News Related to our Business
Government unveils draft aviation policy; may privatise Air India, Pawan Hans

Tue, 11 Nov 2014 06:06:00 +0000

The Economic Times

Published : Nov 10, 2014

The government on Monday announced a draft set of reforms for the aviation sector that includes plans to list airport operator Airports Authority of India (AAI) and helicopter service provider Pawan Hans Ltd, arguing that listing will not only improve efficiency but also instill transparency in their operations.

Making the announcement, civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said views of the public will be sought on the draft before the government adopts the policy. "Listing improves transparency and efficiency," the minister said. "AAI will be corporatised and the listing on the stock exchanges would follow. Listing of Pawan Hans would also be undertaken with the same objective. Pawan Han's listing straightaway might make sense. For AAI also, that is possible."
Aviation secretary V Somasundaran said the ministry expects the process to conclude in six months. "After the policy is finalised, we need to get into discussions with the disinvestment ministry on various issues," Somasundaran said. "We hope to complete the process in six months.
The exercise will help bring transparency and greater professionalism in the boards of the two entities."
Analysts have welcomed the move to list the two entities. "It's a good move, as it will bring market discipline into these companies. It will not just unlock the potential of these two companies but also make them much more professional than today by providing more autonomy and professional management.
These companies should become much more professional to compete," said Dhiraj Mathur, leader-aerospace and defence at PwC India. On the suggestion to privatise national carrier Air India, Raju said it will be decided in due course of time. "If it could get listed, I would be the happiest person," the minister said. "An experts committee would be set up soon to develop a roadmap for Air India. All these suggestions have emerged.
We will have to take a conscious decision as it is a delicate matter," he said. The draft also talks of privatising only Jaipur and Ahmedabad airports and awarding management contracts for Kolkata and Chennai airports. One of the key initiatives of the draft policy is to develop helicopter aviation in the country. This is the first time that the country's aviation policy has categorised helicopter aviation separately from general aviation. The focus of the policy is to develop infrastructure to support helicopter operations.
The Business Aircraft Operators Association, a grouping of all business jet and helicopter operators, has termed this a step in the right direction. "We welcome the move to develop helicopter aviation, which will promote its greater use by industries to enable business. While we see a major thrust on remote connectivity in the draft, the role of small aircraft operators needs to be given due consideration," the association said in an email reply.

International airport in Bengaluru rated 'e-freight compliant' by IATA

Mon, 10 Nov 2014 11:11:00 +0000

Economic Times

Published : Nov 10, 2014

Bangalore International Airport Limited (BIAL) today said the Kempegowda International Airport here has been rated as an 'e-freight compliant' airport by the International Air Transport Association for its cargo operations. 

This project reiterates the airport's efforts in sustaining the long-term wellbeing of the environment, the company said in a release. 

The e-freight concept was launched by IATA in 2006 as part of the StB (simplifying the business) programme and became an industry-wide initiative, it added. 

BIAL said facilitated by IATA along with the endorsement of the members of the Global Air Cargo Advisory Group (GACAG), the project is an industry-wide initiative. 

It involves carriers, freight forwarders, ground handlers, shippers and customs authorities to effectively streamline processes, cut costs and improve speed and reliability, it stated. 

It said few key benefits of the implementation of the e-freight project are: improved process efficiency, higher productivity, better quality & reliability, improved cost savings and environment-friendly. 

By implementing e-freight international standards, Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru will benefit the industry by eliminating the use of paper in the air cargo supply chain, it said. 

Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru, is the first Airport in India to be declared as IATA e-freight compliant with the operationalisation & implementation of the e-freight process, it added. 

One of three runways of IGI airport could be shut

Sat, 08 Nov 2014 07:48:00 +0000

The Times of India

Published : Nov 07, 2014

One of the three runways of IGI Airport could be shut for commercial flights, a move that would spell a return to the pre-2008 days of air congestion when airplanes had to hover for long periods before being cleared to land.

Fearing a 9/11-type attack on prime central Delhi locations such as Parliament and President House, the defence and security establishment has sought the closure of IGIA's runway 27 for commercial aircraft.

The approach path of this runway, for aircraft coming to land from AIIMS side, is the closest to central Delhi. Therefore, the defence establishment wants only military and VVIP planes taking off and landing on this strip, said highly placed sources.

"This issue is now at the Cabinet Secretariat's level. A meeting is supposed to be held soon," said a source. In technical parlance, the security establishment wants to enhance the no-fly zone of central Delhi that is called VIP 89.

The enhanced no-fly zone will include areas very close to the final approach of runway 27.Even a slight deviation by an aircraft coming in to land on this strip from AIIMS side or taking off in that direction (when wind direction changes) zone could lead to scrambling of fighter jets.

Runaway 27 is one of the three airstrips in operation at IGIA — the other two being runway 28 and 29.

Civil aviation authorities are opposing the move tooth and nail, saying it would slam the brakes on IGIA's dream of becoming a big aviation hub. The airport's three runways have a combined capacity of handling 75 aircraft movements an hour. At present, IGIA witnesses an average of 950 flights a day.

"Most of the times, runway 27 (the shortest of the three runways) is used for arrivals. Runway 28 is used for departures as it is equidistant from both terminal 1B used by low cost carriers for domestic operations and terminal 3. Runway 29 is used for both arrivals and departures. Shutting down runway 27 will straightaway mean a one-third reduction in aircraft handling capacity," said a source.

The flyers, the shutdown would mean a return of the massive congestion at the airport with planes hovering in the air for a long time before landing and a similar wait on ground for aircraft to take off. Airlines used to levy a separate congestion charge in their fares on account of burning expensive jet fuel during hovering at busy airports like Delhi and Mumbai. The situation improved in 2008 when IGI got a third runway (29).

