SilkAir de-links Cairns, Darwin services

B738 SLK 9VMGE CNS 18JUL2015 1 Andrew Belczacki

SilkAir will de-link its twice-weekly Singapore-Darwin-Cairns-Singapore flight MI 822 from May 30 in a move that will see the Singapore Airlines regional subsidiary operate direct services for all of its flights to both Darwin and Cairns.

At present, passengers who opt to fly on either the Monday or Thursday Singapore-Cairns service will have to do a stopover in Darwin. From 30 May, passengers will no longer have to do this stopover in Darwin when they travel from Singapore to Cairns. Currently, direct flights between Singapore and Cairns are only operated on Saturdays,” SilkAir said in a statement on Monday.

“Likewise, passengers flying from Darwin on Mondays and Thursdays currently have to do a stopover in Cairns on the way to Singapore. With the de-linking of flights, they will now be able to fly non-stop from Darwin to Singapore. The airline also flies direct from and to Darwin on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.”

The new schedule will both cut flight times to Singapore and increase capacity into Darwin and Cairns.

New schedule for Cairns from May 30


Flight Routing

Days of Operation




Mon, Thu

Cairns 1240hrs/ Singapore 1710hrs



Mon, Thu

Singapore 0140hrs/ Cairns 1025hrs




Cairns 1115hrs/ Singapore 1550hrs




Singapore 0140hrs/  Cairns 1025hrs

New schedule for Darwin from May 30


Flight Routing

Days of Operation

Departure/ Arrival



Tue, Fri

Darwin 0255hrs/ Singapore 0615hrs



Mon, Thu

Singapore 1955hrs/ Darwin 0205hrs 


Darwin- Singapore

Wed, Fri, Sun

Darwin 1550hrs/ Singapore 1900hrs



Wed, Fri, Sun

Singapore 0830hrs/ Darwin 1445hrs


Australian Aviation

Alliance Aviation Services and Virgin Australia announce “strategic partnership” for FIFO charter


Alliance Aviation Services and Virgin Australia have announced a partnership agreement that will see them cooperate in the fly-in/fly-out (FIFO) resource charter market.

“Both airlines will benefit from the ability to leverage each other’s strengths, particularly in terms of network, brand, product and service offering, and technical expertise,” the two companies said in a joint statement to the ASX on Monday.

“This will allow Alliance and Virgin Australia to develop a compelling customer proposition and to more effectively compete in the Australian FIFO market.”

The “long-term strategic partnership” will see Virgin and Alliance form a “charter partnership” to “jointly grow” their charter businesses. The two companies say existing FIFO contracts will remain with their current operators, “with all new contracts to be operated under the Charter Partnership”.

Further, “Alliance and Virgin Australia Regional Airlines [VARA] will enter into agreements to provide and procure services for each other on a preferential basis. This includes, but is not limited to, aircraft procurement, spare parts pooling, maintenance and ground handling services” the statement reads.

On face value the partnership appears to make a lot of sense. FIFO flying has declined following the end of the so-called mining boom, leaving the FIFO market – where other major players include QantasLink (Network), Cobham Aviation Services and Skippers – considerably more competitive.

Further, Alliance and VARA also operate the same fleet types, the Fokker 100 jet and Fokker 50 turboprop (VARA also operates A320s). With its recent acquisition of Austrian Airlines’ entire Fokker 70 and Fokker 100 fleet, Alliance has moved into aircraft and spare parts brokerage and leasing. Virgin Australia, meanwhile, has announced the retirement of all its Fokker 50s by the end of the current financial year – aircraft that perhaps could either join the Alliance fleet, or be brokered for sale by Alliance.

“We look forward to collaborating with Alliance to further build a competitive, efficient and sustainable charter business,” Virgin Australia CEO John Borghetti said in the statement.

Alliance managing director Scott McMillan said: “We look forward to partnering with Virgin Australia to leverage the operational and commercial expertise of our respective businesses. With our combined services and expertise we see a great deal of logic in working together.”

The two airlines note the deal is subject to ACCC approval.


Australian Aviation

Royal Australian Air Force KC-30 completes first refuelling of a C-17

A Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) refuels a United States Air Force C-17A Globemaster III transport.

A Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) refuels a United States Air Force C-17A Globemaster III transport.

KC-46A F/A-18 Milestone C

The first air-to-air refuelling from a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) KC-30A Multi Role Tanker Transport to a US Air Force C-17 Globemaster transport has occurred over Edwards Air Force Base in California.

The five-hour sortie on February 10 saw 39 contacts between the KC-30 and the C-17, Defence stated, with approximately 6,800kg of fuel transferred via the Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS). This paves the way for refuelling trials with 36 Squadron C-17s in the near future, stated Group Captain Adam Williams, officer commanding 86 Wing.

“The ARBS is a key enabler for the Air Force with most of the RAAF’s future fleet requiring boom type refuelling rather than hose and drogue,” GPCAPT Williams said.

RAAF C-17 crews will soon begin trials, having trained in the role late last year with a Republic of Singapore Air Force KC-135 tanker. In addition to further trials involving the KC-30 and a US C-17, refuelling trials with the F-15 and further trials with the F-16 are scheduled, Defence said.

The RAAF operates five KC-30s, with two more joining the fleet from 2018.

Separately, in other tanker news, Boeing’s KC-46 Pegasus tanker, which is being developed for the US Air Force, has refuelled an F/A-18 for the first time, also on February 10. It was the first time the KC-46’s hose and drogue system had been used during flight test.

Earlier on January 24 the KC-46 had used its boom for the first time to refuel an F-16.

Australian Aviation

Chester new minister responsible for aviation, Tehan takes charge of defence materiel

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence, The Hon Darren Chester MP addresses participants of the 2015 Chief of Air Force Symposium.

Aviation could receive greater ministerial attention in the federal government after the appointment of Nationals MP Darren Chester as Minister for Infrastructure and Transport.

Chester, the Member for Gippsland, a former journalist and currently Assistant Minister for Defence, was named as the new minister with responsibility for aviation as part of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s Cabinet reshuffle announced on Saturday.

“Darren Chester will take on Warren Truss’s responsibilities for infrastructure and transport,” the Prime Minister said in a press conference in Sydney.

“Darren will make a formidable contribution in this portfolio. He has been one of the younger stars in the Parliament and recognised as such for a long time.”

The cabinet reshuffle came after Warren Truss announced on February 11 he was stepping downas Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, as well as leader of the National Party.

As well as not being the National Party leader (and consequently Deputy Prime Minister), responsibility for the Regional Development portfolio now falls to new National Party deputy Senator Fiona Nash – who will become Minister for Regional Development, Regional Communications and Rural Health – which suggests Chester as the new Infrastructure and Transport minister could have more time to consider aviation issues.

Dan Tehan, meanwhile, has been announced as the Minister for Defence Materiel.

Tehan, who has been chair of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security since December 2013, also becomes the new Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC, replacing Stuart Robert in those roles.

Mal Brough, the former Special Minister of State and Minister for Defence Materiel and Science, who stood aside in December pending the completion of police inquiries, said he did not wish to be considered for a position, according to the PM.

Finally, the new Assistant Minister for Defence is Nationals MP Michael McCormack.


Australian Aviation

Airbus strengthens leadership position in Asia-Pacific region


Airbus strengthened further its market leading position in Asia-Pacific in 2015, winning 421 net orders from 17 airlines and lessors in the region during the year. This represented 39 per cent of the company’s net order intake in 2015 for 1,080 aircraft.

In addition, the manufacturer delivered 282 new aircraft to 40 operators across the region over the twelve month period, either directly or via leasing companies. This was 44 per cent of the company’s total output of 635 aircraft during the year, reflecting the importance of the region to the manufacturer.

The regional results were announced today by Fabrice Brégier, Airbus President and CEO and John Leahy, Chief Operating Officer, Customers on the opening of the Singapore Air Show.

“The Asia-Pacific region has traditionally been one of our strongest markets,” said Fabrice Brégier. “In recent years we have consolidated our position with our complete range of modern and efficient products. We expect this trend to continue in the coming years, especially in the widebody market where the A350 XWB is setting new standards in the 300 – 400 seat category.”

Looking to the future, Airbus expects the Asia-Pacific region to continue to lead demand for new aircraft over the next 20 year period.

