24.02.2008
FLUG REVUE

2008-02-24 - News in briefNews in Brief

KURZMELDUNGEN<br /> +++<br /> TATA Advanced Systems has announced at the DEFEXPO 2008 exhibition in New Delhi, India, that they are jointly exploring opportunities with Urban Aeronautics from Israel for marketing and manufacturing of unmanned aerial vehicles based on UrbanAero's patented Fancraft technology for the Indian market. Tata Industries has also invested in Urban Aeronautics.

Tata Advanced Systems is a wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Industries and is focused on providing integrated solutions for Defence and Aerospace. Founded by Dr. Rafi Yoeli, Urban Aeronautics has established an early lead in developing technology that will enable a family of Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) aircraft with no exposed rotors. The entire family of Fancraft that would be developed using this technology is uniquely suited to flying and operating inside of complex urban and natural environments. The Fancraft technology developed at UrbanAero could result in a number of operational vehicles in various markets. Currently in development at UrbanAero are technology demonstrators in three sizes: X-Hawk, a manned, twin turbine powered FAA certifiable version with a capacity of 12 persons including the pilot, Panda, a small, electrically powered surveillance aircraft, and MULE, a single turbine powered unmanned aircraft for military re-supply and Medical Evacuation (MedEvac) operations with a payload capacity of 250 kilograms.
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Sikorsky announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for teaming up with Tata Advanced Systems to manufacture S-92 helicopter cabins in India. Tata Advanced Systems is a wholly owned subsidiary of Tata Industries focused on providing integrated solutions for defense and aerospace. It is part of the Tata Group, one of India's oldest and largest conglomerates with businesses spread over seven sectors and comprised of 98 companies operating on six continents. "India represents an expansive rotorcraft market with enormous potential and opportunity," said Sikorsky President Jeffrey P. Pino. "While we are only in the most preliminary of stages, I am most excited at the possibility of working with the well known and admired Tata Group, and tapping into India's skilled aerospace industry and capability." "We believe that this manufacturing facility for the S-92 helicopter cabin will offer productivity gains to Sikorsky while bringing new manufacturing technology to India. It is an important part of our larger strategy for this sector," according to a Tata Industries statement.
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Saab Aircraft Leasing (SAL) concluded 2007 by placing 18 portfolio Saab 340s and 2000s with 12 current and new customers. These transactions include 13 new leases, four extensions and one sale. SAL welcomed two new customers during the year: Estonian Air of Estonia and Western Air in the Bahamas. SAL also sold six CT7 engines and leased one AE2100 engine. In addition, SAL secured a contract from the Argentine Air Force to package four third-party Saab 340Bs together with a support package from Saab Aerotech. Additional third-party transactions included placing one Saab 340A, on behalf of Worthington Aviation, with Saint-Ex in Mexico as well as three Saab 340As to Pacific Coastal for C&L Aerospace. On a mandate for Turbo Lease, SAL purchased two Saab 340Bs from Mellon Bank and leased both to PenAir. This additional business boasted SAL's total 2007 activity to 28 aircraft transactions.
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PowerJet, a joint-venture between Snecma (SAFRAN Group) and NPO Saturn announced the first successful results of its SaM146 engine flight test program. The flight test campaign started on December 6, 2007 on LII Gromov's IL-76LL flying laboratory in Zhukovsky, Russia. To date, the engine has completed a total of 42 flight hours (22 flights) and additional ground tests under the wing as well, achieving all expected performance objectives. The flight tests performed during the campaign were: opening of flight test envelope, validation of engine performance and operability, validation of restart logic and relight in wind milling, demonstration of acceleration and deceleration time capability and flame out margin within the specifications, validation in flight of FADEC software, validation of fan blade flutter margin in flight, verification of the engine general behavior, including stress and vibration levels.
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Elbit Systems unveiled its new R902 (W) engine designed to further improve the operation of the Hermes 450 UAV at the Singapore Air Show. Elbit Systems based its innovative R902 engine, also known as "W" (for "wide") engine, on the "Wankel" technology, as it determined the "Wankel's" performance characteristics, in particular, its outstanding power-to-size and weight ratio, were ideal for tactical unmanned aircrafts. The "W" engine includes a larger combustion compartment than its predecessors, derived from an increase in the width of the Wankel Engine Block in a manner that allows for an engine weighing in at approximately 40 kg. to deliver over 70 BHP. The power-to-weight ratio of this engine is considered the best among internal combustion engines (Piston and Wankel engines), thus setting a new standard for UAV engines. The only other engines with high power-to-weight ratios are turbo (jet) engines. However, these engines consume vast amounts of fuel - in contrast to the fuel-economical R902, which can power Elbit Systems' Hermes(r) 450 UAV in the air for more than 20 consecutive hours. Moreover, Elbit Systems' new engine is equipped with electronic fuel control and a "starter-alternator" option for aerial ignition.
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European Union governments agreed to pursue two initiatives to address the shortfalls in transport aircraft and helicopters which have created challenges for existing and future EU military and crisis management operations under the European Security and Defence Policy. A meeting of the Steering Board of the European Defence Agency agreed to create an EDA Project Team to investigate how to develop the concept of a European Air Transport Fleet through some form of pooled ownership of A400M transport aircraft, which several governments have ordered or plan to acquire. The meeting of Capabilities Directors of the 26 EDA participating Member States also agreed to pursue a U.K. initiative to share information about helicopters available for missions under European Security and Defence Policy, which could lead to cooperation among countries operating the same type of helicopters and improve their availability. "These issues are at the heart of the challenges Europe faces if it is to match its ambitions with the capabilities required," said Lo Casteleijn, who chaired the meeting on behalf of the Head of the Agency, Javier Solana. "The EDA has a crucial role to play by helping Member States to identify where they can collectively be more effective through collaboration."  The European Air Transport Fleet Project Team will gather information from countries interested in the initiative and develop a Common Staff Target, the first step towards pooling resources. The team will look into the commercial and legal issues as well as how such a pool could be managed and its missions prioritised. "For governments with smaller budgets, this could offer a way for them to meet their strategic requirements within their resources, while for those with larger budgets, it could offer a way to maximise the efficiency of their investments," said EDA Chief Executive Alexander Weis.
