El Al wants to buy up to 28 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, of which 15 will be purchased first and the remainder 13 will be options, Boeing announced on 5 August 2015.
The flag carrier of Israel currently flies a all-Boeing fleet of 37 aircraft, consisting of eighteen Boeing 737s (2x -700, 11x -800, 5x -900), seven Boeing 747-400s, six Boeing 767-300s and six 777-200s.
The Dreamliners are likely to replace most of the fleet, apart from the 737s, with the Boeing 767 being freed up to a possible conversion to in-flight refuelling aircraft by the Israeli Air Force. The military has expressed renewed interest in this tanker solution offered by Israel Aerospace Industries now that Boeing is delayed with its KC-46A tanker program for the US Air Force.
Seven Boeing KC-707 “Saknai” currently provide the Israeli Air Force with tanker capability needed for f. ex. air strikes on long distances. They are getting old and need replacement.
FedEx is putting new life into the Boeing 767, by ordering fifty new aircraft for more than 10 billion dollar. The largest order of the type ever was confirmed both by Boeing and FedEx on Wednesday 22 July, after Bloomberg initially broke the news.
The deal is great news for Boeing, which is having much trouble getting its militarized tanker version of the same 767 built at the same plant in Everett, Washington, ready for usage. With an option for another 50 aircraft plus an earlier order included FedEx account now awaits between 105 to 155 new 767s.
The first 767-300F was delivered to FedEx in September 2013, to start renewing the fleet of 70 Boeing 757s, MD-10s, MD-11s and some Boeing 777s. The freighter can carry approximately 58 tons of cargo with intercontinental range. The 767 Freighter is used on long-haul, regional or so-called feeder markets.
South Korea has officially entered the beginning of the end of the selection process of an in-flight refuelling aircraft for its Republic of Korea Air Force. Long due and delayed many times, Seoul has officially opened the bidding contest on Tuesday 14 April 2015.
With money and interoperability with the US Air Force as important issues the three candidates for the four tanker aircraft are the Airbus A330 MRTT, the Boeing KC-46 Pegasus and the Israeli Aerospace Industries Boeing 767-300ER MMTT solution. Two of the four aircraft of the expected future have to be available by 2018, the second pair within two years after that, according to sources in Seoul.
The Israeli solution of refurbishing existing aircraft seems to be the cheapest solution, with the type on its way to the Brazilian Air Force, the KC-46 the most logical choice politically speaking and the A330 MRTT probably the best choice if Seoul chooses for a proven platform instead of a new.
The A330 MRTT already is or will be in service with the Royal Air Force (Voyager; 10 aircraft plus 4 planned, flown by AirTanker), Royal Australian Air Force (KC-30; 5 aircraft with 2 more expected), the United Arab Emirates Air Force (3), the Royal Saudi Air Force (3 plus 3 ordered), Singapore (6 planned), Qatar (2 planned), France (12 planned), India (6 planned), Spain (2 planned), the Netherlands (2 planned) and European NATO nations Belgium / Norway / the Netherlands (2 planned). Note that only 9 RAF Voyagers are fully equipped as in-flight refueller to have London save costs.
Although the number of 62 A330 MRTTs looks impressive, it is small compared to the 179 to 400 KC-46s the US Air Force is expecting to field the coming years. But the Boeing project has been hit by delays and the first fully-equipped Pegasus is yet to make its first flight, planned for July this year.
American-made aircraft will provide more airline services to the Crimean peninsula. Both Ikar and Orenair (Orenburg Airlines) will start regular flights the coming month to Simferopol Airport, both using Boeing planes.
On 29 April the first Boeing 767 of Ikar – a brand owned by Pegas Fly – will start operations between Irkutsk and the regional capital of the Crimean peninsula, which Russia took over by force from Ukraine in February and March 2014. Flights will last until 20 October which room for about 300 passengers per flight.
On June 5 Orenair joins in – also from Irkutsk – with an even bigger Boeing 777.
Sources: Ikar / Orenair
Featured image: A Boeing 777 of Orenair (Image (CC) Fedor Leukhin)
The curtains were about to close on 2014, but in the end Boeing did on Sunday 28 December what it commited to earlier this year. From the Boeing Everett facility at Paine Field near Seattle, the first KC-46A Pegasus took the skies at 9:30 AM local time for a flight to nearby Boeing Field, where it landed safely after systems testing and being in the air for 3 hours and 32 minutes. The flight will no doubt be heralded as a milestone for the US Air Force’s troubled KC-X program. But in reality, the KC-46A has yet to fly.
The first fully equipped flight is still at least nine months away. Three more aircraft will follow, after which serial production of about 179 KC-46A tankers should begin. Starting 2017, they will replace the dozens and dozens of old, battered Boeing KC-135s that formed the backbone of US air-to-air refueling capability for decades. Also, the McDonnell Douglas KC-10 Extender will make way for the KC-46A. Poland is mentioned as a likely export customer. Modified tanker versions of the Boeing 767 are already in service with Italy, Japan and Colombia, and soon Brazil.
Troubled The KC-X/KC-46 program has a troubled history, however. If the US wasn’t overly protective of its own economy, the KC-135 and KC-10 would already be retired to the Arizona desert, with Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft taking their place. Initially, in 2003 Boeing indeed won the bid for the program, but fraud was involved and prison sentences were given to those involved.
The contract was canceled, and a new bid opened. In February 2008, the Pentagon awarded the contract to Northrop Grumman and Airbus Defense & Space, who had entered the A330 MRTT – aka KC-45 – together. Following a Boeing protest, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reviewed the selection and in the end recommended a new bid. In February 2011, Boeing finally had its way and was awarded the KC-X contract.
Since then, the program hasn’t been without delays. Most prominent was the wiring in the first aircraft, that needed replacements because of malfunctions. The delays are causing a cost overrun of 1.5 billion USD over the original program development budget of 4.9 billion USD. It’s therefore no wonder Boeing felt the need the get first airplane flying before the end of the year.