Hamburg’s Hydrogen Aviation Lab is bringing the future closer
Hamburg Airport is preparing for tomorrow’s sustainable aviation with regard to the assessment of hydrogen as a fuel for aircraft and the related maintenance and ground processes. The decommissioned Airbus A320 "Halle an der Saale" has been transformed into a Hydrogen Aviation Lab, and will be used both for physical hardware testing, as well as be the basis for a digital twin simulation when it comes to developing and testing predictive maintenance methods for the systems and components of future aircraft generations – in other words, being able to spot hydrogen component or system failures before they happen.
The joint project between Lufthansa Technik, the German Aerospace Center (DLR), the ZAL Center for Applied Aeronautical Research, and Hamburg Airport, and funded by Hamburg's Ministry for Economic Affairs and Innovation, and investment and development bank - IFB Hamburg, was unveiled on 28OCT22, and marks the kick-off of hydrogen components installations to come in the next few months. The Hydrogen Aviation Lab will be equipped with a full suite of test systems, an internal tank for liquid hydrogen, and an onboard fuel cell, paired with supporting ground-based hydrogen infrastructure.
Hamburg's Senator for Economic Affairs, Michael Westhagemann said: “With the Hydrogen Aviation Lab, Hamburg has embarked on a great project. […] The focus on maintenance and refueling procedures should provide us with insights that will be important for developing hydrogen infrastructure. […] We are following two strategic goals: the development of a hydrogen economy in Hamburg and the decarbonization of the mobility industries.”
Michael Eggenschwiler, Chairman of the Executive Board of Hamburg Airport, outlined: “The requirements for the ground handling processes of future LH2-operated aircraft must be defined today. As an airport, we are pleased to be able to contribute our know-how to this important project: from questions of storage and distribution to the refueling process on the apron […] we are focusing on hydrogen as the technology of the future in various areas: for our own ground traffic, for large-scale aviation and also for smaller aircraft types [and] are researching with a wide range of partners how the existing airport infrastructure must be adapted and expanded accordingly.”
The lab will look at safety issues, faster fueling procedures, waste reduction, cooling and insulation, required personal protective equipment, how to deal with hydrogen gas leakages, re-using escaped hydrogen fuel, storage, fire hazard mitigation, training, etc.
IAG Cargo pilots bio-film wrap
Not too long ago, Lufthansa Cargo (finally) announced it was shifting to less environmentally harmful plastic wrap (CFG reported), now IAG Cargo is going down a similar road with the same plastics provider: Verpa Folie. The airline has revealed that it is currently trialing the new film at its London-Heathrow hub, in line with its sustainability strategy, which includes initiatives such as a 12-month pilot of the first electric Terberg YT203EV, in preparation of transitioning from diesel fleets to greener alternatives. Back to the bio-film, the release shares the information that, “with this new sustainable material that is 15 micron thickness, 100% recyclable, and biodegradable by landfill, IAG Cargo will save up to 15 tons of virgin polyethylene a year. This is beneficial on a global scale, where the receiving country of the goods will be able to sustainably dispose of the film,” going on to explain that Verpa Folie developed these reduced-thickness polyethylene films together with US based BioNatur Plastics. Another benefit of the new single-use plastic is, not only its indefinite shelf life (thus avoiding further waste), but it can also be used for food and temperature-controlled items – commodities that are often transported by IAG Cargo.
David Rose, Chief Transformation Officer at IAG Cargo, commented, “We are continuously looking at ways in which we can reduce our impact on the environment in line with our commitment to sustainability. This solution provided by Verpa Folie, which we plan to roll out across our operation, will reduce our plastic consumption and is another step forward for IAG Cargo as we become fit for future.”
Peter Griebel, Managing Director of Verpa Folie Weidhausen GmbH (the exclusive producer of BioNatur foil for M&G packaging in Europe), said: “We are really happy that our long-term partner, IAG Cargo, has started using our product, which is one of the most sustainable and thinnest solutions for air cargo operations worldwide”.
