Airlines, Airports and Airliners 16 March 2023

Compiled by Willie Bodenstein

This Week in Airlines, Airports and Airliners

ICAO formalizes new Implementation Support Agreement with Sudan.

SAA Cargo partners with Menzies Aviation to provide air cargo services at three airports.

Universal Hydrogen successfully completes first flight of hydrogen regional airliner.

Global airline community challenges legality of mandatory flight reductions at Schiphol Airport.

ICAO, heightening cooperation to enhance aviation safety, security and sustainability in Iraq.

Luxair to grow single-aisle fleet with Boeing 737 Jets.

Airbus' most popular aircraft takes to the skies with 100% sustainable aviation fuel.

Ethiopian Aviation Academy upgraded to university level.


A new implementation support agreement has been formalized with Sudan which aims to heighten the application of the ICAO Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPs) in the State.

Undertaken in close coordination with the ICAO Middle East Regional Office, this marks the first technical cooperation agreement with Sudan. It will see ICAO provide an array of capacity-building services, such as the provision of aerodrome inspection, airworthiness, air operations and personnel licencing experts. The project also encompasses the development of training programmes, checklists, procedures and guidance material for the Sudan Civil Aviation Authority, which represent implementation support services provided by the ICAO Technical Cooperation Bureau.


South African Airways (SAA) Cargo has appointed Menzies Aviation, the world's largest aviation services company, to provide air cargo services at OR Tambo International Airport (JNB) in Johannesburg, Cape Town International Airport (CPT), and Port Elizabeth International Airport (PLZ). The first phase of Menzies' appointment started on 1 December 2022, with the handling of all SAA Cargo terminal operations in Cape Town. The second phase will begin at OR Tambo in the coming weeks.

The appointment of Menzies followed a rigorous procurement process and is part of the ongoing restructuring process that SAA is implementing post-business rescue. Professor John Lamola, Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of SAA, says "This milestone is an important one, it is part of our efforts to re-position SAA Cargo and unlock the value of SAA Cargo terminals. It also allows management to focus on critical strategic goals to grow our cargo business,"

Menzies Aviation CEO Philipp Joeinig says, "The partnership with SAA aligns with the strategy to grow Menzies' footprint in Africa, where we see huge potential for growth" Joeinig added, "SAA is an important player in the cargo industry and this partnership is a real game changer for our business in South Africa as we are now based in the largest air cargo facilities in the country in the two main air freight ports. It also aligns with our long-term vision to strengthen our position as the leading aviation services provider in Africa."

SAA Cargo and Menzies are currently undertaking renovations of the terminals at OR Tambo, Cape Town, and Port Elizabeth with sustainability in mind. Investing in electric vehicles and ground service equipment, solar energy, energy efficient lighting and a full recycling programme are some of the actions being taken to reduce the carbon footprint.

The facilities, which will remain part of SAA's property portfolio, are the largest domestically; OR Tambo has the capacity to handle 229,000 tonnes per year and Cape Town has a capacity of 92,550 tonnes per year. Menzies will move its existing and new business into the world-class cargo handling facilities.


Universal Hydrogen Co. flew a 40-passenger regional airliner using hydrogen fuel cell propulsion. The airplane, nicknamed Lightning McClean, took off at 8:41am PST from Grant County International Airport (KMWH) and flew for 15 minutes, reaching an altitude of 3,500 MSL. The flight, conducted under an FAA Special Airworthiness Certificate, was the first in a two-year flight test campaign expected to culminate in 2025 with entry into passenger service of ATR 72 regional aircraft converted to run on hydrogen.

Representatives from Connect Airlines and Amelia, the US and European launch customers for the hydrogen airplanes, respectively, were on hand to witness the historic flight. The company has a rapidly growing order book, today totalling 247 aircraft conversions from 16 customers worldwide, totalling over $1 billion in conversions backlog and over $2 billion in fuel services over the first ten years of operation.

"We have committed to being North America's first zero-emission airline and this historic flight, taking hydrogen, which can be made with nothing but sunshine and emitting only water, is a key milestone on our journey"

"With this technology, and the improvement of government positive regulations I am confident that we can turn the tide of public sentiment and once again make aviation a shining beacon of technological optimism," added Alain Regourd, President of Amelia.

