Laser Strikes Tick Up Even with Less Flight Activity

The Federal Aviation Administration reports that laser strikes against pilots increased in 2020 even with the overall decrease in air traffic operations. In 2020, pilots reported 6,852 laser strikes to the FAA. This is an increase from 6,136 laser strikes reported in 2019 and is the highest number reported to the agency since 2016.

FAA say they remain vigilant in raising awareness about misuse of lasers when they are pointed towards aircraft. Intentionally aiming lasers at an aircraft poses a safety threat to pilots and violates federal law. Many high-powered lasers can incapacitate pilots flying aircraft that may be carrying hundreds of passengers.

The FAA works closely with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to pursue civil and criminal penalties against people who purposely aim a laser at an aircraft. The agency takes enforcement action against people who violate Federal Aviation Regulations by shining lasers at aircraft and can impose civil penalties of up to $11,000 per violation. The FAA has imposed civil penalties up to $30,800 against people for multiple laser incidents.

Olivier Dassault Dies in Helicopter Crash

French aviation scion, Olivier Dassault, has died in a helicopter crash in France. The 69-year-old was the son of Serge Dassault, French billionaire, businessman and politician who had been the chairman and chief executive officer of Dassault Group.

Olivier Dassault served in several executive roles at Dassault during his lifetime including chairman of the supervisory board of Dassault Group, but resigned when elected to the French Parliament to avoid any conflict of interest. He was elected in 2002 to France’s lower house of parliament, the National Assembly.

“Olivier Dassault loved France. Captain of industry, lawmaker, local elected official, reserve commander in the air force: during his life, he never ceased to serve our country, to value its assets. His sudden death is a great loss,” said French President Emanuel Macron in Tweet.

The pilot of the helicopter was also killed in the crash – they were the only people onboard.

Deloitte Names Coykendall as U. S. Aerospace and Defense Leader

Deloitte announced the appointment of John Coykendall, a principal at Deloitte Consulting, to lead its U.S. aerospace and defense (A&D) sector within the U.S. industrial products and construction practice. Additionally, Coykendall was named Deloitte’s global aerospace and defense sector leader. He succeeds Robin Lineberger, who will be retiring from Deloitte in May.

Based in Stamford, Connecticut, Coykendall will lead the overall strategic direction of the A&D sector, as well as the go-to-market strategies for Deloitte’s key businesses including audit & assurance, consulting, tax and risk & financial advisory services. Among Deloitte’s A&D clients are companies on the Fortune 500, including the aerospace; commercial aircraft; business and general aviation; space and ship building; and defense industries.

“We are confident John’s sector, client and leadership experience will provide an excellent foundation to continue our momentum in the A&D market,” said Paul Wellener, vice chairman, Deloitte and U.S. industrial products and construction leader. “He is well-positioned to help our clients transform amid the multidimensional challenges facing the sector, including and especially recovery from the pandemic. We congratulate John on his new role and thank Robin for his exceptional leadership and contributions to the organization.”

Most recently, Coykendall served as the consulting leader for Deloitte’s global industrial products and construction practice. During his 25-year career, he has worked extensively with global companies with highly engineered products in the A&D, industrial products and automotive industries. He has led large-scale transformation efforts to help businesses with strategic cost transformation and operations/supply chain initiatives. 

“The pandemic has created never-before-seen challenges and opportunities for the A&D sector,” said Coykendall. “While the long-term impacts for the commercial aerospace sector remain to be seen, rapid innovation in emerging and transformative technologies are ushering in a new era of aviation. I’m honored to take on this leadership role at such a pivotal time in the industry. I look forward to helping our clients, across the sector, navigate the complex and bold moves required to accelerate adoption of industry 4.0 and other generational step-changes that are expected to drive growth and shape the industry of the future.” 

Coykendall has an undergraduate degree from Lafayette College in business and economics; and government and law. He also holds an MBA from Duke University.

Now’s the Time to Make it Happen

In spite of the challenging situation we find ourselves in with a global pandemic and economic downturn, things are happening in aerospace. In some cases it is obscure and hard to see. Other times it is breathtakingly obvious, right in front of our eyes. During this time of reduced travel, I believe we will see unique innovations coming to fruition.

Why? There are a couple of reasons. First, the old saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” comes to mind. We are in need of change – change so we can work more efficiently and remotely; change so we can travel again with the assurance that our health will not be negatively impacted; change so we can keep our businesses alive.