Uzbekistan’s My Freighter airline received its first B747-281F
My Freighter, the Uzbek cargo airline founded in 2019, is on a growth drive. Until 23OCT22, the largest aircraft in its fleet, had a capacity of 50 tons. That has now been increased to 105 tons, with the arrival of its first B747-281F Jumbo Jet. Registration UK47088 (MSN 23139), which started life in 1985 as a Nippon Cargo Airlines freighter, before joining four other cargo airline fleets, flew over from Jakarta, Indonesia, where it had been undergoing technical maintenance, and was formally greeted at Tashkent airport. The acquisition this plane signifies an important step in expanding Uzbekistan's capabilities as a hub for international cargo transportation – and it will not remain the only B747F in the fleet. My Freighter intends to purchase another five B747Fs, bringing its fleet up to 20 cargo aircraft within the next five years. The recent addition will be deployed between China, Southeast Asia, Europe and the United States, with Tashkent as its key transit hub.
On the occasion of the B747F delivery, Abdulaziz Abdurakhmonov, General Director of My Freighter, stated: “When creating the company, we set a goal: to turn Uzbekistan into a center for international cargo transportation. That is, to create a kind of ‘Air Silk Road’, taking into account the geographical location in relation to China and Europe. The reforms carried out under the leadership of our esteemed President Shavkat Miromonovich Mirziyoyev, provide great opportunities for the implementation of ambitious goals and grandiose tasks. I am very pleased that the results of our company are the fruits of these reforms in terms of the strategic development of the aviation industry in the Republic of Uzbekistan. An analysis of air travel trends shows that this market is expected to grow exponentially over the next five years. This is due to the development of e-commerce, geopolitical changes, the activities of international organizations, and the changing requirements of the global market.”
Since 2019, My Freighter has transported 64 thousand tons of air cargo, beginning with a humble 30 cargo flights per year, and increasing to 410 flights this year. Working together with international partners, the airline has warehouses in 10 key Chinese cities in China, alongside operations in South Korea (Seoul), Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City), the Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Germany (Leipzig and Frankfurt), France (Paris), Italy (Milan), the Netherlands (Amsterdam), UAE (Dubai), Russia (Moscow), and Brazil (San Paolo).
CMA CGM AIR CARGO selects HACTL as its handler in HKG
Just a week after Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals Limited (Hactl)’s Chief Executive, Wilson Kwong, announced “As a member of Hong Kong’s air cargo industry, Hactl is committed to supporting Hong Kong’s efforts to strengthening the long-term sustainability of its air cargo and logistics sectors – both undisputedly important pillar of any externally-oriented economies,” during his Policy Address regarding Hactl’s mission to increase its position as an international cargo hub, the island’s largest independent air cargo handler has now been selected by CMA CGM AIR CARGO to handle the airline’s new Hong Kong flights. Five flights per week have been scheduled from Paris Charles-de-Gaulle Airport to Hong Kong Airport, since early SEP22. The flights are operated by the airline’s brand-new Boeing 777F, and add to its existing services to the US. Cargo capacity on board of these flights will be marketed and sold by CMA CGM AIR CARGO and its GSSA ECS Group, whilst Hactl will provide a total cargo handling solution which includes terminal and ramp handling, and cargo documentation services.
Hactl Chief Executive Wilson Kwong says: “We are delighted to welcome CMA CGM AIR CARGO to our carrier family, and wish them every success with this new venture. We are honored that they are entrusting their important new service to our care, and look forward to supporting them with comprehensive, efficient, and resilient ground handling services.”
Those efficient and resilient ground handling services are being enhanced by Hactl’s ongoing improvements. Wilson Kwong explains: “Hactl has already embarked on a digitalization roadmap that aims to take our air cargo operations to the next level and deliver greater value to our customer airlines. Actively underway are also efforts to pursue the deployment of artificial intelligence and robotics in our operations. We believe that the future of Hong Kong’s air cargo industry is dependent on its ability to revamp itself as a SMART air cargo hub.” The airport, too, is working on improvements which include its soon-to-be-completed third runway system, for example.
