01.06.2009
FLUG REVUE

News Update 1 June 2009 - News in Brief

Our weekly news roundup from around the aerospace industry.

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At the regular annual general meeting for shareholders in Frankfurt-Hoechst, Fraport executive board chairman Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Bender announced that "in 2008 we reached our goals for key financial indicators despite all the difficulties resulting from the beginning worldwide economic crisis" - even though the Fraport Group's revenue declined by 9.8 percent to EUR2.1 billion, due to the divestiture of the wholly-owned ICTS Europe security subsidiary. However, Group earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA), or operating results, reached a new record level of EUR600.7 million, up 3.5 percent year-on-year. Primarily because of higher interest expenditures, Group profits slipped below the 2007 figure to EUR180.2 million, as already announced. The executive and supervisory boards are recommending that shareholders receive a dividend of EUR1.15 per share again for the 2008 fiscal year - the third consecutive year for this high dividend payout. The dividend yield is rising by 3.7 percent to 2.1 percent year-on-year. Bender is convinced that "following the current economic slump the global aviation industry will return to its long-term growth path." Over the past decades, a consistent pattern has emerged following crises situations: from the oil crises of the 70s and 80s to the Gulf and Iraq wars, to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001; crisis-related traffic declines are always followed by an over-proportionate recovery phase. "Every time, the air transportation industry has reemerged strongly on its globally oriented long-term growth path," said Bender. No one doubts that globalization and internationalization of the division of labor will further intensify in the coming years. "That's why the world economy needs an efficient global air transportation industry that links the numerous growth centers of the world together." Therefore, Fraport's CEO described the launch of Frankfurt Airport's capacity expansion in early 2009 as absolutely indispensable, despite the temporary decline in traffic figures. "For several years now, FRA's capacity constraints have been limiting our development and endangering the long-term economic perspectives of the Frankfurt/Rhine-Main region," said Bender. Without this sustainable capacity expansion, Fraport would be threatened by a loss of vital market share when the expected economic recovery occurs.
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The Chief Executive Board of Star Alliance has accepted the membership application of Aegean Airlines, the largest airline in Greece. This means SAS soon can offer its customers 28 new destinations in Greece. SAS currently operates 10 flights a week from both Copenhagen and Stockholm, which will connect smoothly to Aegean's wide network. Aegean's destinations include the islands of Corfu, Kefalonia, Kos, Mykonos, Rhodes and Santorini, amongst others. Aegean Airlines has operated for 10 years and operates a fleet of 31 aircraft covering a total of 47 domestic and international routes on 200 daily flights. Specifically 23 routes in Greece are covered, as well as a further 24 international routes. In 2008, Aegean became the largest Greek airline in terms of passenger numbers.
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Russia's leading domestic airline, S7 Airlines, is to join oneworld. After being unanimously elected on board by the grouping's existing ten member airlines, which include some of the best and biggest names in the industry, S7 will become part of oneworld, offering the alliance's full range of services, benefits and fares, during 2010. As a first step, its network will be added from 1 June to the Global Explorer round-the-world fare offered by all oneworld member airlines and selected carriers that are not part of the alliance. British Airways will support S7 through its 18-month alliance implementation programme, as its oneworld sponsor. Its addition to oneworld will link one of the most extensive networks covering Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States, with oneworld's unrivalled global network, as the only alliance including airlines based on every continent. S7 serves 72 destinations worldwide - 38 of them in Russia.  It will add 54 cities to the oneworld map - 35 of them in Russia.  It will bring eight countries onto the alliance's network - Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
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Boeing announced the successful first flight of a B-52 Stratofortress upgraded with Combat Network Communications Technology (CONECT), a modification that equips the legendary B-52 with 21st-century situational awareness and mission flexibility. The aircraft made the 3.5-hour flight on May 21 from the Boeing Integrated Defense Systems facility in Wichita. The CONECT modification installs a digital communications infrastructure in the B-52 that allows the aircraft to communicate with the Air Force's digital communications network and tie in with Air Force command and control centers, ground forces and other platforms. This first aircraft will leave Wichita in June to go into flight test at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. All 76 aircraft in the fleet will receive the CONECT modification after the flight test program is complete.
