Air Canada to Purchase Bombardier C Series as Part of its Fleet Renewal Program

MONTREAL, Feb. 17, 2016 Air Canada announced that it has entered into a Letter of Intent (LOI) with Bombardier Inc. for the acquisition of up to 75 Bombardier CS300 aircraft powered by Pratt & Whitney PurePower® PW1500G engines as part of its narrowbody fleet renewal plan. The LOI contemplates 45 firm orders plus options to purchase up to an additional 30 aircraft and includes substitution rights to CS100 aircraft in certain circumstances.

Deliveries are scheduled to begin in late 2019 and extend to 2022. The first 25 aircraft on delivery will replace Air Canada’s existing mainline fleet of Embraer E190 aircraft, with the incremental aircraft supporting Air Canada’s hub and network growth, creating one of the world’s youngest, most fuel efficient airline fleets.

The C Series purchase is subject to completion of final documentation and satisfaction of certain other closing conditions precedent.

“We are delighted to announce this important agreement with Bombardier for the purchase of CS300 aircraft as part of the ongoing modernization of Air Canada’s narrowbody fleet,” said Calin Rovinescu, President and CEO of Air Canada. “With its high fuel efficiency performance and greater seating capacity, the next generation technology of the C Series is very well suited for our current and future network strategy and will be an extremely efficient addition to our fleet. The renewal of our North American narrowbody fleet with more capable and efficient aircraft is a key element of our ongoing cost transformation program – plus the enhanced passenger cabin comfort provided by the CS300 will help us to retain Air Canada’s competitive position as the only Four-Star international network carrier in North America.

“The entry of the C Series into our fleet is expected to yield significant cost savings. We have estimated that the projected fuel burn and maintenance cost savings (on a per seat basis) of greater than 15 per cent should generate an estimated CASM reduction of approximately 10 per cent, when compared to the aircraft it will replace.

“Air Canada has a long history of collaboration with Bombardier. Air Canada Express regional partners operate one of  the largest fleets of Bombardier aircraft in the world with a mix of  over 135 regional jets and turboprop aircraft by December 31, 2016.

“We were one of the launch customers for the Canadair Regional Jet and today’s announcement reflects our continued support forCanada’s aerospace industry and for the new technologies the industry may develop. We fully expect the new technology of the C Series to efficiently meet the demanding needs of our current and future network strategy,” concluded Mr. Rovinescu.

The acquisition of the C Series aircraft represents a key element of Air Canada’s narrowbody fleet renewal program and complements the acquisition of 61 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft announced in December 2013 to replace the larger end of the airline’s mainline narrowbody fleet. The Boeing agreement provides for Boeing to purchase up to 20 of the 45 Embraer E190 aircraft in Air Canada’s fleet and the first 25 C Series will replace the remaining E190s. Boeing 737 MAX deliveries are scheduled to begin in late 2017 and extend to 2021, while the C Series deliveries are scheduled to start in late 2019 and extend to 2022.

About Bombardier C Series aircraft

According to Bombardier, the C Series family of aircraft, representing the fusion of performance and technology, is a 100 per cent all-new design. By focusing on the 100- to 150-seat market segment, Bombardier has designed the C Series aircraft to deliver unparalleled economic advantage to operators and to open up new opportunities for single-aisle aircraft operations. By employing advanced materials, state-of-the-art technologies and advanced aerodynamics, combined with the groundbreaking Pratt & Whitney PurePower® PW1500G engine, the C Series aircraft is delivering a greater-than 10 per cent unit cost advantage compared to similarly-sized, re-engined aircraft. In addition to delivering best-in-class economics with the C Series aircraft, Bombardier has placed considerable emphasis on cabin design to ensure a superior passenger experience. The aircraft offers 19-inch-wide seats that set a new industry standard, large overhead bins that accommodate a carry-on bag for each passenger, and the largest windows in the single-aisle market. Together these attributes create a widebody feel that offers passengers an unparalleled level of comfort. All noise performance testing on the CS100 aircraft has been completed and data confirms it is the quietest in-production commercial jet in its class. The aircraft’s noise performance and its outstanding short-field capability make it ideal for varied types of operations. The C Series aircraft’s maximum range has also been confirmed to be up to 3,300 NM (6,112 km), some 350 NM (648 km) more than originally targeted.

