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Passionate Aviator Peter Lubig Remembered

November 17, 2017 in News by Editor

A celebration of life will be held Saturday at Peterborough Airport for talented aviation journalist and accomplished aviation professional Peter Lubig.

Lubig died Nov. 4 from cancer and the family services have already been held in Calgary. The Saturday event is intended for all of his many aviation friends and colleagues in Ontario to say goodbye in a forum that Lubig would be happy and comfortable in.

“Peter influenced many people at multiple levels within the Aviation community. He is missed by many,” his wife Bonnie Calwell told COPA Flight. “We are hoping the weather will be good as we are also referring to this gathering as a fly-in.” Lubig was a highly respected senior captain on RJs for Jazz but his true passion was flying small aircraft, including the Short Wing Piper he lovingly restored and rebuilt. His other passion was aviation photography and he had regular assignments with Canadian Aviator magazine.

The Saturday event will be held at Complete Aviation Services Ltd. (World Fuel Services), 925 Airport Road, Building 129 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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More Good News For CSeries

November 17, 2017 in News by Editor

The second major tentative order for Bombardier’s CSeries in as many weeks is giving the company confidence the aircraft will become a market success. Egyptair is expected to buy at least 12 CS300s and maybe another 12 and an unnamed European airline is ready to sign for 30 planes and possibly another 31. The two orders are the first in 18 months and come a few weeks after Airbus took a controlling interest in the program, erasing concerns that the design would be orphaned or unsupported in the future.

The two deals push the anticipated revenue from sales closer to the break-even point but more importantly establish the design as a player in the single-aisle market. It could become a niche player serving so-called “long and thin” routes that don’t have the volume to justify larger aircraft but are too far for regional airliners. The 20 percent reduction in operating costs can make those routes work for airlines which currently require connections on regionals to serve borderline markets.

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Canada Jetlines Aiming For June 1

November 17, 2017 in News by Editor

The ultra low cost airline world got more crowded on Thursday with the announcement that Canada Jetlines plans to launch June 1 with fares of less than $100. But the airline will need to tap into the potential of new regulations that allow up to 49 percent foreign ownership of airlines. CEO Stan Gadek is quoted by BNN as telling an investor conference on Tuesday that he’ll look outside the country for capital to launch the airline because domestic investors don’t have any experience with the low-fare model.

Canada Jetlines is expecting to be based in Hamilton and serve mainly secondary market airports with really low fares. It wants to start with four Boeing 737s and hopes to add four a year to a total of 24. It’s up against some major competition with WestJet’s Swoop starting about the same time and Flair Airlines already in operation and looking to establish a big enough bridgehead to weather Swoop’s entry.

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Group Wants Lanc Restored

November 10, 2017 in News by Editor

The City of Toronto says it won’t damage or dispose of a Second World War Lancaster that was dismantled when the flight museum at Downsview was evicted six years ago.

The Lancaster originally sat on a pedestal on the Toronto waterfront for decades before going to the museum in 1999.

The old Lanc has been in storage ever since and a group has now formed to urge its restoration and display.

“For the three of us who have relatives who were actually killed in Lancasters, it’s devastating,”  Lynn Berry, who’s part of a group trying to have the plane restored and put it back on display told the CBC.

While the city has pledged to preserve the aircraft, it has no immediate plans to put it on display.

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Facette New CBAA Boss

November 10, 2017 in News by Editor

The Canadian Business Aviation Association announced Thursday (Nov. 9) that Jim Facette has been chosen to succeed Rudy Toering as president and CEO of the organization.

Facette was president of the Canadian Airports Council and his CBAA appointment takes effect Dec. 1.

“CBAA made tremendous progress during Rudy Toering’s tenure; its influence in Ottawa is growing,” said CBAA Board Chair Rod Barnard “Going forward, we wanted to find an individual who had skills and experience to build on what we have accomplished. The selection committee reviewed some excellent candidates; we were unanimous in our view that Jim has the experience, qualifications and abilities to take CBAA to the next level.”

