Airlines & Aviation 2018-2020

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IATA

Contemporary Issues Affecting Aviation Industry
The list of the issues and challenges faced by firms operating in the aviation industry is endless. However, there are major issues and challenges that the firms in the industry face during the 21st century. The challenges and issues addressed in this paper are security and safety, overcapacity, the fuel factor, sustainability issues and challenges associated with advancement of technology.

4 May
Air Canada CEO Sees ‘Darkest Period’ in Aviation History
(AP via NYT) Canada’s largest airline on Monday announced a billion-dollar loss and announced mandatory temperature checks for customers amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re now living through the darkest period ever in the history of commercial aviation, significantly worse than 9/11, SARS and the 2008 financial crisis,” CEO Calin Rovinescu said on a conference call with analysts Monday.
Since mid-March, the airline has slashed its flight schedule by more than 90% and grounded more than 200 aircraft, cutting service internationally to just five airports. The company burned $22 million Canadian (US$16 million) in cash per day in March.
Air Canada said it lost $1.05 billion Canadian (US$748 million) in its first quarter, compared with a profit of $345 million in the same quarter last year as governments imposed travel restrictions around the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

CEO Calin Rovinescu speaks to employees about impact of COVID-19 Crisis

Air Canada reports $1.05B first-quarter loss due to impact of COVID-19 pandemic
Airline has cut its second-quarter capacity by 85 to 90 per cent from same time last year
Air Canada is also accelerating the retirement of 79 older aircraft in a move that it says will simplify the airline’s fleet, reduce costs structure and lower its carbon footprint.
Warren Buffett Should Have Listened to Warren Buffett About Airlines
(New York) Buffett had complained in 2007 that airline investors were “attracted by growth when they should have been repelled by it.” But an increasingly consolidated U.S. airline industry got over its growth addiction, touting “discipline” in not increasing capacity, flying planes that were increasingly full, and finally succeeding in charging passengers more to travel. Arguably this reflected a failure of public policy — free-for-all competition in air travel was bad for investors but good for customers who enjoyed low fares. But regardless of the policy merits, it looked like the U.S. airline industry had reshaped its business model in a way that could produce sustainable profits for airline investors without ruinous excess capacity. This was the context in which Buffett made his airline investments. And by buying stakes in all four of the largest carriers, he made clear he was making a bet on this industry-wide phenomenon rather than the skill of specific management teams.
… Buffett’s move reflects a view that even at these depressed prices, airline stocks are still higher than they reasonably should be, and that there is more pain to come.

3 May
Warren Buffett’s company Berkshire Hathaway sells US airline shares
Billionaire investor Warren Buffett says his company Berkshire Hathaway has sold all of its shares in the four largest US airlines.
Speaking at the annual shareholders’ meeting, Mr Buffett said “the world has changed” because of the coronavirus.
He then said he had been wrong to invest in the airline industry.The conglomerate had an 11% stake in Delta Air Lines, 10% of American Airlines, 10% of Southwest Airlines, and 9% of United Airlines, according to its annual report and company filings.

2 May
Imagine the post-pandemic misery of business travel
The public announcements could be worrying, at the least
(The Economist) Ding dong. Welcome to the renamed Heathrow Waystation 5. We decided the word “terminal” might be a little off-putting to passengers in the current circumstances. Please check in your baggage so it can be disinfected: apologies to those whose suitcases are made out of genuine leather as there will probably be stains. But never mind, it will be a good excuse to go shopping when you get to your destination. After check-in, head straight to security for your nasal swab and temperature check. As everyone needs to stand six feet (two metres) apart, the queue currently snakes around the building.

16 March
U.S. airlines seek nearly $60B bailout
They also asked other parts of the industry for help — specifically, airports
(Politico)
U.S. airlines are asking for nearly $60 billion in direct assistance and loan guarantees, vastly dwarfing the $15 billion made available after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, as airlines worldwide continue to plea for government help from the effects of the coronavirus outbreak.
On Monday, Airlines for America, the trade group for the U.S. airline industry, came forward with specific requests — including $29 billion in direct assistance.
In addition, A4A asked for $29 billion in loans or loan guarantees, a rebate for some federal excise taxes collected from the beginning of the year through the end of March and a repeal of certain excise taxes through the end of 2021.
Also Monday, some 60 of the world’s air carriers, representing more than half of airline capacity globally, made an unprecedented and urgent plea for government assistance.
Their plea, made through the three biggest international airline alliances, which allow partners to share booking arrangements, urged “governments worldwide to prepare for the broad economic effects from actions taken by states to contain the spread of COVID-19, and to evaluate all possible means to assist the airline industry during this unprecedented period.”
They echoed previous calls to suspend “use-it-or-lose-it” rules that set a minimum level of service at capacity-constrained airports, or else airlines lose those “slots.” The FAA has already done so at several U.S. airports through May, but the alliances hope regulators will consider extending suspensions through the summer.
Don’t Feel Sorry for the Airlines
Before providing them any assistance, we must demand that they change how they treat their customers and employees.
By Tim Wu, Columbia law professor, contributing opinion writer and the author, most recently, of “The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age.”
(NYT) For American Airlines, the nation’s largest airline, the mid to late 2010s were what the Bible calls “years of plenty. …
There are plenty of things American could have done with all that money. It could have stored up its cash reserves for a future crisis, knowing that airlines regularly cycle through booms and busts. It might have tried to decisively settle its continuing contract disputes with pilots, flight attendants and mechanics. It might have invested heavily in better service quality to try to repair its longstanding reputation as the worst of the major carriers.
At no time during its years of plenty did American improve how it treats its customers. Change fees went up to $200 for domestic flights and to $750 for international. Its widely despised baggage fees were hiked to $30 and $40 for first and second bags. These higher fees yielded billions of dollars, yet did not help the airline improve its on-time arrivals, reduce tarmac delays or prevent involuntary bumping. Instead, American’s main “innovations” were the removal of screens from its planes, the reduction of bathroom and seat sizes and the introduction of a “basic economy” class that initially included a ban on carry-on luggage.
In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, which is wreaking havoc on the airline industry, American Airlines has not yet asked for a bailout — at least not in so many words. … As the government considers what we, the public, should do for the airlines, we should ask, Just what have they done for us?
We cannot permit American and other airlines to use federal assistance, whether labeled a bailout or not, to weather the coronavirus crisis and then return to business as usual. Before providing any loan relief, tax breaks or cash transfers, we must demand that the airlines change how they treat their customers and employees and make basic changes in industry ownership structure.