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Bombardier Aerospace announced it has added three new business aircraft service facilities to its international support network. Arkia Maintenance of Tel Aviv, Israel, and Metrojet of Hong Kong, China, have both been named Bombardier Line Maintenance Facilities (LMF), and RUAG of Oberphaffenhoffen, Germany, has been named an Authorized Service Facility (ASF).
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Northrop Grumman has been selected by the U.S. Naval Aviation Systems Command for phase two of the APR-39 radar warning receiver (RWR) integration program for the Navy's CH-53K helicopter fleet. Radar warning receivers are electronic systems onboard aircraft that essentially detect all radar signals, determine the threat levels, and then command countermeasures. Under the terms of the $17 million contract, Northrop Grumman will incorporate all electronic warfare (EW) integration capabilities of the A(V)2 and B(V)2 versions of its APR-39 RWR now in production -- including EW controller and integration interfaces to multiple missile and laser warning sensors -- into the existing fleet of CH-53Ks. The phase two program also includes the integration of the APR-39 RWR with Northrop Grumman's Directional Infrared Countermeasures (DIRCM) systems onboard each of the helicopters.
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Northern Virginia businessman, community activist and helicopter pilot Scott Kasprowicz broke the international New York to Los Angeles transcontinental rotorcraft speed record at 07:21:30 pm EST on Saturday, February 16, 2008. Kasprowicz broke the New York to Los Angeles transcontinental speed record with an all-inclusive flight time of 15 hours, 09 minutes and 10 seconds. The previous record, set in 1985, was 19 hours, 00 minutes and 16 seconds. "We're excited to have set the transcontinental record," said Kasprowicz upon arrival in Los Angeles. "There were many challenges to overcome in this flight including some rapidly changing weather conditions. The ground crews we encountered along the way were terrific. They got us in and out of our fuel stops in great time. We could not have done it with out them." Kasprowicz along with co-pilot Steve Sheik, made the record setting flight in helicopter N1US, Kasprowicz's standard factory outfitted, executive configuration AgustaWestland Grand helicopter. The record is validated, recorded and maintained by the National Aeronautics Association or NAA (www.naa.aero).
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Rockwell Collins announced plans for opening an engineering center in Hyderabad, India. The Hyderabad center, which represents an expansion of Rockwell Collins employment, is scheduled to begin providing services in October. The center will help Rockwell Collins satisfy its growing demand for engineering talent by hiring 500 people over the next five years. "Our new facility in India will enhance our presence in this emerging region and provide us with increased access to high-quality engineering and design talent," said Nan Mattai, senior vice president of Engineering and Technology for Rockwell Collins.
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Korean Air is expanding its A380 fleet with the purchase of three more A380 aircraft. This firm order is in addition to the five A380 aircraft ordered by Korean Air in 2003. Starting in 2010, Korean Air will introduce the A380 on high density traffic routes from Seoul to the US west coast, with subsequent destinations likely to include cities on the US east coast and Europe. Deliveries to Korean Air for the three additional aircraft are scheduled to take place in 2012 and 2013. With Korean Air's additional order, Airbus has 192 firm orders, from 16 customers for the A380 programme.
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Gulfstream Aerospace announced that it has received type certification from the General Administration of the Civil Aviation of China (CAAC) for five of its business jet models: the Gulfstream GV; G350; G450; G500 and G550. Those models join the Gulfstream GIV and GIV-SP which were certified by the CAAC on September 15, 2003. The type certification allows the registration and operation of the aircraft models within China. In 2005, the CAAC also granted approval to Gulfstream's Long Beach, CA., service center to provide support for Chinese-registered GIV aircraft as well as Gulfstream GIIs and GIIIs. "These type certificates enable us to further expand our business activities within China," said Joe Lombardo, president, Gulfstream Aerospace. "There is no question China is one of the most significant emerging markets for business jet aircraft. CAAC type certificates make it easier to offer our products to potential Chinese customers."
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Gulfstream has sold its first large-cabin business jet aircraft in China with the recent multi-aircraft sale of three mid-range G350s and one ultra-long-range G550 to Hainan Airlines Group. The four aircraft will be used as charter aircraft by Deer Jet, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hainan Airlines Group. This aircraft order marks the first fleet purchase for Beijing-based Deer Jet. Deer Jet is the first business-jet charter operator in China and the leader of Asia's private jet industry in terms of fleet size and occupancy rates. Deer Jet's current eight-aircraft fleet, which includes a Gulfstream IV and two Gulfstream G200s, reach more than 125 airports within China and 136 international airports.  With nearly 4,000 charter flight hours logged every year, Deer Jet currently serves more than 70 percent of the China business-jet charter market.
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Cessna announced at the Singapore Airshow an order from Chimes Aviation for 20 172 Skyhawk single-engine piston aircraft. The order includes 11 172R aircraft for immediate delivery and nine turbo-diesel 172 models for delivery later this year. The aircraft will be used for flight training by the Chimes Aviation Academy. The flight school operates from Sagar Airport in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India, and plans to add a second location by October 2008. Chimes Aviation Academy expects to train about 120 students per year at each location and considers this order the first phase of the academy's venture. It expects additional orders this year to cover its growth requirements for 2009.
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Boeing and Jakarta-based Garuda Indonesia announced at the Singapore Air Show that the airline has ordered four 777-300ER (Extended Range) airplanes. The order is valued at more than $1 billion at current list prices. Additionally, Garuda confirmed a previous unidentified order for seven Next-Generation 737-800s placed in 2007, and announced that it has converted 18 of its existing 737-700s on order to 737-800s and six 777-200ERs on order to 777-300ERs. Garuda originally placed an order for six 777-200ERs in 1996 and 18 737-700s in 1999, which were recorded on Boeing's order books. With today's announcement, Garuda's total order now stands at 25 737-800s and 10 777-300ERs jetliners. Additionally, the airline acquired purchase rights for an additional 25 737-800s and 10 777-300ERs.
