Wednesday, July 28, 2021

FLEET UPDATE: Flybondi added a third 737-800, LV-KAH, to its fleet on 21Jul21

Flybondi, one of two Low-Cost Carriers (LCC) in Argentina (the other is Jetsmart Argentina), received its third 737-800, LV-KAH (c/n 30703/1964), when it departed the United States on 20Jul21, flying a Marana (MZJ) - Tucson (TUS) - Guayaquil (GYE) - Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) routing, arriving at the Argentine airport on 21Jul21.  

LV-KAH had been in storage at Marana (MZJ), Arizona since March 2020 after numerous stints with Sunwing Airlines of Canada.  The aircraft was handed over to Flybondi in a hybrid scheme with Flybondi "billboard" titles on a solid white fuselage but retaining Sunwing's orange colors on its tail, engines and winglets. 

Photo of the aircraft:


LV-KAH was originally delivered to Excel Airways of the UK in June 2006, also seeing service with XTRA Airways, XL Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Firefly (also of Malaysia), Thomson Airways, Smartwings, TUI Fly Netherlands and finally with Sunwing.   

Flybondi had a fleet of five 737-800's prior to the COVID-19 pandemic but had to cut back its fleet when all regularly-scheduled flights to/from and within Argentina were suspended on 20Mar20 for seven months. 

The aircraft is expected to reinforce Flybondi's other two 737-800's on existing routes and possibly help introduce new ones.  

Sources:

Sunday, July 25, 2021

FLEET UPDATE: Aerolineas Argentinas placed second 737 MAX 8, LV-GVD, back into service on 20Jul21

 
Aerolineas Argentinas 737 MAX 8, LV-GVD (c/n 64207/6661), lands on Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) runway 31 on 21Jul18.  (Phil Perry Photo)

Aerolineas Argentinas placed a second 737 MAX 8 (of five in its fleet) back into service on 20Jul21.  The aircraft had been out of service since the Argentinean national airline removed its 737 MAX fleet from service when all MAX's worldwide were grounded in March 2019 in the wake of the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines' MAX accidents in October 2018 and March 2019, respectively.    
The airline restarted regularly-scheduled domestic flights on 22Oct20, putting its E190, 737-700 and 737-800 fleets back into service on these routes but the 737 MAX 8 was still suffering from the worldwide grounding at that point, delaying its return to service with Aerolineas until 23Mar21, some three months after the aircraft type was recertified for commercial flying once again.  

Aerolineas has opted to put its MAX 8 fleet back into service slowly, partly because frequencies across its route network have not reached pre-COVID levels and also presumably to slowly train its crews on the various modifications to the MAX, especially the MCAS software, which was the culprit in the crashes leading to the grounding of the aircraft in early 2019.  

LV-GVD and LV-HKU (the first MAX to be reactivated, back in March) are only flying Argentine domestic routes for now, expecting to be eventually redeployed on some of the regional routes the type operated on prior to the grounding, such as to Punta Cana (PUJ), Bogota (BOG), Rio de Janeiro Galeao (GIG) and Sao Paulo Guarulhos (GRU).      

The disposition of the three other 737 MAX 8's in Aerolineas fleet (with six more scheduled for future delivery) is as follows:   

* LV-GVE (c/n 64208/6717) - Parked at Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE)
* LV-HKV (c/n 44294/6807) - Parked at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP)
* LV-HKW (c/n 44296/6926) - Parked at Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE)

Sources:

https://www.aviacionline.com/2021/07/aerolineas-argentinas-reactivo-un-segundo-boeing-737-max/

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

FLEET UPDATE: Aerolineas Argentinas replacement for E190 fleet still on hold after 737 MAX 8 and then E195-E2 were favored

Austral E190, LV-GIQ (c/n 716), taxis on a beautiful sunny day at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) on 29Mar18.  (Phil Perry Photo)

Aerolineas Argentinas started considering a replacement for the-then Austral and current Aerolineas E190 fleet back in 2017.  Although its oldest E190's were a relatively young seven years old having been delivered in 2010, there were several reasons why replacing the 26-strong E190 fleet appeared attractive:

Arguments in Favor of Replacing E190 

Economies of Scale Advantage of Larger and/or more Modern Aircraft over the E190

The next generation of the Embraer E190 series, the E190-E2has a similar seating capacity to the E190 but its geared turbofan engines and many other improvements give it a 12.9% lower operating cost per seat mile than the E190.  

