2008-08-25 - News in briefNews in Brief

Kurzmeldungen<br /> +++<br /> Pratt & Whitney's PurePower PW1000G demonstration engine has completed the first phase of flight testing on a company-owned 747SP flying test bed. The PW1000G engine completed 12 flights and ran approximately 43 hours with tests focused on engine performance and operability.

The demonstration engine has been shipped to Toulouse, France, to be installed on an Airbus-owned A340 flight test aircraft. A joint Airbus and Pratt & Whitney flight test program will begin in the fourth quarter, as part of Airbus' on-going, extensive research into new, greener engine architectures. The PurePower PW1000G demonstrator engine, with Pratt & Whitney's patented Geared Turbofan technology, completed a 250-hour ground test program in May. The ground test program follows thousands of hours of development testing accumulated on 16 technology rigs at Pratt & Whitney and partner facilities around the world. "We now look forward to testing the PW1000G engine on the Airbus A340 flight test aircraft," Saia said. "This second phase of testing, which will include approximately 75 flight hours, will focus on engine performance and acoustic testing while providing valuable installation and operating data."
An Alliant Tech Systems suborbital rocket carrying two NASA hypersonic experiments was destroyed shortly after liftoff from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia Friday. No injuries or property damage were immediately reported. Most debris from the rocket is thought to have fallen in the Atlantic Ocean. However, there are conflicting reports of debris being sighted on land. NASA is very disappointed in this failure but has directed its focus on protecting public safety and conducting a comprehensive investigation to identify the root cause. NASA is assembling a multidiscipline team, along with the rocket's maker Alliant Tech Systems, or ATK, of Salt Lake City, to begin the investigation promptly.
BAE Systems joined with industry partners Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) to celebrate the handover of the first HAL built Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) to the Indian Air Force (IAF). The aircraft is the first of 42 Hawk aircraft being built under license by HAL, and is the 15th Hawk advanced jet trainer handed over to the IAF following 14 which have been delivered from BAE Systems in the UK. The aircraft will join the fleet of BAE Systems built Hawks that have recently commenced training the next generation of Indian Air Force pilots at Air Force Station Bidar.
The U.S. Navy is moving closer to conducting Technical Evaluation with its Northrop Grumman Corporation-developed MQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff and Landing Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (VTUAV). The Fire Scout recently completed its first flight with the BRITE Star II(r) electro-optical/infrared payload using a Tactical Common Data Link (TCDL). The flight took place on Aug. 9, 2008 at Webster Field, Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. "Starting payload integration and data link flight testing is a major milestone for the VTUAV program," said Doug Fronius, MQ-8B Fire Scout VTUAV program director for Northrop Grumman's Integrated Systems sector. "Completing the first series of payload and TCDL flights brings the entire VTUAV system into flight test and puts Fire Scout one step closer to shipboard integration and testing."
Cessna delivered Citation Mustang unit 100 during a ceremony at the company's manufacturing facility in southeast Kansas. The commemorative Mustang is owned and operated by long-time customer Supap Puranitee, a businessman based in Thailand. Puranitee put a deposit down on the Mustang on the same day the entry level jet program was unveiled at the 2002 National Business Aviation Association meeting and convention. The first retail Citation Mustang entered service in April 2007, and Cessna delivered 45 Mustangs in 2007. The company expects to deliver a total of 100 Mustangs by the end of 2008, and next year Cessna plans to reach a full production rate of about 150 aircraft per year.
Engineers at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., have completed a series of tests on a key component of the J-2X engine. The J-2X powers the upper stage of the Ares I rocket, which will launch human explorers to the International Space Station and to the moon. The test on Aug. 15 was the last of 20 in this series, concluding the second of four planned sets of tests on the J-2X's workhorse gas generator, the driver for the turbopumps which start the engine. The gas generator test program is designed to demonstrate the component's performance, durability and combustion environment, and to reduce risk in the design, fabrication and operation of flight hardware. The third phase of testing will begin in July 2009. The J-2X's workhorse gas generator is fabricated by Pratt and Whitney Rocketdyne of Canoga Park, Calif. The primary objectives achieved in this series of tests were to regulate ignition timing and address stability issues in the gas chamber. During engine start, a pressurized helium system begins to turn the turbopumps, which draw liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen propellants into the system. The propellants flow into the generator's combustion chamber, where they are sparked into life by pyrotechnic igniters installed in the side of the main combustion chamber.
Workers at Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas, prepare the fourth F-35 Lightning II for rollout from the factory on Aug. 16. The F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing variant has entered a period of systems checks before its first flight in early 2009. With one F-35 Lightning II aircraft in structural testing, two in flight test, six in final assembly and another 14 in various stages of production, Lockheed Martin [NYSE: LMT] added to the program's momentum on Saturday by finishing assembly of the fourth F-35 aircraft, a short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) F-35B.