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Boeing announced that three KC-767J aerial refueling tankers recently achieved Initial Operational Capability (IOC) and have been placed in an active air wing in the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF). “This is a historic achievement for the nation of Japan and a significant accomplishment for Boeing's tanker program,” said Dave Bowman, vice president and general manager of Boeing Tanker Programs. “These wide-body KC-767Js are now providing the JASDF with its own aerial refueling capability for the first time in history, while improving its ability to deliver passengers or cargo.” Officials with the Japan Ministry of Defense and JASDF officially designated the KC-767J tankers "operational" during an April ceremony at Komaki Air Base, Japan, after the aircraft successfully completed a yearlong technical evaluation. The third of four KC-767J tankers ordered by Japan was ferried from Boeing's Wichita, Kan., modification facility and delivered on time and within budget to the JASDF in March. The first two tankers were delivered to Japan in February and March 2008.
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Rolls-Royce has been awarded a contract worth $80 million by the U.S. Air Force to provide AE 2100D3 spare engines and parts to power Lockheed Martin C-130J military transport aircraft for the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps, the Royal Norwegian Air Force and the Indian Air Force. Dennis Jarvi, President Defense North America for Rolls-Royce, said: “Rolls-Royce is proud of its long-standing relationship with our Air Force and Marine Corps customers and are pleased that they continue to demonstrate their confidence in the AE 2100D3 engine.”
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The Engine Alliance (EA) shipped the first GP7200 propulsor to Emirates on May 21. The delivery marks the first time the Engine Alliance and member company Pratt & Whitney have delivered a propulsor, rather than a full engine, to any airline. "Shipping a propulsor is an innovative way to supply spare engines," EA chief engineer Paul Smith explained. "The fan module has a very long life, so it can be reused with a new propulsor to provide a full spare engine. It's a huge cost savings for the customer." According to EA industrial director Marios Evripidou, delivering spare propulsors in lieu of spare engines also helps minimize an airline's inventory. "They don't have to keep as many unused fans in inventory because they can reuse the ones they already have," he said. Shipping propulsors is easier than shipping a full engine, too, Evripidou said. Because they're smaller, they can be transported on most wide-body freighter aircraft. "It gives the customer great transportation flexibility," he said.
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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released international traffic data for April showing a 3.1% decline in passenger demand and a 21.7% fall in cargo demand compared to April 2008. The average passenger load factor stood at 74.4%. While April's 3.1% passenger demand drop was a clear improvement compared to the -11.1% fall in March, this improvement should be viewed with caution. Easter holidays, which fell in the month of April, positively skews the data by at least 2%. Traffic gains were at the expense of yields in most regions. And preliminary data for May suggests a renewed double digit decline, at least for European airlines. Freight demand appears to have found a solid floor with a fifth consecutive month at more than 20% below previous year levels. “We are not out of the woods yet,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's Director General and CEO. “The demand improvements that we saw in April are welcome. But the 3.1% decline in passenger demand still outstripped the 2.5% cutback in capacity. There is no improvement in revenues as yields continue to fall. And freight remains at shockingly low levels. The worst may be over. However, we have not yet seen any signs that recovery is imminent,” said Bisignani.
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Bristow Group announced that it has acquired 42.5% of Lider Aviacao Holding S.A. 'Lider', Brazil's largest provider of helicopter and executive aviation services. Founded in 1958, Lider operates the largest helicopter fleet in Brazil, with 46 helicopters serving the oil and gas industry, representing approximately 50% of the oil and gas market in Brazil. Its helicopter operation is the most profitable business segment and has been growing revenues at a compounded annual rate of over 22% in the past three years. Lider's fleet has 46 helicopters and 29 charter aircraft. At December 31, 2008, there were approximately 1,480 employees. Lider generated approximately $305 million in revenue and $33 million in Adjusted EBITDA in 2008 and $12.5 million in Adjusted EBITDA in the March 31, 2009 quarter on $60 million in revenue. Adjusted EBITDA, which is not a measure determined in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles ("GAAP"), is defined and reconciled to reported net income at the end of this press release. "We view Brazil as the next 'North Sea' in terms of its potential for growth in offshore services requirements. This investment in Lider represents our most attractive entry point into a new market that is a critical part of our long-term growth strategy. In addition to earnings from our investment, we will be leasing aircraft to Lider in response to the demand for new helicopters," said William E. Chiles, Bristow Group President and Chief Executive Officer. "The Brazilian offshore deepwater market is thriving as a result of several world-class oil discoveries and government funding initiatives to develop those discoveries. It is our objective to be a leader in each market we serve and our equity ownership investment in Lider gives Bristow a solid position in this very important market," he added.