5 March
IATA Updates COVID-19 Financial Impacts -Relief Measures Needed-
Singapore – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) updated its analysis of the financial impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency on the global air transport industry. IATA now sees 2020 global revenue losses for the passenger business of between $63 billion (in a scenario where COVID-19 is contained in current markets with over 100 cases as of 2 March) and $113 billion (in a scenario with a broader spreading of COVID-19). No estimates are yet available for the impact on cargo operations.
Coronavirus has already sent one airline into bankruptcy, and plenty more are at risk
(Quartz) US airlines, which are among the world’s most robust, are likely to hold up especially well. Despite its direct service to Rome, Milan, and Venice, and partnership with Korean Air, Delta is well-placed to weather the storm as a highly profitable airline, says Kaplan.
In some cases, whether or not airlines fail may prove a political question rather than an economic one. Alitalia, the Italian airline, has long struggled with debt, and might have hung up its flying goggles long ago were it not for the support of the country’s government. Gulf state airlines, such as Etihad or Qatar, which depend on international travel are especially hard-hit, says Kaplan, “but they’ll be okay as long as their government owners continue to support them.”
‘This is a crisis.’ Airlines face $113 billion hit from the coronavirus
By Charles Riley
(CNN Business) The losses would be similar to those experienced by the aviation industry during the global financial crisis of 2008, IATA warned as it dramatically increased its estimate of the damage caused by the outbreak. It said airlines could lose 19% of their business if the virus isn’t contained soon. Just two weeks ago, IATA had been expecting lost sales in the range of $30 billion.
Travel restrictions and a lack of demand from customers have encouraged dozen of major airlines to cancel flights to and from mainland China because of the coronavirus. Transatlantic flights, as well as capacity on routes within Europe and the United States, have also been curtailed.

20 February
COVID-19 Cuts Demand and Revenues
(IATA) The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced that its initial assessment of the impact of the Novel Coronavirus 2019 outbreak (COVID-19) shows a potential 13% full-year loss of passenger demand for carriers in the Asia-Pacific region. Considering that growth for the region’s airlines was forecast to be 4.8%, the net impact will be an 8.2% full-year contraction compared to 2019 demand levels. In this scenario, that would translate into a $27.8 billion revenue loss in 2020 for carriers in the Asia-Pacific region—the bulk of which would be borne by carriers registered in China, with $12.8 billion lost in the China domestic market alone.
In the same scenario, carriers outside Asia-Pacific are forecast to bear a revenue loss of $1.5 billion, assuming the loss of demand is limited to markets linked to China. This would bring total global lost revenue to $29.3 billion (5% lower passenger revenues compared to what IATA forecast in December) and represent a 4.7% hit to global demand. In December, IATA forecast global RPK growth of 4.1%, so this loss would more than eliminate expected growth this year, resulting in a 0.6% global contraction in passenger demand for 2020.

13 February
Bombardier exits commercial aviation as Airbus, Quebec take remaining A220 stake
Bombardier Inc. is making a final exit from commercial plane-making in a bid to preserve cash, closing the book on its money-losing, big-league dream in a deal that sees Quebec deepen its relationship with global giant Airbus SE.
The Montreal-based company, which is weighing whether to sell other assets to fix an overextended balance sheet, said Thursday it has pulled out of its joint venture with Airbus and Quebec that builds the European plane maker’s A220 single-aisle jet.
Bombardier’s proceeds from the exit are considered modest by analysts and will not have a material impact on any debt repayments.
The plane is the former C Series airliner developed by Bombardier at a cost of more than US$6-billion. It was the company’s biggest research and development effort in its history, a nearly two decades-long push funded in part by public money with the aim to put Bombardier at the cutting edge of global passenger-jet manufacturing.

As Boeing Jets Sit Idle, Airbus Can’t Make Planes Fast Enough
Airbus can’t easily capitalize on the grounding of archrival Boeing’s best-selling plane.
The troubles plaguing Boeing after the yearlong grounding of its 737 Max plane have created an unusual opening for its chief rival, Airbus, to swoop in and grab business. There’s just one hitch: Airbus is in no position to benefit.
Airbus has been unable to take advantage of the shortfall at Boeing partly because it can’t build planes fast enough. Production of Airbus’s A320 jets — the main competitor to the 737 Max and the bulk of Airbus’s commercial business — is months behind schedule because of slowdowns at some of its European factories.
Last month, Boeing said the costs associated with the Max grounding were likely to exceed $18 billion. Those costs may rise further, with airlines that were counting on the Max continuing to lose money and the 737 factory in Renton, Wash., still shut down.
Boeing said this week that it did not record any new orders for commercial airplanes in January, and that it delivered just 13 planes in the month. Though the start of the year is usually a slow time for orders, and the deliveries were dented by the Max grounding, the dismal numbers were a reminder of the depths of Boeing’s problems. It was the first time in decades that Boeing failed to record any commercial orders in January.
… Still, the Max could be flying soon. The head of the Federal Aviation Administration said last week that a critical test flight could happen in the next few weeks, setting in motion the complex process of clearing the plane’s return to service. If no other major problems with the Max are found, airlines could be using the plane for commercial flights this summer.
And when that happens, Boeing can start delivering its stockpiled jets, and could start logging new orders for the Max again.
“When the 737 Max is released and cleared for flying, it’s going to be the safest airplane in the world,” [Andrew Charlton, the managing director at the consulting firm Aviation Advocacy] said, pointing out that British Airways placed an order for 200 Max planes in June after the second fatal crash. “There’s going to be no bit of that airplane that hasn’t been crawled over a million times.”

