26.10.2008
FLUG REVUE

2008-10-27 - News in BriefNews in Brief

Kurzmeldungen<br /> +++<br /> Forecast International has released a new study, "The Market for Regional Transport Aircraft," in which the Connecticut-based research firm projects that a total of 4,066 regional aircraft worth $116 billion will be produced from 2008 through 2017.&nbsp; The total includes 2,826 regional jets and 1,240 regional turboprops.

In the current airline environment, regional airlines are feeling nearly as much financial pressure as the major carriers are, and while regionals can sometimes substantially outperform the majors during times of stress in the industry, this is not the case today. Major airlines are consolidating their route networks and grounding aircraft, but they are not offloading routes to their regional partners.  Capacity cuts instituted by a number of majors have extended to capacity flown by regional partners.  And all this is occurring at a time when slowing passenger traffic and high fuel costs are making problematic the operating economics of regional jet aircraft.  So, market factors are forcing many regionals to themselves undergo consolidation, rather than expand into service areas abandoned by the majors. Against this tumultuous backdrop, the market for regional aircraft nevertheless continues to grow.  While the market is certainly not booming, manufacturers are continuing to find opportunities to increase profits and expand market share.  Regional turboprop airliners are experiencing a marked resurgence in demand, particularly for those models seating 70 passengers.  Meanwhile, demand for regional jet airliners has been shifting upward to larger-capacity aircraft.  As airlines increasingly park inefficient 50-seat regional jets, many of these aircraft will be replaced by 70-seat and larger aircraft. The Forecast International study predicts that the top three regional aircraft manufacturers during the 2008-2017 time period will be Embraer, Bombardier, and ATR.  Embraer is projected to build 1,440 regional jets valued at $47.1 billion.  Bombardier is expected to produce 1,189 regional aircraft, including both jets and turboprops; the value of this production is estimated at $41.5 billion.  ATR is forecast to build 458 regional turboprops valued at $8.3 billion.
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A Eurofighter Typhoon fighter aircraft in the full two-tone grey livery of the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) has flown for the first time at BAE Systems' Warton Aerodrome in Lancashire, North West England.  This milestone marks the start of an initial test flight programme for RSAF Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft being assembled at Warton. In December 2005, the Saudi Arabian and UK Governments announced the signing of an Understanding Document that aimed to establish a greater partnership in modernising the Saudi Armed Forces.  This paved the way for the acquisition of 72 Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft, and the transfer of technology, investment and training, confirmed on 17 September 2007.
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NASA's Interstellar Boundary Explorer mission, or IBEX, successfully launched from the Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific Ocean at 1:47 p.m. EDT, Sunday. IBEX will be the first spacecraft to image and map dynamic interactions taking place in the outer solar system. The spacecraft separated from the third stage of its Pegasus launch vehicle at 1:53 p.m. and immediately began powering up components necessary to control onboard systems. The operations team is continuing to check out spacecraft subsystems. "After a 45-day orbit raising and spacecraft checkout period, the spacecraft will start its exciting science mission," said IBEX mission manager Greg Frazier of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. IBEX is the latest in NASA's series of low-cost, rapidly developed Small Explorers spacecraft. The Southwest Research Institute developed the IBEX mission with a team of national and international partners. Goddard manages the Explorers Program for the Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
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United Technologies announced that David Hess, currently President of Hamilton Sundstrand, will succeed Stephen Finger as President of Pratt & Whitney Jan. 1, 2009 when Finger retires. Alain Bellemare, now President of Pratt & Whitney Canada and Executive Vice President for Pratt & Whitney Group Strategy & Development, will succeed Hess at Hamilton Sundstrand. Hess and Bellemare will report to UTC President & Chief Executive Officer Louis Chênevert. "I am pleased to announce these important changes in UTC's senior leadership," Chênevert said. "This orderly transition again demonstrates the strength and depth of UTC's management team."
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Eclipse Aviation is selling a fleet of 28 former DayJet Eclipse 500® jets. These aircraft are available for immediate purchase and each will be sold in different stages of operational capability. The aircraft have between 150 and 450 cycles on them.
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Affiliate member Loganair will, as announced a year ago, withdraw from oneworld on 25 October, when its franchise agreement with alliance member British Airways comes to an end.  The move will result in the loss of oneworld service to 12 destinations, mainly in the Scottish highlands and islands - Barra, Benbecula, Campbeltown, Derry, Kirkwall, Inverness, Islay, Isle of Man, Stornaway, Sumburgh, Tiree and Wick. British Airways will continue to code-share on Loganair thereafter.