Presenting the company’s latest forecast for the region, John Leahy said that an annual increase in passenger traffic of 5.6% would contribute to a requirement for some 12,800 new aircraft valued at USD 2 trillion. This represents 40% of global demand for 32,600 aircraft over the next 20 years, and includes almost half of all widebody deliveries worldwide and over a third of all single aisle aircraft.

“Asia-Pacific will continue to experience stronger growth than any other world region as more people fly more often,” said John Leahy. “Airbus will be especially well placed to respond to this demand in every size category. From 100 to over 500 seats, and for everything from short regional flights to the world’s longest commercial services, we have the right products to meet the needs of airlines in this fast-growing market.”

Over the past 10 years Airbus has recorded the leading share of sales in the Asia-Pacific region in both the single aisle and widebody markets. This has seen the A320 Family account for 64 per cent of net orders in the single aisle category, while the Airbus widebody aircraft, the A330, A350 XWB and A380 have together won 56 per cent of orders during this timeframe.

The complete Airbus product line comprises the best-selling A320 Family in the single aisle market, the popular A330 and all-new A350 XWB in the mid-size widebody category and the flagship A380 in the very large aircraft segment. In the freight market Airbus currently offers the new-build A330-200F and the A330 Passenger-to-Freighter (A330P2F) programme.

Asia-Pacific 20 Year Market Forecast – Headline Figures

• 5.6% annual growth in passenger traffic (global average 4.6%)

• Asia-Pacific fleet will grow from 5,600 today to 14,000

• Demand for 12,810 new aircraft valued at USD 2 trillion

• 40% of total world demand for 32,600 aircraft over next 20 years

• 3,760 twin aisle and 720 very large aircraft = 46% of global widebody demand (9,600)

• 8,330 single aisle aircraft = 36% of global single-aisle demand (23,000)

Net orders 2006 – 2015 in Asia-Pacific region

• Single aisle – Airbus: 2,924 out of a total of 4,589 = 64%

• Widebody – Airbus: 666 out of a total of 1,187 = 56%

Airbus Website

Virtual solutions provide real benefits for Airbus’ Beluga XL development

As Airbus continues development of its next-generation oversize cargo transporter – the Beluga XL – the company has devised innovative solutions that are advancing this particular programme and will be used to benefit others in the future.

The Beluga XL was launched during November 2014 based on the versatile A330 widebody jetliner. Beginning in mid-2019, it will gradually replace the existing five-member, A300-derived Beluga fleet – which is used for carrying complete sections of Airbus aircraft from different production sites around Europe to the final assembly lines in Toulouse, France and Hamburg, Germany.

Among the innovation solutions is a new method for systems installation design that leverages 3D technology and virtual reality. As the existing A330 Family digital mock-up (DMU) only included the aircraft’s structural definition in some sections and not its systems, François Rouyre – who is Airbus’ head of DMU and structure, systems and cabin integration – had an interesting idea. “We decided to scan the physical aircraft with its system installation to check the DMU and give us complete visibility on its systems.”

Rouyre used a 3D laser scanner to produce a highly-detailed, 360-degree image. As this large file would be difficult to manipulate in computer-aided design software, he added it into the DMU in virtual reality – inside a full-scale virtual reality room so designers could then work on it directly.

“You can design about 20 metres of electrical bundles in an hour with virtual reality, whereas for CAD software, one metre takes four hours,” Rouyre added. “This method could be used by other programmes to quickly change a definition, answer a concession or a design query note.”

Reporting Centre, a data management solution that was used for A350 XWB development, also has been adapted to include internal and external suppliers’ metadata. “We have all the data linked together, accessible from one software program,” Rouyre said. “Soon it will also be connected to the DMU.” This solution is now ready to share with the rest of Airbus.

Airbus Website

Airbus widens the scope of its Asia-Pacific services and industrial partnerships

Airbus’ increasingly important presence in Singapore represents its commitment to top-level services, support and industrial partnerships throughout Asia-Pacific – a region that represents approximately one-third of all Airbus orders worldwide, and a similar percentage of aircraft to be delivered in the future.

