Sunday, March 11, 2018

Ailing SriLankan Airlines Looks for Boost from Qatar

 - March 7, 2018, 9:00 AM
Performers dressed as ancient Sri Lankan warriors mark SriLankan Airlines' entry into the Oneworld alliance in 2014.Pix Neelam Mathews
SriLankan Airlines awaits a response from Qatar Airways to partnership overtures during discussions held in Colombo with a Qatari delegation, Sri Lankan minister of public enterprises development Kabir Hashim said at a recent press briefing in Colombo. Qatar had shown interest last October during a visit by Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena to Doha, where he signed several bilateral deals.
Ailing government-owned SriLankan Airlines has unsuccessfully endeavored to attract an airline to partner with it for several years. Emirates, which held a 43.6 percent stake and participated in a 10-year strategic agreement with SriLankan, did not renew its partnership upon its expiration in 2008 and sold all its shares to the Sri Lankan government in 2010.
SriLankan already has started restructuring under a process that will last for the next two years. “A new board is to be appointed shortly,” Hashim confirmed to the Daily News local newspaper. “There is no intention to close SriLankan Airlines…We need a good international partner to work with us.”
Both members of the Oneworld alliance, Qatar Airways and SriLankan Airlines plan soon to expand their present cooperation on code shares, SriLankan Airlines’ country chief for India, Chinthaka Weerasinghe, told AIN, adding that London Heathrow remains SriLankan’s only direct long-haul European destination. “Doha’s Hamad International Airport has become a hub for us,” he said. “It is a now a transit point for our passengers traveling onwards to over 20 European destinations on Qatar Airways.”
Weerasinghe said the carrier’s recently added long-haul route to Melbourne has done well, thanks largely to the Australian city’s large expatriate population. He added that large numbers of passengers also connect from North India for the Australian route. However, the carrier continues to concentrate on regional routes, in particular India, where it flies nonstop to 14 destinations—the largest by a foreign carrier—with 134 flights per week.
Weerasinghe downplayed the threat posed by budget carrier Indigo’s recent aggressive campaign to connect 26 Indian cities to Colombo. “Indigo has a strong presence in India,” he said. “However, most of their connections are via transit points. People like nonstop flights on short routes.”

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Pratt & Whitney Implements Solution to PW1100G-JM

Latest Press Release

EAST HARTFORD, Conn., Feb. 21, 2018 -- Pratt & Whitney has released a revised configuration as a solution to the issue relating to a knife edge seal on the High Pressure Compressor (HPC) aft hub which affected a limited subpopulation of the PW1100G-JM engine that powers the Airbus A320neo aircraft. 
The solution is based on a design with which the company has significant experience, and this solution has received all necessary regulatory approvals. Pratt & Whitney has begun implementing this solution and production engine deliveries incorporating this change will begin in early March.
The company will continue to work with Airbus and its mutual airline customers to minimize operational disruption.
About Pratt & Whitney Pratt & Whitney is a world leader in the design, manufacture and service of aircraft engines and auxiliary power units. United Technologies Corp., based in Farmington, Connecticut, provides high-technology systems and services to the building and aerospace industries. To learn more about UTC, visit its website at, or follow the company on Twitter: @UTC.
This press release contains forward-looking statements concerning future engine deliveries.  Actual results may differ materially from those projected as a result of certain risks and uncertainties, including but not limited to challenges in the design, production and performance of advanced technologies; as well as other risks and uncertainties, including but not limited to those detailed from time to time in United Technologies Corp.'s Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Energy and Water Nexus Hits Critical Juncture in India

Neelam Mathews

Drought and continued reliance on electric generation that uses water for cooling are causing some of India’s power plants to shut down for days and even months at a time, a problem that is expected to worsen, according to a new report from the World Resources Institute.

