Aviation news for this week: Bombardier’s Global 7000 completes first flight, American Airlines flight evacuated following suspected engine fire, Lufthansa retires last of Boeing 737 aircraft, Donghai Airlines finalizes Boeing 787 order, China Eastern Airlines to become launch customer of COMAC’s C919 aircraft
Bombardier’s Global 7000 business aircraft successfully completed its first test flight on Friday, in a two-and-a-half-hour flight that tested the aircraft’s basic functionality. Taking off from Bombardier’s manufacturing facility in Toronto, the aircraft reached an altitude of 20,000 feet at speeds of up to 276 miles per hour. Part of Bombardier’s plan to reinvigorate the business jet market, each Global 7000 is valued at approximately $72.8 million. The aircraft is expected to carry up to 17 passengers at speeds of Mach .92, and reach cruising altitudes of 51,000 feet by the time it hits the market in 2018. "The first flight is the culmination of an incredible amount of knowledge and experience from our dedicated employees, partners and suppliers,” said David Coleal, President, Bombardier Business Aircraft. “This is a very proud moment for Bombardier and confirms the Global 7000 aircraft program development is on schedule. It is the industry’s most innovative and uniquely designed business jet and the only aircraft on the market to offer four living spaces for unparalleled comfort and flexibility, creating an unforgettable experience for our customers. The Global 7000 business jet’s impressive capabilities promise to establish a whole new category for large business jets,” he added.
On Saturday, October 29, passengers and crew members aboard an American Airlines Boeing 767 were forced to evacuate on the runway at Chicago O’Hare due to an engine fire. Minor injuries were reported amongst the 170 people onboard the aircraft, which was equipped with GE CF6 turbofan engines. The Flight Safety Foundation’s Aviation Safety Network classified the incident as an uncontained engine failure; eyewitness accounts and videos show a fire originating around the aircraft’s right engine spreading to the wing as passengers evacuated. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident.
Lufthansa has officially retired its final Boeing 737 aircraft after nearly 50 years of service. One of Lufthansa’s remaining 737-300s completed a symbolic round-trip flight between Frankfurt and Hamburg on October 29, when a ceremony was held commemorating the event. Lufthansa became the launch operator of the 737 in 1967 when it ordered 22 737-100s, and would go on to operate a total of 148 737s of nearly all variations over the next fifty years. The remaining six 737-300s completed their final flights on the 29th, and will be delivered to Florida to be resold. "Lufthansa has always taken innovative approaches to cater the customers’ needs and to take advantage of market opportunities, which is why we played a key role in the B737’s creation and development. We will continue to pursue this innovative approach with the latest generation of aircraft," said Harry Hohmeister, Member of the Executive Board and Head of Hub Management. With hubs in both Frankfurt and Germany, Lufthansa is transitioning to an all-Airbus fleet of A320s.
China’s Donghai Airlines has finalized an order for five Boeing 787-9s, confirming an order announced at the Farnborough Airshow in July. The Shenzhen-based airline began operations in 2006 and currently flies its fleet of 13 737-800s on flights throughout China. The 787 “Dreamliners” are part of Donhai’s long-term plan to expand long-haul routes and international flights. Donhai’s chairman Wong Cho-Bau said, “We will accelerate our fleet expansion plan to satisfy the rapidly growing air travel market and help build our home base Shenzhen as the transportation hub in southern China. Introducing these new next-generation airplanes that deliver the industry-leading fuel efficiency and passenger comfort in their segment market will be a key effort for us to fulfill the plan.” The order is valued at approximately $1.32 billion at list prices.
Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines will become the first operator of Comac’s 158-seat C919 aircraft. A government-operated manufacturer, the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, Ltd. “Comac,” is part of China’s goal to reduce its reliance on Western aircraft manufacturers. The first C919 rolled out last November, and is expected to complete its inaugural flight within the next few months. China Eastern has announced that it will place a firm order for the aircraft within a year of the its first flight. COMAC reports that the C919 has received 570 orders and commitments from 23 operators to date. In production since 2008, the C919 faced numerous manufacturing delays that moved its planned release from 2016 to 2018.