15.03.2008
FLUG REVUE

2008-03-16 - News in BriefNews in Brief

Kurzmeldungen<br /> +++<br /> MBDA successfully test-fired its world-beating Meteor Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile on 6th March at the Vidsel Missile Test Range in Sweden. The firing follows on from previous successful trials undertaken in the UK and Sweden and is another significant event in the European six-nation Meteor project.

With between three and six times the kinematic performance of any current missile of its type, Meteor will provide the air forces of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the UK with untouchable air dominance. Matched with high-end aircraft performance from the three platforms that Meteor will operate from (Typhoon, Rafale and Gripen), the six air forces will have a winning combination when the missile enters service. The firing was carried out from a Saab Gripen aircraft against a MQM-107B 'Streaker' highsubsonic subscale aerial target. The missile test firing concludes a series of development firings to prove the overall performance of the missile and its various subsystems in terms of guid ance, propulsion, data link and fuse. During 2008, together with our partners and suppliers, we'll be starting the pre-production industrialisation phase of the programme which will see the partner nations taking up their production options.
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NASA has completed production of hardware for use in the first flight test of the astronaut escape system for the Constellation Program's Orion crew capsule. The hardware - a structure that simulates the Orion crew module - was designed and fabricated at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. The structure represents the size, outer shape and mass characteristics of the space capsule being designed to transport astronauts first to the International Space Station then on to the moon by 2020. The developmental flight test, called Pad Abort-1, will focus on the ability of Orion's launch abort system to pull the crew capsule safely away from the launch vehicle in the event of problems on the launch pad or during the climb into orbit. Planned for late 2008, the test is the first in a series of uncrewed abort flight tests to demonstrate the new system. Subsequent flight tests, including tests on a rocket that will place the launch system in "worst-case" ascent conditions, will verify that the system can execute a safe, reliable method of escape for the crew.
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The transmit / receive modules developed by EADS Defence & Security (DS) for the fire control radar of the MEADS air defence system (MEADS = Medium Extended Air Defence System) have now passed their acceptance tests and are being put into serial production. EADS DS is thus the first European company to mass produce the new AESA (Active Electronically Scanned Array) radar technology on an industrial scale with a volume of more than 40,000 modules. The joint US-Italian-German MEADS programme thereby gains a strategic lead in the deployment of AESA technology. Within the framework of the MEADS design and development contract worth about Euro 120 million in total, DS' Defence Electronics Business Unit will deliver the T/R modules in a period of only four years. These will make the MEADS fire control radar the most powerful radar of its type in the world. These modules are key elements in the new generation of radar systems, which are based on AESA technology. Instead of having mechanical antenna steering control, AESA radar systems use electronic beam scanning, which is made possible by thousands of T/R modules. This concept offers completely new possibilities for deployment and will therefore be used for all future military radars in the world. EADS Defence & Security staff from Defence Electronics, Defence and Communications Systems and LFK are cooperating closely on this to ensure the success of the programme. LFK GmbH / MBDA Germany are responsible for the complete radar antenna.
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Hawker Beechcraft Corporation (HBC) recently achieved certifications by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and several other international agencies for the Hawker 900XP. The aircraft is part of the latest evolution of the world's best-selling business aircraft of all time, the mid-size Hawker 800-series. Deliveries of the Hawker 900XP in Europe and other countries began in December 2007.  In addition to the EASA certification, the Hawker 900XP also received certification in Australia, Aruba, Czech Republic, Macau, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey and United Arab Emirates. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification was completed on August 24, 2007.
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CAE has been awarded contracts by Singapore's Defence Science and Technology Agency (DSTA) and the German procurement office Bundesamt für Wehrtechnik und Beschaffung (BWB) with a combined contract value of more than C$66 million. "We are pleased that Singapore has once again recognized CAE's unmatched helicopter simulation experience and leading edge technology by selecting us for the S-70B and AS332 programs," said Marc Parent, CAE's Group President, Simulation Products and Military Training & Services. "Our innovative roll-on/roll-off cockpit design gives customers with smaller fleets the ability to leverage the many advantages of a full-mission simulator and do so efficiently and cost-effectively." Germany's procurement office BWB has contracted CAE to provide a range of on-site maintenance support and logistics services for flight simulation equipment. CAE's annual maintenance and logistics support contract with the German Armed Forces covers a range of flight simulators, including Tornado fighter aircraft, as well as helicopters such as the CH-53, UH-1 and EC135. More than 150 CAE engineers and technicians provide services at 15 sites in Europe and the United States to maintain almost every flight simulator in service with the German Armed Forces.
