Aeroflot ends mainline Tu-134 operations after 40 years

FLEET Russian flag-carrier Aeroflot has withdrawn the Tupolev Tu-134 from mainline operations after keeping the Soviet-era twinjet in service for more than 40 years. The carrier has 14 remaining in its fleet and will offer these to subsidiary carriers Aeroflot-Don and Aeroflot-Nord for purchase. Developed from the Tupolev Tu-124 - and originally designated the Tu-124A - the 68-seat aircraft first flew in July 1963 after emerging with a design that followed the trend towards rear-engined jets. From a total of 852 Tu-134s, 162 were still in operation two years ago when more than 220 remained on the Russian state registry for civil aircraft. Separately, Russian carrier UTAir has decided to convert half of its 21 Tupolev Tu-154s into freighters and replace the other half with Boeing 737s as it seeks to operate more efficient aircraft.

UK Civil Aviation boss takes over at Eurocontrol

SAFETY Eurocontrol, the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, has appointed David McMillan director general he had been the UK's Director General of Civil Aviation since April 2004. McMillan was also first vice-president of the European Civil Aviation Conference, and spokesman for Europe on aviation and environment for the International Civil Aviation Organisation. He started his career in the diplomatic service, serving in the UK embassies in Morocco and Zimbabwe.

NOVEMBER Passenger traffic growth fastest for 18 months

AIRLINES Global airline passenger traffic growth surged more than 9% in November - the industry's fastest rate of growth for 18 months. Figures published by IATA show airline passenger traffic grew 9.3% in November compared with the same month in 2006. This outstrips the year's previous 8.6% peak in passenger traffic growth, seen in August, and the 7.5% growth recorded over the first 11 months of the year. Strong growth was seen across most regions. Passenger load factors in November 2007 were more than a point higher than the corresponding month in 2006, at 75.4%. But growth in the freight sector continues to be sluggish. Cargo traffic grew 3.5% in November, slightly below the 3.9% average recorded across the first 11 months of 2007.

NASA chooses Zero Gravity for parabolic flight training

SCIENCE Commercial weightless flight operator Zero Gravity Corporation is to manage and operate an aircraft to perform parabolic flights for NASA-operated experiments and personnel. NASA described the relationship as a key milestone for its parabolic operations, which have previously been operated using government aircraft and personnel. NASA will use zero-g flights to perform experiments and research in aeronautics, fluid physics, combustion, material sciences and life sciences. The reduced-gravity environment will also allow NASA to further develop its Crew Exploration Vehicle, and train astronauts for future flights on the space shuttle and the International Space Station. The flights will primarily be from NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston and NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.

Handheld bid to boost Ryanair onboard sales

REVENUE Ryanair is to install onboard handheld point-of-sale devices across its fleet from April. The low-cost carrier expects GuestLogix's Mobile Virtual Store onboard technology to assist Ryanair's cabin crew with onboard sales transactions and increase onboard sales. Ryanair deputy chief executive Howard Millar says: "The technology will also allow for the launch of more new products, increasing our revenues."

Source: Flight International