"Given the fact that Tata-AirAsia will soon come to Delhi and Tata-Singapore Airlines will use IGIA as their hub — apart from existing airlines (both Indian and foreign) adding flights to Delhi — there is no way the capital can do with just two runways. In fact, the air traffic services are finding ways to increase the combined aircraft handling capacity of 75 to cope with the increasing traffic," said a source.

Runway 27 becomes more crucial in the foggy winter months as IGIA's newest airstrip (29) suffers from very poor visibility due to its location. In those months, runway 28 and 27 handle a lion's share of air traffic. If one of them is made out of bounds for commercial aircraft, aviation authorities warn of serious chaos in Delhi for the average flyer.

SpiceJet suspends flights to Surat indefinitely after run-in with buffalo

Fri, 07 Nov 2014 10:11:00 +0000

Published : Nov 07, 2014
SpiceJet, the home-grown budget passenger carrier, on Friday said that it has suspended its services to Surat indefinitely, after one of its aircraft had a run-in with a stray animal at the city's airport on Thursday.
In a shocking security lapse, over 140 passengers of a Delhi-bound SpiceJet flight, SG 662, from Surat had a miraculous escape on Thursday when a stray buffalo ran onto the runway as the aircraft was about to take-off at around 7:25 pm.
There was utter confusion between the airport authorities and the SpiceJet pilot as to which stray animal was hit. However, sources at the Airport said that it was a stray buffalo and that the impact was very heavy. The aircraft sustained a considerable damage in its body. The pilot immediately stopped the craft midway and drove it in the parking area to check the damage.
"A Surat-to-Delhi SpiceJet aircraft, SG-622, carrying around 140 passengers excluding crew members on Thursday hit a buffalo during take-off roll at Surat airport," the airline's spokesperson Siddharth Kumar said.
"All passengers and crew members are safe and will be provided an alternative arrangement soon," Kumar said. Considering the stray-animal menace, SpiceJet has decided to suspend its services on Surat airport for an indefinite period. "Suspension will be effective as soon as possible," Kumar said.
Official sources said the Delhi-Surat-Delhi flight of SpiceJet arrived at about 6:30 pm on Thursday. The passengers from Delhi to Surat alighted at the airport and the passengers bound to Delhi boarded the flight. It took about an hour for the flight to get on the runway for takeoff to Delhi.

MEHAIR to begin intra-state flights: Gujarat aviation minister Saurabh Patel

Thu, 06 Nov 2014 06:07:00 +0000

Economic Times

Published : Nov 05, 2014

For better intra-state air connectivity, the Gujarat government has selected a private airline to operate flights between different cities of the state, state civil aviation minister Saurabh Patel said today. 

According to a press release, Patel said that Maritime Energy Heli Air Services (MEHAIR) has been awarded a contract to operate services between various cities in Gujarat. 

Initially, the company would start flights to cities like Ahmedabad, Surat, Jamnagar, Bhavnagar, Bhuj, Kandla, Keshod, Porbandar and Rajkot, Patel said. 

"Within two months, the service will be operational in the state. State owned Gujarat State Aviation Infrastructure Company floated a tender earlier and selected MEHAIR to operate the service in Gujarat. It will help buisnessmen and other citizens reach their destinations quickly," Patel said. 

For the regional airline service, the company would deploy two aircrafts with a seat capacities ranging from nine to 19 passengers each, the release said. 

In the coming days, a timetable of flights would be released by the company.

MEHAIR has selected Ahmedabad and Surat to park its aircraft, Patel said.

Domestic air traffic rises over 26.3 per cent in Sept

Wed, 05 Nov 2014 06:43:00 +0000

Published : Nov 04, 2014
India's domestic air traffic grew at a record pace of over 26 per cent in September compared to the same month last year with low air fares stimulating the travel demand, IATA said on Tuesday.
Indian traffic "spiked 26.3 per cent in September compared to a year ago", showed the latest data released by International Air Transport Association (IATA).
It attributed this growth, which was several times that of 7.6 per cent recorded in August, to market stimulation measures by the Indian carriers which continued to offer low fares on the domestic sectors.
"Whereas previous improvements in growth rates potentially were attributable to revived confidence over the new business- supportive government, the strong increase in September was owing to market stimulation measures introduced by carriers," IATA said as it released the September air traffic figures.
On international air travel, the IATA figures showed Asia Pacific airlines reported a demand growth of 4.8 per cent compared to a year ago.
"Although this is a weaker rise than August, the recent trend has been positive and reflects better demand conditions in the region, including stronger trade activity that encourages business travel," it said.
The overall global passenger traffic results for September showed demand growth of 5.3 per cent over September last year.
"This continues the positive growth trend for passenger demand even though the performance was slightly below the August year-over-year rise of 6.3 per cent," the IATA study said.
However, IATA Director General and CEO Tony Tyler said though the fall in oil prices was "good news for an industry that spends a third of its operating budget on fuel", its full impact would "only be realized over time because of a time lag built into jet fuel pricing".

US FAA team to visit India to audit aviation safety mechanism

Mon, 03 Nov 2014 13:24:00 +0000

The Economic Times
Published : 02 Nov, 2014
A US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) team would arrive here next month to carry out a fresh audit of India'saviation safety mechanism, which was downgraded almost a year ago, rekindling hopes of its restoration to the topmost category status. 

Official sources said that FAA has decided to start a fresh audit of safety standards from December 8 and will review the work done by its Indian counterpart, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), to resolve the problems. The audit is likely to go on for about a week. 