In this first test flight, one of the airplane's turbine engines was replaced with Universal Hydrogen's fuel cell-electric, megawatt-class powertrain. The other remained a conventional engine for safety of flight. The flight was piloted by Alex Kroll, an experienced former U.S. Air Force test pilot and the company's chief test pilot. "During the second circuit over the airport, we were comfortable with the performance of the hydrogen powertrain, so we were able to throttle back the fossil fuel turbine engine to demonstrate cruise principally on hydrogen power," said Kroll. "The airplane handled beautifully, and the noise and vibrations from the fuel cell powertrain are significantly lower than from the conventional turbine engine."

The company's powertrain is built around Plug Power's ProGen family of fuel cells specially modified for aviation use. One of the unique aspects of the design is that the powertrain does not use a battery-the fuel cells drive the electric motor directly-drastically reducing weight and cost. The motor, a modified magni650 electric propulsion unit, and power electronics were supplied by Everett-based magniX. Seattle-based AeroTEC assisted with engineering efforts, including design of the modified nacelle structure, aircraft systems design and integration, as well as aircraft modifications and installation of the Universal Hydrogen powertrain onto the flight test aircraft, accomplished in less than 12 months.

The test flight comes on the back of successful demonstrations in December 2022 of Universal Hydrogen's modular hydrogen logistics system conducted at the company's engineering centre in Toulouse, France. "Our business model resolves the chicken-and-egg problem between hydrogen airplanes and hydrogen infrastructure by developing both in parallel and with a uniquely low-cost approach," said Paul Eremenko, co-founder and CEO of Universal Hydrogen. "The airplanes are converted to hydrogen using an aftermarket retrofit conversion kit, tackling the existing fleet rather than developing a brand-new airplane. And hydrogen fuelling uses modular capsules compatible with existing freight networks and airport cargo handling equipment, making every airport in the world hydrogen-ready."

The company, backed by GE Aviation, Airbus Ventures, Toyota Ventures, JetBlue Ventures, and American Airlines, as well as several of the world's largest green hydrogen producers and top-tier financial investors, plans to springboard from regional airplanes to larger ones and to hydrogen fuel deliveries for other mobility applications using its modular logistics network. "More than half of aviation CO2 emissions today come from the A320 and 737 family of aircraft," said Eremenko. "Both Airbus and Boeing will need to replace these venerable airplanes with a new design starting development in the late-2020s and entering passenger service in the mid-2030s. Making their successors hydrogen airplanes is a golden opportunity-perhaps the only opportunity-for aviation to get anywhere near meeting Paris Agreement emissions targets without having to curb aviation traffic volumes."

The hydrogen-powered airplane is not just a revolutionary new product; it is a symbol of hope and progress, a beacon of light in a world that desperately needs it. Today marks a new chapter in the history of aviation and the fight against climate change. Universal Hydrogen is leading the charge, and the world is taking notice.


IATA and the global airline community believe that this political decision by the Dutch government contravenes EU Regulation 598/2014 on noise-related operating restrictions at EU airports. It also disregards the Chicago Convention, a binding international agreement to which the Netherlands is a signatory. Annex 16 of the Convention contains provisions for The Balanced Approach to Aircraft Noise Management which states are obligated to follow when taking measures to managing the noise impacts of aviation.

Key requirements of EU Regulation 598/2014 and the Balanced Approach are: Consultation with affected parties. The use of flight reductions only as a last resort. Balancing the needs and concerns of local residents, the environment and the local economy for aviation's economic and social benefits.

The decision to cut capacity at Schiphol fails to meet these requirements because: No meaningful consultation was undertaken with industry. Flight reductions are being imposed as a first resort, rather than as a last resort
The need to restore the economic damage to the aviation industry of the Netherlands is not being addressed. Pre-pandemic, aviation supported some 330,000 jobs and $30 billion of economic activity in the Netherlands.

"The Netherlands is handicapping its economy by destroying connectivity. And it is doing it in contravention of EU law and its international obligations. The job-destroying hostile approach to aviation that the Dutch government has chosen is a totally disproportionate response to managing noise. The government has even refused to engage in meaningful consultations and made flight reductions the goal, rather than working with industry to meet noise and emissions reduction goals while restoring employment and revitalizing the post-pandemic economy. The dangerous precedent that this illegal approach creates left no choice but to challenge them in court," said Willie Walsh, IATA's Director General.