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NHIndustries is pleased to announce the delivery of the first NH90 TTT (Tactical Troop Transport) helicopter to the Finnish Army Aviation. The delivery took place at Eurocopter in Marignane (France) where the helicopter was assembled. Finland is replacing its ageing fleet of MI-8 helicopters with 20 tactical transport NH90. "We are particularly proud to deliver to Finland this advanced helicopter and are fully confident that Finland took the right decision regarding this choice, being sure that the NH90 will meet the stringent requirements of the Finnish armed forces, both in terms of mission capability as well as for its suitability for the management of international operations" said Gala Gonçalves, General Manager of NHIndustries.
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Pratt & Whitney Canada has received type certification from Transport Canada and the European Aviation Safety Agency for the PW127M engine, the newest member in the PW100 regional turboprop family. The PW127M offers five per cent more power than its predecessor, the PW127F engine. The PW127M is a derivative of the PW127F and PW127E engines that today power the ATR 42-500 and ATR 72-500 regional turboprop aircraft. The PW127M will be offered on these aircraft going forward and will also be the standard engine on the newest versions of ATR's aircraft, the ATR 42-600 and the ATR 72-600.
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The third production Airbus A380 (MSN006) was handed over to Singapore Airlines on 08th March. Equipped with four Rolls Royce Trent 900 engines, the third aircraft for the first A380 operator follows the delivery of the first A380 (MSN003) on 15th October 2007 and second delivery (MSN005) on 11th January 2008. The third aircraft is fitted with the same spacious and luxurious cabin-interior Singapore Airlines revealed on the occasion of the delivery of their first A380, also featuring 471 seats in three classes.
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Deutsche Lufthansa AG posted record figures for profit and revenue in 2007 for the second year in a row. The Group profit after taxes was 1.7 billion euros; more than double that of the previous year. Revenue during the last year increased by 13 per cent to 22.4 billion euros. The operating profit also climbed to a new record peak at 1.4 billion euros, which was equivalent to a rise of 63.1 per cent. Lufthansa Chairman and CEO Wolfgang Mayrhuber praised the level and quality of the result, as well as the renewed improvement of the already solid result saying: "The result emphasizes the excellent performance that has been rendered by everyone here at Lufthansa. It is especially worth mentioning that we have achieved this record result at a time when fuel prices are at their highest, financial markets are full of uncertainty and competition is harder than ever. The course that we have set is one of sustainability." Mayrhuber added that the outstanding figures were the result of the company's successful efforts to make Lufthansa an even greater asset for investors and a more attractive product for customers. In view of the excellent development of the operating profit, the Group Executive Board and the Supervisory Board will be proposing a 55 cent higher dividend of 1.25 euros per share at the annual general meeting. The Lufthansa Group continued to implement its strategy by again focussing on its core competencies and profitability during 2007: All business segments contributed to the success with positive results. The airlines of the strategic passenger business segment achieved excellent results. The development of SWISS International Air Lines was particularly successful: The Swiss airline, which has been fully consolidated in the Group accounts since July 2007, had the best year in the company's history. During the past year, the airlines were able to successfully consolidate cost and revenue synergies of altogether 233 million euros – a value that clearly surpassed all expectations. Mayrhuber was full of praise, saying: "The management and employees of our Swiss subsidiary have contributed to a very special success story." The business segments, Logistics, MRO and Catering, were also able to succeed in hard-fought competition and further improve their respective operating results. The profitable Lufthansa Systems had to sustain certain one-time special effects; however, it was able to further consolidate its position as the leading IT services provider in the aviation industry with its platform strategy and high-quality technological products.
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The European Commission can confirm that on 11 March 2008 Commission officials carried out unannounced inspections at the premises of a number of international airline passenger carriers. These airline carriers provide scheduled passenger air transport services on long-haul routes between Europe and a third country. The Commission has reason to believe that the companies concerned may have violated EC Treaty rules on restrictive business practices (Article 81). The Commission officials were accompanied by their counterparts from the relevant national competition authorities. Surprise inspections are a preliminary step in investigations into suspected cartels. The fact that the European Commission carries out such inspections does not mean that the companies are guilty of anti-competitive behaviour; nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself. The European Commission respects the rights of defence, in particular the right of companies to be heard in antitrust proceedings.
