Using AI to reduce the formation of contrails
American Airlines this week announced the findings of a “first-of-its-kind study on contrail avoidance, with results verified by satellite imagery, aimed at reducing aviation’s environmental impact,” carried out in conjunction with Google Research and Breakthrough Energy. Contrails, which occur when aircraft fly through layers of humidity, may linger (depending on the weather), reflecting sunlight back into space during the day or possibly trapping heat within the Earth’s atmosphere at night. Focus of the study was to identify atmospheric zones likely to create contrails, and relay this information to pilots during flight to avoid these zones. Based on the data collected (satellite imagery, weather, and flight path data), artificial intelligence (AI) was deployed to develop contrail forecast maps. Over a test period of six months and 70 flights, a small group of American pilots used AI-based predictions to make small modifications to routes that were projected to create contrails. Result: 54% fewer contrails (proven by satellite imagery) – a first indication that commercial flights can avoid contrails with AI support. “Additional research is necessary to determine if this success can be replicated and scaled.”
Jill Blickstein, Vice President of Sustainability at American, said: “American is grateful for the opportunity to work with our partners at Google Research and Breakthrough Energy to help advance the science on contrail avoidance. The results from this small-scale test are encouraging, and, while clearly there are more questions to answer about how to operationalize contrails avoidance across our industry, we’re excited to have played a role in establishing this first proof point. And we’re looking forward to sharing what we learned with stakeholders in the aviation industry and beyond.”
Juliet Rothenberg, Head of Product for Climate AI at Google Research, explained: “Our contrails predictions combine the latest in AI research with massive amounts of satellite imagery, weather data, and flight data. We now have the first proof point that commercial flights can use these predictions to avoid contrails, as verified in satellite imagery. We’re grateful for our partnership with American Airlines and Breakthrough Energy – together we’ve taken a significant step towards understanding a high-potential climate solution.”
Marc Shapiro, Director of Breakthrough Energy Contrails, detailed: “Avoiding contrails might be one of the best ways to limit aviation’s climate impact, and now we have a clear demonstration that it’s possible to do so. This study is a great example of what happens when creative, ambitious organizations work together to better understand and solve a tough problem, and we're grateful for American’s and Google’s partnership.”
Serve Air has opted for its first B737-800SF
Democratic Republic of Congo-based Serve Air’s current fleet of B727F and B737-300F aircraft, is about to expand to include B737-800SF aircraft. The airline placed the order for its first B737-800SF freighter conversion this week, with Aeronautical Engineers, Inc. (AEI). In total, Serve Air plans to operate six such aircraft over the next few years. The first one, MSN 30517, is already undergoing modification and is due to redelivery to Serve Air, early NOV23, making the airline the first operator of this aircraft type in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
“All conversion related touch labor and maintenance is being performed by the authorized AEI conversion Center, Commercial Jet in Dothan, Alabama,” the release details. Once converted, the freighter will be able to uplift almost 24 tons of cargo loaded on its main deck. It has eleven full height 88” x 125” container positions, and an additional AEP/AEH position. Loading is done via a large 86” x 137” Main Cargo Door with a single vent door system. “AEI’s forward-thinking design allows for containers to be loaded into the aircraft a full 16.5” aft of the forward door jamb, ensuring ground operators have sufficient maneuvering room which minimizes potential door and aircraft strikes. Additionally, the AEI B737-800SF includes a flexible Ancra Cargo Loading System, a rigid 9g barrier, five supernumerary seats as standard, a galley, and full lavatory,” the release continues.
Robert T. Convey, AEI Senior Vice President Sales and Marketing, said: “While the narrowbody conversion market demand from leasing companies has slowed over the last few months, new orders for our B737-800SF freighter coming directly from operators continue to remain strong. Serve Air recently purchased an AEI B737-800SF from China Aircraft Leasing Group Holdings Limited and is currently operating the freighter.”
Not all guitars are air guitars
The ones that recently flew on a chartered VIP plane, certainly weighed quite a bit.
Air cargo is a fascinating industry – not least, because you never know what you’ll get to plan next. And how often do you get to be a metal groupie in charge of air logistics? Air Charter Service (ACE)’s Los Angeles office had the opportunity and challenge of arranging the logistics for two major names in heavy metal, recently: Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe set off on Leg One of their joint world tour, and it was down to ACS Los Angeles to first of all source the right kind of metal to take them there. The choice fell upon an Airbus A340 VIP, which received its own Def Crüe tattoo to mark the occasion. The two rock bands, Def Leppard and Mötley Crüe, along with their entourage and flying “crüe”, as well as instruments and stage equipment weighing a total 23 tons, were then accompanied on their 18-day tour.
