Brussels Airlines Expands Its Fleet With A 9th Airbus A330 Jet

On November 22nd, Brussels Airlines announced that it will be adding a 9th Airbus A330 to its fleet. However, according to the airline’s statement, this new aircraft won’t be coming anytime soon, with an operational start of June 2022. The new addition rebuilds the Brussels long-haul fleet and facilitates growth in the African market.

Moving forward, the aircraft of Brussels Airlines will have a new, brighter livery. Photo: Brussels Airlines

Seven months’ notice

While we’re used to hearing about fleet expansions extremely early when it comes to brand new aircraft (that may not necessarily be produced yet), it’s interesting to have Brussels Airlines announce an additional A330 some seven months in advance.

The airline says that its 9th Airbus A330 will “become operational” in the Brussels Airlines fleet as of June 2022. The carrier exclusively operates the -300 variant of the A330, it should be a safe bet that this 9th aircraft will be the same.

The additional widebody will be used by the carrier to support its African operations, as it noted in Monday’s statement:

“With the extra capacity, the Africa expert of the Lufthansa Group will reopen the West African stations Conakry and Ouagadougou and add frequencies on its routes from Brussels Airport to Freetown, Monrovia, Banjul and Lomé.” -Brussels Airlines

Brussels Airlines Airbus A330-342 OO-SFD
A member of the Star Alliance and the Lufthansa Group, one of Brussels Airlines’ core strengths is connecting Europe to Africa. The airline considers Africa its most important market.  Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple FlyingStay informed:Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.

Shrinking and growing

At this time, Brussels Airlines has a total of eight Airbus A330-300s. However, in previous years, the carrier had as many as 12. This figure went down to 10 just before the global health crisis and was brought further down to just eight due to industry-wide challenges. This fleet reduction was part of the carrier’s “turnaround program in 2020.”

One route suspended in 2020 was its African service to Conakry (Guinea) and Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso). The inclusion of this 9th jet will allow the carrier to resume this service and will see it operate three weekly flights to the West African nations, “as well as add additional frequencies to Freetown, Monrovia, Banjul, and Lomé.”

“We always said that we would go for growth as soon as market conditions permitted. As we see a strong demand in the West African market, we want to take the opportunity to go for growth and invest in an expansion of our African network. –Peter Gerber, CEO, Brussels Airlines

Brussels Airlines Airbus A330-342 OO-SFD (2)
Additional staff will be brought on as part of Brussels Airlines’ recovery. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Where will this aircraft come from?

The airline didn’t specify exactly which aircraft would be its 9th A330. However, the airline’s announcement noted that the jet would be an “allocation,” indicating that it would likely come as a reshuffle within the Lufthansa Group.

We do know that the airline “lost” its other A330s to Eurowings over the course of the pandemic. Of course, these jets have been repainted and reconfigured to meet Eurowings’ needs, but it might be more profitable for Lufthansa Group to shift one of these aircraft back to Brussels Airlines. Otherwise, there are a number of SWISS A330-300s stored in Amman (Jordan) at the moment. Ultimately, we’ll have to wait and see where this allocated aircraft will come from.

Where do you think Brussels Airlines will get this additional A330-300? Let us know by leaving a comment.

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How Much Can Boeing 787 Wings Flex?

Made possible with the use of carbon fiber material, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner’s wings have an incredible amount of flexibility. This flexibility allows load changes and wind gusts to be dampened, resulting in an overall smoother, less turbulent ride for passengers. But just how much can these wings flex?

A photo of a Boeing 787 undergoing its ultimate-load wing test. Photo: Boeing

Extreme testing results

It was over a decade ago, on March 28th, 2010, that Boeing completed its spectacular “ultimate-load wing-up bending test.” In this test, Speed News notes that extreme loads were applied to the airframe, replicating 150% of the most severe forces an aircraft could expect to encounter in service. WIRED notes that the test aircraft was essentially built to be “tortured on the ground and never fly.” So what was the result of this extreme test?

Subjecting the Boeing 787’s wing flexibility to near extremes, Boeing flexed the Dreamliner’s wings upward by approximately 25 feet (7.6 meters) during the test. Video of this extreme test can be seen below:

With this number being on the extreme end of the Dreamliner wing’s flexibility, we can safely say that typical flights with this type of aircraft (and essentially every other commercial jet) will experience much less flex. Even if the flex is much less, it’s an amazing sight to see, as Simple Flying photographer Vincenzo Pace can attest to- especially when these birds are banking on the Canarsie Departure.

