04.02.2008
FLUG REVUE

2008-02-03 - News in briefNews in brief

Kurzmeldungen<br /> +++<br /> Boeing mechanics began major assembly of the new 777 Freighter at the company's Everett, Wash., facility.

The 777 Freighter will fly farther and provide more capacity than any other twin-engine cargo airplane. Workers took the first step in major assembly for the new 777 Freighter by loading its 97-foot-long wing spar into a tool that automatically drills, measures and installs more than 5,000 fasteners into the spar. The spar is the internal support structure that runs through the full length of the wings and provides support to the wing. The first 777 Freighter will be delivered to launch customer Air France in the fourth quarter of 2008.
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A EUR7 million contract was signed between Hellenic Aerospace Industry's (HAI) CEO Mr. Tassos Philippakos and AgustaWestland's Senior Vice President of procurement & supply chain Mr. Aldo Gianni at HAI's facilities in Tanagra. The new contract concerns the manufacturing of 52 composite rear ramp door assemblies of the Agusta NH -90 Helicopter, {the construction of NH-90 Helicopter is under the companies collaboration "Nato Helicopters Industry (NHI)" and AgustaWestland is a member of this collaboration} and has a horizon of 5 years from contract signature. This agreement constitutes the second major program for HAI's recently inaugurated Composites Manufacturing Facility. The first one was signed between Eurocopter and HAI.
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NASA's S-3 Viking aircraft returned home to NASA's Glenn Research Center after extensive modifications to transform it from a carrier-based military aircraft to a state-of-the-art icing research aircraft. The modifications, implemented over the last two years at the Boeing facility at Cecil Field, Fla., and the U.S. Navy's Fleet Readiness Center (FRC) Southeast, Jacksonville, Fla. will have a dramatic effect on the capability of the aircraft to fulfill its role in NASA's research missions. The S-3 was originally designed as an anti-submarine aircraft for the U.S. Navy and is slowly being phased out of naval operations. Navy communication, navigation and surveillance equipment was replaced or enhanced to provide increased compatibility with current and future airspace requirements both domestically and internationally. "With the addition of state-of-the-art global positioning systems, satellite communications and commercial weather radar, we are ready to deploy the S-3 worldwide in support of research missions," commented Jim Demers, research pilot at Glenn.
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Flight-testing of the A330 MRTT, the first production aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), has continued at a fast pace and initial handling and performance evaluation are as predicted. All aerodynamic tests for the A330 MRTT have been completed successfully, as well as testing of handling quality, performance, loads, autopilot and anemometry. An important feature of the process included flutter testing and the flight envelope has been successfully cleared.
In the next few days, the Civil Certification flight tests with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) are scheduled to be performed. As part of the tests hose stability data gathering has been completed and pre-contact position trials conducted with an F-18 fighter aircraft. "We are on track and proud of the results we are getting, right in line with our expectations. We are becoming a reference in the air-to-air refuelling technology and systems with the market's acknowledgement", said Carlos Suarez, Head of EADS Military Transport Aircraft Division and Chairman of EADS CASA.
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Between 24 and 25 January Alenia Aermacchi carried out an extensive series of flights to qualify the M-346 advanced trainer for in-flight refuelling. The second M-346 prototype carried out the flight tests with the collaboration and support of the Experimental Test Unit (RSV) of the Italian Air Force, using a Tornado equipped with a buddy pod to assess the in-flight refuelling operational capability of the M-346. The tests began with dry contacts, without transferring fuel, and proceeded with full wet contacts in which fuel was transferred. Both Alenia Aermacchi test pilots, Commanders Cecconello and Bucci, took part in the refuelling operations, together with Major Davide Cipelletti of the RSV. All operations were carried out successfully and safely. The results confirm the excellent handling qualities of the M-346, its high controllability and the correct behaviour of the air data system, even in the wake of other aircraft, in all phases of air refuelling operations (closing, pre-contact, contact and disconnect). This confirms the maturity level of the flight control system that integrates these functions. The fuel system was also confirmed to work correctly.