The 162-seat 737-800's economies of scale advantage over the E190 give it a 27.3% lower seat-mile cost over the Brazilian-made aircraft.

Similarly, the 166-seat 737 MAX 8 has both economies of scale and the latest technology advantages over the E190 yielding seat-mile costs that are a whopping 40.2% less than the smaller and older plane. 

E190 Limited Cargo Capacity

The E190's cargo hold capacity is reportedly relatively small, so much so that there have reportedly been times when it has not been able to accommodate passenger luggage, with many pieces being forwarded to their destination on later flights. 

Fleet Commonality - Cost Savings

The Aerolineas Argentinas short-to-medium range fleet consists of the 96-seat E190 and 162-seat 737-800.  

Replacing the E190 with more 737-800's or 737 MAX 8's would save Aerolineas on training, crew type rating, spares, and maintenance costs.   
 
New Argentine Low-Cost Carriers operating 170+ seat Aircraft

New LCC's Flybondi and Jetsmart Argentina operate larger 737-800's and A320's respectively, with lower seat-mile costs than the E190, helping them to offer lower airfares than Aerolineas can using the smaller plane.  Switching to 737-800's or 737 MAX 8's would allow Aerolineas to compete with lower airfares, at least on routes with enough traffic to support larger aircraft. 

Twenty Proposals for E190 Replacement

In mid-2018, Aerolineas Argentinas requested proposals for the replacement of the E190 fleet from aircraft manufacturers, leasing companies and financial entities specializing in capital equipment financing.  

Twenty parties presented proposals in October of that year, including Airbus, Boeing, Embraer, AerCap, Aircastle, Air Lease Corporation, Aviation Capital Group, Avolon, Azorra, Boc Aviation, CFM, Falko, GE Capital Aviation Services, Jet Trading & Leasing, Macquarie, Nordic Aviation Capital, Pratt & Whitney, Regional One, SMBC Aviation Capital and Willis Lease.

Criteria for Lease / Purchase Decision 

The proposals were to be analyzed applying the following criteria:

* Cost of Lease or Purchase

* Valuation of Aerolineas E190 Fleet

One of the conditions of the Request for Proposals was that the winning bidder would purchase Aerolineas' used E190 fleet so the valuation placed on these aircraft by the bidder would be an important factor.    

* Leaseback Costs of E190's

The 26 E190's of Aerolineas would not be replaced all at once overnight but would likely be leased back from the winning bidder and retired gradually during the transition process to the new fleet.  The cost of the leaseback would be a factor for consideration of the various bids.

* Cost of Transition from E190's to Replacement Fleet

Costs of training flight crews and maintenance staff, spares supply, possible hangar modifications, etc. would be considered.  

* Negotiations with Aerolineas' Labor Unions   

Also to be taken into account in the bid / aircraft type selection process would be the proposed labor agreements requested by Aerolineas' unions for each  candidate replacement type.    

Replacement Aircraft - Most Important Characteristics

* Factory-new 
* State-of-the Art Technology
* Lower Fuel Consumption than E190
* Lower Environmental Impact than E190 
* Competitive Operating Costs   

737 MAX 8 Favored but MAX Grounding Put Plans on Hold 
  
Aerolineas aimed to analyze the different proposals and negotiate an agreement with one of the suppliers within 90 days.  Preliminary reports had the carrier favoring the 737 MAX 8 for its versatility and economies of scale on both short and long-range routes plus the favorable economics of having one family of aircraft, 737-800 / 737 MAX, for all of its short to medium range needs.  A tentative decision was apparently made at the end of 2018 to acquire the aircraft with Aerolineas' board set to meet in May 2019 to approve the acquisition.  

However, the grounding of the 737 MAX series in March 2019 after two deadly crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia put Aerolineas' plans to acquire the aircraft on hold.  Although the first planes would not be delivered for a couple of years, ordering a type that was grounded for an undetermined amount of time seemed imprudent so the decision was made to ask the contract bidders to update their proposals once the MAX's grounding was lifted.     