The American regulator had downgraded India from Category I to Category II under its International Aviation Safety Assessment programme, after its audits in India revealed deficiencies on over 30 crucial issues relating to various aspects of safety standards, including shortage of officials to carry out engineering and flight checks. 

After the January 31 downgrade, DGCA had sought a fresh audit of its safety oversight mechanism in July after taking a number of steps to meet the deficiencies. 

It has put in place a series of new rules and procedures and recruited skilled manpower to carry out aviation safety surveillance. 

Following this, DGCA chief Prabhat Kumar visited the US and briefed FAA on the progress made for resolving the problems identified. 

As a fallout of the FAA downgrade, the European Union Air Safety Committee (EUASC) had also expressed some concerns although it did not take any punitive action. 

To update them about the developments since the January FAA action and the steps taken, a four-member DGCA team led by Joint Director General J S Rawat would visit Brussels next week to hold discussions. 

Operations by Indian air carriers to and from Europe are monitored by EUASC through their Safety Assessment of Foreign Aircraft programme. 

Among the steps DGCA has taken are the recruitment of 56 new Flight Operations Inspectors out of a total of 75 that are required, with most of them joining their duties this month itself. The remaining ones, too, would be inducted this month, the sources said. 

The downgrade not only barred Air India and Jet Airways - the only two Indian airlines that operate to the US - from expanding their operations in that country and their codeshare arrangements with US airlines, but also subjected their planes to additional checks at US airports. 

FAA's Category-II rating put India in a group of 16 such countries, including Bangladesh, Ghana, Indonesia, the Philippines and Nicaragua. 

The sword of downgrade had been hanging over DGCA since 2009, when FAA had expressed serious concern over gross under- staffing. Immediately thereafter, several remedial measures were implemented and the Union Cabinet had decided to recruit over 500 additional staff for the regulator.

India’s aviation downgrade by US FAA set to be revoked soon

Mon, 03 Nov 2014 06:42:00 +0000

Published : Nov 01,2014

In what could be seen as the first positive impact of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the United States on the Indian aviation sector, India’s embarrassing downgrade by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) earlier this year could be revoked, with the FAA team slated to carry out another inspection on December 8 this year.

This also comes in the backdrop of a three-member team visiting Brussels in the first week of November for a meeting with officials of the EU Air Safety Committee to discuss measures taken by the Indian aviation regulator, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), to improve its performance after the FAA downgrade.

Finding regulatory oversight to be inadequate, the FAA had downgraded India from Category 1 to Category 2 under its International Aviation Safety Assessment (IASA) programme on January 31 earlier this year. The move has barred Air India and Jet Airways — the only two Indian airlines that operate to the US — from expanding their operations in the US and impacted codeshare arrangements with their American counterparts.
The DGCA needed to recruit 20 officials – chief flight operations inspectors (CFOI) — to deal with the staff shortage pertaining to Air India and Jet Airways. To improve it’s overall safety record, however, it needed to recruit 75 CFOIs.

“We have already recruited 56 new inspectors, of which 39 have already joined work, and the rest will join by next week. Applications are under process for rest of the 16 positions; and all 75 positions would be filled by November 16,” a senior DGCA official told The Indian Express.
While operations by Indian air carriers to and from EU are closely monitored through their Safety Assessment of Foreign Aircraft programme (SAFA), the FAA’s downgrade essentially meant that the DGCA was below par in meeting standards in technical expertise, trained manpower and maintenance records of air safety. It did not have skilled technical staff in the organisation.

“The FAA downgrade has a cascading effect, and the EU had raised concerns over the downgrade and the measures taken by the DGCA to better its performance. A DGCA team headed by Joint Director General Lalit Gupta will visit Brussels in the first week of November for a meeting with officials of the EU Air Safety Committee to discuss the measures taken,” an official said.

A Category 2 rating by the FAA has made India one of the 16 countries out of a total of 88 that have been assessed under IASA; the 16 include Bangladesh, Ghana, Indonesia, the Philippines and Nicaragua.

350 commercial pilots flying skies with invalid licences

Mon, 27 Oct 2014 11:19:00 +0000

Published : 27 Oct, 2014

Indian airlines currently have almost 350 commercial pilots flying the skies with lapsed or invalid licences due to their failure to appear in exams that have to be given after every few months to remain eligible to operate in the cockpit. 

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is now contemplating action against the heads of training department of these airlines, while asking the carriers to complete the required training of pilots in a time-bound manner. 

"All Indian carriers — Jet, Air India, SpiceJet, GoAir and IndiGo (in this order)—have some pilots who have not completed all checks required to keep their flying licences valid. While Jet and AI have 131 and over 100 such pilots, respectively, the three low cost have almost 100 cases. Now, we have written to AirAsia India and Air Costa to tell us if they too have any such pilots," said a senior official, adding that in all there would be over 350 pilots with invalid licences. 

DGCA chief Prabhat Kumar is learnt to be contemplating action against the training heads of airlines, just like he had ordered removal of Jet's training chief last month after 131 pilots of that airline were found to be flying even after expiry of validity of their last pilot proficiency check (PPC). This test is required to be given every six months and Pilots are not supposed to fly without a valid PPC. The action will be decided when the data from all airlines comes in. 
"It is not possible to ground so many pilots in one go, else flights will be grounded in the ongoing peak travel season and travellers will be left stranded. We may take action against the heads of training of these airlines," said a senior official. 

On its part, AI said that the issue arose after the DGCA last September made it mandatory for pilots to give the PPC every six months. This check was earlier also required to be given bi-annually but the first one in first eight months of the year and the second in last four. "This new six-monthly check would have required us to renew nearly 800 licences overnight, which was not possible. All licences valid before this CAR has been renewed uptil October 2014 as per the old rule by DGCA," the AI statement said.

