10.08.2009
FLUG REVUE

News Update 10 August 2009 - News in Brief

Our weekly news roundup from around the aerospace industry.

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Bombardier Aerospace announced that it has received a signed, firm order for five Q400 NextGen turboprop airliners. The airline which placed the order has requested to remain undisclosed at this time, and has also taken options on an additional five Q400 NextGen aircraft. Based on the list price for the Q400 NextGen aircraft, the firm order contract is valued at approximately $159 million US, and could rise to $332 million US if the five options are exercised.
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After two years of intensive discussions the new European Helicopter Association (EHA) is now operational. The new EHA finally gathers under the same roof all sectors in the European helicopter industry, such as the former (old) EHA, now re-named NHAC (National Helicopter Association Committee), representing helicopter Associations from more than 12 Countries in Europe; EHOC (European Helicopter Operators Committee), with their own thriving community of specialists within off-shore operators and EHAC (European HEMS and Air Ambulance Committee) representing the concerns and interests of operators in the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) and Air Ambulance. The new EHA is formally registered in Cologne where it will soon have its offices immediately adjacent to the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The Chairman of the new EHA is Dr. Ing. Vittorio Morassi, Italy, and the newly appointed Executive Director is Gunter Carloff. Carloff earned his wings as a helicopter pilot (CPL-H) within the German Federal Border Police, and after several different roles, including instructor pilot, he retired in February 2009 as head of German Federal Police Aviation.
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AgustaWestland announced that the Italian Navy has taken delivery of its 21 st AW101 three engine medium/heavy helicopter during an official ceremony held at Maristaeli Luni naval base in Italy. This Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW)/Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW) configured aircraft is the first unit of the last AW101 batch for the service which has committed to a total of 24 AW101s. The Italian Navy is already operating 8 ASW/ASuW, 4 HEW (helicopter early warning) and 8 amphibious support helicopters. Over 170 AW101 helicopters have been ordered so far by customers worldwide to perform a number of roles.
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AAI Corporation announced that it has executed a blanket purchase agreement (BPA) with NASA for its Aerosonde small unmanned aircraft systems (SUAS). This BPA enables NASA to engage Aerosonde SUAS with the support of AAI's skilled, experienced unmanned air crews on an as-needed, hourly basis in response to time-sensitive missions. Through this BPA, the Aerosonde aircraft and associated services are added to NASA's "catalog" of available manned and unmanned aircraft platforms, providing specifications and images that enable the organization to quickly assess mission needs and engage the most suitable solution. Aerosonde SUAS were subjected to stringent NASA safety and risk analyses to ensure their appropriateness for the range of possible missions. Among likely tasks for Aerosonde SUAS is hurricane investigation, a proven capability and mission profile the aircraft has flown on numerous occasions. For example, an Aerosonde aircraft completed a history-making flight into Hurricane Noel in 2007, supporting a NASA/National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) mission and spending several hours navigating the storm's eye and eye wall.
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Baltia Air Lines announced that they have executed a Letter of Intent for the purchase of a Boeing 747 aircraft. Baltia Air Lines, Inc. is a New York corporation publicly traded under the symbol "BLTA" on the Over the Counter Bulletin Board, OTCBB. Baltia's base of operations is Terminal 4 at JFK International Airport in New York. Baltia's goal is to become the leading U.S. airline in the trans-Atlantic market between the major U.S. cities and the capital cities of Eastern Europe, including Russia, Latvia, Ukraine, and Belarus.
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EADS has established a new subsidiary in Japan to help coordinate and support the Group's marketing campaigns and industrial partnerships there. From its office in Tokyo, EADS Japan K.K. will aim to strengthen EADS' presence in the country and forge further long-term business relationships with Japanese industry and aerospace institutions. EADS, through its divisions Airbus, EADS Defence & Security, Eurocopter and EADS Astrium, has an extensive European portfolio of products and services to offer in Japan. The group already buys directly, or indirectly through its first tier suppliers, products worth some $1 billion annually in the country. The Japanese aerospace market is one of the largest in the world and has great potential. Vincent Larnicol was appointed President of EADS Japan in May 2009 having formerly been the General Delegate of EADS Libya. He previously worked for five years for one of Japan's leading trading houses, Nissho Iwai Corporation – now known as Sojitz - in both Tokyo and Paris.
