Start-up nears airport Aircraft Towing System tests

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By Scott Hamilton

May 16, 2022, © Leeham News: A start-up company is 60-90 days away from landing a contract with a US airport to install a prototype system that will pull airplanes around the field, eliminating taxiing with engines or tugs.

The ATS airport channel system. Source: ATS.

ATS Worldwide (for Aircraft Towing System) proposes a network of trench-like guides equipped with a flexible tow mechanism that captures the nose gear to tow airplanes from the regional jet to the Airbus A380. It’s all done with automation. No new equipment, other than a nose camera, is added to the airplane. This eliminates added weight and complexity, or the need for a Supplemental Type Certificate, proposed by Wheel Tug. No external tug, like Taxibot, takes the airplane to the end of the runway. This eliminates airfield conflicts, ATS said during the Aviation Week MRO Americas conference last month in Dallas.

But constructing a network of towing trenches from the gate, across the ramp, to the taxiways and the runways, presents its own challenges. Constructing the network won’t be inexpensive. Funding sources must be identified. The Federal Aviation Administration and other regulators must be convinced that the system will be safe. Regulatory standards must be prepared.

And the elephant in the room will be the reaction from unions whose ground handlers, wing walkers, etc., face losing jobs or fewer jobs.

The big advantages: eliminating the need for hundreds of tugs at an airport. Reduction in fuel required to taxi airplanes, major cost savings for the airlines. A reduction in emissions, a growing goal, especially in Europe and the USA. Finally, there can be lower headcounts by the airlines and airports, another cost savings.

Implementation, if all goes well, is years away. But a prototype system for proof-of-concept is expected to be activated at the Ardmore (OK) airport in 60-90 days. At least three major hub airports are reviewing proposals for initial demonstration projects as well, ATS says.

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Carbon footprint: Regional jet versus turboprop, how large is the difference?

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By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction

January 27, 2022, © Leeham News: Last week, we kicked off a series of articles where we will measure what difference our choice of flying makes to the primary Greenhouse gas emission, CO2.

We have upgraded our airliner performance model for the series to give a direct output of the CO2 emissions for the flights in different phases.

We start this week by comparing a typical domestic feeder flight of 300 nm, with an example route of Cleveland to Chicago O’Hare. What will be the time differences? And the fuel burn and CO2 emission difference?

To make it a fair comparison, we’ll use present generation aircraft flying on the US market, the Embraer E175 and De Havilland’s DH 8-400. We will fly the DH 8 at a high-speed cruise to keep the flight time differences within 10 minutes.

Horizon Air DH 8-400. Source: Wikipedia.

Summary
  • As expected, the turboprop is the more efficient mode of transportation on the route. It consequently emits less CO2 per transported passenger.
  • With new, more comfortable turboprops in the works, the drive for sustainability could see a return of the turboprop to the US market.

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Bjorn’s Corner: The challenges of airliner development. Part 11. The Program Plan.

By Bjorn Fehrm, Henry Tam, and Andrew Telesca.

July 9, 2021, ©. Leeham News: Now that we have done the basic market research we should scope the program. To do this we need to understand what aircraft we will develop and to what certification rules.

Our market research tells us to develop a 19 seat aircraft that can operate as a passenger and/or cargo aircraft outside the US and as cargo aircraft in the US. This enables us to certify it to FAA Part 23 and the equivalent rules of other National Aviation Authorities where we want to sell the aircraft.

Figure 1. The new Cessna SkyCourier Cargo/19 seat utility airliner. Source: Cessna.

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Exclusive: Mitsubishi ponders restarting CRJ production

By Scott Hamilton

July 6, 2021, © Leeham News: Mitsubishi is considering restarting production of the discontinued CRJ, LNA confirmed with multiple sources.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries discontinued production with the completion of the last of the small backlog it acquired with the June 1, 2019, purchase of the program from the ailing Bombardier. The final 15 CRJ900s were completed during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Montreal Mirabel Airport production line was shut down. The tooling was removed and stored. The buildings were turned over to Airbus, which now uses them for A220 production.

 

Source: Bombardier.

“Our primary focus remains the support of the CRJ operating fleet,” said Ross Mitchell, vice president of Shared Services.  “Clearly, the regional jet market is important to us, but we have made no commitment to move forward in this respect.”

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Bjorn’s Corner: The challenges of airliner development. Part 5. Developing to Cert rules

By Bjorn Fehrm, Henry Tam, and Andrew Telesca

May 28, 2021, ©. Leeham News: After an overview of different certification rules and discussions about why there are different rule sets, we now exemplify the rules by looking at specific aircraft projects and how the certification rules affect the design.

We start this week with the idea to certify a 9-seat mini-airliner like the Tecnam P2012 Traveller. It’s a recent development with US-based Cape Air as the launch customer.

