Performance Improvement Package On Boeing 777-200/200ER/300

United Airlines latest adoption of the Performance Improvement Package retrofit kit for its 52 Boeing 777-200 is adding to a list of 17 airlines combining 350 aircraft that will receive the upgrades. PIP has been initiated by Boeing in 2008 in order to allow 777-200. 777-200ER and 777-300 to benefit from advances in aerodynamics refinements introduced with the newer Boeing 777-300ER and Boeing 737NG but not available on older 777-200, -200ER and -300 models. Introduced at a time when high fuel price is becoming the industry most pressing issue, the retrofit kit would in theory provide a 1% reduction in fuel consumption on a typical 777 trip along with lower emission of CO2 and NOx. Boeing has argued that an airline like United could save up to $200,000 per year with the new kit installed. United is following in the foot steps of Continental Airline with whom it is merging. Continental Airlines, the long established operator of 22 Boeing 777-200ER adopted the package in 2007. Greater return on the upgrade can be better realized by fleet-wide adoption by operators with sizable 777 (non-777-300ER) fleets. Naturally the notoriously larger 777 operators have already been mentioned as key adherents to the upgrade program; such as Air France, KLM, El Al, Austrian Airlines, Air New Zealand and Delta.

The retrofit consists of three combined engineering changes that can provide either a greater range or an increase in maximum take off weight or a lower consumption of fuel on typical flight. The first modification consists of a software-implemented aerodynamic reduction of drag encountered on the aircraft outer wing. The new software code would produce a 2 degree droop of the wings outer aileron causing the wing to twist slightly. This new aerodynamic attitude would trap undesirable air flow away from the 777 already very efficient wing tips during cruise further reducing overall drag. The second engineering improvement is the replacement of all 32 vortex generators with newly redesigned, more efficient vortex generators already well proven on the Boeing 737NG. The Vortex generators are small aerodynamic devices that are installed at specific points of an aircraft skin to channel airflow efficiently for aerodynamic benefits. In the 777 case they will also contribute to overall reduction of drag. The final portion of the upgrade involves installing new air inlet and exhaust mechanisms to the environmental control system (ECS). On most aircraft air is provided to the ECS via intake and exhaust located underbelly by the center wing section. Boeing found that on the 777, a redesigned ram air inlet door working in concert with variable-position exhaust louvers can generate additional thrust thus lowering fuel burn.

In period of escalating fuel prices, the scope of work required to complete the overall upgrade can decide on the package commercial success, especially if it must be implemented throughout an airline entire fleet. Boeing is providing a quick upgrade path that can be incremented by combining the vortex generators replacement and droop nose software installation in a few hours. This is very appealing to airline as combining these two upgrades delivers already up to 60% of the performance goals promised by PIP. Applying the new components to the Environmental Control System, a work requiring an aircraft to be taken out of service temporarily can only be conducted during heavy maintenance work. With operational expediency in mind, many airlines would opt for the two-phase upgrade ino order to begin partially offsetting high fuel cost. Overall the Performance Improvement Package is a solid life cycle extension package for airline which are hard pressed to replace early 777 on a still recovering credit markets. The 777 represents 919 deliveries for 1182 orders of which 635 are eligible too receive the PIP.

Air China Announces It Doubled Profit In 2010

Air China Limited was the latest airline today announce spectacular profits for the year 2010, almost doubling operating profit to RMB 10.93 Billion ($1.67 Billion) (98.65% improvement from 2009), with the board considering a RMB 12.01 billion ($ 1.83 Billion) (up 147.31%) overall dividend payment to shareholders. Very strong increase in domestic demand (46.67%) for passenger transportation had prompted the airline to increase capacity by up to 33.92% over 2009 while still retaining a very strong load factor at 80.03%.