10 February
Airbus unveils ‘blended wing body’ plane design after secret flight tests
(Reuters) – Airbus (AIR.PA) on Tuesday unveiled a curvaceous aircraft design that blends wing and body, designed to slash carbon emissions by some 20%. The European planemaker has been carrying out flight tests of a 3.2-metre-wide (10.5 feet) technology demonstrator, code-named Maveric, at a secret location in central France since last year. It lifted the veil on the design at the Singapore Airshow. … Airbus is now studying how the cabin would work and how the aircraft would be integrated into airports. One unresolved question is whether such a plane would have windows or use video screens to give passengers a sense of their surroundings.

7 February
Family control preserved Bombardier’s independence but at huge cost
Eric Reguly
The Bombardiers and the Beaudoins should have left a long time ago, when it was becoming apparent their remarkable creation was in danger of stretching itself to breaking point.
Today, Bombardier is busy dismantling itself in an effort to shed excessive debt and buy time – the train and business jet divisions, the last two operations of any size, are soliciting offers.
Bombardier’s survival in some form is possible, perhaps likely, but is far from assured. What is assured is that, at best, it will be small and inglorious compared with its former self, when it was emerging as a global rival to Airbus and Boeing and one of the world’s top rail players. One of Canada’s last great family dynasties messed up – big time.

26 January
Boeing 777X: World’s largest twin-engine jet completes first flight
Boeing has successfully completed the first test flight of the world’s largest twin-engined plane, the 777X.
It comes as the firm attempts to boost its image after its 737 Max plane was grounded last year following two fatal crashes that killed 346 people.
The flight took off near Seattle and lasted four hours.
Further tests are needed before the aircraft enters service with Emirates next year.

24 January
US Space Force logo looks like one from Star Trek
The newly unveiled logo for US Space Force appears to have boldly gone where Star Trek went before.
The intergalactic controversy comes after mockery erupted last week when it emerged Space Force troops would wear woodland camouflage uniforms. [Space Force: Trump officially launches new US military service, 21 December 2019]

12 -13 January
Canada getting access to black boxes from downed Ukrainian airliner – but role in investigation still unclear
Trudeau and Champagne have been pushing for full access to the crash investigation. Iran’s civil aviation authority has said that it’s following international rules and will allow other countries to participate in its investigation.
But the role Canada is being offered by Tehran amounts to the bare minimum required by the international legal convention on aviation accident investigations — and at this point does not include active participation in the crash probe.
Ukrainian investigators say they knew ‘within hours’ a missile had downed PS752
Ukrainian team in Tehran keeping close watch on what Iran does with the wreckage
Ukrainian investigators believe the flight crew of the Ukrainian jet was killed instantly when a missile exploded next to their cockpit, penetrating the aircraft with shrapnel and sending it hurtling to the ground on fire.
In an interview at the presidential offices in Kyiv, Oleksiy Danilov, the head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defence Council, provided CBC News with an in-depth look at the progress of investigation into Flight PS752, which went down near Tehran on Jan. 8.
Photos released by Ukraine’s presidential office show parts of the aircraft’s cockpit, blackened and pierced by small holes, which investigators say came from the missile as it exploded.
They say they believe they know what type of missile was fired at the plane, but have not released those details publicly.
Ukrainian authorities say the plane had been inspected just two days earlier and was in excellent working condition.
Early Saturday morning, Iran made the surprise announcement that one of its elite Republican Guard anti-aircraft batteries had mistakenly fired a missile at the aircraft shortly after it took off.
Ukrainian investigators said that they concluded within a few hours of arriving in Tehran that a missile was likely responsible for causing the destruction of the Ukraine International Airlines jet.
“It happened within three to three and half hours after our experts started working in Iran,” said Danilov. “We became more certain it was a missile.”
In a televised address Saturday night, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said the team now in Iran is made up of seasoned air accident investigators, members of the ministry of defence and the foreign ministry as well as Ukraine International Airlines.
Danilov said they have been working on only two or three hours of sleep and have been sending detailed photographs of their findings back to a second investigative team in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv.
Canadian officials arrive in Iran amid PS752 investigation — with more on the way
Transportation Safety Board says it will be sending 2nd team of investigators soon
Iran has issued eight more visas to a team of Canadian officials following a fatal plane crash near Tehran and most members of the group should be in Tehran on Monday, Canadian Foreign Minister François-Philippe Champagne said on Sunday. The team includes consular officials and two members of Transportation Safety Board (TSB).

8 January
It Sure Looks Like the Ukrainian 737 May Have Been Accidentally Shot Down in Iran
By Jeff Wise
(New York) To be sure, there are ways other than a missile strike that a passenger plane can come to catastrophic grief soon after takeoff. In the case of Flight 752, however, none seem to fit very well. The plane was fairly new, the pilots quite experienced. It is plausible, however, that Iranian air-defense forces would have been on high alert. President Trump had already warned that the U.S. military would aggressively bomb Iran if the country used force in the spiraling escalation between the two countries. Tehran, the nation’s capital, would be an obvious target. Memories remain fresh of U.S. airstrikes against Baghdad at the start of its wars against Iraq.
If the tragedy was indeed the result of an accidental shoot-down, it presents eerie echoes of the destruction of Iran Air 655, an Airbus A300 that the U.S. destroyer Vincennes shot down on July 3, 1988, killing all 290 aboard. That accident also happened during a period of heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran — though in that case, it was overeager U.S. personnel who mistakenly pulled the trigger.
Given the pace of air-crash investigations, it will be at least several days before a clearer picture emerges and months or years before the truth can definitively be known. For now, the tragedy seems almost uncannily engineered to stimulate public reaction with a trifecta of breaking-news hashtags: Boeing, Iran, and Ukraine.
What we know so far about Boeing plane that crashed in Iran
Crash ‘unusual’ for Boeing 737-800, a popular aircraft with a good safety record
(CBC) On Wednesday morning, a Ukraine International Airlines flight carrying 167 passengers and nine crew en route to Kyiv crashed minutes after takeoff from Tehran’s main airport. Here’s what we know so far about the aircraft.
Air Canada among carriers changing flight paths after Iran plane crash
Airlines around world move to avoid region after crash kills 176 passengers
Iran says it will not give black box from crashed airliner to Boeing
(The Guardian) Iran’s insistence that it will not hand over the black boxes to Boeing comes amid claims that at least two aircraft which had been originally routed through Iranian airspace around the time of the Iranian missile attacks on the bases in Iraq were either told to turn around or redirected.