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Northrop Grumman's RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial system program finished 2007 on a high note, exceeding its previous record by delivering five production aircraft to the U.S. Air Force. "Not only did we exceed our production and delivery goals last year, but we have also performed on cost and on schedule for the past two years," said Jerry Madigan, Northrop Grumman vice president of high-altitude long-endurance systems. "That is no easy feat for any program, especially for one as large and complex as the combat-proven Global Hawk, the Air Force's biggest, most-capable unmanned aerial system," said Randy Brown, Global Hawk program director for the 303rd Aeronautical Systems Group at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. "Global Hawk surpassed our expectations further by displaying its strength and versatility during the Southern California wildfires in late October, becoming the newest element in our country's firefighting arsenal." Flying its first civil emergency support sortie, Global Hawk completed three missions ranging from 10 to 14 hours and collected more than 700 images to support firefighters and local authorities. All nine of the Block 10 aircraft have been completed -- seven for the Air Force plus two for the U.S. Navy's Global Hawk Maritime Demonstration (GHMD), as well as two ground stations each consisting of a mission control element (MCE) and a launch and recovery element (LRE). Seventeen aircraft are presently in various stages of production and flight test -- six Block 20s, 10 Block 30s and one Block 40, plus six ground stations.
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The German Federal Office of Defence Technology and Procurement (BWB) has placed the third tranche order worth more than Euro40 million with EADS Defence & Security (DS) for the Operations Support System that prepares, plans and executes missions for the NH90 European transport helicopter. Thus, the German Armed Forces' NH90 and Tiger helicopters will have the same software-based planning system for deployment and logistics with interfaces to the command and control systems of the German Armed Forces. This is a significant step in the direction of using a uniform operations support system for helicopters of the Army Aviation Corps and the Air Force. That also means that the helicopter systems will be interoperable with NATO systems. The German Armed Forces Operations Support System combines tactical operational command and control with technical logistic support for the UH Tiger and NH90 helicopters for the first time. The system increases the efficiency of flight and maintenance operations and enhances at the same time the deployment capabilities of the helicopters. Moreover, this planning system ensures that pilots and maintenance staff have much more operational flexibility.
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Boeing made KC-767 program history Jan. 26 when one if its aircrews successfully transferred fuel from a KC-767 tanker aircraft to an F-15E at night -- the first nighttime refueling ever accomplished on a KC-767. The new tanker, scheduled for delivery to Japan's Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) early this year, departed McConnell Air Force Base, adjacent to the Boeing Integrated Defense Systems Wichita, Kan., facility, and flew a 3-hour and 9 minute flight. Operating in the skies over Missouri, the aircrew connected the KC-767s fifth-generation, fly-by-wire boom (a telescoping tube used to deliver fuel to military aircraft) to an F-15E 11 times during dusk and night conditions and successfully offloaded fuel before returning safely. The company uses F-15E1 under a cooperative research and development agreement with the U.S. Air Force.
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Quest Aircraft announced the first customer delivery of the KODIAK. The completed aircraft was delivered to Spirit Air in a presentation ceremony Friday, January 25, at the company's headquarters in Sandpoint in the presence of the entire Quest team. Accepting the KODIAK were the co-owners of Spirit Air, JoAnn Wolters and Dan Schroeder. Spirit Air was the lead commercial customer for the KODIAK when the company began taking deposits in May 2005. "The first delivery of the KODIAK is truly a momentous occasion for Quest," said Paul Schaller, Quest Aircraft's President and CEO. "This has been a remarkable journey for everyone involved with the program, including our customers like Spirit Air. We appreciate them supporting us from the beginning and through all of the milestones of certification and delivery. We are delighted that they are here today accepting their KODIAK, N838SA."
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Snecma (SAFRAN Group) announced the first, positive results from its Silvercrest core engine demonstrator test program. To date, the core engine has completed 35 hours of combustion testing, achieving all expected performance objectives. The test campaign began last December in Snecma's Villaroche, France test facility, on a dedicated rig for core testing. These tests will enable Snecma to validate the design and core performance as well as overall integration. Tests performed as of today have assessed the overall compressor performance as well as combustor performance and HPT efficiency. Tests also checked the overall dynamic behaviour characteristics.
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MatlinPatterson Global Advisers LLC, the US investment fund, through an affiliate, has signed a firm contract for six A330-200 Freighter aircraft. The company intends for the aircraft to be used by certain of its airline portfolio companies, such as Varig Logistica in Brazil and Global Aero Logistics in the USA. With this agreement the two airlines will become new Airbus operators. This new contract brings firm orders for the recently launched A330-200F to 72 firm orders from eight customers, confirming the strong market demand in the Freighter sector.
