The delivery of the 747-8 Intercontinental – Boeing’s largest and most recognizable commercial airplane – caps a development delay of more than a year.

Boeing marked the milestone with an understated ceremony, keeping the media at arm’s length to safeguard the identity of its customer, thought by industry insiders to be the state of Qatar.

Boeing Business Jets president Steve Taylor, who was set to fly the airplane from Paine Field near Seattle, said it will spend about six months at Boeing’s Wichita facility which is  the plant that modified Air Force One.  From there it goes to a facility in Hamburg where it will spend two years receiving customer-specific outfitting like bedrooms, dining rooms and galleys, he said.

Taylor said the unnamed customer wants the new Intercontinental to be the “jewel of the sky.”

 

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Boeing gearing up for new 777-X

by Braniff on February 29, 2012

A recent management shift by Boeing seems to indicate the company’s intent to develop a new version of the 777, now that the future of the 737 is well-defined.

Boeing swapped the managers of the 777 and 787 programs to “better align our organization for the challenges ahead,” Jim Albaugh, president of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, told employees Feb. 23. The announcement was made public Feb. 24.

Larry Loftis, who has led a mature 777 program, takes over as general manager of the 787 model, a program with production-rate challenges ahead.

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Boeing breaks two world records with 787

by Braniff on February 29, 2012

Boeing received certificates Tuesday confirming two world records its 787 Dreamliner set in late 2011.

The 787 broke the record for the longest flight of an airplane for its weight class and set an around-the-world speed record also for its weight class.

The Dreamliner earned the first record by flying 10,336 nautical miles from Seattle to Bangladesh. The Airbus A330 previously held the distance record with a 9,126 nautical mile flight in 2002.

The crew refueled in Bangladesh then continued eastbound and returned to Seattle 42 hours and 26 minutes after their departure, which set the around-the-world record at 470 knots. No previous speed record for the around-the-world trip exists for the 787’s weight class.

“Around-the-world records are extremely challenging, and Boeing should be very proud of the successful world and national records they achieved with these flights,” said Jonathan Gaffney, the president and CEO of the National Aeronautic Association. Gaffney presented Boeing with the certificates. “We were proud to have had the opportunity to record and certify them.”

Capt. Rod Skaar, who led the crew and was one of the six pilots on the flight, received the award.

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New cracks found on Airbus A380 jets

by Braniff on January 20, 2012

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) today ordered detailed inspections on the wings of the Airbus A380 jumbo jet after cracks were found in brackets that secure the wing’s skin to the aircraft. “This condition, if not detected and corrected, could potentially affect the structural integrity of the aeroplane,” the safety watchdog warns.

EASA says two types of cracks have been found in the L-shaped brackets, called rib feet, that join the A380′s wing surface to the ribs whose profile defines the wing’s cross sectional shape. The first type of rib foot crack was found when the aircraft damaged in last November’s A380 engine-loss incident was being checked out after repairs.

But after subsequent checking of more of the fleet, engineers found a “more significant” form of cracking has developed on the rib feet of some of the aircraft. So EASA has ordered “detailed visual inspections” within the next six weeks for A380 aircraft that have flown between 1300 and 1799 takeoffs and landings – and within just four days for those with over 1800 flight cycles.

There’s a good reason safety watchdogs take no chances with even the smallest of cracks: it was cracks caused by the then unknown phenomenon of metal fatigue that caused the fatal mid-flight breakups of the De Havilland Comet, the first world’s pressurized, aluminium-skinned jetliner, in the 1950s. Tiny cracks around window portholes eventually propagated, bursting the fuselage, after a certain number of flight pressurizations and depressurizations.

While EASA has not said what might happen if A380 rib feet fail owing to cracking, if a section of wing skin were to separate from the plane the debris could potentially damage any critical structure it collides with – like the tailfin.

Australian aircraft engineers also warned Airbus to inspect the aircraft for cracks in early January.

 

 

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Australian aircraft engineers have called for the global fleet of Airbus A380 super-jumbos to be inspected immediately for safety after tiny cracks were found in wing parts of some planes operated by Singapore Airlines and Qantas.

“There is no way on God’s earth that I would be waiting four years to inspect them,” Paul Cousins, the federal president of the Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association, told a New Zealand news organisation.

Airbus spokesman Stefan Schaffrath has issued an e-mail statement confirming that minor cracks were found on “non-critical wing-rib attachments” and that the company has developed “an inspection and repair procedure which will be done during routine, scheduled 4-year maintenance checks.”

Singapore Airlines and Qantas have also claimed the cracks pose no threat to safety and repairs have been carried out.

 

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Airbus has started joining the first 21 m long front fuselage section for the A350 XWB.  This phase will continue over the coming weeks, and once completed, the front fuselage will be transported to the A350 XWB Final Assembly Line in Toulouse. It will be the first major section of the A350 XWB to enter the final assembly line.

The front fuselage is destined for the A350 XWB static test airframe – the first A350 XWB to be assembled. It will be followed closely by the first ‘flyable’ airframe for MSN1, one of the five flight test aircraft Airbus will build.

The static airframe is used solely for ground tests to demonstrate the aircraft’s ability to sustain certification loads and provide key data ahead of the first flight in 2013.

 

A350 XWB front fuselage

 

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Boeing Delivers the 7,000th 737

December 16, 2011

Today Boeing delivered the 7,000th 737 to come off the production line to Dubai-based flydubai. The airplane is flydubai’s 14th Next-Generation 737-800 with the new Boeing Sky Interior.

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Airbus delivered today its 7,000th aircraft, an A321, to US Airways

December 13, 2011

Airbus delivered today its 7,000th aircraft, an A321, to US Airways – the airline that operates the largest fleet of Airbus aircraft in the world – from the Airbus facility in Hamburg, Germany. This milestone comes just two years after the delivery of Airbus’ 6,000th aircraft which underlines the continued vibrancy of the commercial aviation sector and the market’s clear vote for eco-efficient aircraft.

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Lufthansa Boeing 747-8i set for pre-delivery

December 5, 2011

Boeing and Lufthansa are fast approaching the next major milestone on the 747-8 Intercontinental program with the start of pre-delivery testing of the new airplane at Lufthansa’s main operations base at Frankfurt Airport from Dec. 6 to Dec. 9.

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Production of the Airbus A340 has ended

November 27, 2011

Production of the Airbus A340 four-engine commercial jetliner has ended, making it Airbus’ shortest-lived production model. The aircraft entered service in 1993, but soon began losing favor with carriers due to the economic factors associated with feeding fuel to and maintaining four engines. Demand for the A340 also took a major hit with the expansion of extended operations or ETOPS. As regulators increased the amount of time twin-engine aircraft were allowed to fly away from suitable landing sites under more lenient ETOPS regulations, four-engine aircraft lost a key competitive edge. And, Thursday, Airbus confirmed that it had sold zero A340s over the past two years. Meanwhile, some twin-engine jets from competing manufactures have done quite well.

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