Cargo airships poised to take flight

Cargo airships poised to take flight

By Keith Norbury

For 20 years, University of Manitoba professor Dr. Barry Prentice had advocated for lighter-than-air ships as a solution to transportation challenges of remote regions like Canada’s north. No such airships have been flown commercially — at least not since the days of the Zeppelins in the 1930s — but their revival is no longer considered a flight of fancy. Several companies — including aviation giant Lockheed Martin — are developing a new generation of 21st century airships that Dr. Prentice expects will take flight within the next few years.

“There’s not a single cargo ship in use,” said Dr. Prentice, a professor in the Department of Supply Chain Management at the university’s I.H. Asper School of Business. “The only ones that are flying are still the advertising blimps. But there’s a lot of interest and people who are trying and are getting close.” (more…)

Fatigue among transportation workers remains ongoing Safety Board worry

Fatigue among transportation workers remains ongoing Safety Board worry

By Alex Binkley

Fatigued flight, railway and ship crews are a long-standing concern of the Transportation Safety Board and it hasn’t seen enough improvement on the issue to remove it from its watchlist of safety concerns. Board Chair Kathy Fox told a news conference fatigue has been an issue in more than 90 investigations since the TSB was created in 1990. The Board routinely investigates if fatigue was a factor in transportation accidents or incidents, and if it was, it examines whether the operator had measures in place to prevent operations with tired workers. (more…)

Why, amid a shortage of widebody freighters, is the A330 given a wide berth?

By Ian Putzger

The much-discussed lack of maindeck capacity in air cargo has given a new lease of life to aging freighters that seemed headed for oblivion. However, not every viable cargo plane is being rushed back into action.

Amid a growing shortage of widebody freighters, one aircraft type seems to attract little interest: while operators and forwarders alike lament the lack of large freighters – especially B747s, and passenger 747-400s are a target for conversion into all-cargo configuration – nobody seems to be in a hurry to snap up A330-200Fs. Witness Etihad’s five-strong A330-200F fleet that has been parked since January; nobody has stepped forward so far with an offer the cash-strapped Middle East carrier can’t refuse. (more…)

Boeing gets a boost from air cargo boom as its freighter orderbook bulges

By Alexander Whiteman

Confidence is flying high in air cargo, with Boeing buoyed by the strength of its freighter orderbook for the next two decades. At July’s Farnborough Air Show, Boeing’s Vice-President of Marketing, Randy Tinseth, said: “Air cargo is back”.

Driving the sector’s strong growth is not only the e-commerce phenomenon but also high levels of consumer confidence and a balancing of global trade. “As well as the market returning, we have seen this boost in consumer confidence and, importantly, there is an improving balance in trade in and out of China,” said Mr. Tinseth. “I’d say the marketplace across the world is as strong as we have ever seen it, and I believe these trends will certainly continue.” (more…)

Designer freighters with no pilots may become a reality, says Boeing strategy chief

By Alexander Whiteman

Developments in technology and demand for freight capacity is enhancing the prospects of aircraft being designed solely to carry cargo, without a pilot at the controls. Boeing VP for Product Strategy and Future Airplane Development Mike Sinnett told attendees at the Farnborough International Airshow that cargo-specific aircraft designs could become a reality. “We’ve always started with development of a passenger aircraft and then strip it back to cater to cargo,” said Mr. Sinnett. “But looking at modern technology, you can now think about developing aircraft specifically for the cargo market.” He said purpose-cargo designs would allow for significant remodelling and there would no longer be a need to consider that at some point these aircraft would carry passengers. (more…)