ICAO Council re-elects Salvatore Sciacchitano as President
Salvatore Sciacchitano, who initially became ICAO’s Council President on 01JAN20 following a period as part of the Italian Delegation to ICAO, was re-elected as President of ICAO Council on 25OCT22. This will be his second three-year term as President of the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). In his acceptance address, Salvatore Sciacchitano stated: “While the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically impacted the Organization's work, I take great pride in the fact that the priorities identified as part of my agenda for modernization have all been addressed with reasonable success. It is my firm belief that we must continue in this same direction in the next triennium in order to fully realize the modernization of our great Organization to the benefit of all Member States and the global aviation community. The Vision of ICAO is to 'Achieve the sustainable growth of the global civil aviation system'. But are we doing enough? Are the global aviation navigation, safety, and security plans and the other relevant ICAO activities sufficient? We need to look at whether ICAO should have a more concrete and ambitious vision, or more effective way to implement it, and if the Council of ICAO should outline a more tangible vision of global aviation of the future. These are reflections that I think this Council should make during this triennium.”
Since his first term as Council President, ICAO has grown and welcomed new member states and representatives. Sciacchitano summarized the areas of focus from the last three years which will continue: “the five key elements to my agenda for modernization focused on the internal working environment, governance, working methods, innovation and relations with industry, and an enhanced No Country Left Behind initiative.”
Unilode continues to furnish Air Austral with ULD
The French, Reunion Island-based airline, Air Austral, and Unilode Aviation Solutions recently renewed their ULD management contract, this time to 2026. The two companies have been collaborating since 2016, with Unilode managing and maintaining the airline’s entire ULD fleet. What is new, this time, is the provision of “lighter weight and more durable, digitalized containers for Air Austral to further reduce the fuel costs and CO2 emission of Air Austral’s five wide-body aircraft,” the release explains.
Joseph Brema, Chief Executive Officer, Air Austral, commented: “We are very pleased with the renewal of our ULD management partnership with Unilode, particularly at a time when Air Austral is recovering its pre-Covid activity, and even strengthening its offer on some of its long-haul routes. The new digital containers supplied by Unilode will help us reduce our carbon footprint and save on fuel costs - an environmental issue to which Air Austral is particularly sensitive. Our partnership has delivered the expected results over the past six years, and we have been especially pleased with Unilode's commitment, presence, and focus on meeting our expectations. We look forward to continuing partnering with Unilode for many years to come.”
Ross Marino, Chief Executive Officer, Unilode, said: “It is great to see our airline customers' recovery and growth as the industry bounces back after the pandemic, and we are delighted with Air Austral's decision to extend our ULD management agreement for a further four years. Sustainability is high on Air Austral's agenda and the new lighter weight containers will contribute to reaching its carbon footprint reduction targets. We place great importance on continuous process and performance improvement and customer success, so we are delighted that our efforts are being recognized by Air Austral.”
Challenge Air Cargo is the Group’s sales steering unit
When your air cargo conglomeration consists of three airlines, a handling unit, and road feeder network, to name just a few subsidiaries, it makes sense to establish a central sales control tower. Challenge Group has done this with the establishment of Challenge Air Cargo, back in 2018. Challenge Air Cargo is not an airline in itself, but a “commercial mastermind,” according to the press release. Though the commercial team operates mainly operates out of a centralized call center in Malta – chosen for its perfect geographical intersection between East and West, as well as for its “aviation friendliness” - it consists of around 100 staff worldwide. They are available around the clock and assist in key market languages such as English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, German, Italian, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Arabic. The commercial team is responsible for steering the capacity on Challenge Airlines IL, Challenge Airlines BE, and Challenge Airlines MT, interface with interline partners where required, and ensure first and last mile transport together with Challenge Logistics. Specialized in time-sensitive and oversize shipments, the team is expert in orchestrating the intricate planning required to deliver a complex logistics solution fast.