The group total revenue for the 12 month period ending December, 31st 2010 was RMB 82.49 Billion ($12.57 Billion) (60.50% increase from 2009) of which RMB 68.14 Billion ($10.38 Billion) were generated from the passenger business (up 59.59%) and RMB10.07 Billion ($1.53 Billion) from the transportation of cargo (up 86.64% from 2009). The airline had trouble containing expenses which grew 55.93% (to RMB 71.56 Billion, $10.9 Billion) on account of an escalated RMB 24.10 Billion ($3.67 Billion) fuel bill (up 66.57%) making fuel the costliest single item representing one third of total expenses. The airline nonetheless benefited from advantageous foreign exchange appreciation of the Yuan Renmimbi against the US dollar totaling RMB 1.92 billion ($ 297 Million) in revenue. Similarly fuel costs were somewhat mitigated with derivatives contract addition of RMB 1.97 Billion ($ 300 Million) .

Japan Airlines Exit From Bankruptcy;Turning Around A Legacy Airline

A JAL Boeing 787.(Michael Dwyer/AP)

Final judgment was entered today by the Civil 8th Division of Tokyo District Court sealing Japan Air Lines bankruptcy restructuring phase that was initiated in October 2009 as the debt ridden airline was struggling to continue operations. The final judgment emphasized that with the debtor had complied to the lump sum debt repayment option stipulated in the November 30th 2010 restructuring plan by discharging of 2/3 of monetary claims to creditors.

The court-supervised corporate restructuring of Japan Air Lines was ended.

JAL has been the latest example of legacy airline foray into bankruptcy restructuring proceedings as a way to regain control of its costly infrastructure. Legacy airlines can be characterized by their inability to operate a cost effective organization on par with low cost carriers. Their fleet would be significantly larger with expensive planes to re-pay and operate. Their network of routes would seemingly be inherited from the carrier position as a de-facto national airline with large home bases and significant presence at many foreign destination. Such network would have grown out of control with profitability being remote to maintaining a sizable presence as a way to stifle markets (lack of commercial drivers in the strategy). Labor cost structure, with highly unionized environments would also have guaranteed the welfare benefits whose premium would become endemically underfunded in times of stress in the industry.

In the end the JAL behemoth seems to have been able to shed all the impediments that separate legacy airlines from low-cost in favor of an optimal cost structure that can generally allow low cost carriers to keep capturing market share even in difficult industry economic cycles. In fact we will see that JAL has been able to orchestrate its turn around on new low unit cost and has already shown profitability through March 2011 with a projection of 180 Yen billion net profits accumulated by March 2013.

Liquidity question

The Enterprise Turnaround Initiative Corporation of Japan (a 50% owned Japanese Government company investing in distressed companies of significant national value) has been the liquidity provider of last resort whose intervention has prevented the airline from altogether ceasing operations in January of 2010. Operating against a consolidated debt of 959.2 Billion Yen ($11.74 Billion), the quasi-government agency has stepped forward early in the bankruptcy proceeding by arranging a line of credit with the Development Bank of Japan inc. valued at 600 Billion Yen ($7.34 Billion) made available by January 2010. With the list of primary creditors such as Development Bank of Japan Inc.

Japan Bank for International Cooperation, Mizuho Corporate Bank Ltd, The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd., Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, it seems ETIC was acting with the full faith of the government of japan to save the symbolic and probably too-big-to-fail debt ridden JAL.

Fleet haircut; dismantling costly pieces

The first victim of the restructuring phase was the rationalization process initiated within the fleet. The more costly Boeing 747-400, A300-600 and MD-81/-90 were sold or withdrawn from use. Reduction of capacity has been the sole way of diminishing cost for carriers with difficult to negotiate labor contract. Aircraft with high rents or less efficient would also be prime targets for storage. As a result, a highly rationalized fleet using only 4 different aircraft type would remain in service after 103 airplanes were cut from the main fleet. Retained for use were the Boeing 737-800 for medium markets, the Embraer 170 for small/regional operation. The long haul fleet would be held by the 777-200/300ER supported by 767-300. However the airline has made the 787 the core of its strategy of growth and low cost operation with order for 35 of the type with manufacturer Boeing (30 ordered in 2005 and 5 added in 2007). But more dramatically has been the airline elimination of its dedicated cargo aircraft ( comprising at least 2 Boeing 747-400F ) opting instead for cargo transportation directly on passenger flights cargo holds.

Operating along the lines of a low cost, the airline is betting that more frequencies on the domestic network built around Haneda base can deliver higher yield.