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Boeing and Jakarta-based Lion Air announced an order for 56 Next-Generation 737-900ER (Extended Range) airplanes. This order, valued at more than $4.4 billion at current list prices, brings Lion Air's combined orders for the 737-900ER to 178. Additionally, the airline acquired purchase rights for an additional 50 737-900ERs. Boeing Commercial Airplanes Vice President, Sales, Dinesh Keskar and Lion Air Founder and President Director Rusdi Kirana announced the order at the Singapore Air Show. "Lion Air, the world's largest operator of the 737-900ER, is leveraging the Next-Generation 737's unmatched economics, reliability and overall value to deliver superior service for its customers," Keskar said. "We look forward to growing our relationship with this most valued customer for many years to come."
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Airbus has selected Hamilton Sundstrand to provide the Electric Power Generation System for the Airbus A350 XWB. Slated to enter service in 2013, the A350 XWB (Extra Wide-Body) is Airbus' newest aircraft model, accommodating between 270 and 350 passengers in three basic versions. Hamilton Sundstrand's A350 XWB electric power generation system (EPGS) comprises four 100 kVA, 230-volt variable frequency generators and four generator control units. Hamilton Sundstrand estimates total program revenue of approximately $1 billion. The EPGS will be designed in Rockford, Ill., and manufactured at various Hamilton Sundstrand plants, including those in Rockford, Phoenix, Ariz., Puerto Rico and the Republic of Singapore.
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CFM International, a 50/50 joint company between Snecma (SAFRAN Group) and General Electric and one of the most successful aircraft engine suppliers in history, has delivered the 18,000th CFM56 engine. At the current production rate, the 19,000th CFM56 engine will be delivered in 2008, as well. The engine, a CFM56-5B, was delivered to Airbus on February 8th to be installed on an Airbus A320 aircraft that will be leased to China's Shenzhen Airlines. Eighteen thousand engines is an incredible milestone, said Eric Bachelet, president and CEO of CFM International. We are certainly very proud of the products we bring to the industry, but we also know we owe the tremendous debt of gratitude to our nearly 500 customers around the world, as well as to Airbus and Boeing, for our continued success and we thank them all for their confidence in our people and in our products.
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CFM International's advanced technology acquisition program, LEAP56 is progressing on schedule. The company completed component and rig tests in 2007 and many more are scheduled for 2008 and 2009. CFM International (CFM) is a 50/50 joint company between Snecma(SAFRAN Group) and General Electric Company. "With LEAP56, we are focusing our efforts on engine architecture, advanced aerodynamics, materials, and environmental technologies to address the major challenges we see in the future," said Eric Bachelet, president and CEO of CFM. "The goals we have set are aggressive by any measure, but we are committed to validating and maturing the technology that will continue to meet our customers expectations over the long term." Compared to the current CFM56 Tech Insertion configuration, CFM is targeting 10-15 percent lower specific fuel consumption; 15 percent lower maintenance costs; 25 percent longer initial on-wing life; a 10-15 decibel reduction in noise; and a 60 percent reduction in NOx emissions. CFM intends to meet all of these goals without any sacrifice in the industry-leading CFM56 reliability standards.
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Embraer received confirmation from EgyptAir Holding Company for six additional EMBRAER 170 aircraft. Deliveries will begin in 2009. The original contract, covering six firm orders and six options (now confirmed), was announced in September 2006. The total value of the new agreement, at list price, is US$ 189 million.
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Bombardier Aerospace announced a 400 nautical mile (NM) (741 km) increase to the non-stop intercontinental range of its high speed Global 5000 business jet. The range increase is standard for all Global 5000 aircraft ordered as of February 1st, 2008 and will be available as an option for aircraft previously ordered, but yet to be delivered, in the second quarter of fiscal year 2009. The significant range extension will be obtained by increasing the Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW) to 92,500 lbs, allowing for a fuel tank capacity increase. "This is fantastic news for our Global 5000 jet customers," stated Eric Martel, vice-president and general manager, Global and Challenger, Bombardier Business Aircraft. "Already offering exceptional speed and performance, the Global 5000 jet now flies you further."
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Philippine-based low-fare carrier Cebu Pacific has taken delivery of its first ATR aircraft, a brand new ATR 72-500. The airline inked last year two contracts with ATR for the purchase of a total of 10 ATR 72-500s, and options for 8 additional aircraft, valued at over 330 US $ million, based upon list prices. Cebu Pacific will take delivery of its firmly ordered ATRs in 2008 and 2009. All the aircraft are configured with 72 seats and feature the state-of-the-art technological innovations in the field of communications and navigation aid tools and passenger comfort.
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Astrium Services and Allsat GmbH network + services have created a joint venture AXIO-NET GmbH to provide precise navigation and positioning services across Europe. Precise navigation and positioning services use satellite navigation signals in combination with terrestrial networks to offer very accurate location data. This data is invaluable to a host of applications and companies – including monitoring and maintainting utility networks, transport infrastructure and geographical features. AXIO-NET will offer the "ascos" service across Germany which currently has a large number of established blue chip users in industrial sectors including agriculture, utilities, transport, forestry, surveying and construction Accurate and reliable location data enable everything from monitoring the performance and integrity of a utilities distribution network or transport system to improved targetting of fertilisers for agriculture.
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Astrium announced that it has entered into a joint-venture with the Cartographic Institute of Catalonia (ICC), the Catalan official mapping agency, and Hisdesat, a space services provider, to create Infoterra Servicios de Geoinformación SA (Infoterra SGSA). Infoterra SGSA will form part of the Infoterra Group, a leading provider of geo-information products and services based on Earth observation data. The new company will expand an already strong European organisation present in France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Hungary. The company will be the exclusive distributor of TerraSAR-X high resolution radar data for the Spanish market. Infoterra SGSA will also develop GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) services, applications for agri-environment and defence & security, and support international mapping projects. Finally, through access to the resources and assets of its three shareholders, Infoterra SGSA will develop datasets from airborne acquisition, as well as radar and optical satellite imagery to deliver a comprehensive range of geospatial products.