Facette spent six years heading up the airports organization and developed top-level contacts in government and industry during his tenure.

“Rudy Toering did a tremendous job to enhance the value of CBAA and raised our profile” said Mr. Barnard. “Currently, we are working on a number of critical files relating to regulations and taxation, with more coming. Our members are counting on us for results and we are confident that Jim can help us deliver solutions and grow the association.

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Fatigue Rules Panned

November 10, 2017 in News by Editor

Transport Canada is now reviewing comments on its controversial proposal to amend crew rest standards for commercial pilots.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau told delegates to the Air Transport Association of Canada meeting in Montreal this week that the changes bring Canada more in line with international standards and are aimed at improving safety.

But many of the delegates attending believe the new rules are tailored for long-haul airlines and ignore the challenges of smaller operators, particularly those in the North.

In general, the proposed rules reduce the number of hours pilots can fly to 1,000 a year and reduce the duty day from 14 hours to between nine and 13 hours, depending on when they occur. The greatest restriction occurs between midnight and four a.m., the so-called circadian low period when humans are most likely to make fatigue-related errors.

Air North President Joe Sparling said the “one-size-fits-all” approach of the new rules will increase costs, and therefore air fares in the North.

Garneau disputed Sparling’s claim and said there is flexibility in the new regs, including the ability to extend hours under special circumstances. Operators can also create their own fatigue risk management system that incorporates their own operational requirements but achieves a matching level of operational safety as the written regs. He also noted they will be phased in over four years for smaller operators.

The regs were issued in the Canada Gazette on July 1 and the comment period has closed. The final regs will be released in coming months.

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Things Looking Up For CSeries

November 3, 2017 in News by Editor

After a tumltuous year, Bombardier may be finding its groove with the CSeries.

The company announced a major order for up to 61 of the airliners to an unnamed European carrier. The order would effectively put the design over the hump in terms of market confidence and remove a significant barrier to airlines investing in the program.

The European order would establish significant fleets with four major carriers, which would create enough market inertia to ensure long-term longevity of the design. Its recent partnership with Airbus will cement that market confidence.

“It is clear that Airbus coming into the program is adding confidence about the long-term success of the program,” CEO Alain Bellemare told analysts in a financials call.

At the same time, however, deliveries will be slowed by ongoing teething problems with the new Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan engines. It will build 22 CSeries this year instead of the 30 it hoped for. P&W is compensating Bombardier with cash for all the delayed engines.

Bombardier stock rose on news of the big order.

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Flair On Collision With Swoosh

November 3, 2017 in News by Editor

Upstart ultra low cost carrier Flair Airlines is girding for the fight of its short life as it adds capacity to meet the formidable challenge that WestJet’s new entry into that market will bring.

Swoosh will begin operations in the summer of 2018 but by that time Flair will have grown to seven third-generation Boeing 737-400 aircraft and added 40 percent more flights. It currently flies five aircraft and has gained some traction serving secondary markets with the no-frills model.

“We are gearing up for a busy 2018 season by completing maintenance inspections and aircraft rebranding this winter,” says Jim Rogers, CEO of Flair Airlines.  “Flair offers passengers excellent value for their money and we are continually analyzing cost-saving measures to keep our prices low.”

The airline hopes to fly a million passengers in 2018 and will empasize growth with the low-hanging fruit of southwestern Ontario and gateway U.S. destinations, an apparent response to budget U.S. carriers who are poaching Canadian travelers from border airports in New York and Washington State.

The 20-year-old 400 series won’t arrive until 2018 but Flair is already talking about adding 189-passenger 737-800s, which are becoming widely available as mainline carriers incorporate the new 737 MAX to their fleets.


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Drunk Pilot May Have Crashed Intentionally

November 3, 2017 in News by Editor

A drunk cargo pilot may have intentionally crashed the Carson Air Metroliner he was flying in 2015 and that has prompted a call for government oversight of substance abuse programs.

