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Delta to introduce Boeing 717 in 2013

Delta Air Lines has finalised an agreement with Southwest Airlines and Boeing Capital to lease 88 Boeing 717-200s beginning in August 2013.

The Atlanta-based carrier will receive about three aircraft per month from Southwest’s subsidiary AirTran Airways with 16 aircraft transferred in 2016, 36 in 2014 and 36 in 2015.

Delta will either lease the aircraft from Boeing Capital or sublease the narrowbodies from Southwest.

"The 717s also provide Delta with a significant improvement in economic efficiency relative to the aircraft they are replacing," says Richard Anderson, chief executive of Delta, in a statement.

The arrangement is related to a deal between Delta and its pilots that allows the carrier to retire 218 50-seat regional jets and add 70 76-seat RJs.

Southwest will face a $50 million charge from transaction costs but realise $200 million in annual cost savings once the 717s exit its fleet, says the airline.

Delta will configure the 717s with 110 seats, including 12 seats in first class, 15 in economy “comfort” and 83 in economy

Viking evaluates market for DHC-5 Buffalo relaunch

Viking Air is looking to relaunch production on the de Havilland DHC-5 Buffalo following strong interest in an upgraded version from existing operators of the 50-year-old twin-engined turboprop.

"We launched a market study last month to gauge customer demand, determine the potential size of this market globally and to fully assess the feasibility of relaunching this legacy product," says Rob Mauracher vice president of Viking, which owns the Buffalo’s type certificate. "We know there is demand from both commercial operators and governments worldwide as we have already received a couple of letters of intent."

The Buffalo made its first flight in April 1964 and was certificated a year later. Over 120 of the General Electric CT64-820-4-powered aircraft were built until production was halted in 1988. Today 29 of the types remain in service: the D variant, with the governments of Brazil, Canada, Egypt, Ethiopia and Kenya and the E version, with commercial operators DAC Aviation International, Artic Sunwest Charters and Sky Relief. The relaunched Buffalo would be called the DHC-5NG and would include a host of refinements including Pratt & Whitney PW150 engines, a six-blade composite propeller and a modern cockpit, says Mauracher,

"The Buffalo has amazing short take-off and landing capabilities. It is extremely robust and fits into a niche all of its own," he continues. "The aircraft can take off and land on mud or sand with 40 passengers from a strip of land the size of a football pitch. It will be affordable to purchase, operate and is very versatile," he adds,

The market study should be complete later this year and the decision on whether to proceed with the relaunch “could be made very quickly,” says Mauracher.

FARNBOROUGH: Airbus rolls out new sharklet wing-tips on A320

Airbus’ first new-build A320 with the sharklet wing-tip modification has made its air show debut, three months after being rolled out at Toulouse.

The CFM International CFM56-powered twinjet, registration MSN5098, is one of the A320-family jets being used in a 600h certification flight-test programme.

Airbus is adopting a new wing production standard, equipping all new-build A320s with sharklets.

The wing-tips will be available on new-build A320s from the fourth quarter of this year and the modification will become a standard feature on the re-engined A320NEO family which will enter service in 2015.

A320s have previously been fitted with wing fences but the airframer expects the sharklets to cut fuel burn by up to 3.5% on long sectors. Airbus has also been experimenting with sharklets on its first A320, the MSN1 testbed, which will eventually be retired once the A320NEO emerges.