Saturday 9 December 2023

Virgin Orbit's Boeing 747 now flies for Stratolaunch.

Earlier this month Stratolaunch welcomed the latest edition to its fleet, a Boeing 747 that they've named The Spirit of Mojave. This 20+-year-old jet was previously called Cosmic Girl and flew with Virgin Orbit, before its recent downfall and prior to that it was a regular transatlantic commuter operating flights for Virgin Atlantic Airways.

The modified 747 was named by the Stratolaunch employees, the firm confirmed on social media,  as a tribute to the passion of the Mojave aerospace community that has built and tested some of the world’s most unique aircraft. The Spirit of Mojave symbolizes expanded capability and reach to execute our hypersonic test mission. 

The expansion of Stratolaunch's fleet will increase its in-flight test capacity and ability to support government and commercial customers globally.  "The addition of this aircraft is a transformational milestone," said Dr. Zachary Krevor, President and CEO of Stratolaunch. "With Roc remaining as our mainstay aircraft, an additional 747 brings expanded capabilities and flexibility to our platform. We will be able to increase both our flight test capacity and reach to become an even stronger partner to global customers.".

Stratolaunch has also confirmed the completion of a captive carry flight with the first powered Talon-A hypersonic vehicle, TA-1. The flight was the twelfth for the company's launch platform Roc and the first in which the aircraft carried a Talon vehicle with live propellant as part of a buildup approach for Talon-A's first powered flight.

The flight lasted a total of three hours and 22 minutes and represented a significant step forward in the company's near-term goal of completing a powered flight with the Talon-A vehicle, TA-1. A primary objective was to evaluate Talon-A's propulsion system and the Talon environments while carrying live propellant. A second objective was to verify Roc and TA-1's telemetry systems, which provides the situational awareness to ensure all systems are ready for powered flight during the release sequence. 

"Talon-A's propulsion system supports a liquid-propellant rocket engine that provides the thrust needed for Talon-A to reach hypersonic speeds. While we have conducted several successful ground tests fueling and igniting the system, we needed to evaluate how the system performs in the flight environment prior to release," said Dr. Zachary Krevor, Chief Executive Officer for Stratolaunch. "Initial results from today's flight show that the system has performed as predicted, and we will determine our next steps pending the full data review of the test."

US grounds V-22 Osprey

Reluctantly the United States Armed Forces has grounded all of its V-22 Osprey aircraft following a crash off the coast of Yakushima Island coast of Japan on 29th November.  

In the hours after the Japanese crash, which cost the lives of all eight service personnel onboard, the authorities of Japan’s Okinawa Prefecture requested that all Ospreys on the island chain be grounded. 

The Pentagon claims not to have had an official request to ground the strange-looking tilt-rotor craft but has finally confirmed the suspension of all operational activities until the cause of the crash is known.  The U.S. Navy's Naval Air Systems Command confirmed the grounding applies to all Navy’s variants of the aircraft, including the Marine Corps MV-22B, the Navy’s CMV-22B, V-22 and the CMV-22.

NAVAIR issued a statement which said:  “Preliminary investigation information indicates a potential materiel failure caused the mishap, but the underlying cause of the failure is unknown at this time.  While the mishap remains under investigation, we are implementing additional risk mitigation controls to ensure the safety of our service members. - The Joint Program Office continues to communicate and collaborate with all V-22 stakeholders and customers, including allied partners.”

Despite having a remarkable appearance and being seen around the world as part of the airborne entourage that accompanies the U.S. President on various trips, the  V-22 Osprey has had a rather troubled past. There have been somewhere in the region of 15 crashes of the type which caused the deaths of more than 60 service personnel. A particularly concerning record when you consider the U.S. Armed Forces have a fleet of less than 500 Osprey aircraft and the programme has cost many billions of dollars, some estimates are as high as $70 billion.   

However,  will the Osprey survive this latest grounding, will it soar to new heights in the months to come or has it become time to put these birds to bed for the final time?    I guess that's really just a question for after the current investigations are completed, or how much more money Boeing will pump into the programme to keep the authorities on side?  

Gatwick hit with NATS outage

Gatwick's apron during summer.
Dozens of flights and hundreds of passengers have been deleted by an Air Traffic Control system outage at one of the UK's leading airports on Saturday morning. 

Travellers were faced with delays of hours at London Gatwick Airport after the systems outage grounded flights just after 8am this morning. 

A spokesperson for the West Sussex airport confirmed "There was an outage to a local Nats system earlier this morning which has now been rectified.  Some passengers may experience delays. We apologise for any inconvenience."

Joby, ANA Holdings join with Nomura Real Estate Development for Vertiports in Japan

Nomura Real Estate Development is one of Japan’s largest real estate developers
Three-way partnership includes Joby’s existing Japanese airline partner, ANA
Companies to jointly explore the design, location and financing of vertiports across Japan.

