AM Craft expands 3D printing capabilities

By Featured, MRONo Comments

Latvia-based specialist aerospace additive manufacturing service provider, AM Craft, has purchased four large-scale production-grade Stratasys F900 3D Printers to provide certifiable 3D printed parts for a wide range of aircraft interior applications including aircraft seating and panelling.

“In recent years, we’ve seen an ongoing demand for 3D printed production parts among major aircraft OEMs,” commented Jānis Jātnieks, Co-founder and CEO, of AM Craft. “Although COVID-19 has shocked the industry in the last few months, we are seeing efforts to return to business by remodeling passenger planes for cargo shipments, as well as projects to increase customer safety measures and improve the in-flight customer experience – for example by providing mobile device charging stations and Wi-Fi infrastructures. In such cases, additive manufacturing is way ahead of slower and more costly traditional methods.

“One of the mainstay pillars that enables us to realise this business case into real-world applications is Stratasys’ highly-repeatable FDM-based 3D printing technology in conjunction with aerospace-grade materials like ULTEM 9085 resin. Crucially, this gives us the capability to meet strict rules and regulations around certification that require the highest level of repeatability and traceability with every part manufactured,” he added

The flame-retardant, high-performance ULTEM 9085 resin meets stringent flame, smoke and toxicity (FST) criteria and retains traceability required by the aerospace industry. Certified to Airbus material specifications, ULTEM 9085 resin allows the company to produce strong yet lightweight aircraft interior parts at significantly reduced manufacturing cost.

AM Craft’s investment will compliment an existing hardware line-up of four Stratasys Fortus F450mc 3D Printers. Collectively, the battery of eight FDM-based machines will provide the heartbeat of a dedicated new additive manufacturing facility in Riga that will focus specifically on fulfilling the application requirements of the company’s customer base of aircraft suppliers and airlines.

AM Craft’s investment will see the company become one of the largest independent aerospace-focused 3D printing service providers in EMEA. The business will operate as a sister company to Baltic3D, an established 3D printing service provider that has worked closely with companies within the aerospace supply chain since 2017. Baltic3D has an ongoing collaborative partnership with certification company, Magnetic MRO, under whose POA it was granted authorisation to produce certifiable aerospace parts.

AM Craft’s Riga facility is expected to be fully operational in Q4 2020.

Image: AM Craft Co-founders Jānis Jātnieks (right) and Didzis Dejus in front of the service provider’s four large-scale production-grade Stratasys F900 3D Printers

Viasat remains cautious as IFC revenues stumble

By Featured, IFECNo Comments

Viasat has released its First Quarter Fiscal Year 2020 results.

According to CEO Mark Dankberg, “IFC revenue declined precipitously YoY with about 45% of our installed 1,390 aircraft base inactive at quarter end. Overall passenger activity declined even further. While aircraft in service and passenger counts improved towards the end of the quarter, the outlook remains uncertain. We believe aircraft retirements with our IFC service have been disproportionately low because we are on relatively newer aircraft, and we expect this will lead to market share gains. We still anticipate about 750 additional aircraft to activate IFC services under our existing customer agreements – as well as seeing more of the existing installed fleet being re-activated. New order negotiations are very robust, driven by our reputation for service quality, our new satellites under construction and a stressful environment for our competitors.”

According to Dankberg, the company’s IFC business was “probably a little worse than what we had expected in that first quarter,” however new contract awards are giving the company confidence for the rest of the year.

Speaking to analysts, Dankberg said that airlines were paying significant attention to IFC as being connected while flying has become even more important to passengers.

He also stated his belief that Viasat has been more immune to the effects of aircraft retirements than other IFC providers, as its systems fly on newer planes. The majority of the contracts it had pre-pandemic are still intact, he said adding “we still expect to deploy them once the market picks up again.”

Gogo HQ - external skysline

Gogo mulling sale of commercial aviation division as revenues bottom out

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Gogo HQ - external skysline

Gogo has announced its financial results for the quarter ended 30 June 2020 with contrasting fortunes for its commercial and business aviation segments.

Speaking to analysts, Oakleigh Thorne, Gogo’s President and CEO said that green shoots were starting to emerge. “We’re seeing a really solid bounce back in our business aviation division, and a slower recovery, but a recovery nonetheless in our commercial aviation business.”

Overall, the company reported a net loss of US$86.0 million, with consolidated revenues down 55% from the same time last year, as air travel demand collapsed around the world.
In pre-COVID times, Gogo was averaging 37 million passengers a month on Gogo equipped aircraft. That fell to 1.9 million (95% reduction) in April. It has since climbed to 7.1 million in June.