The airline industry continually deploys quieter aircraft, reducing noise levels by 50% in the last decade. The investment in new fleet also plays a significant role in meeting the aviation industry's commitment to reduce its CO2 emissions to net zero by 2050, as set out in a Resolution at the IATA AGM in 2021. The industry's robust plan for reducing CO2 includes the uptake of Sustainable Aviation Fuels, of which airlines operating in and to the Netherlands have been among the leading users.


Cooperation towards enhancing safety, security, and sustainability of Iraq's aviation sector was the focus of recent meetings between ICAO Secretary General Juan Carlos Salazar (pictured left) and the President of Iraq, Dr. Abdul Latif Rashid (pictured right); the Prime Minister of Iraq, H.E. Mr. Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani; and the First Deputy of the Council of Representatives of Iraq, H.E. Mr. Mohsen Al-Mandalawi.

These conversations focussed specifically on the implementation of ICAO standards and recommended practices, alignment with ICAO's global aviation safety, security, and air navigation plans, and regulatory reform around ICAO's other guidance materials.

Mr. Salazar also reviewed these matters with the President of the Supreme Judicial Council, Judge Faeq Zaidan, and the President of the Federal Supreme Court, H.E. Judge Jassim Muhammad Abboud.

The Secretary General was accompanied throughout his mission by the President of the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority (ICAA), H.E. Imad Abdul Razzaq Al-Asadi, and an ICAO delegation comprised of Mr. Jorge Vargas, Director of the ICAO Technical Cooperation Bureau; Mr. Mohamed Abu Baker Farea, ICAO Regional Director for the Middle East Region; and ICAO's Aviation Security Officer for the region, Mr. Hussain Qabbani.

Heightening the existing cooperation between the ICAA and ICAO was a point of particular interest, with discussions addressing the provision of international experts in aerodrome certification, flight safety inspection, and airport development, the development of human resources, and the procurement of the latest technologies to support the expansion of the country's aviation sector.

The Secretary General's mission to Iraq took place from 26 February to 1 March 2023. It encompassed a reception at the Presidential Palace of Iraq, where the Secretary General's meeting with the President took place, and visits to both the Baghdad International Airport and ICAA facilities.


Luxair and Boeing [NYSE: BA] today announced that the Luxembourgian airline has chosen the fuel-efficient 737-8 to expand its single-aisle fleet with an agreement to acquire four jets.

Luxair will initially lease two 737-8s that are due for delivery for the summer, ensuring the airline provides its customers with increased capacity and connectivity to more destinations for the busy summer travel season. It has additionally placed a direct order for two 737-8s.

"Today is a good day for Luxair, our staff and our esteemed clients. Luxair took a large step into the direction of securing its role as the quality airline of Luxembourg and the Greater Region," said Gilles Feith, Luxair CEO. "I want to thank our Board of Directors for this act of trust, our staff members who helped us in the last years, all our valued customers and Cargolux. Today marks just the beginning of the journey of securing the long-term future of Luxair. Much more is yet to come."

The 737-8 will provide flexibility across Luxair's network while reducing fuel use and emissions by up to 20% and on average, each airplane will save up to eight million pounds of CO2 emissions annually compared to those airplanes it replaces.

"With the selection of the 737-8, Luxair is building a more sustainable operation, significantly lowering CO2 emissions while offering the latest airplane technology to its passengers," said Ricardo Cavero, vice president, Europe & Israel Sales and Marketing, Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "Reducing noise from take-offs and landings is a key aspect of environmental performance, especially for communities near airports. The 737-8 is a quieter airplane that helps create a 50% smaller noise footprint than the airplanes it replaces."

The 737-8, seating 162 to 210 passengers depending on configuration and with a range of 3,500 nautical miles, is the market's most versatile single-aisle airplane, capable of operating profitably on short- and medium-haul routes.

Luxair operates a fleet of 19 airplanes, including eight Next-Generation 737s.


