First A330neo successfully completes maiden flight

First A330neo successfully completes maiden flight

Three dedicated flight-test aircraft to perform all flight testing for both the A330-800 and A330-900 variants;

Development on track for A330-900 entry into service in the middle of 2018

The first of three A330neo Family development aircraft to fly – MSN1795, an A330-900 variant – has landed at Toulouse-Blagnac, France at 14:10 local time after successfully completing its first flight which lasted 4 hours and 13 minutes. The aircraft was powered by the latest technology Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 turbofans.

The crew in the cockpit on board this flight comprised: Experimental Test Pilots Thierry BOURGES, Thomas WILHELM and Test-Flight Engineer Alain POURCHET. Meanwhile, monitoring the aircraft systems and performance in real-time at the flight-test-engineer’s (FTE) station are Jean-Philippe COTTET, Emiliano REQUENA ESTEBAN and Gert WUNDERLICH.

Fabrice Brégier, Airbus COO and President of Airbus Commercial Aircraft said: “Today’s first flight of the A330neo marks yet another milestone along the Airbus journey of continuous innovation.” He added: “My congratulations and thanks go to all the teams who have contributed to make today’s flight happen, and to our customers for choosing this very efficient and capable aircraft to give them market advantage. We look forward to a successful flight test campaign and entry into service of the A330neo in 2018.”

Airbus has developed a fast-paced development programme from launch to first A330neo delivery. This will comprise 1,100 flight hours for the A330-900 campaign – to achieve its EASA and FAA Type Certification around the middle of 2018. An additional 300 flight hours is also allocated for the A330-800’s own certification flight-test campaign – which will commence in due course. These respective campaigns will be performed in an ‘airline like’ environment, ensuring maximum aircraft maturity and reliability at entry into service (EIS) with A330-900 launch operator TAP Portugal. This phase will also define the mature aircraft documentation to be available for airline operators at EIS.

Overall, the full flight-test campaigns for both models will be performed by two A330-900s and one A330-800 respectively. To complement these dedicated flight-test aircraft, the first production A330-900 aircraft will also be tasked to validate the full Airspace cabin.

Launched in July 2014, the A330neo is the latest generation in Airbus’ market-leading A330 product line, comprising two versions: the A330-800 and A330-900. Both of these widebody aircraft incorporate new Rolls-Royce Trent 7000 engines, nacelle, titanium pylon, new wings and an Airspace by Airbus Cabin. The most visible new features of the A330neo are the new wing span extensions to 64m total (up from the CEO’s 60.3m span) and the specially developed curved wingtip Sharklets – which draw on A350 XWB technology. Less visible, but equally important is the implementation of enhanced 3D-optimised aerodynamic refinements along the overall wing profile. Meanwhile, the Trent 7000s deliver double-digit fuel burn improvements and the quietest operation thanks to latest technology components, materials, new ‘zero-splice’ inlet and composite nacelle, ‘fully-faired’ pylon and also the larger (112-inch diameter) slower-rotating front fan with a bypass ratio of 10:1 – compared with the typical 5:1 ratio of previous-generation turbofans.

Both the A330-800 and the A330-900 will accommodate up to 10 more passengers than their respective predecessors, thanks to their new Airspace interiors which introduce various cabin enablers to free-up more usable cabin space – thus ensuring that each passenger can enjoy a significantly better actual comfort level and in-flight experience versus that offered by any competing aircraft in its market sector. The larger A330-900 will accommodate up to 287 seats in a typical three-class layout, while the A330-800 typically will seat 257 passengers in three classes.

To date 12 customers have placed orders for a total of 212 A330neos.


Source  :  Airbus Website

Air Mauritius takes delivery of its first A350 XWB

Air Mauritius takes delivery of its first A350 XWB

The first A350 operator based in the Indian Ocean

Air Mauritius has taken delivery of its first Airbus A350-900 aircraft, opening a new chapter for the Indian Ocean carrier. The aircraft, leased from AerCap, was delivered during a ceremony held in Mauritius today.

The Mauritian airline based airline has chosen a very comfortable two class layout with a total of 326 seats comprising 28 in Business Class and 298 in Economy Class.

The A350-900 equipped with Air Mauritius’ latest cabin products including new seats, an all-new inflight entertainment system and inflight connectivity will offer passengers unparalleled levels of comfort and convenience.