Second, we have a reduced pace of operations currently. This slower drumbeat can, given the right environment, encourage growth, innovation and change. There is time in the day to implement and try new things, whereas before, when the pace of operations was furious and chaotic, it may have been all we could do to simply keep up with each launch, plus irregular operations, as they occurred.

Businesses should be looking at projects in their pipeline that had not been getting done previously. Whether it be a new software implementation, new procedural flows, training, better project management, improved communications, improving task hand-offs or reducing bottlenecks, now is the time to find out what is working and improve what is not. In this way, companies can be better prepared to operate more smoothly when the industry rebounds.

As Andrew Reilly points out in his article on the complex world of avionics testing, the challenge is “how to keep pace with innovation without exploding your product budgets and development cycles.” Sophisticated onboard computing has the goal of making flying safer and more predictable. But testing these advancing systems can be demanding and time-consuming. Andrew spoke with leaders in avionics testing like AdaCore, Parasoft, Rapita, VIAVI and others to learn what makes this process work and how some experts say the next generation of airborne technology will beget further innovations in testing. Andrew does a great job of making this highly technical subject fascinating to learn about. See his story, “Avionics Testing Is Meeting Complexity Challenges Head-On,” starting on page 20.

Award-winning journalist Kathryn Creedy provides a look at how aircraft connectivity is impacting air traffic management. She points out that it has been a year since the FAA’s mandate for ADS-B Out and says the industry is leveraging that data as a powerful tool for innovation. Collins Aerospace’s Gene Hayman, director of FAA and Government Programs says now is a perfect time to look at new technology from a safety perspective. Read that story on page 26 to learn how this sector is using this time advantageously.

We continue to see rapid development in predictive maintenance. In our story on predictive maintenance, writer Ian Harbison, an industry expert who has been covering this topic since its inception, takes a look at where this technology is currently and where it is heading. Harbison spoke with Etihad Aviation Group because not only were they early adopters of the Airbus product Skywise, they also assisted Airbus in its development. He spoke with Etihad’s vice president Design, Engineering and Innovation, Bernhard Randerath, to learn how they are mining for, and utilizing, the massive amounts of data coming from their fleet. Check out Ian’s story on page 34.

James Careless looked into a couple of topics for us this issue. First, he takes a look at electronic flight bag mounting solutions. It’s not as simple as it might at first appear. Regulatory concerns dominate what happens in the cockpit with these now-essential tools. Achieving an STC (special type certificate) for installation requires very specific design and certification expertise. We spoke to Hugo Fortes from Avionics Support Group, Airbus and ABC Completions as well as took a look at Flyboy’s Pivot mount. Did you ever imagine seeing an EFB mount for an iPad in a DC-3? Amazing. See page 40. He also looked at the latest in borescopes for us on page 46.

Our cover story, written by former FAA and NTSB safety expert, Jeff Guzzetti, is about what we will need to put in place before the world of urban air mobility can be a reality. Landing zones, airspace corridors and charging stations are just a few of the many areas in need of development before this sector of aviation can begin to achieve its potential. It’s coming, and soon. Be ready by reading Jeff’s thought-provoking piece on page 54.

Last but not least, we have added a new category of coverage to the publication – space. There is so much happening in this area right now it is inspiring. From NASA’s upcoming Mars expedition Perseverance (due to land as we go to press), the European Space Agency, SpaceX, Virgin Galactic and Russia to small start-ups like bluShift Aerospace planning to launch satellites out of the former Air Force base in Brunswick, Maine, there is a lot happening. We will continue to look at this sector in each issue and post news regularly at www.aerospacetechreview.com.

In this issue, I was delighted to write about SOFIA — the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy — a flying observatory utilizing a former United Airlines Boeing 747 as a platform for the telescope and data collection. The aircraft just finished an extended maintenance visit at Lufthansa Technik and is now flying missions from Cologne Bonn Airport during the next two months. Check out the out-of-this-world discoveries SOFIA has made for the advancement of mankind and space exploration on page 50.

After all, we aren’t called “Aerospace” Tech Review for nothing!