Made possible by composite materials

The flexibility of the 787’s wings is made possible with the use of composite materials, including CFRP, or carbon fiber reinforced polymerCFRP). Boeing notes that the Dreamliner’s wings are comprised of approximately 50% of this composite material. Not only are wings more flexible, leading to a smoother ride, but they are also lighter- resulting in less fuel burn and greater efficiency, as Boeing explains:

“[Composite materials] allow a lighter, simpler structure, which increases airplane efficiency, reduces fuel consumption and reduces weight-based maintenance and fees. They do not fatigue or corrode, which reduces scheduled maintenance and increases productive time.”

One of the smoothest rides

Wing flexibility is not just incredible to watch, but it’s a massive benefit for passengers as well- especially those who hate turbulence and are more prone to air sickness caused by a bumpy ride.

Analyzing various factors including wing loading, gust alleviation, and wing flex, turbulence forecasting website Turbli crowned the Boeing 787-9 as the best aircraft to handle turbulence.

In its analysis, the website notes that the aircraft features one of the largest wing loading ratios for commercial aircraft: 750 kg/m2. Wing loading is the total mass of the plane divided by the wing’s surface area. “For comparison, the wings can take twice much weight per square meter than those of an Embraer ERJ-175,” it notes.

Add to this the 787’s incredible flex (an aspect ratio close to 11) and an advanced gust alleviation system, and passengers can keep the air sickness back neatly tucked away in the seat pocket.

Have you been on a Boeing 787? Have you noticed the incredible amount of flex of its wings? Share your experiences by leaving a comment.


Peach Launches A Surprise Flight Vending Machine In Tokyo

Most people like chancing their luck now and then. Low-cost Japanese airline Peach is tapping into that by offering bundles of frequent flyer points from vending machines they have installed in business districts around Japan.

Peach is selling mystery flights via vending machines in Osaka and Tokyo. Photo: Airbus

Mystery flight sales from vending machine take off for Peach

Gachapon vending machines are big in Japan. Normally they dispense small toys and novelty gear without much value. Peach is swapping the toys for bundles of frequent flyer points to take you to a specific destination.

Like any lucky dip-style vending machine, where you go for your money is entirely random – and that’s the appeal. Peach decides where you’ll fly – in this sense it’s like an old-style mystery flight. The twist is in how the mystery flight is sold.

Peach is based in Osaka and installed the first Peach vending machine in that city’s business district in August. The airline hoped to sell one seat a day via its vending machine but has sold 3,000 since August and up to 150 per day.

A report in Vice says each customer pays the local currency equivalent of US$$44 and receives $53 worth of frequent flyer points. The prospective customer gets a piece of paper with a code written on it. It’s all nicely packaged up in a purple ball (or “capsule” to use the appropriate jargon).

The passenger then goes onto Peach’s website to book their flight, paying with the points the code delivers. Vice cites Peach’s Shuntaro Kosasa saying the airline doesn’t make much money from the vending machine, but it generates buzz.

“Not only is it new, there’s stimulation from the excitement of not knowing which destination you’d get. It was time to do something fun,” said Shuntaro Kosasa.

“The gachapon suddenly became hot through social media, and we were really surprised.”

What’s inside the purple ball? A coupon with your destination and the points to pay for it. Photo: Peach

Peach drums up brand awareness

The Osaka vending machine went so well Peach has rolled out another in Tokyo’s Shibuya district. Apparently, there was a queue to buy a capsule.

“Depending on the distance, it could be hit and miss,” one person in the queue told The Japan Times. “But it is kind of exciting to let the machine decide the location and travel there. I think this is a really interesting idea.

The Japan Times report says the Osaka machine offered 13 routes from Kansai Airport, and the newer Shibuya machine was offering 11 routes from Tokyo’s Narita Airport.

Like most airlines, the last 18 months has hit Peach hard. But Peach and other Japanese airlines have tapped into the country’s sometimes quirky popular culture to keep the public engaged with the airline brands.

Peach says the vending machines have proved very popular with customers. Photo: Airbus

Various airlines have wheeled out variations on mystery flights or scenic flights. There have been speed dating flights, duty-free shopping flights, and weekend away flights.

Peach recently said it would be putting on sale a total of 150 unlimited flight passes, valid on all of its 33 domestic routes, with prices starting at the equivalent of $173.

That’s not much money for Peach, but it does focus attention on the airline, and that attention can translate into ticket sales.