International routes in need of a balanced network supported by better alliances (JAL has applied to operate in partnership with American Airlines across the Pacific using the antitrust immunity clause approved by Department Of Transportation). This measure builds a very close partnership allowing increased commercial opportunities between both airlines. Overall network route reduction will also be conducted wholesale in an effort to eliminate unprofitable destination but the airline intends to cling on major European and North American destinations as well seeking opportunities in the growing Asian market.


has been undertaken by consolidating debt from 3 major entities into a single one for liquidation purpose. Japan Airlines corporation (JALS) and JAL Capital (JLC) have become merged with entity Japan airlines International Co. Ltd (JALI). Under the recapitalization envisioned by ETIC, the infusion of 350 Billion Yen ($4.28 Billion) will be conducted with 175 Billion Yen ($2.14 Billion)  for stated capital and another 175 Billion Yen held as capital reserves. Under this final capital structure JALI is set to assume its new trade name under which the airline will begin operating on April 1st 2011 as Japan Airlines Co.,Ltd

Debt Repayment

The court has issued a debt discharge window of 7 years allowing 100% repayment to secured lenders with unsecured lenders recovering 87.5% of their initial claim. Taking advantage of a lump sum payment option has allowed the airline a court-approved discharge of 2/3 of its obligations as part of the bankruptcy exit plan.

A new business

The new Japan Air Line business whose official re-birth is planned for April 1st 2011 will see a revamped business structure which had spun off non-transportation subsidiary in order to focus on core activities. A compliance investigation committee August 31st, 2010 report had established that the monumental losses accumulated by the company in the period leading up to the bankruptcy were the result of breakdown of corporate culture, weak corporate finances, lack of initiative and risk awareness. With these findings in mind the airline is strengthening its risk management practice in order to effectively monitor future events that can affect its growth. The airline will actively manage fuel related risks (which had contributed significantly to the previous problems). Already reduction of more than 16,000 in workforce (from 48,714 to 32,600), renegotiation of labor contract and welfare/benefits plans, downsizing of airport facility and real estate, The airline has achieved the overall cost savings that would permit it to operate profitably while gaining market share. Although various report have indicated a 25% traffic loss subsequent to the recent earthquake and Tsunami, the long term prospect remain strong given the current positive outlooks for air transport in Asia.


Air France Expands New Business Class, Also Adds New Global Destinations

New Air France Boeing 777-300ER with newer Business ClassThis is a follow up to an earlier December 11th 2010 post featuring Air France accepting its 200th Boeing aircraft, a 777-300ER, also marked entry in service of its new Business Class seat. The new seat would allow fully flat sleeping position along with a 15-inch In-Flight Entertainment system. The new 777-300ER was configured with 42 such seats out of the 383 total.

The airline announced today that it had received very positive response by business flyers regarding its new Business class seat product introduced to the fleet last December. Our December 11th 2010 entry indicated that Air France latest delivery of a Boeing 777-300ER equipped with the new fully flat business seat was in continuity of the airline new re-branding effort initiated in 2009. With the addition to the fleet of two more brand new Boeing 777-300ER equipped with the new Business Class seat on January 20th 2011 and February 7th 2011, the airline has been able to offer continued service on the Brazzaville and Pointe Noire (Congo) oil destinations and on non-stop flights to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam all from its Paris-Charles De Gaulle hub.

Survey conducted by Air France during the 3-month introductory period following the new Business Class entry into service revealed high customer praise for the new product. While 97% of the respondents put the comfort level at good to excellent, 95% of them were recommending the product. The 2 m (6’6”1/2) long, 61 cm (24”) wide seat allows passenger to lie fully flat while sleeping on an horizontal plane. This had been a departure from previous fully flat products which reclined at an angle to the cabin floor. The unnatural sleeping attitude that resulted prevented the airline from aggressively competing in the Business travel segment. The airline is planning to equip another 26 aircraft with the new Business Class by next summer with 63 total being operational by the following summer in 2012. The fleet increase will permit the new service being incrementally expanded to New York (Newark and JFK), Rio de Janeiro, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Osaka, Bangkok, Phnom Penh, and Santiago de Chile.

