Gulf Air commences new Dreamliner service from Bahrain to London

Gulf Air, the national carrier of the Kingdom of Bahrain, has announced the introduction of a new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner double daily service to and from London.

Gulf Air’s new twice daily nonstop flights connecting Bahrain and London Heathrow Terminal-4 will reportedly be suited to both business and leisure travellers. Regional passengers will be able to connect via Bahrain to London, while UK-based travellers can fly non-stop to Bahrain, with onward connections to key cities throughout the Middle East, Africa, India Subcontinent and the Far East.

Commenting on the new service, Gulf Air Chief Executive Officer Mr. KreSimir Kucko said, ‘Gulf Air has had strong ties with the United Kingdom since we commenced our operations to London in 1970. London is a key destination for our customers travelling for either business or leisure, and I am delighted to introduce our newest 787-9 Dreamliner double daily service on this route. I look forward to receiving passenger feedback on this exciting addition to our fleet, which allows our UK travellers to travel across Gulf Air’s expanding network in superior comfort. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank our key industry partners in UK who are integral to the growth and success of our London operations.’

The new state-of-the-art aircraft offers 26 Falcon Gold Class seats and 256 Economy Class seats with improved onboard services and greater entertainment choices. It boasts large overhead bins, LED lighting, and technology that senses and counters turbulence.

In 2018, Gulf Air’s network will serve 49 cities in 26 countries. Gulf Air operates double daily flights or more to select destinations across the GCC, MENA region, Indian Subcontinent and Europe while its network spans the GCC, MENA region, Indian Subcontinent, Europe and the Far East.

Boeing predicts increased global demand for airline pilots

Over the next two decades, the commercial aviation industry will need more than one million new pilots and technicians to support the growing demand for new airplane deliveries, Boeing has forecasted.

According to the US multinational aerospace company, by 2032 the world will require 498,000 new commercial airline pilots and as many as 556,000 new commercial airline maintenance technicians. The forecast is part of Boeing’s 2013 Pilot and Technician Outlook, an industry forecast of aviation personnel that was released during an event at the Boeing Flight Services campus in Miami.

The 2013 outlook forecasts major increases in pilot demand, in all regions except Europe, compared to previous forecasts. The projection for Europe declined slightly over last year’s outlook.

‘The urgent demand for competent aviation personnel is a global issue that is here now and is very real,’ said Sherry Carbary, vice president of Boeing Flight Services. ‘The key to closing the pilot and technician gap in our industry is enhancing our training with the latest, cutting-edge technologies to attract and retain young people interested in careers in aviation.’

The rising pilot demand is driven by increasing airplane deliveries, particularly single-aisle airplanes, and represents a global requirement for about 25,000 new pilots annually. Global demand for technicians also remains significant, at approximately 28,000 new technicians required annually.

However, with the advent of more efficient and smarter airplanes, the requirement for mechanics is expected to reduce over time, as aging aircraft, which normally require more maintenance, are retired from service. The new and emerging airplane technologies with more advanced components are also likely to lead to lower maintenance requirements and corresponding lower technician demand.

‘This is a global issue that can only be addressed by industry-wide innovation and solutions,’ said Carbary, adding: ‘We need to attract more young people to careers in aviation by continually looking at innovative ways to train pilots and technicians, moving away from paper and chalkboard-based learning to incorporate tablets, eBooks, gaming technology and three-dimensional models.

‘Aviation is a great field to be in – we have a responsibility to make sure it’s a viable career option for the world’s youth,’ she added.


Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner hit by further setback

Boeing Co’s 787 Dreamliner has been hit by a further setback, as wiring defects have been discovered in the fire-extinguisher system on three of its aircraft.

The fault was found on jets operated by Japan’s All Nippon Airways (ANA), the model’s biggest operator. The fault is likely to trigger the wrong extinguisher in the event of a blaze in one of the two engines, ANA said. The problem, the latest in a series of setbacks for Boeing’s 787, was first discovered during pre-flight maintenance of a jet at Tokyo’s Haneda airport, an ANA spokeswoman said.

