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Emirates to build massive engineering facility at Dubai

Emirates this week announced a massive US$950 million investment to build a new ultra-modern engineering facility at Dubai World Central (DWC). Spread over 1 million square meters, the engineering complex will be the largest of its kind to be operated by any airline. Purpose-built to support Emirates’ aircraft fleet into the 2040s, the facility will also be a centre of excellence for commercial aviation engineering services in the Middle East, with spare capacity potentially offered to other airline operators. Commenting on the investment at the Dubai Airshow, Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and CEO, Emirates airline and Group, said: “The new facility will enable Emirates to be entirely self-sufficient when it comes to maintenance, repairs, overhaul (MRO) and all engineering requirements for our aircraft fleet.” Emirates’ new engineering facility will be equipped to handle the full gamut of specialist aircraft engineering services - from routine aircraft checks to bespoke paint jobs, light to heavy maintenance programmes, engine repair and testing, to full cabin interior fit-outs and aircraft conversions.

Phase 1 of the project will deliver 8 maintenance hangars and 1 paint hangar – all capable of handling any size of aircraft up to Code F (A380), an engine run-up facility, some 20 support workshops, massive storage facilities, and administration offices. Provisions have been made for further expansion, potentially doubling the capacity in Phase 2. Construction work on Phase 1 is expected to begin in 2024 and be completed in 2027.


Rolls-Royce successfully completes 100% SAF test programme

Rolls-Royce this week announced that it has successfully completed compatibility testing of 100% Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) on all its in-production civil aero engine types. This fulfils a commitment to demonstrate there are no engine technology barriers to the use of 100% SAF. All the tests confirmed the use of 100% SAF does not affect engine performance. In addition, Rolls-Royce has already ensured its new generation UltraFan engine demonstrator has the same capability. Its first run, earlier this year, was on 100% SAF and this week Rolls-Royce also announced it has successfully run its UltraFan technology demonstrator to maximum power. UltraFan’s scalable technology from ~25,000-110,000lb thrust offers the potential to power the new narrowbody and widebody aircraft anticipated in the 2030s. UltraFan delivers a 10% efficiency improvement over the current Trent XWB.

IATA estimates the net CO2 lifecycle emissions of unblended SAFs are up to 80% lower than conventional fuel. Rolls-Royce estimates that to reach Net Zero flying by 2050, a combination of highly-efficient gas turbines operating on 100% SAF is likely to contribute around 80% of the total solution. The international standards body for jet fuel, ASTM International, currently permits up to a maximum of 50% SAF to be blended with 50% conventional jet fuel.


Eindhoven airport to ban private jets from 2026

Eindhoven airport is banning all private jets from 2026 in an effort to meet CO2 emission and noise nuisance goals, the airport has said in a statement. The airport, which has committed itself to reducing CO2 emissions and noise by 30% by 2030, will also reduce the number of flights from 41,500 to a maximum of 40,500 a year in 2026 and 2027. From 2028, noise levels will be the determining factor in the number of flights. In a statement issued on November 7th, CEO Roel Hellemons said: “As private flights have a relatively large noise and CO2 footprint per passenger and only marginally meet our region’s mobility needs, we have decided not to allow them at Eindhoven Airport as from 2026. If opportunities arise for sustainable small-plane aviation (such as electric flying) that adds value to the region, we would want to facilitate that.”


People: US Senate unanimously confirms Michael Whitakter to lead FAA

Victor CEOs Toby Edwards (left) and James Farley (right)

On October 24, the US Senate voted 98-0 to confirm Michael Whitaker, President Biden’s nominee to serve as Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Whitaker served as Deputy Administrator at the FAA from 2013 - 2016, and was also the Chief NextGen Officer. He was responsible for the implementation of FAA's NextGen modernization of the air traffic control system, moving from radar to a satellite-enabled surveillance technology.

Before becoming FAA Administrator, Whitaker was chief operating officer of Supernal, a Hyundai Motor Group company designing an electric advanced air mobility (AAM) vehicle. Prior to Supernal and his tenure at the FAA, Whitaker served as Group CEO of InterGlobe Enterprises, India’s largest travel conglomerate and operator of its largest airline, IndiGo. There, he oversaw strategy and operations for four affiliate travel companies. Whitaker also spent 15 years at United Airlines in a variety of roles as Director, Vice President and Senior Vice President. His broad portfolio at the airline included commercial alliances and joint ventures, international and regulatory affairs, and strategic counsel to the Chairman and CEO on international matters.

Whitaker began his more than three-decade aviation career as a litigator, then as Assistant General Counsel of international and regulatory affairs at Trans World Airlines (TWA). Whitaker is a private pilot, holds bachelor’s degrees in political science and French from the University of Louisville and a juris doctorate degree from Georgetown University Law Center.

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