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NASA selected Orbital Sciences Corporation of Dulles, Va., to develop and demonstrate commercial orbital transportation services that could open new markets and pave the way for contracts to launch and deliver crew and cargo to the International Space Station. NASA and Orbital Sciences signed a funded Space Act Agreement under the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services Project, known as COTS. The new partner will receive approximately $170 million in federal funds to supplement its privately-funded efforts. Through COTS, NASA is facilitating U.S. private industry development of reliable, cost- effective access to low Earth orbit. The intent is to create a market environment in which commercial space transportation services are available to government and private sector customers.
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Diamond Aircraft received a $19.6 million strategic, repayable investment from the Government of Canada for research and development (R&D) of its D-JET, personal light jet.The company announced it will manufacture the innovative, new all-composite, five-seat aircraft at its facility in London, Ontario, where the D-JET R&D program is based. The Honourable Jim Prentice, Minister of Industry for the Government of Canada, announced the investment during a briefing today at Diamond Aircraft's London facility. The Canadian government's investment project will be funded from the new Strategic Aerospace Defence Initiative (SADI). SADI supports strategic industrial research and pre-competitive development (R&D) projects in the aerospace, defence, space and security (A&D) industries. SADI is managed by the Industrial Technologies Office, a special operating agency of Industry Canada with a mandate to advance leading-edge R&D by Canadian aerospace and defence industries. The Diamond D-JET is poised to be the most attainable personal light jet – offering a very comfortable and stylish design; affordable single-engine, fuel efficient operation; and the safety and reliability of the latest glass panel avionics, engine and aeronautical technology. The $95.2 million D-JET R&D program began in 2003.
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Shandong Bin AO Aircraft Industries (SBAAI), Diamond Aircraft's Chinese production facility has been awarded production authority for the DA40-TDI, Diamond's 4-place, single-engine piston aircraft. The approval, based on the quality procedures in place at Diamond's European manufacturing facility in Austria, was awarded by EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) in cooperation with the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) and authorizes the production of Diamond DA40-TDI aircraft, including complete composite airframes. The purpose-built 400,000 sq ft Binzhou facility is designed to produce up to 1,000 aircraft per year and will deliver 80 Garmin G1000-equipped DA40-TDIs in 2008, for the Asian market, as it ramps up to full production. "Our thanks goes to Diamond Aircraft and SBAAI employees, to the departments for international affairs in Europe and in China, and to the Chinese Air Traffic Control, Air Force and local governments," said Gerard Seebacher, Deputy General Manager of SBAAI. "With the outstanding cooperation of all, we have achieved the production approval in just over a year since our grand opening in December 2006."
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Spanair is about to start auctioning flights on eBay.es, the biggest marketplace for buying and selling via the Internet in Spain. The initiative consists of an auction of up to 15 thousand flights to European and domestic destinations, including the Balearic and Canary Islands. As well as return flights, tickets may be bought only for one way. The first three-day auction will commence on February 22 for flights between February 28 and March 3. There are plans for two further auctions of similar characteristics in March and April. 
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AgustaWestland is pleased to announce the Grand Opening of the new AW139 medium twin helicopter assembly line in Philadelphia (PA) during an event which was attended by over 300 guests and an additional 400 employees. The event underlines AgustaWestland's growing presence in the US and the expansion of its Philadelphia facility. In addition to the assembly of the AW139, the facility is also responsible for AW119 Ke production and supports the expanding fleet of AgustaWestland helicopters in North and South America. The company broke ground on this new 168,000 square foot facility in November 2005. Just over one year later in December 2006 the first AW139 assembled in Philadelphia was delivered to its customer. Giuseppe Orsi, CEO, AgustaWestland said "The decision to expand this facility and establish the second AW139 assembly line in Philadelphia highlights our growing presence in the United States and our commitment to expand and invest in the United States. The AW139 is proving to be the right solution for more and more missions worldwide including offshore transport, VIP transport, EMS, SAR, law enforcement and recently for Homeland Security here in the United States."
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Pratt & Whitney's first PW4000-100" Advantage70 development engine has completed initial ground testing in East Hartford, Conn. The engine, which will deliver 70,000 pounds of thrust for the A330 aircraft family, will begin flight testing on Pratt & Whitney's 747 flying test bed in the second quarter 2008. The first PW4000 engines with the Advantage70 technology upgrade are scheduled to enter into service in 2009. "We are proud to bring our customers closer to realizing the benefits of this technology upgrade for the reliable PW4000-100" engine," said Mike Field, vice president, Pratt & Whitney Operational Commercial Engines. "Advantage70 will offer additional thrust, fuel efficiency and lower maintenance cost for the A330 family. The upgrade also brings significant environmental improvements by reducing CO2 emissions by 650 tonnes per aircraft, per year compared to today's A330 aircraft." The A330-200 and A330-300 passenger aircraft will be the first to fly PW4000-100" engines with Advantage70 in mid-2009. Flyington Freighters, the launch customer for the A330-200F, selected Advantage70 to power their new aircraft, which are scheduled to enter into service in late 2009. The Advantage70 technology upgrade delivers enhanced engine performance, increased thrust, lower fuel consumption, increased durability and reduced maintenance costs.
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Lufthansa Technik has developed in "Cyclean Engine Wash" a new method for washing engines quickly and effectively. Thanks to the new technique, engine effi-ciency is enhanced so that costs are cut, while the environment benefits from lower CO2 emissions. Cyclean is available for every engine type in the Lufthansa Technik portfolio and is offered by the company's Airline Support Teams worldwide. The new engine washes are not just available at Lufthansa Technik stations but can also be performed directly in the field. Regular washing with Lufthansa Technik's new Cyclean Engine Wash product now ensures that the engine's high-pressure compressor works more cleanly and effi-ciently so that on average the operating temperature is lower than on an engine with substantial fouling deposits. Thanks to the improved performance, maintenance costs can be cut throughout the entire life cycle of an engine. On the basis of typical flight data, Cyclean can bring airlines savings of between 18,000 and 180,000 US dollars per aircraft (depending on aircraft and engine type). Unlike conventional methods, with a Cyclean Engine Wash the interval between washes is tailored to the aircraft so as to bring the maximum benefit. The engines cleaned regularly with Cy-clean consume less kerosene and, depending on type, their CO2 emissions are be-tween 0.5 and 0.75 percent lower.