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Pratt & Whitney celebrated the grand opening of Belgium Engine Center, a military maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility, Friday in Liege, Belgium. The event was attended by more than 200 dignitaries, visitors and employees. "With this new state-of-the-art facility, we are able to provide customers in Europe with the highest quality engine services and technical support," said Tom Farmer, president, Pratt & Whitney Military Engines. "We value and respect the relationships Belgium Engine Center employees have built with their customers, and we look forward to building on their legacy of world-class service and customer support." Pratt & Whitney acquired the Belgium Engine Center, formerly Techspace Aero, in July 2008. The new Pratt & Whitney Belgium Engine Center occupies a new state of the art facility that opened in January 2008 and offers complete MRO services for the F100-PW-100, -200, -220, and -220E engines, as well as key components of the -229 engine.
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Arianespace announced that global satellite services provider, SES (Euronext Paris and Luxembourg Stock Exchange: SESG), has committed to three new primary launch services using Ariane, under the Multi Launch Agreement (MLA) signed in June 2007. The commitment covers three new satellites for the SES group, including Astra 3B for SES ASTRA, plus two other satellites which have yet to be identified. Ranging from 4,400 to 5,800 kg, the three satellites are slated for launch between 2009 and 2012 using Ariane 5 rockets from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana.
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The EMBRAER 170/190 family of E-Jets in operation, worldwide, recently surpassed the significant mark of 2 million flight hours. The fleet of aircraft and the customer base continue to grow rapidly, and now total over 450 jets flying for 50 airlines in more than 30 countries. With a diversified customer base, formed by airlines having business models that vary from regional and flag carriers to low-cost companies, the E-Jets perform at high punctuality rates (in excess of 99.1%), excellent comfort, low fuel consumption, and reduced operating costs. "The rapid expansion of the fleet of E-Jets, both in geographical terms and in the diversity of airlines that are already operating with this modern jet family, is based on the enormous flexibility that these aircraft offer. Since they entered operation, the E-Jets have been an important tool for increasing the efficiency of the airlines, and for air transportation that provides superior comfort to passengers," said Mauro Kern, Embraer Executive Vice President, Airline Market.
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Helitech's first outing to Portugal has been well received by both exhibitors and visitors. More than 1,350 (pre ABC audit) people attended the three-day event which took place from 14-16 October at Airport Cascais near Estoril. There were 108 exhibiting companies from 18 different countries displaying a range of helicopter orientated equipment, technology and services. The show received a number of VIP visitors from the region including the Mayor of Cascais, the President of Portugal's Civil Aviation Authority and a representative from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development from the Spanish region of Castilla-La Mancha. The two aerial firefighting demonstrations drew the crowds and meant that Helibravo, in conjunction with the Autoridade Nacional de Protecçao Civil (ANPC), could showcase its firefighting capabilities. The audience was also able to see the first public demonstration in Europe of Simplex Manufacturing's FAST Bucket. In the static display area, 13 helicopters were on view to visitors. They included a Kamov KA/32 A11BC, configured for firefighting, as well as a Eurocopter AS/350 B3.
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Eurocopter and PTDI signed a cooperation agreement which aims to set up a local assembly line to manufacture airframes for Super Puma MKII helicopters. In the framework of this agreement, a series of training programs will take place between the 2 parties for the first 3 years, including the permanent posting of an Eurocopter team in Bandung for technical assistance and exchange of technological know-how. This contract is worth US$ 42 Millions over a period of at least 10 years, with operations of serial production starting in 2011. This cooperation agreement is proof of Eurocopter's confidence in PTDI as an important partner in the country with the necessary industrial competencies. Indeed, PTDI is not new in this line – the company employs 3800 employees today and has a long experience in aerospace business for the manufacturing of aircraft parts and components in Asia.
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Delta Air Lines, the only U.S. network carrier to serve Africa, announced it will expand its service to the African continent with the introduction of the first and only flight between Hartsfield Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Monrovia's Roberts International Airport, Liberia.  The service, which will make a stop at Amilcar Cabral International Airport on Sal Island, Cape Verde*, will start in June, 2009. Passengers on the only flight between the U.S. and Liberia will benefit from significant time savings over other routes.  They also will be able to connect to more than 150 destinations throughout the U.S., Latin America and the Caribbean via Delta's Atlanta hub.
