ATR targets 2023 launch for hybrid-power turboprop upgrade
May 19, 2022
ATR is preparing to launch a new generation of its turboprop family equipped with hybrid gas turbines, new onboard systems and a new cabin interior. The European airframer, jointly owned by Airbus and Leonardo, says it is currently in talks with customers, suppliers and potential new industrial partners about the project, dubbed "Evo", and plans to formally launch development next year and bring the aircraft into service before 2030. ATR confirms that the updated aircraft is to be fitted with turboprop engines with integrated, battery-driven electric motors to provide supplemental power for flight phases with high-thrust requirement, such as take-off, climb and go-arounds. Pratt & Whitney Canada, ATR's engine supplier, previously launched a technology project to trial such an engine architecture on a De Havilland Canada Dash 8-100 flight demonstrator. Its aim was to study the possibility of fitting turboprops smaller gas turbines that would be more economical for cruise flight. Although ATR was not actively involved in that project, chief executive Stefano Bortoli said at the Dubai air show in November 2021 that the airframer was in contact with P&WC; about it. ATR says it has issued requests for information to "the main engine manufacturers" for the new turboprop generation, suggesting that the airframer is in contact with Rolls-Royce and GE Aviation in addition to Pratt & Whitney and its Canadian division specialised in smaller gas turbines. The airframer declined to disclose details, but tells Cirium that the engine makers invited to bid include companies in Europe and also beyond. P&WC; has been ATR's sole engine supplier since the early-'80s inception of the turboprop family. Embraer previously said it was in talks with GE Aviation, P&W and Rolls-Royce about its clean-sheet turboprop, which is to include two models similarly sized to the 50-seat ATR 42 and 78-seat ATR 72. The Brazilian airframer intends to make a launch decision regarding that programme later this year or in the first quarter of 2023. Beyond a new powerplant, ATR is evaluating the use of new propellers featuring eight instead of the current six blades (for better performance and lower noise) and efforts to clean up the existing airframe for improved aerodynamic efficiency. The aircraft's current mechanical anti-icing boots along the leading edges of the wings and horizontal stabilisers are to be replaced with an electric system, says senior vice-president engineering Stephane Viala in a video released by ATR. New avionics are to be installed for pilots while the cabin will be updated with "increased use of lighter bio-sourced materials" that can be recycled. "Eco design will be at the heart of all that we will do on this aircraft," says Viala. He adds that the new aircraft will have a better climb performance than the current generation. Overall, ATR targets 20% lower fuel burn and a 20% maintenance cost reduction versus the PW127-powered ATR -600 series. In 2021, ATR and P&WC; jointly unveiled the upgraded PW127XT version, which is to become standard for the turboprop family from this year. The XT engine will deliver 3% lower fuel consumption, 40% longer time on wing and a 20% reduction in maintenance costs, ATR said at the time. The proposed new hybrid-powered turboprop will be compatible with 100% sustainable aviation fuel, says ATR. The airframer has target of certificating its current aircraft generation for full-SAF use by 2025. When deployed with 100% SAF, the new hybrid-powered turboprop's emissions will be "close to zero", predicts Bortoli. With conventional fossil-based kerosene, he says, the new aircraft will have a fuel-burn and emissions benefit of more than 50% versus regional jets. "We in the aerospace industry face a colossal challenge of how to make aircraft more sustainable while meeting an increased demand across the globe," Bortoli notes in ATR's video. He argues that turboprops are "the aircraft technology of today and of the future", and describes the new hybrid-powered generation as "a step forward in responsible flying through further incremental innovation".

​Asiana swings to profit in first quarter
May 18, 2022
South Korea's Asiana Airlines made an operating profit of W177 billion ($139 million) in the first quarter, reversing a loss of W11.2 billion in the same period of 2021. Sales increased 46% to W1.14 trillion, the airline says. Passenger business sales grew 102% to W201 billion, while cargo sales were up 45% at W884 billion. Domestic and international sales rose 82% and 112% year on year, respectively. Asiana says it focused on maximising the utilisation rate of cargo aircraft, including passenger jets modified for cargo-only flights maintaining European routes supply through flexible route operation such as bypassing Russian airspace and adjusting stopovers, and securing advance demand through long-term charter contracts. The airline notes that it has reported operating profit for the last four consecutive quarters "thanks to recovery in international demand and brisk cargo sales". Net profit for the quarter was W36.4 billion, rebounding from a loss of W230 billion in the prior-year period. "After the government lifted the self-quarantine for overseas inbound travellers, we plan to increase international flights to meet the increasing travel demand and resume flights to Rome, Paris, Barcelona and Istanbul," says Asiana. "The business will also respond flexibly to market conditions and try to increase profitability."

​Wizz Air to establish new Maltese subsidiary
May 18, 2022
Wizz Air intends to establish a new airline subsidiary in Malta with operations scheduled to begin in October. The budget carrier says it is seeking to obtain an air operator's certificate with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and an operating licence with the Malta Civil Aviation Directorate for the new subsidiary. Wizz Air signed an "arrangement on reallocation of responsibility" document with the two regulators on 17 May, it says. Plans for the new subsidiary foresee operation with Maltese-registered aircraft. The airline's chief executive Jozsef Varadi states: "Wizz Air is constantly evaluating the structure of its business and exploring options to establish new AOCs and bases in Europe and beyond. The successful establishment of Wizz Air Malta later this year will help to reinforce our strong position and support our expansion plans in Europe."


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