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AVIATION NEWS
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Supersonic Bizjet Launch Inches Closer, Says Analyst

We’re much closer to a supersonic business jet (SSBJ) being formally launched” as costs and persistent risks related to regulatory, engines and sonic boom noise are “progressively mitigated,” according to aviation analyst Brian Foley. “The final impetus will be from the realization that to command this relatively small but high-value market requires being early to capture finite sales.”

One primary regulatory risk has been defining what constitutes an acceptable sonic boom noise over land, “which can be quite subjective,” he said. The FAA is currently re-examining the supersonic flight over land ban, which Foley hopes will result in “much needed guidance and design latitude” in the coming months.

Another challenge he cited is a powerplant able to operate in the supersonic regime while still offering reasonable times between maintenance overhauls. It also comes down to an issue of money: “Who pays for the development of a new or derivative engine that meets these unique performance and durability requirements?” he asked.

An SSBJ platform needs both a civil and government market component to be successful, Foley noted. “Once the race is on with teams formed and proper funding, the concept could leap forward. While I now view a formal SSBJ launch as being more conceivable than ever, it’s still moving at the very subsonic speed of technology, regulation and money.”

Singapore Airlines Takes First Boeing 787-10

Boeing handed over the newest member of the 787 family—the 787-10—to launch customer Singapore Airlines (SIA) during a ceremony Sunday evening at the manufacturer's South Carolina production facility. The delivery of 787-10 9V-SCA, celebrated before 3,000 Boeing employees and their guests, SIA and Rolls-Royce executives, and other dignitaries, follows U.S. FAA type certification on January 22.

With the delivery, SIA Group becomes the first to operate all three members of the 787 family, which also includes the original -8 and the -9. “[The 787-10] will be an important element in our overall growth strategy, enabling us to extend our network and strengthen our operations,” SIA CEO Goh Choon Phong said during the ceremony, adding the model will serve as a platform for the airline to debut a “new regional cabin product” that will involve two classes seating 36 in business class and 301 in economy class. The airline plans to unveil that product later in the week, he added.

SIA, which has placed firm orders for 49 of the new model, plans to begin operations with the aircraft in May on a route to Osaka, Japan. The airline is adding a second route to Perth, Australia, also in May, using the 787-10.

Boeing Delivers First 737 Max 9

Boeing and the Lion Air Group on Wednesday celebrated the handover of the first 737 Max 9 during a ceremony held Wednesday at the manufacturer’s Seattle delivery center. Plans call for the airplane to enter service with Thai Lion Air, which expects to use the latest Max variant to launch several international routes.

“The 737 Max 9 is a perfect fit for our growing business in Thailand,” said Thai Lion Air chairman and CEO Darsito Hendro Seputro. “The 737 has been the backbone of our business since we began, and we will use the added capacity the airplane provides to expand our network and start additional routes to Bangladesh, China, and India.”

The launch customer for the Max 9, the Lion Air Group also became the first operator to place into service the baseline Max 8. It has placed firm orders for another 200 Max jets and has announced a commitment for 50 Max 10s, the largest version of the four-member family.

Designed for a capacity of up to 220 passengers and a range of 3,550 nm, the 737 Max 9 carries three more rows of seats than the Max 8, which nevertheless has collected most of the orders for the four Max variants. Although Boeing declines to break down order numbers by model because, it says, some customers retain rights to move from one to the other, the Max 9 has drawn far fewer initial commitments than has the Max 8 or the more recently launched Max 10—the largest of all the Max variants.

 

 
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