The Transportation Safety Board released its investigative report on the April 13, 2015 crash of the Metro in the mountains north of Vancouver. It killed Capt. Robert Brandt, 34, and his first officer Andrew Wang, 32. Radar tracks show the aircraft climbed normally on its way to Prince George after a 7 a.m. takeoff, suddenly went into a vertical dive six minutes into the flight and broke apart in the air.

Brandt had a blood alcohol level of .24 but Wang was clear of intoxicating substances.

In a news release accompanying the report, TSB Chair Kathy Fox said the government should invoke its Charter of Rights powers to overrule privacy concerns and introduce mandatory testing and monitoring of aviation workers for substance abuse.

“In Canada, regulations and company rules prohibit flying while impaired, but they rely heavily on self-policing,” said Kathy Fox, Chair of the TSB. “What is needed is a comprehensive substance abuse program that would include mandatory testing as well as complementary initiatives such as education, employee assistance, rehabilitation and peer support.”

Brandt’s body showed indications of long-term alcohol abuse and colleagues had suspected he had a drinking problem. One had reported smelling alcohol on his breath but a supervisor couldn’t detect it so he was allowed to continue flying.

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Fuel Starvation Caused Helo Crash

October 20, 2017 in News by Editor

A sudden turn by the pilot of a survey helicopter likely caused an interruption fuel flow to the engine, resulting in a fatal crash near Whitecourt, Alberta in September of 2016 according to the Transportation Safety Board report.

One of two surveyors on the aircraft was killed when the helicopter dropped 160 feet into trees. The pilot was seriously injured and another surveyor had minor injuries.

The report was released this week and said the pilot allowed the fuel level in the Bell 206B to drop below a quarter of a tank and a quick turn likely briefly cause fuel to slosh away from one or both of the boost pumps, allowing air into the fuel line and causing the flameout.

The helicopter was equipped with an after market automatic restart system but the system was turned off at the time of the crash.

The TSB said the aircraft operator, Ridge Rotors Inc., has since required the relight system to be left on during all phases of flight and the pilots “have been trained accordingly.”

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WestJet Gets First MAX

October 20, 2017 in News by Editor

As a trade battle over Boeing’s successful bid to get import duties slapped on Bombardier’s CSeries airliner, there was a touch of irony in WestJet’s big announcement on Wednesday. It took delivery of Canada’s first Boeing 737 MAX 8 airliner, Boeing’s latest design. “The MAX’s design updates, including Boeing’s Advanced Technology winglets and the Boeing Sky Interior, will contribute to improvements in fuel efficiency and overall guest experience,” said WestJet VP Ed Sims. “We look forward to welcoming guests on board our sleek new aircraft along with our signature caring, people-driven service.”

It’s one of 50 MAX aircraft that WestJet will take delivery of over the next 10 years and will enter revenue service Nov. 9 with a flight from Calgary to Toronto. Like the CSeries, the new Boeings boast a major increase in fuel efficiency and cabin comforts. The Calgary-based carrier isn’t finished with the MAX order. It expects delivery of its first 787 Dreamliner in 2019, giving it the ability to reach Asia, Africa and Europe from any major Canadian airport, making it a truly international airline.

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Airbus Takes Control of CSeries

October 17, 2017 in News by Editor

Bombardier announced Monday it has sold a 50.01 percent interest in its CSeries passenger jet business to Airbus for no cost.

With this deal, Bombardier would retain 31 percent with the remaining 19 percent being held by the Quebec government’s investment agency.

This comes after the U.S. Commerce Department announced it would impose an 80% duty in addition to the already staggering 220 percent levied after a Boeing complaint which charged that the company was selling the CSeries below cost and receiving significant government subsidies.

It is possible that this latest move by Bombardier could mitigate the Boeing claim because part of the deal will result in the manufacturing of the 100-150 seat version of the aircraft at the Airbus plant in Alabama.

Airbus CEO Tom Enders claims that an aircraft that is manufactured in the U.S. will not be subject to duties and can be sold in the U.S.

