09.03.2008
FLUG REVUE

2008-03-09 - News in BriefNews in Brief

Kurzmeldungen<br /> +++<br /> Rockwell Collins announced its intent to acquire Athena Technologies, Inc., a privately held company that develops and provides flight control and navigation solutions primarily to the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) market segment.

Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. "Athena Technologies' proven track record in creating leading navigation and control solutions for UAVs, combined with our existing capabilities, provides Rockwell Collins with exciting, new growth opportunities," said Rockwell Collins Chairman, President and CEO Clay Jones. "We look forward to integrating our combined capabilities to bring new control solutions to both military and commercial market segments." David Vos, Athena Technologies' founder and CEO, said, "This new relationship with Rockwell Collins provides an exciting and enabling platform to leverage Athena's successful navigation and controls systems to play a leading role in the future convergence of manned and unmanned aviation. It is a tremendous honor to join the Rockwell Collins team and continue to pioneer future aviation solutions and technology."
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MBDA has delivered the first series production batch of the new fully digitised MILAN ADT (ADvanced Technologies) firing post to South Africa. In addition to this latest generation firing post, developed and produced by MBDA Deutschland/LFK in Germany, the delivery also included MILAN 3 munitions and a training simulator. Troop trials with the system by the customer are already under way. During acceptance of the firing posts at the MBDA Deutschland/LFK site at Schrobenhausen in December 2007, the customer checked and confirmed the functionality of five units. In addition, the maintenance equipment, initial spares package and logistic and maintenance systems for product support were demonstrated and also received customer acceptance. The order for the MILAN ADT firing posts, MILAN 3 munitions and STC simulators was placed by South Africa for its infantry and special units on 20 December 2006.
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Bombardier Aerospace announced that Porter Airlines of Toronto has signed a firm order contract for two 70-seat Q400 turboprop airliners. The transaction represents the conversion of two of the 10 options taken by Porter when it placed a firm order for 10 Q400 aircraft in 2006, and brings the total number of firm Q400 aircraft orders placed by the airline to 12. The value of the contract at Q400 aircraft list prices is approximately $51 million U.S. Based at Toronto City Centre Airport on the city's Lake Ontario waterfront, Porter Airlines began flying to Montréal and Ottawa in the fall of 2006. It later added flights to Halifax and the resort area of Mont Tremblant, Québec. Porter has recently announced that flights to New York via Newark Liberty International Airport are scheduled to begin on March 31, 2008.
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Rolls-Royce announced a $2.6 billion order for its Trent 1000 engines and associated services from Virgin Atlantic. The company also revealed that it is forming an environmental partnership with the airline to cut carbon emissions. The Trent 1000 is the launch engine for all versions of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which enters service in 2009. Today 's order, which includes a full-life TotalCare services agreement, is for Trent 1000s to power up to 43 Boeing 787s and consists of 15 firm aircraft plus eight options and a further 20 purchase rights. Virgin Atlantic will take delivery of its first Trent-powered 787 in 2011.
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AgustaWestland announced that Test Vehicle 3, the third helicopter built for the VH-71 Presidential Helicopter Replacement Programme, made its initial flight Feb. 27 in Yeovil, England marking the fourth helicopter to enter flight test. TV-3 is due to arrive at the Presidential Helicopter Support Facility here on Mar. 17 and will then travel to Lockheed Martin Systems Integration in Owego, N.Y. for final assembly and mission systems integration. TV-3 will be the first vehicle tested that is outfitted with mission systems. Once missionized TV-3 will join the other three test vehicles, TV-1, TV-2 and TV-5 already in flight testing that have accumulated more than 650 total hours of flight test. As a missionized aircraft, TV-3 will be able to validate in-flight data, which has previously only been evaluated in laboratories. One additional test vehicle is scheduled for flight testing and missionization after TV-3 before the initial lot of production aircraft are delivered to Patuxent River.
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The Pratt & Whitney F135 engine exceeded 9,000 system development and demonstration (SDD) ground test hours this week. This achievement, in addition to the 3,600 test hours accumulated during the F-35 concept demonstration program, puts engine test program hours at more than 12,600. "This ground testing milestone, combined with the ongoing successful F-35 Lightning II flight test program, demonstrates the maturity, flexibility and reliability of Pratt & Whitney's F135 propulsion system," said Bill Gostic, vice president, Pratt & Whitney F135 engine program.
