Upgraded CP-140 Aurora fleet to be raised to 14 aircraft



The Honourable Rob Nicholson, Minister of National Defence, announced this morning that the fleet of upgraded CP-140 Aurora long range surveillance aircraft will be expanded from 10 to 14 airplanes.  The total cost of the expansion will be $548 million and will allow the Aurora to continue flying until 2030.

The CP-140 was first taken on force in the early 80’s and are stationed at Comox British Columbia (407 Squadron) and Greenwood Nova Scotia (405 Squadron).

Air Canada Suspends Flights to Venezuela – for now


 Air Canada announced yesterday that they are temporarily suspending operations to Caracas Venezuela due to the continuing civil unrest in that country.  The statement says:

Due to on-going civil unrest in Venezuela, Air Canada can no longer ensure the safety of its operation and has suspended flights to Caracas until further notice.

Whether Air Canada will be able to resume their flights would be in doubt as the government of Nicolas Maduro has said in the past that any airline that reduced their operations in Venezuela would face “severe measures”.  The President has been quoted as saying:

The company that leaves the country will not return while we hold power.

Passengers who left for Caracas on the 15th and 16th will be brought home by other airlines and Air Canada is offering full refunds to anyone with future reservations.

(details from Air Canada and BBC)

Breaking News – Kermit Weeks’ Fantasy Of Flight Closing


 Kermit Weeks (pictured above) announced today that his “Fantasy of Flight” operations in Central Florida will close for daily operations on April 6.  In a letter to employees, Mr. Weeks said:

After 18 years of being in operation, it’s time we close the attraction and move forward toward creating the vision for what I know Fantasy of Flight can become.

Mr. Weeks has long emphasized that Fantasy of Flight should be seen as an experience, not a museum as most see it.  The facility will remain available to host weddings, meetings and corporate events, and Weeks said he plans to open part of the collection in a reduced capacity and admission price later this year but most of the staff will be let go in the coming months.

I visited Fantasy of Flight last year and I was very impressed with the operation and Kermit’s passion.  I wish everyone involved success in the future, wherever that future lies.

  The lovingly maintained P-51 Mustang from Fantasy of Flight

Air Canada Posts Strong 2013 Results


Just over a week after WestJet reported good earnings, Air Canada chimes in with news that 2013 was their best year in their 77 year history.   Its full-year adjusted earnings were a company record of $340 million, or $1.20 per share — six-times higher than in 2012.  This comes despite the fact that 4th quarter earnings missed forecast due to bad weather and the drop in the Canadian Dollar.


Behavioural screening to replace security checks?


An Israeli company WeCU (We See You) is working on a system use behavioural screening to watch airport passengers and employees for possible threats.  As reported on CNN WeCU is one of a number of companies working on a replacement for the less than perfect airport security measures now in place.

Employing a combination of infra-red technology, remote sensors and imagers, and flashing of subliminal images, such as a photo of Osama bin Laden, WeCU says the technology exists to identify threats without the targets even know they’re being screened.

The Transportation Security Agency (TSA) in the US is helping fund the study.  Although the companies say that such profiling is fair, I really do wonder how this secret monitoring would stand up in court.  Just about anything is better than the present “Security Theatre” that we experience today.

Spanair crash in Madrid kills over 100


 © Javier Guerrero/AirTeamImages.comA Spanair MD-82 (similar to the one pictured) crashed on takeoff in Madrid Spain today and reports are now saying that over 100 people were killed.  The airline stated that a total of 166 pax and 9 crewmembers were  on board.

Spanair is owned by SAS and the aircraft was destined for Las Palmas in the Canary Islands.  The Boeing MD-82 (built by McDonnell Douglas) first took to the skies in 1980 and hundreds are still in service, the majority operated by American Airlines. Earlier this year, AA grounded its entire fleet of MD-80 series airplanes to check for hydraulic problems.  Though there is no official word on what caused today’s crash it only makes sense that this one area that will receive special scrutiny.

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Good to know if you’re flying to Denver or Minneapolis



NOTAM : Notice to Airmen. A notice containing information (not known sufficiently in advance to publicize by other means) concerning the establishment, condition, or change in any component (facility, service, or procedure of, or hazard in the National Airspace System) the timely knowledge of which is essential to personnel concerned with flight operations.

NOTAMs will be in force to keep aircraft away from the upcoming Democratic and Republican conventions.  Ignore them and you might just have some company.

(found at at the always excellent PointNiner blog)

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Great News for Canadian Aviation


imageBombardier announces the official launch of the new CSeries with a Letter Of Intent from Germany’s Lufthansa for 60 aircraft.  The plane will be built in China (fuselage), Northern Ireland (wings) and Mirabel and St. Laurent Quebec (cockpit, aft fuselage and final assembly).

The CSeries is positioned to fill the need for smaller, fuel efficient aircraft in the 110-130 seat range.  It will be powered by the revolutionary Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbofan engine.

Initially announced in 2004 as a concept, this announcement moves it from the drawing board to the manufacturing floor with the attendant creation of more jobs in a sector that is going through some very rough times.  The CSeries promises to be the right airplane for these times of high fuel prices and lowered expectation for airline load factors.  Airbus, Boeing and Embraer will have some catching up to do.

Quotes from the release:

“Today is a great day for Bombardier, our customers, our employees, our shareholders and our suppliers. I am proud to say that we have met our business plan objectives: a technologically advanced aircraft family, a strong pipeline of orders and repayable investments with governments and agreements with key suppliers. With the latest in system technologies and aerodynamics, the CSeries family of aircraft will revolutionize the economics and network strategies for airline operations in the 100- to 149-seat commercial market. It is another example of our commitment to designing and manufacturing innovative aircraft that will ensure our continued industry leadership,” said Pierre Beaudoin, President and Chief Executive Officer, Bombardier Inc.

“At Lufthansa, we are committed to a balance between commercial success, environment and business policies oriented toward sustainability,” said Nico Buchholz, Senior Vice President, Corporate Fleet, Lufthansa. “Our initial evaluations of the CSeries family of aircraft and discussions with Bombardier over the last few months have evolved and made us believe that the CSeries family of aircraft clearly meets our stringent requirements for sustainable fleet development, both in terms of environmental and commercial requirements, and flexibility for the future. We are proud to be a part of its launch.”

Both the announcement of the launch and the decision that a significant amount of manufacturing and assembly will be done in Canada bodes very well for the future of aviation in Canada.  Bombardier Aerospace is truly a Canadian success story built on the de Havilland Canada company which was formed 80 years ago.