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The European Commission has formally requested Italy, under EC Treaty state aid rules, to ensure that loans granted under Law 808/85 in favour of R&D activities in the aeronautical sector are fully reimbursed. The Commission's in-depth investigation, opened in 2003 following a complaint (see IP/03/1319), concluded that loans worth more than €450 million granted to 17 individual research and development (R&D) projects are not in line with the applicable EU rules on state aid to research and development and need to be modified. The conditions imposed by the Commission and accepted by Italy will ensure that the loans are fully reimbursed within two months of the decision date. The main beneficiaries of the loans are the group Finmeccanica and the Italian company Avio. Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said: "It has been a long and difficult investigation. We can take today a first decision ensuring the full reimbursement of loans under conditions accepted by the Italian Government, whose recent cooperation has allowed substantial progress. However, the investigation continues concerning two allegedly military helicopters." In 2003, following a complaint, the Commission opened a formal investigation into six Italian R&D projects in the aeronautical sector because of doubts as to their compatibility with the applicable EU rules on state aid for R&D. In particular, the Commission had concerns about the nature of the activities and the incentive effect of the aid. In December 2004, the Commission issued an information injunction and subsequently extended the scope of the investigation to the entire application of Law 808/85 to individual projects of significant importance (see IP/05/782) and the instrument used to grant the aid. Law 808/85 is an Italian scheme to promote R&D in the aeronautical sector and had been previously approved by the Commission under the condition that support projects of a certain size would be individually notified to the Commission to verify their conformity with the applicable R&D rules (depending on the date of granting of the aid, the R&D Framework of 1986 or of 1996 apply to the projects). These rules allow fixed percentages of aid for certain research and development activities where and inasmuch such aid is necessary to undertake a project.  The Commission's investigation established that under law 808/85, Italy had granted a total of more than €450 million of soft loans with a zero interest rate to 17 individual R&D projects, none of which had been notified.
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The CEO of Industria de Turbo Propulsores, S. A. (ITP), Ignacio Mataix, and the Vice-President and Economic Councillor of the Combined Communities of Castilla la Mancha, María Luisa Araújo, recently signed an agreement for the creation of a helicopter engine maintenance and assembly centre in the Albacete Aeronautics Park. This centre is expected to begin its activity towards the end of this year. The new ITP maintenance centre in Albacete will mean an initial investment of 15 million euros, including land acquisition, civil engineering work and the establishment of special teams for turboshaft maintenance. Initially, the project is expected to generate up to 80 jobs, including qualified maintenance technicians, assembly workers and executive officers to manage the tasks to be carried out. The proposed installations will be based within a 5,000 square metre area, potentially expanding to 7,000 in response to future growth, and the platform which is to be initially constructed will cover 2,600 square metres.
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Traffic at Frankfurt Airport continued to develop dynamically in February 2008. Due to the leap-year effect, the number of passengers rose by 8.2 percent year-on-year to 3.85 million. Even after adjusting for the additional operating day (February 29), FRA still achieved about a four percent jump in passenger traffic versus February 2007. In the first two months of the current business year, 5.8 percent more passengers used Germany's largest air transportation hub than in the comparable period in 2007.
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For the first time, all four Eurofighter Typhoon core Air Forces from Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom combined their skills for a mutual exercise at Morón Air Force Base, near Sevilla, upon invitation of the Spanish Air Force. Codenamed "Typhoon Meet", the deployment commenced on Monday 10 March and officially ends on Friday 14 March. In total, 20 Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft will take part in the exercise: the German Air Force deployed three aircraft from Fighter Wing 73 "Steinhoff" from Rostock-Laage; Italy's Gruppo XII 36 Stormo, based at Gioia del Colle, and Gruppo IX 4 Stormo, at Grosseto, both sent two aircraft; a total of four weapon systems came out of the Royal Air Force's No.3 and XI Squadrons from RAF Coningsby; with the remaining nine already stationed at Morón as part of the Spanish Air Force's Gruppo 11 Ala 11. The objective is to demonstrate the interoperability of Eurofighter Typhoon and its air-to-air capabilities while training with, and in mock combat against, other fighter aircraft types. While tactical aspects in realistic scenarios are to be evaluated, of equal importance is the inter-squadron comparisons with regards to maintenance and logistical support. Eurofighter Typhoon flies in formations of up to twelve aircraft against fighters brought in from across the Spanish Air Force, including a combined ten F-18s from Ala 12, Torrejon, and Ala 15, Zaragoza,(supplying six and four respectively), as well as four Mirage F-1 jets of Ala 14, Albacete. In addition, the Spanish hosts had invited the Portuguese Air Force to take part in the exercise, who brought with them four F-16 assets of 310 Escuadron, Monte Real. The Spanish Navy also played their part with four Harrier AV-8Plus of 9 Escuadrilla, Rota. The Eurofighter sortie rate for the "Typhoon Meet" was three per day, with a total of up to 70 different aircraft flying in the training areas over Toledo, Albacete and Huelva (Atlantic Coast) daily, which delivered an impressive operational scenario for the military experts.