Bond Offshore Helicopters is introducing three latest technology EC 225 aircraft to its fleet in a continuing investment programme, which also includes staff and facilities, in support of new contracts worth almost £240 million. The contracts include two new clients, ConocoPhillips (U.K.) and Maersk Contractors UK, and an amendment to an existing contract with BP Exploration. From earlier this month, Bond is operating two new EC 225 aircraft on crew change flights for BP in the North Sea and west of Shetland. Bond will operate a third EC 225 under a five-year contract with ConocoPhillips for services in the central North Sea.  Two Super Puma AS332L Mark II helicopters, released from contract with BP, will be used in support of various clients, including Maersk Contractors UK, on behalf of North Sea Production Company, for which Bond began operating in June under a five-year contract servicing the McCulloch Field, north-east of Aberdeen.
SAS Scandinavian Airlines has noted a growing interest for its upcoming winter program, which offers a new route to Delhi and the return of two popular seasonal routes: Copenhagen-Dubai and Stockholm-Bangkok. This follows a strong summer where SAS' Asian routes generally performed better than last year, and cabin factors well over 80% were noted on most routes. Dubai, which was a new destination for SAS last year, quickly became one of its most popular long-haul routes and demand is already strong for this season. Both Dubai and Delhi will be served three times weekly from Copenhagen, while there will be a total of eight flights a week to Bangkok - five weekly from Copenhagen and three weekly from Bangkok.
Alliant Techsystems, the U.S. Navy, and the Italian Air Force completed another challenging missile firing of the AGM-88E Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM) at the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake on August 11, 2008. The missile test firing was the second of two "Operational Assessment" firings needed to support a Milestone C Decision and entry into Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP). The operationally realistic scenario demonstrated AARGM's lethality against the modern and advanced air defense systems employing shutdown tactics. Launched from an FA-18D Hornet, the AARGM detected, identified, located, and guided toward the emitter target using its Anti-Radiation Homing (ARH) receiver. After target radar emissions were purposely shut-down during the missile's flight profile, AARGM utilized its GPS/INS to guide to the final ARH cue and then employed active Millimeter Wave (MMW) radar tracking for terminal guidance against the shut-down air defense site. The firing was the fourth of eight planned developmental and the final missile live-fire event leading to a Milestone C LRIP decision for AARGM. It continues the programs impressive record of test firings.
On 19 August, a Proton Breeze M launch vehicle successfully lifted the Inmarsat-4 F3 satellite into orbit today, marking the third mission of the year for International Launch Services (ILS). The Proton Breeze M vehicle, built by Khrunichev Space Center of Moscow, lifted off from Pad 39 at the cosmodrome at 4:43 today local time (18:43 EDT Monday, 22:43 GMT Monday). After a 9-hour-3-minute mission, the launcher released the satellite into a geosynchronous transfer orbit. The Inmarsat-4 F3 satellite, a Eurostar 3000GM model built by EADS Astrium, is expected to go into service at 98 degrees West longitude, where it will deliver mobile broadband services over the United States for Inmarsat of London.
Forecast International is projecting that over the next decade, launch vehicle providers worldwide will produce 636 expendable launch vehicles (ELVs) worth approximately $48 billion.  The expendable launch vehicles to be produced will range in size from the smaller European Vega to the Heavy-Lift U.S. Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicles. These are among the findings of FI's recent analysis, "The Market for Expendable Launch Vehicles." According to the report, governments continue to be the prevailing customer of the launch industry, accounting for 66 percent of the total global launches in 2007. This trend will continue in the decades to come. "The anticipated resurgence in demand for both geosynchronous and non-geosynchronous satellite communications capacity and continued substantial government demand indicate that despite razor-thin profit margins, the world market for expendable launch vehicles is headed for a considerable market upturn," said John Edwards, Forecast International senior analyst and author of the study. Revenues for commercial launches have risen steadily since 2005, with Europe garnering the lion's share of the global market. U.S. commercial launch revenues for 2007 were estimated to be $150 million and European revenues were about $840 million, according to FAA statistics. These are positive indicators for the ELV industry, and Forecast International's analysis of the world satellite market indicates an increased launch tempo in the near term. A slight rebound in the commercial satellite market seems to be under way, but, as in the past, launch providers will do well by lofting an unprecedented catalog of military, civil, and scientific spacecraft for operators spanning the globe. In the United States, the military satellite market is vigorous as it meets the needs of the various transformational efforts under way. There seems to be a never-ending list of programs that are planning launches throughout the decade. United Launch Alliance – a tie up of Lockheed Martin and Boeing's launch operations – will be the direct beneficiary of the full military satellite manifest in the U.S.