This A350-900 is the first of six to be delivered to Air Mauritius. Four will be purchased directly from Airbus and two leased from AerCap. The carrier will deploy the aircraft on its expanding route network connecting Mauritius with Asia, Africa and Europe.

Air Mauritius already operates a fleet of 10 Airbus aircraft including six A340-300s, two A330-200s and two A319s on its regional and long haul services.

The A350 XWB features the latest aerodynamic design, carbon fibre fuselage and wings, plus new fuel-efficient Rolls-Royce engines. Together, these latest-generation technologies translate into unrivalled levels of operational efficiency, with a 25 per cent reduction in fuel burn and CO2 emissions, in addition to significantly lower maintenance costs.

The spacious, quiet, tastefully-appointed interior and mood lighting in the A350 XWB Airspace cabin contribute to superior levels of comfort and well-being, setting new standards in terms of flight experience for all passengers.

To date, Airbus has booked a total of 858 firm orders for the A350 XWB from 45 customers worldwide, making it one of the most successful widebody aircraft ever.

First A350XWB Air Mauritius 1

Air Mauritius’ first A350 XWB greeted with water canon salute

Source  :  Airbus Website

Florence closes landmark church after falling stone kills tourist

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Florence closes landmark church after falling stone kills tourist
The Basilica di Santa Croce is off-limits until further notice. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP
Florence’s famous Basilica di Santa Croce will remain closed indefinitely after loose stonework struck and killed a Spanish tourist.

A fragment of masonry fell from on the church’s walls and hit a visitor, identified as 52-year-old Daniel Testor Schnell of Barcelona, on Thursday afternoon.

Schnell, who was visiting Florence with his wife, is said to have died instantly.

Other visitors were swiftly escorted out of the church and it has been closed to the public ever since. It will remain off-limits until authorities are sure it is safe.

The 15th-century basilica, considered one of Italy’s most beautiful, is checked regularly for wear. The Opera di Santa Croce, the organization in charge of running the church, says the latest survey was carried out just a week ago.

Santa Croce

Inside the Basilica di Santa Croce. Photo: Rodrigo Soldon/Flickr

Florence’s authorities have opened an investigation into the accident, which consumer rights watchdog Codacons described as “an unacceptable incident”.

It urged the Italian government to increase safety checks in all of the country’s monuments.

In July, a piece of plaster came loose from the ceiling of Sicily’s Acireale Cathedral, seriously wounding one man and a child. In October 2012, a cornice fell from the wall of the Caserta Palace near Naples, without causing any injuries.

In Santa Croce, the lethal fragment fell from just below the ceiling of the basilica, some 20 metres up, according to Ansa news agency. It is thought to have come loose from a “peduccio”, a piece of decorative stonework designed to support the beams that criss-cross the church’s ceiling.

One of Florence’s most visited churches, Santa Croce is the last resting place of famous Italians including Michelangelo, Galileo and Machiavelli.


Source  :  The Local Italy

No, these northern regions are not ‘Italy’s Catalonia’

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No, these northern regions are not ‘Italy’s Catalonia’
A supporter of the Northern League. Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP
Three weeks after Catalonia held its sensational referendum on independence from Spain, two regions in northern Italy will ask their own people how they want to be governed.

Coincidence? Well… yes.

Some observers have drawn a parallel between the Catalan independence drive and regional Italian movements clamouring for greater autonomy. But timing aside, the similarities are few.

Referendums in Lombardy and Veneto – which each vote on October 22nd on whether they favour greater local powers or not – are set to be a very different affair to Catalonia’s tumultuous vote.

Here’s why.

It’s not about independence.

No one’s planning a “Free Republic of Lombardy” or “Independent Nation of Veneto”. Voters won’t be asked if they want to secede, only if they want their region to have more control over its own governance.

Veneto’s governor did attempt to call a referendum giving voters the choice between keeping 80 percent of the region’s tax revenues or seceding from Italy altogether, but dropped the idea when the Constitutional Court rejected it.

It’s not about a separate identity.

We’re not saying that people in the north of Italy don’t have identities of their own. They do. Take Venetians, for example, who speak a language as distinct from Italian as Catalan is from Spanish.

As far as these referendums are concerned, though, identity is not the driving factor.