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Mundus Group and AirStar announced to the focusing of their efforts on commercializing AirStar's UAV Aerial Surveillance packages with training courses and technology that allow autonomous flight for 2 hours of stealth operation at 100 to 7,500 feet altitude, above city attractions, busy intersections, airports, beaches and events while providing high definition real time video to laptops and monitors anywhere. The strategic partnership will allow the ability to focus on license plate size objects and track moving or fixed objects in flight while relaying GPS pin-point accuracy coordinates. The Company plans to have demonstrations available. Air Drone is a new company dedicated to the cutting edge of VTOL UAVs. Air Drone's parent company, the Mundus Group, announced the strategic partnership with AirStar who is the co-developer and will be co-building the next generation of UAVs under the Mundus Group's new division, Air Drone Inc. and as a dedicated aerial surveillance system and service provider for military and government agencies.
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The concluding review meeting of representatives from the customer nations France, Germany and Spain and EADS Defence & Security (DS) has officially marked the end of the risk reduction study for the trinational Advanced UAV. This was announced on 28 May by DS, which conducted the trilateral study. "The common understanding between the partners for the joint Advanced Unmanned Aerial Vehicle for ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) missions, as described in our study, is another stable pillar of European security", said Nicolas Chamussy, Senior Vice President for Mission Air Systems within the integrated DS business unit Military Air Systems (MAS). "The Advanced UAV project, once launched soon, will give our customers operational flexibility, a permanent awareness picture on critical security hot spots home or abroad, and autonomy from third parties' equipment and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) results", Chamussy stated. "For the Risk Reduction Study, which we received in late 2007, a joint team of dedicated engineers from DS in France, Germany and Spain was working very hard to deliver a tailor-made solution satisfying the common needs for an Advanced UAV for the Armed Forces of France, Germany and Spain. The close dialogue with the customers around the Advanced UAV Battle-lab has proved a unmatched tool to harmonise requirements and optimise the solution”, said Chamussy. “Teamed with our partners for the radar, led by Thales in France, together with our business unit Defence Electronics, and Indra in Spain, the Advanced UAV will incorporate the most modern, modular sensor suite and data links, which are vital for sustainable and reliable ISTAR missions, which contemporary off-the-shelf platforms never can achieve. The twin-jet propulsion system of the Advanced UAV will not only supply ample on-board energy for the satellite communications, sensors and data links, but also safeguard secure flight conditions in the densely populated skies over Europe”, Chamussy explained. “I firmly believe that we fully understood our customers' requirements, including their tight timeframe necessitated by the requirement for then state-of-the-art ISTAR equipment, and we are fully committed to make the programme progress in line with our customers”, he concluded.
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Embraer delivered the 100th Super Tucano aircraft at the Company's headquarters in São José dos Campos, State of São Paulo, Brazil. The Brazilian Air Force (Força Aérea Brasileira – FAB) established the technical-operational requisites for this advanced turboprop, designated as the A-29 by the FAB, which has ordered 99 aircraft, and now receives this commemorative unit. Out of a total of 169 units sold, so far, Embraer has orders from the Air Forces of Chile, the Dominican Republic, and Ecuador. The Super Tucano currently operates successfully with the Brazilian and Colombian Air Forces on air space surveillance and operational missions. The Super Tucano, in its single- and two-seat versions, entered service with the FAB in December 2003, to be used both to train pilots and to fly operational missions. This flexibility makes the Super Tucano the only aircraft in production, in the world, that is capable of handling advanced pilot training, surveillance, and counter-insurgency missions, including at night, with the aid of night-vision goggles, and electro-optical and infra-red sensors. It also operates on rustic airfields and with a wide variety of qualified external load configurations.