5 January
It’s Not Just Software: New Safety Risks Under Scrutiny on Boeing’s 737 Max
The company and regulators are looking into everything from the wiring on the plane to its engines.
Even as Boeing inches closer to getting the 737 Max back in the air, new problems with the plane are emerging that go beyond the software that played a role in two deadly crashes.
As part of the work to return the Max to service, the company and regulators have scrutinized every aspect of the jet, uncovering new potential design flaws.
Among the most pressing issues discovered were previously unreported concerns with the wiring that helps control the tail of the Max.

2019

23 December
Boeing Finally Ousts Hapless CEO for 737 MAX Debacle
(New York) Monday morning Boeing announced the ouster of CEO Dennis Muilenburg, nine months after the grounding of its best-selling 737 MAX jet threw the company into an ever-worsening crisis. In a press statement, the company announced that its board of directors had passed the CEO title to the currently serving chairman, David Calhoun.
Under Muilenburg’s leadership, Boeing had repeatedly reiterated its confidence in the plane and assured the public that any problems would soon be fixed and that the plane would be back in the air. It kept building the planes at an aggressive clip of 42 per month, crowding parking lots in Arizona and Washington State.
Yet the company repeatedly failed to make good on its promise to fix the flaws that led to a pair of deadly crashes. Regulators became frustrated by the company’s lack of transparency and airlines grew angry at its failure to deliver on its problems. Crash victims’ families felt that they were being lied to. As costs mounted into the billions, a series of leaks revealed a pattern of engineering sloppiness and cover-ups. Patience for Muilenburg’s tenure wore thin. In October, Boeing stripped him of his chairman of the board title, but kept him on as CEO.
In its statement to the press today, Boeing signaled that it finally understood the fruitlessness of Muilenburg’s nothing-to-see-here approach and was ready to change tack: “Under the Company’s new leadership, Boeing will operate with a renewed commitment to full transparency, including effective and proactive communication with the FAA, other global regulators and its customers.”

14 October
The Amelia Earhart Mystery Stays Down in the Deep
Robert Ballard’s expedition to a remote island in the South Pacific found no evidence of the vanished aviator’s plane. But the explorer and his crew haven’t given up.
(NYT) For two weeks in August, a multimillion-dollar search from air, land and sea sought to solve the 80-year mystery of Amelia Earhart’s disappearance.
Robert Ballard, the ocean explorer famous for locating the wreck of the Titanic, led a team aboard the resesearch vessel Nautilus that discovered two hats in the depths. It found debris from an old shipwreck. It even spotted a soda can. What it did not find was a single piece of the Lockheed Electra airplane flown in 1937 by Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan, which vanished during their doomed voyage around the world.
Dr. Ballard and his crew don’t consider it a failure. For one thing, he says, they know where the plane isn’t. And in the process, they may have dispensed with one clue that has driven years of speculation, while a team of collaborating archaeologists potentially turned up more hints at the aviator’s fate.

22 September
Indonesia finds design flaw, oversight lapses in 737 MAX crash: WSJ
(Reuters) – Indonesian investigators have found that design and oversight lapses played a key role in the October 2018 crash of Boeing Co’s (BA.N) 737 MAX jet … The draft conclusions, expected to be the first formal government finding of flaws in the design and U.S. regulatory approval, also identify a string of pilot errors and maintenance mistakes as causal factors of the Lion Air crash, the WSJ here said

25 July
‘Patient zero’ in cyberattack on UN aviation agency was senior official’s son, email reveals
Following CBC report on coverup of hack at Montreal-based ICAO, whistleblower accuses top brass of misconduct
(CBC) A United Nations whistleblower has revealed that forensic investigators looking into the most serious cyberattack in the history of the Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) traced the source of the breach to the laptop of the ICAO council president’s son.
Almost five months after CBC News reported an attempt by four members of ICAO’s information technology team to cover up its mishandling of the cyberattack, Vincent Smith — ICAO’s director of the bureau of administration and services — is going public with accusations of misconduct against ICAO Secretary General Fang Liu and the agency’s council president, Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu. … As ICAO is a gateway to just about every airline, airport and government agency in aviation, the 2016 attack compromised the agency and its global partners and left the personal data of some 2,000 ICAO users and staff members vulnerable.
Montreal-based UN aviation agency tried to cover up 2016 cyberattack, documents show
Smith writes that he was told in a Feb. 25 email from ICAO’s chief information security officer, Si Nguyen Vo, that the laptop of a former ICAO IT officer, Maxim Aliu, was infected while he was on a trip to the agency’s regional office in Beijing in 2010. Maxim Aliu is the son of ICAO’s current council president, Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, who was Nigeria’s representative on the council in 2010.
… the cyberespionage group known as Emissary Panda infected the ICAO network.Emissary Panda is a sophisticated and stealthy group with ties to the Chinese government.