Or Zak, Commercial Vice President of Challenge Group, declared: “Every day brings us new challenges, and these go far beyond simply arranging to transport an unusually large and bulky piece of cargo. Flexibility and agility are required when it comes to arranging the successful shipment and delivery of critical goods to various global locations on short notice. Challenge Air Cargo is proud to serve a very varied cross-section of industries and a growing customer group. Our customers can look forward to an even broader service offer in future as Challenge Group is heavily investing in fleet expansion, amongst other things. Whatever your logistics challenge, you can be certain that we will be able to deliver on it.”
TIACA’s Sustainability Award finalists are named
The excitement is rising. In particular for the three Small Business and Start-Up finalists that were selected by the 6-strong Sustainability Awards jury this week, to present their projects in Miami, the week after next. Everyone attending the Air Cargo Forum in Miami Beach, 08-10NOV22, will be able to vote for their favorite of the three, which will be awarded a USD 10,000 cash prize at the subsequent Award Ceremony during that time, whilst the two runners up will each receive USD 2,500. The three entries, based on criteria such as impact on society and industry, ease of implementation, innovation, and “wow factor”, are: AeroVect with its GSE automation solution, CargoAi for its work on decarbonizing the industry by devising and implementing a CO² efficiency score, and EliteChamp for its air cargo vacuum pallet.
Steven Polmans, TIACA Chair, announced, “Firstly, I want to thank all the organizations that submitted an entry. The jury was impressed and felt that the entries were incredibly diverse, allowing us to see how focused and innovative the industry truly is. This made it difficult for the jury to select a single entry that stood out from the rest and shows promise for a sustainable air cargo industry. I would also like to thank the jury members for their time and dedication in reviewing the entries and the results of their deliberations. I look forward to announcing the Corporate winner and seeing the finalist presentations during the Air Cargo Forum in Miami.”
Chris McDermott, CEO of ongoing Sustainability Awards sponsor (now in its fourth year), CHAMP Cargosystems, explained: “Every year that we have supported the Air Cargo Sustainability Awards, the caliber of the submissions has grown. As we continue to foster these great new innovations, the selection process only grows more difficult for us. Sustainability and the pursuit of more sustainable practices can only benefit us all. We look forward to announcing the winners and the opportunity to meet the finalists at the Air Cargo Forum in a few weeks' time.”
Bolloré opens largest West African logistics base
Phase one of Bolloré Aérohub project in Côte d'Ivoire, the commissioning of a 6,000 m² tri-temperature platform, was kicked off in 2019. CFG reported at the time. Now, on 21OCT22, after 18 months of construction and development, Bolloré Transport & Logistics Côte d'Ivoire officially opened Phase two: the largest air logistics base in West Africa. The logistics facility which covers 9,000 m² and totaled CFA franc 3.4 billion (around USD 5.1 million) in costs, will be used to handle in- and outbound air cargo with particular emphasis on facilitating the packaging of pharmaceutical products and providing value-added storage for all types of freight, including perishable goods destined for the Ivorian market or European countries. Located the Abidjan airport area, near to the Félix-Houphouët-Boigny airport freight zone, it offers a bonded area, a 7,500 m² handling area, and a 3,500 m² warehouse. The latter not only contains modern equipment such as a weighbridge, dock leveler, palletization system, and a cold room, but the entire infrastructure has designed to meet sustainability standards, It has been EDGE-certified “for its energy efficiency, sustainability and low environmental impact and integrates an intelligent air conditioning and temperature control system. It is also equipped with an automated lighting system and rainwater reservoir, allowing the watering of plants in green areas, and minimizing the risk of flooding,” the release emphasizes.
Joël Hounsinou, Managing Director of Bolloré Transport & Logistics Côte d’Ivoire, detailed: “This new air logistics base is part of the structuring projects to which we have been committed for several years, aiming at modernizing the logistics infrastructure in Côte d'Ivoire. Three years on from Aérohub, this new infrastructure will enable us to meet the growing needs of our customers and strengthen our role as a regional logistics hub.”
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