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The RAF has taken delivery of the first of 91 new Typhoon combat aircraft, ordered four years ago and delivered on time and to cost. The new Defence Equipment and Support Minister Quentin Davies was at RAF Coningsby to witness the arrival of the second generation Typhoons. The two aircraft flew in from BAE Systems' Warton factory in Lancashire to RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, where they will shortly be released for flight trials, and are expected to join front line UK-based air defence squadrons in January 2009. Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, Quentin Davies said: "Typhoon is delivering a world-class capability to the RAF and is the cornerstone of the UK's air defence capabilities. Today's arrival of the second Tranche is an important milestone delivering to the RAF an aircraft with more powerful computer systems and the ability to carry heavier weapons - the next generation of Typhoon. The RAF will take delivery of 6 rising to 20 Typhoon aircraft every year for the next 7 years under the Typhoon Tranche 2 contract.
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Air France, Air One and Volkswagen, three of the 18 aircraft operators participating in EUROCONTROL's ADS-B Pioneer Airlines project, have become the world's first airlines to obtain EASA's approval to use ADS-B in airspace not covered by radar. The airworthiness approval, covers Airbus, Boeing and Dassault airframes and allows ADS-B messages broadcast via 1090 MHz Extended Squitter to be used as the sole surveillance source for an air traffic control service. Currently Portugal, the Netherlands, Greece, Italy and Turkey are committed to implementing ADS-B in those parts of their airspace not covered by radar. The EASA approval is also valid in the Hudson Bay area of Canada where the ADS-B operational service will commence in November 2008. "Approval by EASA of ADS-B use in European airspace is a major step forward and will create opportunities for fuel and emission savings, whilst enhancing safety levels," said Alex Wandels, Manager of EUROCONTROL's CASCADE programme. "Following the approval from EASA, we know that the airlines are eager to begin using ADS-B in their daily operations, in addition to participating in trials."
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The AGM-88E Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM) program has successfully completed a Milestone C review and received approval for entry into Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP). Mr. Sean J. Stackley, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition, rendered the decision in a September 30, 2008 Acquisition Decision Memorandum (ADM) signaling the program had demonstrated compliance with all milestone criteria, including successful completion of an Operational Assessment (OA) test phase. Achievement of Milestone C formally signals that the missile system's maturity is sufficient to commence LRIP. AARGM, an upgrade to the U.S. Navy AGM-88 HARM system, is a U.S. and Italian international cooperative major acquisition program with the U.S. Navy as the executive agent.
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The deal is done for the Air Force officials to ship 18 G-222 cargo planes to the Afghan National Air Corps. Officials signed the $287 million contract at Robins AFB Sept. 29. The Italian-built planes are being purchased from Alenia North America and will be refurbished, with 16 to serve as medium tactical support transport aircraft and two others will get VIP configurations to serve as aircraft for the president of Afghanistan. The contract calls for shipment to begin in September 2009 with deliveries to continue through 2011. Although Robins won't be doing any work on the planes, the contract was signed here because the program office is here, said Debbie Mashburn, the security assistance program manager.
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Qantas made history this week with its inauguration of A380 scheduled service, marking the 21st century flagship aircraft's first commercial round-trip flight between Australia and the U.S. West Coast, and saving thousands of kilograms of carbon emissions under a multinational environmental initiative. The milestone flight departed Melbourne at 11h15 on 20 October for its Pacific crossing to Los Angeles International Airport, where the aircraft was greeted by public officials and celebrities - including Australian singer Olivia Newton-John and actor John Travolta. Passengers praised the A380's comfort and its smoothness, while spectators and news reporters gave the aircraft high marks for its quiet operation during the Los Angeles arrival and on two subsequent takeoffs - one for a local demonstration tour, and the other for its flight home to Australia. Qantas will increase its A380 international service as the airline builds up its 20-aircraft fleet. The carrier plans to start Sydney-Los Angeles flights later this month, followed in January 2009 by Australia-London service, operated via Singapore.
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The U.S. Air Force E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS) engine upgrade program reached a major milestone last week after successfully completing Federal Aviation Administration supplemental type certification flights. Northrop Grumman Corporation will now install the Pratt & Whitney JT8D-219 engines on the Joint STARS test bed aircraft in advance of military certification test flights scheduled to begin in December. Joint STARS is a modified commercial aircraft that detects, locates, classifies, tracks and targets hostile ground movements, communicating real-time information through secure data links.
