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Aviation News for the Week of March 27, 2016

This week in aviation news: EgyptAir flight hijacked, FAA releases 20-year Aerospace Forecast, Boeing to cut at least 4,000 jobs by Q3, Bombardier receives firm order for 20 Challenger 350s

On Monday, an EgyptAir A320 en route to Cairo from Alexandria was hijacked by an Egyptian national, Seif El Din Mustafa, who claimed to be wearing a suicide belt later revealed as a fake. Mustafa delivered threats to crew members shortly after takeoff, and the flight was diverted to Cyprus, where many of the more than 80 people on board were released. Mustafa was described as “unstable,” and apparently hijacked the aircraft for reasons involving his ex-wife. During the hijacking Mustafa continuously changed his mind as to his demands, and negotiations continued once the plane landed where crew members and four passengers were held on board for several hours. Mustafa, who has an extensive criminal record involving theft, forgery, and drug offences, was arrested and charged after the incident. The hijacking is not being investigated as a terrorist threat, and none of the 70 people on board were injured.

The Federal Aviation Association (FAA) released their projections report this week, predicting an overall 2.6% increase in US airline passenger traffic each year over the next twenty years. Additionally, the FAA predicts that Revenue Passenger Miles (RPMs) will increase from 889.1 billion last year to 1,530 billion in 2036. The FAA also estimated that the United States’ overall passenger jet fleet will increase to 7,125 from 5,574, signaling progressive industry growth.      

On Tuesday, Boeing Commercial Airplanes announced that it will be cutting approximately 4,000 jobs by mid-year, as it employs cost-cutting measures to save $1 billion by the end of 2016. However, some insiders reported that up to 8,000 jobs, approximately 10% of Boeing’s commercial airplanes unit, could be cut by the end of the year if cost-cutting goals aren’t met. Boeing has reported that some of the cuts will come from employees accepting voluntary buyout packages and early retirements. The cuts were initially announced in February, but the scale and timeline was left ambiguous until now. Boeing has been forthcoming about its expectations for fewer overall deliveries this year as it ramps up production for the upcoming 737 MAX series, resulting in lower profits in the short-term. Officials at Boeing have said that cost-cutting measures are necessary to remain competitive in the marketplace, allowing them to offer deep discounts for large orders to compete with Airbus.

On Friday, Bombardier Business Aircraft announced that it had received a firm order for 20 new Challenger 350 jets from an unidentified customer. At current list prices, the order is expected to total around $534 million. "With its outstanding performance and reliability, the class-leading Challenger 350 aircraft dominates the super-midsize segment and continually outperforms - it's simply one of the best business jets in the market," said David Coleal, President, Bombardier Business Aircraft. The Challenger 350 is Bombardier’s upgraded super-midsize jet, having received its full type certification from Transport Canada in June 2014. The Challenger 350 boasts a range of 3,200 nautical miles and holds up to eight passengers, travelling at speeds up to Mach .80. 

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