Hong Kong Airlines to transfer rights for two A350s to Hainan

Hong Kong Airlines (HKA) will transfer purchase rights of two Airbus A350-900s to sister company Hainan Airlines for free, as the latter moves to ramp up capacity and growth.

Hainan says in a Shanghai Stock Exchange disclosure that the two aircraft in concern, which HKA has on order with Airbus, have serial numbers 360365 and 360371.

Hainan, HKA and Airbus signed the purchase right transfer agreement, the disclosure states. As part of the deal, the HNA Group, which owns both carriers, will provide a guarantee of $509 million, and the Hainan Airlines Group will provide a counter-guarantee of $509 million.

Cirium’s Fleets Analyzer shows that HKA has 10 A350-900s on order. It has another six in service, and three more in storage. Meanwhile, Hainan has four A350-900s in service, and another two on order.

In the disclosure, Hainan says the transfer of the purchase rights for free was done according to its business and fleet plans.

Hainan will also borrow $234 million from China Development Bank to help with the purchase.

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Alrosa to transfer last Tu-134 to museum

Russian carrier Alrosa is set to operate its final flight with a Tupolev Tu-134 on 22 May, as it transfers its single example to Novosibirsk.

The airline had listed its final commercial flights with the type as the 6R541 and 6R542 outbound and return services between Mirny and Irkutsk on 18 and 20 May.

It states that the flight from Mirny to Novosibirsk, designated 6R693, will take place on 22 May.

“After completing its final flight the aircraft will be transferred to the aviation history museum,” the airline adds.

The Tu-134 (RA-65693) will join another Alrosa aircraft, a Tu-154M (RA-85684), which was handed to the museum, located at Novosibirsk’s Tolmachevo airport, in September last year.

This museum also features a Tu-154M (RA-85628) and Ilyushin Il-86 (RA-86097) formerly operated by S7 Airlines.

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​Washington, Tokyo go deeper on F-3 tech transfer: report

Washington and Tokyo appear to be holding deeper talks related to Japan’s development of a new fighter to replace the Mitsubishi F-2.

A report in Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun, citing unnamed government sources, says that the United States is willing to offer a notable degree of intellectual content related to stealth aircraft design.

The report adds that a proposal from the US side is on the table, and that Tokyo will decide by the end of 2019.

The story adds to widespread media reports that in 2018 Lockheed Martin had proposed a hybrid of the F-22 and F-35A for the F-2 replacement.

Last year saw Tokyo’s Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA) gathering information from several international parties for the conceptual fighter, tentatively to be designed the F-3. Boeing apparently proposed an aircraft based on the F-15, while BAE systems proposal was based on the Eurofighter Typhoon.

Japanese officials were also present at the Farnborough air show in July 2018, where the UK unveiled the sixth-generation Tempest concept – and its willingness to work with international partners. The Tempest, with its twin canted tails, two engines, and low-observable profile resembles conceptual drawings of the F-3.

The report suggests that Tokyo’s possible option of working with a European partner pushed Washington to be more generous in areas such as source of the code.

Tokyo has done a considerable amount of work related to the F-3 programme, which should be of value in a purely indigenous development, or should it end up working with partners.

The most visible product of this has been the experimental Mitsubishi X-2, which conducted 34 flights from late 2017 to early 2018 to explore areas such as stealth and thrust vectoring.

Other efforts relate to advanced sensors, data links, weapons bays, and engines. In June 2018, IHI delivered the XF9-1 engine, which can produce 33,000lb-thrust (147kN) with afterburner. Lab tests were conducted with this engine, which could be the forerunner to the F-3 powerplant.

Based on the F-16, the F-2 has a 25% larger wing area, which increases payload, and uses more composites in its airframe. Its maximum take-off weight is 22,100kg, greater than the F-16’s baseline MTOW of 19,200kg.

The Japan Air Self-Defense Force has 96 F-2s, comprising 64 single-seat F-2As and 32 two-seat F-2Bs. Of these, one F-2A and four F-2Bs are listed as in storage. The average age of the fleet is 14.6 years.

Tokyo also plans to buy a total of 147 F-35s, a mix of 105 F-35As conventional take-off and landing variants and 42 F-35B short take-off and vertical landing variants.

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SIA halts plans to transfer 737-800s to Scoot

Singapore Airlines has halted plans to transfer 14 737-800s from regional unit SilkAir to low-cost carrier Scoot following the worldwide grounding of 737 Max aircraft in March.

“As a result of the recent Boeing 737 Max 8 grounding, the 737-800 transfer plans are being suspended and the aircraft will remain with SilkAir until there is clarity on the Max 8 situation,” says SIA.

A SilkAir Boeing 737 Max 8 at Singapore Changi airport

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SilkAir has six 737 Max 8s in storage, Cirium’s Fleets Analyzer shows, and 17 737-800s, eight Airbus A320s and two A319s in service.

Scoot, which operates 29 A320 family jets and 18 787s, was due to receive the first 737-800 in May. The transfer was in line with plans announced in November 2018 for Scoot to take over 17 routes operated by SilkAir. Those include flights from Singapore to Luang Prabang, Semarang, Trivandrum and Wuhan.