Joby Aviation, Inc. announced during the week that it has partnered with ANA Holdings Inc. and Nomura Real Estate Development Co. Ltd, one of Japan’s largest real estate developers, on the development of take-off and landing infrastructure, known as vertiports, to support the commercialization of its electric air taxi service across Japan.

The three companies plan to jointly explore the design, location, operation, and financing of vertiport locations that will serve as the backbone of future commercial air taxi services in Japan.

The partners will primarily focus on locations in the metropolitan areas such as Tokyo, expanding over time to include numerous urban areas across greater Japan. Joby recently became a technical advisor to the Tokyo Bay eSG Project, led by NRE and sponsored by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, which will demonstrate various multi-modal mobility solutions including a floating landing port in the Tokyo Bay. The partners will also work with a wide range of local stakeholders to introduce the benefits of the technology and support community acceptance of air taxi services.

CDB Aviation Enters Into Inaugural Sustainability Linked Loan for $625 Million

CDB Aviation has confirmed it has entered into its inaugural Sustainability Linked Loan (“SLL”) on December 1, 2023, anchored with a $625 million syndicated term loan facility.

“This innovative facility marks a landmark transaction for the aviation finance space,” underscored Jie Chen, CDB Aviation’s Chief Executive Officer. “We’re thrilled to have leveraged our comprehensive sustainability strategy, with a particular focus on the activities across the Environmental and Social aspects of our operations, to secure this first major sustainability-linked loan syndicated facility among aircraft lessors.”

The SLL parameters of the facility are contingent on the satisfaction of Sustainability Performance Targets (“SPTs”), based on the lessor’s three Key Performance Indicators (“KPIs”), including two strong Environmental and one Social KPIs related to:

reducing the carbon intensity of the CDB Aviation’s fleet, focusing on the most fuel-efficient aircraft;
increasing the share of new generation aircraft in the lessor’s fleet, pursuing its target to reach 60% of new generation aircraft (by number of aircraft) by the end of 2025; and
increasing the level of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (“DEI”)-related training for the workforce.
Moody’s Investors provided the Second Party Opinion as to the appropriateness of the KPIs and SPTs, confirming the conformity of the facility with the Sustainability Linked Loan Principles (“SLLPs”), with a best-in-class SQS2 rating.

Friday 8 December 2023

PLAY reports that 75% load factor, 42% increase in passenger numbers and demand picking up

PLAY Airlines carried 107,236 passengers in November, which is a 42% increase from November 2022 when PLAY carried 75,396 passengers. The load factor in November 2023 was 74.5%, down from 79% last year. This decline in load factor is a direct result of the seismic activity in the Reykjanes Peninsula and resulting global news coverage of a possible volcanic eruption that could disrupt aviation. This situation impacted last-minute bookings in the month. PLAY had an on-time performance of 88.9% in November 2023.

Despite the decline in load factor in November we continued to see year-on-year growth in our unit revenue (RASK), even with a 54% growth in available seat kilometres (ASK).Average ancillary revenue continues to rise for PLAY, being 30% higher in November 2023 compared to November 2022, and the trend is looking strong for the coming months. Of all passengers flying with PLAY in November 2023, 26.2% were departing from Iceland, 32.7% were traveling to Iceland, and 41.2% were connecting passengers (VIA).

PLAY has carried 1.4 million passengers year to date with an average load factor of 84%. Of all passengers flying with PLAY so far in 2023, 26.9% were departing from Iceland, 32.6% were flying to Iceland and 40.5% were connecting passengers (VIA).

Record sales day in November

After experiencing a negative impact on demand due to seismic activity in the Reykjanes Peninsula in Iceland, PLAY had a record sales day in the last week of November. The record came after the news coverage linked to the seismic activity had slowed down and during historically big sales days associated with Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Travel Tuesday. This is a definite sign that demand has picked up after the situation in Reykjanes, but the events are still expected to have  further short-term impact on the airline.

Birgir Jonsson CEO said:  "In November, we saw our load factor being impacted by the awesome forces of nature here in Iceland when seismic activity, earthquakes, and the possibility of a volcanic eruption captured headlines around the world. The town of Grindavík was evacuated on short notice, and the nearby Blue Lagoon, Iceland’s most popular tourist destination, was and still is, temporarily closed due to this uncertainty. The demand for air travel, and specifically for Iceland as a tourist destination, was subsequently reduced in the short term. This temporary cooldown of demand can be felt in our load factor data for the month of November and it’s clear that the same will apply for December as well. In recent days, we have seen the demand returning to the market, which is very positive and reassuring for the coming months but a little too late for the short-term travel season, before Christmas and in the new year. Iceland, however, is still very much open for tourists, and there has been no disruption of aviation at all. Now it looks like the situation has become more stable, and we at PLAY wish the very best for the people of the small town of Grindavík, where many of our colleagues and friends live, and we hope that they can return to their homes and normal lives as soon as possible. I wish to thank the fantastic team of Players for their efforts and how they have reacted to this challenging scenario in the last few weeks. I’m always so proud to see the level of professionalism and dedication that our teams possess."