Tom Howe, CEO of ACS in Los Angeles, commented: “After handling the Iron Maiden world tour in 2016, we are well-versed in mammoth rock band tours. This request required involvement from both our group charter team and our cargo division in order to find an aircraft with at least 80 business class seats and nine lower deck pallet positions for the stage equipment, lighting, wardrobe, and instruments for both bands. The team found an Airbus A340 VIP, which was not only ideal for the aforementioned requirements, but also had the nine-hour range needed to fly direct from Buenos Aires to Miami on the final leg. Once the aircraft was booked, decals were arranged for down the side of the A340, and headrest covers for the inside. Three of our team accompanied the aircraft for the full 18 days to make sure everything ran smoothly and ensure that quick FBO turnaround times were adhered to. These dates were part of the bands’ joint World Tour, and this was Leg One. The flights started after two shows in Mexico, which were followed by dates in Colombia, Peru, Chile, Brazil, and Argentina, before flying back to Florida for the final show of the leg there.”
Two firsts and the start of something bigger
What began with a celebratory event six months ago, has now been brought to fruition, and marks a number of milestones. Avia Prime Group’s Serbian MRO subsidiary, JAT Tehnika, has completed and delivered the first Boeing 767-300 passenger-to-cargo conversion carried out on European turf. And that aircraft is also the first of the new additions to Challenge Group’s fleet. On 09AUG23, the pioneer conversion bearing the registration 9H-CAC, took off from Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport at 16:00 local time, heading for Malta’s capital, Valletta, where one of Challenge Group’s three Challenge Airlines – Challenge Airlines MT – is located. The second Boeing 767-300 is already underway at Tehnika’s Hangar 2. These conversions are being carried out in collaboration with Israeli Aerospace Industries. Tehnika's production facilities in Belgrade are amongst the largest in Europe, measuring over 9,000 m².
Piotr Kaczor, CEO of Avia Prime and Jat Tehnika, announced: “We are excited because the bold vision that emerged six years ago, has become a reality today. We have been preparing for this for a long time, going through the most demanding aviation authority checks, and we are proud of the new technology and know-how that have been applied for the first time in Belgrade. This is the beginning of a new chapter in the history of Avia Prime Group and European aviation, which will strengthen our position as the main European supplier for the conversion of Boeing and Airbus wide-body aircraft. With decades of expertise and the most advanced technologies in the industry that Avia Prime offers to interested parties at competitive prices, we are proud to lead more and more projects contributing to a greener and more sustainable future in aviation. With continuous progress, we are confident in our bright perspective, and for us, just as our slogan says, ‘The only way is up’.”
Yossi Shoukroun, Challenge Group CEO, declared: “Today marks a crucial milestone in our history as we welcome a new addition to our fleet - the Boeing 767 converted freighter. This delivery signifies more than just the introduction of a new aircraft type. It symbolizes the commencement of our ambitious fleet expansion plan, which aims to triple our fleet by the year 2026, by incorporating three different aircraft types into our fleet, including the efficient Boeing 777 aircraft in the near future.”
LAX is going to get a serious cargo facelift
Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) has chosen the Development and Design teams that will be responsible for botoxing its cargo facilities, as it embarks on a Cargo Modernization Program. Not a moment too soon, given that the press release points to facilities “ranging from 20-80[!] years old,” with many “at the end of their useful life in addition to not being compatible with current industry standards.” The US’ 5th busiest cargo airport deserves better. Last year, it handled over 2.7 million tons of cargo in its three cargo areas. These comprise 27 buildings offering a total 2.6 million square feet (c. 792480 m²), and circa 3.5 million square feet (1,066,800 m²) of aircraft ramp area.
Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) has chosen to work with LAX Community Partners, LLC (LACP) as its development team, and an Environmental Technical and Expert Consultant team led by Ricondo & Associates, Inc. Both are experienced in cargo development at aviation hubs.
Justin Erbacci, Chief Executive Officer, LAWA, announced: “In addition to being the busiest passenger origination and destination airport, LAX also is a key transportation center for global cargo and a critical hub for domestic and international commerce. This project will provide more technically advanced and efficient cargo facilities and capabilities that will allow LAX to better power the economic vitality for the City of Los Angeles and greater Southern California region.”
Terri Mestas, Chief Development Officer, LAWA, added: “LAX’s transformation is being thoughtfully advanced, providing best-in-class offerings to the traveling public and businesses that rely on our infrastructure every day. Our cargo facilities are no exception. Through our Cargo Modernization Program, we will provide our partners with facilities that move cargo efficiently while having positive impacts on the surrounding community, L.A.’s economy and LAX's broader sustainability goals.”
David Rose, Managing Director of Airport Infrastructure, Realterm (Lead Developer for LACP), explained: “Our revolutionary development at LAX would be the first of its kind in cargo history and would become the leading example for all future air cargo facilities. Realterm prioritizes flexibility, sustainability, technology, and community in all aspects of its projects. It is known for successfully blending international best practices with its superior local engagement.” Would, not will?
cargo-partner’s new air cargo services
cargo-partner recently announced new air freight consolidation services between Western Europe and Asia, followed by a new US-UK connection. Expansion despite softer market conditions. According to Jo Feiks, cargo-partner’s Corporate Director Product Management Air Cargo, however, things are due to pick up: “As air freight peak season is about to take off in the coming weeks, we’ve launched new air cargo connections between Western Europe and Asia to give our customers more flexibility and provide reliable freight capacities at competitive rates. Consol solutions are the clear winner when it comes to cost-effective shipping, while still benefiting from the speed of air freight and the reliability of fixed weekly departures.” Weekly air freight consolidation solutions from key airports in Austria, Germany, the UK, Sweden, and the Netherlands to 10+ destinations in India, China, Singapore and Thailand, are complimented by door-to-door services from “anywhere in Western Europe” to Delhi, Bangalore, Mumbai, Chennai, Shanghai, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Singapore. “Our strong presence in Europe and Asia allows us to deliver an integrated package of transport, storage, customs and tracking services, ensuring seamless, end-to-end solutions for our customers from all industries. The weekly air consol services are especially popular with our customers from the electronics, automotive, fashion and retail sectors, who benefit from this solution to find the optimal mix between speed and cost for their shipments,” Jo Feiks concluded.
