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Updates on grounding of Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded 171 MAX 9 planes on Saturday, January 6th, after a panel called a door plug blew off the Alaska Airlines flight not long after taking off from a Portland, Oregon, airport on Friday, forcing pilots to scramble to land the plane safely. The EASA has adopted an Emergency Airworthiness Directive (EAD) issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for a specific configuration of the Boeing 737-9 (MAX). In the specific set-up covered by the EAD, a mid-cabin exit is replaced by a plug-in panel. This configuration is typically adopted by airlines flying lower-density operations where this additional exit is not required to meet evacuation safety requirements. The 737-9 aircraft operating in Europe do not have this configuration and are therefore not grounded by the EAD.

On Monday, January 8th, the FAA has approved a method to comply with the FAA's Boeing 737-9 Emergency Airworthiness Directive (EAD), and it has been provided to the affected operators. Boeing 737-9 aircraft will remain grounded until operators complete enhanced inspections. Boeing's latest 737 MAX crisis deepened after United Airlines and Alaska Airlines said they had found loose parts on multiple grounded MAX 9 aircraft on Monday, January 8th. Only days before, news broke that Boeing was urging carriers to inspect 737 Max jets for loose bolts in rudder assemblies. In August, Spirit revealed it had delivered many 737 Max fuselages with potentially defective aft-pressure bulkheads.


Airbus earns AOC for Beluga outsize cargo aircraft operation

Just under two years ago, in January 2022, Airbus launched its outsized air-cargo service, Airbus Beluga Transport (AiBT), operated by Airbus Transport International (ATI). Airbus has secured an air operator’s certificate for the new carrier established to conduct outsize freight transport using the airframer’s withdrawn A300-600ST Beluga fleet. Airbus has introduced the larger A330-700L BelugaXL to replace the five A300-600STs previously used to ship aircraft structures between its manufacturing facilities.

As the teams build up their experience initially on the short intra-Europe ‘hops’ between Airbus sites (which is also supporting Airbus Commercial’s ramp-up for A350 and Single Aisle programmes), a parallel focus will be for AiBT to expand the scope of certified payloads that will be required for the transportation needs of external customers. “So far we’ve delivered payloads mainly for Airbus Helicopters and Airbus Defence and Space in 2022/2023 and we're going to expand our customer base in 2024,” predicts AiBTs managing director Benoît Lemonnier. To accelerate this process, AiBT has forged an agreement with Airbus on further investment to certify the BelugaST to carry more types of helicopters, containers and aircraft engines. Currently AiBT’s fleet includes three aircraft, with the fourth one due for induction in 2024.


Signature Aviation closes on acquisition of Meridian

Signature Aviation, the world’s largest private aviation terminal operator, has acquired Meridian, a private aviation company with bases in Teterboro, NJ (TEB) and Hayward, CA (HWD). The transaction was completed on January 1, 2024, and Meridian’s TEB and HWD bases joined Signature’s global network of more than 200 locations in 27 countries across five continents.


People: Marie-Louise Philippe, Embraer VP Sales & Marketing, Head of Region for Europe & Central Asia

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

Late last year Embraer Commercial Aviation has appointed Marie-Louise Philippe Vice President Sales & Marketing and Head of Region for Europe and Central Asia. Philippe reports to Martyn Holmes, Chief Commercial Officer of Embraer Commercial Aviation. Philippe will be based in Amsterdam, from where she will also support Embraer’s sustainability roadmap in the region.

With over 20 years of experience in the aviation industry, Philippe has had a rich international career, being previously based in France, Singapore and Hong Kong. She had wide ranging commercial leadership roles at Airbus in procurement and customer affairs and a strong sales record with customers in Europe and Asia. Most recently she successfully has led services and aircraft sales teams in South-East Asia, where she was also spearheading M&A, industrial cooperation projects and serving on the steering board of a training centre. Philippe is the founder and President of the Women in Aviation Chapter Singapore, which promotes and drives diversity and inclusion in the aerospace sector.

Marie-Louise Philippe, an Austrian national, is married and has three children. She holds a degree in Business from Vienna University, is a keen sports woman and charity fund raiser, and recently competed in the 2023 Women’s Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.

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