Boeing charts safety improvements in latest annual report
May 27, 2024
Boeing has reported a doubling over the past year in the number of engagements between its in-house flight-operations experts and airline customers' pilots to improve safety and the efficiency of its aircraft. The US airframer highlights this growth trend within its latest annual safety report, which the company has been publishing since 2022. The new report, Boeing notes, includes changes made in response to an expert panel the US Federal Aviation Administration initiated with US Congress authorisation to review safety measures at the airframer. Boeing's flight-operations representatives include pilots and other experts whose job it is to advise air crews at customer airlines on how to increase safety and efficiency within their operations. More than 170 international airlines are involved in the effort, Boeing says. It adds that five additional airlines have opted for its competency-based training and assessment programmes, which combine technical knowledge with teamwork, communications and workload management skills. Including the additional airlines, nine airlines have subscribed to the programme. As part of efforts to improve safety and quality in its own operations, Boeing says it established a business unit named "safety management system boards" to identify, track and mitigate risks across the company. The manufacturer has "expanded use of external safety data sources" and worked with the FAA "to develop machine-leaning algorithms to identify hazards and safety trends", it says. A "pathfinding effort to share additional operational data with engineering teams on how Boeing products are operating in the field" has been initiated. This, Boeing says, will enable its design engineers to "validate that designs are working as intended". Since the mid-air door-plug blowout on an Alaska Airlines 737 Max 9 in January, Boeing says it has redoubled its efforts to encourage employees to raise concerns about safety, quality and compliance. This has led to a more than sixfold increase in submissions via the company's "Speak Up" confidential reporting channels in early 2024 compared with the same period last year, Boeing says. It notes the introduction in 2023 of "Just Culture Guiding Principles" aimed at creating an "environment where employees feel safe and empowered to report errors". The principles followed the implementation in 2021 of leadership training named "Just Culture Essentials". Boeing chief aerospace safety officer Mike Delaney states that the company's aim is to "ensure safety, compliance and conformance of our products and services, without compromise". "Our commitment is to never forget our responsibility to make sure every action and decision bring lasting improvements to the safety and quality of our products and services."

​Boeing and Airbus lead group to study SAF compatibility
May 24, 2024
Airbus, Boeing, Dassault Aviation, GE Aerospace, Pratt & Whitney, Rolls-Royce, Safran are among 13 aerospace companies which have formed a work group to assess the impact of 100% sustainable aviation fuel on aircraft systems. Boeing will lead the group dubbed WG 13, with Airbus acting as deputy lead. The team's objective is to co-ordinate fuel tests and support standards organisation ASTM International in its efforts to develop new specifications for 100% SAF, the International Aerospace Environmental Group (IAEG) says. It adds that WG 13 will engage infrastructure stakeholders, including fuel producers, airports and airlines, to determine required steps for a transition to SAF. "This collaboration will help prepare the broader aviation ecosystem for 100% SAF capabilities, as part of the aviation industry goal of achieving net zero CO2 emissions by 2050," Boeing vice-president of environmental sustainability and IAEG board member Ryan Faucett states. "We will share our findings from our SAF compatibility and ground-breaking jet reference fluids research and continue to collaborate with this work group to support a more sustainable aviation future, together."

​Wizz to be 'done and dusted' with GTF issue in 2026: chief
May 24, 2024
Wizz Air expects the GTF engine issue that is currently grounding tens of its aircraft to be resolved during 2026, removing a major blocker on the low-cost carrier’s growth. During a briefing on its results for the financial year ended 31 March full year 2024, Wizz's chief executive Jozsef Varadi said he expected it to be "done and dusted" with the cycle of removing engines to be repaired and returning them to service "sometime" during 2026. "We are at a peak [of groundings] as we speak" with 47 aircraft currently out of operation, he said during an investors' webcast. The figure will tick up slightly later this year before reducing to around 35 next summer. Up to now, almost all new engines that the airline has received – both spares and those arriving on new aircraft – have been subject to cycle limits of around 18 months, after which they need to come off-wing for inspection and overhaul. But Wizz has now started receiving new spare engines that are free of contamination. From next month, engines it receives on newly delivered aircraft will likewise be unaffected. “Now we have started receiving spare engines clean of powdered metals," says Varadi. "We are expecting the same to happen to new aircraft as of June." Concurrently, there has been an improvement in the speed at which manufacturer Pratt & Whitney is turning around engines that it receives for overhaul, tightening an original timeline of 300 days to 180. "Clearly they have been able to improve procedures and around production," says Varadi, noting that as a result it is "quite likely" the carrier will be able to return some aircraft back to service faster than it expected. Wizz has received "significant" compensation from P&W for the disruption so far, it says. Resolution of the GTF issue will remove a significant drag on Wizz’s performance since the first aircraft was grounded around last September, although, the airline acknowledges, the problem will still get worse before it gets better. Plus, it is now eating into the most profitable part of the year. Wizz has been seeking to offset the issue by extending lease contracts on older aircraft and bringing in some wet-lease capacity to cover the shortfall. It has received 39 A321neos. Capacity was raised a quarter through fiscal 2024, and passenger numbers hit a record 62 million – up from 51 million the year before. But with the number of groundings steadily increasing, nearly a quarter of its capacity currently is out of operation. The number of aircraft out action will actually move higher to 50 by end-September, and across the full fiscal year 2025 capacity growth will be flat. Elsewhere in the business, Varadi notes a "significant turnaround across [our] operating metrics", citing fleet utilisation – excluding those aircraft grounded because of the GTF issue – which has risen from 12h in 2020 to 12.5h last year, and should hit 12.75h this year. "This is a very significant factor" in enabling the business to spread its fixed costs, he says. Punctuality improved, and costs, both fuel and non-fuel, fell. "The fundamentals of the business are back in place," Varadi asserts. Wizz has reported EBITDA result of €1.2 billion, up from €134 million last year, on revenue of €5.1 billion. Its net profit of €366 million reverses a €535 million loss in fiscal 2023. "While some of the external challenges we experienced throughout [financial year] '24, including groundings due to GTF engine inspections and geopolitical instability, are expected to persist in the coming year, we have proven that our model is agile, highly resilient and well positioned to mitigate the impact of these ongoing issues," states Varadi. "This includes the current scale and diversity of our network, which means we are incredibly well placed to react quickly to issues as they arise." Analysis from investment firm Goodbody notes that revenue was slightly below its forecasts while costs met expectations. "Overall, we think the market should take some comfort from today's update,” it writes, noting that "the GTF issue looks to be no worse with capacity in [fiscal 2025] still expected to be flat" with guidance on revenues "a little better than expected given recent updates".


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