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Today, March 4 2008, Mr. Eric Trappier Rafale International Managing Director has inaugurated the Rafale International office, in Athens in presence of H. E. Mr Christophe Farnaud, Ambassador of France in Greece, during a ceremony held at the French Embassy. Rafale International three partners have been supplying aircraft to Greece since 1974, with the purchase of 40 Mirage F1 at first, followed by the signature in 1985 of the TALOS contract for the acquisition of 40 Mirage 2000. The purpose of Rafale International in Athens is to promote the Rafale Omnirole Fighter as the natural continuity of the French supply source to answer the needs of Hellenic Air Force and to enhance the long standing cooperation the three partners already have with Greek industry.
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The RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial system (UAS), built by Northrop Grumman celebrated the 10th anniversary of its first flight on Feb. 28, 2008. On that date in 1998 the Global Hawk made history when it flew for one hour over Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and climbed to an altitude of 32,000 feet. "Today, this high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) system has logged more than 20,000 total program flight hours, of which more than 15,000 hours were flown in support of the global war on terrorism (GWOT)," said Jerry Madigan, Northrop Grumman vice president of HALE systems. "Its range, endurance and multi-sensor technology capabilities make it an ideal system to support homeland security objectives." "The 9th Reconnaissance Wing (9RW) flies the RQ-4A in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. Global Hawk continues to prove its versatility and persistence by providing critical intelligence to Airmen, Marines and soldiers on the ground in the GWOT," said Brig. Gen. H. D. Polumbo Jr., commander of the 9RW at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., the Global Hawk's main operating base. "It is a combat-proven, strategic capability with the tactical flexibility to survey large geographic areas, whether supporting overseas military operations or domestic civil missions like last year's wildfires in Southern California. Beale Airmen are in the fight everyday using transformational remote split operations."
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Lockheed Martin and Karem Aircraft Incorporated have signed a teaming agreement to jointly develop Karem Aircraft's Optimum Speed Tilt-Rotor (OSTR) design. The OSTR concept is one of three approaches selected by the Department of Defense (DoD)'s Joint Heavy Lift program office to receive a Concept Design and Analysis extension contract. Abe Karem, president of Karem Aircraft, said, "Teaming allows us to provide our DoD customer with a highly innovative Joint Heavy Lift solution that leverages Karem's innovative OSTR aircraft design and Lockheed Martin's expertise in system integration, advanced composite design and tactical transport aircraft."
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Swiss Air Rescue REGA, the independent and privately operated not-for-profit air rescue foundation, signed an order with Aerolite for eleven AgustaWestland A109 Grand EMS Interiors. Aerolite said its lightweight design, suitable for extreme hot and high performance in the Alps, were a critical factor during the evaluation process, and why REGA selected Aerolite as the preferred vendor. The new interior will allow different configurations such as rescue, hoist, intensive care, incubator and flight crew training missions. The interior includes a two meter (6 feet 7 inches) stretcher, stretcher platform, stowage cabinet, multi-mission medical floor, up to three medical attendant seats, gaseous oxygen system, rack for the safe and ergonomic stowage of medical equipment and stowage provisions.
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Citing consistently strong demand from business travelers, Singapore Airlines has announced plans to convert its five Airbus A340-500 ultra-long-range aircraft into an all-Business Class configuration, on daily flights between New York and Singapore, and Los Angeles and Singapore. The current 2-class, 181 seat, configuration will be replaced with 100 of the airline's new, award-winning, Business Class seats in a 1-2-1, configuration. At 30-inches, the seats are the widest Business Class offering in the sky. Unique to Singapore Airlines' widebody aircraft, every seat will have direct access to the aisle, and convert to a horizontal flat bed. The new Business Class seats are the same design as those installed on the Airline's A380 and B777-300ER fleet.