AI added that all the licences have been renewed till date. "At present, therefore, there are no pilots flying without a valid licence," the airline statement said. 

New Indian Proposal Threatens Charter Operators

Fri, 24 Oct 2014 09:02:00 +0000

Published : Oct 23, 2014
Indian lawmakers are considering a proposal by the country’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) that would revoke the commercial licenses of nonscheduled operator permit (NSOP) holders with fewer than three aircraft available for charter. Affected NSOPs that do not augment their fleet to at least three aircraft within one year will have to operate in the private category, depriving them of permission to offer charters. India’s Business Aircraft Operators Association (BAOA) sees the proposal as “a kneejerk reaction” to the DGCA’s shortage of flight observation inspectors (FOIs) and its difficulties in recruiting more of them. The process of registering private aircraft owners as NSOPs requires the services of an FOI. This scarcity of FOIs is also hindering India’s compliance with an FAA requirement that would help restore the country’s safety ranking to Category 1.
According to the DGCA, most NSOPs are running limited charter operations and in reality fall under the general aviation (privately owned) category. Aircraft importation duty costs private companies 20 percent, while NSOPs pay only 3 percent. “This imbalance is creating problems. Private owners register under NSOPs that in turn require FOIs, which are not easily available. We are asking for rationalization in the tax structure that will charge both categories the same duty,” BAOA president Rohit Kapur told AIN.
The issue could be overcome, said Kapur, if aircraft management companies are permitted to function in India. Of the 120 NSOP holders operating in India, 93 own a combined 147 aircraft and just 27 own more than three aircraft each.

Aerotech FMS wishes all your staff and families A Very Happy Peaceful and Prosperous Diwali.

Wed, 22 Oct 2014 13:00:00 +0000

Total CEO Killed in Moscow Falcon 50EX Crash

Wed, 22 Oct 2014 11:26:00 +0000

October 21, 2014
The CEO of oil giant Total, Christophe de Margerie, was killed in the crash of a Dassault Falcon 50EX business jet at Moscow Vnukovo airport last night. The three crewmembers aboard also perished in the accident. The Falcon, registered as F-GLSA, was operated by Le Bourget-based Unijet, part of the Luxaviation group.
According to Russia’s Investigative Committee, the aircraft was taking off of Runway 01 for Paris when it struck a snowplow, caught fire and fell to the runway. The criminal investigation has already revealed that the snow-clearing machine’s driver was drunk, but other factors are also being scrutinized, including ATC, weather and the pilots’ decisions.
Vnukovo Airport gave some data on the conditions on Runway 01: visibility was 1,150 ft and the surface friction coefficient was 0.5. The accident took place at 11:57 p.m. local time, and the airport was closed after the crash until 1:34 a.m. The condition of the snowplow driver was unknown at press time. The probe also involves the Interstate Aviation Committee and three representatives of the French BEA.

22 hurt as SIA flight does hard landing

Mon, 20 Oct 2014 11:35:00 +0000

Times of India
Updated : Oct 20, 2014

MUMBAI: In the first incident involving an Airbus 380 in India, 22 people, including eight passengers, onboard Singapore Airlines' double deck aircraft sustained injuries after the jet flew into severe turbulence during its descent into Mumbai airport on Saturday night. 

The incident highlights the importance of keeping seat belts fastened and secure during descent and climb phase of a flight. 

Flight SQ 424 from Singapore to Mumbai with 408 passengers and 25 crew members on board touched down at 10pm, five minutes past its scheduled arrival time.

"About 30 minutes before touchdown, the aircraft seemed to have encountered inclement weather. The sudden turbulence threw some of the passengers off their seats, though the most hit were the flight attendants. There was some damage to some inside panels of the passenger cabin," said an aviation official. 

Singapore Airlines confirmed the incident. 

An airport source said that the injured passengers and crew were administered emergency medical aid at the airport and then moved to two private hospitals. Spokespersons of LH Hiranandani hospital in Powai and SevenHills hospital in Marol said that the injured were brought in around 11.30 pm. 

"Most flyers sustained superficial injuries to shoulders and knees. Nobody had sustained any serious injuries," said a doctor at SevenHills Hospital. 

Hiranandani Hospital CEO Dr Sujit Chatterjee said 12 patients came to the hospital with minor injuries. 

"All were treated on outpatient basis and discharged," he said. 

Airbus Cuts A330 Production Rate

Sat, 18 Oct 2014 11:18:00 +0000

Updated : Oct 17, 2014
Airbus has decided to cutA330 production rates ahead of the transition from the current model to the A330neo.
The manufacturer will reduce monthly output to nine aircraft, from 10, in the fourth quarter of 2015, Airbus confirmed on Oct. 17. It had only raised production to 10 in 2013.
"Our role as an aircraft manufacturer is to anticipate and adapt our output to ensure we continue to maintain a smooth production flow for Airbus and for our supply chain," said Tom Williams, Airbus’s Executive Vice President Programs. "We are confident we will sustain a steady production towards the A330neo ramp-up period."
The production cut comes two years prior to the planned entry into service of the A330neo in the fourth quarter of 2017. By contrast, Airbus has decided to increase production of the A320 even as it has to manage the transition to the A320neo starting in late 2015; demand for the current model is still strong enough.
As for the current A330, Airbus has seen a slowing in demand since 2013, which raises the question of whether a reduction of one aircraft per month will be enough. Airbus currently has outstanding orders for 69 A330-200s and 154 A330-300s, equivalent to less than two years of production. But there are three years left until the A330neo comes online.
Airbus has to bet on large orders from China to materialize, but those appear to be pending the establishment of a completion center alongside its Tianjin A320 final assembly line. A letter of intent has recently been signed, but the final decision remains to be made.