“Water shortages shut down power plants across India every year. When power plants rely on water sourced from scarce regions, they put electricity generation at risk and leave less water for cities, farms, and families. Without urgent action, water will become a choke point for India’s power sector,” said O.P. Agarwal, CEO of World Resources Institute (WRI) India, in the paper “Parched Power,” released on Jan. 16.

India lost 5.87 billion kilowatt-hours of power generation in 2016 due to the lack of water, Piyush Goyal, India’s power minister, told parliament last year. The loss in 2015 was about 5 billion kWh. In its own study, WRI found that the generation lost was more than double those amounts—at 14 billion kWh, enough to power Sri Lanka—and said the generation lost doubled from 6.8 billion kWh in 2015.

The situation is getting worse. The water-starved nation has only 4% of the world’s water resources and is expected to have a 1.6 billion population by 2050.
A Greenpeace India analysis estimates that the total freshwater consumption of coal power plants in India is 4.6 billion cu meters per year, enough to meet the basic water needs of 251 million people.

Freshwater consumption will more than double if all the proposed plants are built to meet the demand for power that is expected to surge by nearly 100% by 2026-27, even as climate change is likely to increase the frequency and intensity of droughts and socioeconomic development will intensify local water competition, WRI says.

“In the coming decades, we expect more water-shortage-induced power shutdowns, unless steps are taken to reduce these risks,” according to WRI.

WRI found that 18 thermal plants—generally coal and nuclear plants—had shutdowns because of a lack of water in 2016. One of those, the Parli coal plant, was completely shut down for three months and partially shut down for another 200 days.

New Indian thermal power plants built  since 2000 have used closed-cycle cooling systems, instead of once-through cooling systems, Goyal told parliament. Reducing the water in the coal-ash waste systems is another way to conserve water.

The measures have halved the use of water in closed-cycle plants. Power plants within 50 kilometers of a sewage treatment plants also must use treated wastewater, Goyal says.
A Greenpeace analysis, released in June, found that only 87% of India’s power plants have access to wastewater supplies.

To meet the quantum jump in demand for power, Goyal says an additional 86,400 MW from conventional fossil-fuel sources will be added to the existing capacity of 264,624 MW through 2022. Another goal is to augment that output by 175,000 MW of renewable energy by 2022. Currently, renewables comprise about 18% of the energy mix.
“Solar PV and wind power can thrive in the same water-stressed areas where thermal plants struggle, so accelerating renewables can lower India’s water risk,” says Deepak Krishnan, manager of WRI India’s energy program and co-author of the report.

But even more can be done, says Ivaturi N. Rao, the head of environment and climate change for Tata Power, India’s largest integrated power company.

“The Government of India has recently mandated limits for specific water consumption at thermal power plants, which is a critical step forward,” he said in a statement. “However, they should also create policy incentives for water conservation. This will help encourage water efficiency and innovation across the power sector.”

In its study, WRI found that 12.4 billion cu m of freshwater withdrawals could be reduced through 2027 from India’s power-sector needs if proposed cooling mandates were fully implemented and aggressive renew­able targets completely achieved.

XTI's TriFan 600 Adds First Indian Order to Backlog

 - February 20, 2018, 12:22 PM
The hybrid-electric XTI TriFan 600 is designed to be able to fly like an airplane but land and take off like a helicopter. It is slated to enter service in late 2022/early 2023. (Photo: XTI Aircraft)