U. S. Senators Markey, Wicker, and Blumenthal Urge Biden Administration to Convene a Coronavirus Task Force on Aviation Health and Safety

Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) today sent a letter to the Departments of Transportation (DOT), Health and Human Services (HHS), and Homeland Security (DHS), urging these agencies to convene a joint task force on air travel during and after the coronavirus pandemic. This task force – advised by aviation, security, and public health experts – would develop recommended requirements, plans, and guidelines to address the health, safety, security, and logistical challenges for air travel moving forward.

“We were pleased when the Biden administration recently called for interagency cooperation to develop national public health recommendations for domestic travel,” write the lawmakers in their letter to DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg, HHS Acting Secretary Norris Cochran, and DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. “However, we believe that a more structured process remains necessary — one that includes robust collaboration among government, industry, labor, and other experts, with the goals of solving the pressing problems created by the pandemic and charting a path forward as vaccinations accelerate and travel demand returns.”

During the ongoing emergency, airlines and airports have largely had to develop their own rules for ensuring coronavirus-related health and safety. Unfortunately, a patchwork of rules simply cannot address the interconnected and widespread risks of a global pandemic. The letter calls for the federal government to lead and promulgate clear and consistent safety standards that apply across the entire aviation industry.

A copy of the letter can be found HERE

The lawmakers’ letter specifically calls for a task force modeled after bipartisan legislation they recently reintroduced, and that passed the Senate unanimously last Congress. While the Senators will continue to fight for their legislation, the DOT, HHS, and DHS need not wait before acting on this initiative. These agencies can immediately convene a task force on aviation health and safety and begin the process of developing national solutions to protect the flying public.

United B777 Suffers Uncontained Engine Failure

A United Airlines B777 had an uncontained engine failure shortly after departing Denver Intl. Airport on Sunday, February 20, 2021. The flight, Flight 328 headed for Honolulu, returned to Denver and landed safely but not before raining engine debris and parts from the sky over the Denver suburbs. No injuries have been reported as yet.

The FAA released a statement saying a United flight returned to the airport after “experiencing a right-engine failure shortly after takeoff. The FAA is aware of reports of debris in the vicinity of the airplane’s flight path.”

Witnesses in the departure path reported hearing a loud bang followed by smoke and debris falling from the sky into fields and neighborhoods. Initially witnesses said the pieces falling looked small and light, as though they were “floating” only to discovered once they had landed that they were large, heavy pieces of metal. The NTSB will investigate.

EUROCAE and EUROCONTROL Strengthen Cooperation in Aviation Standards Development

The director general of EUROCONTROL, Eamonn Brennan, and the secretary general of EUROCAE, Christian Schleifer, concluded a new Memorandum of Cooperation (MoC) between the two organizations at a virtual meeting in the presence of the EUROCAE president and council chair, Bruno Ayral, Thales LAS France.
The new MoC builds on and strengthens decades of cooperation between EUROCAE and EUROCONTROL – Europe’s leading developers of aviation standards. It provides for greater mutual recognition of the role played by each organization in the field of standards and contributes to greater complementarity between the two. “Increased collaboration between EUROCAE and EUROCONTROL is a step forward for European aviation. Standards have a fundamental role in accelerating the deployment of the future digital European sky, envisaged by the Airspace Architecture Study. This new arrangement will bring more efficiencies and give more visibility to the European standard development collaborative effort,” stated Brennan.

Standards are key enablers of aviation interoperability and harmonization; they assist in demonstrating compliance with regulations, and support procurement by providing service providers and manufacturers with consistent requirements.“Europe is moving towards an open architecture, capable of enabling a seamless, flexible and scalable provision of services in the digital European sky. Standards will play a critical role in supporting global interoperability and worldwide harmonisation, while showing compliance with a more performance based regulatory frame, enabling implementation of innovative solutions,” stated EUROCAE’s Schleifer. “This new arrangement will allow for greater synergies between EUROCONTROL and EUROCAE and enhanced collaboration in addressing the challenges ahead.”

EUROCONTROL relies on its in-house expertise and civil-military stakeholder consultation and working arrangements to develop aviation standards which are applied across ECAC States and beyond, and are recognized within the ICAO, EC and EASA frameworks. It also significantly contributes to EUROCAE’s standardization efforts.

EUROCAE develops high-quality aviation standards, which are built upon the expertise of more than 3500 highly skilled experts nominated by EUROCAE´s 360 European and global members. EUROCAE standards are referenced by all major European and international regulators and are therefore actively contributing to a safe, efficient and sustainable aviation.