About Air Canada

Air Canada is Canada’s largest domestic and international airline serving more than 200 airports on six continents. Canada’s flag carrier is among the 20 largest airlines in the world and in 2015 served more than 41 million customers. Air Canada provides scheduled passenger service directly to 63 airports in Canada, 56 in the United States and 86 in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Australia, the Caribbean, Mexico, Central America and South America. Air Canada is a founding member of Star Alliance, the world’s most comprehensive air transportation network serving 1,330 airports in 192 countries. Air Canada is the only international network carrier inNorth America to receive a Four-Star ranking according to independent U.K. research firm Skytrax. For more information, please visit:www.aircanada.com, follow @AirCanada on Twitter and join Air Canada on Facebook.

CAUTION REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING INFORMATION 

This news release includes forward-looking statements within the meaning of applicable securities laws. Forward-looking statements relate to analyses and other information that are based on forecasts of future results and estimates of amounts not yet determinable.  These statements may involve, but are not limited to, comments relating to preliminary results, guidance, strategies, expectations, planned operations or future actions.  Forward-looking statements are identified by the use of terms and phrases such as “preliminary”, “anticipate”, “believe”, “could”, “estimate”, “expect”, “intend”, “may”, “plan”, “predict”, “project”, “will”, “would”, and similar terms and phrases, including references to assumptions. 

Forward-looking statements, by their nature, are based on assumptions, including those described herein and are subject to important risks and uncertainties.  Forward-looking statements cannot be relied upon due to, amongst other things, changing external events and general uncertainties of the business. Actual results may differ materially from results indicated in forward-looking statements due to a number of factors, including without limitation, our ability to successfully achieve or sustain positive net profitability or to realize our initiatives and objectives, our ability to pay our indebtedness, reduce operating costs and secure financing, currency exchange, industry, market, credit, economic and geopolitical conditions, energy prices, competition, our ability to successfully implement strategic initiatives and our dependence on technology, war, terrorist acts, epidemic diseases, casualty losses, employee and labour relations, pension issues, environmental factors (including weather systems and other natural phenomena and factors arising from man-made sources), limitations due to restrictive covenants, insurance issues and costs, changes in demand due to the seasonal nature of the business, dependence on suppliers and third parties, including regional carriers, Aeroplan and the Star Alliance, changes in laws, regulatory developments or proceedings, pending and future litigation and actions by third parties and the ability to attract and retain required personnel, as well as the factors identified throughout this news release and those identified in section 17 “Risk Factors” of Air Canada’s 2015 MD&A dated February 17, 2016.  The forward-looking statements contained in this news release represent Air Canada’s expectations as of the date of this news release (or as of the date they are otherwise stated to be made), and are subject to change after such date.  However, Air Canada disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required under applicable securities regulations.

 

SOURCE Air Canada

With David Bowie’s blessing, astronaut Chris Hadfield’s ‘Space Oddity’ is back on YouTube

“Space Oddity” fans rejoice! Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield’s impressively awesome cover of the David Bowie classic is now back on the interwebs.

The video was taken down from YouTube after reaching more than 23 million hits. It features Hadfied’s playing and signing the ballad in space — I repeat, in space — aboard the International Space Station. It was reportedly the first music video ever recorded from space.

Hadfield had a one-year agreement with Bowie to leave the video up after it was released in 2013. When that expired, it was gone, for the most part — though like all things, if you’re crafty enough, it could be found.

Now Hadfield has inked a new two-year agreement with Bowie to re-post the historic and well-loved cover.

In a blog post on his Web site, Hadfield noted that the original video was posted in 2013 with Bowie’s permission, and he added that the singer and his representatives were “very gracious” throughout the process. It was removed in May when the first one-year agreement expired.

“Despite countless on-line expressions of frustration and desire, it wasn’t anyone’s ill-will or jealousy that kept this version of Oddity off YouTube,” Hadfield wrote. “It was merely the natural consequence of due process.”

Bowie has actually praised the cover, calling it “possibly the most poignant version of the song ever created” back in 2013.

And after months of negotiation and grappling with the complex legal questions that surround copyright in space, they had a breakthrough.