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Croatia Airlines, the flag carrier of the Republic of Croatia, has signed a firm contract with Airbus for the purchase of four A319s to add to its growing medium haul fleet aircraft. The new A319s will join its eight A320 Family aircraft already in operation. Croatia Airlines' A319s will feature the all-new cabin which provides more passenger comfort in a modern and brighter environment. The ordered aircraft will accommodate 132 passengers in a two-class configuration. Powered by CFM International CFM56-5 engines, the aircraft will be deployed on the airline's extended European and domestic networks.
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During last weekend ESA lost contact with its XMM-Newton X-ray observatory. Many space agencies and organisations are now joining forces trying to fix the problem: a feeble radio signal has been heard, and ground observations confirm that the spacecraft is intact. XMM-Newton has operated faultlessly in orbit for almost nine years, close to its 10-year design lifetime. Nonetheless. It has become a workhorse of modern astronomy and so when it is in trouble it is a case of 'all hands to the pumps', with all available resources called to help. During the evening of Saturday 18 October, XMM-Newton was approaching the point of closest approach to our planet, or perigee, along its 48-hour highly elongated orbit around Earth. At that time, it was communicating normally with the Santiago ground station in Chile through one of its two antennas. After the spacecraft moved out of visibility from Santiago, its radio signal, routinely switched to the other antenna by a previously uploaded command, was expected to be picked up by ESA's Villafranca ground station in Spain about an hour later. Unfortunately, radio contact was never reestablished.
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Ryanair announced seven new international and four new domestic routes for Bologna from March 2009. These new routes will slash the cost of flying to/from Bologna as passengers avoid Alitalia's high fares and fuel surcharges and secure Ryanair's guaranteed lowest airfares and no fuel surcharge. Ryanair's 11 new routes will bring an additional 800,000 passengers to Bologna each year, with Ryanair on target to carry over 2m Ryanair passengers through Bologna to/from 25 destinations by 2012. This growth will sustain 2,000 local jobs and save passengers over €200m annually, compared to the high fares and fuel surcharges presently levied by Alitalia. 
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Sue Payton, Air Force assistant secretary for acquisition, directed the Combat Search and Rescue, or CSAR-X, program staff to issue a minor amendment to the request for proposal. The offererors have been notified of the pending amendment that will be released soon. The purpose of the amendment is to further clarify how Air Force officials will make the source selection decision. Air Force officials have full confidence in the CSAR-X source selection process. The clarification underscores their commitment to a fair and transparent competition, consistent with the secretary of the Air Force's focus on acquisition excellence. This amendment and resulting minor delay to the award of contract is not associated with the DOD inspector general's ongoing audit of the CSAR-X requirements development process. Air Force officials expect a final report will be released from the DOD IG later this year.
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General Atomics Aeronautical Systems announced that its Lynx Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) sensor successfully identified suspected areas of illegal crossing activity along the U.S. southwest border during recent border patrol operations conducted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) out of Fort Huachuca, Ariz.  The Lynx SAR is now performing day-to-day border search operations onboard a CBP Predator B unmanned aircraft system (UAS), also manufactured by GA-ASI. Despite cloud cover and ground haze obscuration in the search area, the Lynx SAR's weather penetration and wide-area scan capabilities have resulted in repeatedly successful missions with all objectives achieved.  
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NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, has begun environmental testing in a thermal vacuum that simulates the harsh rigors of space. The spacecraft, built at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., has been lifted into a four-story thermal vacuum chamber there for a test that will last approximately five weeks. Once sealed in the chamber, the satellite will undergo a series of tests that simulate the space environment it will encounter when it orbits the moon. During the tests, NASA engineers will operate the spacecraft to ensure it is performing as planned. The project also will conduct mission simulations to further train and develop the team that will operate the spacecraft.
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The first Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter has finished all planned testing at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., demonstrating that the aircraft, the support crews, and contractor and military service personnel are ready for the dramatically expanded flight testing on the program's horizon. "This initial round of testing at Edwards is just the beginning," said Doug Pearson, Lockheed Martin vice president of the F-35 Integrated Test Force. "The exceptional performance of the aircraft and those supporting it shows that the team is ready for the fast-paced flight test activities upcoming at Edwards and [Naval Air Station] Patuxent River, Md." By the end of 2009, all 19 F-35 test aircraft will be complete and flight test activities will intensify, leading to Initial Operational Test & Evaluation in the 2013-2014 time frame. During the three-week deployment at Edwards, most of the F-35's activity centered on a set of crucial tests that validated the aircraft's ability to shut down and restart its engine in flight. During the tests -- conducted to ensure that the aircraft can regain power and be flown safely in the event of an unanticipated engine flameout -- the Pratt & Whitney F135 turbofan repeatedly restarted on command.