Boeing Charged with 737 Max Fraud Conspiracy and Agrees to Pay over $2.5 Billion

The Boeing Company (Boeing) has entered into an agreement with the Department of Justice to resolve a criminal charge related to a conspiracy to defraud the Federal Aviation Administration’s Aircraft Evaluation Group (FAA AEG) in connection with the FAA AEG’s evaluation of Boeing’s 737 MAX airplane.

Boeing, a U.S.-based multinational corporation that designs, manufactures, and sells commercial airplanes to airlines worldwide, entered into a deferred prosecution agreement (DPA) in connection with a criminal information filed today in the Northern District of Texas. The criminal information charges the company with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States. Under the terms of the DPA, Boeing will pay a total criminal monetary amount of over $2.5 billion, composed of a criminal monetary penalty of $243.6 million, compensation payments to Boeing’s 737 MAX airline customers of $1.77 billion, and the establishment of a $500 million crash-victim beneficiaries fund to compensate the heirs, relatives, and legal beneficiaries of the 346 passengers who died in the Boeing 737 MAX crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302.

“The tragic crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 exposed fraudulent and deceptive conduct by employees of one of the world’s leading commercial airplane manufacturers,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General David P. Burns of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “Boeing’s employees chose the path of profit over candor by concealing material information from the FAA concerning the operation of its 737 Max airplane and engaging in an effort to cover up their deception. This resolution holds Boeing accountable for its employees’ criminal misconduct, addresses the financial impact to Boeing’s airline customers, and hopefully provides some measure of compensation to the crash-victims’ families and beneficiaries.”

“The misleading statements, half-truths, and omissions communicated by Boeing employees to the FAA impeded the government’s ability to ensure the safety of the flying public,” said U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox for the Northern District of Texas. “This case sends a clear message: The Department of Justice will hold manufacturers like Boeing accountable for defrauding regulators – especially in industries where the stakes are this high.”

“Today’s deferred prosecution agreement holds Boeing and its employees accountable for their lack of candor with the FAA regarding MCAS,” said Special Agent in Charge Emmerson Buie Jr. of the FBI’s Chicago Field Office. “The substantial penalties and compensation Boeing will pay, demonstrate the consequences of failing to be fully transparent with government regulators. The public should be confident that government regulators are effectively doing their job, and those they regulate are being truthful and transparent.”

“We continue to mourn alongside the families, loved ones, and friends of the 346 individuals who perished on Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. The deferred prosecution agreement reached today with The Boeing Company is the result of the Office of Inspector General’s dedicated work with our law enforcement and prosecutorial partners,” said Special Agent in Charge Andrea M. Kropf, Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General (DOT-OIG) Midwestern Region. “This landmark deferred prosecution agreement will forever serve as a stark reminder of the paramount importance of safety in the commercial aviation industry, and that integrity and transparency may never be sacrificed for efficiency or profit.”

As Boeing admitted in court documents, Boeing—through two of its 737 MAX Flight Technical Pilots—deceived the FAA AEG about an important aircraft part called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) that impacted the flight control system of the Boeing 737 MAX. Because of their deception, a key document published by the FAA AEG lacked information about MCAS, and in turn, airplane manuals and pilot-training materials for U.S.-based airlines lacked information about MCAS.

Boeing began developing and marketing the 737 MAX in or around June 2011. Before any U.S.-based airline could operate the new 737 MAX, U.S. regulations required the FAA to evaluate and approve the airplane for commercial use.

In connection with this process, the FAA AEG was principally responsible for determining the minimum level of pilot training required for a pilot to fly the 737 MAX for a U.S.-based airline, based on the nature and extent of the differences between the 737 MAX and the prior version of Boeing’s 737 airplane, the 737 Next Generation (NG). At the conclusion of this evaluation, the FAA AEG published the 737 MAX Flight Standardization Board Report (FSB Report), which contained relevant information about certain aircraft parts and systems that Boeing was required to incorporate into airplane manuals and pilot-training materials for all U.S.-based airlines. The 737 MAX FSB Report also contained the FAA AEG’s differences-training determination. After the 737 MAX FSB Report was published, Boeing’s airline customers were permitted to fly the 737 MAX.