15 July
New rules lay out rights of Canadian airline passengers. Here’s the list
(CBC) The federal government has unveiled new protections for airline passengers, rules designed to make sure both airlines and the people who fly on them are up to date on what they are entitled to when things go wrong.
Some of the new rules will be in place immediately, while the rest won’t be in force until Dec. 15. Exactly what’s changing is outlined below.
The first rule deals with proper communication guidelines. As of today, airlines must inform passengers of their rights in a timely, clear and accessible way. That means passengers must be provided with clear and concise language explaining the rules for what happens in the event of a flight delay or cancellation, what happens if they are denied boarding for some reason, what the policy is for lost or damaged luggage, and what the rules are for the seating of children under 14 years of age. There are special rules to deal with accessibility rules, too.
What you need to know about Canada’s new air passenger rights
(Globe & Mail) The new rules are currently being challenged in court by the airlines, who say they go too far, and by passenger advocates, who say they don’t go far enough.
Air Canada and Porter Airlines, along with 17 other applicants that include the International Air Transport Association (IATA) – which has some 290 member airlines – state in a court filing that required payments violate international standards and should be rendered invalid.
Gabor Lukacs, founder of the group Air Passenger Rights, has said the regulations give airlines “carte blanche to refuse” compensation based on unverifiable maintenance issues.

It’s looking increasingly unlikely the Boeing 737 Max will be in skies again this year
(Quartz) Following an announcement from American Airlines yesterday (July 14), all three of the biggest US customers for Boeing’s 737 Max, grounded since a second deadly crash in March, have removed the aircraft from their schedules until the last quarter of the year.
The Wall Street Journal, however, today cited industry experts and government officials as saying the grounding could stretch into 2020 (paywall) because of expanded safety checks of the plane, and the technical complexity of the process.

9 July
Is flight shaming the next climate change conversation?
(Global News) How we currently live in the developed world is very much dependent on affordable air travel.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) forecasts that more than 4.5 billion airline tickets will be sold in 2019, a 4.6 per cent increase from 2018.
IATA says passenger air travel has increased by 50 per cent in the past six years alone.
The ongoing increase in flying comes as countries aim to reduce emissions and meet targets needed to satisfy the goals of the Paris climate accord.
The consensus is that air travel contributes about two per cent of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.
In most cases, flying has the largest carbon footprint of any conventional mode of transport.
However, comparing the carbon footprint of flying, driving and other forms of transit is tricky. Factors that affect comparisons include the number of passengers, the efficiency of the vehicle you’re travelling in and the distance travelled.
Complicating matters further is a lack of scientific consensus on the effect that non-CO2 pollutants like nitrogen oxides have on climate change.

7 June
Meet the Night Witches, the Daring Female Pilots Who Bombed Nazis By Night
They were a crucial Soviet asset to winning World War II
(History) They flew under the cover of darkness in bare-bones plywood biplanes. They braved bullets and frostbite in the air, while battling skepticism and sexual harassment on the ground. They were feared and hated so much by the Nazis that any German airman who downed one was automatically awarded the prestigious Iron Cross medal.
All told, the pioneering all-female 588th Night Bomber Regiment dropped more than 23,000 tons of bombs on Nazi targets. And in doing so, they became a crucial Soviet asset in winning World War II.
The Germans nicknamed them the Nachthexen, or “night witches,” because the whooshing noise their wooden planes made resembled that of a sweeping broom.

16 May
Air Canada and Transat, Onex and WestJet: A guide to Canadian airline deals
(Globe & Mail) The action kicked off Monday, when Private-equity firm Onex Corp. struck a friendly, all-cash deal to acquire Calgary-based WestJet for $3.5-billion.
Then on Thursday, Air Canada said it had entered exclusive talks to purchase Transat A.T. Inc., the Montreal-based airline and tour operator.
In late April, Transat said it was evaluating unsolicited takeover offers – a development that caused its share price to spike.
Roughly two weeks later, Air Canada says it has entered exclusive talks to buy Transat for $13 a share, amounting to a deal worth roughly $520-million. In a statement, Transat said its board of directors was approached by “several parties,” but has opted to work exclusively with Air Canada over a 30-day period.
Thursday’s news was generally welcomed by Quebec Premier François Legault. “If Air Canada buys Transat, we’ll find ourselves in Quebec with a solid head office that will be able to continue to develop,” he told reporters.
However, Mr. Legault said he wanted to make a deal with Air Canada to cap ticket prices on regional routes; Canada’s No. 1 air carrier is the only one that serves several smaller destinations in the province.

13 May
Onex’s WestJet deal to shake up airline industry — and Air Transat may be its next target
The huge premium is a signal, analysts say, that Canadian airlines have been persistently undervalued relative to firms in other countries
(Financial Post) The Onex/WestJet deal is also the most high-profile example of a trend playing out in the sector — of private equity companies buying stakes in Canadian airlines.
WestJet to be sold in friendly deal to Onex Corp. for $5 billion (+ video)
(Global) Under the agreement announced Monday, Onex will pay $31 per share for WestJet, which will operate as a privately held company.
“Shareholders were wondering whether WestJet could execute all these things.”
The airline’s ongoing transition from a low-cost regional carrier to a full-service international airline targeting higher-yield business passengers gives it potential that renders the premium reasonable, [Robert Kokonis, president of Toronto-based consulting firm AirTrav Inc. said.]
“Onex has very deep pockets…If that means WestJet growing faster internationally, acquiring more long-haul fleets to fly abroad, those are good things and that will create a positive pricing environment for consumers.”

12 April
U.S. aviation regulator meets with airlines, pilot unions over Boeing 737 Max
(Reuters/G&M) The Federal Aviation Administration met for three hours on Friday with representatives from the three major U.S. airlines that own now grounded Boeing 737 Max jets and their pilots’ unions to discuss two fatal crashes and the path forward.
More than 300 Boeing 737 Maxs have been grounded worldwide. … American said in a statement it was “confident in the direction the FAA is heading” and would continue to work collaboratively in this process. Pilots from American and Southwest, the two largest U.S. Max operators, said they welcomed the meeting but noted that many issues still needed to be discussed and debated before the Max flies again.

26 March
737 Max flight manual may have left MCAS information on ‘cutting room floor’
Flight manual of Boeing’s 737 Max 8 planes mentions MCAS computer system only once
(CBC) That brief mention in the manual, a copy of which was obtained by CBC News, has prompted some speculation that more details about the anti-stall computer system may have been included in previous drafts, but then left out of the final version … Rollins believes it was cut “to prevent the MCAS from having to be included in 737 Max transition training, which in turn will save 737 Max operators training costs.”