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Embraer and Lebanese M1 Travel Ltd. confirmed options on three EMBRAER 190 jets. The deal, valued at US$ 112.5 million, at list price, completes the original order for five aircraft, announced in February 2007. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2009. M1 Travel retains options for two more aircraft, for either the same model or the larger EMBRAER 195, depending on market demand. The airline's EMBRAER 190s will be configured in a 100-seat layout. In addition, the aircraft will be equipped with a state-of-the-art In-Flight Entertainment (IFE) system with Live TV, and will have steep approach functionality, which allows the aircraft to be operated at London City Airport.
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Northrop Grumman has signed a definitive agreement to sell its Electro-Optical Systems business for $175 million in cash to L-3 Communications. Completion of the transaction, subject to customary conditions including Hart-Scott-Rodino approval, is expected in the second quarter of 2008. Electro-Optical Systems, a part of the company's Electronic Systems sector, produces night vision and applied optics products and had sales of approximately $190 million in 2007. Headquartered in Garland, Texas, Electro-Optical Systems has approximately 1,000 employees.
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A newly-commissioned small engine assembly line at the Rolls-Royce facility in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, this week completed the assembly and test of its first production RR300 engine for installation in the new Robinson Helicopters' R66. Ken Roberts, Acting President of the Rolls-Royce Helicopter business said: "The RR300 engine program has gone from concept to reality in under two years. Today's delivery milestone follows closely on the heels of receiving the Federal Aviation Administration Type and Production Certification awards. "It also signals the start of full-rate production for the RR30; hundreds of which are on order by Robinson Helicopters over the next few years." A prototype RR300 engine has been flying on a Robinson helicopter since mid-2007.
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Raytheon has developed and tested a new conventional warhead technology to defeat hardened and deeply buried bunkers. The new technology, called Tandem Warhead System, consists of a shaped-charge precursor warhead combined with a follow-through penetrator explosive charge. During a Jan. 31 test, the newly developed 1,000-pound-class warhead set a record when it punched through 19 feet, 3 inches of a 20-foot, 330-ton, steel rod-reinforced concrete block rated at 12,600 pounds per square inch compressive strength. In fewer than 10 milliseconds, the explosion delivered into the target more than 110 million foot-pounds of energy via a high-velocity jet of molten metal. Raytheon's large shape-charged test was the first against a target built to withstand more than 10,000 psi. Most conventional weapons in the same weight class as Raytheon's precursor warhead cannot penetrate targets rated at more than 6,000 psi.
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The static tests of a dedicated A400M complete structure has begun at the Military Transport Aircraft Division (MTAD) facilities in Getafe, Madrid. The aim of this testing process is to demonstrate the reliability and integrity of the aircraft structure. To demonstrate these capabilities the A400M structural testing programme at MTAD encompasses three main activities: First activity is the static testing of the complete aircraft structure built to purpose and which will never fly. This is one of the two structural tests (the other is fatigue) of the complete aircraft in this programme. The main objectives are to demonstrate the structural capability to withstand critical loads for which it has been designed. This MTAD centre is also responsible for checking the behaviour of the elements made of carbon-fibre under cyclical loads (fatigue) for the entire operative life of the structure. The loads will be applied by means of 125 hydraulic actuators commanded by the most advanced controlling system. The stress in the structure under load will be measured at 6000 different locations. Second, the complete testing of the horizontal tail plane, as part of the non-flying frame. The purpose is to demonstrate the strength of the structure and the tolerance to fatigue. And third, the structural testing already on the first aircraft assembled at the Final Assembly Line (FAL) in Seville. Two of the three ground tests before first flight have already been successfully completed. These are: the application of loads equivalent to stationary flight and check for correctness and gaps of the wing flight controls and the calibration of the sensors installed on the aircraft to measure the loads in flight. The third ground test - a vibration test to check the structural behaviour under dynamic loads- will be performed in the next months according to schedule.
