Boeing’s Starliner launch delayed again

Jinen Gada

30 Mar 2023

Boeing's first astronaut flight to space has been delayed until July, marking yet another setback for the aerospace giant's efforts to catch up with Elon Musk's SpaceX in the race for space tourism.

Originally scheduled for 2019, the Boeing Starliner spacecraft has faced numerous technical issues and delays, including a failed test flight in 2019 that was marred by software glitches and communication problems. The spacecraft was scheduled for its second test flight in March 2021, but that too was postponed due to ongoing technical issues.

The latest delay comes as a result of a problem with the spacecraft's propulsion system, which caused the launch to be delayed until at least July. Boeing says that it needs additional time to complete the necessary testing and analysis before it can proceed with the launch.

Boeing’s Starliner launch delayed again.

Despite the delays, Boeing remains committed to its goal of sending tourists into space aboard the Starliner spacecraft. The company has already signed up several customers for future flights, including NASA astronauts, and hopes to launch its first commercial mission as soon as possible.

However, the delays have raised questions about Boeing's ability to compete with SpaceX, which has already successfully launched several manned missions to the International Space Station (ISS) and has plans for further space tourism flights.

Boeing's delays have also come at a time when the company is facing numerous other challenges, including ongoing investigations into the two fatal crashes of its 737 MAX aircraft, as well as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the aerospace industry as a whole.

Boeing's delays have also come at a time when the company is facing numerous other challenges, including ongoing investigations into the two fatal crashes of its 737 MAX aircraft.

Despite these challenges, Boeing remains optimistic about the future of space tourism and its ability to compete with SpaceX. In a recent statement, the company said that it remains "committed to the safety and quality of our spacecraft, our customers, and the broader community" and that it is "working diligently to ensure the Starliner spacecraft is ready for its next flight."

Overall, while the delay of Boeing's first astronaut flight to space is certainly disappointing for the company and its customers, it is also a reminder of the many technical and logistical challenges that come with space travel. As the race for space tourism heats up, it will be interesting to see how Boeing and SpaceX continue to compete and innovate in this rapidly evolving field.

Read next

Air India receives INR 14,000 crore loan from SBI & Bank of Baroda

Radhika Bansal

30 Mar 2023

Air India has raised INR 14,000 crore from the State Bank of India (SBI) and Bank of Baroda (BoB) through a mix of refinancing of old loans and fresh loans, a report by Mint stated quoting people aware of the development.

INR 1,500 crore has been obtained through the Emergency Credit Line Guarantee Scheme (ECLGS), and INR 12,500 crore through the refinancing of existing loans. The ECLGS was first introduced during the Covid-19 pandemic to help small businesses but was later expanded to other sectors.

ALSO READ - Air India plans to borrow INR 18,000 crore from SBI and Bank of Baroda to refinance debt

The Mint report stated that the funds would be used by the airline to expand in domestic as well as international markets with leased aircraft and new planes. As a part of the plan, the airline has announced plans to induct more aircraft, including a recent order of 470 aircraft from Boeing and Airbus.

ALSO READ - From A350s to B777Xs, Air India finalizes the Historic 470 Aircraft deal with Airbus & Boeing

Air India acquires INR 14,000 crore loan from SBI & Bank of Baroda

In FY22, the airline's total debt stood at INR 15,317 crore, significantly lower than INR 45,037 crore in FY21. The Tata Group took over Air India in January last year. For this, Tata paid INR 2,700 crore in cash, taking over INR 15,300 crore in debt.

ALSO READ - Air India posts profit for the first time in several years

"Bankers are more than willing to lend to the Tata Group. Given that there are very few large corporates looking for bank loans, lenders are eager to lap up such proposals," a person aware of the matter told Mint. 

The report further added that the loans are benchmarked to SBI's six-month marginal cost of funds-based lending rate (MCLR) and are priced 50 basis points (bps) above it. Currently, SBI's MCLR stands at 8.4%.

The report said a part of the borrowing was also likely to be used to fund the payout for the voluntary retirement scheme (VRA), which is likely to cost over INR 200 crore. The new round has been offered to all permanent general cadre officers who are at least 40 years and have completed at least five years of continuous service at Air India.

The loans from SBI and BoB are benchmarked to State Bank of India's six-month marginal cost of funds-based lending rate (MCLR) and are priced 50 basis points (bps) above it, the report said.

ALSO RAED - Air India to get fleet insurance from top insurance companies

(With Inputs from Mint)

Read next

Tata Advanced Systems bags Airbus A320neo aircraft cargo doors order

Radhika Bansal

30 Mar 2023

Tata Advanced Systems on March 29 won a contract to manufacture aircraft cargo and bulk cargo doors from aviation major Airbus. As part of the contract, Tata Advanced Systems will produce these doors at a new facility in Hyderabad using cutting-edge robotics and automation technology for aircraft of the Airbus A320neo family.

The contract comes on the heels of Tata Sons-oned Air India's 470-aircraft megadeal with Airbus and Boeing, of which, 210 planes will be from the A320neo suite. Airbus' clients in India for the A320 family of aircraft also include IndiGo and Go First.