“The reasons we originally made the video were multifold. It was in response to repeated widespread requests via social media. It was a fun Saturday project with my son, Evan. It was a continuation of the other music that I was playing and recording while on ISS. But maybe most importantly, it was a chance to let people see where we truly are in space exploration. We’re not just probing what lies beyond Earth – we inhabit it,” Hadfield explained.

“We’re proud to have helped bring Bowie’s genius from 1969 into space itself in 2013, and now ever-forward,” he added.

And so now, just because you can, take a listen:

Commercial drones capture the attention of insurance industry

Commercial drones capture the attention of insurance industry

Intact Financial Corp. is the latest to attempt to tap the market for insuring drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which aren’t typically covered under a commercial insurance policy. Canada’s largest property and casualty insurer says the demand from its small and medium-sized business clients is increasing as more of them use drones as part of regular operations, particularly for surveillance in sectors such as farming.

“All of a sudden, they start – rather than walking the fields – using drones to take pictures and see if there are issues,” said Alain Lessard, senior vice-president of commercial lines at Intact. And that comes with potential hazards. “A person could be sued because the drone hit someone.”

While the commercial use of drones is still getting off the ground, it’s a key segment of a global market that is expected to grow to $11.5-billion (U.S.) by 2024, according to Teal Group, an aerospace market analysis firm.

The rise of UAV insurance comes as a wave of new technologies reshapes insurers’ businesses, creating new areas of coverage and ways of connecting with customers. Insurers now have teams dedicated to cyber threats, and some have begun to cover emerging businesses such as ride-sharing. The potential for “disruption” by agile tech companies tapped into changing consumer behaviour is also an ever-present concern, pushing Intact and some competitors to boost their branding and leadership in the digital space.

When it came to drones, Intact found a disconnect between old coverage and new technology.

“As part of our commercial lines policy, [drones] would usually fall into an aircraft definition. All aircraft are usually excluded from our regular policy,” Mr. Lessard said. That was pushing some clients to specialty insurers in the aviation space, even for 2 1/2-kilogram drones. Intact decided it could accommodate these machines alongside its customers’ commercial lines policy.

Rules for operating a UAV for commercial purposes have been clarified by Transport Canada over the past two years and are more lenient than in the United States. But even if businesses meet the exemption criteria and avoid a special flight operations certificate, most still need to have proper liability insurance coverage.

Most drones fall between those used for large military applications and the Frisbee-sized copters flown by hobbyists. These worker drones carry cameras that can collect data and help companies monitor operations and environmental impact faster – and in some cases more safely – than sending a human.

Cenovus Energy Inc. has been testing UAVs since 2013, and has now flown them more than 60,000 kilometres.

The company hopes to monitor pipelines by drone some day. “To be able to do that, we are waiting for Transport Canada to introduce regulations that would allow us to fly our UAVs beyond the line of sight,” Cenovus said in a statement. In the meantime, its three drones are busy mapping out oil sands sites in northern Alberta.

Companies often start with one low-cost drone or work with a third-party provider to prove return on investment, said Andrea Sangster, spokeswoman for UAV maker Aeryon Labs Inc. in Waterloo, Ont.

“We’re seeing growth in the commercial markets with oil and gas and the utilities, as well as cell tower inspection,” Ms. Sangster said. The company’s drones have been used for diverse applications, such as counting salmon swimming upstream, 3D modelling and taking readings of office buildings’ thermal output.

At just a few thousand dollars for some basic drones, companies can get into the game cheaply. Aeryon’s higher-end drones, which can weather cold temperatures and high winds, are priced from $60,000.

Annual revenue from sales of commercial-use drones is projected to soar by 84 per cent this year up to about $481-million, according to a recent international report by Juniper Research.

Mr. Lessard said most operators essentially need the same kind of insurance against physical damage to people or property. Limitations to coverage include using the drone to “take pictures of someone through the window of a hotel or something like that, and that person is being sued,” Mr. Lessard said. “We’re not covering these kind of things.”

When Zurich Canada began offering coverage last year, it excluded noise pollution issues caused by drones, which can sound like swarming bees, as well as sabotage.

Drone Insurance INTACT INSURANCE

Drones are becoming an increasingly common feature of business. If your company uses a small drone for surveying purposes, aerial photography, inspection, farming or any other commercial activity, talk to a broker about our insurance coverage for drones.