23 March
Boeing Was ‘Go, Go, Go’ to Beat Airbus With the 737 Max
(NYT) Boeing faced an unthinkable defection in the spring of 2011. American Airlines, an exclusive Boeing customer for more than a decade, was ready to place an order for hundreds of new, fuel-efficient jets from the world’s other major aircraft manufacturer, Airbus.
To win over American, Boeing ditched the idea of developing a new passenger plane, which would take a decade. Instead, it decided to update its workhorse 737, promising the plane would be done in six years.
The 737 Max was born roughly three months later.
The competitive pressure to build the jet — which permeated the entire design and development — now threatens the reputation and profits of Boeing, after two deadly crashes of the 737 Max in less than five months. Prosecutors and regulators are investigating whether the effort to design, produce and certify the Max was rushed, leading Boeing to miss crucial safety risks and to underplay the need for pilot training.

17 March
Flawed analysis, failed oversight: How Boeing, FAA certified the suspect 737 MAX flight control system
(Seattle Times) Federal Aviation Administration managers pushed its engineers to delegate wide responsibility for assessing the safety of the 737 MAX to Boeing itself. But safety engineers familiar with the documents shared details that show the analysis included crucial flaws.

12-15 March
Investigators find 2nd piece of key evidence in crash of Boeing 737 Max 8 in Ethiopia
(WaPost) It is the second piece of information suggesting similarities between the two crashes involving Boeing 737 Max 8 jets.Investigators found a device known as a jackscrew in the wreckage. The jackscrew, used to set the trim that raises and lowers the plane’s.
“We need the data from the flight data recorders. We need it as quickly as possible. . . . The faster that we get that information, it will let everyone know what needs to be done.
Officials with France’s Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses, which has extensive experience analyzing crashes in Europe, said that work to retrieve information from the flight data recorder of the Boeing 737 Max 8 has begun in coordination with the Ethio­pian investigation team.
Experts say it typically takes almost a month to provide a comprehensive analysis of the data in the recorders, but at least some early information could be available within 24 to 48 hours.

Jean-François Codère: Boeing 737 MAX: les É.-U. n’auraient pas partagé des données avec Ottawa
(La Presse) Le gouvernement américain détenait depuis deux jours les données qui ont convaincu mercredi le ministre fédéral des Transports, Marc Garneau, de clouer au sol les Boeing 737 MAX, mais ne les a pas communiquées, malgré de fréquentes discussions de haut niveau entre les deux pays.

Here’s the terrifying reason Boeing’s 737 MAX 8 is grounded across the globe
Pilots are outraged that Boeing did not properly inform them of a program that can wrench control of an aircraft from human hands
(Ottawa Citizen) There is nothing wrong with the basic mechanics of the aircraft: Its engines, wings and control surfaces are all believed to be working fine. Rather, the passenger jet may have killed 346 people for the terrifyingly modern reason that human pilots were unable to override a malfunctioning computer.
The cause of the Lion Air crash — and the suspected cause of the recent downing of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 — is a little-known piece of software known as MCAS, the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System.At tense meeting with Boeing executives, pilots fumed about being left in dark on plane software

U.S. grounds 737 MAX jets, Boeing shares fall again
(Reuters) It was the second time the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has halted flights of a Boeing plane in six years. It had grounded the 787 Dreamliner due to problems with smoking batteries in 2013.
Canada grounds Boeing 737 MAX jets following Ethiopia crash

Ethiopian Airlines crash came after US shutdown delayed Boeing 737 Max fixes
(Quartz) While the US’s airline regulator says the plane is still safe to fly, Boeing said yesterday (March 11) it has been working on a new software update for the planes with US officials for “the past several months” and planned to release it “no later than April.
Straightforward safety upgrades to the jets’ software to fix the automated safety feature, were originally expected in January according to multiple reports. But they were delayed until April, the Wall Street Journal reported Feb. 10, because of “engineering challenges,” “differences of opinion” between federal and Boeing officials, and the 35-day government shutdown, during  which “consideration of the fixes was suspended.”
There’s a significant difference between the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air plane crashes, which both involved the Boeing 737 Max 8
The CEO of Ethiopian Airlines said the plane, which killed all 157 on board when it crashed on Sunday, did not have any known technical difficulties, and there were no previous reports of issues. … In contrast, the Lion Air plane… had been experiencing technical problems.
(Bloomberg) Boeing is facing a growing crisis of confidence over its 737 Max 8 jet, as regulators and airlines from Singapore to Australia move to ground or block the plane after two deadly crashes in five months.
[U.S.] Pilots complained at least 5 times about Boeing 737 MAX problems, records show

10-11 March
Ethiopian Airlines flight crashes, all 157 on board killed, including 18 Canadians
“No survivors in Ethiopian Airlines crash en route to Kenya,” by AP’s Elias Meseret in Addis Ababa: “A jetliner carrying 157 people crashed shortly after takeoff from the Ethiopian capital Sunday, killing everyone aboard, authorities said. More than 30 nationalities were among the dead. … The Boeing 737-8 MAX operated by Ethiopian Airlines was the same model as a Lion Air jet that plunged into the Java Sea in October just minutes after taking off from Jakarta.” AP
Boeing 737 Max 8 under intense scrutiny after two crashes in five months

From January 2018 (Quartz) How Africa’s largest airline will dominate the continent’s skies

27 February
Montreal-based UN aviation agency tried to cover up 2016 cyberattack, documents show
November 2016 hack was the worst in agency’s history
(CBC) In November 2016, the Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) was hit by the most serious cyberattack in its history, and internal documents obtained by CBC suggest key members of the team that should have prevented the attack tried to cover up how badly it was mishandled.
As the United Nations body that sets standards for civil aviation around the world, ICAO is the gateway to everyone in the aviation industry, so an uncontained cyberattack left not just ICAO vulnerable, but made sitting ducks of its partners worldwide. The documents obtained by CBC suggest the hacker was most likely a member of Emissary Panda, a sophisticated and stealthy espionage group with ties to the Chinese government.
At ICAO, investigators found a network full of holes, with security vulnerabilities that should have been flagged years earlier.
José Fernandez, a cybersecurity expert and professor at Polytechnique Montréal, said what happened at ICAO is akin to leaving your car unlocked and allowing a criminal to use the vehicle to commit a crime.