Airbus currently procures components and services worth USD 735 million every year from more than 100 Indian suppliers, supporting nearly 10,000 jobs in India. By 2025, this number should rise to about 15,000.

Tata Advanced Systems bags Airbus A320neo aircraft cargo doors orders

"Today, every Airbus commercial aircraft and every Airbus helicopter has critical technologies and systems designed, manufactured and maintained in India," the company said in a press release.

Each ship set will include two cargo doors and one bulk cargo door. The contract was signed by Olivier Cauquil, SVP Aerostructure Procurement, Airbus and Masood Hussainy, VP and HO Aerostructure and Aero-Engines, Tata Advanced Systems Ltd, at Hyderabad on Wednesday, March 29.

“We have an ongoing relationship with Airbus based on trust and operational excellence, and this new contract win will further bolster our partnership in aerospace manufacturing in India.”

Sukaran Singh, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Tata Advanced Systems

In September last year, India sealed a nearly INR 21,000-crore deal with Airbus Defence and Space to procure 56 C295 transport aircraft to replace the ageing Avro-748 planes of the IAF under a project that entails manufacturing of military aircraft in India for the first time by a private company.

The regulatory approval for the ambitious programme was accorded by the Directorate General of Aeronautical Quality Assurance (DGAQA).

Under the agreement, Airbus will deliver the first 16 aircraft in 'fly-away' condition from its final assembly line in Seville, Spain within four years and the subsequent 40 aircraft will be manufactured and assembled by Tata Advanced Systems (TASL) in India as part of an industrial partnership between the two companies.

"When it comes to supporting the development of India's industrial capacities, Airbus is walking the talk. The latest contract underlines our continued commitment to 'Make-in-India' for an AatmaNirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India). In TASL, we have a most trusted and able partner that will support the ramp-up of our A320neo family aircraft that has been the poster child of democratisation and transformation of India's aviation sector. We will continue to grow our industrial footprint and the aviation and aerospace ecosystem at a fast pace in India."

Remi Maillard, President and Managing Director, Airbus India and South Asia

The programme will unlock the potential for cutting-edge design, component manufacturing, aircraft assembly, and services capabilities across the value chain, fully addressing the Government of India’s stated ambition of an ‘AatmaNirbhar Bharat’ (self-reliant India) in defence manufacturing.

ALSO READ - Airbus C295 Military Aircraft to be manufactured in India; gets DGAQA approval

"Together with our supply chain, Airbus supports nearly 10,000 jobs in India today. By 2025, this number should rise to about 15,000. On top of this, the C295 military aircraft programme will lead to the creation of 25,000 direct and indirect jobs over 10 years," Airbus said.

ALSO READ - Tata Boeing Aerospace Limited ships the first vertical fin structure for B737

Apart from engagement with Airbus, Tata Advanced Systems also has a partnership with Airbus’ competitor Boeing wherein it manufactures floor beams for the Boeing 787, tail fin for Boeing 737 MAX, as well as fuselages for the Apache AH-64 strike helicopters.

ALSO READ – Boeing receives the 200th CH-47 crown & tail cone from Tata Advanced Systems

Read next

Coalition of pilots' unions against single-pilot commercial flights

Jinen Gada

29 Mar 2023

In recent months, there has been growing discussion in the aviation industry about thepossibility of introducing single-pilot commercial flights.

Proponents argue that advancements in technology have made it possible for one pilot to safely operate a commercial aircraft, while opponents claim that it poses too great a risk to passenger safety.Now, a coalition of pilots' unions has formed to oppose the idea of single-pilot commercialflights.

The coalition is made up of a number of different pilots' unions from around the world,including the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the Allied Pilots Association (APA),International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA), and the European CockpitAssociation (ECA).

Pilots Unions form coalition against single-pilot commercial flights.

Together, they are working to raise awareness about the potential dangersof single-pilot commercial flights and to advocate for the continued use of two-pilot crews.

The coalition plans “to prevent airlines and manufacturers from pushing ahead with plans toremove pilots from the flight deck, a profit-driven scheme that poses a significant safetyrisk.” ALPA, ECA, and IFALPA said they will act to “protect the flying public and counter anaggressive corporate-led lobbying campaign targeting regulators around the world, includingthe International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).”

One of the primary concerns that the pilots' unions have about single-pilot commercial flightsis the issue of pilot fatigue. Even with advanced automation technology, flying an aircraft forseveral hours is an extremely demanding task that can take a toll on a pilot's mental andphysical well-being.

In addition to concerns about pilot fatigue, the pilots' unions are also worried about thepotential for technical malfunctions. While modern aircraft are equipped with advanced safetysystems, there is always the possibility that something could go wrong. With a second piloton board, there is an additional layer of safety in case of an emergency.

Without a second pilot to share the workload, the risk of fatigue-relatederrors increases significantly.

The unions believe that it is essential to maintain the current standards for crew size and qualifications in order to ensure the safety of passengers and crew members.