Our commercial drone insurance includes damage to and loss of the drone, ground station equipment, drone-mounted devices such as cameras, and spare parts. Our commercial drone product helps meet the evolving and future needs of your business.

Certain conditions, limitations and exclusions apply to all offers. The information that appears on this website is provided to you for information purposes only. Your insurance contract prevails at all times. Please consult it for a complete description of coverage and exclusions.

www.intact.ca

Airlines are Getting Better at Handling Bags but Winter Remains the Worst Time for Lost Luggage

Heading into winter, fliers should take extra precautions with their checked luggage _ December and January are traditionally the worst months for lost bags.

To avoid problems, arrive at the airport early enough to let your bag get to the plane, and print out a copy of your itinerary from the airline’s website and stick it inside just in case all the tags get ripped off.

planeIn the U.S. during the first nine months of this year, 3.3 bags for every 1,000 passengers didn’t make it to their destination on time, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. That’s not great if you are one of those people whose bag is delayed or lost. But consider this: during the 2007 peak in air travel, airlines were mishandling more than twice as many suitcases _ 7.2 bags per 1,000 passengers.

Globally, the baggage-mishandling rate has fallen 61 per cent from its peak in 2007, according to SITA, an aviation communications and technology provider. That has saved the industry $18 billion.

The vast majority of bags _ 80 per cent _ aren’t lost but just delayed, according to SITA. And it takes about a day and a half to reunite passengers with their bags. Another 14 per cent are damaged or have their contents reported stolen. And nearly 6 per cent of bags are lost or stolen completely.

December and January tend to be the worst months because there are a lot of infrequent travellers checking multiple bags, and a few snowstorms can add to delays and suitcases that miss connections.

The overall improvements to baggage handling come after carriers spent millions of dollars to upgrade their systems.

Tug drivers now get real-time updates of gate changes so they can change their path and ensure that bags make their connection. Scanners allow bags to be tracked throughout the system, preventing a suitcase bound for Chicago from being loaded onto a plane to Detroit. Gate agents have printers to help tag bags that are checked at the last minute because of full overhead bins. And, overall, fewer bags are being checked because of bag fees.

“We continue to invest in technology and in processes so we understand where bags are at all times, and we can manage the failure points,” says Bill Lentsch, senior vice-president for airport customer service and cargo operations at Delta Air Lines.

Airlines are also starting to empower passengers _ or at least keep them better informed.

Delta was the first airline to allow fliers to track their own checked luggage, first on the airline’s website in 2011 and then on its mobile app in 2012. Bag tags are scanned when the suitcase is dropped off, loaded onto a plane, loaded onto a connecting flight and then again before being placed on the carousel at baggage claim. Passengers can see all those scans.

American Airlines followed suit in August, allowing passengers to see when a suitcase was loaded or unloaded from a plane. Right now, it is only available on the airline’s website but will eventually be part of the mobile app.

Sitting on a plane ready for takeoff and knowing that your suitcase isn’t in the hold below might be frustrating. But airlines say they would rather have passengers know it then and talk immediately to a baggage representative, once on the ground, instead of standing at the carousel waiting for a suitcase that isn’t there.

If your bag is late, you might be able to get some bonus frequent flier miles or even a voucher toward a future flight.

Since 2010, Alaska Airlines has promised that suitcases will be on the carousel within 20 minutes of the plane arriving at the gate. If not, passengers get a $25 voucher for a future flight or 2,500 bonus frequent flier miles. Delta copied that policy this year, offering 2,500 bonus miles to existing members of its frequent flier program _ but no voucher. Act quickly: Alaska requires you to reach out within two hours of arrival; Delta within three days. And ultimately it’s your stopwatch against the airlines’ _ they are the final arbiter of tardiness.

And if you wanted to get that $25 checked bag fee refunded, you are out of luck.

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From wildfires to commercial flights, drones becoming a dangerous and growing nuisance

From wildfires to commercial flights, drones becoming a dangerous and growing nuisance

By Elliot Spagat

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

SAN DIEGO – As Jason Thrasher lowered his helicopter to a park with seven firefighters aboard, he saw what he thought was another firefighting chopper battling a blaze that was threatening homes.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection pilot suddenly identified the object as a four-rotor drone only 10 feet from his windshield, forcing him to make a hard left to avoid a collision about 500 feet above ground, according to a report he filed the next day.

