Thursday, April 19, 2018

Dassault Reports Rafale Progress in India

 - April 19, 2018, 10:01 AM

Rafale model

A model of a Rafale in Indian colors displayed on the Dassault stand at an Aero India show. (Photo: Neelam Mathews)

The training of Indian pilots and maintenance personnel in preparation for delivery of Rafale fighters is in progress in France, Dassault Aviation chairman and CEO Eric Trappier told AIN in describing progress with the Indian air force contract for 36 Rafale fighters. He also commented on the latest Indian request for information (RFI) for more new fighters while visiting India as head of a delegation from the French Aerospace Industries Association (French acronym: GIFAS). However, Trappier made only passing reference to the financial and legal troubles that have recently beset the Reliance Group, Dassault’s partner in India for the Rafale contract. 
In addition to the training in France, India is preparing a hangar at the Reliance Defence facility at Nagpur, where parts for the Rafale are being made, with deliveries to start this year. Dassault Aviation has started looking for more offset partners. Major subcontractors to the French manufacturer that have already tied up with Indian companies include engine maker Safran and Dassault Systèmes, providing 3D modeling and product lifecycle management (PLM) software. Thales announced last year it would develop Indian capabilities to integrate and maintain the radar and electronic warfare sensors at the Nagpur facility along with an Indian supply chain for manufacturing microwave technologies and high performance airborne electronics.
Currently, the Reliance Group's flagship company, Reliance Communications, is embroiled in court cases brought by minority shareholders, and stemming from its inability to repay lenders. The group has debts of $18 billion. A senior official at the Indian MoD has questioned the status of Reliance Defence, since the MoD’s Defense Procurement Policy is very strict on the credit rating of vendors. However, a Reliance official at the Nagpur facility told AIN: “The legal case has nothing to do with Reliance Defence, which is a part of [a separate] subsidiary, Reliance Infrastructure.”
Trappier said that Dassault is busy responding to the recently released RFI for 110 more fighters. The request cites 75 percent of these as single-seaters and the remainder as two-seaters. A maximum of 15 percent of the aircraft would be delivered in a flyaway state, with the remainder to be made in India by a Strategic Partner/Indian Production Agency. The current RFI dropped an earlier stipulation that the new fighters be single-engine.
But the Dassault chief declined to confirm that Reliance would be the partner in bidding for the 110 fighters. “There is a process of the RFI, and we will see at the time of the Request for Proposal…there is nothing as of now,” he said. “We need a variety of other suppliers [and] we are ready to transfer technology, because my government supports this and our own commitment to India,” he added. 
Trappier also noted that the Indian Navy requirement for 57 carrier-capable fighters would be best met by the Rafale naval variant. However, the seaborne Rafale currently used by the French is built for CATOBAR operations (catapult assisted takeoff but arrested recovery). The Indian Navy's current aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya and the forthcoming Indigenous Aircraft Carrier-1 are designed for STOBAR operations (short takeoff but arrested recovery).

India’s Fighter Saga Continues

Neelam Mathews
March 28, 2018

Tejas on ramp

India's LCA, also known as the Tejas, has suffered delays and technical issues. (Photo: Neelam Mathews)
PS- The RFI for fighters was released soon after the story was published (no connection!)
Watch this space for more analysis.