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Continental Airlines, Boeing  and GE Aviation announced plans to conduct a biofuels demonstration flight in the first half of 2009 in an effort to identify sustainable fuel solutions for the aviation industry. Continental is the first major U.S. carrier to announce plans to highlight technological advancements in sustainable biofuels that can help to further reduce carbon emissions. "Exploring sustainable biofuels is a logical and exciting new step in our environmental commitment. For more than a decade, we have been focused on reducing fuel consumption and carbon emissions, while providing industry-leading service to the places our customers want to go," said Mark Moran, Continental Airlines executive vice president of operations. "Boeing and GE Aviation have been frontrunners in pioneering technology that will benefit the aviation industry, customers, and the environment, and we are pleased to benefit from their expertise in this venture." The biofuel flight will use a Boeing Next-Generation 737 equipped with CFM International CFM56-7B engines. CFM is a 50/50 joint company of General Electric Company and Snecma (SAFRAN Group). In the months leading up to the flight, Continental, Boeing and GE will work together and with an undisclosed fuel provider to identify sustainable fuel sources that don't impact food crops, water resources or contribute to deforestation, and which can be produced in sufficient quantities to support a pre-flight test schedule that includes laboratory and ground-based jet engine performance testing to ensure compliance with stringent aviation fuel performance and safety requirements.
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AerCap Holdings announced that it has signed agreements to lease 10 new Airbus A330-200 aircraft to the Russian national carrier Aeroflot for lease periods between nine and 10 years. The aircraft are part of the order for 20 A330s that AerCap placed with Airbus in December 2006 and increased by another 10 aircraft in March 2007. The aircraft for Aeroflot will be powered by Rolls-Royce engines and are scheduled to be delivered between November 2008 and April 2010.
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Lockheed Martin has delivered a sixth C-130J Super Hercules to the 41st Airlift Squadron, a unit of the 463rd Airlift Group, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. The 41st, also known as the "Black Cats," is the first active-duty C-130J combat squadron in the Air Force. Brig. Gen. Mark S. Solo, Deputy Director, Air, Space and Information Operations, Headquarters Air Mobility Command, Scott Air Force Base, Ill., accepted the new C-130J on behalf of the "Black Cats." The 41st recently began its first deployment to the Southwest Asia area of operations. "The C-130J is a champion of air mobility and intra-theater airlift. Each J-model we receive brings greater range, speed and flexibility to the mobility arsenal," said Solo. "It's an honor to deliver such a vital capability to our warfighters at Little Rock who are employing the J-model in combat today in the War on Terror."
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Embraer recorded fourth quarter 2007 (4Q07) net sales of US$1,875.0 million and net sales for FY 2007 of US$5,245.2 million. Net Income for 4Q07 and for the full year totaled US$200.9 million and US$489.3 million, equivalent to diluted earnings per ADS of US$1.0838 and US$2.6400, respectively. The firm order backlog on December 31, 2007, increased 9.3% over the previous quarter, and reached a record high of US$18.8 billion, and highlighted sales to the Executive Aviation market and the favorable performance of the EMBRAER 170/190 family. Our backlog accumulated a total of 764 firm orders and 786 options booked. To meet the deliveries scheduled for 2007 and to improve its production capacity, Embraer hired and trained approximately 4,500 new employees, implemented a new third shift and widely used overtime work, resulting in an increase of the Company's production costs and, consequently, a reduction in its margins. Gross Margin for 4Q07 totaled 23.4%, representing a decrease from the 24.5% gross margin of 4Q06, and an increase from the 21.8% gross margin of the third quarter of 2007 (3Q07). For fiscal year 2007, gross margin totaled 22.5% representing a decrease when compared to fiscal year 2006, mainly due to the production difficulties previously reported. At the end of 2007, Embraer's firm order backlog was a record US$18.8 billion. In the same period, 145 new firm orders for EMBRAER 170/190 aircraft were signed, and the Company continued the successful sales of the Phenom family, of which 700 jets have already been sold. The Legacy 600 and Lineage 1000 aircraft also maintained positive sales performance during the period.
