, it is fair to say that background events look like some mix of 2001 and 2008. Half-empty worriers and half-full optimists might agree that fleet development and business expansion should be the least of their concerns. Tending ­carefully to execution of the basic business of flying is the order of the day.


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Rex gets all-clear from Australia aviation safety body

Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has given Regional Express (Rex) the all-clear, after an audit found no issues with its safety record

The statement, published on 6 July, details a two-day safety audit at Rex’s Wagga maintenance facility, focusing on error reporting rates and the management of these error reports.

The audit team spoke with management and staff members, including maintenance engineering staff.

The audit is part of a wider safety assurance review. CASA found “no current issues with the safety of Rex aircraft”.

“CASA will carefully assess the information obtained in the course of the audit against the requirements of the applicable civil aviation legislation,” the authority adds.

The authority will also take action against Rex, if there was “any evidence of serious safety issues…or with any unaddressed airworthiness concerns in relation to a particular aircraft”.

In a stock exchange disclosure, Rex says it welcomed CASA’s findings, which it said “unequivocally rejects the scurrilous allegations”.

“Rex’s management will now be able to focus its attention exclusively to providing our passengers with a safe and reliable air service,” the airline adds.

The audit, which took place on 4 and 5 July, comes after the carrier hit out at what it called “malicious” allegations of safety lapses.

A report submitted to CASA alleged that Rex pressured its maintenance crew not to report defects, and that the airline had generally been lax in safety.

Rex defended its safety record, calling them “anonymous malicious attacks”.

Cirium’s Fleets Analzyer shows that Rex operates a fleet of 56 Saab 340Bs, with an average age of 25 years.


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Textron Aviation delivers 300th CJ4

Textron Aviation has delivered the 300th Cessna Citation CJ4 to the US metals distribution company and long-time fractional owner of a CJ1+, McNeilus Steel.

The handover of the light business jet on 27 June came nine years after the CJ4 entered service as Cessna’s largest and longest-range light-twin. The in-production line-up also includes the M2 and CJ3.

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Textron Aviation

Since its introduction, the Williams International FJ44-4A-powered aircraft has consistently remained one of Cessna’s top-performing business jets.

According to data from the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA), CJ4 deliveries peaked in 2011 at 48 aircraft, with the lowest handovers for the type, at 23 units, recorded in 2017. For the 12 months ended 31 December 2018, Cessna shipped 29 CJ4s, GAMA data shows, while six examples were delivered in the first quarter of this year.

Textron Aviation senior vice-president Rob Scholl describes the CJ4 as “a standout in the light-jet segment, due to its combination of high performance, low operating costs and class-leading cabin amenities”.

Approved for single-pilot operations, the $9.6 million, nine-seat CJ4 has a maximum range of 2,170nm (4,020km), a maximum cruise speed of 450kt (830km/h), and a payload of 940kg (2,070lb).

Dodge Center, Minnesota-headquartered McNeilus says upgrading from fractional to full ownership will help strengthen the family-owned firm’s customer service provision “through even more personal interaction” with its clients.


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