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Mechtronix Systems announced the purchase by Flight Training Europe of its advanced full flight trainer, the FFT X configured as a B737-800. The device will be looking to obtain certification by the UK CAA both under JAR-STD 2A and 3A. With the introduction of this technology, Flight Training Europe plans to emerge as an early innovator in the race of Flight Training Organizations seeking to provide European airlines with better pilot provisioning solutions in a world hit by pilot shortages and looking to Multi-crew Pilot Licensing as a solution. With the deployment of this special unit in 2008, Flight Training Europe will become the first pilot training school in Europe to use the FFT X machine to help train its future pilots for Multi-crew Pilot Licensing as an FSTD 3. The new trainer's high fidelity will enable pilots in training to achieve the performance based outcome linked to the intermediate phase of MPL. The high fidelity trainer, reflecting the same FFS quality and fidelity, features a seat-actuation system that provides motion - cueing as well as a collimated visual system. It is built in such a way that it can be upgraded to an FFS X(TM). With the introduction of this technology, Flight Training Europe further strengthens its leadership within the European Flight Training Organization community with a high end product that enables the FTO to supply pilots trained in a high fidelity commercial modern flight deck environment.
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Qatar Airways announced it will begin operating three weekly nonstop flights between Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport and Qatar's Doha International Airport starting on Monday, November 10, 2008 - with plans for daily service in December of 2008. This new service will make Qatar Airways the second Middle Eastern carrier to offer nonstop passenger flights to Houston. Qatar is home to the world's third largest gas reserves and is the world's leading exporter of liquefied natural gas. The airline will link these two energy industry hubs for the first time in history.
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Lockheed Martin delivered the first missionized HC-130J long-range surveillance maritime patrol aircraft to the U.S. Coast Guard. The aircraft's new mission equipment and sensor packages are designed to deliver enhanced search, detection and tracking capabilities to perform maritime search and rescue, maritime law enforcement and homeland security missions. Lockheed Martin is working under a fixed-price contract to deliver three missionized HC-130Js and is on schedule to complete the aircraft this month. A contract modification is expected in the coming weeks to begin work on the fourth aircraft. The contract modification will also include options for missionizing the remaining two aircraft to round out the Coast Guard inventory of six HC-130Js. The aircraft modifications include installation of a belly-mounted surface search radar, a nose-mounted electro-optical infrared sensor, a flight deck mission operator station and a mission integrated communication system. The mission system installed on the HC-130J is derived from the same software series developed for the mission system pallet onboard the HC-144A maritime patrol aircraft concurrently in testing.
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Boeing delivered the second Japan KC-767 Tanker to the Itochu Corp. for Japan's Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF), two weeks after delivering the first refueling aircraft to the Japanese military. The KC-767 made the 13-hour non-stop flight to Gifu, Japan, near Nagoya, from Wichita, Kan., near Boeing's tanker modification center. Itochu will deliver the KC-767 Tanker to the Japan Ministry of Defense following in-country acceptance processes.
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Bell Helicopter continues to find strong demand in the marketplace for its commercial products as sales to date this year maintain the healthy pace established last year. As of the first of this year, Bell' s commercial product backlog stood at $1 billion. This figure is expected to increase by another $1 billion once the first production 429 completes its first flight late this year, enabling existing customer purchase agreements to move officially into backlog. Additionally another $400 million is expected to be added once deposits are received for the 84 purchase agreements signed at the Singapore Air Show and Heli-Expo in Houston in February.
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A team headed by Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company (LMSSC) has received a $5.7 million contract from DARPA to compete in Phase 1 development of their System F6 space technology and demonstration program. F6 is shorthand for "Future, Fast, Flexible, Fractionated, Free-Flying Spacecraft United by Information Exchange." The DARPA System F6 program intends to demonstrate that a traditional, large, monolithic satellite can be replaced by a group of smaller, individually launched, wirelessly networked and cluster-flown spacecraft modules. Each "fractionated" module can contribute a unique capability to the rest of the network, such as computing, ground communications, or payload functionality. The ultimate goal of the program is to launch a fractionated spacecraft system and demonstrate it in orbit in approximately four years.
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Boeing submitted a proposal to participate as a prime contractor in the projected $5.4 billion Future Flexible Acquisition and Sustainment Tool (F2AST) competition to support all U.S. Air Force-operated weapons systems, including Special Operations Forces systems. Boeing's offering draws on the expertise of 10 Boeing divisions and 28 large and small suppliers. Under the terms of the Request for Proposal, small-business participation must constitute at least 13 percent of the contract's value.