The airline also announced its new global expansion initiative aiming at increasing its market share on the Europe to Florida travel segment as well as adding to destination to its African network.

The move in Florida is being conducted alongside Group member airline KLM and in partnership with Delta Airline. Delta Airline is to offer non-stop daily flight between Miami and London Heathrow beginning March 26. KLM has already started offering 4 times weekly Miami-Amsterdam flight since March 21 while Air France will take over 3 weekly flights between Paris and Orlando beginning June 7th 2011. This introduces 14 new weekly non-stop flights between major European markets and Florida. This initiative, by allowing the airlines involved to keep operating from its traditional base, can bring significant competitiveness in market share as additional cost to the network will be minimal.

Concurrently the global airline announced further expansions on its network of African destinations. The new services to Freetown (Sierra Leone) and Monrovia (Liberia) will operate as part of existing Paris-Conakry service currently operated by a 208 seats Airbus 330-200. The aircraft would conduct Paris-Freetown via Conakry on Tuesdays and Sundays, and Paris-Monrovia via Conakry on Wednesdays and Fridays beginning in April 2011.

United Continental Installs Flat Bed Seats On Board Boeing 757-200

United Continental Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: UAL) announced March 23rd that it had completed installation of 180-degree BusinessFirst flat seats aboard all Continental Airlines Boeing 757-200. The new seats provide 6’6″ accommodation in length (1.98 m) and 27″ (0.68 m) in width with a full 180-degree reclining capability allowing passengers to lie flat. The BusinessFirst class offers additional amenities to passengers including Escents Aromatherapy’ Amenity kit of exclusive aroma therapeutic bath and body products. In addition an In-flight entertainment system using a 15.4in touch screen is available with 40 feature films, 60 television shows, over 2,000 tracks of music, 20 interactive video games and more on Boeing 757. Each seat provides an entire connectivity suite for ipod and laptops with ipod playing via a docking station, usb ports and power outlets. With Continental Airlines the Boeing 757-200 aircraft have become the mainstay of its transatlantic fleet with 41 aircraft serving primarily European destinations out of the airline KEWR-Newark International hub. Equipped with the Boeing Aviation partners blended winglets, the Boeing 757-200 seems to have allowed Continental Airlines to profitably establish itself in a low density/higher margin business traveler market segment of multiple daily non-stop transatlantic services to destinations such as Belfast, Berlin, Birmingham, Bristol, Copenhagen, Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hamburg, Lima, Lisbon, Manchester, Paris, London, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Shannon, Stockholm, and Stuttgart. Most remarkably in that market segment is that the 757-200 have taken precedence over the airline’s 21 Boeing 757-300, 16 Boeing 767-400 and 10 Boeing 767-200. Counter-intuitively the larger 767s have been mostly assigned to flying extended transatlantic routes out of Houston primarily where high passenger density has been a concern (Zurich, Munich, Berlin, Geneva) while the also larger Boeing 757-300s have been altogether confined mainly to US transcontinental service routes out of the KEWR-Newark and KHIA-Houston hubs. The completion of the Boeing 757-200 BusinessFirst seating upgrade is taking place as the new United Continental fleet is pursuing its gradual integration. Continental Airlines had previously completed the new flat bed seat installation on its 22 Boeing 777-200 this past December. United Airlines claims that currently the new BusinessFirst is operational on all of its 24 Boeing 747-400, 21 Boeing 767 and on 8 of its 46 Boeing 777 for a total of 116 long haul aircraft upgraded throughout both newly merged entities. Already it is clear that the new airline BuisnessFirst product will play a critical role in delivering a successfully integrated and highly differentiated brand identity that is necessarily for the airline to gain market share, more significantly on international long haul business travel.


Australia Transportation Safety Board Investigates Fire On Board Qantas A330

The Australian Transport Safety Board is investigating a latest incident on board a Qantas Airbus 330-200 en route to Manila from Sydney forcing the aircraft to make an emergency diversion to Cairns where it landed safely. The incident occurred during cruise when pilots noticed flames that had apparently ignited near the left hand windscreen. The pilots who were able to bring the small fire under control proceeded to divert the plane with its 147 passengers and 11 crew members on board to Cairns.