India to overtake United Kingdom in world aviation market ranking

Fri, 17 Oct 2014 12:22:00 +0000

Updated : 16 Oct, 2014
India, which is now the ninth largest aviation market in the world, will overtake the UK to take the third position in over 15 years, after China and the United States, global airlines' body IATA said today.
India would be among the top five fastest growing markets in terms of adding more passengers every year, the first IATA projection for the next two decades showed.
"Currently the ninth largest market, India will see a total of 367 million passengers by 2034, an extra 266 million annual passengers compared to today. It will overtake the United Kingdom (148 million extra passengers, total market 337 million) to become the third largest market around 2031," a report of theInternational Air Transport Association (IATA) released today showed.
By 2034, "the five fastest-increasing markets in terms of additional passengers per year will be China (856 million new passengers per year), the US (559 million), India (266 million), Indonesia (183 million) and Brazil (170 million)."
The Indian and Brazilian domestic markets would grow at 6.9 and 5.4 per cent respectively, with the former adding 159 million extra passengers and the latter 147 million. Their total domestic air markets will be 215 million and 226 million respectively, the IATA projections showed.
Eight of the ten fastest-growing markets in percentage terms over the next two decades would be in Africa, with Central African Republic, Madagascar, Tanzania, Burundi and Kuwait making up the five fastest-growing markets.
Interestingly, intra-Pakistan flights would also grow at a fast average rate of almost ten per cent.
Among the highlights of the report is the expectation that China would overtake the United States as the world's largest passenger market -- defined by traffic to, from and within, by 2030. "Both markets, however, are expected to remain the largest by a wide margin," the study said.
In terms of country-pairs, Asian and South American destinations would see the fastest growth, reflecting economic and demographic growth in those markets, the IATA report said.
"Intra-Pakistan, Kuwait-Thailand, United Arab Emirates (UAE)-Ethiopia, Colombia-Ecuador and intra-Honduras travel will all grow by at least 9.5 per cent on average for the next 20 years, while Indonesia-East Timor will be the fastest growing pair of all, at 14.9 per cent," it said.
"It is an exciting prospect to think that in the next 20 years more than twice as many passengers as today will have the chance to fly. Air connectivity on this scale will help transform economic opportunities for millions of people," IATA chief Tony Tyler said in his comments on the report.
In 20 years' time, "we can expect aviation to be supporting around 105 million jobs and USD six trillion in GDP," he said.
The report, the first from the new IATA Passenger Forecasting service, analyses passenger flows across 4,000 country pairs for the next 20 years, forecasting passenger numbers by way of three key demand drivers -- living standards, population and demographics, and price and availability.

Indian aviation sector to be recertified post US demotion

Fri, 17 Oct 2014 09:27:00 +0000

Updated : Oct 16, 2014

For many players in India’s aviation sector, it is time to go back to basics. With an Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) audit around the corner, sources say veteran airlines like Air India and Jet Airways and even new entrants like Vistara will have to go in for a re-certification reports CNBC-TV18s Sindhu Bhattacharya & Shereen Bhan. 

India's demotion to category-II safety status by the US Federal Aviation Administration earlier this year is both a boon and a curse. A boon, because the demotion has helped both airline companies and government agencies clean up their act, and rework the certification process by eliminating the many flaws that existed; A curse, because for many of these airlines, it means getting re-certified. This means a fresh look at almost every process at an airline, and applying for flying permits all over again. 

CNBC-TV18 learns that aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) wants to get this done before the next FAA audit, which could begin as early as December. To this end, sources say it has already begun rectifying one big problem - a shortage of flight operations inspectors. This puts Air India and Jet Airways, which have the most number of international flights, especially to the USA, first in the queue. 

The DGCA is keen on ensuring that airlines which seem to have bypassed, ignored or just not followed the rules laid down on paper, fall in line. This basically means a complete overhaul of all processes related to safety, training and licensing. So don't be surprised if airlines have to conduct 'proving flights' - something only an airline looking to fly for the first time usually has to do. 

Once Jet and Air India are done, it will be the turn of other players like SpiceJet. Already, the DGCA has found some lapses with SpiceJet's engineering checks. But this re-certification exercise will come as a bigger blow for new entrant Vistara. The airline has already had to push its maiden flight due to a delayed delivery of aircraft, and now, with a longer certification process before it, its maiden flight may now be at least 2-3 months away.