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On 28th January an official ceremony took place at the Hungarian air force base at Kecskemét, celebrating the successful delivery of all 14 Gripen aircraft to Hungary. The last 3 aircraft that were delivered last December were handed over by the Swedish Defence Minister Sten Tolgfors to his counterpart Dr. Imre Szekeres. Sweden's Ambassador to Hungary, Cecilia Björner, FMV General Director Gunnar Holmgren and other representatives from the Hungarian and Swedish armed forces were present. With this ceremony, Sweden and FMV have delivered the latest version of Gripen to Hungary according to the contractual time plan. Also implemented according to the time plan is the training of Hungarian technicians and pilots by the Swedish air force, establishment of Swedish technicians and pilots in Hungary as advisors and a comprehensive logistic operation to establish the Gripen system at the air force base in Kecskemét.
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BAE Systems Regional Aircraft has sold an Avro RJ100 regional jet to the Bahrain Defence Force, to bring its fleet of the type to three aircraft. The aircraft (msn E3386) is currently being operated by Finnish carrier Blue 1 and will be delivered to the Bahrain Defence Force in January 2008. It will join the two RJ85s currently operated and, as with the existing fleet, will be converted into a VVIP configuration. The Bahrain Defence Force took delivery of its first Avro RJ85 from the production line in 2001 and added a second pre-owned aircraft several years later.
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General Dynamics European Land Systems announces that its General Dynamics Santa Barbara Sistemas operations in Spain has signed a $64 million (approximately 44 million Euros) contract with the Spanish Army for the supply of Air Land (ER) Spike Missile Systems for the HAD Tiger helicopters. The contract calls for the manufacture of 44 launchers and 200 missiles for the HAD Tiger helicopters. In addition, General Dynamics Santa Barbara Sistemas will provide integrated logistics support (ILS). Work is expected to be completed by 2012.  
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Dirgantara and Merpati Nusantara Airlines have signed an MoU for the contract order of ten units of C212-400, a newly designed EADS-CASA C212-400. Witnessed by State Minister for State Enterprises, Sofyan Djalil, the MoU is signed by Dirgantara President Director, Budi Santoso, and Merpati President Director, Hotasi Nababan at the Ministrial Office on Monday, 28 January 2008.  This light transport version of the aircraft suits the eastern rute of Indonesian archipelago. After the signing, Budi Santoso said that as Dirgantara Indonesia is the only aircraft manufacturer recomemended by EADS to conduct the production and assembly of the light aircraft. Based on earlier EADS-Dirgantara agreement, the production and assembly of CASA-212 will be performed in Dirgantara facilities in Bandung, West Java.  
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BAE Systems has been awarded a $28.1 million U.S. Air Force contract to provide radar warning receiver systems for new-production C-130J transport aircraft. BAE Systems' AN/ALR-56M radar warning receiver detects a broad range of incoming radar signals and identifies and characterizes their origin as friend or foe, alerting the pilot when it detects threats to the aircraft. Under the contract, BAE Systems will provide 28 new units. "The ALR-56M system continues to provide superior electronic protection for U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps, and friendly-nation aircrews throughout the world," said Ken Bond, ALR-56M program manager for BAE Systems. "With this contract, BAE Systems and the Air Force continue a strong partnership to ensure the survivability of our front-line aircraft."
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28 January 2008 saw another significant milestone in the Gripen programme, when the Gripen fleet soared past the 100,000 flying hour mark. With Saab test pilot Mats Thorbiörnson and South African Air Force (SAAF) Colonel Mike Edwards at the controls, South Africa's second Gripen fighter (SA02) made history when during a scheduled flight test sortie, it passed the cumulative 100,000 flying hour mark for the Gripen fleet of new generation fighters. Since the maiden flight of Gripen, the Saab Test team have kept a record of every flight hour logged during Gripen's development programme at Saab, and also all the in-service hours logged by the Swedish Air Force and Gripen's export customers Hungary, the Czech Republic, the UK's Empire Test Pilots' School and South Africa.  
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SAS Scandinavian Airlines has upgraded its premium economy class, Economy Extra, on its long-haul route network. The service class, which is aimed at both business travelers and discerning leisure travelers, now has dedicated crew, an improved meal service and an enhanced attention to detail. "Constant improvement is important in our ambition to keep Economy Extra at the leading edge of the airline industry," says Gunilla Ait El Mekki, Director Product Concepts, SAS International. "We are continuously reviewing our product offerings and we felt it was natural to upgrade certain in-flight aspects. We have focused both on the quantity and quality of food, as well as how we present it."