Within Boeing, the 737 MAX Flight Technical Team (composed of 737 MAX Flight Technical Pilots) was principally responsible for identifying and providing to the FAA AEG all information that was relevant to the FAA AEG in connection with the FAA AEG’s publication of the 737 MAX FSB Report. Because flight controls were vital to flying modern commercial airplanes, differences between the flight controls of the 737 NG and the 737 MAX were especially important to the FAA AEG for purposes of its publication of the 737 MAX FSB Report and the FAA AEG’s differences-training determination.

In and around November 2016, two of Boeing’s 737 MAX Flight Technical Pilots, one who was then the 737 MAX Chief Technical Pilot and another who would later become the 737 MAX Chief Technical Pilot, discovered information about an important change to MCAS. Rather than sharing information about this change with the FAA AEG, Boeing, through these two 737 MAX Flight Technical Pilots, concealed this information and deceived the FAA AEG about MCAS. Because of this deceit, the FAA AEG deleted all information about MCAS from the final version of the 737 MAX FSB Report published in July 2017. In turn, airplane manuals and pilot training materials for U.S.-based airlines lacked information about MCAS, and pilots flying the 737 MAX for Boeing’s airline customers were not provided any information about MCAS in their manuals and training materials.

On Oct. 29, 2018, Lion Air Flight 610, a Boeing 737 MAX, crashed shortly after takeoff into the Java Sea near Indonesia. All 189 passengers and crew on board died. Following the Lion Air crash, the FAA AEG learned that MCAS activated during the flight and may have played a role in the crash. The FAA AEG also learned for the first time about the change to MCAS, including the information about MCAS that Boeing concealed from the FAA AEG. Meanwhile, while investigations into the Lion Air crash continued, the two 737 MAX Flight Technical Pilots continued misleading others—including at Boeing and the FAA—about their prior knowledge of the change to MCAS.

On March 10, 2019, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, a Boeing 737 MAX, crashed shortly after takeoff near Ejere, Ethiopia. All 157 passengers and crew on board died. Following the Ethiopian Airlines crash, the FAA AEG learned that MCAS activated during the flight and may have played a role in the crash. On March 13, 2019, the 737 MAX was officially grounded in the U.S., indefinitely halting further flights of this airplane by any U.S.-based airline.

As part of the DPA, Boeing has agreed, among other things, to continue to cooperate with the Fraud Section in any ongoing or future investigations and prosecutions. As part of its cooperation, Boeing is required to report any evidence or allegation of a violation of U.S. fraud laws committed by Boeing’s employees or agents upon any domestic or foreign government agency (including the FAA), regulator, or any of Boeing’s airline customers. In addition, Boeing has agreed to strengthen its compliance program and to enhanced compliance program reporting requirements, which require Boeing to meet with the Fraud Section at least quarterly and to submit yearly reports to the Fraud Section regarding the status of its remediation efforts, the results of its testing of its compliance program, and its proposals to ensure that its compliance program is reasonably designed, implemented, and enforced so that it is effective at deterring and detecting violations of U.S. fraud laws in connection with interactions with any domestic or foreign government agency (including the FAA), regulator, or any of its airline customers.

The department reached this resolution with Boeing based on a number of factors, including the nature and seriousness of the offense conduct; Boeing’s failure to timely and voluntarily self‑disclose the offense conduct to the department; and Boeing’s prior history, including a civil FAA settlement agreement from 2015 related to safety and quality issues concerning the Boeing’s Commercial Airplanes (BCA) business unit. In addition, while Boeing’s cooperation ultimately included voluntarily and proactively identifying to the Fraud Section potentially significant documents and Boeing witnesses, and voluntarily organizing voluminous evidence that Boeing was obligated to produce, such cooperation, however, was delayed and only began after the first six months of the Fraud Section’s investigation, during which time Boeing’s response frustrated the Fraud Section’s investigation.

The department also considered that Boeing engaged in remedial measures after the offense conduct, including:  (i) creating a permanent aerospace safety committee of the Board of Directors to oversee Boeing’s policies and procedures governing safety and its interactions with the FAA and other government agencies and regulators; (ii) creating a Product and Services Safety organization to strengthen and centralize the safety-related functions that were previously located across Boeing; (iii) reorganizing Boeing’s engineering function to have all Boeing engineers, as well as Boeing’s Flight Technical Team, report through Boeing’s chief engineer rather than to the business units; and (iv) making structural changes to Boeing’s Flight Technical Team to increase the supervision, effectiveness, and professionalism of Boeing’s Flight Technical Pilots, including moving Boeing’s Flight Technical Team under the same organizational umbrella as Boeing’s Flight Test Team, and adopting new policies and procedures and conducting training to clarify expectations and requirements governing communications between Boeing’s Flight Technical Pilots and regulatory authorities, including specifically the FAA AEG. Boeing also made significant changes to its top leadership since the offense occurred.