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The Medium Extended Air Defense System program has successfully completed Critical Design Reviews (CDRs) for all major components, clearing the way for production of radars, launchers, tactical operation centers, and reloaders needed for system tests at White Sands Missile Range, NM. Under its design and development contract, MEADS International will provide six Battle Management, Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence Tactical Operations Centers, four launchers, one reloader, three surveillance radars, three multifunction fire control radars, and 20 PAC-3 Missile Segment Enhancement missile rounds for the tests, expected to begin in 2012. With completion of the component-level design reviews, the MEADS program has successfully met criteria to begin a series of system-level CDR events. The tri-national AMD system continues to demonstrate significant progress toward final design approval expected next year. A total of 15 system-level CDR events will be completed in the year ahead and permit final evaluation of MEADS survivability, logistics, safety, integration and test, life cycle cost, and performance. The final system-level CDR event will be held in August 2010 in accordance with government direction. Initial flight tests are planned for 2012.
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NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope is starting a second career and taking its first shots of the cosmos since warming up. The infrared telescope ran out of coolant May 15, 2009, more than five-and-one-half-years after launch. It has since warmed to a still-frosty 30 degrees Kelvin (about minus 406 degrees Fahrenheit). New images taken with two of Spitzer's infrared detector channels -- two that work at the new warmer temperature -- demonstrate the observatory remains a powerful tool for probing the dusty universe. The images show a bustling star-forming region, the remains of a star similar to the sun, and a swirling galaxy lined with stars. "The performance of the two short wavelength channels of Spitzer's Infrared Array Camera is essentially unchanged from what it was before the observatory's liquid helium was exhausted," said Doug Hudgins, the Spitzer program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "To put that in perspective, that means Spitzer's sensitivity at those wavelengths is still roughly the same as a 30-meter ground-based telescope. This breathtaking image demonstrates Spitzer will continue to deliver world-class imagery and science during its warm mission."
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AgustaWestland announced that the ENAC (Ente Nazionale Aviazione Civile – Italian Civil Aviation Authority) has successfully completed on July 28 the first stage of qualification and authorization tests for the creation of a helicopter low altitude IFR route between Turin and Venice in Italy, crossing the Pianura Padana (Po Valley). The trials were performed using an AW139 medium twin engine helicopter specifically equipped to monitor and process the data generated by ground and satellite based navigation systems. In particular, the reliability of navigation data and the navigation capabilities of the AW139, a latest generation helicopter, were evaluated during the tests, whilst taking into account the expected evolution of satellite navigation systems.
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USAF Airmen successfully mated the X-51A WaveRider flight test vehicle to a B-52 Stratofortress July 17 at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. The fit check followed integration earlier in the month of the Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne scramjet propulsion system into the X-51 at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, Calif. The X-51 test vehicle is now back at the Boeing facility in Palmdale where additional systems integration and testing are taking place in preparation for its inaugural flight test in December, said Charlie Brink, X-51 program manager from the Air Force Research Laboratory's Propulsion Directorate here. During the flight test, currently planned Dec. 2, the Air Force Flight Test Center's B-52 will carry the X-51A to 50,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean then release it. A solid rocket booster from an Army tactical missile system then will ignite and accelerate the X-51 to about Mach 4.5. Then, the supersonic combustion ramjet propulsion system will propel the vehicle for five minutes to more than Mach 6. Hypersonic combustion generates intense heat so routing of the engine's own JP-7 fuel will help keep the engine at the desired operating temperature.