The MQ-1 Predator unmanned aircraft system surpassed 400,000 flight hours during a mission in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility Aug. 18. Members of the 15th Reconnaissance Squadron, part of the 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing at Creech Air Force Base, Nev., flew the milestone mission in support of continuing operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. "15th Reconnaissance Squadron personnel have been involved with every major operation in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom since the inception of combat operations," said Lt. Col. Robert Kiebler, the 15th RS commander. Declared operational in 1995, the Predator's primary mission is to provide armed reconnaissance, airborne surveillance and target acquisition to commanders in the field. The Predator can be armed with two laser-guided AGM-114 Hellfire missiles and carries the Multispectral Targeting System, which integrates electro-optical, infrared, laser designator and laser illuminator into a single sensor package.
L-3 Communications announced that its SPAR subsidiary has been awarded an $18 million contract by the U.K. Ministry of Defence, Royal Air Force to perform outer wing replacements on three C-130K aircraft. This win reflects L-3's commitment and increasing presence in the U.K. as a major supplier to the MoD. The outer wing refurbishment contract commenced this month at L-3 SPAR's Edmonton, Alberta, Canada facility. The wings are being reconditioned to meet the Royal Air Force's Hercules Outer Wing Replacement Plan.
Cessna completed the first flight of the first production Citation CJ4, just more than three months after the CJ4 prototype initially flew May 5. The 41-minute flight departed McConnell Air Force Base in east Wichita and completed numerous systems evaluations. Flown by Cessna Engineering test pilots David Lewandowski and Dan Morris, the CJ4 returned to Cessna's facility on Mid-Continent Airport as scheduled and where it will continue development and certification testing. The first production aircraft, Serial 0001, will primarily be used for avionics and systems certification. The second production aircraft, Serial 0002, is nearing completion at Cessna's Pawnee Advanced Engineering facility in Wichita and will fly function and reliability along with company service tests.
AeroVironment announced the receipt of $4.6 million in funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to develop a small Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) capable of performing "hover/perch and stare" missions.  The Stealthy, Persistent, Perch and Stare (SP2S) UAS is based on AV's small Wasp UAS, a one-pound, 29-inch wingspan battery-powered air vehicle that is being procured and deployed by both the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Marine Corps. The goal of the Stealthy, Persistent, Perch and Stare program is to develop the technology to enable an entirely new generation of perch-and-stare micro air vehicles capable of flying to difficult targets, landing on and securing to a "perch" position, conducting sustained, perch-and-stare surveillance missions, and then re-launching from its perch and returning to its home base.
Russian aircraft-building majors Irkut and Sukhoi have agreed on dividing the market of medium-range airliners. They will jointly provide the United Aircraft Building Corporation (UABC) with advanced airliners of the most popular size - those with 96, 110, 130, 150, 180 and 210 seats representing all types of the so-called narrow-body aircraft. At present, the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 are dominating this market. Irkut will take on the MS-21 family with over 150 seats and Sukhoi, in addition to the first-generation 96-seated Sukhoi Superjet 100 (SSJ-100), will design two second-generation aircraft, the SSJ-110 and SSJ-130 carrying 110 and 130 passengers, respectively. With that, in return for Irkut's refusal from the 130-seat MS-21-100 and its raising the capacity of the MS-21-300 medium version up to 180 passengers, Sukhoi will provide the MS-21 an all-composite wing basing on its SSJ-110/130 solutions. Concerning the agreement with Sukhoi, Irkut President Oleg Demchenko said it crowns "three years of cruel fighting" within the UABC. Certain designers fought to divide the company's single product line. So, Irkut will be solely responsible for the MS-21 breakthrough project with the llyushin aircraft company leaving it. The latter will focus on the 11-214 military transport and its Indian version dubbed Multirole Transport Aircraft (MTA). Sukhoi will develop the first and second generations of the Superjet 100. The Beriev aircraft company will work on the MS-21's tail and, jointly with the nearby TAVIA plant, will pay more [attention] to amphibious aircraft including the Be-200, which production will be moved from Irkutsk to Taganrog. The RAC MiG will keep on developing attack drones starting from the Skat project (Irkut's similar effort has lost its importance). So far it is not clear what promising projects the Tupolev design bureau will take on. Mr.Demchenko, however, said its chiefs as well as those of the Antonov design house had been offered to develop the MS-21 "on new conditions" as inferior players. In case they do not agree to the minor role, these two famous teams will have a poor choice (of course, if they want to stay within the UABC's common policy and production strategy). To tell the truth, Tupolev may become the leading manufacturer of the next-generation wide-body airliner, which necessity was voiced by Vladimir Putin during his visit to the Gromov Flight Research Institute on February 20 this year. As early as several months ago, in November, when Russian First Deputy PM and Chairman of UABC's Board of Directors Sergey Ivanov visited the Irkutsk aircraft plant, the production sharing system on the MS-21 was shown to him. UABC president reported to the high-ranking guest that Tupolev was to design wing leading and trailing edges as it "had accumulated much experience and developed advanced solutions" in this sphere. Under the new agreement, Sukhoi is responsible for the whole wing, while Irkut's Yakovlev design bureau is to design the body and Beriev the tail section (tail cone and fin assembly). Perhaps, Sukhoi's new role in the MS-21 should help create a fully new wing with improved performance for all "superjet" versions considering preliminary results of static tests of the first airframe and wing flatter tests in the Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute. As from the very beginning, the new wing of the "superjet" will be created using only digital design systems, it is planned to use its copy increased by 120-130% on the MS-21.
