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Editorial comment – December 2013

People in aviation are used to the industry being vilified as a major source of carbon dioxide emissions and noise, even if the criticism often flies in the face of the facts.

And yet, when there is a natural disaster, like Typhoon Haiyan, which hit the Philippines on 8 November, that same industry is the only one that can provide a fast response with the delivery of aid. The picture above shows a Lufthansa Airbus A340-600 at the Lufthansa Technik Philippines facility in Manila early in the morning of 11 November, having just delivered 25 tonnes of aid, including 5,400 fleece blankets, 3,000 plastic tarpaulins and tents as well as medical supplies.

The initiative was started by Lufthansa Captain Frank Uhdris, who urged that the aircraft’s belly capacity be made available. Subsequently, the airline, Lufthansa Cargo and Lufthansa Technik worked with the German Federal Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance Agency and the charities International Search and Rescue Germany and World Vision to get the aid underway as soon as possible. The aircraft left Frankfurt on the morning of 10 November on its 12 hour flight. On arrival, Lufthansa Technik Philippines and MacroAsia Corporation (local shareholders in the company), worked with the Bureau of Customs, the Philippine Economic Zone Authority, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, and the German Embassy to speed through customs clearance, unload and breakdown the freight, and release it to the charities.


Turning back to the industry, this year’s Aviation Week MRO Europe show, held in London, seemed to have a real buzz to it – apologies to all those people I failed to meet up with as a result. Looking at the news generated by the event, and talking to people around the halls, no clear trends were immediately apparent, just a general feeling that the market has improved, and some confidence that 2014 will be a busy year.


Also in London, repair work has started at Heathrow on the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 787 that was damaged by a battery fire in the summer. Surprisingly, this is being carried out in the open, rather than inside a maintenance hangar. As a result, the aircraft has been partially covered to allow work to progress in the English weather and the vertical stabiliser has been removed. Of course, the covering also conceals the work being carried out from prying eyes – there has been much speculation as to whether it will be a temporary repair, to allow a ferry flight to another location, or a permanent one. Whatever the end result, it will be fascinating to see how Boeing meets the challenge of such a huge repair to a composite structure.

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