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Indian PM Narendra Modi Opens New Kushinagar International Airport

On Wednesday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Kushinagar International Airport. Situated in the state of Uttar Pradesh (UP), the airport is expected to help connect key Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the region and give a significant push to tourism in the area. Let’s find out more.

Kushinagar International Airport is the latest airport in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. Photo: Getty Images

New airport

Built at an estimated cost of ₹260 crore (approx. $34.7 million), the airport has a 3.2-kilometer-long runway – the longest in the state of UP, according to the Hindustan Times. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has built a terminal that can handle 300 passengers in an hour, and the airport’s taxiway and apron are also fully operational.

However, the airport still awaits the setting up of the instrument landing system and the completion of an approach roach connecting it to the main highway. According to the Times of India, the idea for the airport was first thought of in 2008, following which the UP government acquired 590 acres of land for its development.

With its current infrastructure, Kushinagar International Airport can handle up to eight flights in an hour.

The new airport is expected to boost tourism in the region. Photo: Getty Images

Tourism boost in the region

Kushinagar holds quite a significance as a Buddhist pilgrim destination. It is believed to be the final resting place of Gautam Buddha and is a vital part of a Buddhist tourist circuit, which includes Lumbini in Nepal, Sarnath, and Bodhgaya.

Both Sarnath (close to Varanasi) and Bodhgaya are served by international airports that welcome large numbers of pilgrims, mainly from the South East Asian countries. This new airport is expected to further provide seamless connectivity to both domestic and international visitors.

A SriLankan Airlines charter flight carrying Buddhist monks and politicians landed at the airport on Wednesday for its inauguration. The event was also attended by diplomats from countries with heavy Buddhist populations such as Mongolia, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Thailand, Bhutan, Republic of Korea, Nepal, and Japan, as reported by the Hindu.

Speaking at the inauguration, PM Modi said,

“There is a special focus on the development of places associated with Lord Buddha through better connectivity, and creation of facilities for devotees.”

LCC SpiceJet will be the first carrier to serve the airport, with scheduled services to Delhi starting November 26th. Connections to Mumbai and Kolkata are expected to follow soon after, most probably in December.

@flyspicejet is proud to be a part of the dream to connect the remotest corners of India #KushinagarInternationalAirport is yet another leap towards connecting the unconnected.SpiceJet to operate Delhi-Kushinagar from 26Nov & thereafter connect Mumbai & Kolkata. @myogiadityanath

— SpiceJet (@flyspicejet) October 20, 2021

irport development in UP

Kushinagar International Airport is the third airport in UP with international status after Lucknow and Varanasi. With this, the total number of airports that can handle scheduled passenger flights in the state has gone up to nine. Some of the airports in the region that have started to see regular flights include Prayagraj, Kanpur, Hindon, and, more recently, Bareilly.

According to TOI, a senior government official said that many more airports are currently under construction in UP. Some of these include Aligarh, Azamgarh, Moradabad, Shravasti, Chitrakoot Dham, Saharanpur, Noida, and Ayodhya.

Noida and Ayodhya will be international airports, pushing up the tally of international airports in the state to five. The Noida airport (in the town of Jewar) will be pretty significant as it will serve the Delhi NCR region in addition to IGI Airport and the regional civilian enclave at Hindon.

Speaking at the event, PM Modi spoke about the development of airports in Uttar Pradesh, stating,

“In UP alone, including this airport, 9 new airports and terminals have been made available to people. Jewar Airport, which will be India’s largest airport, is also being worked on at a record pace.”

What do you feel about this new airport? Have you flown through any airports in UP? If yes, do share your experiences in the comments section below.

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India To Push For Domestic Aircraft Maintenance Requirements

It’s been a little over a month since the Government of India announced key reforms and policy targets in the aviation sector. Among them were plans of substantial rejigging of the country’s Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) industry. What changes has the government proposed in the MRO sector, and how will it impact the Indian aviation market? Let’s have a look.

The Indian government is keen to develop aircraft maintenance facilities in the country. Photo: Getty Images

New MRO policy to attract investors

In September, India’s Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia discussed, among other things, several changes the government wishes to bring about in the MRO business sector. He lamented that India only holds a tiny 2.5% share of the mammoth $80 billion global aircraft maintenance industry.