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Northrop Grumman has been awarded the first phase of a four phase advanced research contract to design and build a cluster of wirelessly interconnected free flying spacecraft. Awarded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Phase 1 of the Future, Flexible, Fast, Fractionated, Free-Flying, Spacecraft united by Information Exchange (F6) program is a 12-month study of ways to break up a typical monolithic satellite into distributed modules. In Phase 1, Northrop Grumman will develop a satellite-to-satellite wireless network, a distributed command and control system, and network protocols. Rather than being assembled onto a monolithic bus satellite, components of the F6 are distributed onto separate spacecraft modules. By the end of the first phase, Northrop Grumman will demonstrate essential networking and communications capabilities, will present a preliminary design and will prove the business case for this strategy. An actual flight demonstration composed of multiple satellites will be developed in subsequent phases.
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Orbital Sciences Corporation, a world leader in smaller-sized civil government and national security satellites, announced today that it has been selected by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Arlington, VA, to develop a Phase 1 concept for System F6 (Future Fast, Flexible, Fractionated, Free-Flying Spacecraft united by Information eXchange). DARPA is the central research and development organization for the Department of Defense (DoD). It manages and directs selected basic and applied research and development projects for DoD, and pursues research and technology where risk and payoff are both very high and where success may provide dramatic advances for traditional military roles and missions.  
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In a new analysis, Forecast International projects that  manufacturers of military fixed-wing trainers will deliver 1,550 new aircraft during the 10-year period covered by the study. The value of this production is projected to reach an estimated $17.1 billion. According to the study, "The Market for Military Fixed-Wing Trainer Aircraft 2008-2017," more than half (784) of these 1,550 new trainers will be turboprop-powered trainers, with jet trainers accounting for nearly all of the remainder (748). The market for piston-powered military trainers is dying out and so will account for only 18 aircraft during the forecast period. Overall, annual production will reach a high of 212 units in 2009 before gradually falling throughout the remainder of the forecast period to 105 units in 2017. According to the report, this dramatic decline in production stems from reduced demand, primarily due to two factors. First, demand for trainers in the U.S. military is ebbing. The U.S. Navy procured its last T-45, a jet trainer based on the BAE Systems Hawk in 2007. In addition, the U.S. Air Force and Navy Joint Primary Aircraft Training System (JPATS) program will be wrapping up by the end of the forecast period. This program alone will account for more than 60 percent of the unit production of the fixed-wing military trainer market over the next decade. When the program is completed, there will be nothing to replace it in terms of market demand. The second major cause of reduced demand for trainers is the declining need to train new pilots. Many world air arms are shrinking fighter and attack jet fleets, lowering demand for new pilots and, in turn, trainers. "Shrinking demand will lead to lower production levels market-wide," said Douglas Royce, Aerospace Analyst at Forecast International. "There are too many manufacturers chasing too small a market, and the competition for even small contracts is going to be intense." 
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Cessna has secured its first multiple order for the new Model 850 Citation Columbus business jet. Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL) of Pullman, Wash., will use two of the long-range, large-cabin Citations to support its global expansion and customer support efforts. In announcing the purchase, Ed Schweitzer, founder and president of SEL, told company employees that the new aircraft will continue the company's long-standing efforts for safe, efficient travel for employees, customers, Special Olympics teams and Corporate Angel Flight participants. Cessna Aircraft has selected Parker Aerospace's Control Systems Division to supply the powered flight control system for the Model 850 Citation Columbus. The new large cabin Citation is the first aircraft in the Citation family to be equipped with a hybrid fly-by-wire flight control system developed by Cessna which works with conventional hydraulic actuation to enhance the safety and performance capabilities of the Columbus. Parker Aerospace will design and manufacture the primary and secondary flight controls, including roll, pitch and yaw axes; high lift; stabilizer trim; and speed brake controls. The new fly-by-wire flight portion of the control system provides aircraft surface actuators that are electrically commanded based on pilot and avionics inputs. This technology supports enhanced aircraft performance by allowing improved pilot handling and ride quality. Aircraft safety benefits can be realized with improved envelope warning and protection functions, and control redundancy.