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The economic and financial crisis also left its mark on Fraport AG in the first six months of the current year.  Group-wide passenger traffic in the first half of 2009 dropped 5.8 percent year-on-year, while the Frankfurt Airport (FRA) home base registered 8 percent fewer passengers.  Adjusted for consolidation effects, Group revenue slipped 2.2 percent year-on-year to €941.2 million; EBITDA  (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) fell 10.5 percent compared to the same period last year to €255.4 million.  Group profit continued to be positive, too, reaching €70.1 million.   However, this was 31.1 percent less than in the January-to-June 2008 period, before the global regression set in. Approximately 24.2 million passengers used FRA in the reporting period, down 2.1 million year-on-year. Falling by 10.9 percent in the first quarter, passenger demand slowed down its pace of decline to 5.6 percent in the second quarter.  Nevertheless, net retail proceeds per passenger climbed during the same period by 4.3 percent to €2.90 from €2.78 last year.  From January to June 2009, FRA's cargo throughput dropped by 21.4 percent to approximately 849,000 metric tons of airfreight and airmail.  Aircraft movements shrank 5.7 percent to nearly 228,000 takeoffs and landings.The Group's airports welcomed a total of 32.8  million passengers during the January-to-June 2009 period, only 5.8 percent less than in the same period last year. Peru's Lima Airport (LIM) even registered a 6.3 percent increase in passengers, while Turkey's Antalya Airport (AYT) recorded only 0.5 percent fewer passengers than in the first half of 2008.
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Boeing and EgyptAir announced that the airline has converted a previous order for two 777s into an order for an additional eight Next-Generation 737-800s. The order was added last week to Boeing's Orders & Deliveries Web site attributed to an unidentified customer. The airline currently has seven 737-800s in operation and it is taking delivery of an additional five 737-800s this year. The airline currently has five 777s in its fleet and is scheduled to receive six 777-300ERs beginning next year.
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Boeing announced that the company's training organization, Alteon, will be renamed Boeing Training & Flight Services. The new name will be phased in across the organization's global network in the months ahead.The new name reflects the organization's expanded capabilities for providing flight, maintenance, cabin safety and flight operations training. With the addition of flight services, the organization's expertise now includes customized flight and dispatch documentation, airplane performance data, operational consulting and safety analysis.
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The Air Transport Association of America (ATA), the industry trade organization for the leading U.S. airlines, applauded the ASTM International Committee on Petroleum Products and Lubricants for passing a new specification that will enable the use of synthetic fuels in aviation. ASTM International is one of the largest standards- development organizations in the world. "ATA is very pleased that the full committee has approved the ASTM International Aviation Fuels Subcommittee recommendation. The unanimous passage of this specification is significant for all consumers of jet fuel. For the airline industry specifically, this brings us one step closer to our aim of widespread production of cleaner, alternative fuels that will help the industry meet its environmental goals while enhancing the security and competitiveness of its energy supply," said ATA President and CEO James C. May.
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Ariane 5 is available to support the future of U.S. space exploration, including cargo resupply flights for the International Space Station, along with missions to the Moon and Mars. This was the message of Arianespace Chairman & CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall in a presentation today (August 5) to the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee, which was created to evaluate America's future human spaceflight operations after the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) planned retirement of the Space Shuttle. "Originally human-rated, the Ariane 5 has adapted to its present day role as the leading large capacity launch vehicle for satellite operators and international partners the world over," Le Gall explained during his committee presentation in Washington, D.C. "The Ariane 5 can reach lunar orbit, the lunar surface, and Mars - objectives that are compatible with NASA's exploration missions." Le Gall underscored Ariane 5's payload capabilities and its maturity as a proven, capable heavy-lift launch vehicle. He noted that Ariane 5 has performed 45 launches to date, with 31 consecutive successes since 2003. The vehicle's heavy-lift payload capacity enables it to deliver 20 metric tons to low Earth orbit, seven metric tons to lunar transfer orbit, and five metric tons to Mars.