Delta to fly to Taipei from Seattle hub

Delta, Seattle’s largest global airline, will further expand its Asia network next summer with the launch of daily nonstop service from Seattle (SEA) to Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) starting June 6, 2024, subject to government approval.

This marks Delta’s inaugural nonstop flight to Taipei from the U.S. and the first Delta aircraft operation to TPE since 2017 via Narita International Airport.

“This route not only opens new doors to Taipei’s captivating skyline, vibrant night markets, and rich cultural heritage, but it also marks a significant stride in enhancing Seattle's global connectivity,” said Joan Wang, Managing Director – Global Sales, Seattle. “This strategic addition to Delta's trans-Pacific portfolio is poised to make a profound impact on the Seattle market, fostering increased business and leisure travel opportunities for our discerning customers.”

Delta is marking its 90th anniversary in Seattle this December, a history that dates back to the start of operations by Northwest Airways (later Northwest Airlines) in 1933. Delta flights began on June 1, 1980, with nonstop service between SEA and Atlanta (ATL), Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) and Portland (PDX). Delta now boasts over 160 daily departures from SEA to 50 destinations worldwide. Seattle serves as a key gateway for the airline’s operations across the Pacific, which – with the addition of TPE – features four non-stop trans-Pacific destinations, inclusive of existing routes to Incheon (ICN), Tokyo (HND), and Shanghai (PVG).

“The Port of Seattle welcomes today’s announcement as Delta continues to build on SEA’s status as a hub and its west coast gateway to Asia,” said Port of Seattle Commission President Sam Cho. “With the addition of the new International Arrivals Facility (IAF) in 2022, SEA is providing a dramatic welcome to the world visiting and doing business in the Puget Sound region. We are excited Delta is demonstrating its commitment to continuing to build on that vision.”

Delta continues to restore and expand service across Asia and the Pacific outside of Seattle as well. Over the course of 2023, the airline has:

Announced a second daily flight to ICN from ATL.
Increased flights to China from four times per week to 10 times per week (seven weekly flights to PVG from SEA and three weekly flights to PVG from DTW).
Resumed service to HND from Honolulu (HNL) and Minneapolis (MSP).
Launched first-ever Auckland (AKL) from LAX service, the only U.S. carrier operating LAX-AKL year-round.
Increased flights to Sydney (SYD) from 10 weekly to 14 weekly in Winter from LAX.

ATP Flight School to purchase of 40 additional Cessna Skyhawk aircraft

ATP Flight School's Cessna aircraft.  Photo Textron Aviation / ATP / Business Wire
Textron Aviation announced this week an agreement with ATP Flight School for the purchase of an additional 40 Cessna Skyhawk aircraft to be delivered beginning in 2026. This addition to ATP's existing fleet of nearly 225 Skyhawks, deployed across more than 85 training centres nationwide, will provide students with access to a modern and advanced fleet in support of their pilot career aspirations.

This agreement marks the fourth fleet purchase, amounting to a total of 135 of Cessna Skyhawks, for ATP's Airline Career Pilot Program in just over a year, as the flight school scales to train 20,000 airline pilots by 2030.

"For over six decades, the legendary Cessna Skyhawk has inspired the next generation of pilots and served as the world's leading flight trainer," said Chris Crow, vice president, Piston Sales. "We are delighted to continue our long-standing relationship with ATP and provide their students access to the most produced single-engine aircraft globally."

The Cessna Skyhawk is renowned as the go-to training aircraft in the industry. Its steady flight dynamics, cutting-edge avionics and reliable dispatch history have made it ATP's trusted training platform for the past three decades.

"With already one of the youngest, most modern fleets at scale, the firm orders for 135 Skyhawks are for direct fleet growth, not replacement. Over the next three years, ATP will be expanding its Cessna fleet by 60% and delivering over 40 new state-of-art planes to ATP students each year through 2026," said Michael Arnold, vice president of marketing, ATP Flight School. "ATP's fleet expansion has been responsibly paired with an investment in its Florida-based flight operations centre. Dedicated safety, tech ops, and quality assurance departments promote a high level of safety across the ATP network with real-time monitoring, risk mitigation, and safety trend analysis as they orchestrate 800 daily flights. This structured airline-based approach to flight operations provides students with a safety-focused environment from the onset of their professional careers as they become airline pilots on the most efficient path possible."

