Airbus considers refining A330

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PARIS (Reuters) – Airbus is considering beefing up its A330 passenger jet in a bid to expand a recent winning sales streak for the junior member of its wide-body jet family, the planemaker said on Monday.

While the twin-engined aircraft, in service since the 1990s, is enjoying a second honeymoon with airlines due, in part, to delays in Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, analysts say it faces a threat from a possible stretched version of the 787.

An Airbus spokeswoman said a decision on how to enhance the A330 would be taken in the second half of the year.

The EADS unit is considering increasing the maximum amount of weight the A330 can carry by up to 5 tonnes and adding drag-reducing wingtip devices called “sharklets” — upward-slanting wingtips designed to help the aircraft fly further on the same amount of fuel.

They are already planned for the smaller narrowbody A320 and similar devices appear on some Boeing 757s.

A330 sales have flourished in the past two years as Boeing encountered delays in bringing out its carbon-composite 787, which recently entered service.

It has shorter range than either the 787 or Airbus’s planned carbon-fibre alternative, the future A350, but has sold well to airlines operating intermediate long-haul routes.

With the changes under consideration, the A330 would be able to lift up to 240 tonnes at take-off, Airbus said — an increase of 5 tonnes for the most popular variant, the A330-300, and 2 tonnes for the A330-200.

Increasing the maximum take-off weight allows airlines to add more fuel to carry the same number of people and their baggage further, or else carry a larger payload.

France’s La Tribune newspaper said the moves to increase the maximum tolerated weight at take-off would add 7 percent to the range of the A330, potentially giving it a range over 7,000 nautical miles.

With a three-class layout, the A330-300 carries 295 people up to 5,650 nautical miles or 10,500 kilometres, while the A330-200 — a later spin-off with a shorter fuselage and more range — takes 253 people up to 12,500 km.

Boeing has said it was considering a stretched version of its 787 called the 787-10 that would carry about 300 people approximately 6,800 nautical miles.

The move has been described by an industry official familiar with Boeing pre-marketing as a potential “A330 killer”.

The skirmish addresses a lucrative niche of the industry alongside high-profile battles between the A350 and Boeing’s 787 and the older but larger 777, which had record sales last year.

Airbus has said the carbon A350 will eventually outshine the 777 because it will be lighter and cheaper to run, while Boeing was expected to make similar claims about the 787-10 against the A330, which stems from roughly the same era as the 777.

FAA Orders Boeing 757 Inspections for Cracks

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The Federal Aviation Administration said in a directive to be published Jan. 10 that U.S. airlines must inspect 683 Boeing 757 planes for cracks after a hole opened on an AMR Corp. American Airlines plane Oct. 26.

The 1-foot-by-2-foot hole in the 757-200 plane opened at 31,000 feet, causing loss of pressure and forcing an emergency landing in Miami, the FAA has said. On Jan. 8, a notice posted on a federal website indicated when the directive will be published.

Les Dorr, an FAA spokesman, said the inspections are also prompted by an almost 11-inch crack found Sept. 11 on a United Continental Holdings Inc. 757 plane flown by United Airlines. The crack was discovered in an inspection after the flight crew reported hearing a whistling sound during a flight, Dorr said. No decompression of the aircraft resulted from the crack, he said.

Carriers must complete initial inspections within 30 days, or before 15,000 total flight cycles are accumulated, and then repeat the reviews at intervals ranging from every 30 takeoffs and landings, called a cycle, to 300 cycles, according to the FAA’s directive. The inspections will cost the airline industry a total of $58,055, based on the $85 per-hour cost to inspect all the aircraft, the FAA estimated.

Airlines must repair any cracks found before operating further flights using the aircraft, the FAA said.

Boeing recommended the inspections to carriers on Nov. 22. According to the FAA, the requirement covers 757-200, -200CB and -300 series airplanes.

The FAA requirement of inspections recommended by Boeing “is appropriate as a means to help ensure that safety continues at the highest levels,” Boeing said in an e-mailed statement.

The FAA order applies to 88 of American Airlines’ 124 757s, said Andrea Huguely, a spokeswoman for the carrier. American began inspecting those planes in November, and all initial examinations will be completed by the end of today, she said.

The inspections are done overnight, and don’t interfere with operations, Huguely said.

The Boeing 757 is a mid-size, narrow-body, twin-engine jet airliner which was conceived and designed in tandem with the 767, a wide-body twinjet with which it shares design features and two-crew flight decks. After its introduction, the 757 became commonly used by operators in both the United States and Europe, and particularly with mainline U.S. carriers and European charter airlines.

Mark Cuban Can’t Live Without His Private Jets


Mark Cuban, not just another Maverick

For someone who has everything, a private jet is the last and best status symbol. Private plane also conveys a sense of power and influence. That might all be true, but for billionaire Mark Cuban, private jets aren’t a luxury, they are a necessity.

At present, the man who purchased the Dallas Mavericks back in 2000 has three planes; the Gulfstream, a Boeing 757 for his National Basketball Association team and a B767 he rents out for charter.

In an interview, Cuban said having a private ride has definitely helped him in so many ways. “It means I have more hours in my day to spend with friends and family. It means I can get more work done. It means I can travel comfortably with my family.”

Cuban's G-550

As you might recall, Cuban bought his $40 million Gulfstream V online that puts him in the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest electronic-commerce transaction ever.

On the other hand, the Dallas Mavericks’ Boeing 757 includes a weight room, oversized seats and a facility for trainers to provide medical treatment. Each player’s locker includes a personal entertainment system.” I came up with the strategic vision for the airplane..I said I wanted room for players taller than seven feet, plus special setups for meetings, coaching resources and video and connectivity resources,” Cuban said.

Asked if he has any plans on upgrading his current airplane, he answered “Yes. We are looking hard at upgrading. “

“It’s part of my life that I can’t be without,” he added.

- Wall Street Journal
- Business Jet Traveler

You can also read this:
Airplanes and Jets: The Rides of the Rich and Famous