Its North American Commercial Aviation market is showing signs of a recovery. Pre-COVID, Gogo was averaging 125,000 sessions a day, which then collapsed 91% to 11,000 sessions a day in April. It started coming back with 15,000 a day in May and is now all the way up to 40,000 a day for 32% of pre-COVID levels in August. Pre-COVID, North American sales averaged just under $1 million per day. So far for August this is now returning more than $300,000 a day.

The quarter ended with 2,455 aircraft online, generating 1,800 active sales per day (73% of its North American fleet). Thorne believes that North American airlines will retire about 230 older Gogo installed fleet over the coming year.

Pre-COVID, its Rest of World (RoW)fleet was running at 11 million passengers per month before collapsing to 480,000 or 95% in the month of April. RoW aircraft online actually grew in the quarter, [up 9] to 842, and up 151 from prior year. Due to retirements and bankruptcies, Gogo expects roughly 100 of its current RoW fleet to be installed over the next year, with 105 of its backlog at risk due to bankruptcies.

Thorne reaffirmed that Gogo was still actively discussing the sale of its Commercial Aviation business, with several parties expressing interest during the quarter. “We are really proud of the commercial aviation team and the tremendous capabilities they’ve built, and think it will have a bright future as part of a larger, more fully integrated entity.”

Jamco announces Project Blue Sky initiative

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A global, collaborative clean cabin initiative has been announced between Jamco and its affiliates to develop and produce touchless, hygienic cabin interior products for the aerospace industry.

“Project Blue Sky” promotes greater cleanliness and lower passenger stress in commercial aircraft and includes the latest in hygienic and touchless air cabin technologies, across seats, cabin dividers (the Clean Cabin Divider), and lavatories (Hands-Free Toilet Seat/Lid, Hands-Free Waste Flap, and Touchless Faucet).

Jamco is also working to transform the process of aircraft disinfection through its UV disinfection concepts (pictured). The company is pursuing the development of UV disinfection technology; ultraviolet rays have been proven to destroy the DNA structure of viruses and bacteria, thus preventing the spread of diseases. Jamco’s UV disinfection concept includes installing new, human-safe UV technology in lavatories, galleys, and seating areas to enable disinfection and germ elimination during flight.

Nolinor selects liTeMood passenger centric lighting

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Canadian charter flight specialist, Nolinor Aviation, has selected liTeMood LED lighting across its Boeing fleet.

The move comes as the airline looks to harmonise their cabin interiors with the latest LED installed aircraft.

Marco Prud’Homme, President of Nolinor Aviation said: “Nolinor is passionate about service excellence and providing an exceptional experience for our passengers. STG Aerospace is the leader in LED lighting, and their liTeMood system is the perfect lighting product to refresh our cabin ambience and harmonise the cabins across our existing fleet.”

Iberia introduces sustainable approach to aircraft deep-cleaning

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Iberia’s long-term service provider Multiservicios Aeroportuarios (MASA) has introduced new cleaning and sanitising procedures for its short- and medium-haul fleet.

MASA is deploying new electrostatic pistols, developed by Spanish start-up AirlineLoop, that Iberia introduces sustainable approach to aircraft deep-cleaning shoot a fine powder that kills the COVID-19 virus on contact, making the sanitising both faster and more uniform, while reaching the most inaccessible parts of armrests, headrests, folding trays, seat folds, hand luggage compartments, toilets, etc. between flights.

The disinfecting liquid dries almost instantly.

The start-up has developed three types of equipment – Airline Loop, Standard Loop, and Portable Loop. The small diameter, 100μm (micrometers), nozzle apertures emit drops so tiny that they inundate all nooks and crannies where pathogens might be hidden.

They can use a variety of pulverisable biocides and are being used to supplement  the pulverisers routinely used by MASA to clean Iberia Group aircraft in Madrid Airport.

For cleaning by hand Iberia has switched to cleaning cloths and mops made with 100% bamboo fibre which are tougher, more elastic, and totally recyclable.

Solid first half performance for SES

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SES has announced financial results for the six months ended 30 June 2020, with CEO Steve Collar calling the performance ‘solid’ in challenging trading times.

In its mobility segment, underlying revenue grew by 22.6% (year-on-year) to €115.1 million with double-digit growth in both Aeronautical and Maritime. Strong growth (year-on-year) in Aeronautical reflected the full year impact of the important new business signed during 2019 and notably utilising SES-15, SES-14 and SES’ Ka-based aero network, as well as connectivity services delivered to the business aviation segment.