Also, the devaluation of the Argentine peso from approx. 20 pesos to 40 pesos per USD between April 2018 and August 2018 effectively made any purchase or leasing arrangement in hard currency much more expensive plus the devaluation  hurt the Argentine economy.  Both of these factors could not have helped Aerolineas to move forward with any plans to replace the E190 fleet. 

E195-E2 Favored by New Presidential Administration 

Argentina had presidential elections in late 2019 with Alberto Fernandez defeating incumbent Mauricio Macri.  The continued weakness of the Argentine economy and the COVID-19 pandemic have led to the selection of an E190 replacement remaining on hold, even beyond the recertification of the 737 MAX series.

However, Aerolineas' new management under the new presidential administration expressed a preference in early 2020 for the Embraer E195-E2, typically with 138 seats compared to the 106 seats of the E190-E2, the successor aircraft to the E190.  The E195-E2 offers greater efficiency, enabling it to offer higher seating capacity without much higher operating costs.  The E195-E2 is better-suited than the 737 MAX 8 to Aerolineas' domestic route network, which includes many smaller cities that are loss-makers with larger aircraft. 

As of this writing in July 2021, there has been no further dialogue regarding replacement of Aerolineas Argentinas' Embraer E190 fleet.             

Sources:
Aviacion News - 16Jan20 

Saturday, June 19, 2021

FLEET UPDATE: Aerolineas Argentinas retired last two A340-300's in early 2020, not replaced yet

Aerolineas Argentinas A340-313X, LV-FPV (c/n 193), in Skyteam colors was one of the last two Aerolineas A340's to be retired from the fleet. (Phil Perry Collection)

Aerolineas Argentinas, A340-300, LV-FPV (c/n 193), departed Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) bound for Orlando-Sanford (SFB) on 08Jan20 where it was returned to the aircraft's lessor.  LV-FPV was first delivered to Iberia on 21Oct97 and joined Aerolineas' fleet on 12Oct13 where it was painted in Skyteam colors, marking the carrier's membership in the airline alliance headed by Delta, Air France and KLM.  LV-FPV was scrapped in September 2020.

Aerolineas Argentinas, A340-300, LV-FPU (c/n 170), was returned to its lessor in March 2020, being the last A340 to be retired from the airline and marking the end of four-engined aircraft in service with Aerolineas, some of the other four-engined types preceding it being the DC-4, DC-6, Comet 4, 707 and 747.  

Aerolineas operated thirteen A340-200 and A340-300 aircraft in all with the first eleven being retired between December 2013 and March 2018.  The airline intended to retire LV-FPV and LV-FPU much sooner than it did but postponed withdrawing the aircraft from service because Aerolineas' pilots' union, APLA, wanted a commitment from the Argentine government (owner of Aerolineas) that the two planes would be replaced with other aircraft.  However, the government, headed by then-Argentine President Mauricio Macri, wanted to downsize the carrier's money-losing intercontinental operations.  Unable to come to an agreement with APLA, the government postponed the retirement of Aerolineas' last two A340's in order to head off a labor crisis.

A new government, headed by incoming President Alberto Fernandez, and much more aligned politically with the pilots' union, came into power in December 2019committing to replace LV-FPV and LV-FPU with two A330-200's that would join the numerous other A330-200's already operating with the airline, opening the door for the retirement of Aerolineas' remaining A340's while avoiding labor strife.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic came shortly after LV-FPV and LV-FPU were withdrawn from service, resultlng in a drastic reduction in flying by Aerolineas, especially intercontinental services, so nothing has been done yet to acquire the additional A330's.                           

Sources:

Friday, June 4, 2021

FLEET UPDATE: Boeing AOG Team repaired Flybondi 737-800, LV-HQY, tailstrike aircraft in September 2018


Flybondi 737-800, LV-HQY, flew from Iguazu (IGR) where it experienced a tailstrike on 16Jul18, to the Escuela de Aviacion Militar (Miltary Aviation School) Airfield in Cordoba on 29Aug18 to have its rear fuselage repaired.

The work was to be undertaken at the FADEA (Fábrica Argentina de Aviones) hangar by the "Boeing AOG Team" (AOG = Aircraft-on-Ground), a group of 25 technicians led by Michael Barnes of the American manufacturer, with the repairs scheduled to take fifteen days to complete.    