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With the ever-increasing military demand to reduce the size and weight of unmanned aircraft while lengthening flight times, Air Force Office of Scientific Research officials here are funding a project to integrate solar power cheaply and easily into the base materials used to build them. Dr. Max Shtein and his team at the University of Michigan are investigating the energy harvesting potential of many different device applications, including thin film solar cells reshaped and coated onto long continuous filaments, or fibers. When such organic semiconductor coated fibers are woven into a fabric system, the resulting textile can be used not only to form the structural make-up of the unmanned aircraft, but also to generate the electricity to power it. To date, Doctor Shtein and his team have demonstrated small, stand-alone prototypes that strongly suggest that this type of application is possible. Integrating the solar cells in the desired configuration; however, will require building more sophisticated fabrication equipment. They are currently working on a customized coating apparatus for making large quantities of fiber-based energy conversion devices.
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ESA's gravity mission GOCE has achieved a first in the history of satellite technology. The sophisticated electric propulsion system has shown that it is able to keep the satellite completely free from drag as it cuts through the remnants of Earth's atmosphere - paving the way for the best gravity data ever. Volker Liebig, ESA's Director of Earth Observation Programmes commented, "I am very pleased to see another world premier by GOCE, after having already demonstrated the first gradiometer technology ever flown in space." Launched on 17 March and currently progressing through the commissioning phase, GOCE (Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer) is set to measure Earth's gravity field with unprecedented accuracy. However, to do this means that the satellite has to orbit Earth as low as possible where the gravitational signal is stronger, but also where the fringes of the atmosphere remain.
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US Air Force officials helped launch an Air Force Minotaur I rocket launches into orbirt carrying the Air Force Research Laboratory's TacSat-3 satellite, NASA's PharmaSat microsatellite and NASA's CubeSat Technology Demonstration at 7:55 p.m. EDT May 19 from Wallops Flight Facility, Va. This mission marked the third launch of a Minotaur I launch vehicle from NASA Wallops and the eighth Minotaur I mission. Launch officials declared the launch event successful after confirming spacecraft fairing and payload separation, and on-orbit insertion. TacSat-3 is the first mission whose payload selection process was based on recommendations from combatant commanders around the world. As the primary funding agent for TacSat-3, the Operationally Responsive Space Office staff is responsible for facilitating the transition of the TacSat-3 technology to operational capabilities.
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International Launch Services (ILS) announced that it will launch the SkyTerra 2 satellite. This is the second of two satellite launches that ILS has been awarded from SkyTerra, following the selection of ILS in May 2007 to launch SkyTerra 1 on an ILS Proton launch vehicle. SkyTerra 2 is a Boeing 702 satellite, weighing 5.4 metric tons and is under construction by Boeing Satellite Systems, in El Segundo, California. ILS and Khrunichev are implementing a schedule to support a launch in late 2010.
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The first of the three Indian Air Force AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System) platform arrived in India from Israel today. The giant IL-76 configured in its new avatar was escorted by three Mig-29 and Jaguar aircraft each that took off from an advance fighter airbase of South Western Air Command (SWAC). The fighter formations caught up with the AWACS mid-air and escorted it as it entered the Indian FIR (Flight Information Region), till safe touchdown at the Jamnagar airbase, close to midday. Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, SWAC, Air Marshal KD Singh, Air Defence Commander Air Vice Marshal P Singh and the AOC Jamnagar, Air Commodore C Hari Kumar and air warriors of the airbase welcomed the crew of the AWACS aircraft that included the Commanding Officer of the first AWACS squadron, Group Captain B Saju. Their maiden touchdown on Indian soil also marks the first landing of the AWACS in an IAF airbase.
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On 19th May 2009, the first of 12 Yak-130s ordered by the Russian AF conducted its maiden flight. The aircraft is due for handing over to the customer after acceptance tests at “Sokol” aviation plant. The sortie was performed by a crew of test-pilots Roman Taskaev, Hero of Russia, and Sergey Kara. In the course of a successful 32-min flight the crew tested the aircraft stability and controllability, its take-off/landing performance. All the systems performed impeccably. Yak-130 was selected as a base aircraft for initial and advanced training of the AF pilots. The aircraft is intended for flight and combat training of the pilots as well as combat employment in normal and adverse weather conditions to destroy aerial and ground targets. Total combat load at 9 suspension points may reach 3,000 kgs.