As the vast majority of SES’ commercial contracts, including in Mobility, are fixed, the H1 2020 performance was largely unaffected by the impact of COVID-19 on customers and end markets served by SES in the Cruise and Commercial Aviation segments. Nevertheless, it is expected that the development of both existing revenue and pace of new business will be impacted during the second half of the 2020.

The company also announced an investment in four additional O3b mPOWER satellites, expanding the constellation to 11 satellites. The total cost of the additional investment is €480 million including €250 million over the period 2020-2024 and the remaining expenditure thereafter. The investment further de-risks the overall project and will enhance the constellation efficiency, increase total throughput by 90% and expand geographic coverage.

SES-17 is scheduled to launch in Q3 2021and will serve mobility markets in the Americas. The first three satellites of the global O3b mPOWER constellation are due to launch in Q3 2021, with a further three in Q1 2022, and satellites 7-9 in H2 2022. Satellites 10-11 launch in H2 2024.

JetBlue commits to blocking middle seat until mid-October

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JetBlue has updated its Safety from the Ground Up program, a multi-layered commitment to the safety of its crewmembers and customers.

The carrier has announced it is extending its commitment to seat distancing for flights through at least 15 October by blocking middle seats in rows where parties are not traveling together

“Our Safety from the Ground Up program continues to be a thoughtful and always evolving set of layered protection measures that demonstrates our commitment to keeping our crewmembers and customers safe while providing them with peace of mind in the air and on the ground,” said Joanna Geraghty, president and chief operating officer, JetBlue. “We continue to hear from our customers that added space onboard and travel flexibility are incredibly important to them during this time and we want them to know we are listening because we are all in this together.”

JetBlue’s safety program is focused on four areas: healthy crewmembers; clean air and surfaces; more space, fewer touchpoints; and travel flexibility. As part of its “more space, fewer touchpoints” focus, JetBlue’s seat distancing policy provides assurance that customers will not be seated directly next to someone they don’t know. Middle seats are blocked on its Airbus aircraft, and on its smaller Embraer 190 aircraft, JetBlue is blocking aisle seats. The airline does allow customers traveling together to sit in middle and aisle seats.

Greenpoint unveils VIP Affinity interior concept

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Greenpoint Technologies has unveiled its sustainable, twin-aisle VIP interior design concept Affinity.

“The Affinity interior concept began with our client’s desire for positive change and a renewed need to connect with nature. Our team drew inspiration from biophilic design, striving to bring the outside in through the creation of living indoor spaces with organic, sustainable design elements. The result is a contemporary, honest and meaningful interior,” explained Annika Wicklund, Greenpoint Design Director.

Greenpoint’s Affinity interior features an expansive main cabin with contemporary architecture and organic details. Key elements include a vast digital skylight extending across the cabin ceiling, a louvred archway with organic greenery and soft LED lighting diffused to mimic daylight. The forward lounge includes an outboard-facing oversized sectional, large viewing display and a circular, layered moss feature wall. The interior incorporates sustainable materials including bamboo silk carpet, organic greenery and natural oak.

Lufthansa suffers from collapse in air travel

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Lufthansa Group has reported an 80% drop in revenue for the second quarter of 2020.

The Group recorded revenues of €1.9 billion compared to €9.6 billion at the same time last year. Most of the revenue (€1.5 billion) was generated by Lufthansa Cargo and Lufthansa Technik.

For the first half of 2020, Lufthansa Group revenue fell by 52% to €9.6 8 billion euros (previous year: 17.4 billion euros). During this time, he Lufthansa Group airlines carried a total of 23.5 million passengers, two thirds fewer than in the same period last year (66% reduction). Capacity decreased by 61%.

In the second quarter of 2020, the Lufthansa Group airlines carried 1.7 million passengers, 96% fewer than in the previous year. Capacity fell by 95%.

The Group currently expects demand for air travel to return to pre-crisis levels in 2024 at the earliest. In response, it is to embark on a comprehensive restructuring programme entitled “ReNew”, which also includes the restructuring program already underway at the airlines and service companies.

The aim remains to maintain the global competitiveness and future viability of the Lufthansa Group. The Group’s fleet is to be permanently reduced by at least 100 aircraft. Nevertheless, the capacity offered in 2024 is to correspond to that of 2019.

Carsten Spohr, Chairman of the Executive Board and CEO of Deutsche Lufthansa AG said: “We are experiencing a caesura in global air traffic. We do not expect demand to return to pre-crisis levels before 2024. Especially for long-haul routes there will be no quick recovery.”

The Group plans to return to 95% of the short- and medium-haul and 70% of the long-haul destinations by the end of the year.