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. 

Air Peace wins 'Best Airline for Customer Service, West Africa' for 2023 at the prestigious Global Brand Awards.

Air Peace wins 'Best Airline for Customer Service, West Africa' for 2023 at the prestigious Global Brand Awards.

The Prestigious Global Brand Awards, an annual event by Global Brands Magazine (GBM) based in England, strives to honour worldwide brands that distinguish themselves across diverse industries while ensuring that readers are up-to-date on pivotal trends in the realm of branding. Global Brands Magazine conducted an extensive evaluation encompassing various criteria, such as passenger feedback, service quality, communication, staff courtesy and professionalism, safety and security, innovation in customer service among others. Air Peace stands out prominently due to its excellent client support. Therefore, Air Peace well deserves Global Brands Magazine's recognition.

Commenting on winning the award, Jay Reddy, Director, "We are thrilled to acknowledge Air Peace as the recipient of the 'Best Airline for Customer Service in West Africa' award. This achievement is a testament to Air Peace's unwavering commitment to excellence, prioritizing passenger satisfaction, and setting a remarkable standard for the aviation industry in the region. Their dedication to delivering exceptional customer experiences has truly set them apart as a leader, and we congratulate Air Peace on this well-deserved recognition."

Commenting on winning the award, Stanley Olisa, Corporate Communications Lead, Air Peace, said, "We are truly delighted by this prestigious recognition by the Global Brands Magazine. It is a huge testament to our firm commitment to consistently delivering unmatched customer service for our esteemed customers, guaranteeing a memorable experience across all touchpoints each time they fly with us. This award is dedicated to our Customer Service Team for their strong drive in ensuring excellent service delivery. Air Peace will continue to raise the bar in providing best-in-class flight services across domestic, regional and international markets, with an increasing modern fleet and a top-grade workforce."

RAF RC-135 Rivet Joint has supported the United States Navy's Exercise Resolute Hunter.

For the first time a RAF RC-135 Rivet Joint has supported the United States Navy’s major 3-week air exercise, known as Exercise Resolute Hunter.

The aircraft flown by 51 Squadron at RAF Waddington supported the annual exercise in Nevada. Previously, crews from 51 Squadron have flown in US Rivet Joint aircraft on the exercise, but this is the first time the Squadron has sent one of its own aircraft.

The exercise was hosted by the Maritime Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Weapons Centre at Naval Air Station Fallon in Nevada, USA. The RAF’s electronic surveillance aircraft worked with MH-60s, MQ-8C, P-8A, E-3G, RQ-4, U-2S, and ground elements on training areas over land and over the Pacific Ocean.

After a short stop at Offutt Air Force Base (AFB), the home of 51 Squadron’s RJ partners the Fightin’ 55th, the aircraft crew met the rest of UK Rivet Joint enterprise at Fallon, which consisted of 51 Squadron, 1 ISR Wing, and 90 Signals Unit.

Fallon, and its surrounding rugged and mountainous terrain, is home to the United States Navy’s premier aviation range. It includes 13,000+ square miles of airspace, restricted areas and ranges. It is also home to several Navy Weapons Schools including the most famous – the Strike Fighter Weapons School, or, Top Gun.

The exercise aimed to refine the crew’s Find, Fix, Track, Target, Engage and Assess skills and also provides an opportunity for 51 Squadron to reciprocate the co-crewing sorties that the USAF’s 55th Wing provide.

The exercise gave the squadron the opportunity to switch from its usual operational taskings to consider other environments, threats, and aircraft. This ensures that they retain the skills required to undertake a wide variety of missions in support of the UK’s intelligence requirements. 

Wing Commander Keith Bissett, Leader of the RAF Detachment said:  “The challenge this exercise provided the crews has been phenomenal. The exercise team worked exceptionally hard to ensure that all of the assets were tested in a contested and congested scenario. Our aircraft has shown an extraordinary ability to support the targeting of the F-18 and EA-18G aircraft. We will continue our co-crewing in future exercises to develop the capabilities of the UK Rivet Joint.”

When it flew its Model 367-80 ‘Dash 80’ prototype for the first time on July 15, 1954, Boeing hoped the aircraft would take the airlines by storm.  Extrapolating technology used on the B-47 and B-52 jet bombers, the aircraft represented a quantum leap directly into the jet age compared to the company’s piston-engined Model 367 Stratocruiser. With its swept wing and fourjet powerplant, carried in discrete underwing nacelles, the Dash 80 was the most modern commercial transport available.