Japan Airlines called back a 787 travelling from Tokyo to Helsinki to check the wiring after ANA reported the fault on Wednesday. Boeing said it was investigating the defect.

‘The safety of those flying on Boeing aeroplanes is our top priority. We will thoroughly examine this issue and take the appropriate steps,’ the company said.

Boeing’s flagship jet, which made its commercial debut in 2011, is already under scrutiny after a fire broke out on a 787 Dreamliner jet operated by Ethiopian Airlines while it was parked at Heathrow airport. The 787 had only returned to service with ANA and Japan Airlines on June 1 after battery problems grounded the entire fleet earlier this year.

US carrier, United Airlines, has also found a pinched wire during an inspection of one of its six 787s.

Boeing has since asked airlines to carry out inspections of the transmitters, and it has also asked operators of other aircraft models, the 717, Next-Generation 737, 747-400, 767 and 777, to inspect their aircraft.

According to its website, Boeing delivered 73 Dreamliners to 13 customers up until August 7, with more than 29,000 flights completed.

Boeing Dreamliner fire revives safety concerns

Concerns over the safety of the world’s newest passenger plane have increased after a Boeing 787 Dreamliner operated by Ethiopian Airlines caught fire at Heathrow airport on Friday, and another 787 carrying British holidaymakers to Florida returned home after a technical fault.

The Ethiopian Airlines incident led to closure of runways at the London airport, as arrivals and departures were suspended for about an hour and a half until emergency services put out the fire. Heathrow said that the aircraft was parked on a remote stand and no passengers were aboard. The disruption hit about 80 arrivals and departures at Heathrow, causing delays of up to three hours and leading to the cancellation of at least 27 flights.

While the cause of the blaze is yet to be determined, the fire raised concerns that recurrent problems with the high-tech lithium batteries had not been resolved. The BBC reported that the plane on fire at Heathrow was the first 787 Dreamliner to resume flights after the grounding.

In a separate incident on Friday afternoon, a new Thomson Airways Dreamliner plane returned to Manchester airport after taking off on a transatlantic flight. Thomson began services for the first time last month, after the long-delayed delivery of its first 787s.

Thomson Airways, travel giant TUI’s own airline, was the first British customer for Boeing’s new plane, and the company commented that its flight TOM126 to Sanford, Florida, ‘experienced a technical issue’, with the aircraft returning to Manchester airport as a precautionary measure. ‘Passengers have disembarked and our dedicated team of engineers is now inspecting the aircraft. Our customers will be moved to an alternative aircraft to ensure they get away on their holiday as soon as possible,’ a spokesperson said, adding: ‘The safety of our customers and crew is of paramount importance and we would like to apologise for the delay caused.’

According to flight tracking data, the plane circled the coast off north Wales, apparently to dump fuel before landing. Thomson charges its passengers a GBP10 premium each way to fly in the 787, with seats only available as part of a holiday.

The pioneering Boeing 787, a ‘plastic plane’ made mostly of carbon fibre with more systems running on electric circuits, has been heralded as a far quieter, more fuel-efficient aircraft. Production problems had initially delayed the commercial service by three years until late 2011. A series of incidents – including two battery fires on All Nippon airways in January this year, resulted in US safety authorities recommending the grounding of the entire worldwide fleet. Ethiopian Airlines was the last airline to withdraw its four Dreamliners from service and the first to restart operations in late May.

British Airways has ordered 24 of the planes, and took delivery of its first Dreamliner two weeks ago, while Virgin Atlantic is set to get the first of its 16 Dreamliners in September 2014.

Dreamliner routes announced by BA

British Airways, a UK-based airline company, has announced the routes that it will operate initially using its newly arrived Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

The airline is to use the new aircraft on routes to Toronto in Canada and Newark in the USA, with the Heathrow to Toronto service commencing from September 1 this year, and the Newark service commencing one month later on October 1. The two routes currently operate Boeing 747, 767 and 777 aircraft.