Flying a commercial aircraft is a complex and demanding task that requires a high level of skill and expertise. Without a second pilot on board, the risk to passenger safety increases significantly.

It is essential that all stakeholders, including airlines, regulators, and pilots, worktogether to ensure that the highest standards of safety and quality are maintained in the air.The pilots' unions have an important role to play in this process, and their concerns must betaken seriously if we are to continue to enjoy safe and reliable air travel for years to come.

Read next

IndiGo collaborates with VisitBritain to boost travel between India and UK

Radhika Bansal

29 Mar 2023

Low-cost airline IndiGo has joined hands with VisitBritain to promote travel to the United Kingdom through its codeshare partnership with Turkish Airlines. It will offer connectivity to London, Manchester, and Birmingham via Istanbul.

IndiGo's collaboration with VisitBritain is expected to boost travel and tourism between India and UK and promote mutual economic growth and development. This partnership will also provide customers with an affordable travel option.

"Though the United Kingdom is a year-round destination, during the summer and late spring, there is an even larger influx of visitors. Through these connections, IndiGo aims to provide customers with even more options, particularly during the peak tourist season in India. We are committed to making flying a pleasant experience for our customers and will uphold our promise of courteous, hassle-free, on-time, and affordable travel across an unparalleled network."

Vinay Malhotra, Head of Global Sales, IndiGo

Ms. Louise Bryce, Director of Partnerships, at VisitBritain said, “India is one of our most important inbound visitor markets and we know there is pent-up demand for travel. We want to deliver a world-class welcome for visitors and making it easier to get to Britain, including through regional gateways, is crucial to our competitive tourism offer and to encourage visitors to explore more of Britain.”

IndiGo collaborates with VisitBritain to boost travel between India and UK

ALSO READ - IndiGo launches 32 new connecting flights between India and Europe

This is not the first time that IndiGo has tied up with Turkish Airlines for codesharing partnership. Last year, it announced its 32 new connecting flights to Europe through its codeshare partnership with Turkish Airlines. The new routes include several major destinations like Milan, Manchester, Birmingham, Rome, Venice, Portugal and Switzerland.

Also read: Qantas announces direct flights between Sydney-Bengaluru, finalises codeshare with IndiGo

Last August, Qantas announced its codeshare agreement with IndiGo where passengers flying to Bengaluru and Delhi could make seamless connections to major cities like Mumbai, Chennai, Pune and Goa.

ALSO READ - With IndiGo codeshares, Qantas expands its India destinations

Codeshare agreement helps two airlines in expanding their access to customers flying to destinations serviced by either of them. Such partnerships allow an airline to book its passengers on its partner carriers and provide seamless travel to destinations where it has no presence.

VisitBritain is the name used by the British Tourist Authority, the tourist board of Great Britain incorporated under the Development of Tourism Act 1969.

VisitBritain was created in April 2003 to market Britain to the rest of the world and to promote and develop the visitor economy of England. It was formed out of a merger between the British Tourist Authority and the English Tourism Council and is a non-departmental public body responsible to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. In April 2009, VisitEngland became more of a stand-alone body from VisitBritain, more on a par with the devolved entities, VisitScotland and VisitWales.

Read next

Air India Express and AirAsia India integrates reservations system

Radhika Bansal

29 Mar 2023

Air India has integrated the reservations system and customer interface of its two low-cost subsidiary airlines - Air India Express and AirAsia India, making a major move in the Tata-owned flag carrier's plan to consolidate its airline entities. "On 27 March, the two low-cost airlines moved to a single, unified reservations system and website, and adopted common social media and customer support channels," Air India said in a statement. The process largely involved Air India Express migrating to the systems used by AirAsia India. Passengers will now be able to make and manage bookings, and check-in to AirAsia India and Air India Express domestic and international flights, on an all-new integrated website This comes five months after AirAsia India was fully acquired and made a subsidiary of Air India, and three months after both AirAsia India and Air India Express were placed under a single CEO, Air India said. Going ahead, the airlines will continue integrating other internal systems and, eventually, their air operating permits and regulatory posts. Hailing the integration of the core reservations and passenger-facing systems a significant milestone in the Air India Group’s transformation journey, Campbell Wilson, CEO & MD at Air India said the new Air India Express, operating both domestically and internationally using systems optimised for low-cost airlines, gives the Group a much stronger LCC platform. The integration of Air India Express and Air India will bring revenue, cost, and operational benefits through broader adoption of each airlines’ best practices, systems, and routes, and confer greater economies of scale, the company said. Tata Sons has initiated consolidation of its airline entities Vistara, AirAsia India and Air India Express under Air India, a move that will make Air India the second largest airline in the country in terms of fleet and market share. Last month, Tata Sons owned Vistara and Air India started their integration process as the two airlines look to expeditiously complete the merger process. Singapore Airlines (SIA) and Tata Group had last year announced a merger between Air India and Vistara, with SIA holding 25.1% of the merged entity. Vistara is a 51:49 joint venture between Tata Group and Singapore Airlines.