ATP is the nation's largest flight school, providing students with the most efficient path to a successful airline pilot career. For over 35 years, ATP has been the leader in professional flight training and supplying pilots to airlines.

ATP's fast-track, fixed-cost Airline Career Pilot Program takes students from zero experience to commercial multi-engine pilots and flight instructors (CFI, CFII, MEI) in seven months. Offered at 84 locations nationwide, students gain the competitive edge with airline-oriented training, nationally awarded flight instructors, new aircraft, dedicated training and career support, airline-sponsored tuition reimbursement, airline direct programs, and access to 38 hiring partnerships. Airlines hire more Airline Career Pilot Program graduates than from any other flight school.

RTX's Pratt & Whitney Canada and Dassault Aviation celebrate the entry into service of the PW812D-powered Falcon 6X business jet

Pratt & Whitney Canada joins Dassault Aviation in celebrating the entry into service of the new Falcon 6X business jet, powered by twin Pratt & Whitney Canada PW812D turbofan engines. The Falcon 6X's entry into service is an important milestone for both companies. 

"We applaud the Dassault Aviation team for the successful entry into service of the first Falcon 6X aircraft," said Maria Della Posta, president, Pratt & Whitney Canada. "Pratt & Whitney Canada has a long-standing relationship with Dassault, powering the Falcon 2000LXS, 7X and 8X. Together, we have grown our relationship to best serve the interests of our common customers and look forward to the very promising future for this remarkable jet." 

The PW812D engine proved itself through every phase of a demanding development and flight test program. It has received positive reviews from Dassault Aviation's pilots and maintenance technicians alike. Its fuel economy allows this largest-ever Falcon to fly missions of up to 5,500 nm / 10,200 km.

Thursday 7 December 2023

Etihad Airways will fly its much-loved A380 on the popular Abu Dhabi – New York JFK route from 22 April, 2024

Etihad Airways is delighted to announce it will start flying its A380 double-decker to New York JFK from 22 April, 2024.

Etihad's The superjumbo is right on time for the busy summer travel period and key corporate travel market
Antonoaldo Neves, Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Airways, says: “We’re thrilled to start flying our remarkable A380 across the Atlantic, and we know our guests love the onboard experience. Whether they are flying in Economy, Business, First or the three-room suite in the sky, The Residence, they will enjoy elevated levels of service from our dedicated crew, and ensure they arrive in the city that never sleeps refreshed and relaxed. We know this is important for all our guests, not least our corporate customers, and the timing and comfort provided by the A380 means they can arrive fresh and ready for their business appointments.

“Putting the A380 on the popular New York route makes sense as we satisfy customer demand for more capacity, further growing our expanding network. The fact that our new route to Boston, Etihad’s fourth US gateway, will open on 31 March, three weeks before our A380 starts flying to New York, underlines our ambitious growth plans.”

The introduction of the A380 marks a significant enhancement to Etihad's capacity in the crucial US market, connecting to the broader GCC and Indian subcontinent. It will further attract an increased number of visitors to sample the attractions of the vibrant city of Abu Dhabi.

The A380 will operate on one of the two daily Etihad flights to New York. The other daily flight will be operated by a 787-9 featuring First, Business and Economy cabins.

The US route becomes the second destination after London to enjoy the remarkable A380 experience since Etihad returned its superjumbo to the skies.

Welcome onboard

Every guest in Etihad’s A380 is treated to a unique and elevated experience. For those in Economy, a dedicated welcome area sets the tone. The cabin boasts 68 extra legroom seats with an additional 4 inches of space, along with 337 Economy Smart seats featuring Etihad's signature fixed-wing headrests and large pillows for maximum comfort.

UK's Royal Navy Merlin Mk3s make day-long trip to Gibraltar

Merlin Mk3 helicopters of 846 Naval Air Squadron (NAS).
Deploying at short notice to locations across the globe is something all Commando Helicopter Force aircraft and personnel must be ready for.

So pilots, aircrew and engineers left their base at RNAS Yeovilton for a day-long journey to Gibraltar via France, Spain and Portugal with two of the green Merlin Mk3 helicopters of 846 Naval Air Squadron (NAS).

The Royal Marines flying wing was taking part in Exercise Barbary Commando 16, the aim of which is to train students from the Operational Conversion Flight and complete one of the final elements they need to become qualified Commando Merlin pilots and aircrew.

“This has been yet another first for the Commando Merlin,” said Detachment Commander Lieutenant Commander Alex Hampson.

“We have proved the utility of range and speed available with Merlin by deploying at short notice to an airfield over 1,400 flying miles away with just two stops for fuel in a single day.”

While in Gibraltar, the Junglie squadron also teamed up with the Gibraltar Boat Squadron for some winching training.