Denver-based XTI Aircraft received the first order from an Indian customer for its hybrid-electric vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft, the TriFan 600. Arvind Lal, chairman and managing director of Dr. Lal’s Path Labs, placed the milestone order for the $6.5 million TriFan 600, which is expected to enter service in late 2022/early 2023.
Dr. Lal’s Path Labs has more than 170 pathology laboratories and 1,600 collection centers across India. “We have plans to run these VTOL/STOL aircraft that suit our needs for picking up samples in underserved remote areas, which will help in speeding up results for our patients.” Lal also runs an alternative therapy resort in the Himalayan foothills that has no airstrip and, since the road journey can take more than eight hours, this transport will “get all our healed patients feeling fresh on their return home.” He expects to be one of the first customers to receive the aircraft about five years from now.
Meanwhile, XTI is laying plans for certification. A flight-test program with the U.S. FAA “will take four years, with production in 2022,” XTI vice president of global business development Saleem Zaheer told AIN at a recent aviation summit in Mumbai. “India generally accepts airplanes that have been certified under FAA or EASA regulations. FAA certification will occur under the existing ‘powered lift’ category, which might be something new for India.”
With the initial configuration and engineering analysis complete, XTI is assembling the first 60-percent-scale prototype to fly by September. “The program is on schedule,” Zaheer said. “In the second phase of development, we plan to build a 12-seater, which will be suitable for India’s regional connectivity scheme since no airports would need to be built by the government—only a helipad and basic infrastructure. This can cost-effectively connect any part of the country.”
Of the more than 60 orders placed for the TriFan 600 to date, about 30 are from customers in the Middle East and Asia, the company said. The TriFan 600, which is designed to be able to carry one pilot and five passengers, would take off and land like a helicopter but cruise at 29,000 feet at 300 knots as fixed-wing aircraft. Range is expected to be 664 nm/1,230 km, and XTI estimates direct operating costs of just $350 per hour.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Indian Regulator Defends IndiGo's GTF Response

by Neelam Mathews
February 19, 2018, 11:00 AM

India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has refuted media claims that that budget airline IndiGo put safety at risk by flying A320neos powered by Pratt & Whitney PW1100Gs following findings of faulty knife-edge seals in some of the engines’ high-pressure compressors. In a caustic statement, it called the allegations “baseless, devoid of technical support, and lacking material evidence…with a view to create sensation in the minds of the traveling public.
IndiGo’s fleet includes 32 A320neos, and fellow Indian low-fare carrier Go Air has inducted 13 A320neos powered by the Pratt & Whitney engines. Pratt recently reported it identified the potentially affected engines and communicated with its customers. “As a precaution, aircraft with these engines will be addressed in a manner consistent with the operational instructions issued by Airbus,” it said. In compliance with a February 9 EASA Emergency Airworthiness Directive, IndiGo has grounded three A320neos fitted with engines carrying serial number 450 and beyond. “Further course of action will be taken by DGCA after receipt of detailed report/inputs from EASA in this regard,” said the DGCA. Indigo reported three in-flight shutdown and three turn-backs before takeoff without incident.
An aviation ministry official said the airline had already taken some 10 A320ceos with CFM Leap-1As on a short-term lease of around three years. While Airbus has reported no timelines on delivery of “fixed” engines, CEO Tom Enders called the circumstance “a hell of a problem” during a February 15 press conference, but one that the airframer will address in a timely manner.
“We are used to crisis management over engines and are working closely with our engine partners,” he said. “Our focus is to minimize glitches for customers and get back into delivering good engines in 2018…there is no need for doom and gloom.”
Problems with the new GTF engines have plagued operators since their induction in 2016. A320neo operators detected distress in combustion chambers and oil chip warnings due to bearing wear last year. The DGCA said it introduced mitigation measures for planned removal of engines to contain failure during flight. They included more frequent boroscopic inspection of  combustion chambers, to 1,000 hours from the 1,500 hours originally recommended.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Slow Going