The department ultimately determined that an independent compliance monitor was unnecessary based on the following factors, among others: (i) the misconduct was neither pervasive across the organization, nor undertaken by a large number of employees, nor facilitated by senior management; (ii) although two of Boeing’s 737 MAX Flight Technical Pilots deceived the FAA AEG about MCAS by way of misleading statements, half-truths, and omissions, others in Boeing disclosed MCAS’s expanded operational scope to different FAA personnel who were responsible for determining whether the 737 MAX met U.S. federal airworthiness standards; (iii) the state of Boeing’s remedial improvements to its compliance program and internal controls; and (iv) Boeing’s agreement to enhanced compliance program reporting requirements, as described above.

The Chicago field offices of the FBI and the DOT-OIG investigated the case, with the assistance of other FBI and DOT-OIG field offices.

Airbus delivers the first A400M to the Belgian Air Force

The Belgian Air Force has taken delivery of its first of seven Airbus A400M military transport aircraft. The aircraft was handed over to the customer at the A400M Final Assembly Line in Seville (Spain) and subsequently performed its ferry flight to the 15th Wing Air Transport in Melsbroek (Belgium), where the aircraft will be based.

This A400M, known as MSN106, will be operated within a binational unit composed of a total of eight aircraft, seven from the Belgian Air Force and one from the Luxembourg Armed Forces.

The second A400M for Belgium will be delivered in early 2021.

“With the delivery of this aircraft all launch customers are now equipped with the A400M,” Alberto Gutierrez, head of Military Aircraft at Airbus Defence and Space, said. “MSN106 will join Luxemburg’s aircraft in the binational unit operated jointly with Belgium. Despite challenges due to Covid-19, our teams have achieved all 10 aircraft deliveries scheduled this year, bringing the global fleet in operation to 98 aircraft.”

The photograph above shows the Belgian A400M on its ferry flight towards Melsbroek (Belgium).

First ATR 72-600F Aircraft Delivered to FedEx Express

FedEx Express, a subsidiary of FedEx Corp. and the world’s largest express transportation company, announced the delivery of the first ATR 72-600F aircraft to its feeder aircraft network. The delivery of the new state-of-the-art freighter was made from ATR to FedEx in Toulouse, France.

“The arrival of the first ATR 72-600F is a major milestone in the modernization of our feeder aircraft fleet, and it positions us strongly to continue growing our global footprint and serve more customers in locations that aren’t always accessible by our larger jet fleet,” said Scot Struminger, EVP and CEO of Aviation, FedEx Express. “The ATR 72-600F was constructed with input from FedEx engineers every step of the way, so we’re proud and excited to finally take possession of this impressive aircraft.”

The ATR 72-600F is the first-ever production freighter built by ATR and can carry heavier payloads than ATRs converted from passenger configuration. The aircraft has a large cargo door, allowing for carriage of bulk cargo as well as Unit Load Device (ULD) configurations. It has a bulk capacity of 2,630 cubic feet (74.5 cubic meters), and when in ULD mode it can accommodate up to seven LD3 containers or five 88” x 108” pallets.

FedEx originally announced the purchase agreement with ATR in November 2017. Under the agreement, FedEx Express made a firm purchase of 30 ATR 72-600F aircraft with options to purchase up to 20 more. Subsequent deliveries will be about six aircraft per year over a five-year period. The first ATR aircraft will be operated by ASL Airlines Ireland, a FedEx ATR operator since 2000, as part of the FedEx Express Feeder fleet.

FedEx currently deploys 364 feeder aircraft operating in 56 countries. Most of these feeder aircraft are owned by FedEx and leased and operated by different third-party air carriers under their own operating certificates. The FedEx feeder fleet is comprised of aircraft under 60,000 pounds maximum gross take-off weight and allows the company to provide fast, economical services to small and medium-sized businesses around the world.

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