HMS Scimitar, her sister ship Sabre and three Pacific Rigid Inflatable Boats crewed by Royal Navy, Royal Marine and Royal Naval Reserve personnel together make up the Royal Navy Gibraltar Squadron.

Merlin Mk3 helicopters of 846 Naval Air Squadron (NAS).

Cathay Pacific celebrates 35 years of its Cadet Pilot Training Programme

Celebrating the graduation of the first group of cadet pilots from its integrated programme with the Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Cathay Pacific strives to deepen its contribution to Hong Kong society, focusing on nurturing advancement in the domains of youth, sports, arts and culture. The airline’s long-running Cadet Pilot Training Programme is a testament to its commitment on youth development.

Today marked the 35th anniversary of the Cadet Pilot Training Programme, as the airline continues its commitment to growing the next generation of young aviation professionals.

The ceremony also marked the first group of cadet pilots to graduate from its integrated programme developed and conducted in collaboration with the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) and its new flying training partner, AeroGuard Flight Training Center. The 21 cadet pilot graduates join the airline as Second Officers, following the completion of their training.

Cathay Group Chief Executive Officer Ronald Lam welcomed Acting Secretary for Transport and Logistics Mr Liu Chun-san as the guest of honour at the graduation ceremony at the airline’s Cathay City headquarters. Civil Aviation Department Chief, Flight Standards Captain Lawrence Wong and PolyU Dean of Faculty of Engineering Ir Professor H. C. Man were also in attendance.

Acting Secretary for Transport and Logistics Mr Liu Chun-san said: “Building on its 35-year legacy of nurturing local cadet pilots, the Cathay Pacific Cadet Pilot Programme has been continuously enhanced to provide high-quality and professional training for our pilots-to-be.  I would like to thank Cathay Pacific and PolyU for their commendable efforts in exploring new options to attract new blood into the aviation industry and enriching the capacity of aviation professional training in Hong Kong. ” 

SWISS to serve culinary creations from the Kempinski Palace Engelberg aloft

SWISS is taking its premium travellers on a gastronomic trip to Canton Obwalden in Central Switzerland for this year’s winter chapter of its ‘SWISS Taste of Switzerland’ inflight food and beverage programme. Starting today, customers in SWISS First and SWISS Business on outbound long-haul flights from Switzerland can enjoy the culinary creations of Michéle Müller, executive chef at the luxury Kempinski Palace Engelberg hotel. SWISS Premium Economy travellers on such flights will also be offered a three-course meal that draws its inspiration from the Obwalden region.

Starting today and for the next three months, Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) will be offering its First and Business Class guests on its long-haul services from Switzerland exclusive culinary delights from the kitchen of the Kempinski Palace Engelberg. The meals are the creations of Michéle Müller, executive chef at the five-star superior hotel in Engelberg, Canton Obwalden. Müller’s offerings for her SWISS inflight guests reflect her international experience, while also drawing inspiration from the Kempinski Palace Engelberg menus. The hotel, which is nestled in the Central Swiss Alps, is a member of the reputed Kempinski Group, and is the proud holder of 14 GaultMillau points.

“We are delighted to be able to offer our inflight guests these creations by Michéle Müller,” says Julia Hillenbrand, Head of Brand Experience at SWISS. “Michéle works with surprising ingredients, and interprets classic dishes with her own distinctive flair. So our passengers can look forward to some genuine culinary highlights from the Kempinski Palace Engelberg’s five-star kitchens.”

“I spent several years cooking in the Middle East,” adds Michéle Müller, “and my experiences there made a lasting impression on me. That’s why I like to develop my dishes with exotic spices that breathe new life into classic concoctions. And I’m honoured that I can now share my creations with SWISS’s passengers, too.”

Tasty treats from the Kempinski Palace Engelberg’s culinary world

Passenger numbers up in November for Icelandair.

In November 2023, Icelandair transported 282,497 passengers the troubled firm has reported this week, which is a 13% increase on the same month last year. According to the carrier, it saw the largest increase in passengers travelling via Iceland to and from North America, which was up by some 37%. 

Icelandair's load Factor was fairly static at 75.4%  improving by just 1.9 % despite a higher advertising and promotion campaign and the airline's on-time performance was 84.5%.

Bogi Nils Bogason, Icelandair's CEO said:  “In November, we continued seeing an increase in the number of passengers and a stronger load factor compared to last year, on 12% capacity increase. This is despite some negative impact on the booking flow sparked by media reporting on the Reykjanes peninsula seismic activity. Going forward, there is some impact on bookings and revenues for the next few months but looking at the longer term the booking flow is moving towards its former strength.

