This week's top news and stories.

  • Airbus A321XLR Operates 13+ Hour Test Flight
  • Air India Begins Mumbai-SFO Flights Using Former Delta 777-200LRs
  • Virgin Australia Adds Boeing 737 MAX Flights To Tokyo
  • SWISS To Replace Airbus A340s With A350s By 2025
  • Cathay Pacific Gradually Reintroducing First Class
  • Iberia Introduce new A350 Business Class Cabin
  • TUI Launches Fully Funded Pilot Training Scheme In The UK
  • NASA’s SOFIA Boeing 747 Takes Off For The Final Time

Airbus A321XLR Operates 13+ Hour Test Flight

On December 13th, the prototype A321XLR was taken on a 13-hour test flight to see if the additional fuel system could be successfully tested.

The aircraft left Toulouse-Blagnac and headed north to show off its long-haul capabilities. After drawing a large XLR in the sky off the Atlantic coast, the aircraft headed north and flew towards Ireland, over the UK, then toward Norway, Germany, Czechia, Austria, Croatia, and Italy.

The re-engined single-aisle aircraft returned to Toulouse after about 15 minutes of the test flight to verify the maturity of the fuel systems.

“The flight is part of the usual testing campaign and has genuine technical objectives for the fuel systems testing and maturity.”


Air India Begins Mumbai-SFO Flights Using Former Delta 777-200LRs

The first-ever non-stop service between Mumbai and San Francisco has been launched by Air India. Air India launched three times a week flights between Bengaluru and San Francisco at the beginning of the month.

The inaugural Mumbai to San Francisco flight was operated by an ex-Delta Airlines Boeing plane. One of the five types of aircraft being leased by the Indian flag carrier is the 777-200LR. Delta Airlines retired these planes at the beginning of the Pandemic.

— VT-VLO (@Vinamralongani) December 15, 2022

Air India flies non-stop from Mumbai to Newark, from Delhi to New York, Newark, Washington DC, San Francisco, and Chicago. The third Indian city to have a direct flight was Mumbai.

Virgin Australia Adds Boeing 737 MAX Flights To Tokyo

There will be a daily return of Cairns to Tokyo Haneda on June 28, next year. One of the world's longest Boeing 737 routes will be operated by a Boeing MAX 8 aircraft.

This route will be the fourth-longest by MAX aircraft when it takes off, with a flight time of over seven hours and 30 minutes. There will be flights VA 77/78 starting in June of 2023.

  • Cairns-Tokyo Haneda: VA77, 1:15PM-8:00PM (7h 45min block time)
  • Tokyo Haneda-Cairns: VA78, 9:45PM-06:15AM+1 day (7h 30min block time)

After the start of the Pandemic, Virgin Australia decided to end all long-haul routes with the exception of this one.

SWISS To Replace Airbus A340s With A350s By 2025

The introduction of the A350-900s will be the next step in the modernization of the long-haul aircraft fleet. SWISS will gradually replace its four-engined A3400-300s with five A350s. Twenty-five A350-900s were placed by the Lufthansa Group in 2019.

We have a chance to invest in the future of our company, in our people, and in the quality that we offer our guests. SWISS is setting a vital course to maintain its competitive edge over the long term with the planned substantial modernization of our long-haul aircraft fleet.

In 2025, we’ll introduce the Airbus A350-900 to our fleet. 🥳 The modern & efficient aircraft is one of the most silent of its type, stands for a more sustainable aviation and enhances your experience. ✈️

— Swiss Intl Air Lines (@FlySWISS) December 12, 2022

SWISS has a widebody fleet consisting of 14 A330-300s, with an average age of 12.3 years, five A3400-300s, with an average age of 19.2 years, and 12 Boeing 777-300ERs, with an average age of 5.6 years.

Cathay Pacific Gradually Reintroducing First Class

After a three-year hiatus, first-class service is returning on a few routes. First class was reintroduced on the Hong Kong - London flights. As air travel recovers, it will be bringing back its high-end offerings on flights to Paris and Tokyo Haneda.

The General Manager of Customer Experience and Design at Cathay Pacific stated, "We are extremely excited to be bringing back our first class service after an extended absence as the world's appetite for travel comes roaring back."

Cathay Pacific First Class Review
Cathay Pacific First Class

The majority of the airline's aircraft were grounded during the Pandemic due to the lack of first class cabins. As Hong Kong gradually lifts its travel restrictions, Cathay Pacific wants to bring back first-class service on popular routes.

Iberia Introduce New A350 Business Class Cabin

The new business class suite with doors was supposed to be introduced in December of next year but has already started flying. The seat for the new business class cabin was chosen by the two companies. The Spanish flag carrier has a new cabin.

The new cabin of the A350 is currently being used on flights from Madrid to Barcelona, Boston, Dsseldorf, London, and Paris CDG.

New Iberia A350 Business Class
New Iberia A350 Business Class

The evolution of the CL6720 seat was launched by Air China. Air China has the A350s, El Al has the 787-9s, and TAP Air Portugal has the A330-900neos.

TUI Launches Fully Funded Pilot Training Scheme In The UK

cadet pilots will be able to land a job with zero upfront financial commitment as a result of the new MPL cadet programme. A total of 30 cadet pilots are expected to participate in a 19-month program.

The training costs will be reclaimed from the pilot's salary when they are hired by the British leisure airline. The five-stage selection process includes a CV check, online assessments, a one-way digital interview, and a flying test in a light aircraft.

“The best indicators of future star aviators are aptitude to learn the skills required and professional determination – not access to six-figure sums of money or gender, religion or cultural heritage.”

BALPA General Secretary, Martin Chalk

The post-deduction salary for the first four years would be over forty thousand dollars per year.

NASA’s SOFIA Boeing 747 Takes Off For The Final Time

The modified NASA Boeing 747SP completed its last flight last week, ending the ambitious project launched in 2010.

The modified 747SP was widely used for overnight missions from a high altitude of around 45,000 feet. The old Pan Am and United Airlines plane had a telescope.

After completing its mission, SOFIA took off for its new home at the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona, where it will stay for the foreseeable future. SOFIA performed one last flyby of the area, complete with a wing tilt, to acknowledge everyone who has supported and worked on the project.

“The SOFIA mission may have ended, but the future is bright. SOFIA has made numerous and significant contributions to astrophysics and will continue to do so as our scientific community finds new and creative ways to analyze SOFIA data in the archive.”

Dr Naseem Rangwala, the SOFIA Project Scientist

Which aviation news story was your favorite? Tell us in the comments.

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