Though already launched on 01JUN23, the company this week also announced its new air freight solution between the U.S. and the UK: a weekly Sunday flight from Chicago (ORD) via Toronto (YYZ) in Canada, to London Heathrow (LHR), “to specifically support customers with the export of goods to the United Kingdom […] The service provides weekly departures, with an in-house team of trade experts overseeing the service.”
Ralf Schneider, President cargo-partner USA & Regional Director Americas, commented: “Introducing this regular air consol to the market will support businesses on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean with a cost-effective, flexible air freight solution. Our goal is to provide a reliable service for general cargo shipments originating in the Midwestern U.S. Thanks to our extensive network and expert in-house customs teams, we can also offer customs, brokerage, and final mile services at competitive rates.”
Max Sauberschwarz new DHL GF Global Air Freight VP
DHL Global Forwarding this week announced the successor to its current Executive Vice President, Global Air Freight, Thomas Mack, who will be retiring on 01OCT23. Max Sauberschwarz, since 2019 Senior Vice President at DHL Global Forwarding’s air charter organization, Global StarBroker, has been named as the upcoming new Head of Global Air Freight, at the same time becoming a member of the Global Forwarding Management Board.
Tim Scharwath, CEO of DHL Global Forwarding, to whom Sauberschwarz will be reporting directly as of 01OCT23, announced: “We are delighted to have found a worthy successor to Thomas Mack in Max Sauberschwarz. In his previous role, he demonstrated not only his deep industry knowledge, but also his leadership skills and we look forward to driving the business forward together in the years ahead.” The deep industry knowledge comes from over 15 years of working in logistics, including a number of senior management roles in the air freight sector on global level as well as in Europe and Asia.
In the interim, Thomas Mack will take on a new Senior Advisor role on 01OCT23 under Tim Scharwath, until his retirement in OCT24, after more than forty years in the industry. He joined DHL Global Forwarding in 2018 as its Head of Global Air Freight. The release emphasizes that Mack “was heavily involved in transforming the organization into one of the world’s leading providers of integrated air freight services. He also worked closely with sister division DHL Express, leveraging a number of valuable synergies within the group”.
Tim Scharwath officially thanked Thomas Mack for the past five years: “First and foremost, I would like to express my sincere thanks to Tom for his tireless efforts, commitment to the company, and achievements in the division's growth. Under his leadership our air freight business has reached new strengths and heights. We wish him only the best for the future and are pleased that he will continue to advise us with his profound expertise until his well-deserved retirement.”
Chapman Freeborn appoints VP Government & Humanitarian Europe
Avia Solutions Group’s global air charter expert, Chapman Freeborn, announced the appointment of Marcel Kolb as its new Vice President Government & Humanitarian Europe. The position is focused on further developing Chapman Freeborn’s humanitarian vertical and respective strategies, as well as establishing and implementing processes to optimize internal and external potential. With Kolb, who is already familiar with Chapman Freeborn, having worked with them in recent years, the company has gained a candidate with a good combination of logistics and military expertise. He spent 12 years with the military, where he held the position of Transport Officer in the German Air Force and was part of a NATO mission in Afghanistan. Following this, he spent four years at DB Schenker, as its Vice President Global Defense Business Development at DB Schenker. Thus, Kolb is experienced in coordinating charter operations for the military, as well as humanitarian projects. The German national studied for a Master’s degree in Economics and Organizational Science in Munich and Toulouse, and is otherwise a keen sportsman: football and golf.
Marcel Kolb stated: “My experience in logistics, civilian freight forwarding, and public procurement has afforded me valuable insights into the military and defense industry, which I feel will be extremely beneficial when applied to my new role at Chapman Freeborn. By working closely with the European Government & Humanitarian vertical team, I want to establish Chapman Freeborn as the supplier of choice for humanitarian, governmental, military and defense actors in air transport – for both cargo and passenger transport. I already know parts of the company and some of my colleagues, so my focus is now on getting to know the whole team. I know from the cooperation I have had with the company over the past few years that there is an incredible amount of expertise, heart, and soul at Chapman Freeborn. I am convinced that it is this authenticity, sincerity and professionalism that makes us a successful team and company.”
Reto Hunziker, President – Europe at Chapman Freeborn, commented: “I am very happy to have Marcel in the team. With his help we will approach the humanitarian government vertical in a way that ensures we offer the best value and support to our customers and the EU markets. He is a perfect fit for our growing sales and commercial-focused team in Europe.”
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