The suspicions regarding the electrical nature of the fire were confirmed by the Australian Transportation safety Board investigating the incident, which it characterized as a ‘arcing window heating circuit’. The aircraft involved in this latest incident was already at the center of an investigation not yet concluded by the ATSB. On February 23rd the aircraft began veering off the center of the runway during a take off run at Perth Aerodrome. Pilots were able to successfully initiate an aborted take off sequence. Also troubling on June 10th 2009 another A330-203 en route from Osaka to the Gold Coast, Queensland with 182 passengers and 13 crew on board was diverted to Guam where it landed safely after a fire in the cockpit had been noticed by pilots. Although ATSB report is still pending, an electrical malfunction of the right windshield heating system has been suspected. Finally on August 21st 2005 a Qantas 330-303 VH-QPE suffered a lower cargo fire while cruising from Tokyo to Perth. The aircraft with 181 passengers and 13 crews has to divert and land at Kansai international Airport. reports of smoke near the nose landing gear prompted the aircraft evacuation during which 8 passengers  sustained minor injuries and 1 was seriously injured.

Qantas has recently began introducing the Airbus 330-200 into its long haul fleet typically configured with 36 business seats and 265 economy. VH-EBL, the aircraft involved in the incident is one of  8 Airbus 330-203 that have began operating with the airline in 2007. VH-EBL was delivered brand new in 2008. Aside from the 8 Airbus 330-203 , Qantas also operates 10 airbus 330-303 which are stretched versions of the A330-203, allowing a total of 18 aircraft of the A330 type in the fleet.

R/UGM-109 Tomahawk Land Attack Cruise Missiles Of Operation Odyssey Dawn

Up to 130 Tomahawk cruise missiles are reported to have been fired in three days of the current Operation Odyssey Dawn against integrated air defense targets in Lybia. We’re analyzing the evolution in capabilities of a system that gained notoriety 20 years ago during Operation Desert Storm.

The Tomahawk Land Attack Cruise Missile (TLAM) is a tactical cruise missile that can be launched from a surface ship or a submarine. It is designated RGM-109 when launched from a surface ship and UGM-109 for submarine version. Tomahawks offer long range precision navigation capabilities and high targeting accuracy. With its relatively small size and low sea-skimming flight altitude, a Tomahawk typically takes full advantage of the earth curvature to stay out of range of ground and ship-based radars. The ‘stealth’ feature, augmented by a low subsonic speed present a challenge for air defense systems. Thus presenting a decisive solution for strike planners dealing with a wide variety of strike scenario. The system is primarily used to neutralize high value strategic targets during a full aerial offensive campaign such as key command, control and communications facilities. Its ability to deliver bomblets sub munitions against area targets (such as deployed ground troops, soft skins vehicles convoys, artillery staging area etc) can induce intimidated enemy commanders into operational paralysis. It is also a politically viable air-delivered precision weapon that doesn’t require putting an aviator’s life at risk. Its high level of accuracy and precision also diminish the risks associated with unintended damages. Foremost it offers the ability to fight entire campaigns ‘remotely via ships or submarines’.

The TLAM that are being employed in the current Operation Odyssey Dawn campaign against Colonel Qaddafi forces are either TLAM-C, with the -C indicating they carry WDU-25/B high explosive blast fragmentation warheads or TLAM-D armed with BLU-97/B Combined Effect Bomblets. The bomblets disperse 166 exploding sub munitions against area targets. The Lybian integrated air defense network which is said to be saturated with surface to air missiles systems relics of the former Soviet Union SA-2, SA-3 and SA-5. Reports of B-2 bombers, F-15 and F-16 fighter jets and EA-18G electronic warfare aircraft in addition to French Mirage 2000-D seen overflying Lybian towns on Sunday suggests a decreased activity (or their being switched off) of the integrated air defense network.