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Delta Air Lines has adjusted its plans for some key international markets in order to accommodate a strong demand outlook for the upcoming summer travel season.  Beginning this June, Delta will: Accelerate the start of New York-JFK to Lyon, France, by beginning service on June 3 instead of the initial date of July 15; increase the frequency of New York-JFK to Cape Town, South Africa, via Dakar, Senegal, from three to four times weekly, starting June 3; increase the frequency of New York-JFK to Malaga, Spain, from three to four times weekly, starting June 4; increase the frequency of New York-JFK to Orly, France, from four to five times weekly, starting June 2, in preparation of daily service beginning in July; increase the frequency on Atlanta to Venice, Italy, from four to five times weekly, starting June 2.
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Raytheon Company's United Kingdom-based subsidiary has been awarded a contract to support the integration and flight trials of the Paveway IV dual mode precision guided bomb onto the U.K. Royal Air Force Tornado GR4/4A. The contract is valued at GBP8.5 million, or about $16.6 million. Raytheon Systems Limited (RSL) is now under contract to integrate Paveway IV on all U.K. strike platforms including Harrier GR9/9A (successfully completed in August 2007), F-35B Lightening II (Joint Combat Aircraft), and Eurofighter Typhoon. Integration on the Tornado GR4 is scheduled for completion in 2010. The program will focus on providing weapon system performance documentation, advice to the development of the aircraft stores management systems, and flight clearance of the weapon onto the aircraft. In support of the flight trials and certification program, RSL will provide BAE Systems with the required trials hardware and weapon system simulators. RSL's partner in the U.S., Raytheon Missile Systems, Tucson, Ariz., will supply the enhanced computer control group, telemetry sub-systems, instrumentation, test equipment and associated support.
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BAE Systems has completed critical fuel testing on the first F-35 Lightning II short take off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant five days ahead of its schedule proving the maturity of both the aircraft and programme. The important fuel checks of the design and build of the aircraft was led by BAE Systems and involved constant testing, 24 hours a day for 13 days, which checked the calibration of the aircraft's fuel gauging systems. Testing took place at Lockheed Martin's Fort Worth plant in Texas where the first STOVL aircraft, BF-1, is currently undergoing a series of tests in preparation of first flight later this year. Tom Fillingham, F-35 Lightning II Managing Director at BAE Systems said: "It was a milestone moment in the programme. This is the first STOVL we've tested, and we wanted to make sure the designs worked and check that the fuel systems had been put together properly."
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BAE Systems has begun assembly of the first major components of Taranis, the £124m Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle (UCAV) that will help inform the UK MoD on the balance and capability of its 'future force mix'. Specialist jigs have now been set up in a dedicated assembly hangar at BAE Systems which will be home to Taranis until it prepares for its first test flights in 2010. Chris Allam, Project Director for Taranis at BAE Systems, said: "The start of assembly on Taranis is significant. It is the first time the UK has built an unmanned air vehicle on this scale with this level of capability. The teamwork around the Programme to date has been first class. This first phase of assembly is scheduled to take us through to the 4th quarter of 2008 before we move in to final assembly when we equip and test the aircraft prior to ground trials at Warton during 2009. Alongside this, our colleagues at Rolls-Royce will also be working on engine bench testing to confirm the performance of the propulsion system."
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Typhoon continues to impress and deliver outstanding operational delivery rates to the five air forces across Europe which are currently flying this leading edge swing-role combat aircraft. By the end of 2007, the combined fleet of 136 in-service Typhoons and seven Flight Test aircraft has accumulated over 35,000 flying hours, demonstrating the tremendous growth of the in-service fleet and unprecedented serviceability levels.  In the UK, the Royal Air Force with BAE Systems support is currently achieving a 94% sortie success rate, with a post sortie serviceability rate of over 65%. 
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The U.S. Navy has decided to integrate Northrop Grumman´s MQ-8B Fire Scout Vertical Takeoff and Landing Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (VTUAV) onto another air-capable ship before it reaches the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). The Fire Scout is still slated to go aboard the LCS, and the Navy remains committed to transitioning the Fire Scout in that direction. The Fire Scout is a key enabler for LCS and significantly contributes to its designated warfare mission areas of anti-submarine warfare, surface warfare and mine warfare. The modular nature of the ship to accomplish the designated mission is perfectly complemented by the Fire Scout and its modular mission payload capability. However, due to changes in the LCS development schedule, the Navy intends to conduct the Fire Scout Operational Evaluation (OpEval) aboard a ship that will be designated by the U.S. Fleet Forces Command within the next thirty days. This will provide the fleet with unmanned aerial system support as soon as possible.
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Northrop Grumman unveiled a new company funded program to develop an Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) at the Singapore Air Show. The Scalable Agile Beam Radar (SABR) will be a full performance fire control AESA derived from proven AESA technology for light tactical aircraft. SABR is being designed for retrofit to existing F-16 aircraft and can be scaled to fit other platforms and mission areas. "SABR is the most recent development in a long line of Northrop Grumman AESA airborne fire control radars," said Chris Sheppard, F-16 Sensor Systems Program Development manager. "SABR will offer all the advantages of an active electronically scanned multi-function array, more than just a radar, but at a lower price than AESA fire control radars now available." "We look forward to supporting the F-16 aircraft worldwide for at least 30 more years, and SABR is our investment towards maintaining the F-16's combat capability. SABR leverages investment in technologies derived from AESAs produced for the U.S. Air Force and our international partners," said Sheppard.