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Series production for the Bombardier CRJ NextGen regional jet family has started. RUAG hands over to Bombardier, during a ceremonial act at the site of Oberpfaffenhofen, the first aft fuselage section from series production for the CRJ NextGen regional jet family. "This day is a reason to celebrate. Series production for the Bombardier CRJ NextGen regional jet family is now ready to start, after preparatory work of one year, and today we can hand over to Bombardier the first aft fuselage section," says delightedly Dr. Viktor Haefeli, managing director of RUAG Technology and responsible for the "Aerostructures" business unit. One year ago RUAG extended its collaboration with the aircraft manufacturer Bombardier and took responsibility for the overall global supply chain of series production for the aft fuselage sections of the Bombardier CRJ NextGen regional jet family. This contract comprises the production of parts and assemblies as well as the final assembly of the aft fuselage section. The majority of parts and large components is produced by RUAG in its own facilities in Oberpfaffenhofen (D), Emmen and Geneva (CH). From 2011 on, this contract will provide jobs to approx. 160 people in Germany and Switzerland.

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A key milestone in the £899m MOD project to develop the Watchkeeper Unmanned Air System has been reached on schedule. QinetiQ, working closely with other stakeholders, has delivered the necessary infrastructure and facilities at ParcAberporth, Ceredigion, South Wales, as part of its ongoing £5m support contract – which means the Watchkeeper trials programme can commence here in the Autumn. QinetiQ has established secure office accommodation plus enhanced other aspects of technical support and facilities at the existing UAV 'Centre of Excellence', originally created by the then Welsh Development Agency on the site of the former RAF Aberporth. Other key stakeholders in the Watchkeeper programme include the MOD's Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) Unmanned Air Systems Project Team, the Welsh Assembly Government, West Wales Airport and Thales, as the prime contractor.
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Ministers in charge of space activities representing the Member States of the European Space Agency and the European Union met in Brussels for the Sixth Space Council. Today's Council was jointly chaired by Miroslava Kopicová, the Czech Republic´s Minister of Education, on behalf of the EU Competitiveness Council, and Mariastella Gelmini, Italian Minister for Education, University & Research and current Chair of the ESA Council at Ministerial Level. Günter Verheugen, Vice-President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Enterprise & Industry, and Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA Director General, also took part. The Space Council recalled the outstanding results of the ESA Council meeting at Ministerial level of November 2008 and the EU Competitiveness Council conclusions regarding the GMES programme of December 2008, recognising the progress made on the increased coordination of space and security-related activities between key European Space Policy players. Ministers called for action to mobilise existing innovation support mechanisms to ensure cross-fertilisation of innovation and ideas between space and non-space sectors, and between space industry, leading research organisations and universities. This followed the conclusions of the European Council of 11-12 December 2008 in support of the European Economic Recovery Plan and its call for the launch of a European Plan for Innovation which should also include space technology and services derived from it, as one of the main technologies of the future.
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A domestic network in India is to be offered by a round-the-world fare for the first time with India's market-leading airline Kingfisher Airlines participating from Monday (1 June) in Global Explorer, which offers flights on all members of the oneworld alliance and some selected other airlines. Global Explorer already includes a number of airlines with no other oneworld links - Aer Lingus, Air Pacific, Alaska Airlines and its Horizon Airlines sister, and Gulf Air.  Flights carrying the Qantas code but operated by Air Tahiti Nui, Jetstar, South African Airways and Vietnam Airlines are included too. The fare also covers all routes offered by oneworld's existing member airlines - American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LAN, Malév Hungarian Airlines, Qantas and Royal Jordanian and some 20 affiliated carriers, including LAN Argentina, LAN Ecuador, LAN Peru, China's Dragonair and South Africa's Comair.  Mexicana and its affiliate MexicanaClick also participate, ahead of joining oneworld later in 2009.