Orbital Sciences Corporation announced that it has been selected by Intelsat, the world's leading provider of commercial satellite services, to design, build and deliver the Intelsat-18 (IS-18) commercial communications satellite. The satellite will be based on Orbital's flight-proven STAR-2 platform and will generate approximately 4.9 kilowatts of payload power. The IS-18 satellite will carry 24 C-band transponders to cover the Northern and Southern Hemispheres and 12 Ku-band transponders to provide services to the United States, French Polynesia, Australia, New Caledonia and other Pacific Islands. Following its launch and deployment, the spacecraft will be located in geosynchronous orbit (GEO) at 180 degrees East longitude. This latest order for one of Orbital's GEO communications satellites is the 24th to be ordered by customers throughout the world and will be the eighth in the Intelsat fleet. The IS-18 satellite will replace Intelsat's IS-701 spacecraft.
International Launch Services (ILS) announced a contract with Inmarsat for the launch of an S-band satellite to provide mobile broadcast and two-way telecommunications services throughout Europe. The contract follows this week's successful launch of the Inmarsat-4 F3 satellite on an ILS Proton Breeze M vehicle. Inmarsat is a London-based provider of global mobile broadband services. ILS holds the exclusive worldwide rights to market and sell commercial launch services on the Proton launch vehicle. The Proton booster and Breeze M are both manufactured by Khrunichev Space Center, the majority owner of ILS and one of the cornerstones of the Russian space industry.
Based on the resolutions passed by the Annual Shareholders´ Meeting of Austrian Airlines AG on 7 May 2008 concerning a capital increase, Austrian Airlines has now decided to launch this capital increase. This will enable the realization of the resolutions passed by the shareholders´ meeting and the fulfilment of the contracts with the investor, Mr. Al Jaber. Even though the investor has conveyed several times to refuse the fulfilment of the contracts and to appeal against them, Austrian Airlines will abide by the contractual agreements and the resolutions passed by the Annual Shareholders´ Meeting that provide for a capital increase to be carried out. As a listed company, Austrian Airlines is bound by these resolutions and is obliged to maintain the claims for the good of its shareholders. In the event that Austrian Airlines were not to carry out the capital increase, this would represent a breach of contract on the part of the company. In this context Austrian Airlines also filed a claim for submission of the contractual guarantees within the specified deadline at the end of June. A counterstatement was subsequently delivered to the Court and Austrian Airlines on behalf of the company of the investor. The Court will now set a date for a hearing as a next step. 
Kingfisher Airlines announced that it would launch international service from India with the debut of daily non-stop flights between Bangalore and London-Heathrow on September 3, 2008. Kingfisher will be the first airline to operate between the UK and India with industry-leading inflight entertainment including live TV channels such as BBC World, CNN International, Bloomberg and Eurosport/ESPN via satellite at every seat as well as some 357 hours of programming on 36 channels. The flight from Bangalore will depart at 8.40 am and arrive at London Heathrow's Terminal 4 at 2.50 pm, local time. The return flight will depart Heathrow at 10.05 pm and arrive in Bangalore the next day at 12.35 pm, local time. The flights will be operated using a brand new Airbus A330-200, widely billed as the best A330 ever built for any airline.
Gulfstream Aerospace officially dedicated its second Research and Development Center at the facility's Laboratory Building. Federal, state and local dignitaries joined Nicholas D. Chabraja, chairman and chief executive officer, General Dynamics, Joe Lombardo, president, Gulfstream Aerospace, and Pres Henne, senior vice president, Programs, Engineering and Test, Gulfstream, to unveil a plaque honoring those Gulfstream employees who have contributed to the company's research and development efforts over the past 50 years. The plaque, located in the Laboratory Building's main lobby, reads: "In recognition and admiration of all those whose efforts in Research and Development have assured the leadership position of Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation in the business aviation community unveiled this 22nd day of August, 2008, in the 50th anniversary year of Gulfstream flight."

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