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Gen. John D.W. Corley, Air Combat Command commander, returned 149 grounded F-15s to flight Feb. 15 contingent upon the completion of customized inspections on each of the aircraft's longerons. This "stand-down release" order brings the total number of cleared A, B, C and D-model F-15 aircraft to 429. Nine aircraft, however, will remain grounded due to cracked longerons, the critical support structures that run along the length and side of the aircraft. The ACC release directly applies to ACC F-15 A-D aircraft. ACC also recommends the release and return to flying status of F-15 A-D aircraft assigned to the Air National Guard, Pacific Air Forces, United States Air Forces in Europe, Air Education and Training Command and Air Force Materiel Command. The F-15s are cleared after the completion of any necessary and previously ordered inspections, follow-on engineering technical reviews on each aircraft longeron and any associated repair actions.
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From the 30th of March and throughout the summer season, Spanair will begin operations on the Madrid-Munich route with one daily return flight linking the Spanish Capital to this important European business city. With this new route Spanair increases the existing flights between Spain and the Bavarian Capital, and now offers six daily flights to Munich from Madrid, Barcelona, Bilbao and Valencia.
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Embraer and Australia's Virgin Blue Airlines Pty Ltd. have signed a contract to exercise four purchase rights for EMBRAER 190 jets and to convert another three into options for the same model. The total value of this new deal, at list price, is US$ 150 million, and could reach US$ 262.5 million, if all options are confirmed. This transaction is already included in Embraer's fourth quarter firm order backlog as "undisclosed". Virgin Blue currently operates three EMBRAER 170 jets and will soon receive its first EMBRAER 190. The firm orders of the Australian airline now total 24 aircraft: six EMBRAER 170s and 18 EMBRAER 190s.
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Embraer and the U.S. aircraft leasing company Jetscape, based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., signed an agreement for the acquisition of ten EMBRAER 190 jets, with options for an additional ten aircraft and another ten purchase rights for the same model. The total value of the agreement is US$ 375 million, at list price, and could come to US$ 1.125 billion, if all options and purchase rights are confirmed. Deliveries are scheduled to start in 2009.
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The Korean Coast Guard AW139s will perform Maritime Patrol, SAR and EMS missions and will be equipped with a Forward Looking Infra-Red (FLIR) camera, search/weather radar, rescue hoist, emergency flotation system and a four-axis autopilot with SAR modes.  Speaking after the contract award, Giacomo Saponaro, Senior Vice President International Business Unit, AgustaWestland said "We are delighted the AW139 has been selected by the Korean Government for its maritime patrol helicopter requirement and proud to be able to add the Korean Coast Guard to our growing list of customers. This deal marks the first sale of the AW139 to a government agency in the Republic of Korea and we look forward to building upon this success."
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BAE Systems has installed a remotely operated defensive weapon system aboard a U.S. Air Force CV-22 Osprey in preparation for ground-fire and flight testing. The hardware installation and ensuing fit-check, completed in January, follow the company's recent selection to develop an interim all-quadrant defensive weapon system for the Osprey. The U. S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), which awarded the contract to integrate and test the weapon mission kit on the CV-22, is currently performing ground testing, with flight testing to follow. SOCOM oversaw the successful installation of the system hardware aboard the aircraft in January at Hurlburt Field, Florida. "BAE Systems installed the weapon hardware to confirm the system's suitability to CV-22 and its mission," said Clark Freise, vice president of defense avionics for BAE Systems. "We will work with SOCOM to complete the development of this system and to demonstrate its effectiveness in protecting these aircraft and the Special Operations forces they carry."
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Raytheon was awarded more than $100 million worth of contracts in the first two months of 2008 by countries in the Asia-Pacific region for the combat-proven Paveway family of precision-guided munitions. This comes on the heels of a record-setting $300 million worth of bookings for Paveway in 2007.
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On February 5, 2008, the AASM modular air-to-ground weapon was successfully fired with an infrared homing device from a Mirage 2000 fighter. The firing completes the industrial validation of this second AASM version. Developed and manufactured by Sagem Défense Sécurité (SAFRAN Group), the AASM is in a class of its own worldwide. As a modular weapon, it consists of a guidance kit and a range enhancement kit that can be adapted to standard bomb bodies. As such, it can carry out highly accurate strikes with a range of more than 50km. The tested version integrates a terminal-guidance infrared imager that rounds out the inertial and GPS guidance of the basic version.
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The X PRIZE Foundation and Google announced the first ten teams to register for the Google Lunar X PRIZE, a robotic race to the Moon to win a remarkable $30 million in prizes. This international group of teams will compete to land a privately funded robotic craft on the Moon that is capable of roaming the lunar surface for at least 500 meters and sending video, images and data back to the Earth. Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, Chairman and CEO of the X PRIZE Foundation, announced the teams at Google Headquarters in Mountain View, California. "I'm very pleased to welcome our first 10 fully registered teams to the Google Lunar X PRIZE. Only 6 months after the announcement of this competition, the response has been incredible – we've received over 560 expressions of interest from more than 53 nations. By comparison, at the 6 month point of the Ansari X PRIZE we had only 2 teams registered. I think we're going to see an exciting and very competitive race to the Moon, highlighted by some very creative designs unlike anything we've seen come out of the government space programs. Many of these teams represent some of the most creative and entrepreneurial minds in space exploration today. I wish them all the very best of luck. I can't wait to join with Google in paying the winner," said Diamandis.
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The Lockheed Martin and AgustaWestland HH-71 Team successfully conducted aerial refueling tests between an RAF AW101 Merlin Mk3 helicopter and an Italian Air Force KC-130J tanker, further demonstrating the aircraft's superior capabilities and low-risk approach for the U.S. Air Force's Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR-X) requirement. The successful fuel transfer occurred over the south of England on February 13, marking the first time a British helicopter demonstrated air-to- air refueling capability. The AW101 and RAF test pilots successfully plugged the helicopter's refueling probe to each of the tanker's two wing station drogues on the first attempt. The sorties were flown at 4,000 ft altitude, with both aircraft traveling at 127 knots. All trial objectives were completed with multiple in-flight refueling events successfully achieved up to the maximum Merlin Mk3 flying weight of 34,400 lbs. "To support our win strategy of providing the U.S. Air Force the lowest risk offer, we completed the aerial refueling tests prior to contract award," said Dan Spoor, Lockheed Martin's CSAR-X vice president. "With this proven aerial refueling capability, the aircraft has demonstrated all critical capabilities required for the CSAR mission. The aircraft exceeds the technical readiness level required by the CSAR-X RFP."