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NASA has signed a $306 million modification to the current International Space Station contract with the Russian Federal Space Agency for crew transportation and related services in 2012 and 2013. The firm-fixed price modification covers comprehensive Soyuz support, including all necessary training and preparation for launch, crew rescue, and landing of a long-duration mission for six individual station crew members. Space station crew members will launch on four Soyuz vehicles: two in spring 2012 and two in fall 2012. Their landings are scheduled for fall 2012 and spring 2013, respectively. The contract modification also provides for crew post-flight rehabilitation, medical exams and services.
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Scientific testing has found that up to 1.4 tonnes of fuel can be saved on a twelve-hour long haul flight powered by a 50/50 blend of second generation jatropha sustainable biofuel and traditional Jet A1. The remarkable result is one of the key findings from the Air New Zealand Boeing 747-400 Rolls-Royce powered test flight in December last year. Air New Zealand General Manager Airline Operations and Chief Pilot Captain David Morgan, announced the scientific findings from the test flight today at the Eco-Aviation Conference in Washington. The test flight, a joint initiative between Air New Zealand, Boeing, Rolls-Royce and Honeywell's UOP, was carried out on 30 December as part of commercial aviation's drive for more sustainable air travel for future generations and used the highest blend of any type of biofuel in a test flight. The biofuel test programme included extensive on-the-ground and inflight tests of the engine and aircraft components. During the comprehensive flight test, analysis was carried out at various altitudes and under a variety of operating conditions to measure the biofuel's performance through the engine and fuel systems. A report prepared by Air New Zealand, Boeing and Rolls-Royce to analyse the data collected throughout the flight says the biofuel selected has demonstrated the potential for use as a drop in replacement to Jet A1 at a blend ratio of up to 50:50. This material now needs to be submitted to the rigorous industry evaluation and approval protocol to enable it to be certified for everyday use.
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Singapore Technologies Aerospace announced its Panama facility has redelivered its first Embraer E-190 aircraft to Copa Airlines after maintenance. The aircraft was inducted at Panama Aerospace Engineering (PAE) for a C check. This induction follows a certification of a new E-190 capability at the facility in April 2009. In February this year, PAE also added a new A320 capability, and has been FAA-certified to serve A320 operations in the region. PAE complements ST Aerospace's facilities in the US - ST Mobile Aerospace Engineering (MAE) in Mobile, Alabama, and San Antonio Aerospace (SAA) in San Antonio, Texas.
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The results for the 2008 trading year demonstrated, where need be, that the airline industry is heavily dependent on the prevailing economic situation. LuxairGroup was thus not spared the effects of the fluctuations of the world's economy in 2008. Ist operating earnings fell from 5.51 million euro in 2007 to 1.55 million euro in 2008. Had it not been for the strategic repositioning carried out as part of the “Building a New Airline” reorganisation programme, LuxairGroup would have ended the 2008 trading year with a loss of around 20 million euro. The turnover of LuxairGroup was up, from 403.88 million euro in 2007 to 416.72 million euro in 2008. The 2008 trading year was initially marked by the meteoric rise of oil prices. This vertiginous rise had a significant dampening effect on flight operations, but also and above all affected the LuxairCARGO freight handling activity, which was confronted with a fall in its activity as of spring 2008. In addition to a slowdown of worldwide production, and thus of the transportation of goods, the strong rise in the price kerosene significantly reduced the competitiveness of air freight. As of September 2008, the financial and economic crisis resulted in a collapse of demand for all of the group's activities, and specifically LuxairCARGO, which had to come to terms with the collapse of the air freight sector in general. As far as the Business Lines are concerned, only the financial results of LuxairTours were up very slightly, whereas the financial results of Luxair Luxembourg Airlines remained relatively stable, with a loss of 1.95 million euro. However, the fall in the volumes of freight handled and the downward pressure on prices had a considerable impact on the financial results of LuxairCARGO, which fell by 45%. The net earnings of the LuxairGroup for the 2008 trading year amounted to 8.47 million euro, compared with 18.25 million euro for the 2007 trading year. 2009 prospects: minimising the effects of the crisis The forecasts for 2009 are bleak. IATA (the International Air Transport Association) forecasts a fall of nearly 6% in overall passenger numbers and a dramatic fall of 13% for the air freight sector. “The cautious and conservative financial policy of the Board of Directors, which has yielded, among other things, a low debt gearing and significant shareholder equity, is bearing fruit in the current economic crisis”, notes Marc Hoffmann, Chairman of the Board of Directors. “Combined with the success of our Building a New Airline programme, this has provided LuxairGroup with the financial and operational soundness needed to face up to the current crisis”.