RC-135W Rivet Joint is a dedicated electronic surveillance aircraft that can be employed in all theatres on strategic and tactical missions. Its sensors ‘soak up’ electronic emissions from communications, radar and other systems.  RC-135W Rivet Joint employs multidiscipline Weapons System Officer (WSO) and Weapons System Operator (WSOp) specialists whose mission is to survey elements of the electromagnetic spectrum in order to derive intelligence for commanders.

Yet the airlines were left unimpressed and it was the US Air Force, realising it needed a jet tanker to support its jet bombers, that saw the Dash 80 into production.  In September 1955 it ordered its first KC-135A Stratotanker, Boeing modifying the Dash 80 to trial a ‘flying boom’ refuelling system.  The Stratotanker entered service on June 28, 1957 and Boeing continued development along this military line under the company designation Model 717.

The airlines had been unimpressed by the Dash 80’s cabin width, which was too narrow for six-abreast seating, and Boeing therefore returned to the Dash 80 concept, widening the cabin and developing a series of successful airliners as the Model 707.

Boeing built 732 KC-135s in different variants, many of them ultimately re-engined with the modern CFM56 turbofan, known as the F108 in military service.  These aircraft are designated KC-135R.  There was also a line of C-135 transports, EC-135 command posts, RC-135 intelligence gatherers and a host of other variants, with the KC and RC remaining in widespread service.

Developed under Boeing’s Model 739 series, the first of a long line of RC-135 variants was ordered in 1962.  This photographic reconnaissance RC-135A entered service during the mid-1960s, followed by the first of the electronic intelligence gatherers, the RC-135B.  The precedent for modifying KC airframes to RC standard was set in 1972, with the conversion of three KC-135As as RC-135Ds for the Rivet Brass mission.  All subsequent RC variants were produced by conversion/upgrade, mostly from C, KC and RC standards, culminating in the RC-135V and RC-135W, operated under the Rivet Joint codename that has become internationally, and officially recognised in USAF parlance, as the type’s name.

In June 2011, 51 Sqn flew the final BAe Nimrod R.Mk 1 sortie of its 37-year association with the type. Plans were under way for the aircraft’s replacement under a project known as Airseeker, which had begun the previous March.  It envisaged the acquisition of three RC-135W Rivet Joint aircraft for delivery from 2013.  The machines were to be converted from USAF KC-135R airframes and L-3 Communications in Greenville, Texas was chosen to perform the work as the USAF’s experienced Rivet Joint contractor.  The work began in March 2011.

On November 12, 2013, No. 51 Sqn took delivery of the UK’s first Rivet Joint, operating its maiden operational sortie on May 23, 2014.  The second aircraft arrived in August 2015 and the third on June 8, 2017.  For the purposes of sensor and system upgrades, the trio are considered an extension of the USAF Rivet Joint fleet, ensuring they remain at the cutting edge of capability.

Rivet Joint has been deployed extensively for Operation Shader and on other operational taskings.  It had been formally named Airseeker, but is almost universally known in service as the RC-135W Rivet Joint. 

UK’s largest airports group records positive half year results

A successful summer season delivered a positive first-half performance for MAG, leaving it in a strong position to continue its investment in its airports to improve customer service and support sustainable growth.

MAG (Manchester Airports Group), which owns and operates Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands Airports, today published its interim results for the period 1 April – 30 September 2023, during which it generated record half-year revenues of £705.6m (FY23: £565.2m).

Its airports collectively handled 34.9m passengers during the period, up 4.4m on the prior year. That represented just under 96% of pre-pandemic levels. In July, London Stansted became the first major airport to exceed pre-Covid volumes when compared to the same month in 2019, with Manchester marking that milestone in October, when East Midlands reached the 98% mark.

Manchester Airport welcomed 16.4m passengers between April and September, with 15.8m passing through London Stansted and 2.7m through East Midlands.

 Not only did all MAG airports increase passenger volumes between April-September, they delivered consistently good service levels, with the vast majority of passengers passing through security in 15 minutes of less throughout the summer (Manchester – 96%, London Stansted – 98%, East Midlands – 100%). In July, all three received the highest possible rating from the Civil Aviation Authority for the service they provide to passengers with assisted travel needs.

Repsol to supply SAF to Atlas Air and Inditex for regular use on cargo flights....

Flights from Zaragoza Airport (Spain) carried out by Atlas Air for Inditex are using sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) produced by Repsol.

Atlas Air becomes the first cargo airline to use SAF regularly on its freight transport flights in Spain, marking a new milestone towards the decarbonization of the airline sector.