“If that drone came through my windshield, I have no idea what could have happened,” Thrasher said in a phone interview. “If that drone hits my tail rotor, for sure it’s going to be catastrophic.”

The near-miss last September in Nevada City, about 60 miles northeast of Sacramento, explains why drones have quickly become a serious nuisance and concern for firefighting pilots and other first responders, fueling calls for more oversight and self-policing in the skies.

The U.S. Forest Service has tallied 13 wildfires in which suspected drones interfered with firefighting aircraft this year 11 since late June _ up from four fires last year and only scattered incidents before. Last month, the sighting of five drones in a wildfire that closed Interstate 15 in Southern California and destroyed numerous vehicles grounded crews for 20 minutes as flames spread.

Firefighting agencies have introduced public service announcements to warn drone hobbyists, while lawmakers are seeking stiffer penalties for interfering.

“When you can’t support firefighters on the ground, fires get bigger,” said Ken Pimlott, director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. “It’s significant, and it’s a huge issue.”

On Aug. 2, for the second time in three days, a commercial pilot reported a drone while approaching John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. On Tuesday, as flames engulfed a Vietnamese restaurant in San Diego, the local fire department pleaded with drone operators to leave the area, tweeting, “You are interfering with fire operations.”

A simple explanation for the growing number of encounters is that consumer drones are more common as prices fall. The Consumer Electronics Association predicts U.S. sales will reach 700,000 this year, up from 430,000 last year and 128,000 in 2013. The industry group estimates this year’s average sale price at $149, down from $160 last year and $349 in 2013.

Twenty members of Congress from California asked the Federal Aviation Administration last month to consider a requirement for drone makers to include technology that aims to prevent operators from interfering with first responders. One bill in the California Legislature would raise fines and introduce jail time for anyone who impedes firefighters, and another would grant immunity to first responders who destroy interfering drones.

Greg McNeal, a Pepperdine University law professor, likens worries about safety and ethical boundaries to concerns years ago about use of camera-enabled cellphones in locker rooms and other public places. Governments are wrestling with how to regulate a new consumer technology that can wreak havoc when misused.

Most operators who flew near wildfires were probably unaware of the dangers, said McNeal. Others are “straight reckless,” he said, perhaps motivated to get images that no one else has to sell them.

The U.S. Forest Service reports potential drone sightings this year in eight wildfires in California, two in Washington state and one each in Colorado, Minnesota and Utah:

A plane dropping retardant on a fire near San Bernardino, California, came within about 500 feet of a drone on June 24. Another pilot soon came within the same distance of a second drone, forcing the grounding of four firefighting aircraft for 2 1/2 hours.

A reconnaissance airplane in eastern Washington state spotted a drone on July 11. Pat McCabe, a U.S. Forest Service aviation supervisor seated next to the pilot, saw the drone land about three miles from the fire perimeter and get loaded into a grey or black SUV, whose driver sped away.

“The intelligence gathering stopped, and now our focus was on the drone,” said McCabe.

The sighting occurred as water- and retardant-dropping aircraft were scheduled to stop for the day. If it was earlier, McCabe said those planes and helicopters would have been grounded.

A drone appeared about 200 feet from the left wing of a reconnaissance aircraft near Milford, California, on June 29. The firefighter pilot, who was about 1,500 feet above ground, left the area and was ordered to return to base.

Under FAA guidelines, drone hobbyists should fly no higher than 400 feet, stay clear of stadiums and people, and avoid flying within five miles of airports. During wildfires and other emergencies, the FAA imposes temporary restrictions.

Software, including a product from Pepperdine’s McNeal named AirMap, can alert operators to FAA-restricted areas. But, some firefighting officials say, wildfires spread so quickly and unpredictably that there may be a dangerous lag before flight restrictions are in place.

The prospect of public shaming may be the best deterrent, said Jon Resnick, spokesman for SZ DJI Technology Co., one of the largest consumer drone makers.

“Technology can only do so much,” he said. “At a certain point, common sense needs to take hold.”

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“Most people don’t realize you have to have training, have insurance and be qualified under Transport Canada.”

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