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Despite the impact of the economic and financial crisis, Air Berlin's profit and revenue for the first quarter of 2009 came in according to plan. The number of passengers transported decreased to 5.5 million, i.e. a 6.2 percent drop, a figure that bested the branch average. For the first quarter of 2009, seasonal operating loss (EBIT) reached minus EUR 87.3 million (Q1 2008: minus EUR 68.6 million). The reduced branchwide demand for flight services, in combination with the Easter flight season falling in April rather than in the first quarter, contributed to this development. Revenue reached EUR 661 million, an improvement of 1.2 percent, primarily as a result of the improved average earnings (Yield) per passenger. Revenue per passenger kilometer (RPK) jumped from 7.22 to 8.33 Eurocents, i.e. an increase of 15.4 percent. Due to the higher cost of kerosene, EBITDAR (Earnings before interest, leasing expenses, depreciation, amortization, interest and taxes), at EUR 27.1 million for the reporting period, was lower than in the corresponding period of the previous year (Q1 2008: EUR 40.3 million). Air Berlin achieved an operating result (EBIT) of minus EUR 87.3 million (Q1 2008: minus EUR 68.6 million). Net profit for the first three months of 2009 amounted to minus EUR 88.4 million (Q1 2008: minus EUR 59.6 mil-lion).
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The Eurofighter P1E Flight Test Programme has made a further step forward with the first flight today of a Phase 1 Enhancements product on a Tranche 2 IPA. The flight of IPA7, the German owned Instrumented Production Aircraft took off from Manching on Tuesday and served to confirm the functionality of the Missile Approach Warner prior to a dedicated trials campaign to be carried out over the North Sea in early September. This stage of the trials builds on the first P1E flights which focused on aeromechanical aspects of the new stores to be integrated in the P1E Capability Package. These were carried out by IPA's 2 (Italian), 4 (Spanish) and 1 (British) all of which were of the Tranche 1 build standard. IPA7 will next also be used to complete the P1E air vehicle trials with Flight Control Handling Qualities flights with the new class of P1E 500lb precision guided bombs (Paveway IV).
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Equipping warfighters with the technology to detect moving targets in combat gained momentum when Electronic Systems Center officials here, in concert with prime contractors and other organizations, recently completed a key flight milestone for the Multiplatform Radar Technology Insertion Program. "At this point, we're delivering on the promise of advanced radar capability for the Global Hawk with completion of GMTI and SAR modes," said Col. Jim Shaw, commander of the 851st Electronic Systems Group, which is leading the effort. "This is a capability that the warfighter needs in the overseas theater today," he said. Radar system level performance verification testing on the advanced electronically-scanned array radar system verified performance of the Synthetic Aperture Radar, or SAR, and Ground Moving Target Indicator, or GMTI, modes. SAR imagery includes collection of high-resolution spot images, while GMTI focuses on moving ground targets. The testing was conducted on a Proteus test aircraft. "The sensor performed very well on SAR, and clearly exceeded warfighter requirements in the GMTI modes," the colonel said. The testing included 186 flights with 1,063 flight hours on Proteus. Of those, 64 flights and 376 flight hours were needed to complete the testing, referred to as RSLPV, after a focus on calibration issues in late August and early September 2008. Program managers hope to incorporate the sensor onto the first production Block 40 Global Hawk.
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The short-time working arrangements that RUAG introduced in its automotive parts manufacturing and civil aircraft maintenance activities in March 2009 will be extended by a further three months to bridge the lull in orders. Furthermore, short-time work will be implemented at Mechanical Engineering and Coatings from June 2009. The measure is aimed at keeping staff, licenses and the associated expertise within RUAG. There is as yet no sign of a recovery in the huge decline in demand in the automotive parts, mechanical engineering, coatings and business jet maintenance segments that has resulted from the economic downturn. The number of RUAG employees affected by short-time work now totals 240.
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