In 2023, we have transported four million passengers. I am very proud of the Icelandair team and thankful to our loyal passengers for these results and already look forward to the year 2024 where we will continue to use the Company’s strengths and flexibility to address challenges and seize opportunities in our markets.”

New year, new career? It could take off at East Midlands Airport

Anyone looking for a new career to take off in the New Year should put Wednesday 17 January in their diary to attend a Jobs Fair at East Midlands Airport (EMA).

The event will take place in the check-in hall from 10am to 2pm and representatives from a wide range of businesses operating on the site will be available to speak to. These include Manchester Airports Group (MAG) which owns and runs the airport itself, as well as major cargo operator DHL, baggage handling firm Swissport, food service company HMS Host, one of EMA’s main airlines Jet2 and World Duty Free.

The Jobs Fair will provide a great opportunity for jobseekers to engage directly with employers and find out what they are looking for from applicants to boost their chances of securing employment at the airport. Free parking and a free shuttle bus to the venue will be provided.

MAG’s Group Head of Education, Skills & Employment, Marcella M’Rabety, said: “Whether you want to land a career at East Midlands Airport or are already working in the industry and looking for a change, our Jobs Fair is the perfect event for you!

Reliable Robotics flies large cargo aircraft with no one on board

FAA-approved uncrewed flight test, supervised by a remote pilot, is an important step forward for the aviation industry.

Reliable Robotics, a leader in aircraft automation systems, today announced a significant milestone in its work to bring advanced safety-enhancing technologies to market in the United States. Last month’s successful flight of a Cessna 208B Caravan with no one on board was a first for aviation. A remote pilot supervised the uncrewed aircraft from Reliable’s control centre 50 miles away.

The Reliable autonomous flight system enables the aircraft to be remotely operated by a pilot on the ground and improves safety by fully automating the aircraft through all phases of operation including taxi, takeoff and landing. Reliable’s system is aircraft agnostic and utilizes multiple layers of redundancy and advanced navigation technology to achieve the levels of integrity and reliability necessary for uncrewed flight. The system will prevent controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) and loss of control in flight (LOC-I), which account for the majority of fatal aviation accidents.

The Cessna Caravan is designed and manufactured by Textron Aviation Inc. Reliable Robotics has been collaborating with Textron Aviation, which includes the Beechcraft, Cessna and Hawker brands, and Textron eAviation focused on sustainable flying. Textron Aviation has delivered more than 3,000 Caravans, proving it to be the world’s most popular turboprop utility aircraft.

“Textron Aviation is committed to delivering continuous aviation improvements and our relationship with Reliable Robotics advances this work,” said Chris Hearne, Senior Vice President of Engineering and Programs, Textron Aviation. “Reliable’s successful flight of an uncrewed Cessna 208 Caravan represents a milestone for the industry in bringing new technology to aviation.”

The Caravan, and other regional cargo aircraft like it, serve an essential role connecting communities and businesses across the United States and around the globe. With a useful load of over 3,000 pounds, and a take-off performance to operate from shorter runways, these aircraft deliver time-sensitive shipments to many places that would otherwise not have next-day or same-day service. Remote piloting will allow even more areas to benefit from this critical service.

ASL Aviation Holdings is a global aviation services company with airlines based in Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia, and has been working with Reliable Robotics since 2022 to explore bringing advanced aircraft automation into its operations. ASL operates a fleet of over 160 aircraft and provides cargo services for the world’s leading express parcel integrators and eCommerce platforms. Reliable Robotics is an original member of ASL’s CargoVision forum of companies involved in pioneering new aviation and propulsion technologies.

“ASL is always innovating to better serve customers, and our partnership with Reliable Robotics is aimed at enabling us to provide reliable, flexible and cost-efficient time-sensitive cargo delivery to smaller unserved areas,” said Dave Andrew, Chief Executive of ASL Aviation Holdings. “This historic flight is a testament to Reliable’s focused leadership in advancing aviation innovation and capability for the industry.”

Reliable Robotics and the U.S. Air Force are working to leverage the significant progress on remote piloting for the Cessna Caravan to jointly examine how this commercially derived technology can be applied to large multi-engine aircraft for cargo logistics, aerial refueling and other missions. Reliable has been working under a series of contracts with the Air Force since 2021.

“This monumental aviation achievement is a great example of how AFWERX accelerates agile and affordable capability transitions for the world's greatest Air Force," said Col. Elliott Leigh, AFWERX Director and Chief Commercialization Officer for the Department of the Air Force. “This milestone accelerates dual-use uncrewed flight opportunities, increasing aviation safety and enabling us to bring a broad range of autonomous military capabilities into denied environments.”

The FAA formally accepted the certification plan for Reliable’s autonomous flight system in June of 2023. The certification plan leverages existing regulations for normal and transport category aircraft, and does not require any special conditions or exemptions. With multiple industry-first technical accomplishments and unrivaled FAA certification progress, Reliable Robotics is well positioned to deliver safety-enhancing aircraft automation systems.