Mixed Verdicts in Indian AW101 Corruption Case

Thu, 16 Oct 2014 11:14:00 +0000

October 15, 2014, 7:25 AM
On October 10 an Italian judge found former Finmeccanica CEO Giuseppe Orsi and former AgustaWestland CEO Bruno Spagnolini not guilty of international corruption, but convicted the pair for the lesser crime of “false invoicing” and sentenced them to two-year prison terms and fined each €1.5 million. The sentence is suspended pending an anticipated appeal.
Italian prosecutors had charged the duo with being part of a plan that used middlemen to funnel bribes to Indian officials in relation to a $734 million sale of 12 AW101s to that country’s government in 2010. The Indian government canceled the contract after it received three of the 12 when the corruption allegations surfaced and is continuing its probe of local officials. Indian law enforcement officials said the Italian verdict would not affect the ongoing investigation of the matter there. This August, Italian prosecutors dropped related corruption charges against AgustaWestland after the company agreed to pay a €7.5 million ($9.3 million) fine. Days later, India banned AgustaWestland and its parent company, defense conglomerate Finmeccania, from participating in future government tenders. For now, that ban remains in place. Earlier this year the Indian government took measures to recover $380 million held by Italian banks as a 45% advance on theAW101 deal.
Finmeccanica CEO Mauro Moretti hailed the verdict and said he would travel to India soon to get the ban against his company lifted. “This removes a shadow that has caused us so much suffering,” he said. Orsi also seemed to take the verdict as a victory, proclaiming, “We've always known that there hasn't been any corruption.” He further claimed that his acquittal on the more serious charge, by implication, automatically clears suspect Indian officials and former officials.
India has a $13 billion annual defense budget and is the world’s largest arms importer, purchasing $6 billion in finished defense goods in 2013. Finmeccanica’s exclusion from new contracts in India would be a major blow to the company, which is 30 percent owned by the Italian government.
Italian prosecutors claimed that Orsi and Spagnolini approved invoices totaling $67 million for “engineering services” to international middlemen who then used the money to pay bribes in India. One of those alleged middlemen, Guido Ralph Haschke, cooperated with prosecutors as part of a plea agreement, providing testimony and extensive documents used in the trial. However, in rendering her verdict, Judge Luisa Bovitutti said she dismissed the international corruption charges because “there was no case.”
India’s case is progressing, albeit slowly. However, on September 23, India’s Enforcement Directorate (ED), the federal law enforcement agency charged with fighting white-collar crime, did arrest Delhi-based lawyer Gautam Khaitan for suspicion of money laundering related to the case and seized his computers and mobile phones. Khaitan sits on the board of Aeromatrix, a firm that allegedly served as a financial front in the deal according to The Times of India. Khaitan’s attorney maintains his client’s innocence.
India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) also is involved in its own official investigation, but has yet to bring charges.
As a replacement for the AW101s, which remain in storage, the Indian air force is presently upgrading six Mil Mi-17V5s for VIP use.

Gulfstream Launches New Large-Cabin, Long-Range Jets

Wed, 15 Oct 2014 08:20:00 +0000

Updated : Oct 14,2014
For its latest large-cabin, long-range business jets, the G500 and G600, Gulfstream has moved away from its long-time engine supplier, Rolls-Royce, and left behind its original fuselage cross-section, as it did for the flagship ultra-long-range G650. The new aircraft were unveiled ahead of the industry-showcase National Business Aviation Association convention this week in Orlando, Florida.
The G500 and G600 are launch applications for Pratt & Whitney Canada’s (P&WC) PW800 turbofan and fit into Gulfstream’s product line-up above the Rolls-Royce-powered G450 and G550, which are to stay in production as long as demand continues. In addition to a larger fuselage cross-section, the new jets share with the G650 wing aerodynamics, fly-by-wire controls and systems.
The new aircraft not only have longer and larger cabins than the G450 and G550 but also will fly higher, faster, quieter and farther on less fuel. High-speed cruise for both aircraft is Mach 0.9. At Mach 0.85 long-range cruise speed, the $54.5 million G600 has a range of 6,200 nm, compared with the G550’s 6,000 nm, while the $43.5 million G500 has 5,000-nm range, compared with the G450’s 4,220 nm at Mach 0.8.
“We have a very long-term development strategy,” says Scott Neal, Gulfstream’s senior vice president of sales and marketing. “Cabin volume, range and speed were the design drivers, [and that combination] will be matched by no other aircraft.”
In the works since 2008 under Gulfstream’s project P42, the G500 rolled out in Savannah, Georgia, Oct. 14. With 1,800 hr. of wind-tunnel work completed, the G500’s first flight is planned for 2015, leading to expected certification in 2017 and entry into service in 2018. Five aircraft will be used in a two-year, 3,000-hr. flight-test program. The G600’s design, which includes a longer fuselage and increased span, will be frozen by year-end, aiming for a first flight in 2016 and service entry in 2019.
The new models’ enhanced performance is due to the new engines and a wing with G650 high-speed aerodynamics, including supercritical airfoil, 36-deg. quarter-chord sweep and increased span—10 ft. more than the G450, in the case of the G500. Gulfstream says the P&WC engines are lighter and more fuel-efficient than current 16,000-lb.-thrust-class engines. The G500 is powered by two 15,144-lb.-thrust PW814GAs, the G600 by 15,680-lb.-thrust PW816GAs.
Operators told Gulfstream they wanted a bigger fuselage but better fuel economy, and the company briefly evaluated using the G650 fuselage cross-section for the G500 and G600. But the weight and drag imposed unacceptable performance penalties. Instead, the aircraft have a new fuselage shape that is 7 in. narrower and less tall than the G650’s but provides 2 in. more headroom, 7 in. more cabin width and 8 in. more floor width than the G450 and G550. Used in the G650, the four-radii fuselage shape provides more head and shoulder room than a circular cross-section. The floor sits proportionately lower in the fuselage than in the G650, and headroom is only 1 in. less than in the flagship Gulfstream.
The new aircraft have the same cabin windows as the G650, 16% larger in area and positioned 3.4 in. higher than those in the G450 and G550. With a cabin 2.5 ft. longer than the G450’s, the G500 has six windows per side and three seating areas. The G600 cabin, 1.6 ft. longer than the G550’s, has seven windows per side and room for 3.5 seating areas—the extra length accommodates an optional crew-rest compartment. The 10.7-psi pressurization system provides a 3,000-ft. cabin altitude at 41,000 ft. and 4,850 ft. at the aircraft’s 51,000-ft. maximum ceiling, the lowest cabin altitude in their classes.
The digital fly-by-wire system is based on that in the G650, with a pair of dual-channelThales flight-control computers and Parker electronic power-control actuators. But new to the G500 and G600—and a first for civil aviation—are the active-inceptor sidestick controls supplied by BAE Systems. These are electrically back-driven, so they appear to be mechanically linked side to side: When one sidestick is moved, the other moves with it. The sidesticks also move in response to autopilot inputs, providing the pilots with tactile and visual feedback.
In addition to the active sidesticks, the new Symmetry flight deck for the aircraft introduces touchscreen displays and other features that distinguish it from the PlaneView cockpits of current-production Gulfstreams. Based on Honeywell integrated avionics, Symmetry provides four large-format, landscape-orientation flight displays, their associated cursor-control devices relocated from the sidewall armrests to the center console to make room for the sidestick controls.
Three large, software-driven touchscreens on the overhead panel control virtually all airframe systems. Four smaller touchscreens, two outside the main displays and two in the center console, provide flight management system, radio and avionics/display controls. There are no conventional multi-function control display units. Wider-screen standby flight instruments are installed in the glareshield. All this provides unprecedented redundancy. Gulfstream’s goal is to allow dispatch with one overhead, one lower touchscreen and one standby flight display inoperative.
The new aircraft are equipped with a standard head-up display and third-generation Elbit Kollsman EVS III infrared enhanced-vision system camera with four times the image resolution, an integrated exterior window and digital interface to the avionics suite.