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In a bid to strengthen the Navy's capabilities to detect airborne and surface-based maritime threats, Government has approved the acquisition of five Russian Kamov-31 early warning choppers. Defence Ministry officials said the Cabinet Committee of Security (CCS) at a meeting on Tuesday gave its approval for procuring these choppers, which can track 30-40 targets on ground and air simultaneously with its airborne electronic warfare radar, mounted on the underbelly of the chopper. The deal for the five choppers between India and Russia is expected to be signed in the next couple of months, they said.
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Alenia announced that the first of 18 G.222 aircraft refurbished and modernized by Alenia Aeronautica made its initial flight following re-manufacture at Capodichino airport near Naples. Shortly, the aircraft will fly to Alenia Aeronautica's Test Center at Caselle, near Turin. The G.222's modernized communication systems will be tested and validated at the adjacent electronic test range facilities. The aircraft will then fly back to Capodichino for final preparation and delivery. “The first flight of the G.222 at Capodichino is a critical part of the final stages of modernization and refurbishment and is evidence of the success of this program,” said Giuseppe Giordo, President and CEO of Alenia North America and Co-COO of Alenia Aeronautica. “We are proud of the history of the G.222 aircraft and its service all over the world, and are very pleased to provide the re-built Afghan National Army Air Corps with these aircraft. This is truly an exemplary program in-line with Alenia's commitment to the United States Air Force.”
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Ministry of Defense of Poland and Telespazio – a Finmeccanica/Thales company – has signed in Warsaw a contract, worth around 30 million euro for a duration of more than 10 years, to provide Italian Sicral 1B space capacity in UHF frequency band. Telespazio has acquired the rights of commercialization of the military satellite, property of Italian Ministry of Defense, due to its investment aimed to co-fund the final phase of the Program. The contract signed with the Polish Ministry of Defense represents for Telespazio another step forward in the implementation of its strategy to become a niche MILSATCOM Operator and Service Provider.
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Three new Bell UH-1Y “Yankee” helicopters, attached to Marine Medium Helicopter (HMM) Squadron 163 (Reinforced) returned from a six-month deployment aboard USS Boxer (LHD-4) to Camp Pendleton, Aug. 1, 2009. HMM-163 was the first squadron to deploy with the new UH-1Y “Yankee” tactical utility helicopter as part of the Boxer Expeditionary Strike Group (BOXESG). The UH-1Y is the most significant upgrade ever made to the venerable and battle-proven UH-1N, more commonly known as the Huey. The Yankee also shares 84 percent parts commonality with the AH-1Z “Zulu” (also part of the H-1 Upgrade Program) that is replacing the AH-1W Super Cobra. Reports from Marines using the new Yankee on deployment indicate its performance lived up expectations. Major Mark Angersbach, the senior pilot with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 163 (Reinforced), Detachment 3, said the Yankee gave them better performance and power margins over the November, allowing them to complete every utility mission they were designed to fly.
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A successful demonstration of Israel Aerospace Industries' (IAI) Heron Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) System took place last week in Brazil. The demonstration was done at the request of the Brazilian federal police, which is testing UAV use for several purposes, including border security, and smuggling, natural resource theft, and drug trafficking concerns. The demonstration took place under challenging, unpredictable weather conditions in one of the most difficult areas of Brazil to fly in: the state of Parana, and the region of San Miguel de Iguacu. Despite this, the system performed flawlessly in all its tasks, and was able to fulfill the customer's requests. It is especially important to note that the Heron was the first UAV system in the world to fly in this region of southern Brazil. The Heron was easily integrated into the demonstration airspace, which sees a lot of commercial air traffic, and was fully coordinated with the local Air Traffic Control. Approximately two years ago, the Brazilian federal police organized a professional, high-level team, which included police pilots, engineers, and professionals, to investigate the capabilities of international UAV manufacturers, and find a UAV system that would best fit the specific needs of the Brazilian government. Following a series of tests, the team decided that IAI's Heron UAV was best suited to what the police wanted: relaying data and intelligence in real time, carrying a number of sensors simultaneously, and employing satellite communications and Automatic Takeoff and Landing (ATOL).
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The findings of the EA-18G Growler's initial operational test and evaluation were released by the Department of Defense Wednesday. The aircraft received the rating of operationally effective, operationally suitable and was recommended for fleet introduction. The evaluation of Navy's testing community, under the Commander Operational Test and Evaluation Forces, determined that the EA-18G is able to effectively perform the intended operational mission and is also found to be suitable. The suitability evaluation focuses on maintainability, reliability and many support aspects with the intention of validating that the system under test will be available when needed. "We consider the EA-18G program to be a 'model' in terms of executing better than planned," said Capt. Mark Darrah, F/A-18 & EA-18G program manager, PMA-265. "A critical reason why the Growler remained on cost and on schedule while exceeding the performance required was the aggressive management of risk and requirements."
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USAF Airmen are testing a new inspection program here that will not only save the Air Force $1.38 billion over the next two decades, but also will keep four extra C-5 Galaxy aircraft available every day for air mobility efforts. The new program, which will change the way the Air Force conducts C-5 inspections, is part of an Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st century initiative held at Dover Air Force Base in cooperation with Airmen from Stewart Air National Guard Base, N.Y. According to Dover AFB officials, Airmen from Stewart ANGB participated in the rapid improvement event because the Guard and Reserve will play a large part in the new inspection process. "This new type of inspection concept completely replaces the traditional legacy isochronal inspection program," said Master Sgt. Robert Diresta of the 105th Maintenance Squadron.
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Premium AEROTEC has begun the construction of the new 25,000 m² hangar, which will be the manufacturing plant for fiber composite components of the new Airbus A350 XWB. The last weeks already have seen the delivery of about 20 truck loads of steel to the site of the new factory, just westerly of the Impuls Arena. The shell of the building is due to be completed by the beginning of November. Premium AEROTEC is the largest aerostructures supplier for the new Airbus A350 XWB. The total investment for this new long-haul aircraft will amount to approximately €360 million between 2009 and 2011 at the Premium AEROTEC sites. The new Premium AEROTEC factory hangar is being built on a site of approximately 63,000 m² and production is planned to commence in the first quarter of 2010. The new manufacturing plant is being built especially for the production of the large side shells of the rear fuselage section (section 16/18) of the new Airbus long-haul aircraft.
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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced international scheduled traffic results for June showing passenger demand declining 7.2% compared to the same month in the previous year while freight demand was down 16.5%. International passenger load factors stood at 75.3%, down from 77.6% recorded in June 2008. The 7.2% drop in international passenger demand was a slight improvement on the 9.3% fall in May. The capacity adjustment of -4.3% did not keep pace with the fall in demand leaving average fares and yields under significant pressure. As a result, June revenue on international markets fell by a shocking 25-30%. Cargo demand remained weak at 16.5% below June 2008 levels. This is a moderate improvement, albeit from extremely weak levels, over May, which was 17.4% below 2008 levels. There has been some improvement in world trade and, after adjusting for seasonal fluctuations, freight volumes rose 6% from the low point recorded in December 2008. However, the utilization of air freight capacity on international routes remained very weak (47.3%) in June due to unbalanced trade flows with Asia and some market share loss to ocean transport. “International passenger demand remains very weak,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's Director General and CEO. “While it appears that there is stabilization in some markets, this comes at a steep price. Capacity cuts have not kept pace with demand falls. Even with lower fares, the load factor remains 2.3% below last year's levels. Airlines are seeing international revenue falls of up to 30% at the start of the busy June-August period when airlines traditionally make their money. The outlook remains bleak,” said Bisignani.
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Ryanair announced that its passenger traffic grew by 19% in July 2009 to 6.7m passengers which is a new monthly traffic record for Europe's largest low fares airline. Ryanair's continued growth underlines that passengers during this recession are increasingly switching from high fare, fuel surcharging flag carriers, such as Air France, BA, Lufthansa and Aer Lingus who are losing passengers to Ryanair's lowest fares and no fuel surcharge guarantee.
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