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The C-27J tactical transport aircraft, designed and produced by Alenia Aeronautica, a Finmeccanica company, has achieved a further success on the international markets, with a 130 million Euro order for four aircraft to be supplied to the Moroccan Defence Ministry. This brings the total number of orders received to 121, making the C-27J the world's most successful transport aircraft in its category. After receiving 39 orders in Europe from Italy, Greece, Romania, Bulgaria and Lithuania, and 78 in the United States for the US Army and the US Air Force, this is the first C-27J order from a non-NATO country.
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Space Systems/Loral (SS/L), a subsidiary of Loral Space & Communications and the leading provider of commercial satellites, today announced that it has been awarded a contract for a high-power spacecraft, from one of the world's premier satellite operators. The satellite will be based on the space-proven 1300 platform, which has the flexibility to support a broad range of applications, and is designed to provide service for 15 years or more. This order represents Space Systems/Loral's sixth contract award for the year.
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MTU Aero Engines Holding AG has reported successful results for the first nine months of 2008. At September 30, 2008, revenues amounted to €1,982.9 million, 5% higher than at the end of the equivalent period a year earlier (1-9/07: €1,886.8 million). After adjustments for the U.S. dollar exchange rate, revenues increased by 17%. MTU's earnings continued to improve as well, with adjusted EBITDA reaching €295.0 million, which is 5% up on the same period in 2007 (1-9/07: €280.8 million). The EBITDA margin at the end of September came to 14.9%, as in the previous year. Net income has remained stable at €118.6 million (1-9/07: €117.0 million). "MTU has had a particularly successful third quarter and is making good headway towards its targets. On the basis of these results, we are today able to revise our forecast for 2008," stated MTU CEO Egon Behle. "We now expect to close the year with revenues of €2,650 million and anticipate an EBITDA of at least €400 million." This is at least €10 million higher than the previously estimated EBITDA, despite an increasing level of capital expenditure. The original forecast for revenues has been increased by €50 million.
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SWISS will be keeping its route network at its present extent in the coming 2008/09 winter schedules, and is even adding further frequencies on certain routes. The airline is also realigning its services to a few destinations in response to changed demand. Through its collaboration with Edelweiss Air, SWISS can further offer its customers substantially more flights to popular vacation destinations. The carrier will fly to 76 points in 42 countries in the new winter schedules, which enter into effect on October 26. A further 27 destinations will be served by flights operated by partner air carriers under codeshare agreements. On its intercontinental network, SWISS is increasing capacity on the Zurich-Dubai-Muscat route: the service will be operated using Airbus A340 equipment from December 15 onwards. The SWISS intercontinental network remains unchanged for the winter timetable period at 28 destinations in 20 countries. On the European front, SWISS will be adding a further daily frequency on the Zurich-London City route. Customers will thus be able to choose from nine daily flights to the conveniently central City Airport. The expansion should further cement SWISS's position in this key business-travel market.
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The current primary camera on the Hubble Space Telescope is now back in active operation and will resume science observations shortly. Just before 9:30 a.m. EDT this morning on board Hubble, the telescope's science computer began to send commands to Wide Field Planetary Camera-2. These commands brought the computer out of the quiescent, safe state in which it has waited since the computer shut down on October 16. Additional commanding allowed engineers on the ground to assess the instrument's state of health and verify the contents of the camera's microprocessor memory. All systems are poised to begin acquiring science data later today.
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The Royal Thai Air Force has the longest history and is one of the leading forces in South East Asia in terms of combat and transport issues. Due to the high demand for sophisticated pilot training, the Royal Thai Air Force has very high standards for training aircraft. To satisfy these high standards for their training purpose, the Air Force has evaluated different aircraft and selected Diamond under all competitors. Air Chief Marshall A.C.M. Bunjarit KERDSUK and his team came to visit the factory in Wiener Neustadt, in order to inspect the aircraft and factory facilities. The first aircraft out of six DA42 will be delivered in Mid of 2009.  The DA42 with its carbon composite structure is an innovative, state-of-the-art product with Garmin G1000 glass cockpit. "The aircraft has proven records towards outstanding reliability and performance in Thailand´s tropical climate." said Marshall Kerdsuk, "we have decided for the DA42, because this aircraft fulfils all our demands."
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