An A321neo took off today from Airbus' headquarters in Toulouse, France with both of its engines powered by 100% unblended SAF. Since the end of February, the aircraft is being closely followed by a data-collecting aeroplane with the mission to gather information on the non-CO2 emissions and the creation of contrails.

The A321neo's flights are the latest demonstration in the VOLCAN project, the acronym of VOL avec Carburants Alternatifs Nouveaux, French for "Flight with new alternative fuels".

Airbus' VOLCAN partners are the French aerospace companies Safran and Dassault Aviation, along with the ONERA aeronautics research laboratory and the French Ministry of Transport. The project is co-funded by CORAC, the French Council for Civil Aeronautical Research.

An A321neo version powered by LEAP-1A engines from CFM International is being used for the latest tests, and provides yet another opportunity to evaluate the potential benefits of unblended SAF versus conventional aviation fuel. This A321neo is the first Airbus single-aisle aircraft and the latest Airbus aircraft overall - following the A350 and A330MRTT - to test 100% sustainable aviation fuel on both engines.

To gather the important information from this flight, a 'chase aircraft', a highly modified Dassault jet from the German Aerospace Centre, DLR is flown within 100 metres of the A321neo, using the testbed's sensors to capture emissions data for detailed analysis.

The VOLCAN evaluations are focused on the emissions of unblended SAF, which - unlike SAF blends that are increasingly being used in aviation today - is not mixed with any fossil fuels.

Analysing the performance of unblended SAF and its promise in reducing emissions (CO2 and non-CO2) is an important step toward the decarbonisation of the aviation industry, and Airbus is once again taking a key role in such forward-looking research.

Currently, all Airbus commercial and military aircraft, as well as helicopters are capable of flying with an up to a 50% blend of SAF. The goal is to ensure 100% SAF capability by 2030 of these products. The potential to cut emissions by up to 80% compared to traditional jet fuel highlights the immense possibilities for SAF usage in the aviation sector.


Ethiopian Aviation Academy, the largest and oldest Aviation Academy in the region, is pleased to announce that it has been upgraded to an aviation university. The university has launched undergraduate and postgraduate programs in aerospace and hospitality fields.

The Aviation Academy has been offering aviation training programs such as pilot, aircraft technician, cabin crew, airline sales and services, and other trainings. After it was upgraded to a university level, it has launched degree programs such as BSc degree in Aeronautical Engineering, BSc degree in Aircraft Maintenance Engineering, BSc degree in Aviation Management, BA degree in Tourism & Hospitality Management, and MBA in Aviation Management.

As a member of the Ethiopian Airlines Group which includes Ethiopian Airports, Ethiopian MRO Services, Ethiopian Inflight Services and Ethiopian Skylight Hotel, the university offers programs with advanced curriculums which are taught by faculty and industry practitioners.

Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Mr. Mesfin Tasew stated, "After continuous breakthrough expansion and investment, the upgrading of the 65 years old Ethiopian Aviation Academy to a University level offering several degree programs is yet another milestone in the long and successful journey of our airline and will maintain its leadership in the industry. The University is committed to develop a skilled workforce by offering undergraduate and postgraduate aviation programs. The University is expected to produce highly skilled aviation professionals and leaders that meet the growing human resource needs of Ethiopian Airlines Group and other airlines in the region"

Ato Kassie Yimam, Managing Director of Ethiopian Aviation University said "We are happy to announce that our 65 years old Academy, which is the secret behind the success of Ethiopian Airlines Group, has transitioned to a university offering degree programs accepting both Ethiopian and international students. The University will continue to contribute to the rapidly growing aviation sector of Ethiopia in particular and the continent at large."

It is to be recalled that the Ethiopian Aviation Academy inaugurated a new training centre in Hawassa city last month.

Ethiopian Aviation University is the largest and most modern Aviation University in Africa recognized as ICAO regional Training Centre of Excellence. Before it was upgraded to the level of university, the training centre has been producing professionals in different aviation related fields over six decades. Currently, the University provides world class training in different areas including Pilot Training, Simulator Training, Cabin Crew and Catering Training, Commercial and Ground Service Training, Aircraft Maintenance Training and Leadership Training at its headquarters in Addis Ababa and its campus in Hawassa.

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