The AOG Team is capable of carrying out repairs just about anywhere, including remote locations that have no supplies or infrastructure to speak of.  The team often takes along its own support engineers, tools, materials, supplies, generators, fuel and even food and water (!) for a completely self-sufficient operation.  They generally work 24/7 in twelve hour shifts, even on Saturdays and Sundays.  In the case of the repair of LV-HQY, many of the necessary items, including heavy machinery, were presumably provided by the FADEA, lightening the load for the trip from the US.

LV-HQY returned to service with Flybondi on 07Oct18 and was withdrawn from use at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic "quarantine" in Argentina on 19Mar20, going on to storage at the Pinal County Airpark (MZJ) in Arizona, USA on 09Jul20.     

Sources:

"Gabriel"

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Flybondi 737-800 LV-HQY tailstrike at Iguazu (IGR) on 16Jul18 - Final Accident Report


Flybondi 737-800 LV-HQY (c/n 34406/1852) experienced a tailstrike while attempting takeoff from Iguazu (IGR) in the early hours of 16Jul18.  

The final accident report was published by the Argentine JST (Junta de Seguridad en el Transporte) of the Ministry of Transport on 17Oct20.     

* Tailstrike before Rotation

This incident was remarkable in that the tailstrike did not happen upon rotation or overrotation of the aircraft during takeoff but at the beginning of the takeoff roll down the runway !  The nose pitched up on its own causing the rear belly of the aircraft to strike the pavement.   

* Most Passengers Seated in the Aircraft Rear
 
LV-HQY had a load of 65 passengers, nearly all of which were seated behind Row 15 of the aircraft plus 450kg (900 lbs.) of freight in one of the rear baggage bins too.  Had the imbalance been any worse, the aircraft probably would have tipped onto its tail at the gate.  Had it been a bit less, the plane would likely have continued its takeoff roll, coming to rest on its tail upon attempting rotation while still moving forward, perhaps exiting the runway at a very high speed, colliding with whatever lay beyond its end.       

So how did the aircraft come to be so out of balance and why was this not discovered before leaving the gate ? 

Factors that might have contributed to the accident: 

* Cheapest Seats in the Rear

The initial reason for the 65 passengers being seated so far aft is that Flybondi sold seat assignments with the cheapest seats all being in the rear of the cabin.
Had the plane been nearly full this would not have caused balance issues but with no travelers occupying the more expensive seats towards the front of the cabin there was a disproportionate amount of weight in the rear.    

* Dispatch Subcontracted

Flybondi subcontracted the dispatch role (technical flight planning, including the "weight & balance" of aircraft) at Iguazu (IGR) to Flyseg S.A. 

The Flyseg dispatcher calculated the weight & balance based on the distribution of passengers in the cabin given to him by Flybondi.

The computer systems of the two companies were incompatible and there was no procedure in place for transferring the information from one system to the other so the dispatcher manually transferred the passenger seating data, introducing the potential for error.    

* Passenger Distribution Entered Incorrectly in Load Sheet

The load sheet produced by the dispatcher for this particular flight had a passenger distribution in the cabin that differed from where passengers were actually seated, leading the dispatcher to incorrectly calculate that the aircraft was within balance limits, but it was not. 

The dispatcher passed the load sheet bearing these mistakes to the captain commanding the flight.    

* No Double-Checking 

According to Flybondi's operations manual, the dispatcher should visually check the aircraft for passenger seating distribution when entering the aircraft to give the load sheet to the captain but he reportedly did not do so on this flight. 

Flybondi's operations manual also did not require the dispatcher to give a copy of the load sheet to the cabin crew nor did it require that the cabin crew check the passenger distribution on the sheet to make sure it was correct. 

* No Safety Managememt System

Flybondi did not have in place a safety management system (SMS).

The airline was supposed to put one together but it grew rapidly between its startup in January 2018 and the July date of the tailstrike and the SMS was apparently neglected.  The carrier was supposed to implement a "post certification surveillance" with the participation of the Argentine ANAC aviation authority but this was reportedly never put into practice.

