2008-09-15 - News in BriefNews in Brief

Kurzmeldungen<br /> +++<br /> Thales Alenia Space announced it has started construction of 16 of its Low Earth Orbit communications satellites for Jersey, Channel Islands based O3b Networks Limited, with options for additional spacecrafts. The satellites will offer low latency Internet backhaul to emerging markets and developing countries worldwide at speeds up to 10 Gbps with a combined total capacity in excess of 160Gbps.

Thales Alenia Space started design activities under contract in 2007 and has received Authorization To Proceed (ATP) with the construction phase of the project. The delivery of the initial satellites and service activation are scheduled for late 2010. O3b Networks recently announced the new satellite network with support and funding from Google, Inc, Liberty Global, Inc., and HSBC Principal Investments. Bridging the gap between current satellites and fiber optic cables, O3b Networks will provide fiber-like trunking capacity to telecom operators and backhaul directly to 3G Cellular and WiMAX towers.
ExecuJet Aviation Group is marking three years' activity of handling aircraft interior design and completions by moving into larger executive jet types. By the end of the year, the Zurich, Switzerland-based company is hoping to add Airbus ACJ and Boeing Business Jets to its current, primarily Bombardier Business Jets portfolio. A brand new dedicated customer showroom, located at Zurich Headquarters is scheduled to open this autumn. The expansion of our interior and completion business is mirroring the growth of activity, not just from new build aircraft deliveries, but increasingly in response to rejuvenated interest to create new looks for pre-owned aircraft," says Pascal Jallier, Head of Completions at ExecuJet Aviation Group.  
Sikorsky Aircraft's Military Derivatives Completion Center (MDCC) has successfully achieved its first flight of a Naval Hawk helicopter. This initial helicopter, produced at the Sikorsky HAWK WORKS @ Schweizer Aircraft, is an S-70B helicopter. The aircraft achieved first flight on Aug. 28 and is expected to be delivered to an international military customer in the first quarter of 2009, after an engineering flight test program.  The identity of the customer was not disclosed. The MDCC, branded by Sikorsky as the HAWK WORKS, is the primary completion center for Sikorsky's military helicopter derivatives. Helicopters requiring customized configurations for a range of specialized missions are completed at the MDCC facility. 
easyJet recently debuted the first aircraft equipped with Rockwell Collins' new dPAVES™ in-flight entertainment (IFE) system. The system, which entered into service on an Airbus A321 aircraft, will also be installed on up to 13 additional easyJet aircraft. "The dPAVES system provides easyJet passengers with the enhanced clarity of digital technology while watching movies and other IFE programming," explained Tommy Dodson, vice president and general manager, Cabin Systems for Rockwell Collins. "Our tailored approach to the dPAVES system meets the diverse needs of today's single aisle IFE customers. Its reduction in size, weight and power, as well as reliability improvements, provide operational benefits and lower life-cycle costs than existing analog systems." The dPAVES system for easyJet features 10-inch retractable LCD displays. In addition, Rockwell Collins' Airshow 4200 Moving Map product has been integrated into the dPAVES system server, saving space, weight and power associated with installing a separate unit.
Boeing has completed its acquisition of Insitu Inc., a pioneer in the unmanned air systems (UAS) market and leader in the design, development and manufacture of high-performance, low-cost UAS used for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. Insitu, located in Bingen, Wash., designs, develops and manufactures UAS for commercial and military applications. This acquisition, first announced on July 22, 2008, is part of a larger plan to increase Boeing's presence in the unmanned systems market.
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI)'s largest and most advanced UAV – the Heron TP has recently reached a new technological and operational record, when it flew, for a substantial period of time, at an altitude of 40,000 ft. The Heron TP UAV reached this altitude in less than one hour of flight. It flew for three hours and landed perfectly.
Saab and Tata Consultancy Services Limited (TCS) have signed a letter of intent regarding establishment of an Aeronautical Design and Development Centre (ADDC) in India. The vision for the centre is to serve the global aeronautical market. The centre will create design and development capabilities within India for both military and civil aeronautical applications. This would be a long term relationship with Saab undertaking to transfer technology and competencies in the aerospace sector. The design and development centre will address market opportunities in areas such as aero structures, aero systems, avionics and after market support. This co-operation will also allow Saab to set a footprint in India together with TCS to capture the opportunities emerging in the aerospace and defence sector.
Fraport AG's executive board chairman Dr. Wilhelm Bender took part in the official celebrations in Xi'an, China, this morning to launch the German-Chinese joint-venture Xi'an Xianyang International Airport Co., Ltd. Holding a 24.5 percent share in the joint venture, Fraport is the first foreign airport operator to invest in a non-listed airport in China. In his speech, Bender stressed that the Xi'an participation is an essential building block in Fraport's international expansion. Fraport is convinced of the sustainable development potential of China's aviation market. Fraport's Bender confirmed that the company is currently negotiating other projects in China. Because of its central geographic location, Xi'an Airport has the potential of developing into a regional hub in the next few years. In addition, China's first imperial city attracts millions of Chinese and foreign tourists annually to its UNESCO World Heritage Site, the famous Terracotta Army. In cooperation with local partners and authorities, Fraport will focus on developing this potential. In particular, establishing more international air routes is a priority, as well as developing retail and real estate business at the airport. Fraport will be able to draw upon decades of extensive expertise gained at its Frankfurt home base and other international airport projects.
Thales Alenia Space announced a contract with JSC "ISS - Reshetnev Company" (formerly NPO-PM) to supply the Amos-5 communications satellite payload. ISS, prime contractor, is building the satellite for Israeli satellite operator Spacecom Ltd. This contract involves two long-term partners of Thales Alenia Space (ISS as industrial partner and Spacecom as a customer), associated today to start a new team for the Amos-5 satellite. ISS serves as the prime contractor providing its Express-1000 platform and Thales Alenia Space as communications payload supplier. The satellite will be integrated and tested in Krasnoyarsk, Russia.
Goodrich has been selected by Airbus to supply the air data system (ADS) as well as ice detection system for the new A350 XWB (Xtra Wide-Body) commercial aircraft. Together, the awards are expected to generate more than $600 million in original equipment and aftermarket revenue over 20 years. Work will be performed by Goodrich's Sensors and Integrated Systems team in Burnsville, Minn. The ADS provides all critical air data parameters to the vehicle management computers for the aircraft's flight control and pilot display systems. SmartProbe(TM) and SmartPort(R) air data sensing technology allows integration of multi-function sensing ports, pressure sensors and processing capability through the elimination of pneumatic lines. The total number of discrete product installations is reduced, overall weight is decreased, and reliability and maintainability are significantly improved. The ice detection system provides advisory indication of ice buildup and enables the flight crew to activate the aircraft's ice protection system at the optimal time. The system helps reduce fuel consumption by activating the energy-consuming de-ice function only when required. Goodrich is the only company certified by the FAA to provide primary ice detection systems for commercial aircraft.
Boeing has completed mission system flight testing for Block 40/45, the largest upgrade in the history of the U.S. E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) fleet. During a 15-month period from April 2007 to July 2008, Boeing and the Air Force's Joint Test Force flew missions aboard Test System 3, an AWACS test aircraft, to complete the System Design and Development program. "Test data indicate the Block 40/45 system meets or exceeds all its key performance parameters and technical performance requirements," said Stu Oliason, 40/45 System Design and Development program manager for Boeing. Under the Block 40/45 program, the aircraft's legacy mainframe computer has been replaced with an open system architecture using network servers in a user-friendly operating environment. The vastly improved computing power helps automate what is currently a manually intensive workload for the AWACS operators. The cumulative benefit of the Block 40/45 upgrade is to increase overall mission effectiveness for AWACS operators in the 21st-century battlespace, while boosting the reliability of the mission system and lowering life-cycle costs. The baseline capability is designed to allow future upgrades. The Air Force is expected to make a decision on the next step -- a Block 40/45 production contract -- by the end of this year.
CAE announced it has been awarded contracts to design and manufacture four full-flight simulators (FFSs) and associated training devices valued at more than C$54 million at list prices. The contracts are with Cathay Pacific Airways, Southwest Airlines, Lufthansa Flight Training, as well as Flight Simulation Company. CAE has now announced a total of 18 FFS sales in fiscal year 2009. "As the global airline industry continues to face a challenging business climate and a worldwide shortage of pilots, CAE is well-positioned to help airlines and third-party training centres meet their pilot training requirements with the industry's most comprehensive portfolio of simulation products," said Marc Parent, CAE's Group President, Simulation Products and Military Training & Services. Lufthansa Flight Training GmbH (LFT) has ordered a CAE 7000 Series Airbus A330/340 convertible full-flight simulator (FFS). The CAE 7000 Series FFS will be convertible to an Airbus A330-300 and Airbus A340-600 configuration. The simulator will be delivered in October 2009 to LFT's new training centre in Munich, Germany. LFT has now ordered a total of 32 CAE flight simulators since 1980, including six over the past two years.
Avcorp Industries is pleased to announce that it has signed an agreement with Cessna Aircraft Company to supply the tail assembly for Cessna's new Citation CJ4 business jet. The agreement includes detail tooling fabrication along with manufacture, assembly, product support and spares for the Citation CJ4. The contract is expected to generate approximately US $110 million in revenue over the first ten years of the life of the aircraft. First flight of the Citation CJ4 occurred on May 5, 2008 with first Avcorp deliveries set for the first quarter of 2009. Avcorp has worked with Cessna on this program over the past year and a half and will eventually invest approximately $2.5 million in the manufacturing, engineering and start up.
OHB-System has been awarded a contract by Astrium France for the provision of support in the construction and testing of the CPHD (Centré Principale Helios von Deutschland) ground station in Gelsdorf near Bonn. The first phase of the contract runs until the end of 2009 and entails a volume of EUR 2.1 million. It will be followed by a second phase from 2010 to 2012 with a volume of a further EUR 6 million or so. OHB-System AG will be providing a team of up to ten engineers for the construction and testing phase of the ground station. They will be responsible for ensuring interoperability of the two reconnaissance systems for the German Federal Armed Forces. Three OHB specialists are already undergoing training at Astrium France in Toulouse. The CPHD ground station is to go into operation in 2010. Via the CPHD ground station the German Federal Armed Forces will be able to utilize the French HELIOS II optical satellite system for reconnaissance activities within the ESGA (German acronym for Europeanization of Satellite-Based Reconnaissance) system as of 2010. In return, France will receive access to the German Federal Armed Forces' SAR-Lupe radar reconnaissance system.
Alenia Aeronautica has inaugurated in Turin-Caselle the new Ground Test Centre dedicated to testing and qualification of commercial and military aircraft. The ceremony has taken place in the presence of Finmeccanica's Chairman and CEO Pier Francesco Guarguaglini; Alenia Aeronautica's CEO, Giovanni Bertolone; the Regional Councillor for Innovation, Internationalisation and Research Policies of the Piedmont Region, Andrea Bairati and Turin's Deputy-Mayor, Tom Dealessandri. The new Ground Test Centre hosts the Sky Light Simulator - a facility designed and made by Alenia Aeronautica, capable of artificially reproducing any natural ambient light conditions where aircraft operate, and to test the several cockpit configurations – and the largest-in-Europe Anechoic Chamber. The latter has been designed to test electromagnetic compatibility of airplanes and systems and to carry out at best conditions controls and checks on the emitting devices' performances, in particular in the field of radio-frequencies.
GE Aviation is celebrating 150 million flight-hours on the CF6-80C2 engine fleet. "We are proud to celebrate this significant achievement that was made possible by our CF6-80C2 customers," said Colleen Athans, general manager for the CF6 program. "The engine has consistently demonstrated the lowest specific fuel consumption of any commercial engine in its thrust class, and our new Tech CF6 program offers new advanced technologies to further improve the engine's fuel burn retention and operational reliability and lower our customers' cost of ownership." The CF6-80C2 engine entered service in October 1985 and has become the most popular CF6 engine model, with more than 3,700 engines in operation with more than 140 customers. The CF6-80C2 engine powers the Boeing 747, 767 and MD-11 aircraft as well as the Airbus A300 and A310 aircraft.
The Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) has ordered 91 F110-GE-129C engines to re-engine 41 twin-engine Boeing F-15S aircraft. This order follows the 2007 Royal Saudi selection of 65 F110 engines to re-engine 29 F-15S aircraft. The combined value of the two Royal Saudi orders--156 F110 engines and the logistics support package--exceeds $750 million, with engine deliveries beginning later this year. In selecting the GE engine, the RSAF cited the F110's high performance, safety and reliability and cost-effective operation. "We welcome the opportunity to support the Royal Saudi Air Force and its front-line fighters," said Al DiLibero General Manager, Evendale Turbofan and Turbojet Department at GE Aviation. "This selection reinforces the growing acceptance of the F-15/F110 combination among international operators."
Engineers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., have completed first-round testing of a critical motor for NASA's new Ares I rocket. The Ares I is a two-stage rocket that will launch astronauts aboard the Orion crew capsule on missions to the International Space Station and to the moon by 2020. The ullage settling motor is a small, solid rocket motor that serves two key roles during the launch of the Ares I rocket. During first stage separation, which occurs 125.8 seconds into flight, the motor will fire for four seconds, producing the forward thrust needed to push the second, or upper, stage away from the first stage. This forward thrust also ensures the rocket's liquid fuel is properly pushed to the bottom of the upper stage fuel tank prior to ignition of the J-2X engine that powers the upper stage.
Hurricane Ike has delayed the scheduled Friday arrival of a Russian Progress cargo ship at the International Space Station 220 miles above Earth. The Progress docking was postponed when the space station's control room at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston was closed Thursday because of the approaching storm. Control of the space station was handed to flight controllers at backup facilities near Austin, Texas, and Huntsville, Ala. Because the Mission Control Center in Houston is responsible for commanding many of the station's systems, U.S. and Russian officials agreed to delay the docking.
American Eurocopter announced that it has delivered the thirty-third EC130 to Maverick Helicopters, one of Nevada's top aerial tour companies.  Maverick is the largest operator of EC130s in the world and the company continues to expand its EC130 fleet. Maverick's goal is to offer its customers the safest, most comfortable VIP service possible. With its power, size, comfort and environmental design, the EC130 is made for that mission and that is why Maverick has chosen the aircraft as the only model in its fleet.
At the end of August 2007 the Belgian authorities finalised the sale of 14 F-16 (12 F-16AM and 2 F-16BM) fighters to Jordan for the total price of 70 million Euros. This sale is part of an agreement Jordan signed with Belgium and the Netherlands for the sale of 20 F-16 MLU fighters (6 of which are former Dutch Air Force aircraft and 14 ex-Belgian Air Force). After the necessary modifications Jordanian pilots are receiving their training in Belgium (OCU Squadron at Kleine Brogel air base) before returning with their mounts to their country. The Royel Jordanian Air Force already operates 33 surplus USAF F-16A/B air defense fighters, part of which is to be upgraded to MLU standards, and 3 former Koninklijke Nederlandse Luchtmacht (Dutch air force) F-16BMs. The Belgian aircraft involved are: F-16AM: serial numbers FA-58, -60, -61, -65, -66, -73, -74, -75, -76, -78, -88, and -90.; F-16BM: serial numbers FB-04 (replaces FB-01 previously announced) and FB-08. On Tuesday September 9th 2008 five of these aircraft had their Belgian nationality markings removed and replaced by the Royal Jordanian Air Force markings and serials.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) agreed to act on the recommendations of a team that reviewed the agency's certification of the Eclipse EA500, a new Very Light Jet (VLJ). The team found that the airplane was certificated in accordance with safety regulations but that the agency could improve policies and communication procedures used during the VLJ certification process. "This review tells us that while we made the right call in certifying this aircraft, the process we used could and should have been better coordinated. These recommendations will be invaluable as we continue certifying these new types of aircraft," said Acting FAA Administrator Robert A. Sturgell Sturgell said the review team, headed by former Boeing executive Jerry Mack, issued six recommendations as part of the Eclipse certification review, and that the agency is committed to acting on each of the recommendations. The lessons learned from one of the first certifications of this new type of aircraft will help the agency as it examines the approximately eight other VLJ certification applications pending before the FAA, Sturgell added. The team focused on the certification of airplane trim, flaps, cockpit displays, and stall speeds. The team determined that, for the most part, in-service difficulties were not related to the certification of the aircraft.

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