When BA’s first new Dreamliner touched down at Heathrow yesterday, Willie Walsh, the chief executive of the company’s owner, International Airlines Group, was there to welcome it. He commented, ‘The 787 is a tremendous, innovative aircraft which sets new standards for environmental performance and operating efficiency and I’m sure British Airways’ customers will love it. The 787 will become a mainstay of the British Airways fleet over the next few years.’

BA’s Dreamliners will each have the capacity to carry 214 passengers across three classes of travel: Club World, World Traveller Plus and World Traveller. The company has a further 23 of the state-of-the-art aircraft on order, with 18 more optioned and likely to be confirmed, subject to shareholder approval.

Speaking on behalf of Boeing, Todd Nelp, vice president of European sales, said, ‘The delivery of the first of BA’s 787s is an exciting milestone for Boeing and British Airways. The 787 is the most technologically advanced and fuel-efficient commercial jetliner in its class. Its improved lighting, bigger windows, larger overhead bins, lower cabin altitude and cleaner cabin air will offer BA’s passengers an unparalleled flying experience.’


Boeing and Ryanair seal $15.6 billion deal at Paris Air Show

Ireland-based low-cost air carrier, Ryanair, has finalised its $15.6 billion aircraft purchase deal with American aircraft manufacturer, Boeing, at the Paris Air Show.

At a specially-staged signing ceremony, Ryanair’s president, Michael O’Leary, and Ray Conner, the president of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, confirmed the Irish airline’s order for 175 Boeing 737-800 airplanes, the biggest single deal that the airplane manufacturer has ever struck with a European airline.

On signing the deal, O’Leary said, ‘Ryanair is proud to buy Boeing, who make great aircraft, and the 737-800 has been the foundation of Ryanair’s recent successful growth due to its great engineering and phenomenal reliability. These 175 new airplanes will enable us to lower costs and airfares even further.

‘They provide Ryanair with the additional capacity to exploit substantial growth opportunities that now exist as many of Europe’s flag and regional airlines are restructuring and are reducing their short-haul operations.’

Conner also commented, ‘We are delighted to finalise this order. It is a testament to the value the Next-Generation 737 family brings to Ryanair.

‘As the most efficient, reliable, large single-aisle airplane flying today, the Next-Generation 737 has been and will continue to be the cornerstone of the Ryanair fleet. I could not be more proud to see the partnership between Ryanair and The Boeing Company extended for the years to come.’

Within the aviation industry, the Boeing 737-800 aircraft is considered to be reliable, fuel-efficient and flexible. Ryanair is already the biggest operator of Boeing aircraft in Europe, and today’s signing confirmed a commitment to purchase that the Irish carrier made in March this year.

BA prepares for aircraft deliveries

British Airways, a UK-based airline, is preparing for the delivery of three new aircraft over the next four weeks.

Two Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft will be arriving in the UK later this month, following the model being given the all clear over a problem with an overheating battery that dogged it in the early part of this year. The two aircraft will arrive mid-morning on consecutive days, June 26 and 27.

The airline’s new Airbus A380 is due to arrive mid-morning on July 4.

Once all of the aircraft are in service, British Airways will be the first airline in Europe to have Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner in its fleet.

British Airways chief executive, Keith Williams, said, ‘The delivery of these exciting aircraft opens a new chapter in British Airways’ history.

‘We are proud to be leading the way in Europe in operating both these aircraft types.

‘Over the next 12 months, we will take delivery of new long-haul aircraft at an average rate of one every two weeks.

‘These deliveries form the centrepiece of the £5 billion investment British Airways is making in new aircraft, smarter cabins, superb lounges and new technologies to make travel more comfortable in the air and on the ground. Both aircraft types make major environmental advances and will contribute toward our ambitious targets for noise and carbon reduction.’

The A380 aircraft is already scheduled to commence commercial flights to Los Angeles on October 15, this year, and Hong Kong from November 15. The 787’s first destinations are yet to be revealed.