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Following the announcement of a £62m contract in December 2007 between MOD and Boeing that will see the support helicopter force boosted by eight more heavy–lift Chinooks, QinetiQ has received several initial direct MOD contracts that could exceed £5m and has now just signed a sub-contracting deal with Boeing worth around a further £11m to undertake a significant proportion of the modification programme at MOD Boscombe Down on Salisbury Plain. The eight Chinook Mk 3 helicopters will be reverted to a similar standard to the conventionally instrumented Mk 2/2A. The necessary Test & Evaluation data and comprehensive testing will also be completed earlier in the programme, to enable an early and successful Release to Service (RTS).
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Continental Airlines announced that it has added 27 aircraft to its firm order positions at Boeing, including eight new 777 and 19 new Next-Generation 737 (737NG) aircraft. The aircraft orders give Continental the flexibility to replace less efficient airplanes and to pursue growth opportunities. This new order brings Continental's total firm commitments to 111 new Boeing aircraft (25 Boeing 787s, eight Boeing 777s and 78 Boeing 737s) for delivery over the next six years. In addition, Continental has options to purchase a total of 102 additional Boeing aircraft. Continental has taken delivery of five 737NG aircraft this year and plans to take delivery of 27 additional 737NG aircraft by the end of 2008.
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Bombardier Aerospace announced that RusLine of Moscow, Russia has become the first airline to operate scheduled flights with a Bombardier CRJ regional jet in Russia, flying a previously-owned 50-seat CRJ100 aircraft. The airline started the scheduled flights by February 14, 2008.
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On 30 January 2008, the EC225 received its type certification from the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA). The way is now cleared for the commercial operation in the United States of this twin-engine aircraft in the 11 metric ton class. The EC225, which performed its maiden flight in November 2000, was developed for passenger transport, particularly offshore and VIP missions, or for public service missions such as search and rescue (SAR). The latest addition to the Super Puma family, this 11 metric ton aircraft, whose maximum takeoff weight is 11.2 metric tons with an external sling load, has a new main rotor system, a reinforced main gearbox, new engines and an innovative integrated control and display system.
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The US Missile Defense Agency announced that all six chemical oxygen iodine laser (COIL) modules have been installed aboard the Airborne Laser (ABL) aircraft. The ABL is being developed as a potential element of the nation's ballistic missile defense system, and is the first to use directed energy to destroy ballistic missiles in their "boost" phase of flight. The six COIL modules form the heart of the ABL's megawatt-class chemical laser. Each module is roughly the size of a Mini Cooper automobile, and altogether the size of a large sport utility vehicle. The COIL sits in the rear of the highly modified 747-400F ABL aircraft.  
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On February 20, 2008, the SaM146 passed the first successful engine run, installed on the Superjet 100 wing at Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Russia. This successful event represents a major milestone of the programme, paving the way to the Superjet 100 first flight. The SaM146 is developed by PowerJet, a joint-venture between Snecma (SAFRAN Group) and NPO Saturn. It is designed specifically for regional jets of the new generation. It features the most up-to-date design based on the experience of the two mother companies, and the close partnership that they have built to bring this programme to success.  
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The first ATR72-500 aircraft under the Meltem III Program arrived at the facilities of the Turkish Aerospace Industries, Inc. (TAI) on February 14, 2008. The contract of the Meltem III program, covering the procurement of a total of 10 ATR72-500 aircraft and their modification into Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) configuration for the Turkish Navy was signed between Alenia Aeronautica S.p.A and TAI on December 21, 2005. Within the framework of the program, in which TAI is the main subcontractor and Alenia is the prime contractor, the modification activities will be carried out at TAI's facilities. TAI's work share includes design of the system installation and structural integration, Kit-A and tools manufacturing, procurement of material and support equipment, structural modification, assembly, Ground Flight Support and Integrated Logistics Support (ILS) activities.  
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Four AgustaWestland Super Lynx 300 maritime helicopters were officially handed over to the South African Navy in a ceremony held at Simon's Town Naval Base, South Africa in the presence of the South African Minister of Defence H.E. Mr M.G Lekota, Chief of the SA Air Force Lt Gen C Gagiano, R.Adm Magalefa acting Chief of SA Navy and Mr H.S Thomo CEO Armscor. John Ponsonby, Senior Vice President Training, AgustaWestland said "Today marks the start of a new era in South African naval aviation and we are all proud that AgustaWestland is playing a major part in the South African National Defence Force's modernisation plans. The Super Lynx is renowned throughout the world as the best small ship helicopter and will perform an important role in securing the territorial and political interests of South Africa."  
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Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched the super high-speed Internet satellite "KIZUNA" (WINDS) by the H-IIA Launch Vehicle No. 14 (H-IIA F14) at 5:55 p.m. on February 23, 2008 (Japan Standard Time, JST) from the Tanegashima Space Center. The launch vehicle flew smoothly, and, at about 28 minutes and 3 seconds after liftoff, the separation of the KIZUNA was confirmed. We would like to express our profound appreciation for the cooperation and support of all related personnel and organizations that helped contribute to the successful launch of the KIZUNA aboard the H-IIA F14.
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Thales announced that it has delivered the 3000th MEGHAS?advanced helicopter avionics suite to a major US operator. Sold to customers on a worldwide level since 1997, Thales' Meghas suite is a high performance avionics suite perfectly adapted to the requirements of today's helicopter missions. Designed for operational performance, modularity and high reliability, MEGHAS. is now baseline on most Eurocopter civil helicopters flying all around the world: EC120, Ecureuil B3, EC130, EC135, EC145 (including Lakota UH-72A), EC155. MEGHAS?is thus the most widespread helicopter avionics suite in the world.