With this merger Airbus fills a hole in its product line with a state of the art aircraft with very little downside. Enders said the talks started in August and were not driven by what competitors are doing. He said that since their initial interest in the CSeries three years ago circumstances have changed, highlighting that the plane is now certified and receiving excellent customer and industry feedback.

Bombardier CEO Alain Bellemare said having Airbus as a strategic partner “increases confidence that the aircraft is here to stay.”

As part of the deal, Airbus will have the right to purchase the entire CSeries business from Bombardier in 2025. This reciprocal deal would also give Bombardier the option to buy back its shares at that time at a value agreed upon by both parties.

The news of the deal has been very positive causing Bombardier stock to rise more than 15% on Tuesday.


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Canada Looking At Aussie F-18s

October 13, 2017 in News by Editor

The Department of National Defence has taken the first step toward buying used F-18s from Australia to beef up the RCAF’s fighter force.

Canada’s procurement agency said in a statement it has formally enquired to the Australian government about the jets. “Canada expects to receive a response by the end of this year that will provide details regarding the availability and cost of the aircraft and associated parts that Canada is considering,” Canada’s procurement agency said in a statement. Ironically, the aircraft have become surplus because Australia is taking delivery of F-35s, which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected during the 2015 election campaign as being too expensive and ill-suited to Canada’s needs.

Earlier this year, DND announced it wanted to buy 18 Boeing Super Hornets as a stopgap until a final decision is made on the replacement of the CF-18 fleet. That deal was suspended when Boeing launched a crippling trade dispute against Bombardier’s CSeries airliner.

The Australian F-18s are similar to Canada’s and they’re a similar age. Some of them have received upgrades in Canada.

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Complex Patch Job For A380

October 13, 2017 in News by Editor

The Air France A380 that made an emergency landing in Goose Bay almost two weeks ago remains stranded there while the airline works on a complex scheme to get it back to France.

The airline will do what is known as a three-engine ferry, which is a common way to get four-engine airliners back to a properly equipped maintenance base to fix or replace a bad engine. But it’s a lot more complicated in this case.

Engineers have determined that to make the Atlantic crossing safely, a new engine will have to be hung from the damaged pylon that holds the shattered remains of the engine that disintegrated over Greenland on Sept. 30. The whole front section of the engine, including the three-metre front fan, separated and the parts fell in a remote area of Greenland. The new engine can’t be made operable because of the other damage to the pylon and wing but the engineers say it’s necessary to have the dummy engine there for balance and aerodynamics.

It’s not clear how long it will take to swap the engine.

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Boeing Motives Questioned

October 13, 2017 in News by Editor

Analysts seem to agree that Boeing has little chance of proving that Bombardier’s sale of 75 CSeries airliners to Delta Airlines caused it any harm. It has to prove harm for countervailing and anti-dumping duties of 300 percent approved by the U.S. Commerce Department to stick.

Boeing’s issue is that it’s doing much too well financially to launch a convincing argument that CSeries is any kind of threat. The company recently revised its earning protections upwards, all its plants except the one building the soon-to-be-phased-out 747 are running at full capacity and it has a backlog of 5,700 aircraft worth $424 billion that would take more than 10 years to fill even if it didn’t attract another order.

To prove harm, Boeing will have to show that its sales have declined, market share dropped, employment reduced or its ability to raise capital has been affected. None of those things have happened. “Boeing is doing pretty well right now on all of these and so it’s not a great time to prove injury,” Washington trade analyst Simon Lester is quoted by Canadian Press as saying in a conference call hosted by Desjardins Capital Markets. “If the evidence doesn’t show that Boeing was injured by this, then the whole case disappears.” The U.S. International Trade Commission will rule on the issue of harm in February.

Meanwhile, speculation is rampant about what’s behind Boeing’s unusually aggressive stance on the CSeries. One of the theories gaining steam is that it’s a pre-emptive strike against China, which is expected to be producing modern airliners in the next 10 years and will be looking for markets outside its own borders.