Scindia said that India has a huge potential to become a global aircraft maintenance hub and announced key changes in MRO policy to attract investment:

Leasing of land will now be done through open tenders instead of allotment based on an entity’s request.Land for MRO facilities will be allotted for 30 years instead of the current 3 to 5 years.Lease rentals would be decided through a bidding process instead of the current practice of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) determining the rates.The rate of escalation of lease rental would be 15% every three years instead of the current 7.5 to 10% yearly increase.The process of contract renewal of existing leaseholders will also be more transparent. Earlier, contract renewals were decided on a case-to-case basis without much transparency. It will now be done through a bidding process with the existing leaseholder having the right of first refusal if his bid is within 15% of the bid given by the highest bidder, and he agrees to match the rates quoted by the highest bidder.The 13% turnover royalty charged by the AAI will be removed completely.

The ministry has also identified eight AAI-run airports where MRO facilities will be developed – Begumpet, Bhopal, Chennai, Chandigarh, Delhi, Juhu in Mumbai, Kolkata, and Tirupati.

IndiGo A320neo
Indian carriers have to send their airplanes to foreign countries for most maintenance work. The new government policy plans to change that. Photo: Getty Images

Impact on Indian MRO industry

The ministry wants to tap into India’s vast engineering and IT talent to develop large-scale MRO facilities in the country. Currently, airlines in India send their aircraft to foreign countries – mainly to the Middle East and the South-East Asian region, as it’s a lot more economical than to repair them locally.

As reported by the Hindustan Times, the Indian MRO industry is worth $2 billion annually. Of this, only 16% of the business is handled locally. Within the MRO services, the engine and aircraft component maintenance, in particular, is quite lucrative, and the government would want to develop these facilities in the country.

The HT report quoted Anand Bhaskar, managing director, and chief executive officer at Air Works Group, which runs an independent MRO unit with facilities across locations:

“With the country’s aviation industry on a growth trajectory, it makes ample sense to capitalise this precious opportunity and expand the country’s aviation maintenance capabilities for greater self-reliance, job creation and to scale up the value chain, instead of just concentrating on airframes, which most Indian MROs currently do.”

IndiGo AirAsia Air India Delhi Airport
With more than 700 airplanes of Indian carriers alone, there is enormous potential within the MRO sector in the country. Photo: Getty Images

Positive steps

The change in MRO policy is certainly a step in the right direction. The announcement follows the government’s decision last year to reduce the goods and services tax (GST) on aircraft repair and maintenance from 18% to 5%.

It remains to be seen if India could eventually become the global MRO hub that the aviation ministry is aiming for. At the moment, there’s massive potential within the country itself with 700+ aircraft of Indian airlines that require regular maintenance. Hopefully, these policy changes will give the Indian MRO industry a significant boost.

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Which Countries Banned Concorde From Supersonic Flight?

One of the most iconic commercial airliners, Concorde gave passengers a taste of supersonic flight for nearly three decades. Its speed was a blessing for many – super busy (and wealthy) business travellers who enjoyed a particularly short hop over the Atlantic, and for transporting important cargo such as supplies and organs for transplant during medical emergencies. However, the same speed also caused many roadblocks, including the aircraft being banned from a few countries. Let’s find out more.

During its operational history, Concorde was banned in a few countries due to noise issues. Photo: Getty Images

Challenges from the start

Even before Concorde took to the skies commercially, there were voices of dissent against its environmental consequences. In 1966, British environmental activist Richard Wiggs founded the Anti-Concorde Project that challenged the idea of any kind of supersonic transport aircraft.

The booms of the sonic tests leading up to the first test flight of Concorde would often startle people and cause windows to crack. To highlight the long-term effects of a supersonic jetliner, Wiggs used mass-media advertising campaigns, including full-page advertisements in the national press. He made claims of Concorde affecting the ozone layer and drew attention to its noise levels.

A British Airways Concorde
Environmental activist Richard Wiggs founded the Anti-Concorde Project, challenging any kind of supersonic commercial transportation. Photo: Getty Images

By the time Concorde was launched, many countries were convinced that the plane was not a good choice to fly over land and was suitable for supersonic flights only over water. This didn’t leave much choice for potential Concorde customers in terms of network expansion using the jet.

Over the course of its operational history, Concorde was banned by a few countries due to its sonic boom’s noise.

Initial ban in the US

Some of the first defining flights of Concorde were its transatlantic services from London and Paris to New York and Washington. However, the aircraft faced opposition for quite a while from authorities at Big Apple before it could fly into the city.

On March 11th, 1976, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey banned Concorde from landing at JFK Airport over noise issues. Protests had actually started a year before the official ban when around 2,000 cars stopped traffic near the airport.

Concorde was denied entry to New York for 17 months by authorities over noise pollution. Photo: Getty Images

Both British Airways and Air France found the ban baseless and filed a lawsuit in 1977. In August 1977, a District Court Judge in New York found the ban “discriminatory and unfair” and allowed Concorde test landings in the following 10 days.