Other factors that might have played a role in the accident:

* Seating Reconfigured

LV-HQY's seating was reconfigured to 189 seats two months before the incident which would have altered the weight & balance calculations but Boeing was not advised of this change so the aircraft's Weight & Balance Manual (WBM) was not updated correctly.  

* 737-200 Calculations

The WBM was further incorrect in that some of the data for calculating weight & balance were based on the 737-200 model, not the 737-800.

* Safe Ending this Time 

In the end, LV-HQY started to accelerate down Iguazu's runway 31 with the aircraft beginning to experience pitch up moments caused by the engine thrust resulting in its tail striking the runway surface.  The crew was able to reject the takeoff uneventfully and taxied back to the ramp.  But it could have been much worse. 

Please note that the editor of this blog is informed to a degree on aircraft operational matters but is not an expert so he might not have interpreted all of the information correctly.   

The actual accident report (in Spanish) can be found at this link: 


Sources:

Monday, May 31, 2021

FLEET UPDATES: Flybondi - Fleet History - 2018 - 2021

Flybondi 737-800, LV-HKS (c/n 33821/1698), the carrier's first aircraft, at Buenos Aires El Palomar (EPA) on 17Dec19.  (Phil Perry Photo)    

Five 737-800's joined Flybondi as its core fleet

Flybondi received five 737-800's in its first six months of service in 2018. 

The first aircraft, LV-HKS (c/n 33821/1698), arrived in Cordoba (COR) on 02Dec17 as detailed in the following link to an earlier posting in this blog:

Flybondi's first 737-800 - LV-HKS is delivered

The carrier took delivery of its second 737-800, LV-HFR (c/n 28071/133) in  Cordoba (COR) on 14Feb18:

Flybondi's second 737-800 - LV-HFR is delivered

Flybondi's third 737-800, LV-HKR (c/n 32614/1201), arrived at Cordoba (COR) on 03Mar18:

Flybondi's third 737-800 - LV-HKR is delivered

The carrier's fourth 737-800, LV-HQY (c/n 34406/1852), like the previous three, was also delivered to Cordoba (COR), this time on 12May18:  

Flybondi's fourth 737-800 - LV-HQY is delivered

As the airline continued to grow with the addition of new routes in Argentina and eventually internationally to neighboring countries in South America, it needed more aircraft and took delivery of its fifth 737-800, LV-HFQ (c/n 33029/1945), which arrived in (Cordoba) COR on 16Jun18. 

The additional seats offered by LV-HFQ helped Flybondi to expand its network adding service from El Palomar (EPA) to Posadas (PSS), Bahia Blanca (BHI) and  Salta (SLA) plus planned flights to Puerto Iguazú (IGR) and Santiago del Estero (SDE).

Even though the aircraft was relatively young, having been delivered new to a leasing company in May 2006, it operated with eight carriers prior to joining Flybondi in June 2018:

Ajet - Cyprus 
XL Airways - UK
Nok Air - Thailand
Sunwing Airlines - Canada
Viking Airlines - Sweden
Thomson Airways - UJK
SmartWings - Czech Republic
TUI Airlines Netherlands 

Flybondi almost takes delivery of a Sixth 737-800

737-800, EI-FJG (msn 37818/ 3384) was in service with Norwegian Air International when its owner, CIT Aerospace, an aircraft leasing company,  tentatively reached an agreement to lease the aircraft to Flybondi in September 2018, apparently for delivery in November that same year. 

EI-FJG was painted in full Flybondi colors but it was never delivered to the Argentine carrier.  The Argentine registration LV-HXQ was even reserved for it (although this was never applied to the aircraft with the 737-800 retaining its Irish EI reg). 

EI-FJG left Budapest (BUD) destined for Lasham, England on 27Nov18 but bad weather saw it diverted to London-Gatwick (LGW) where it stayed before continuing on to Lasham on the 30th.  Many expected that would fly on to Argentina but it remained in England, eventually moving to English carrier Jet2 on 31May19 registered as G-DRTO.

One 737-800 replaced by another

LV-HKR (c/n 32614/1201), the fourth 737-800 that Flybondi received, was returned to lessor GECAS on 17Jun19 for onward conversion to a freighter in Shanghai Pudong (PDV) for Southern Air flying on behalf of Amazon Prime Air.

