US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) stated microscope examination revealed fatigue cracks emanating from at least 42 of the 58 rivet holes connected by the fracture in the lap joint of a piece of the B737 fuselage from Southwest Flight 812 (AINOnline, 02-May-2011). Misshapen and misaligned rivet holes in parts of the fuselage removed from the aircraft has lent more credence to theories that a manufacturing flaw led to the eventual failure of the lap joint during an 01-Apr-2011 accident in which a five foot long tear opened in the roof of the aircraft.
NTSB finds more evidence of manufacturing flaw on Southwest B737
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Bombardier C Series: record orders in 2016 as both variants finally enter service
The first commercial flight of the Bombardier CS300 on 14-Dec-2016, operated by airBaltic from Riga to Amsterdam, will be a major milestone for the Canadian manufacturer's new C Series aircraft programme. Three CS100 aircraft are already in service with SWISS, so the airBaltic flight will mean that both variants of the C Series are finally in commercial operation.
The programme is Bombardier's first wholly new aircraft development, aimed at the 100 to 150-seat market segment and offering advantages of fuel efficiency, cabin space, noise and emissions. Bombardier once targeted 2013 for entry into service, but has been dogged by problems and delays. In 2015, Bombardier seemed to have overstretched itself. The C Series received no new orders during the year and Bombardier was forced to seek investment from the Province of Québec to rescue the programme.
In 2016 the company has recovered to win a net 117 new orders, its highest annual total, bringing the programme total to 360. However, competition is cut-throat, with Airbus, Boeing and Embraer all having new developments of existing products in the same space as the C Series. Bombardier's breakthrough orders from Air Canada and Delta in 2016 required heavy price discounts.
Air Canada Part 2: Financial progress makes investment grade metrics more tangible
A decade ago it would have been unheard of for Air Canada to contemplate reaching an investment grade credit rating. The airline had emerged from bankruptcy protection, but was still struggling financially. It would teeter on the verge of another formal restructuring before setting out on a course to restructure its financial foundation – a process that has allowed the airline to improve its balance sheet and leverage.
Air Canada’s leverage targets for YE2018 will not meet the general proxy for an investment grade rating; however, its lower capital commitments and debt refinancing could create an opportunity for achieving that status beyond 2018.
Attaining an investment grade credit rating likely remains a longer term goal for Air Canada as its major financial goals in the short term remain paying down debt that is creeping up due to a fleet renewal, as well as funding growth to drive long-term shareholder value. More meaningful shareholder returns will likely occur once the company reaches what it deems as acceptable progress in debt management, and reaches a certain maturity level in growing its international network.
This is Part 2 in a two part series on Air Canada. Part 1 dealt with long haul LCC subsidiary, rouge.