14 February
Airbus A380: from European dream to white elephant
(Reuters) Loved by passengers, feared by accountants, the world’s largest airliner has run out of runway after Airbus decided to close A380 production after 12 years in service due to weak sales. It is the final act in one of Europe’s greatest industrial adventures and reflects a dearth of orders by airline bosses unwilling to back Airbus’s vision of huge jets to combat airport congestion.
Air traffic is growing at a near-record pace but this has mainly generated demand for twin-engined jets nimble enough to fly directly to where people want to travel, rather than bulky four-engined jets forcing passengers to change at hub airports.
And while loyal supporters like top customer Emirates say the popular 544-seat jet makes money when full, each unsold seat potentially burns a hole in airline finances because of the fuel needed to keep the huge double-decker structure aloft.
As demand see-sawed, so did the plane’s marketing: starting with luxuries including showers, then vaunting its green credentials with the messianic slogan ‘Saving The Planet One A380 at a Time” before joining the race to squeeze in more people and cut costs.
Yet despite its own deep industrial problems, Boeing was winning the argument with its newest jet, the 787 Dreamliner. It was designed to bypass hubs served by the A380 and open routes between secondary cities: a strategy known as “point to point”.

11 February
Critics attack secrecy at UN body seeking to cut global airline emissions
Body in charge of cutting aviation’s carbon footprint meets behind closed doors
The environment committee of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) meets on Monday in Montreal behind closed doors to discuss measures to reduce emissions from international aircraft. Domestic and international flights emitted 895m tonnes of CO2 last year – 2.4% of global energy-related CO2 emissions, according to Carbon Brief. In terms of emissions, if aviation were a country it would be the sixth largest in the world.
Under the Paris climate change agreement, emissions from international aviation are not specifically included in national climate targets required by countries to pursue efforts to limit global temperature increases to 1.5C. This leaves ICAO as the primary body for reducing airline emissions.
A spokesman for ICAO provided the Guardian with a list of attendees to the meeting and said the meeting results would be made available, but not the discussion papers. “Only the CAEP members and recognized observers are permitted in the room for said discussions,” he said.

28 January
Ethiopia has tripled the size of its main airport as it gets set to be Africa’s gateway hub
(Quartz) Ethiopia’s capital is set to cement its place as Africa’s leading aviation hub with an expanded airport terminal which triples it passenger capacity. Last year, Addis Ababa overtook Dubai as the leading transfer hub for long-haul travel to sub-Saharan Africa.
On Sunday (Jan. 27), prime minister Abiy Ahmed inaugurated the newly-expanded terminal of the Bole International Airport, the main hub of Ethiopian Airlines in Addis Ababa. The project, which was funded and built by China for $363 million, triple (sic) the airport’s size and can now accommodate up to 22 million passengers annually from its current 7 million.
The terminal and a new luxury hotel are a great boost for the state carrier, Ethiopian Airlines, which is currently implementing a 15-year strategic plan aimed at becoming Africa’s leading airline group. Founded 74 years ago, the airline has an operating fleet of 111 planes and currently flies to more than 119 international passenger and cargo destinations, with over 61 of those in Africa alone.
Dubai airport handles 89 million passengers in 2018, misses target
Dubai International Airport handled 89.1 million passengers in 2018, a rise from one percent in 2017, operator Dubai Airports said on Monday.
This marked its weakest annual growth rate in at least a decade, and short of its 90.3 million target.
The airport saw growth slow throughout 2018 after 15 years of strong increases. Among other factors, the Gulf’s economic slowdown because of low oil prices has dented the region’s travel industry.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world’s busiest, handled 98.6 million passengers in the first 11 months of 2018. It has yet to release annual figures.

25 January
Could the government shutdown make this the most chaotic Super Bowl ever?
Atlanta is host to this year’s Super Bowl … and the world’s busiest airport. Will the shutdown turn the whole affair upside down?
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the busiest in the world, handles 270,000 passengers a day – nearly four times the capacity of the stadium. About 125,000 extra passengers are expected to filter into and out of the airport before and after the Super Bowl, with about 110,000 expected to leave the day after the game.
With the government shutdown edging to Super Bowl Sunday on 3 February, and with the Transportation Safety Administration reporting twice as many unscheduled absences among employees who are not being paid, operations even at an airport as large as Atlanta’s could be hampered, and fans could be delayed getting out – or even in.

23 January
Q&A: A Look at What Happens When Drones Get Near Airports
The ability of drones to interfere with airliners — and inconvenience their passengers — has now been demonstrated on two continents, and the problem is likely to get worse as the number of small, unmanned devices multiply.
Law enforcement authorities are trying to figure out who flew a drone so high and so close to Newark Liberty International Airport that incoming flights were held up briefly during a peak hour at one of the nation’s busiest airports.

19 January
Brexit may lead to a slow-motion crash for Britain’s aerospace industry
One of the UK’s few world-class, high-value manufacturing sectors might be undermined by failure to negotiate an orderly exit from the EU says Keith Hayward
(The Guardian) The prospect raised by Tom Enders, CEO of Airbus, that Brexit could imperil over 50 years of investment in the UK, is real enough (Don’t believe the Brexiters’ ‘madness’, says Airbus boss, 25 January). It would be slow but inexorable. Transferring in totality British-located wing manufacturing is not an option, even though it should be noted that China already produces a number of Airbus A320 wing sets under British supervision. Aerospace, as Enders noted, is a long-term business and the real threat is to the location of the next big Airbus investment, likely to be decided in the early 2020s. This decision would then set a path stretching out for over a decade.