In October 1977, the Supreme Court finally lifted the ban stating that the Port Authority was “dragging its feet” with the ban not based on any clear noise requirements.

Opposition in Malaysia and India

Before the US ban was lifted and slots were denied at JFK, both Air France and British Airways began looking at other destinations to use their new Concordes. BA wanted to deploy the supersonic jet to Sydney and was looking for a stopover city for refueling purposes. Singapore seemed a suitable choice.

The airline was already running a thrice-weekly service to Bahrain and extended the service to Singapore as the next stage. However, the flight to Singapore met with huge opposition in Malaysia over the plane’s supersonic boom. The service had to be stopped after just three flights.

Singapore Airlines Concorde Getty
BA and Singapore’s joint venture of Concorde flights between the two nations also faced hurdles from Malaysia and India. Photo: Getty Images

Crossing India to reach Singapore was also a suitable option for BA, but it had also refused to allow the plane to fly at supersonic speed over its airspace. Many believe, however, that the real reason for both Malaysia and India to deny Concorde entry was political, as both countries were trying to obtain important slots at London Heathrow at the time.

BA eventually figured out another route to Singapore, but it consumed so much fuel that the service ended for good on November 1st, 1980, citing unprofitable operations.

The aircraft, however, went on to fly for more than two decades after that before ceasing operations in 2003 with a final flight between London (LHR) and New York (JFK).

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Do Airlines Offer Student Discounts Or Perks?

Being a university student is a curious paradox, in the sense that you have more time to explore the world, but less money with which to do so. With this in mind, several airlines offer students discounts and/or perks to help enable such youthful exploration. These are particularly useful for those studying abroad. Let’s look at some examples of such schemes.

Singapore Airlines offers student perks to KrisFlyer members. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Ryanair’s Erasmus partnership

The Erasmus Programme has made study abroad years possible for EU students since 1987. I am one of the millions of students lucky enough to have partaken in the scheme. Erasmus gives students the opportunity to study at a foreign partner university, while receiving financial assistance in the form of a grant to cover certain living costs.

Being a low-cost carrier with an extensive European network, Ryanair plays a key part in transporting participating students across the continent. As such, the Irish budget airline established a partnership with the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) in 2017.

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Edelweiss A320 EU Flag
Thousands of Erasmus students take to the air across Europe every September. Photo: TimOve via Flickr

The ESN states that:

“The Erasmus Generation is a generation of Europeans that are perennially curious, open-minded and full of wanderlust. This is made possible not only through the success of the European project and initiatives such as Schengen and Erasmus+, but also thanks to companies like Ryanair, without which it would be much harder to travel around Europe.”

The partnership allows participating students to receive a 10% discount on up to four one-way flights (or two return trips) during their year abroad. Furthermore, they can check in a 20kg bag free of charge. These perks are only valid between September and June of the academic year in question, despite countries like Germany having terms that run until July.

Ryanair Boeing 737-800 Landing
Ryanair has helped Erasmus students since 2017. Photo: Getty Images.

Singapore Airlines

Full-service carriers like Singapore Airlines also offer certain perks to student travelers. These are available to members of its KrisFlyer loyalty program who have verified their student status at an eligible university. Like Ryanair, Singapore Airlines also offers free baggage to students. Participating passengers get either 40kg, or three bags if traveling to the US.

In terms of savings, Singapore Airlines’ student offer sees such travelers receive a 10% discount. This is valid for a stay abroad up to 12 months in length. The discount applies to Lite, Value, or Standard economy fares, as well as tickets in the premium economy cabin.

The best discount of all?

Ryanair and Singapore Airlines are just a couple of examples of several carriers worldwide that work hard to make air travel more affordable for students. However, there are some instances in which students have been offered flights that are not just discounted, but free!

Do Airlines Offer Student Discounts Or Perks?
Frontier offered students free tickets last year. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

As it happens, Denver-based ultra-low-cost operator Frontier Airlines implemented such an offer for students last year. Admittedly, these were only available for a limited period (March-May 2020), but it was still an admirable gesture from the all-Airbus carrier.

Frontier implemented the deal at a key travel time for students, in a period encompassing both Easter and spring break. The carrier made the offer available on routes to nearly 100 destinations, helping students all over the country to travel home for free.

Have you ever taken advantage of any of these offers? Perhaps you’ve flown with other carriers that have similar schemes in place for students? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.