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CIT Aerospace has signed a firm contract for 15 A320 Family aircraft and five A330-200s. Including the order announced, CIT has ordered a total of 189 Airbus aircraft (152 A320 Family aircraft, including five ACJs, 30 A330s and seven A350 XWBs) of which 93 are already delivered. "As a global leader in the aircraft leasing market, CIT is proud to expand our fleet with these 20 new Airbus aircraft," said C. Jeffrey Knittel, President of Transportation Finance at CIT. "We continue to see a growing demand from our customer base for more efficient aircraft similar to the Airbus A320 and A330 Family of aircraft. As a result of this demand we decided to take advantage of the opportunity to further enhance and diversify our fleet."
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The Russian airlines will need more than 900 passenger aircraft over the next 20 years in response to the strong growth in this market, according to the latest Airbus Global Market Forecast (GMF). The Russian passenger aircraft fleet of 100 seats or more is expected to grow strongly from 528 aircraft in service in 2006 to nearly 950 by 2026. Over the next 20 years, Russia will require more than 900 aircraft to meet demand for aircraft replacement as well as fleet growth. This will represent a value at current list price of US$ 79 billion. These additional aircraft will include nearly 800 short haul – single-aisle aircraft which are currently prominent in the region's fleet and some 120 medium to long-range wide-body aircraft to satisfy international travel strong growth. The growing demand for aircraft is the consequence of the strong growth of passenger traffic in Russia, which is expected to increase at a rate of 6,2 per cent per year on average over the next 20 years, much faster than the world average of 4,9 per cent.
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Bombardier Aerospace announced that the Government of Iraq has placed a firm order for six CRJ900 NextGen airliners which will be used for civilian airline services in Iraq. The transaction includes options on an additional four CRJ900 NextGen aircraft. Based on the list price for the CRJ900 NextGen aircraft, the value of the firm contract is approximately $239 million U.S. If all options are exercised, the contract value could rise to approximately $400 million U.S.
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Bombardier Aerospace announced that Felix Airways of Sana'a, Yemen has signed a firm order for eight Bombardier CRJ700 NextGen airliners, and has taken options on an additional three. Felix Airways is owned by Yemenia (Yemen Airways) and strategic investors. Based on the list price for the CRJ700 NextGen aircraft, the value of the firm contract is estimated at $276 million US. If all options are exercised, the contract value could rise to approximately $385 million US.
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Adding to the Atlas rocket's legacy of launches from the west coast that began in 1959, United Launch Alliance's Atlas V made its debut flight from Space Launch Complex-3 East here at 3:02 a.m. PDT, today. It carried a National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) payload. The launch ushers in a new era of space launch capability for the Air Force and ULA as part of the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) program. For Atlas V, today's success builds on 12 previous Atlas V launches from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., starting in 2002. "This is a proud moment in our company's history," said Michael Gass, ULA President and Chief Executive Officer. "This launch caps four years of planning and hard work modifying SLC-3E and then executing an outstanding launch campaign leading to this successful first launch. We now have a sixth operational launch complex giving us three each at Vandenberg and Cape Canaveral for our Atlas and Delta vehicles. Combine this with the most experienced team in the business and ULA has built the strongest space launch company in the world." Modifications to SLC-3E to support an Atlas V vehicle began more than four years ago when a 22-month development program was initiated. Construction began Jan. 5, 2004 and was completed March 31, 2005. Major elements of the modification included raising the height of the mobile service tower by 30 feet; building a new 250-ton fixed launch platform; installing a new 60-ton bridge crane; replacing the ground command, control, and communication system; and finishing work on new and refurbished launch control and mission support centers.
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Raytheon has successfully demonstrated a fully integrated, high-performance infrared sensor ahead of schedule for the Risk Reduction Alternative Infrared Satellite Systems program. The RR-AIRSS program is sponsored by the U.S. Air Force Space and Missiles Systems Center and managed by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory Space Vehicles Directorate in Albuquerque, N.M. The program aims to prove that wide- field-of-view infrared sensors can maintain persistent full-earth surveillance for missile warning in a relatively small, low-risk and easily manufactured payload. The sensor represents a major technology advance compared with the current Defense Satellite and Space-based Infrared System programs. Both rely on complex scanning mechanisms to perform full-earth surveillance of missiles and other infrared targets. Initial tests and analysis indicate the RR-AIRSS sensor will outperform both significantly.
