A350 obtains Russian certification ahead of Aeroflot delivery
January 17, 2020
Airbus has secured type certification for the A350-900 from Russian authorities, ahead of the delivery of the type to flag-carrier Aeroflot. Russian air transport regulator Rosaviatsia’s official documentation shows the type certificate was drawn up on 13 December. Airbus says the approval is an “important step” and has been granted following “extensive collaboration” between the airframer and the Russian agency. Aeroflot has 14 A350-900s on order, after it trimmed eight -800s from its original agreement for 22 A350s. The aircraft is powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines. Rosaviatsia’s type certificate only covers the -900 variant. No other Russian operator has direct orders for the A350. Aeroflot’s initial aircraft is to be delivered with a revised livery, which replaces the silver fuselage with white and features bolder titles for the carrier. It also enlarges the Russian flag design on the vertical fin.
US government panel calls for FAA certification improvements
January 17, 2020
A committee established by the US Department of Transportation has determined that the Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing properly followed FAA processes when approving the 737 Max. In a report released 16 January, the committee also throws support behind the FAA’s controversial Organisation Designation Authorisation (ODA), under which the FAA delegates certification work to manufacturers. But the report also urges the FAA to make significant improvements. It recommends the FAA require aerospace manufacturers have formal risk-mitigation plans known as safety management systems (SMS). The report also calls for the agency to better account for pilot performance and pilot-system interactions, and to better review how updates to old aircraft designs affect safety. “The committee found the FAA’s overall certification system to be effective,” says the 67-page report. “It also concluded that reforms must be adopted to help our extremely safe aviation system become even better at identifying and mitigating risk.” Investigators determined a series of factors involving Boeing, the Federal Aviation Administration, a parts supplier, Lion Air and pilots, led to the deadly crash of Lion Air flight 610. Democrat Peter DeFazio, chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, says he will consider the recommendations as lawmakers mull possible certification-related legislation. He also pledges to address perceived problems with the ODA programme. “It would be the height of irresponsibility to leave the ODA system as is and just hope for the best the next time,” DeFazio says in a statement. “Not addressing the failures head-on would be a grave mistake and that will not happen on my watch.” But Republicans read the report differently, saying it “clearly dispels the narrative that our aviation certification system is broken and must be completely rebuilt”. FAA administrator Steve Dickson says in a statement, “We welcome and appreciate the special committee’s recommendations”. “I was pleased to see that the committee recommended we advance the use of safety management systems throughout all sectors of the aviation industry,” Dickson adds. “The agency will carefully consider the committee’s work, along with the recommendations identified in various investigative reports and other analyses, as we take steps to enhance our aircraft certification processes.” Following two 737 Max crashes, the DOT established the investigatory committee for the purpose of independently reviewing the FAA’s Max certification and its broader certification processes. The five-member panel was led by co-chairs Lee Moak, former Air Line Pilots Association president, and retired US Air Force general Darren McDew, who formerly headed the military’s US Transportation Command. During its investigation, the committee interviewed FAA staff from the agency’s Boeing Aviation Safety Oversight Office, which certificated the Max. It also “met with an array of aviation and safety management specialists” and industry representatives, says the DOT.
Airbus seeks to make A220 profitable, cost reductions on ‘track’
January 16, 2020
One year ago, Airbus executives in Canada laid out broad strokes of a plan to make the A220 a commercial success.
Chief among the company’s goals: to boost A220 production, land sales with major airlines, reduce costs and, ultimately, make A220s profitable. One year later, the production rate is up and several major airlines have signed purchase papers. The degree to which Airbus has achieved cost and profitability goals, however, remains unclear. But Airbus Canada chief executive Philippe Balducchi insists the A220 programme is progressing as expected. “The journey to get the cost down has started [and] is on [a] good track,” Balducchi tells FlightGlobal on 15 January, adding that Airbus expects to achieve more cost reductions “in the coming months and year”. “We are on the normal path of an aircraft programme at this stage,” adds Balducchi, who spoke at an event in Montreal during which Air Canada unveiled its first A220-300. In January 2019, about six months after Airbus acquired the A220 programme from Bombardier, Balducchi described his A220 goals during a media event in Montreal. He pledged to make the A220 profitable and said his team had initiated a broad cost-cutting effort that included seeking concessions from suppliers. The team would also work to improve production efficiency, partly by bringing Airbus’s processes and systems to the A220. Balducchi now says Airbus aims to reduce the A220’s cost basis by 20%. But he declines to disclose more details or say whether the A220 is closer to profitability. “We have been progressing on the cost reduction. We have been having some significant progress with some suppliers. Some are still under discussion,” Balducchi says.