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Boeing has completed 50 percent of the design releases for the new 747-8 Freighter. The program has released the 747-8 Freighter's detailed designs to Boeing factories and its suppliers in order to begin building parts, assemblies and tools for the new cargo airplane. "This design milestone is a tribute to efforts of the 747-8 team, our customers and suppliers," said Ross R. Bogue, vice president and general manager, 747 program and Everett site. "We are now focused on completing the remaining design work and delivering a 747-8 Freighter that increases the 747 family's leadership in the growing cargo market." The 747-8 Freighter, which launched in November 2005, is scheduled to start delivering in late 2009 to launch customers Cargolux and Nippon Cargo Airlines.
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AeroVironment announced that it has flown its Puma small unmanned aircraft for over nine hours, powered by an onboard fuel cell battery hybrid energy storage system. This broke the previous announced Puma flight record of over seven hours.  A two-camera payload system provided a live, streaming video feed from the Puma, the largest of AV's portfolio of small unmanned aircraft systems that also includes Raven and Wasp. The nine-hour flight duration more than triples the duration of Puma's standard battery-only operation. This successful demonstration marked a milestone in AV's Phase II small business innovation research (SBIR) contract with the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) for the development of advanced energy storage and propulsion technologies for unmanned aircraft. AV developed the battery pack, power electronics and controls portion of the hybrid energy storage system, which used Protonex Technology Corporation's (LSE: AIM: PTX) Pulseâ"¢ UAV fuel cell system. Progress on this unique technology development program advanced swiftly from kickoff in January 2007, to achieve a five-hour flight in May 2007, a seven-hour flight in July 2007, and the recent nine-hour flight.
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The NH90 helicopter was officially handed over to the Italian Army at the Aves centre in Viterbo. Produced by the NATO Helicopter Industries consortium, the new helicopter is the first military aircraft to be powered by an engine derived from the CT7-8, an engine family developed jointly by Avio and General Electric, with the Italian company contributing a hefty 60% share of the product. The engine equipping the NH90 helicopter is designated T6E1 and generates 2500 HP. The same engine, in a special version currently being developed, with a power output of over 3100 HP, will equip the U.S. presidential helicopter.  
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Flightscape (Ottawa) is pleased to announce that the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) based in Cologne, Germany has established a technical capability to analyse and animate flight data using the Flightscape Insight product line. Given that modern aircraft are data rich and to meet the above objectives, EASA felt it was important to establish in-house expertise and capability in the increasingly critical field of flight data analysis. The Flightscape system was selected through an international tender process and was considered to be the most capable and industry accepted system worldwide. Flightscape , part of CAE's training solutions group, offers flight safety expertise in flight data analysis and flight sciences. Flightscape develops software tools that enable the effective study and understanding of recorded flight data to improve safety, maintenance and flight operations. Flightscape software powers IATA's web-based Flight Data Analysis Service to provide Flight Data Monitoring and Flight Operations Quality Assurance as an out-source service to airlines who do not wish to invest in the infrastructure of an in-house program. Flightscape develops flight recorder laboratories including complete turnkey systems. Flightscape's mission is to improve safety on an international basis by having the operator, investigative and aircraft manufacturer communities collaborate on flight data analysis issues with a common suite of continually advancing tools.
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Avionica announced that Continental Airlines has successfully accomplished the world's first ever ACARS (Aircraft Communications and Reporting System) communications in regular commercial passenger service over the Iridium satellite network. Communications were between one of Continental's satLINK(TM)-equipped Boeing 737-800 aircraft flying over the Pacific Ocean and Continental headquarters in Houston, TX. In numerous cases, aircraft systems reported that Iridium was the only communications media available. Continental has been successfully using Avionica's satLINK system for voice communications in the Pacific theater for the past year. The aircraft are now being upgraded to include data messaging capabilities. Continental will soon be installing satLINK with integrated voice and data in their fleet of 757-200 aircraft, as well. In early January, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Council approved standards and recommended practices (SARPs) that now permit Iridium(R) Satellite to provide Aeronautical Mobile Satellite (Route) Services (AMS(R)S) for commercial aircraft on transoceanic flights. Avionica's satLINK has also been AQP qualified by ARINC and VAQ qualified by SITA for data messaging.
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