Replacing this aircraft was LV-HKN (c/n 30734/2477), a younger airframe at 11 years vs. LV-HKR's 16 years, which arrived at El Palomar (EPA) on 09Jul19 from Jakarta, Indonesia where it had apparently undergone maintenance.

LV-HKN was delivered factory-new to Air Vanuatu in 2008 with its last operator prior to joining Flybondi being Jet Airways of India.  Flybondi put it into service on 11Jul19 flying El Palomar (EPA) - Trelew (REL) - El Palomar (EPA).

All five 737-800's leave fleet one-by-one - COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting quarantine in Argentina led to no regularly-scheduled flights being operated to/from or within the country for seven months between 20Mar20 and 22Oct20. 

With Flybondi's 737-800's not generating any revenue, they eventually had to be returned to their lessors.

* LV-HFQ (c/n 33029/1945) was the first to leave, flying from El Palomar (EPA) on 09Jun20 to Tucson, Arizona via Ecuador for return to the leasing company, Wilmington Trust.
 
* LV-HQY (c/n 34406/1852) left EPA on 08Jul20, also to Tucson, Arizona via Ecuador for return to the leasing company, MC Aviation Partners.
 
* LV-HKN (c/n 30734/2477) left EPA on 17Aug20 to San Antonio, Texas for storage.  The aircraft was still under lease but not being in operation, the lessor requested that it be stored outside of Argentina in reaction to LATAM Argentina A320's being held in the country as leverage for the Argentine government in negotiation with the carrier for employee compensation in the wake of LATAM Argentina's shutdown.
 
* LV-HKS (c/n 33821/1698) left EPA on 20Aug20 to Tucson, AZ via Ecuador.

* LV-HFR (c/n 28071/133), Flybondi's last 737-800, left EPA on 14Nov20 to Mexico City, reportedly for maintenance.

Although LV-HKN had not technically left the fleet, Flybondi having no aircraft in Argentina raised questions if the airline was permanently shut down.  

Two 737-800's returned - regularly-scheduled service resumed on 12Dec20

Only a month after having left for Mexico, LV-HFR returned back to Argentina, flying from Mexico City to Buenos Aires via Guayaquil, Ecuador on 11Dec20, in time to enter service the next day from Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) to Bariloche (BRC), Puerto Iguazu (IGR) and Tucuman (TUC).

Flying with only one aircraft presented operational problems.  Indeed, LV-HFR suffered a maintenance issue that had it out of service between 27Jan21 and 30Jan21 with all of its flights being cancelled for three days with no alternative to offer passengers.  Many ended up taking long-distance buses to their destinations. 

Fortunately, LV-HKN, which had gone to Texas at the request of the lessor as a precaution, returned to Argentina on 11Feb21, giving the airline a two-aircraft fleet and a much more viable operation.   

Sources:

Sunday, May 30, 2021

FLEET UPDATE: Aerolineas Argentinas retired 737-800, LV-CTC, from its fleet in May 2021

 
Aerolineas Argentinas 737-800, LV-CTC (c/n 30570/879), at Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) on 14Feb12.  (Phil Perry Photo)

The first 737-800 to join the Aerolineas Argentinas fleet (on 22Dec11) was the second 737-800 to be retired by the carrier, when it was returned to the lessor, Macquarie Airfinance, in May 2021.  The first 800 to be retired was LV-CTB in January 2021.   

Source:

Saturday, May 29, 2021

FLEET UPDATE: Air Class (Uruguay) received 727-200, CX-CLC, on 16Apr21


Air Class is a Uruguayan cargo charter operator that started flying in 1997.  

It took delivery of the most recent addition to its fleet when 727-200, CX-CLC (c/n 22983/1806) arrived at the airline's Montevideo (MVD) base on 16Apr21.  The aircraft was originally delivered to USAir on 03Dec82 and went on to fly for ATA Airlines before being converted to a freighter in 2003, after which it flew for a Brazilian cargo airline before being recently leased to Air Class.

See post below this one for Air Class Fleet History .....