Boeing Dreamliner Heathrow flights to be resumed by Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways, a United Arab Emirates-based airline company, has announced that it will be resuming services to London Heathrow airport with its Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

The airline’s service on the London to Doha route is scheduled to recommence from the 15th of this month, after being halted since mid January as part of the worldwide grounding of the 787 Dreamliner, following incidents of the airplane’s on-board battery pack overheating. A solution for the problem has now been accepted by aviation authorities around the world, and with the lifting of the ban on flying, a number of airlines have already undertaken introductory flights. Qatar Airways’ initial flight took place earlier this week between Doha and Dubai.

A full resumption of the daily Doha to Dubai flights is expected, with the service only having operated for approximately one month from its inception in December last year, before being curtailed in January.

Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways chief executive, was one of a number of VIP’s that boarded the airlines reinstated Dreamliner for a flight earlier this week, and he said, ‘I’m thrilled our Dreamliner fleet is back in the skies. I always said I would be the first to fly on Qatar Airways’ 787 once it returned to service. After a setback that affected not only our own worldwide operations but also those of many carriers worldwide, we look forward now to deploying the Dreamliner on other key routes over the coming weeks. We have worked closely with Boeing throughout the grounding to work towards getting our fleet up and running again.

Safety has always been the number one priority and I have full confidence in the safety and security of this aircraft.’

Dreamliners could be cleared to fly again from today

Boeing, the US-based airplane manufacturer, is poised today for the news that its troubled aircraft, the 787 Dreamliner, has been cleared to fly again.

If, as rumours are suggesting, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) makes the announcement that it is satisfied with improvements that have been made to the safety of the aircraft’s batteries, it will bring to an end the Dreamliner’s 3 months of enforced grounding.

According to the Wall Street Journal, officials at the FAA approve of new technical measures to solve the aircraft’s overheating battery problem, including a protective metal container to prevent fires and dispose of smoke and toxic fumes. Assuming that aviation officials in other countries follow the FAA’s lead, Dreamliners could resume their operational schedules as early as next month.

The only delays to the process are likely to be the time that it takes Boeing to issue a service bulletin to instruct affected airlines on how to update the battery systems, the time that it takes the airlines to carry out the work – estimated to be just a few days, and flight testing and refresher training for pilots.

Problems with the aircraft’s overheating lithium-ion batteries first emerged in January this year, after two Japanese airlines reported that one battery had melted and another had caught fire. There followed a worldwide grounding of the aircraft, and new deliveries from Boeing’s full order book for the popular plane were also brought to a halt. The three interceding months have seen frantic efforts to isolate the problem that have culminated in today’s expected announcement.

Confirmation of BA’s Dreamliner order

UK-based airline, British Airways, has confirmed the order that it will be placing with US airplane builder, Boeing, for its 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

BA has confirmed an order for 18 Dreamliners, with a total order value in the region of $4 billion. BA’s parent company, International Airlines Group (IAG), has already ordered 24 of the aircraft as well as 12 Airbus A380’s as part of the fleet modernisation plan that it initiated six years ago. The new aircraft will be replacing some of BA’s Boeing 747-400 fleet between 2017 and 2021, according to IAG.

BA’s order has been confirmed as Boeing comes close to completing tests on a new lithium-ion battery system for the Dreamliner to replace the original system that was prone to overheating. Resolving the problem will not only mean that operational aircraft that have been grounded since the problem arose should soon be able to resume service again, but also that Boeing will be able to recommence deliveries from its current order book of 841 Dreamliners.

Speaking today, Willie Walsh, chief executive of IAG, said, ‘British Airways has 24 Boeing 787s on order already and we plan to boost this by a further 18 aircraft by exercising our options. The aircraft offers a step change in fuel burn efficiency versus our existing aircraft with improvements in fuel cost per seat of more than 20 per cent. New technology engines and improved aerodynamics will lower fuel burn leading to reduced carbon and NOx emissions.

‘The creation of IAG has resulted in greater buying power for both airlines through joint procurement and we have been able to obtain delivery slots for Iberia as part of British Airways’ order.’