A highly visible example is the Satair Airbus Singapore Centre, which functions as the primary spare parts hub to help Asia-Pacific region airline operators keep their aircraft flying. Providing around-the-clock support from a modern 16,700-square-metre facility at Singapore’s Seletar Aerospace Park, this centre has a stock of some 22,000 Airbus proprietary parts.

Training also is an important service provided to Airbus operators, and the upcoming opening of the Airbus Asia Training Centre (AATC) will offer type rating and recurrent training courses for all in-production Airbus aircraft types. When fully operational at its Seletar Aerospace Park location, this Airbus/Singapore Airlines joint venture will include eight full-flight simulators (three for the A350 XWB, one A380, two A330s and two A320s), along with extensive classroom facilities that can serve more than 10,000 trainees per year. 

Prior to the inauguration of ATTC’s new 9,250-square-metre facility, the organisation has been operating at the Singapore Airlines Training Centre near Changi Airport, conducting classroom courses and utilising one flight simulator each for the A380 and A350 XWB, along with two for the A330.

Aircraft freighter conversions and components for Airbus’ jetliner families 

Industrial partnerships include the teaming of Airbus, Singapore-based ST Aerospace and Germany’s EFW for passenger-to-freighter (P2F) conversion solutions for both the A330 and A320 series. By modifying jetliners that have completed their useful lives in passenger service, such converted aircraft will meet anticipated demand in the evolving freighter segment.

Looking beyond Singapore, Airbus has created industrial partnerships throughout Asia-Pacific, working with manufacturers in countries such as China, Japan, South Korea and Malaysia for the supply of parts used in the company’s various aircraft programmes.

Working with China, Airbus arranged to have five per cent of the A350 XWB’s airframe manufactured in the country. This resulted in a Joint Venture Manufacturing Centre involving Airbus and a group of Chinese industrial partners in Harbin, China for the production of composite material parts and components.

In Beijing, Airbus established its Airbus Beijing Engineering Centre at the Tianzhu Airport Industrial Zone, performing specific design work related to the A350 XWB airframe production to be performed in China. Additionally, this centre is involved with other Airbus aircraft types, covering both the single-aisle A320 Family and widebody jetliner programmes.

From A320 final assembly to production of composite and metallic parts 

The highest-profile cooperation in China is the A320 Family final assembly line at Tianjin, which has delivered more than 230 jetliners to date and is continuing its activity at a current production rate of four aircraft per month. Expanding on this, Airbus and its Chinese partners – namely the Tianjin Free Trade Zone Investment Company Ltd. (TJFTZ) and the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) – have signed a framework agreement for an A330 completion and delivery centre in Tianjin, which takes into account the need for larger aircraft in meeting the fast growth of air traffic in China.

Elsewhere, South Korea’s Korean Air Aerospace Division is one of two global suppliers for Airbus-designed fuel-saving Sharklets wingtip devices on the A320neo and A330neo new engine option jetliners. The company also produces fuselage skin panels and floor assemblies for the A330, along with all-composite cargo doors for the A350 XWB.

Korean Aerospace Industries is a supplier of machined parts and metallic structures, with its production spanning all Airbus programmes – including A320 Family fuselage upper shells, A380 wing bottom panels, machined ribs and stringers for A330 wings, along with the jetliner’s nose landing gear bay and machined aluminium-lithium wing ribs for the A350 XWB.

Malaysia has become an important source of composite materials competence, and Airbus’ relationships with the country include CTRM, which has become a major supplier of composite structures – ranging from wing components for the A320 Family, A350 XWB and A380 to items for the A400M military transporter. One of Airbus’ earliest industrial partners in Malaysia is SME Aerospace, which manufactures wing components for A320 and A330 Family aircraft, while Spirit Aerosystems Malaysia assembles various wing components for the A320 Family and A350 XWB.

Expanding the relationships to additional countries

Airbus continues to seek out industrial opportunities in Asia, as underscored by its awarding of the first aerostructure manufacturing package in Vietnam to Hanoi-based Nikkiso Vietnam, involving the production of composite spars and panels for A320 Sharklets.

The first Airbus industrial partnership with Taiwan is the selection of this country’s Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation (AIDC) as a tier-one supplier for A320 Family composite aft belly fairings, to be supplied by the Taiwan Advanced Composite Center-19 beginning in the second quarter of 2016.

Airbus Website