TLAMs are launched from submarines or surface ships by solid propellant rocket booster motor. The rocket booster motor delivers 600 lbs of thrust and uses thrust vectoring in order to provide missile direction for for the 12 seconds period of its firing, subsequent to which it is jettisoned. Propulsion for the remaining portion of the flight is assumed by a low bypass small turbofan engine (600-700 lbs thrust); the Williams International F415-WR-400/402 which has recently replaced the F107-WR-402. During cruise ,missile flight control and stability are maintained by a pair of wings along with four tail fins that are automatically deployed from a recessed position within the missile. A ventral air intake is also deployed in order to maintain air flow to the turbojet engine.

Current production Block IV models have provided significantly improved tactical capabilities than earlier Block I, II and III versions. The Block I TALM-C were first deployed in March 1983 and are sometimes referred to as Tactical Anti Shipping Missile (TASM) systems. Because they are primarily designed for the anti-shipping role, they employ an AN/DSQ-28 active radar seeker that operates in the J-band of the electromagnetic spectrum. This system is also found on A/R/UGM-84 Harpoon Anti Ship Missile targeting system.

Since the appearance of the Block II Tomahawk, the highly promising TERCOM navigation system has been at the heart of the missile high level of accuracy. While accurate navigation over the water can be entrusted to an Inertial Navigation System, the remaining overland portion of flight en route to a target can be challenging. For that reason a two tier Inertial Navigation System plus terrain-following radar has been established. The combination of INS and TERCOM (Terrain Contour Matching) requirements have been implemented in the McDonnell-Douglas AN/DPW-23 mid course guidance system. This system gives the missile advanced navigation capabilities while flying over the sea and overland. The TERCOM terrain recognition technology maintains a database of reference maps compiled by National Geo-spatial Intelligence Agency (formerly NIMA, National Imagery and Mapping Agency). These maps are constantly referenced by the TERCOM system during the missile flight in order to maintain the missile in its previously programmed course.

Block II Tomahawks whose deliveries began in 1986 with the INS (Inertial Navigation System) and TERCOM mid-course guidance system additionally received a new terminal phase guidance and targeting system in the form of DSMAC (Digital Scenery Matching Correlation) AN/DXQ-1 system. This system integrates an electro-optical sensor to a image correlation engine. A database of target images is fed to the correlation engine in order to identify (recognize) potential targets encountered during flight and captured by the optical sensor. The AN/DXQ-1 gave the missile added tactical flexibility by allowing it to attack targets in 3 different ways: a straight attack from the side of a target, a programmable pop-up/terminal dive into the target and a Programmed War head Detonation (PWD) that commands the warhead to explode when the missile is overflying a given target area. Together with the TAINS (TERCOM plus INS), the DSMAC gave the Tomahawk Block II an estimated accuracy of between 10 and 30 meters. Both WDU-25/B and BLU-97/B (from 1988) warheads could be used (TALM-C and TALM-D respectively). The Block II have helped cement Tomahawk’s operational reputation most visibly during Operation Desert Storm in Iraqi. In 1991, against Saddam Hussein fielded forces of up to 1,000,000 troops, 282 Tomahawks were successfully launched out of a total of 297 fired.

By May of 1993 the Block II was ready to receive its latest upgrades. A jam-resistant GPS (Global Positioning System) came to complement the TAINS and DSMAC guidance system. Allowing the missile to survive in environment where hostile ‘electronic warfare’ jamming signals are broadcast became a requirement. A smaller and lighter WDU-36/B explosive blast fragmentation warhead was mated to the missile further improving its range. The block III procurement system simple as Block II missiles would undergo the upgrade during maintenance. Both systems are currently still in US Navy inventory until residual Block II inventory is upgraded. Funding for Block III Tomahawk is ongoing until planned expiration date of fiscal year 2020.

Network-centric Warfare

The Block IV Tactical Tomahawk (TacTom) reached Initial operational Capabilities in May 2004. It incorporates the latest achievements in network-centric warfare capabilities and resulting tactical benefits. Network centric warfare systems can share tactical data via a wide variety of communications technologies and links in real or near real time. This approach allows weapon system to support each other in a mutually coordinated way. War fighters have a full picture of the battle field and can manage their resources efficiently and with increased lethality thus improving the likelihood of a successful outcome during engagement and even entire campaign.