Beyond the Globe.....Jetcraft welcomes virtual reality hanger.

Jetcraft, the global leader in business aircraft sales, acquisitions and trades unveils its virtual hangar, giving visitors 24/7 year-round access to a range of aircraft in a 360-degree immersive experience.

The hangar launch brings together Jetcraft’s full Beyond the Globe experience, following on from the opening of its Decentraland-based lounge, where it became the first business aviation specialist to establish a permanent presence in the Metaverse.

Peter Antonenko, President, Jetcraft noted: “In a world dominated by mobile technology and constant activity, having a virtual space at your fingertips is convenient for all our customers, both new and returning. Over the past five years, we’ve witnessed a remarkable increase in Jetcraft buyers aged under 45, who are embracing business aviation while already being well-versed in up-and-coming tech. We recognized early on the potential of the Metaverse and that offering virtual reality experiences meets the evolving needs of our clients.

1,348,111 passengers flew with Norwegian in November

Norwegian had 1.3 million passengers and a load factor of 82.3 percent in November. Norwegian is still experiencing robust demand for air travel. Regularity was record-high with 99.9 percent of all scheduled flights taking place.

“Norwegian has delivered very solid traffic numbers in a month where seasonal demand is normally at a low point. We have adjusted our capacity considerably to meet the fluctuating demand in the winter, and we are particularly satisfied with our strong load factor of 82.3 percent, up three percentage points from November last year. Additionally, we have delivered an outstanding performance when it comes to regularity with close to all of our almost 10,000 flights taking place in November,” said Geir Karlsen, CEO of Norwegian. 

Norwegian had 1,348,111 passengers in November, down two percent from November 2022 and in line with the significantly reduced capacity to match the low season. The capacity (ASK) was 2,004 million seat kilometres, down six percent from the same period last year. Actual passenger traffic (RPK) was 1,650 million seat kilometres. In November, Norwegian operated an average of 66 aircraft with a regularity, share of scheduled flights taking place, of 99.9 percent. Punctuality remained high, and the share of flights departing within 15 minutes of scheduled time was 86.8 percent.

Continued strong demand and well-received summer programme

Norwegian recently released new routes for the summer season of 2024, including forty routes to new destinations. The summer programme release, as well as a recent sales campaign, has been very well received by Nordic travellers.

“At Norwegian, we continue to see strong demand for air travel. Many of our customers took advantage of our latest sales campaign to book their next journeys. Our newly launched summer programme has been well received, and we notice that travellers have already started to plan their flights for 2024, earlier than last year,” said Karlsen.

While the Christmas and New Years period will be a busy travel period in line with expectations, Norwegian is well positioned navigate the quieter winter trading season. In addition to capacity adjustments, the airline is comfortably hedged for jet fuel at attractive prices for the coming year.

SAF volumes growing but still missing opportunities

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced estimates for Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) production.

•    In 2023, SAF volumes reached over 600 million liters (0.5Mt), double the 300 million liters (0.25 Mt) produced in 2022.

•    SAF accounted for 3% of all renewable fuels produced, with 97% of renewable fuel production going to other sectors.

•    In 2024 SAF production is expected to triple to 1.875 billion liters (1.5Mt), accounting for 0.53% of aviation’s fuel need, and 6% of renewable fuel capacity. The small percentage of SAF output as a proportion of overall renewable fuel is primarily due to the new capacity coming online in 2023 being allocated to other renewable fuels.
“The doubling of SAF production in 2023 was encouraging as is the expected tripling of production expected in 2024. But even with that impressive growth, SAF as a portion of all renewable fuel production will only grow from 3% this year to 6% in 2024. This allocation limits SAF supply and keeps prices high. Aviation needs between 25% and 30% of renewable fuel production capacity for SAF. At those levels aviation will be on the trajectory needed to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Until such levels are reached, we will continue missing huge opportunities to advance aviation’s decarbonization. It is government policy that will make the difference. Governments must prioritize policies to incentivize the scaling-up of SAF production and to diversify feedstocks with those available locally,” said Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General. 

CAAF/3 outcome 

Wednesday 6 December 2023

Saudi Arabia turning away from the west to support Russia

The Russian President, Vladimir Putin has enjoyed a fruitful visit to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia this week.

Rapdily arranged talks were scheduled with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and a range of subjects were discussed, including oil, Gaza, Ukraine and the supply of weapons. 

According to local media and translators, the meeting between Putin and Mohammed bin Salman was positive and friendly and there were some agreements on oil prices and output. MBS informed Putin their countries could "work together for the good of the whole world" and Putin has invited the Crown Prince to Russia for their next meeting.