Airports rally around unpaid TSA workers with offers of free food, services
As the partial government shutdown slogs on, the Transportation Security Administration says an increasing number of its officers—who aren’t being paid during the furlough – are facing financial difficulties, with some not showing up for work.
TSA officers, air traffic controllers and other federal workers who have been showing up for work at airports aren’t getting paychecks. Yet across the country, they are getting lots of love, food and offers of assistance from a range of service providers and the general public.

5 January
Friendlier Skies? Consumer Protections for Airline Passengers on the Way
Air travel is something many Canadians dread. While travellers may be excited to reach their destinations, the process of getting there — which involves the general feeling that you’re no longer being treated as a human — isn’t part of that excitement. That could be changing.
This past May, the federal government opened consultations on a new bill of rights for air passengers and on December 17, Transport Minister Marc Garneau unveiled the proposed new rules. The rules will apply to flights departing or arriving in Canada and are expected to be in effect this summer. The actual document outlining passengers’ specific rights will be developed by the regulatory body that hears complaints from passengers, the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA).
The proposed regulations include protections many Canadian passengers have been asking for, such as requiring airlines to communicate clearly about flight delays or cancellations; provide compensation for delays or cancellations; provide compensation when boarding is denied as a result of a commercial decision, such as overbooking; provide compensation for lost baggage and have a clear policy for tarmac delays. The compensation isn’t trivial either. For larger airlines, passengers can be entitled to $400 for delays of three to six hours, $700 for delays of six to nine hours and $1,000 for delays over nine hours. For delays due to commercial decisions, compensation will range from $900 if the passenger is delayed by up to six hours, to $2,400 for delays longer than nine hours. Compensation for lost or damaged luggage will top out at $2,100.

2018

Airline safety: 2018 a sad year for plane crashes with sharp increase in fatal incidents
During 2018, 534 passengers died in commercial aircraft accidents. The death toll was much worse than the previous year, with 13 fatalities in plane crashes, and represents a sharp increase on the recent average.
But aviation remains extremely safe, especially when compared with road transport; the World Health Organisation says: “1.25 million people die each year on the world’s roads.”
In its Civil Aviation Safety Review for 2018, the Dutch safety consultancy To70 records 160 accidents involving larger passenger aircraft commonly used by most travellers; military flights, private flights, cargo operations and helicopters are excluded.
In 147 of the crashes – 92 per cent of the total – nobody died.
Of the remaining 13, the biggest aviation tragedy was the loss on 29 October of an almost-new aircraft belonging to Lion Air of Indonesia.

21 December
Idiots with drones shut down the UK’s second largest airport — again
A new ‘suspected drone sighting’ briefly shut down air traffic at Gatwick Airport yet again, diverting more flights.
Gatwick Airport, the UK’s second largest airport, has just become a key example of how thoroughly today’s consumer tech can disrupt our infrastructure. The airport briefly suspended all flights again Friday, the third time in three days, due to suspected drone sightings in the area. That’s right — drones were able to shut down a major UK artery for well over 24 hours, as police and armed forces have seemingly been unable to find those responsible.

17 December
Airline passengers could be entitled to hefty compensation for delays, lost bags
Scott Streiner, chair and chief executive officer of the CTA, said the changes are comparable to the European compensation system, which is considered a global leader in passenger rights.
Transport Minister Marc Garneau officially unveiled the first version of the long-awaited air passenger bill of rights Monday morning. The details will be published in the Canada Gazette this week, and Canadians are being encouraged to submit their comments.

28 November
Pilots unable to correct for faulty sensor that sent Indonesian flight plunging into the sea, report says
A malfunctioning sensor and an automated response from the aircraft’s software stymied pilots’ efforts to control a doomed Indonesian flight that went careening into the sea last month, according to a preliminary investigative report released Wednesday.

6 October
President Trump Just Signed a Law That Radically Changes Life for Airline Passengers, Flight Attendants, and Airlines (Almost Nobody Even Noticed)
In the middle of the Supreme Court fight, the White House held a Friday afternoon signing ceremony for this new, 1,200-page law
This is about the Federal Aviation Administration bill that President Trump signed into law a little before 3 p.m. Friday.
To be clear, there’s no suggestion that the White House intentionally picked a time when people weren’t paying attention to sign the bill. This law had passed Congress with overwhelming support, and industry players and airline lobbyists have been watching it like hawks for a long time.
But it is striking, given that Congress passed this bill at literally 2:52 in the morning on a Saturday two weeks ago, that it would also be signed at the White House in relative obscurity.
The story of this law has been dominated largely by what isn’t in it: no restrictions on what airlines can charge for baggage or change fees. But it still changes a lot of things. Here’s a quick summary of what’s included.

19 April
‘Nerves of steel’: She calmly landed the Southwest flight, just as you’d expect of a former fighter pilot
(WaPost) In the midst of the chaos, Shults successfully completed an emergency landing at the Philadelphia International Airport, sparing the lives of 148 people aboard the Boeing 737-700 and averting a far worse catastrophe.
The engine on Shults’s plane had, in fact, exploded on Tuesday, spraying shrapnel into the aircraft, causing a window to be blown out and leaving one woman dead and seven other people injured. Passengers pulled the woman who later died back into the plane as she was being sucked out. Others on board the Dallas-bound flight braced for impact as oxygen masks muffled their screams.
21 April
Deadly engine blast on Southwest flight could shake any traveler but air travel has become remarkably safe
Fatal airline accidents have declined in recent years, while traffic deaths have increased.
Southwest Flight 1380 marked the airline’s first onboard passenger death in its 47-year history.
Regulators have adopted new safety standards following other incidents.

14-16 April
American Airlines warns pilots some Asia flights could be rerouted amid tensions with Russia
American Airlines rerouted 3 flights out of more than 6,000 a day amid tensions between the US and Russia.
The changes involve flights that generally fly over Russia.
The airline resumed the nonstop routes on Sunday.

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