The Block IV uses three steerable tail fins (instead of four), two deployed wings, an improved 1,000 miles (1,605 km) range and has a small fixed ventral intake vent opening that breathes air to a smaller and lighter Williams International F415-WR-400/402 low bypass turbojet engine. The rocket booster motor has been incorporated to the missile assembly preventing it from being launched from a submarine torpedo as it has been possible on previous versions. Now the missile submarine launch can only be conducted with the missile still stored in its original capsule storage container; this forms the basis for the Mk 43 CCLS (Composite Capsule Launch System). Launches from surface ships require the missile in its MK 41 canister (missile container) to be mated to a Mk14 ship’s Vertical Launch System (VLS) prior to firing. As a result Block IV Tomahawk are normally procured as All Up Round (AUR); still sealed in their original delivery canisters or capsules containers. . (see recent February 16th 2011 $23,317,060 contract award to Raytheon for procurement of 64 Fiscal Year 2011 Tomahawk Composite Capsule Launching System (CCLS) Capsules, December 16th 2010 $209,027,172 award contract to Raytheon for procurement of 196 fiscal 2011 Tomahawk Block IV all up round missiles via modification and additional procurement of 132 VLS and 64 CLS missiles and also December 13th 2010 Raytheon award of $33,499,596 contract for full recertification of 148 All-Up-Round (AUR) Tomahawk missiles and fixed support for encanisterization/decanisterization of MK-14 AUR missiles). This simplified AUR approach provides logistic gains in the overall procurement/supply chain. With the cheaper F415 turbojet and the fact that Block IV are sourced from re-manufactured Block I TASM, the Block IV Tomahawk encompasses cost savings of the order of 50% in procurement price compared to Block II and III.

The most dramatic improvements to the missile are in tactical flexibility. The introduction of a UHF Satcom data link allows for in-flight target updates ,real time targeting, in-flight redirection, planned time of arrival on target, on-board TV camera for real time image transmitting, and the pre programming of up to 15 alternate targets to which the missile can be re-directed to while in flight. These advanced capabilities can be fully exploited by strike planners using network centric advanced integrated Tomahawk Fire Control Systems FCS (Fire Control Systems). The AN/SWG-3 Tomahawk Weapon Control System (TWCS) are installed on board surface ships. Submarines Combat Control Systems are open architecture integrated battle management and control station that can interface to all the weapons systems including the Tomahawk. Raytheon AN/BYG-1(V) Combat Control System (CCS) for submarines is the currently produced version. (see June 24th 2010 contract award to Lockheed Martin, Information Systems and Global Services, King of Prussia, Pa., of $16,575,612 for the maintenance, upgrade and development of Tactical Tomahawk Weapons Control System software for US Navy and UK Government under the Foreign Military Sales program).

With the significantly high number of inventory TASM or Block I Tomahawk that seems to have been retained throughout the years (up to 1,253 units probably) the Block IV is ensured of a steady supply of new All Up Round.

French Air Force Strikes In Lybia

Picture: Air defense Rafale patrolling.

From a French Ministry Of Defense announcement confirming that French Air Force was involved in Operation Harmattan as of 1:30 pm local time. Operation Harmattan is putting in application UN security council’s resolution 1973 for battle field air interdiction against Lybia’s Colonel Gaddaffi air force.  The French air force is deploying 8 Rafale fighter jets, 2 Mirage 2000-5, 2 Mirage 2000 D fighter jets supported by 1 Boeing E3-F AWACS and 6 Boeing C-135 Tankers. Additionally the aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle is set to leave France Sunday in order to join in the effort.