Indian military fighter procurement is fast becoming a comedy of missed deadlines. A commitment to manufacture the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) as opposed to producing a foreign design in the country has led to a series of reversals on procurement for the Indian Air Force’s fighter requirements. The delays in decision-making come against a background of the IAF’s depleted squadrons and the need to replace aging aircraft such as the MiG-21.
The Indian Navy, too, is awaiting the release of a request for proposal for 57 fighters for its aircraft carriers, for which it has issued a request for information (RFI). This followed delays to the single-engine, tailless delta LCA (Tejas) that is being designed and developed by the government’s Aeronautical Development Agency and the government-owned manufacturer, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). The Navy has rejected the aircraft as “it does not meet the qualitative requirements,” Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba told AIN last year. The Naval LCA version that was to have been delivered by HAL by 2010 was further delayed to 2014, and has now turned into a technology demonstrator project.
Furthermore, as the joint production of the Indo-Russian Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) has not stirred, an RFI for a medium multi-role combat Aircraft 2 is to be released—date unknown—to include both single- and twin-engine fighters with specific qualitative requirements such as “modern multi-payloads,” AIN has learned. “Clearly, speed is of the essence as delays in procurement decisions are affecting the upgrading of the fleet,” a MoD official said.
Delays have been extensive. In 2013, the Parliament was informed that the LCA Mk 2, for which the date of completion was intended to be 2008, had been revised to 2015. The Mk 2 version is to be re-engined from the General Electric F404 to the F414 and is planned to enter production by 2027. Meanwhile, an indigenous AESA fire control radar is being developed for the Mk 2 by the Electronics and Radar Development Establishment (LRDE), for which Bangalore-based Centum Electronics has designed and developed the vibration-hardened OCXO (oven-controlled crystal oscillators). “The function of OCXO is to generate the clock frequency of 120 MHz, which is in turn fed to a synthesizer that generates the required X-band frequency for the AESA,” said Vinod Chippalkatti, vice president, Centum Electronics. Since the Mk 2 will weigh almost 20 percent more than the LCA Mk 1A, with a heavier payload, it will be an entirely new project, currently awaiting financial clearance.
As pressure mounts from the MoD, and HAL is promising to deliver the long-delayed and underpowered LCA Mk 1A, it is likely that the single-engine OEM project that was to be completed with the private sector will likely be scrapped—for the moment at least. “Even if Lockheed Martin has to set up its F-16A facility in India which it says it can, it will take at least eight years for the first aircraft to roll out. Even HAL will be able to do that. So why not encourage Indian manufacture?” remarked a defense consultant. 
Meanwhile, the IAF has agreed to procure 20 Mk 1A LCAs from HAL with initial operational capability (IOC), six of which have been delivered, and 20 in final operational capability (FOC) configuration. The FOC has been held up following the failure of performance specifications to meet service requirements. The IAF has committed to a further 83 LCAs, but only if 59 improvements are made. The order has not yet been confirmed.

Indian Budget Carriers Hold Long-haul Aspirations

 - Neelam Mathews
 April 11, 2018, 11:00 AM

The arrival of new aircraft technology, emergence of new business models, and the increasing ambition of India’s budget carriers appear likely to lead to a new wave of expansion on international long-haul routes. As India’s outbound leisure traffic grows following demand of the fast-growing middle class, budget carriers SpiceJet and IndiGo have begun preparing to fly long haul. Plans for widebody aircraft could come soon.
According to Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA), SpiceJet and IndiGo will probably launch their first European long-haul flights to London Gatwick. SpiceJet chairman Ajay Singh confirmed at the recent Wings airshow in Hyderabad that his airline will introduce low-cost, long-haul flights “as early as this winter.” A government official told AIN that the carrier is looking at flying to the U.S.
According to a CAPA report, by 2025 Indian budget carriers will operate approximately 40 widebody aircraft, adding 2 million annual outbound passengers to destinations such as New York and Sydney. 
India has seen international passenger traffic grow over the last five years at a compound annual growth rate of 8.6 percent, what a joint CAPA India and Expedia report released in February called “the inflection point for India outbound travel.”
“We lack a direct low-cost alternative,” said minister of state for civil aviation Jayant Sinha. “But that will depend upon how fast airlines are able to expand their fleet and how airports work at improving constrained infrastructure. We lack a direct low-cost alternative to Europe and the U.S. West Coast. International traffic growth from India will be tremendously boosted if low-cost carriers start providing connectivity to Europe.” 
Apart from widebody services to Europe, Australia, and the U.S., CAPA said Indian airlines will likely take advantage of new market opportunities for non-stop routes between India to Hong Kong, Phuket, Manila, and Hanoi, having placed orders for nearly 800 Airbus A320neos and Boeing 737 Max jets. IndiGo, which recently announced it had withdrawn interest in Air India’s disinvestment, operates 166 A320Ceos and Neos and has placed orders for 400 more. Widebody options for it include the A330-800neo for 2019 and/or the A350-800, scheduled for first delivery in 2021. In a conference call with analysts, IndiGo’s co-promoter, Rakesh Gangwal, called the airline “well placed to ferry long-haul international passengers in a low-cost model.”
“If there is any market where low-cost, long-haul can work it is India," said CAPA India CEO Kapil Kaul. He added that India’s location and a large order for new long-range narrowbody jets would provide the momentum.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Pratt has Somthing to celebrate about in the party capital of the world!!