According to the translators, the subject of Saudi Arabia supplying or acting as a conduit for weapons and armaments was also discussed briefly and could see the Gulf nation passing US and Western-made military equipment to Russia for its war in Ukraine.   

The UAE will continue to provide financial and other support and services to Russia, it has been reported, following Putin's visit to President Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan in Abu Dhabi, who calls Putin a 'dear friend' and pulled out all the stops to please Putin on his whistlestop tour. 

JetBlue Flights Take Off to Belize Today

JetBlue Becomes the Only Airline to Offer Nonstop Service from New York’s JFK to Belize Cit

JetBlue Becomes the Only Airline to Offer Nonstop Service from New York’s JFK to Belize City

To Celebrate Launch, Limited $119 One-Way Fares Available Online Only on

JetBlue today announced it has officially launched service between New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and Philip S. W. Goldson International Airport (BZE) in Belize City, Belize, with the first flight arriving in Belize this afternoon. JetBlue’s new Belize City service will operate Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays, introducing the airline’s award-winning service and low fares to customers looking to fly directly from New York.

“We’re thrilled to add Belize to our growing network and offer our customers more choices to experience unique and popular destinations,” said David Jehn, vice president, network planning and airline partnerships, JetBlue. “Adding nonstop service to Belize enhances our presence in Latin America and the Caribbean and demonstrates our commitment to introducing our low fares and great service to more destinations and customers.”

“Americans comprise most international arrivals in Belize, with nearly one million visitors travelling here to experience Belize’s famous blue waters, sparkling beaches, and warm hospitality. This year alone, already over 250,000 Americans and counting have passed through this airport, representing two-thirds of all overnight visitors to Belize. JetBlue’s new flight enables travellers to experience new cultures, reconnect with their families and heritage, do business together, and at the same time remind us of how much we have in common,” said Michelle Kwan, Ambassador of the United States to Belize.

“After months of anticipation, we’re thrilled to finally welcome JetBlue’s first-ever nonstop flight to Belize, and we’re looking forward to welcoming the passengers of this inaugural flight with open arms,” said Hon. Anthony Mahler, Belize’s Minister of Tourism and Diaspora Relations. “With an abundance of experiences that Belize has to offer, our guests flying in from JFK are bound to discover something new about our country around every corner. We’re confident the beauty of our environment, the richness of our diverse culture, and the warmth of our people will leave New Yorkers wanting to return again soon.”

Belize is one of Central America’s most biodiverse countries. It is home to mystical Mayan caves, wondrous aquatic habitats, and lush national parks, touting tropical jungles, wildlife reserves, and cascading flora and fauna. Located along the Caribbean Sea, Belize offers over 185 miles of barrier reef - the largest in the northern hemisphere - family-friendly attractions, romantic escapes, and many other adventures.

With JetBlue’s entrance into Belize City, JetBlue becomes the only airline to offer nonstop service from New York’s JFK to Belize. Belize City will build on JetBlue’s success in the broader region, where it offers service to 26 countries within Latin America and the Caribbean. In recent years, the airline’s network strategy has focused on enhancing international markets, which has translated into current service to 40 international destinations. As a leader at New York’s JFK, JetBlue’s new route to Belize allows JetBlue to continue to grow in under-served geographies while bringing more choices and options to our customers.

Schedule between New York (JFK) and Belize City (BZE)
Operating Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays

JFK- BZE Flight #2781

BZE-JFK Flight #2784

9:10 a.m. – 12:46 p.m.

1:55 p.m. – 6:56 p.m.

JetBlue will operate the Belize City route using its Airbus A320 aircraft, offering the airline's award-winning service featuring the most legroom in coach(a); fast, free and unlimited broadband Fly-Fi(b); complimentary name-brand snacks and drinks; and seatback entertainment at every seat.

Book Better with JetBlue

To celebrate today’s launch, and for a limited time, travellers can take advantage of special $119 one-way fares (c) for flights between New York-JFK and Belize available online only on

Customers who book directly through are guaranteed to find our best and lowest fares, and can enjoy additional benefits including access to all of JetBlue’s fare options, as well as fare sales and promotions, some of which may not be available through other third parties; the ability to earn 2x TrueBlue points and participate in Points Pooling; seamless seat selections and upgrades to Even More® Space; 24/7 direct access to JetBlue’s customer service channels; and more.


  1. JetBlue offers the most legroom in coach based on average fleet-wide seat pitch for U.S. airlines.
  2. Fly-Fi® and live television are available on all JetBlue-operated flights. Coverage area may vary by aircraft. Details on inflight wi-fi and entertainment:
  3. New York (JFK) to Belize City (BZE). Book by 12/7 for travel 1/1/2024-2/14/2024. Terms apply.