Lufthansa Profits 1.1 Billion Euros For 2010, Orders 30 A320neo and 5 Boeing 777F

The GE90-115B (picture from Corey Barnes)

Lufthansa AG announced its consolidated financial results for the year 2010 showing spectacular rebound on the year from 2009. Thus confirming that the industry had been on a path to recover fully from the recession began in 2008. The airline and its wholly owned subsidiary companies including carriers Swiss, Austrian Airlines, British Midland, German Wings, logistics specialist Lufthansa Cargo, Maintenance Repair and Overhaul provider  Lufthansa Technik, IT services provider Lufthansa Systems and caterer LSG Sky Chefs showed a combined workforce of 117,019 (0.4% less than in 2009). Operating profit of 876 million euros and net profit of  1.1 billion euro were realized thanks to a 17.5% growth in passengers carried worldwide with 22.8% for Middle East/Africa region, 19% in Europe, 11.3% in Asia/Pacific and 7.5% in America. The logistics operation segment primarily under Lufthansa cargo with partners Jade Cargo International and Aerologic  brought in a 310 million euros profit. Nonetheless passenger transportation still accounted for 74.1% of the group’s revenues share (logistics providing 9.9% of revenue, MRO 8.8%, catering 6.3% and IT services 0.9%). Operating expenses grew by 19.8% on account of rising fuel prices with total revenues of 27.3 Billion euros (including 22.3 Billion euros of traffic revenues ).

The group’s supervisory board also announced orders for 35 new aircraft to be purchased for both the passenger airline segment and cargo segment. The airline selection of the newest fuel efficient Airbus 320neo for its medium haul European operation is a step towards greater fleet efficiency as Airbus claims the newer fuel efficient member of the A320 family will deliver 15% cost savings in fuel expenses. Lufthansa order for 25 A320neo and 5 A321neo is worth approximately $2.8 Billion. The neo family offers performance improvements over legacy A320 thanks to improved aerodynamics refinements relying using large blended wing tips extensions devices  similar to Boeing Aviation Partners winglet offered on Boeing 737NG, 757 and 767.  Airbus forecast neo to sell up to 4,000 units between the years 2015 and 2025. Deliveries to Lufthansa would start in 2016.

Lufthansa Cargo with its 18 MD-11, on accounts of its 37% share of total freight capacity for the group will receive 5 Boeing 777 freighters scheduled to join the fleet in 2013. The Boeing 777F or -LRF is derived from its passenger sibling the Boeing 777-200LR (Long Range). The 777F is highly appreciated by logistics operator as the airplane cargo carrying capacity of 112 tons (102 metric tons) is similar to the Boeing 747 but with dramatically improved economics in the form of 2 powerful General Electric’s GE90-110B1 (110,000 lbs of thrust) provide travel ranges of up 4,900 nautical miles (9,070 km) and much lower fuel burn. Boeing lists the 777 freighter at $269.1 millions.

US Navy and Air Force Providing Heavy Lift Capabilities To Japan’s Relief Effort

The Department Of Defense announced that a total of 14 US Navy ships involving 17,000 sailors and marines were now operating under the disaster relief mission subsequent to last Friday earthquake and tsunami in Japan. A significant logistical effort was under way to deliver water and food while assets were also being provided to support the Japanese Self Defense Force. As of yesterday 113 helicopter sorties (including heavy lift CH-53 helicopters) and 125 fixed-wing sorties had participated in Search And Rescue  missions as well as the delivery of 129,000 gallons of water and 4,200 pounds of food according to Marine Corps Col. Dave Lapan. The 7th fleet with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit now re-positioned west of the Japanese peninsula with USS Essex, USS Harpers Ferry and the USS Germantown and 2,200 marines at strength was being reinforced by USS Blue Ridge, the command ship for Navy Vice Adm. Scott R. Van Buskirk, commander of the U.S. 7th Fleet. In addition high-pressure water pumps were delivered to Yokota Air Base by USNS Safeguard to join in the fire fighting mission at Fukushima Daiichi plant.

US Air Force was also providing strategic heavy lift capability with Boeing C-17 Globemaster III cargo planes contributing heavily to the overall relief effort. A C-17 from Travis Air Force Base in California had initiated two missions last Friday as part of Operation Tomodachi, (“friend” in Japanese), supported by two KC-10 Extenders air refueling assets. Another C-17 from Joint Base Lewis-McChord 62nd Airlift Command in Washington state  delivered 107 tons of search and rescue equipment. C-17s from Dover Air Force base also arrived at Misawa Air Base where C-130s had joined in the delivery effort for 19 power generators needed there to.