Posted Apr 5, 2018
Media Release

Nb- on behalf of the aviation community, wish you all success in coming years. Nobody likes disruption unless it is in technology!

Pratt & Whitney joins Widerøe in celebrating the delivery of the first Embraer E190-E2 aircraft, powered exclusively by Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbofan™ (GTF) engines. 

The delivery was commemorated in a ceremony attended by Embraer, Widerøe and Pratt & Whitney officials at Embraer's headquarters in São José dos Campos, São Paulo, Brazil.

"We are thrilled to be the first airline in the world to put the E190-E2 into commercial service. We will be able to fly farther, faster, and more often, and are proud to offer an improved passenger experience," said Widerøe President & CEO Stein Nilsen. "The GTF engine consumes less fuel, generates fewer emissions and produces much less noise, reinforcing our commitment to lowering our carbon footprint and impact on the environment."

Widerøe is the largest regional airline in Scandinavia, operating more than 450 flights per day to 46 domestic and international destinations. The E190-E2 is the airline's first turbofan-powered aircraft, which will allow it to expand its route network, particularly to international destinations. The airline has been a part of the Pratt & Whitney family since the late 1940s, when it began operating Wasp R-1340 radial engines. Widerøe's focus on reducing environmental impact and adopting green technologies makes the GTF engine a perfect fit.

"On behalf of the entire Pratt & Whitney team, I'd like to congratulate Embraer and Widerøe on this exciting occasion. We are honored to power the E190-E2 and look forward to delivering the GTF's significant economic and environmental benefits when it enters service in just a few short weeks," said Chris Calio, president, Commercial Engines at Pratt & Whitney. "Widerøe currently operates our PW100 engines, and we are proud to power the airline's growth and extend our successful 70-year relationship for many years to come."
The E190-E2 aircraft received certification from the Agência Nacional de Aviação Civil (ANAC), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and from the European Aviation Safety Administration (EASA) last month, and is scheduled to enter revenue service with launch customer Widerøe later this month.

In addition to being selected as the exclusive engine for the E2 commercial aircraft, Pratt & Whitney's APS2600E auxiliary power unit (APU) is the sole-sourced APU for the E2 family. The APS2600E APU gives airlines greater flexibility, by increasing the altitude ceiling for ETOPS and other operations, and providing a significant increase in electrical power delivery, to meet the needs of today's airlines.

The E190-E2 marks the third aircraft platform powered by the GTF engine. The aircraft has more than 17% reduction in fuel burn than the current generation E190, with NOx emissions 50% below the ICAO CAEP/6 regulation and a cumulative noise reduction of ICAO Chapter 4 minus 17 to 20dB.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