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Jules Verne ATV successfully performed two boosts on March 12, bringing the spacecraft to an altitude of 303 km - half-way between the insertion orbit reached after last Sunday's launch and the orbit of the International Space Station. The boosts used two of the four main engines on the Automated Transfer Vehicle. Each boost lasted for approximately 2 minutes and provided a change in velocity of just over 6 m/s. Today's burns came on top of two burns conducted by mission controllers at ESA's ATV Control Centre yesterday.
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The Navy's newest multi-mission helicopter, the MH-60R Seahawk successfully completed its first "at sea" operations Jan. 25 while underway in the guided missile destroyer, USS Preble (DDG-88).  Operating as a detachment from Maritime Strike Helicopter Squadron (HSM) 71, the Raptors, the Navy's first operational MH-60R squadron, more than 25 aircrew and maintainers used a single MH-60R to complete basic training, familiarization and qualification missions, as well as shipboard integration flights. While underway from 22-25 January off the West Coast of the United States, the Raptors accrued more than 23 flight hours, 80 small-deck landings and 20 vertical replenishment evolutions aboard USS Preble. Through the effort, many of the pilots and aircrew gained deck landing qualifications, qualified as Landing Safety Officer, and conducted flight deck coordinator training.
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Lockheed Martin opened its new P-3 Orion wing production line, marking production kickoff at its Marietta, Ga., facilities with a brief ceremony attended by Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) and Lockheed Martin officials. Norway is the initial P-3 Aircraft Service Life Extension Program (ASLEP) customer. "Today is a landmark day for the long-term sustainment and support of the P-3 Orion," said Ray Burick, Lockheed Martin P-3/S-3 Programs vice president. "It is the culmination of literally years of hard work by many people, and the production of new life extension kits reaffirms Lockheed Martin's commitment to aircraft sustainment and further cements us as the provider of the most comprehensive range of support, sustain and refresh solutions for the P-3. As the P-3 OEM we know these aircraft best and are uniquely qualified to support them."
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Space Exploration Technologies announced that it has signed a contract with the Department of Defense's Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) Office to carry their first Jumpstart mission payload onboard the upcoming Falcon 1 launch. Scheduled for flight in June 2008 from the SpaceX launch complex in the Central Pacific Marshall Islands' Kwajalein Atoll, the Jumpstart mission aims to establish a preliminary framework for responsive contracting, and to demonstrate the ability to rapidly integrate and execute a mission, from initial call-up to launch. SpaceX will demonstrate its ability to perform responsive mission integration for three separate candidate ORS payloads. The actual flight payload will be determined by the ORS Office at or before the SpaceX Flight Readiness Review for the Falcon 1 Flight 003 (F1-003) vehicle, which typically occurs two weeks before launch.  
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MTU Aero Engines Holding AG is striving for further profitable growth in 2008. Revenues are expected to remain at the previous year's level, which corresponds to a growth rate of approximately 6% after adjustments for the effect of the U.S. dollar exchange rate. MTU anticipates that adjusted EBITDA in 2008 will remain close to the previous year's level of Euro390 million, despite a significant increase in research and development and the effects of the U.S. dollar exchange rate. MTU expects to generate a net income for the year in the region of Euro180 million, which represents an increase of almost 20%. This forecast was published by MTU on Thursday, March 13, 2008 at its annual results press conference. MTU's revenues in 2007 improved by 7% from Euro2,416.2 million to Euro2,575.0 million, and were therefore in line with the company's estimated target of around Euro2.6 billion. Without the U.S. dollar exchange rate effect, this increase would have been even higher, at roughly 15%. There was a pronounced rise in adjusted EBITDA, which grew at a rate of 24% to Euro392.9 million (2006: €318.2 million). MTU thereby exceeded its forecast of Euro385 million, which had been raised in the course of the year. The company's underlying net income also increased significantly, improving by 22% from Euro121.8 million in 2006 to Euro148.2 million in 2007.