Garuda Indonesia orders 50 Boeing 737 MAX narrowbodies

Mon, 13 Oct 2014 11:58:00 +0000

Updated : Oct 12, 2014
Garuda Indonesia has announced an order for 50 Boeing 737 MAX 8s, valued at $4.9 billion at list prices. The carrier will purchase 46 737 MAX 8s and convert existing orders for four 737-800s to 737 MAX 8s, Boeing said in a statement Sunday.
The order was previously listed on Boeing's orders and deliveries website as an unidentified customer. 
Garuda, a new SkyTeam alliance member, operates 77 737s. The MAXs will be powered by CFM International LEAP-1Bs, the sole-source engine the MAX.
Boeing said the total number of 737 MAX orders to date is 2,295 aircraft from 47 customers worldwide.

DGCA grounds three aircraft belonging to domestic operators

Sun, 12 Oct 2014 10:19:00 +0000

Published in Business Today Updated: October 11, 2014
In a series of surprise checks over the week, the aviation regulator has grounded three aircraft belonging to domestic operators such as Air India.
According to a senior official with the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the three grounded aicraft include two A320s and one Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ) belonging to Air India, GoAir and a non-scheduled private operator (NSOP).
Substantive safety lapses were found in the aircraft, the official told IANS.
Till now in the year, DGCA has conducted 55 surprise checks leading to the grounding of 14 aircraft.
The development assumes significance as in January the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) downgraded the safety ranking of India's DGCA.
The DGCA was downgraded under the pretext that the regulator does not meet international safety standards laid down by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in areas such as adequate manpower for inspections and safety checks of aircraft.
Currently, India is downgraded to category-II in terms of safety related aspects of its civil aviation operations.
The DGCA has been trying to improve its safety audit and has been conducting surprise checks ever since.

Nine airports to have e-visa facility this month

Fri, 10 Oct 2014 10:52:00 +0000

Updated: October 9, 2014  | 21:54 IST
In a move to boost tourism, nine airports equipped with e-visa facilities will be operational for 13 countries including USA and South Korea and Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to launch it this month.
In order to give a major boost to tourism in India, the facility of Electronic Travel Authorisation (e-Visa) would be introduced atnine airports in the country where necessary infrastructure are being put in place, sources in government said.
The authorisation facility would be operational at Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Goa, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Trivandrum and Kochi airports in the first phase and will be extended to other airports later.
The date of its launch will be decided shortly, they said.
In the 2014-15 Union Budget, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley acknowledged the importance of tourism as a major job creator and announced the government's intention to relax the existing visa regime.
Besides tourists from USA and South Korea, visitors from all 11 countries which have been given visa on arrival facility are being covered under the e-visa scheme.
Currently visa-on-arrival facility is extended to Japan, Singapore, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, Finland, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, Luxembourg and Laos. 

Airbus Preparing A350-900 For First Delivery

Mon, 06 Oct 2014 11:33:00 +0000

Published in on 6 Oct, 2014 

With European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certification now in place for the A350-900, Airbus is shifting gears to prepare for first delivery of the aircraft and a steep production ramp-up.

EASA issued the type certificate for the Airbus A350-900 on Sept. 30 following an almost flawless flight-test campaign that started in June 2013 and involved five test aircraft. “We dealt with a very mature aircraft,” EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky says. “Airbus and EASA have learnt from experience and have established pragmatic working methods which have proved to be the recipe for the successful type certification and the way forward for future certification programs.” The A350 was the first all-new Airbus aircraft certified by EASA.

While the latter phase of development and flights tests took place without the huge delays and disruptions to which the industry has become accustomed, the A350 went through several iterations in the early project phase that included an updated version of the A330 initially and later several material selections or fuselage changes. The latest turn in the A350 strategy affects the A350-800, development of which Airbus says is “frozen,” a euphemism for being scrapped. In its August statistics for orders and deliveries, Airbus still listed 34 firm orders for the type, but program head Didier Evrard says more airlines have agreed to transition either to the recently launched A330neo or the larger A350-900.

The aircraft maker plans to deliver the first A350-900 to Qatar Airways before year-end. That aircraft, MSN006, is now “ready to be transferred to the flight-test team,” Evrard says. The exact delivery date will be determined jointly with the carrier in the coming weeks, he says, during which time Airbus is working on familiarizing Qatar Airways with the aircraft. Evard says that will require “a number of flights,” but it is difficult to predict just how many flights or hours. But he says, “If I were a golf player, I would say we are on the green.” 