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NIKI Luftfahrt GmbH announces a follow-on order for additional nine A320 Family aircraft. The order will raise NIKI's fleet to 20 A320 Family aircraft. The successful Vienna-based low cost carrier NIKI will employ the new Airbus jets on routes to European cities and holiday destinations. The airline, founded in 2003, operates in partnership with Air Berlin, which is another major Airbus customer. "We placed this additional order after four years of successful Airbus aircraft operations. The additional A320 Family aircraft will substantially increase our low-cost services out of Vienna", says Niki Lauda, President of NIKI. "The Airbus aircraft underpins our strategic objectives on quality, operational economics and comfort. Extra comfort levels are guaranteed through the new Airbus cabin, enhancing customer satisfaction. That is our top priority."
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The number of Very Light Jets (VLJs) is set to soar in Europe, with up to 100 additional aircraft coming into service each year and 700 in operation by 2015, according to recent research from EUROCONTROL. To ensure that this growth can be handled safely and efficiently, the Agency has launched a new forum - the European VLJs Integration Platform (VIP) - to propose solutions for integrating VLJs into the European air traffic system. A number of large VLJ manufacturers and operators participate in the VIP. EUROCONTROL's studies show that there are about 440 VLJs currently on order for operation in Europe. Of these, at least 230 are expected for delivery by the end of 2010. The majority of VLJs are expected to be used for air-taxi type work. Typically, this would result in each aircraft making an average of 2 to 3 flights a day, adding 200 to 300 extra flights per day each year. "The growth in VLJs adds a significant extra dimension to the complexity of air traffic in Europe," said Alex Hendriks, EUROCONTROL's Deputy Director of ATM Strategies. "VLJs have very different speeds and cruising levels from current commercial jet aircraft, so we need to conduct an impact assessment to see how they will affect the network as a whole. We also need to assess the technical requirements for onboard systems, including examining whether there is a requirement for ACAS."
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Atlantic Airways, flag carrier of the Faroe Islands and based in Sorvagur, has signed a firm contract for one Airbus A319 plus one option, and becomes a new Airbus customer. Atlantic Airways' Airbus A319s will feature a comfortable single-class cabin layout. The aircraft will be operated on the airlines' network between the Faroes and Denmark as well as to other growth destinations in Europe.
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International Launch Services (ILS) of the United States, Thales Alenia Space of France and Al Yah Satellite Communications Co. (Yahsat) of the United Arab Emirates today announced an agreement to launch a Yahsat spacecraft on a Proton Breeze M vehicle. A European consortium of Thales Alenia Space and Astrium was contracted in August 2007 for the overall Yahsat communication system and is building two large Yahsat multipurpose satellites based on the Astrium Eurostar 3000 bus. Yahsat, which is owned by Mubadala Development Company, will provide commercial and government services across the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Southwest Asia. Thales Alenia Space was contracted for the Proton launch on behalf of Yahsat.
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Europrop International, manufacturer of the engine that will power the new Airbus A400M, receives today its EASA Design Organisation Approval (DOA). The Approval is handed over by Francesco Banal, Director of Approvals and Standardisation, at a ceremony in the Agency's headquarters in Cologne, Germany. The DOA process started in 2003 and was completed last November, after a comprehensive assessment of the organisation by the Agency's experts. The EASA DOA confirms an organization's ability to design aviation products according to European safety standards and establishes a global quality framework for the management, responsibilities, procedures and resources needed for their certification.
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The Boeing Company's 2007 net income increased 84 percent to a record $4.1 billion, or $5.28 per share, up from $2.2 billion, or $2.85 per share, in 2006 on higher commercial airplane deliveries, strong growth in defense earnings, companywide productivity improvements, and certain charges recorded in 2006 (Table 1). Revenue rose 8 percent to a record $66.4 billion, while the operating margin expanded to 8.8 percent driven by double-digit margins in its commercial airplanes and defense businesses. Boeing raised its 2008 earnings per share guidance to between $5.70 and $5.85, as productivity gains are being realized ahead of earlier plans. "Our 2007 results demonstrate the kind of quality financial performance we can achieve through our simultaneous focus on growth and productivity," said Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Jim McNerney. "We added substantial backlog, made major efficiency gains, and executed well on our production and services programs. Despite some development program challenges, we are a strong company growing stronger, and we expect continued improvement in our financial results in 2008 and beyond." Full-year operating cash flow grew 28 percent to a record $9.6 billion, reflecting strong operating earnings, higher commercial airplane orders, and a decrease in working capital requirements. Free cash flow* increased 35 percent to a record $7.9 billion (Table 2). Total company backlog at year-end reached a record $327 billion, up 31 percent in the last twelve months driven by commercial airplane orders and defense program wins.