 

Figure 1. Passengers boarding the 9-seat Tecnam P2012. Source: Tecnam.

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European Regionals Face Hostile Operating Environment

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By Kathryn B. Creedy

Third in a Series. Previous articles:

Introduction

Aug. 31, 2020, (c) Leeham News: European regionals face far greater challenges than Covid and, sadly, much of what is happening to the industry is beyond its control. The result is similar to failures seen in the U.S.  Flybe’s recent loss resulted from pre-Covid problems which also led to the pre-Covid failures of such airlines as Flybmi and Cobalt.

The failures illustrate, however, the three reasons why European regionals are so fragile – low-cost competition, geography, and challenging government policy.

 

 

 

 

 

Flybe is just the latest of many regionals to cease operations owing to harsh conditions in Europe.

Summary
  • Government Policies Hardest on Regionals
  • LCC Competition Challenging
  • Consumer Protections Crushing
  • Turboprops Have Large Role

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Looking ahead for 2020 and 2030 decades: Embraer

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Fourth in a series.

By Bjorn Fehrm

Introduction

July 8, 2020, © Leeham News: All airliner OEMs have a disastrous 2020, but for Embraer, the year has been even worse. After spending a year and over $200m to carve out the Commercial Aviation division to merge it into Boeing, the Joint Venture Agreement (JV) was stopped by Boeing at the last moment.

The Executive Jets and Defense side were not affected, but now Embraer was organized as two companies instead of one. The company must now re-merge the organizations to save costs in a COVID-19 environment where limiting cash outflow, and lowering costs are necessary for survival. At the same time, it’s arch-rival on the world market, Airbus A220 has gone from strength to strength through basket selling with the popular A320.

How does Embraer come back from the Boeing pass up and regroup in a regional market that is no longer a fight of equals? Embraer competes with Airbus that in 2019 was 11 times larger in airliner deliveries and 29 times in airliner revenue.

Only in the below 100 seat market is it saved from the giant, who doesn’t have a model in the segment. And it seems the below 100 seat competitor, Mitsubishi, might fold its entry.

Summary
  • The botched JV with Boeing came at the worst possible moment for Embraer, just when the COVID-19 pandemic stopped airliner deliveries.
  • The planned JV had held back sales and deliveries, waiting for the JV to complete.
  • In addition, it cost Embraer $200m, pushing it into the red for 2019.
  • Embraer must now find another fix to the Airbus problem while wrestling with a worldwide COVID crisis.
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Mitsubishi ends 2019 with ~500 commitments for SpaceJet

By Scott Hamilton
Jan. 22, 2020, © Leeham News: Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. (MITAC) ended 2019 with 495 commitments for the M100 SpaceJets from multiple continents, LNA learned.

All but 100 from US regional carrier Mesa Airlines are unidentified.

Mesa announced a commitment for 50 firm orders and 50 options in September at the US Regional Airline Assn. annual meeting in Nashville.

MITAC wouldn’t comment, but LNA understands that commitments come from North America and Europe. It’s unclear if additional commitments are from Asia.

Japan’s ANA and Japan Air Lines are launch customers for the M90 SpaceJet, previously called the MRJ90. This model was rebranded in June at the Paris Air Show when the M100 SpaceJet program was launched.

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Europe’s Regional airlines meet in Antibes, Cotes d’Azur.

By Bjorn Fehrm 

October 9, 2018, ©. Leeham News, Antibes France: The European Airlines Association, ERA, gathered 44 of its 51 member airlines in Antibes France, today for the first day of its 2019 General Assembly meeting.

LNA participated in the event for the first time and we found an impressive gathering of airline and airport representatives, aircraft OEMs and support businesses discussing the challenges facing the European regional air transport market.

Norway’s Wideroe, the launch customer for Embraer’s E-Jet E2 is one of the airlines present.

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The Struggling European Regional Airlines

  • This is the third in a series of articles on the struggling low cost and leisure carriers in Europe.

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By Vincent Valery

Introduction       

Sep. 23, 2019, © Leeham News: Numerous European regional airlines are struggling financially.

FlyBe was sold earlier this year for a symbolic amount to Connect Airways. The new airlines’ shareholders are Stobart Air, Virgin Atlantic and Cyrus Capital Partners.

UK regional carrier flybmi ceased operations earlier this year. Air France announced a 15% cut in domestic capacity at regional subsidiary Hop! after years of steep losses.

In spite of their struggles, European regional airlines represent a significant market for aircraft OEMs. The Airbus A220, Embraer E2 and turboprop programs count on new European airline orders to bolster their order book.

Summary
  • A fragmented industry;
  • Another prevailing business models than in the USA;
  • Influence of geography and public transportation;
  • Dearth of latest generation aircraft orders;
  • External factors threatening the industry.

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