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Thales announced that deliveries of the first production items have begun for the TopDeck?suite selected on the S-76DTM, Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation's next production model of the Sikorsky S-76?helicopter. The delivery follows the selection of the Thales TopDeck??avionics suite for the S-76D just two years ago. Thales is on track with its development and production for this prestigious programme, with a first delivery of equipment being made on 28th December in accordance with Sikorsky's purchasing delivery schedule. A full complement of control panels and sensors was delivered in January and by the end of February the first complete avionics suite will be delivered. This equipment is intended for the first production S-76D helicopter.
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Bell Helicopter made public its enhancement plans for its product line with the announcement that the 206L, 407 and 412 EP will each receive upgrades to maintain their competitive edge in the marketplace. Barry Kohler, Bell's vice president for Commercial Programs said, "Bell Helicopter recognizes that the marketplace is a dynamic environment and we are committed to keeping our products current. We have listened to our customers and have created enhancement programs that respond to their needs." Bell's model 206L will benefit from the introduction of structural and performance upgrades for the fielded aircraft, the model 407 will offer a glass cockpit upgrade option and the model 412 will be the first fielded helicopter to be JAROPS certified.
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Bell Helicopter provided a 429 program update today confirming the performance of its new helicopter and the status of its flight test program. Neil Marshall, Bell's 429 program director said, "The 429 has shown outstanding performance during the flight test program. We currently have three 429 aircraft flying, which have accumulated over 600 flight test hours and each has accomplished all of our goals during the initial phase of testing." The external configuration was frozen in October 2007 and full configuration freeze including software is expected this summer. Aircraft #3, which reflects the closest to final configuration, recently joined the flight test program. Market response has been very strong with over 260 orders from approximately 30 different countries and representing Bell's focus market segments of Law Enforcement (LE), Emergency Medical (EMS) and off-shore have been booked. Certification of the 429 is targeted for late this year.
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The results of Professional Pilot Magazine´s annual customer support survey are in, and for the 14th time in a row, Bell Helicopter has been awarded the number one spot for support and service as rated by customers. Recent acquisitions of McTurbine and SkyBOOKS, and the expansion of existing facilities are a few examples of the efforts that Bell Helicopter has made for delivering even better customer support in 2008.
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The joint NASA and European Space Agency Ulysses mission to study the sun and its influence on surrounding space is likely to cease operations in the next few months. The venerable spacecraft, which has lasted more than 17 years or almost four times its expected mission lifetime, is succumbing to the harsh environment of space. Ulysses was the first mission to survey the space environment above and below the poles of the sun. The reams of data Ulysses returned have forever changed the way scientists view our star and its effects.
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KVH Industries announced that it is entering the commercial aviation market following the award of a $20.1 million contract from a leading in-flight entertainment supplier. Under the terms of the multi- year contract, KVH will design, develop, and manufacture new DIRECTV- compatible satellite TV antennas to be used on narrowbody commercial aircraft operating in the United States. "This new endeavor marks a significant and logical step in KVH's evolution as a leading source for innovative mobile broadband technology on land, sea, and now in the air," said Martin Kits van Heyningen, KVH's chief executive officer. "As KVH has demonstrated in boats and vehicles around the globe over the last 15 years, live satellite television content like sporting events and breaking news is a compelling product for consumers."
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Embraer confirms that it is negotiating with the Argentine government for the purpose of establishing an aviation cooperation plan, as announced, today, after a meeting between Presidents Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, of Brazil, and Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, of Argentina. During the discussions held between Embraer and Argentine government agencies, it was found, on the one hand, that there is the possibility of selling Embraer aircraft to the Argentine market and, on the other, that the Area Material Cordoba (AMC) could be enabled to provide maintenance services and produce parts for Embraer's civilian aircraft. At the present time, there is no commitment signed between the parties, in either case.
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NASA announced the selection of N. Wayne Hale, Jr. as NASA's deputy associate administrator for strategic partnerships. John Shannon, a Mission Management Team chairman and Hale's deputy since November 2005, will succeed him as the Space Shuttle Program manager.
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CHC Helicopter Corporation, the world's largest provider of helicopter services to the global offshore oil and gas industry, and First Reserve Corporation, the leading private equity firm that specializes in the energy industry, today announced that a fund managed by First Reserve has entered into an agreement to acquire CHC. CHC and First Reserve believe that the all-cash transaction, which values the company at an adjusted enterprise value of Canadian $3.7 billion, is the largest-ever buyout in the oilfield services industry. CHC's Chairman of the Board, Mark Dobbin commented, "I'm glad to see that First Reserve recognized the value that was created in CHC over the years, and was able to translate that value into a fair offer for all shareholders. I'm also very pleased to see that First Reserve will carry on CHC's legacy of entrepreneurship, as it builds upon CHC's position as a world class helicopter company." "This partnership will help us realize our growth potential," said Sylvain Allard, President and Chief Executive Officer of CHC. "First Reserve is an investment company with deep knowledge of the energy industry and views CHC as a great investment platform. First Reserve has strong conviction in the merits of the strategy that has led to CHC's success and will work in partnership with us to continue to execute that same plan and achieve our long-term objectives."
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A recently completed flight test program shows that Bell 212 helicopters equipped with the BLR patented FastFin System can carry 1,000 pounds or more beyond current WAT (Weight Altitude and Temperature) chart limits than standard Bell 212s, depending on density altitude. The testing clears the way for a supplemental type certificate (STC), expected to be issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) this spring. After the STC is issued, operators of modified 212s will receive an Aircraft Flight Manual Supplement with new FAA-certified HIGE, HOGE, and WAT charts. BLR  is accepting pre-certification orders at Heli-Expo 2008 in Houston, Texas. Similar testing, now under way on Bell 412s, promise even greater gains in lifting capability. "This is the single most cost effective improvement in the history of the Bell medium platform," said Dave Marone, BLR's vice president of Sales and Marketing. "The dramatic increases in performance and stability will literally transform the day-to-day flying experience for most Bell 212 operators around the world."
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