Meanwhile, the next challenge, ramp up of production, is nearing. Airbus plans by year-end to reach a build rate of three per month from the current two, and by the end of 2015, it aims to produce five A350s per month. Output is to be expanded to 10 aircraft per month by 2018. However, chief salesman John Leahy is concerned that Airbus may not build enough A350s  to meet demand. “We are being prudent, but it bothers me,” he says. Airbus might soon decide to raise production rates, he indicated at the Istat conference in Istanbul late last month. “I believe this will be decided sometime next year,” he said.

Airbus had orders for 750 A350s at the time of certification of the first version. The -900 is by far the most popular version, with 547 firm commitments, followed by 169 orders for the A350-1000 and 34 for the -800, which will most likely never be built. Leahy said the further stretch represented by the -800, while technically possible, might not be a good idea.

For the A350-900, Airbus expects to receive FAA approvals “very shortly,” according to chief engineer Gordon McConnell. “It is in process just now, but not completed yet,” he says. The initial extended twin operations (ETOPS) clearance also has not yet been published by EASA, and McConnell believes it may take several more weeks. He says initial ETOPS will be “perfectly adequate” for the needs of the operators. The EASA certification document indicates there will be a 180-min. ETOPS approval and a separate one beyond that limit.

Airbus will return to lithium-ion-batteries—all A350s will be delivered with those batteries from 2016. As a consequence of the lithium-ion battery fires experienced on the Boeing 787, Airbus decided to use more conventional nickel-cadmium batteries temporarily to avoid schedule risk in case certification requirements changed. As it turns out, Airbus did not need to alter its original design. “We were fully aware of the risks inherent in the [battery] design,” Evrard said. “We have put measures in place to mitigate that to zero.”

The A350-900 has been certified by EASA for a maximum of 440 passengers, depending on the exit configuration. That will require at least eight cabin crew.

The maximum takeoff weight for the basic variant is 268 tons, although EASA has certified the aircraft for up to 275 tons, giving Airbus room for higher-weight versions later, even as part of the initial certification. While the A350 is available only in the basic 268-ton variant at this point, the A350-900 is about three tons heavier than initially planned. The aircraft is certified with a maximum operating altitude of 43,100 ft.

EASA has also determined that the A350-900 “is a variant of the A330/340 series aircraft” and, more precisely, is considered to be “a variant of the A330-200.” Pilots will be able to fly both the A330 and the A350 with the same type rating. 

On the move: Civil Aviation Ministry to strategise on improving city airport

Wed, 01 Oct 2014 13:22:00 +0000

The Hindu

Published in The Hindu Updated: September 30, 2014 02:05

The Union civil aviation ministry will soon formulate a new strategy to improve conditions at Chennai airport, said P. Ashok Gajapathi Raju, Union minister for civil aviation, on Monday.

Mr. Raju said many members of Rajya Sabha had complained about the condition of Chennai airport a few months ago.

Following this, a couple of officials from the ministry had taken pictures of the prevalent conditions at the airport. “If there are complaints of incomplete engineering works or design-related issues, nothing can be done overnight. But, there is no excuse for not maintaining elementary hygiene.” However, the conditions had improved since, he said.

“My staff took 75 pictures a few months ago. But, when I inspected the terminal last Saturday, there seemed to be definite improvement. But it should not slide,” he said. Talking about privatisation, Mr. Raju said the Union government ‘is neither enamoured about privatisation nor against it completely’. “We have a few airports that are privatised and working successfully,” he said. During his inspection, he also visited the new cargo complex in Meenambakkam.

Mr. Raju noted that Chennai was the leader in cargo services in the country. The cargo sector had exciting possibilities if the State government could think of backward and forward integration, he said.

New aviation policy soon, says Minister

Thu, 18 Sep 2014 09:28:00 +0000

Published in The Hindu Updated: September 17, 2014 03:23 IST

Civil Aviation Minister P. Ashok Gajapathi Raju said on Tuesday that a new aviation policy would be brought out soon to develop infrastructure and attract investments.

Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of the 65 Annual General Meeting (AGM) of The Aeronautical Society of India (AeSI), Hyderabad chapter, he warned that there was every chance of some unused airports becoming a liability to the government. “There are 125 airports in the country out of which 75 are in use. There needs to be a strategy regarding the rest of the airports. Otherwise, they will end up as non-performing assets.” He ruled out the possibility of bailing out private airlines that were incurring huge losses.

On the industry’s demand for a reduction in tax on Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF), he said Andhra Pradesh was among the few States that had responded positively to the Union government’s appeal to lower the tax on ATF.

“Along with A.P., Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Punjab also want to reduce the ATF prices. We are pursuing the issue with other States as well. The States that see less aviation activity have responded to our request positively, whereas the States that witness heavy aviation activity are dragging their feet on this,” he remarked.

Domestic air passenger traffic rises 8.31% in August

Wed, 17 Sep 2014 11:46:00 +0000

Published in Business Today
Updated: September 16, 2014  | 18:21 IST

Domestic air passenger traffic increased by 8.31 percent in August to 56.97 lakh passengers - up from 52.60 lakh ferried in the corresponding month last year.
According to data furnished by the civil aviation ministry on Tuesday, on a month-on-month basis, there was an increase of over five per cent in the passenger traffic.
"Passengers carried by domestic airlines during Jan-Aug 2014 were 433.25 lakh as against 411.40 lakh during the corresponding period of previous year, thereby registering a growth of 5.31 per cent," the ministry said in a statement.
The data showed low-cost carrier IndiGo achieved the highest market share at 32.6 per cent followed by SpiceJet at 19.5 percent, Air India at 16.2 percent, Jet Airways at 16.1 per cent, Go Air at 10 per cent, and JetLite at 4 percent.
Regional carriers AirAsia India reported a market share of 0.06 per cent and Air Costa at 1.1 per cent.