It’s all about the money, according to the Northern League, the party that was founded on a dream of northern independence but has since adjusted its ambitions.

The Northern League once talked of creating a separate country called ‘Padania’. Photo: Guiseppe Cacace/AFP

Lombardy and Veneto are two of the richest regions in Italy and they contribute heftily to the country’s tax coffers. “That might not be a problem if the taxes were well invested, but the truth is that €30 billion are wasted every year at a national level,” Luca Zaia, Veneto’s Northern League president, said.

What really distinguishes Veneto and Lombardy from the rest of Italy, at least in the eyes of those who support devolution, is their efficiency, good governance and economic success.

Language, ancestry or history? Not in this fight.

It’s perfectly legal.

While Catalonia’s unauthorized referendum was met with fury in with Madrid, Rome has no complaints about the votes in Veneto and Lombardy.

That’s because the Italian Constitution allows any of Italy’s 20 regions to ask for more control over anything from foreign trade to transportation.

According to the law, Italian regions don’t even have to consult their voters first. Emilia-Romagna, for instance, has already opened talks with Rome about devolving certain powers, with no referendum beforehand.

In other words, Lombardy and Veneto’s votes are just as unnecessary as they are legal.

A Northern League supporter. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

It’s non-binding.

Part of what made Catalonia’s vote so scary for the rest of Spain was the Catalan government’s insistence that it was bound to act on the results – regardless of turnout.

Veneto and Lombardy, however, have no obligation to do anything after Sunday’s votes.

If it’s a yes, they’re sure to open talks with Rome about autonomy. If it’s a no, well, they can still pursue autonomy if they choose – though it would be a risky strategy a few months from Italy’s general election in 2018.

What’s more, in Veneto the government has said at least 50 percent of voters must take part for the result to count – insofar as it counts at all.

Most people aren’t that bothered about it.

Catalan separatists braved riot police and built barricades in order to cast their votes.

In Lombardy, organizers have made it just about as easy as it could be to take part, investing in electronic tablets that allow voters to have their say with a few touches of a screen – and they’re still not sure of getting even half of voters to show up.

Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

Lombardy’s swanky voting tablets. Photo: Miguel Medina/AFP

According to a poll in early October, across Lombardy and Veneto combined the estimated turnout on Sunday will be around 42 percent.

It’s a measure of Italians’ feeling about the whole thing, which for many can be summed up as: “meh”.

“My impression is that in reality many people in Lombardy don’t consider the referendum to be important,” Silvia Canavero, a Milan native, told The Local.

It was the right-wing’s idea.

One reason to ignore these referendums, for some, is who called them: the far-right, anti-immigration, eurosceptic Northern League.

Many see it as the party’s bid to drum up support in its heartland before next year’s general election. A new generation of leaders are hoping to make the League a leading presence on the Italian right.

Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

A Northern League rally in Milan. Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

Contrast that with Catalonia – and Scotland too – where the charge for independence was led by pro-European liberals.

That said, the Northern League’s opponents haven’t objected to these referendums: the party’s allies in the centre-right (of course) support them, but even the centre-left Democrats don’t oppose them.

It’s wildly expensive.

Those special voting tablets don’t come cheap. They cost Lombardy around €24 million (the government says they’ll be donated to local schools after the vote).

In total, Lombardy is estimated to have spent somewhere between €40 million and €50 million on its referendum, while Veneto budgeted €14 million.

We’re not sure what Catalonia spent, but surely – surely – it wasn’t that much.

There is one thing Italy’s referendums have in common with the Catalan vote, though…

The answer in both Lombardy and Veneto is almost certain to be yes. Like in Catalonia, it’s likely to be those most set on changing the status quo who turn out to vote.

And while Italy’s referendums won’t cause anything close to the turmoil in Spain, that isn’t to say they’ll do nothing.

“In practical terms, nothing is going to happen soon,” said Italian economist Lorenzo Codogno, a visiting professor at the London School of Economics.

But, he continued, yes votes in Veneto and Lombardy “would de facto open a Pandora’s box”.

“The issue is likely to spread, and eventually, it will require a generalised approach by the next government and a reform of the constitution,” Codogno said.

Supporters of the Northern League. Photo: Marco Bertorello/AFP

Source  :  The Local Italy