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Leithen Francis

Leithen Francis
Australia Seeks F-35 Sustainment Information 

SINGAPORE — Australia’s defense minister is pressing Lockheed Martin to provide more detail on how the country will be able to maintain its software-rich F-35s.
With 19 million lines of computer code, David Johnston is wondering how Australia can make repairs without compromising the platform or having to transport the aircraft to its assembly point in the U.S.
“We don’t want to have to reboot the aircraft by calling Fort Worth,” Johnston says.

Taiwan Hopes Its Central Asia-Pacific Location Will Make It A Top Hub 

Singapore, Bangkok and Hong Kong have traditionally been Asia’s most prominent hubs, and now Taipei is striving to compete more fiercely, although making inroads will be tough.

“Taiwan’s geographic location is such that it has the shortest distance to all major cities in the Asia-Pacific region, making Taiwan’s Taoyuan International Airport an important hub in the region,” said the Star Alliance last month in announcing the new membership of Taiwan’s EVA Air.

Taipei Looks To Boost Prospects With New Terminal
Taiwan hopes central Asia-Pacific location will make it a top air hub
NZ Moves Toward Procuring New Trainer Aircraft 

New Zealand continues to face a tight fiscal budget, but is moving to procure new primary trainer aircraft for its air force and plans to replace its Lockheed Martin P-3Ks and C-130Hs in the next dozen years.

VietJet Plans Thai Joint Venture 

Vietnamese low-cost carrier VietJet has signed a memorandum of understanding with Thai Cessna Grand Caravan operator Kan Air to establish Thai VietJet Air, a joint venture operation in Bangkok. Kan Air’s owner, Thailand’s Kannithi Group, will own 51% of the new airline and the remaining 49% will be held by VietJet’s owner, Vietnamese conglomerate Sovico. The partners say Thai VietJet Air will be a low-cost carrier operating Airbus A320s, the same aircraft type as VietJet, on domestic and short-haul international routes from Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport.

GMF Now Airbus’s Maintenance Training Provider In Indonesia 

Jakarta-based MRO provider GMF AeroAsia has become Airbus’s approved maintenance training provider in Indonesia.

Airbus says the five-year strategic partnership agreement “is aimed at developing the maintenance training capabilities locally in Indonesia, based on respective strengths and assets of GMF and Airbus.”

Bangkok’s Asian Aviation Training Center Expands Airbus Training 

The Asian Aviation Training Center (AATC) in Bangkok is expanding its Airbus capabilities.

L-3 Link Simulation and Training, which purchased AATC in August 2012 from Thales Group’s civil aviation simulation and training business, says the facility now offers a A330 full-flight simulator, an A320/A330 aircrew procedures training device and a pushback and towing training simulator.

EVA Air Fleet Revamp Boon For Delta’s MD-90 Operations 

Taiwan’s EVA Air is planning to reduce its freighter fleet and phase out its MD-90 passenger aircraft.

President Austin Cheng says all 11 of the MD-90s are being sold to Delta Air Lines, with five scheduled to be transferred next year, three more in 2015 and the last three in 2016. Delta repeatedly has espoused the benefits of operating MD-90s and earlier this month said it intended to expand the fleet.

Cheng also says the airline is phasing out its MD-11 freighter fleet.

Malaysia Airlines To Resume Services Between Kuala Lumpur And Dubai 

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) on Aug. 5 is scheduled to resume service between Kuala Lumpur International Airport and Dubai International Airport some 19 months after dropping the route as part of a cost cutting initiative.

“Dubai was one of the routes that were suspended in our route rationalization exercise in January 2012. We continuously monitor market demand, and are happy to be able to add back Dubai into the MAS network to extend our reach and strengthen our offering to customers,” says CEO Ahmad Jauhari Yahya.

ST Aero Updating Its 757 Freighter Conversion Program 

Singapore Technologies Aerospace (ST Aero) plans to ask the U.S. FAA for a supplemental type certificate (STC) covering a 15-pallet freighter conversion program for the Boeing 757.

The Singapore-headquartered maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) company already has a 14.5-pallet freighter conversion program for the 757, but wants to offer 15 pallets so its program can remain competitive, says a ST Aero spokeswoman, adding that there is already a competitor offering a 15-pallet 757 freighter conversion program.

SIA Cargo To Get New CEO 

Singapore Airlines (SIA) Cargo is undergoing a management change with Lee Lik Hsin replacing Tan Kai Ping.

The Star Alliance carrier says Lee will become CEO of SIA Cargo on Aug. 1 replacing Tan who gets Lee’s current job as SIA senior VP president for corporate planning.

SIA Cargo is the airline’s most troubled business unit, posting an operating loss of S$167 million ($132 million) in the fiscal year ending March 31, due to the global downturn in the air cargo market.

Vietnam Wants Closer Ties With The U.S. 

Vietnam has a requirement for long-range maritime patrol aircraft, but is unwilling to buy the aircraft from the U.S. unless it lifts a ban on the sale of lethal weapons to Vietnam's ruling Communist Party government.

Austrian To Phase Out Fokker Fleet When Due For Heavy Checks 

Austrian Airlines plans to phase out its Fokker fleet within the next six years.

CEO Jaan Albrecht says the carrier has nine Fokker 70s and 14 Fokker 100s, and plans to replace the aircraft over a three-year period beginning in 2017.

At an event this week in Taipei to mark EVA Air’s formal membership in Star Alliance, Albrecht told Aviation Week the aircraft will be phased out when they come due for heavy maintenance checks. The phase-out will not hurt Austrian’s balance sheet, because the airline has already fully depreciated the fleet’s value.

ANA Attributes Peach’s Success In Japan To Market Knowledge 

All Nippon Airways (ANA) says its low-cost carrier, Peach, is faring better than its other low-cost operation, AirAsia Japan, because Peach understands the Japanese market better than Malaysia’s AirAsia.

“We can only assume it’s because Peach did a lot of studies into the Japanese market through market surveys. Peach offers a good service, and management at Peach understands the Japanese market,” ANA President and CEO Osamu Shinobe told Aviation Week on the sidelines of an event in Taipei to mark EVA Air’s entry into Star Alliance.

South African Airlines Close To Placing Widebody Aircraft 

South African Airways (SAA) will soon order widebody aircraft to expand its long-haul international network. “We have a fleet-planning program going on right now. We’ve not placed orders yet . . . but I don’t think it will drag out for a long period of time,” SAA’s Executive Vice President-North America and Alliances Marc Cavaliere tells Aviation Week on the sidelines of a Star Alliance event in Taipei to mark EVA Air’s formal entry into the alliance.

SAA’s long-haul fleet comprises 18 Airbus A340s, mostly the -300 and -600 models.

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