Repsol, a multi-energy company committed to leading the energy transition, announced that it has begun supplying sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) to Atlas Air for use in all its flights with its customer Inditex from Zaragoza Airport (Spain). Beginning in November, Atlas Air is initially incorporating 5% SAF in all its flights.

The agreement makes New York-based Atlas Air the first cargo airline to use SAF regularly on its cargo flights in Spain, marking a new milestone in the airline sector. The initiative is in line with the companies’ commitments to achieve their respective carbon footprint reduction goals, and also positions them to comply with anticipated compliance measures included in the ReFuelEU Aviation regulations that require use of 2% renewable fuels in 2025, 6% in 2030 and 70% in 2050, respectively.

“With this agreement, we take another step in the decarbonization of aviation. We show that SAF is the future, but also the present. With the upcoming launch of our new advanced biofuels plant in Cartagena (Spain), we are ready to supply the sector with the SAF it needs to realize its decarbonization ambitions,” said Óliver Fernández, Director of International Aviation at Repsol.

“We are committed to contributing to the sustainability of the aviation sector and appreciate this opportunity to work with our valued partners at Inditex and Repsol,” said Richard Broekman, Chief Commercial Officer and Head of Sustainability for Atlas Air Worldwide. “It is critical for our sector to work together in driving wider adoption and availability of SAF, which ultimately will have a positive impact on our industry and the environment.”

The agreement also aims to enhance local SAF production, both in terms of refinery capacity and in the sourcing of nearby raw materials, with the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the aviation sector. Aena, responsible for the management of the Zaragoza Airport, participates proactively in the promotion and integration of sustainable aviation fuels (SAF) to promote their production and encourage their consumption.

Repsol is a pioneer in the manufacture of renewable fuels for all types of transport in Spain. It has been manufacturing biofuels in its industrial complexes for 25 years and already has more than 30 service stations in the Iberian Peninsula that supply 100% renewable fuels to its customers. Renewable fuels are an alternative now available for all transport segments and represent the main solution for aviation, maritime transport, and heavy road transport that do not currently have a viable alternative in electrification.

In the next weeks, Repsol will start up its first plant dedicated exclusively to the production of advanced biofuels in the Iberian Peninsula and one of the first plants of its kind in Europe at its industrial complex in Cartagena (Spain). Repsol has invested more than 200 million euros in the construction of the plant. It will have a production capacity of 250,000 tons of SAF and renewable diesel per year, produced from various types of residues, mainly used cooking oil and waste from the agri-food industry, and will reduce 900,000 tons of CO2 per year.

In 2022, total SAF production worldwide was 240,000 tons, according to the IATA. In 2025, approximately 120,000 tons will be needed in Spain to cover the 2% obligation of RefuelEU Aviation. Production of the new plant will be able to cover all the SAF demand in the Iberian Peninsula, complying with the obligation until the European mandate rises to 3%.

Volaris reports load factor of 90% in November 2023 results.....

Volaris,  the ultra-low-cost carrier serving Mexico, the United States, Central, and South America, has reported a load factor of almost 90% during November 2023.

In November 2023, Volaris' ASM capacity decreased by 2.2% year-over-year, while RPMs decreased by 0.2%; the result was a load factor increase of 1.8 pp YoY to 89.8%. Volaris transported 2.7 million passengers during the month, a 0.9% decrease compared to November 2022. Mexican domestic RPMs decreased by 7.9%, while international RPMs increased by 17.6%.

Enrique Beltranena, Volaris' President and CEO, said: "In response to reduced Pratt & Whitney ("P&W") engine availability in November, we reduced domestic ASMs and redeployed capacity to the US market by capitalizing on Category 1 opportunities. This strategic approach successfully aligned with positive demand, consistent with our full-year expectations.

Looking forward, it is noteworthy that we have reached an agreement with P&W that contemplates compensation for each GTF engine removed from our fleet. The agreement will help address fixed costs associated with the engines during inspections"

Nov 2023Nov 2022VarianceYTD Nov
RPMs (million, scheduled & charter)      
ASMs (million, scheduled & charter)      
Load Factor (%, scheduled, RPMs/ASMs)      
Domestic93.0%89.9%3.1 pp87.3%88.2%(0.8) pp
International84.5%83.9%0.7 pp83.6%79.9%3.6 pp
Total89.8%88.0%1.8 pp86.1%85.7%0.4 pp
Passengers (thousand, scheduled & charter)      

The information included in this report has not been audited and does not provide information on the Company’s future performance. Volaris’ future performance depends on several factors. It cannot be inferred that any period’s performance or its comparison year over year will indicate a similar performance in the future.