India’s Airports Feeling the Strain of Traffic Growth

India’s Airports Feeling the Strain of Traffic Growth

 - February 5, 2018, 12:05 AM
traffic at airport
While Mumbai Airport faces choking levels of passenger traffic, India looks to expand its infrastructure further afield, focusing on lower-tier facilities that do not require the same levels technology, both for their air traffic needs and requirements for handling passengers.
India’s growing domestic air traffic has presented challenges in air and ground infrastructure that were not faced five years ago. Already, significant pressure on air traffic management (ATM) and airport infrastructure is being felt, with mounting concerns over safety on the ground and in the air, due to congestion.
The rise of budget carriers and pressure to open remote and underserved airports under the Regional Connectivity Scheme has many mid-sized airports already running close to full capacity. Airports Authority of India (AAI) has 125 airports, of which 50 are being upgraded, an uphill but urgent task. AAI’s corporate plan for the period 2017 to 2026 focuses on streamlining operations and adopting global benchmarks through new technology, to ensure efficiency and cost effectiveness. This is being done through increasing adoption of biometric, face recognition, and body-scan technology to speed operations.
Speaking on airport and ATM infrastructure, particularly with reference to Mumbai, Jakarta, Bangkok, Mexico City, and New York City facing bottlenecks, Alexandre de Juniac, director general of the International Air Transport Association, said recently, “We need capacity to meet demand; airports must be aligned with user needs for quality and technical specifications.”
India's Regional Connectivity Scheme has led to the opening of remote and underserved airports, but even this is not enough. An “ambitious” corporate plan “defines how we will be successful within a challenging and changing aviation environment,” said Guruprasad Mohapatra, chairman of the AAI. He said AAI’s $450 million plan over the next five years was set up to upgrade technology. “For this, the air traffic flow management system is a forward-looking technology application by which a real-time link of all the surveillance and navigation systems will show aircraft operating throughout the Indian airspace on a large screen display at AAI’s ATM center.”
Another move is that instead of constructing new air traffic control (ATC) towers at every airport, AAI is set to procure mobile towers to remotely manage flight operations at different airports. AAI is also developing a number of airports as no-frills to reduce operating costs and to make flying a viable option for more people. “The no-frills airports would limit or avoid costs of services and activities that are not necessarily crucial for airport operations and that would allow the costs to be kept at the lowest possible level," Mohapatra said.
As skilled people become increasingly scarce, India’s new remote towers will prove beneficial. “We see a great interest from both small and large airports that have a need for remote tower services. This system contributes toward greater efficiency,” said HÃ¥kan Buskhe, president and CEO of Saab (Stand D11). Remote tower services employ cameras and sensors at airports sending signals in real time to air traffic control centers where images from the remotely controlled airports are displayed on TV monitors.


To make the skies safer, India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) last year amended the procedure for obtaining permission for import or acquisition of aircraft to include mandatory installation of GPS-aided GEO augmented navigation (GAGAN), the world’s fourth satellite-based augmentation system (SBAS), on aircraft imported after Jan. 1, 2019. The rule is not applicable for aircraft already delivered.
GAGAN does not depend on ground navigation infrastructure at airports and heliports, reduces the decision height for GPS-aided instrument approaches, and provides accessibility to more airports for much lower cost in poor weather conditions. It allows aircraft to fly instrument approaches with vertical guidance with no need for ground navigation aids. Lower priced on-board avionics equipment can be used to fly these approaches, and according to some analysts SBAS could be an answer to opening up unserved or underserved regional airports.
AAI provides air navigation services across all civil airports in India. It manages Indian airspace covering more than 2.8 million square nautical miles, which includes a land area measuring 1.05 million and oceanic airspace measuring 1.75 million square nautical miles, extending beyond the territorial airspace into the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean, and the Bay of Bengal.
The government has granted “in principle” approval for setting up 18 greenfield airports in the country. In addition, focus is on neglected hilly states in the northeast region, where AAI plans to develop airports. The region shares 98 percent of its borders with China and southeast Asian countries.
Guwahati in the state of Assam has been selected to be an intra-regional hub and gateway from India to the neighboring countries of Bangladesh, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam, all of which are within short flying distances of around 45 to 60 minutes. The design for the $172 million terminal at Guwahati airport, for which U.S.-based Aecom has been appointed as project management consultant, has already been approved. The project includes a parallel taxiway, two hangars for narrowbody aircraft, and extension of the runway to 10,000 feet.