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Bell Helicopter Amarillo Military Aircraft Assembly Center played host to the 100th Aircraft Ceremony on Wednesday. The Bell Boeing event recognized the achievements of the vendors, suppliers and workers who built the aircraft. Lt. Gen. George Trautman III, deputy commandant of Marine Corps for aviation, expressed gratitude for the hard work and dedication of the support teams who help ensure the aircraft are properly maintained and ready for duty."It has exceeded all expectations," he said, adding the osprey is a terrific aircraft to fly, "When you get behind the controls of an Osprey, you are astounded if you are an aviator," he said. Trautman said the Marine Corps plans to replace VMM-263 with a second squadron next month, VMM-162. "We will keep the same 12 aircraft in place. We will monitor them closely – periodic, recurring inspections to ensure that none of the airplanes need to come out," he said. "We anticipate they could stay anywhere from 12 to 18 months before we have to swap out the airplanes."
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According to the interim figures, Air Berlin PLC generated an EBIT of EUR 21.5 million in 2007 (2006: EUR 64.2 million) and earnings after taxes of EUR 11 million (2006: EUR 50.1 million). EBITDAR increased by 48 percent from EUR 256.5 to EUR 379 million. Sales volume amounted to EUR 2.54 billion (2006: EUR 1.58 billion). A detailed statement will be issued by the company at the Press Conference on the Annual Financial Accounts on 31 March 2008. As already reported when presenting the figures for the third quarter of 2007, the delays experienced with the integration of LTU and the technical problems encountered when merging the EDP systems of Air Berlin and LTU, resulted in a charge against earnings in the double-digit million range. Consequently, the company was unable to offset the industry-wide weakness in the second quarter.  At the time, the Air Berlin Board had assumed that the charges associated with the integration of LTU could be set off with non-recurring income from the reversal of provisions. However, due to an updated valuation, the anticipated offsetting could not be realised as extraordinary income, but was recognized directly.
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Summing up the results 2007, Austrian Chief Executive Officer Alfred Ötsch made the following statement: "For the Austrian Airlines Group, 2007 was a successful transitional year, a time when the company implemented a number of essential steps in its restructuring. The redimensioning of the long-haul segment produced a significant stabilisation in our business model, and strengthened us overall. This is reflected in the result. At EUR 39.1m, the adjusted EBIT was EUR 47.4m up on the figure for 2006. The greatest improvement for the Group was in the net result: after recording a position in 2006 of EUR –129.9m, 2007 saw us take our performance in this field back into positive figures for the first time in two years, with a result of EUR 3.3m. We shall continue to pursue our course this year, and emphasise our strengths: outstanding positioning in growth regions such as Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and the Middle East, an excellent product and high quality. The introduction of the new Austrian Premium Service from summer 2008 onwards will set new standards for business passengers." The company succeeded in improving its EBIT from EUR -89.0m the previous year to EUR 25.6m in the report period 2007. This was primarily due to cost reductions achieved as a result of the closure of fuel-intensive, low-yield long-haul destinations featuring low levels of direct demand. At EUR 39.1m, EBIT adjusted to account for extraordinary effects (extraordinary effects such as the costs of the disposal of aircraft, exchange rate differentials, the result from disposals of assets and last year's expenditure on redimensioning long-haul) increased sharply, rising by EUR 47.4m compared to the previous year. This is the first time since 2004 that the figure has been positive. The financial result of EUR –35.7m also improved compared to the figure for the previous year, rising by EUR 13.4m, from EUR –49.1m in 2006. This was as a result of the increase in interest returns. The Group accomplished its greatest improvement in the net result. After deferred and effective taxes are deducted, the net result in the report period, at EUR 3.3m, returned to positive figures for the first time in two years (2006: –129.9m). This represents an improvement of EUR 133.2m.
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A U.S. Air Force modernized Global Positioning System Block IIR (GPS IIR-M) satellite, built by Lockheed Martin, was successfully launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta II launch vehicle. The satellite, designated GPS IIR-19M, is the sixth in a line of eight GPS IIR satellites that Lockheed Martin Navigation Systems, Valley Forge, Pa. has modernized for its customer, the Global Positioning Systems Wing, Space and Missile Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif. Today's mission represented the third successful launch of a GPS IIR-M satellite in under five months and is one of the final three Block IIR-M satellites planned for launch in 2008 to sustain and improve the GPS constellation. Each IIR-M satellite includes a modernized antenna panel that provides increased signal power to receivers on the ground, two new military signals for improved accuracy, enhanced encryption and anti-jamming capabilities for the military, and a second civil signal that will provide users with an open access signal on a different frequency.
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