SpiceJet Lobbies for International Route Subsidies

 - March 29, 2018, 9:08 AM

Budget airline SpiceJet wants India to extend its Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) to international destinations, the airline’s managing director, Ajay Singh, told AIN during the Wings airshow held in Hyderabad recently.
In an effort to lower the cost of air travel, Indian authorities action and award routes identified under the RCS to airlines asking for the least amount of subsidy and willing to submit to ticket price ceilings. Also called "Udan," the RCS—introduced last year—aims to develop remote regional airports.
“We are looking at a version of Udan,” said Singh, referring in particular to the untapped potential of eight hilly states of the Northeast Region (NER), many sharing a common border with China and Southeast Asia. A purchase agreement signed last year for 25 specially configured Bombardier Q400s will make SpiceJet the first airline in the world to operate a 90-seat turboprop.
While SpiceJet does not take subsidies for the domestic RCS, a subsidy for international flights from NER for two years will enable carriers to stimulate demand through low fares in the latent market. SpiceJet has already connected 10 tier-two cities with 70 flights a week to the popular destination Dubai. Singh said cities such as Guwahati in the state of Assam could serve as a regional hub from India to neighboring countries. Major airports in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam all lie within a short flying distance of around 45 minutes to an hour from Guwahati. Already Guwahati ranks as India’s eighth busiest airport, thanks to traffic from the NER. It handles 800 flights a week, compared with just three a week three decades ago.
Indian officials believe Bangkok, Singapore, and Kuala Lumpur could all become popular destinations to and from the NER. “Southeast Asia is a dynamic region with close ethnic and cultural ties with India and there is high traffic potential from NER,” said Shefali Juneja, the director of India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation, Shefali Juneja
SpiceJet plans to double its fleet of 66 Boeing 737s and Q400s by end 2019, about the time it expects demand will surge for international Udan flights. It expects delivery of its first Boeing 737 Max in August, Singh said.
SpiceJet recently signed a $12.5 billion deal with CFM International for engines and a 10-year services contract for a fleet of more than 150 Boeings. “The growth of the domestic Indian [aviation] market is the highest in the world,” said Boeing senior vice president for Asia Pacific and India sales Dinesh Keskar. “Every segment of traffic in and out of India is going to grow for the next 20 years.”

NAO robot makes an impression in Jaipur

Neelam Mathews
Softbank Robotics has demonstrated its NAO humanoid robot for the Airports Authority of India (AAI) at Jaipur International Airport.
The 58 cm-tall robot helps passengers with answers to questions ......more in Janes' Airports

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Ailing SriLankan Airlines Looks for Boost from Qatar

 - March 7, 2018, 9:00 AM
Performers dressed as ancient Sri Lankan warriors mark SriLankan Airlines' entry into the Oneworld alliance in 2014.Pix Neelam Mathews
SriLankan Airlines awaits a response from Qatar Airways to partnership overtures during discussions held in Colombo with a Qatari delegation, Sri Lankan minister of public enterprises development Kabir Hashim said at a recent press briefing in Colombo. Qatar had shown interest last October during a visit by Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena to Doha, where he signed several bilateral deals.
Ailing government-owned SriLankan Airlines has unsuccessfully endeavored to attract an airline to partner with it for several years. Emirates, which held a 43.6 percent stake and participated in a 10-year strategic agreement with SriLankan, did not renew its partnership upon its expiration in 2008 and sold all its shares to the Sri Lankan government in 2010.
SriLankan already has started restructuring under a process that will last for the next two years. “A new board is to be appointed shortly,” Hashim confirmed to the Daily News local newspaper. “There is no intention to close SriLankan Airlines…We need a good international partner to work with us.”
Both members of the Oneworld alliance, Qatar Airways and SriLankan Airlines plan soon to expand their present cooperation on code shares, SriLankan Airlines’ country chief for India, Chinthaka Weerasinghe, told AIN, adding that London Heathrow remains SriLankan’s only direct long-haul European destination. “Doha’s Hamad International Airport has become a hub for us,” he said. “It is a now a transit point for our passengers traveling onwards to over 20 European destinations on Qatar Airways.”
Weerasinghe said the carrier’s recently added long-haul route to Melbourne has done well, thanks largely to the Australian city’s large expatriate population. He added that large numbers of passengers also connect from North India for the Australian route. However, the carrier continues to concentrate on regional routes, in particular India, where it flies nonstop to 14 destinations—the largest by a foreign carrier—with 134 flights per week.
Weerasinghe downplayed the threat posed by budget carrier Indigo’s recent aggressive campaign to connect 26 Indian cities to Colombo. “Indigo has a strong presence in India,” he said. “However, most of their connections are via transit points. People like nonstop flights on short routes.”