Sources:

FLEET UPDATE: Air Class (Uruguay) - Fleet - Current & Historical

Air Class EMB-110 Bandeirante, CX-VIP (c/n 110258), at Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) ? in April 2003.  (Phil Perry Collection) 

Air Class is a Uruguayan cargo charter operator that started flying in 1997.  

Air Class - Current Fleet:

* CX-CLS - Swearingen SA227-AC Metro III - (c/n AC-755B) - Dec 2006  to current

* CX-LSS - Swearingen SA227-AC Metro III - (c/n AC-720) - Nov 2012 to current

* CX-CAR - 727-200 - (c/n 21958/1533) - 29Jun11 to current

* CX-CLC - 727-200 - (c/n 22983/1806) - 16Apr21 to current

Air Class - Historical Fleet:

* CX-VIP - Embraer EMB-110 Bandeirante - (c/n 110258) - Nov 2001 to  ?

* CX-CLA - Swearingen SA227-AC Metro III - (c/n AC-736) - May 2004 to 2013 (?)

* CX-LAS - Swearingen SA227-AC Metro III - (c/n AC-482) - 07Oct09 to  06Jun12 - crashed off Isla de Flores en route MVD-EZE with loss of two crew members

* CX-CLB - 727-200 - (c/n 21996/1571) - May 2015 to 24Jan17

Source:

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

FLEET UPDATE: ex-Norwegian Air Argentina 737-800's returned to Europe on 05May21


Norwegian Air Argentina operated four 737-800's:

LV-HQH (c/n 42278/6347) "Astor Piazzolla"
LV-IQZ (c/n 42086/6365) "Santiago Ramon y Cajal"
LV-ISQ (c/n 42280/6402)
LV-ITK (c/n 42087/6389) "Benito Pérez Galdóz"

The airline withdrew LV-ISQ from service on 27Apr19 on what was expected to be a temporary basis with the plane heading to Europe to help cover for a shortage of aircraft in Norwegian Air's fleet during the northern hemisphere summer season, due to the grounding of the 737 MAX series.  However, with the downturn in the Argentine economy during the second half of 2019, travel demand in the country dropped and LV-ISQ never returned to Argentina.  

Norwegian Air Argentina's (NAA) three remaining 737-800's, LV-HQH, LV-IQZ and LV-ITK, continued in service with the carrier and also flew for Jetsmart Argentina, with Norwegian titles and logos removed, after Jetsmart purchased NAA in December 2019.  Jetsmart Argentina planned to continue using the 737-800's until the second trimester of 2020 at which time they were to return to Europe (Jetsmart purchased NAA's route rights and other assets, but the 737-800's were not included in the deal).  However, the COVID-19 pandemic cut short all commercial flying in Argentina in mid-March and the aircraft were parked at Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) on 19Mar20 where they remained until recently. 

On 28Apr21, LV-HQH, performed a test flight in preparation for the return ferry flight from EZE to Ireland with LV-IQZ and LV-ITK doing the same on 30Apr21.    
On the morning of 05May21, all three aircraft departed Buenos Aires Ezeiza (EZE) to Natal (NAT) and the Canary Islands before landing in Dublin (DUB) on 06May21.    

Sources:

Monday, May 24, 2021

FLEET UPDATE: Fuerza Aerea Argentina acquires 737-700 for transport role

The Fuerza Aerea Argentina recently acquired a 737-700 to fulfill the role of military transport and possibly perform services on behalf of the state-run airline Lineas Aereas del Estado (LADE) serving the Patagonia energy / wilderness region, replacing to a degree the FAA's F-28 fleet which has been almost entirely retired. 

The aircraft, 737-76N (c/n 33420/1459) flew from Mexico City, where it had  undergone maintenance and preparations for service with the FAA, to Lima (LIM) and finally the FAA airbase at El Palomar (EPA), arriving on 27Apr21.  

The new addition joined the Fuerza Aerea Argentina 1st Aerial Brigade, 1st Transport Group, where it was assigned the FAA registration, T-99. 

T-99 was originally delivered to Ethiopian Airlines in 2004 and went on to fly with SAS Scandinavian Airlines before being stored in November 2020 and sold to the FAA.  

T-99 has already operated some flights, including from Buenos Aires Aeroparque (AEP) recently.  

The links below show some photos and video of the aircraft upon arriving at El Palomar (EPA):

Sources: