07.09.2008
FLUG REVUE

2008-09-08 - News in briefNews in Brief

Kurzmeldungen<br /> +++<br /> The National Aerospace Laboratory (NLR) recently acquired a new UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) ground station simulator. This acquisition signals the NLR's intent to capitalize on the growing market demand for large unmanned aircraft.

The new ground station was acquired in order to increase the NLR's knowledge of UAV operations. The new simulator is based on the Predator, a large UAV deployed by the US Air Force. The NLR was able to procure the ground station through its close collaboration with the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) in the field of UAVs. The new UAV ground station can also be linked to the NLR's other simulation facilities, such as Fighter 4-Ship, the tactical operations simulator for several types of fighter aircraft. 
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Elbit Systems announced that it was awarded a contract to supply Hermes 450 UAV systems to a country in the Americas for the total of approximately $25 million. The contract also includes Skylark I systems, all to be delivered within a year.
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Saab AB divests 100 percent of the shares in Saab Space AB, including its subsidiary Austrian Aerospace, to the Swiss company RUAG Holding AG. All conditions for the divestment, which was announced July 15 2008, have been fulfilled. The purchase price for the shares amounts to 335 MSEK. In addition to the fixed purchase price, Saab is entitled to an additional consideration related to the long-term positive performance of Saab Space. The transaction is estimated to generate a capital gain to Saab during 2008 of approximately 100 MSEK.
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SEI Servizi Elicotterisitici Italiani SpA, an Italian aerospace company part of the MECAER Group and a leader in helicopter completions and MRO services, and AEROLITE Max Bucher AG, the leading designer and manufacturer of helicopter and fixed wing aircraft Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and interior components solutions, today announced the agreement between their USA based subsidiaries, SEI of America Corp. and AEROLITE AMERICA LLC, for the promotion and marketing of turn key completions to EMS operators of AgustaWestland A109 and AW139 helicopters. "We are very pleased that AEROLITE has chosen to cooperate with SEI of America", said Mr. Armando Sassoli, General Manager Business Development for the Mecaer Group. "We decided to open a completion facility in the North Eastern corridor of the USA and Philadelphia was a natural choice to support our helicopter operators more closely. SEI of America, already a FAR 145 Repair Station, was established in mid 2007 and became operational within a few months. We are convinced that the EMS expertise of Aerolite will enhance our opportunities to enter the EMS completion market in the USA."
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Northrop Grumman is on track for the first flight of its revolutionary Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator for the U.S. Navy's Unmanned Combat Air System Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D) program. The first of two X-47B carrier demonstration system air vehicles is well over 50 percent complete and ahead of its build schedule, enabling this first flight in November 2009, just over 24 months from initial contract award. This is a historical step toward operating an unmanned combat aircraft aboard a Navy aircraft carrier.
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L-3 Communications announced that its Integrated Systems Group has been awarded a $60.6 million contract to produce new outer wings for U.S. Navy P-3 aircraft. Under the program, L-3 will produce four sets of new wings for the U.S. Navy, which will extend the life of its critical P-3 maritime patrol and surveillance aircraft fleet. The company developed modern tooling that will result in the production of the most advanced wing configuration available, using the U.S. Navy's latest P-3 parts and materials for improved resistance to fatigue and corrosion.
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Alliant Techsystems announced that it has been awarded a $97 million contract for the design, development, integration, and test of the Multi-Stage Supersonic Target (MSST) by the Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Maryland. With incentives, the value of the contract announced today could reach $103 million. The system design and development phase of the program is expected to be complete by October 2012. Once this phase of the program concludes, the company believes there could be follow-on production awards that generate significant business for ATK over the next decade. The MSST will simulate a two-stage anti-ship cruise missile threat. It consists of a two-stage unmanned aerial target, a launcher, and associated support equipment. The U.S. Navy will use MSST to evaluate the operational effectiveness of weapons/combat systems against next-generation surface-to-surface anti-ship missiles that cruise at subsonic speeds, initiate a separation event, and then make a supersonic dash to the intended target.
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SENER and Diehl BGT Defence (DBD) have signed an agreement in IRIS-T SL (Extended Range Surface Launched) programme framework, making SENER a subcontractor for the design of the IRIS-T Surface-to-Air missile's control system. This version of the missile, called IRIS-T SL, will be integrated as a complementary weapon to the Patriot PAC-3 in the multinational MEADS antiaircraft defence programme under contract to the German Defence Ministry. According to the signed agreement, SENER is in charge of the mechanical and electronic design and development of the actuators making up the control section. It is also in charge of manufacturing prototypes that will be used to check the design and to qualify the missile, and eventually of future unit mass production. The control section, located in the missile's tail, is in charge of fixing its trajectory by fins movements and motor thrust vectoring according to the commands from the guidance section.
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Engineers from NASA and Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne successfully completed a series of hot-fire altitude tests using liquid methane on the RS-18 engine. The tests, conducted at White Sands test facility in New Mexico, are part of the technology development for NASA's Constellation program, and gathered important data on ignition, performance measurement, and rapid start and stop.  Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne is a United Technologies Corp. (NYSE:UTX) company. The RS-18 engine, which was last used to lift astronauts off the moon's surface 36 years ago, was originally flown with storable hypergolic propellants during the Apollo moon missions.  It was later modified to burn liquid oxygen and liquid methane, providing increased safety and performance to future space vehicles. 
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Lockheed Martin has successfully demonstrated the Intelligent Control and Autonomous Re-planning of Unmanned Systems (ICARUS) suite of technologies as part of an exercise conducted August 12-14. The Edge Command and Control/Hybrid Operations (ECC/HO) week-long exercise was conducted at the Naval Air Station Oceana Dam Neck Annex, Dam Neck, Va. The exercise was part of the Navy Network Warfare Command's annual TRIDENT WARRIOR 08 technology insertion demonstration and was attended by representatives from numerous Navy commands. The ECC/HO exercises consisted of a Tactical Operations Center operator working in conjunction with a mobile Command and Control (C2) unit and soldiers on-the-ground. Control of the sensors on-board the Desert Hawk III unmanned air vehicle and an unmanned surface vehicle was handed-off between ICARUS consoles within the Tactical Operations Center, the mobile C2 unit and soldiers on-the-ground as the mission unfolded. Throughout the live exercise, ICARUS dynamically planned and re-planned vehicle operations to meet task requests, enabling a single operator to play the role of a mission manager. The resulting intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance products were shared directly by all participants.
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AELS is offering 9 complete Fokker F27 aircraft, currently parked at Cologne Airport in Germany, to engineering schools all over Europe. With this project AELS supports the aviation industry in training the engineers that are desperately needed. Giving these aircraft a second life in this new function is a very green and sustainable solution. Derk-Jan van Heerden, general manager of AELS: "We are offering these aircraft for a value lower than the recycling value of the aircraft. I would also like to thank WDL, the last owner of the aircraft, for making this possible. With this project we do our part in making sure that AELS and our MRO colleagues have enough well trained engineers in the future."  In cooperation with the schools, AELS is also looking for options to make the cost of disassembly, transport and assembly as low as possible. One of the options is to execute parts of the project with the students of the school under the professional supervision of an AELS engineer.
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World Airways has signed a contract with Air France to operate one MD-11F on a full-time basis for service from France to a variety of destinations in North Africa and a weekly flight to Brazil. World Airways began operating the aircraft for Air France on Aug. 31, 2008. This is the second consecutive year that World Airways has provided a freighter aircraft to help Air France meet its African market requirements.
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Different factors have had and continue to have an adverse impact on Saab, mainly through delays in order intake for major international projects and uncertainties in respect of Swedish defence material spending. Delays in ongoing major commercial aircraft projects have led to a revised, lower production plan in Saab's aerostructures business. Also, market development for the technology business in South Africa is weaker than anticipated. The factors above, together with continued high marketing expenses for Gripen due to the strong market interest, have led Saab to reduce its outlook for 2008.  New outlook for organic sales growth: 3-4 percent growth compared to as earlier stated 5 percent; new outlook for operating margin: 8-9 percent compared to as earlier stated 10 percent. The outlook excludes non-recurring items.
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Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton announced that Alenia North America, Inc. will build a final assembly and delivery center for the C-27J Spartan cargo plane at Cecil Commerce Center, pending final approval of the transaction from the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission and the Jacksonville City Council. The project would add 300 new, full-time jobs to the local market at an average wage of $55,000 – more than 150 percent of the state average wage. In addition, Alenia expects to invest approximately $42 million in new, private capital for manufacturing equipment, technology, infrastructure and furniture, along with $65 million in construction costs. Overall, the project is expected to contribute more than $100 million in capital investments to Duval County's tax base. "This community made a decision more than a year ago to pursue commercial development at Cecil Commerce Center. We knew that this area held tremendous opportunity as we work to bring stable, high-wage jobs to Jacksonville," said Mayor Peyton. "I greatly appreciate Gov. Crist, a great partner in economic development for our state, for his participation in helping to secure the state level incentives for recruiting this company." "Today's announcement is a big win for Cecil Commerce Center and the City of Jacksonville," the mayor continued. "It is a clear indication this community made the right decision. Alenia North America is a well-known, highly respected company and this new assembly and production activity will enhance Jacksonville's economy and strengthen two of our local target industries – aviation/aerospace and manufacturing, as well as aid the redevelopment of Cecil Commerce Center."
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On Thursday afternoon, space shuttle Atlantis arrived at NASA's Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39A, after its slow roll along the crawlerway from the Vehicle Assembly Building. In an early-morning meeting, managers cleared the shuttle's move after a weather briefing on the status of Tropical Storm Hanna that determined the storm would remain far enough off shore. Atlantis' crew members are set for an equipment test Friday at Kennedy in preparation for their mission to service NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. The telescope has already rewritten the books on astronomy and will remain operational for at least another five years following the upgrades. Atlantis is targeted to launch Oct. 8 on mission STS-125.
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Boeing and Saga Airlines announced that the Istanbul-based airline has ordered two Boeing 737-800s with Blended Winglets. Saga Airlines has also secured two purchase rights for the same model. This order is valued at $149 million at current list prices.
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Lockheed Martin has received a $129.3 million contract to build a total of 13 new outer wing sets for the U.S. Navy's P-3 Orion fleet. The all new production outer wings will be delivered to the Navy beginning in early 2010 for installation on selected aircraft. The complete ASLEP solution replaces the aircraft outer wings, center wing lower section and horizontal stabilizers with new production components. All fatigue-life limiting structures on the aircraft are replaced with enhanced-design components and improved corrosion-resistant materials that will greatly reduce maintenance costs over the aircraft's service life.
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SWISS UAV GmbH, a Switzerland based UAV manufacture,  delivered the first VTOL UAV of a series of systems designed for pipeline monitoring. Fitted with a daylight gyro stabilized camera payload along with additional sensors, the VTOL UAV is capable of performing monitoring work with real-time live video within a range of 60km and up to 2 ½ hours flight duration. The aircraft has two independent radio links to secure the communication with the ground control station.  The operator is able to interrupt the current flight plan and hover or change the co-ordinates and get closer if they recognise damage on the pipeline.  The following few months of extensive flight tests will prove the system is capable of fulfilling the given tasks ahead. The system itself is based on the NEO S-300 VTOL UAV system, powered by a 14kw turbine. The MTOW of the NEO S-300 is 75kg, including 32litres of Jet A1 or similar fuel.
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The F-22 Combined Test Force reached another milestone as an Edwards F-22 Raptor performed aerial refueling using a synthetic fuel.  It is the first time an Air Force aircraft refueled mid-air using an alternative jet engine fuel. The test was the culmination of Edwards test points in certifying the F-22's use of the fuel, a 50/50 mix of JP-8 jet fuel and a natural gas-based fuel. "Our goal was to complete the test plan and to support the certification," said Maj. Drew Allen, 411 FLTS chief of standardization and evaluation and also the test pilot. "We wanted to prove that there was no negative effect in performing the aerial refueling using the synthetic fuel." To prove this, a KC-135 Stratotanker from March Air Reserve Base, Calif., dispensed the fuel to the F-22 using a standard refueling process.
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The Australian Minister for Defence, the Hon Joel Fitzgibbon MP, today announced that the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) and Boeing Australia have agreed to terminate the contract for the delivery of a Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (TUAV) System. Under a contract awarded to Boeing Australia in December 2006, Joint Project 129 sought to deliver the Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) I-View 250 TUAV System, for use by the Australian Army in airborne surveillance, reconnaissance and target acquisition. Since contract award, Boeing Australia and its subcontractors have experienced a range of technical issues making it increasingly difficult to deliver the full scope of the contract within a timeframe acceptable to Defence. With a Defence imperative to field a TUAV capability as soon as possible, and the potential for a number of lower risk alternative systems, the DMO and Boeing Australia have agreed to terminate the contract on mutually acceptable terms. Rigorous management of the program by the DMO determined that proceeding as planned would have led to unacceptable delays in the delivery of this important capability.
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CIT Group has signed a firm contract with Airbus for a further ten A320 Family aircraft. With this order, the total number of aircraft in the Airbus order book for the CIT Group now stands at 199 aircraft, comprising 157 A320 Family aircraft, 30 A330s, seven A350s and five A319s for executive & private use. Of these 100 have been delivered so far.
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BAE Systems Regional Aircraft has won a three-year contract from Saab Aerotech for warehousing services covering aircraft spares for the Saab 340 and Saab 2000 regional turboprop airliners. This competitively-won contract is valued at pound1.5 million over the three years and will be carried out by Regional Aircraft staff at its Spares Logistics Centre at Weybridge in Surrey. Saab's Europe-based spares stock for both aircraft types is in the process of being transferred to Weybridge from the previous spares service provider, Honeywell/Cat Logistics at Hemel Hempstead, Herts. There are approximately 6,500 line items, covering some one million parts to be moved. These spares will be housed in a designated pallet racking aisle, protected by a water sprinkler system, offering 1,000 square metres of storage. Saab currently supports some 500 Saab 340 and Saab 2000 airliners that are in service with some 70 customers in 30 countries worldwide.
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Aerojet successfully completed a hot-fire testing program of NASA's Orion Crew Module's 160 lb. thrust mono-propellant engine. Test program objectives were met by demonstrating pulse mode operation of the engine at expected Orion flight conditions. The altitude/pulse mode hot fire test program consisted of 87 engine starts (exceeding the specification requirement), 2,118 engine pulses (exceeding the previous qualification and nearly three times the specification requirement), and more than 400 lbs. of propellant throughput (approximately two and half times the specification requirement). The testing concluded not only with the objectives met but with life remaining on the engine, indicating that the MR-104G, with upgraded thrust, will meet the required Orion pulse mode operating conditions. "Risk reduction testing of the Orion thrusters continues to be a highly successful collaboration between NASA, Lockheed Martin and Aerojet. This will result in early retirement of key program risks," said Doug Cosens, Aerojet's Project Orion Program director. "The data derived from this test series will allow mission designers to anchor their models with very high confidence."
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Over the period from January to August 2008, Air Berlin welcomed 19,252,837 passengers on board, i.e. 3.9 percent more than in the corresponding period of the previous year (2007: 18,535,693 passengers). Fleet capacity utilization for the first eight months of the year rose from 76.7 to 78.8 percent, i.e. an increase of 2.1 percentage points.  For the month of August 2008, Air Berlin was able to increase revenue per available seat kilometre ("Yield per ASK") by 14.4 percent to 5.55 Eurocents (08/2007: 4.85 Eurocents). Due to the targeted capacity reduction by 60,000 seats, the number of passengers decreased by 2.4 percent to 2,849,783 (08/2007: 2,920,662). Fleet capacity utilization decreased by 0.6 percentage points to 82.9 percent (08/2007: 83.5 percent), primarily due to our growing business travel segment experiencing holiday-related softness for the month of August.
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The Minister for Defence, The Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon MP and the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, The Hon. Warren Snowdon MP, announced that the outcomes of initiatives taken by the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) and the Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) have the potential to save the Defence Budget more than $400 million. "We are pleased to announce that extensive work by the DSTO and the DMO has determined that the centre barrel structure of the RAAF's F/A-18 aircraft are not as fatigued as originally anticipated," Mr Fitzgibbon said. This could reduce the number of F/A-18 Hornet aircraft requiring replacement of the fuselage centre barrel from 49 to just 10.
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Bombardier Aerospace announced that Porter Airlines of Toronto has signed a contract to acquire two 70-seat Q400 turboprop airliners by converting existing options. They will be the 15th and 16th Q400 aircraft in the Porter fleet from an original order for 10 firm and 10 options placed in 2006. Based on the list price for the Q400 aircraft, the value of the contract is approximately $52 million U.S. Porter Airlines currently serves seven destinations in Eastern Canada and the U.S. and has stated that its plan is to increase the number of markets to at least 17.
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Boeing announced that it has completed software development for its C-130 Avionics Modernization Program (AMP). The milestone was achieved following the successful flight test of aircraft AMP 2 (H2.5), conducted by Boeing and the U.S. Air Force on Aug. 18. During the 1.6-hour flight from Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., the combined Boeing/Air Force crew tested the functionality of Core Complete 2.2. Boeing will install kits on 11 C-130 transport aircraft under the LRIP agreement. The company is expected to provide the AMP modifications and upgrades to more than 200 C-130 aircraft under the Air Force contract awarded in 2001. The first AMP aircraft, AMP 1 (H2), is at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., for isochronal inspection, which is a comprehensive nose-to-tail inspection and system check. AMP 2 will continue ground and flight testing at the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards.
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