The worldwide grounding of the 737 Max fleet has led SilkAir to cancel a number of flights to select destinations through to June. SIA is operating supplementary services on to Kuala Lumpur and Yangon to cover the cancellations.

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Full transfer of flights from Ataturk to new Istanbul hub begins

A two-day process to transfer all commercial flights from Ataturk airport to a new hub in Istanbul is underway..

Starting at 00.00 on 5 April and ending at 21.00 on 6 April, the 45-hour transition will see all airlines move their operations the 40km to the new greenfield facility.

Turkish Airlines, which is predominantly based at Ataturk, says that after six hours, 38% of the migration of its operations to the new gateway had been successfully completed. The Star Alliance carrier says the process will be completed just before midnight on 6 April.

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The new Istanbul Airport formally opened in October but full transition of services begins today

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Under the planned the transfer process Ataturk airport will gradually close to scheduled passenger flights – and from 23:30 on 5 April will only be open for base carrier transfer flights before closing completely for to commercial flights at 21:00 on 6 April. The last passenger flight from Ataturk will be a Turkish Airlines service to Singapore.

The new Istanbul airport will open to Turkish Airlines flights from 11:00 on 6 April, and then to other base carrier commercial flights from 16:00 that day, ahead of the full transfer of flights at 21:00.

Throughout the process both gateways will be limited to 35 arrivals and 35 departures per hour

During the first two weeks of its full operations, Istanbul airport will have reduced air traffic control and slot allocation capacity, in order to “provide safe and efficient ATC services and to adapt [to the] airport layout [and] new airspace structure”.

Once the transfer has been completed, Ataturk will be closed to commercial flights but will remain open for cargo, maintenance/technical, general aviation, air taxi, business flights and state and diplomatic aircraft.

The new airport for Turkey’s biggest gateway city, which will initially have a capacity to cater for 90 million passengers, was formally opened at the end of October last year with the initial target of switching flights over before the year-end

While a trickle of services have subsequently moved over to the new airport, the date for the mass transfer of flights to the new airport was later set to begin on 3 March, before slipping again to this month.

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Lockheed to build ALIS data transfer controls for F-35’s foreign customers

Lockheed Martin received a $26.1 million contract to develop data transmission controls for foreign customers of the F-35 and its autonomic logistics information system (ALIS).

International development partners and foreign customers of the F-35 have expressed concern that ALIS, which manages and analyses the fighter’s systems, training and flight logs, would automatically transmit information back to Lockheed’s hub in Fort Worth, Texas, possibly giving the company and the USA insight into their military operations.

“This effort provides F-35 international partners the capability to review and block messages to prevent sovereign data loss,” says the contract notice online. “Additionally, the effort includes studies and recommendations to improve the security architecture of ALIS.”

Previously, international development partners and foreign customers of the F-35 had programmed short-term software patches for ALIS that allowed them to control what data was sent back to the USA.

Data that F-35 foreign operators could block include the names of pilots, aircraft location and aircraft availability, according the F-35 Joint Program Office.

“All data designed to come back to Lockheed Martin to improve sustainment for the fleet will continue to flow through ALIS except for items each sovereign partner decides not to share,” added Lockheed Martin. “The data we receive via ALIS allows Lockheed Martin to make air system and sustainment improvements for the enterprise.”

The development work for this final fix is funded by the US Air Force, which contributed $10.9 million, the Marine Corps, which contributed $7.9 million, the Navy, which contributed $2 million, and international partners, which contributed $5.5 million.

Some 53% of work will be performed in Fort Worth, Texas and 47% of work will be performed in Orlando, Florida, according to the notice. The feature is expected to be fielded in the first quarter of 2019, and will improve system speed and performance as well, according to Lockheed Martin.

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SilkAir to transfer some 737s to Scoot

Singapore Airlines has revealed that it would transfer some Boeing 737s from its regional arm SilkAir to its low-cost unit Scoot.

In response to queries from FlightGlobal, SIA says that both pilots and cabin crew will be recruited by Scoot to support its future 737 operations.

It adds that the transfer of the 737s is part of the group’s planned integration, where there will be transfers of routes and aircraft between the different airlines in its portfolio. This is consistent with ongoing efforts “to optimise the SIA Group’s network”.

Last month, the group announced that it would merge SilkAir with the mainline SIA brand.

The full merger, which will take place after 2020, will also see the refurbishment of SilkAir’s cabin in a more than S$100 million ($74 million) programme. This will include new lie-flat seats in business class and seat-back-in-flight entertainment systems in both business and economy classes.

SilkAir has also transferred five routes in Southeast Asia to Scoot from Singapore: Kuching, Palembang, Kalibo, Langkawi, and Pekanbaru.

Flight Fleets Analyzer shows that SilkAir operates 34 aircraft. These are five 737 Max 8s, 17 737-800s, three Airbus A319s, and nine A320s. The A320 family aircraft are being phased out in favour of the 737s, of which Silkair has orders for 32 Max 8s.

Both the Max 8s and -800s have 12 business class seats. While the Max 8s have 144 economy seats and the -800s 150.

Scoot operates 42 aircraft, comprising 25 A320-family jets and 17 787s. It has 39 A320neos and three 787-9s on order.

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