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AVIC II, through its subsidiaries Changhe Aircraft Industries Corporation and Shanghai Xinsheng Aviation Industry Investment and Development Company, today announced it is joining Shanghai Sikorsky as a shareholder. Shanghai Sikorsky is a civil aerospace joint venture company whose other shareholders are Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. and Shanghai Little Eagle. Shanghai Sikorsky, established in 2003 by Sikorsky and Shanghai Little Eagle, focuses on nurturing the Chinese civil helicopter market and serving its growing vertical lift needs. The venture's business includes civil helicopter sales and support, including services and training, and general aviation services. With Changhe and Xinsheng becoming shareholders, Shanghai Sikorsky will soon expand its business to provide supply chain management services and to serve both Sikorsky's and Changhe's civil fleet in China.
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With the introduction of the summer flights schedules, Lufthansa is commencing its first flights to Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea, from 1 April 2008. Utilising the existing connection from Frankfurt to Abuja (Nigeria), the airline will stop off en-route at Malabo. Lufthansa will operate the route thrice-weekly with an Airbus A330-300. Malabo is alongside Luanda (Angola) the second new African destination to be added to the coming Lufthansa summer timetable. As in Angola, the economy in Equaorial Guinea is largely dependent on the production and export of oil.
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Lt. Col. James "Flipper" Kromberg of the U.S. Air Force became the first military service pilot to evaluate the F-35 Lightning II, taking the aircraft through a series of maneuvers Wednesday on its 26th flight. Kromberg took off from Lockheed Martin's Fort Worth plant at 11:54 a.m. CST, flew the plane to 6,000 feet and checked handling qualities at 15-degrees angle of attack. He then climbed to 10,000 and 12,000 feet assessing the up-and-away flight-control response. Kromberg also tested the F-35's engine performance and formation-flying characteristics.
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Lufthansa and the Vereinigung Cockpit pilots' union reached agreement at the pay negotiations for around 4,400 pilots employed by Deutsche Lufthansa AG and Lufthansa Cargo AG. Under the terms of the accord, cockpit crews are to receive a pay increase of 2.5 per cent backdated to the expiry of the previous pay agreement on 1 October 2007 and a further three per cent from 1 January 2008. The agreement runs for 18 months up to 31 March 2009. The pay rise works out over a year at close to four per cent. It was additionally agreed at the talks that the existing system of variable remuneration dependent on growth and results should be adjusted to the Group's improved earnings situation. The pilots are also to receive a one-off payment amounting to 25 per cent of a monthly salary in recompense for the onerous workload and additional working hours the cockpit crews were called on to perform in face of corporate growth.
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Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber, Austrian Saudi-Arabian businessman and owner of hotels in Vienna (including the recently opened luxury hotel 'The Ring'), has announced his interest in acquiring a strategic participation for approximately EUR 150 million in Austrian Airlines AG. Intensive negotiations are currently underway, although no resolutions have yet been passed. The Management Board will provide the Supervisory Board with comprehensive details of the situation at the next Supervisory Board meeting on 12 March 2008. Such investment could be realized by way of shareholders resolution on a capital increase excluding the subscription rights. One precondition for such an investment is the safe-guarding of an Austrian majority within the syndicate managed by ÖIAG. A strategic investment of this nature would be to support the expansion strategy of Austrian Airlines AG in the Middle East. At the same time, the companies will strive to conclude a cooperation agreement in the tourist sector, where the corporate group JJW Hotels & Resorts, belonging to the investor, is active.
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Under the designation D-SIM-NG, Diamond Simulation has developed the next generation of their flight simulators for Diamond aircraft which is to be brought to market shortly. The new proprietary P2/P3 software replicating aircraft systems, radio communication as well as navigation and flight instruments is even more powerful and complements the original Garmin G1000 glass cockpit integrated in the simulator. The Tropos 1000 visual system developed by CAE meets all Full Flight Simulator requirements valid for airline pilot training. The visual system is supplemented by True Environment, CAE's ATC simulation program, by means of which radio communication between air traffic controllers and pilots both on the ground and in flight can be simulated very realistically. This program will be available in the fourth quarter of 2008.
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