13.04.2009
FLUG REVUE

Weekly News Update 13 April 200News Update 13 April 2009 - News in Brief

Our weekly news roundup from around the aerospace industry.

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Boeing has acquired the first on-orbit signals from the second of six Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) satellites that the company is building for the U.S. Air Force. The signals indicate that the spacecraft is healthy and ready to begin orbital maneuvers and operational testing. A United Launch Alliance Atlas V vehicle successfully launched satellite WGS-2 at 8:31 p.m. Eastern time on April 3 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Base. A ground station in Dongara, Australia, received the satellite's first signals 44 minutes later, at 9:15 p.m. Eastern time. Boeing controllers in El Segundo, Calif., confirmed that the satellite is functioning normally. The WGS-2 mission is the second installment of the Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) system. The WGS satellites are important elements of a new high-capacity satellite communications system providing enhanced communications capabilities to America's troops in the field for the next decade and beyond. WGS enables more robust and flexible execution of Command and Control, Communications Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR), as well as battle management and combat support information functions. WGS-2 augments the existing service of the WGS-1 satellite by providing additional information broadcast capabilities.
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International Launch Services (ILS) successfully carried the W2A satellite to orbit for Eutelsat Communications of France on an ILS Proton. The Proton vehicle lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 10:24 p.m. local time (12:24 p.m. EDT, 16:24 GMT) on April 3. The launch of the W2A satellite marks the first ILS launch of the year and the 50th commercial launch overall for ILS; a significant milestone. The Proton Breeze M vehicle is built by Khrunichev Space Center of Moscow and has a heritage of 344 missions since its inception. The W2A spacecraft built by ThalesAleniaSpace, is a Spacebus 4000 C4 model and carried three payloads including the first S-band payload for Europe. The W2A C-band and Ku-band payloads for Eutelsat will provide Europe, Africa and the Middle East with an array of professional video and business services. Solaris Mobile is a joint venture between SES Astra and Eutelsat. The satellite, the 27th in the Eutelsat fleet, will be operated at Eutelsat's 10 degrees East location, an orbital location used by Eutelsat for over 20 years.
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Boeing on March 16 successfully demonstrated simultaneous command and control of three ScanEagle unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) from a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Wedgetail 737 Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) aircraft flying over Washington state. Using the company's UAS battle-management software, airborne operators issued NATO-standard sensor and air-vehicle commands via a UHF satellite communication link and ground-station relay. "Our standards-based UAS command/control system, which is based on commercial off-the-shelf architecture, allowed us to integrate UAS control into existing battle-management software," said Pierce Lutter, Boeing Associate Technical Fellow for Unmanned Vehicle Control Systems. "This would have been a major event even if we had accomplished it in a laboratory using surrogates, but we used currently fielded platforms and systems in a real-world setting to demonstrate a new level of command-and-control capability for warfighters."
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On 11 March 2009 MBDA was awarded another contract by South Africa to supply MILAN ADT firing posts and simulators. The contract includes the retrofitting of 13 MILAN ADT guidance units with integrated thermal imagers and the supply of 13 further MILAN ADT firing posts and four simulators. The project is worth a total of € 10.7 million. South Africa is the first export customer for the MILAN ADT firing post having signed the first series production contract with MBDA in 2006. The first batch of firing posts was delivered to South Africa at the beginning of 2008. With operational evaluation having met with the customer's full satisfaction, MBDA has now concluded another contract for MILAN ADT.
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Cessna has received Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification for Garmin's Synthetic Vision Technology (SVT) for all G1000-equipped 172 Skyhawks, 182 Skylanes, 206 Stationairs and the Caravan product line. The Garmin G1000 SVT gives the pilot a 3D graphical representation of the surrounding terrain and displays the aircraft's position in an enhanced topographical database. Garmin's SVT also includes other features such as 3D depiction of obstacle identification, traffic, flight path marker, zero pitch line, runway information and airport signs. In most cases, SVT capability will be available for retrofit to earlier production G1000-equipped Cessnas.
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Rolls-Royce will power Saudi Arabian Airlines aircraft in an order worth up to US$900m at list prices. The contract will include a long-term service agreement. Trent engines, selected by the airline for the first time, will power up to 12 (eight firm and four option) Airbus A330 aircraft, with deliveries beginning in 2010. The Trent 700EP (Enhanced Performance) features reduced fuel burn and emission levels. Currently, Saudi Arabian Airlines operates a fleet of 14 Boeing 747 –100, -200, -SP and –300 aircraft powered by Rolls-Royce.
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The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) tentatively approved the application for Continental Airlines to join the existing antitrust immunized alliance between United Airlines and eight other Star Alliance member carriers, and for Continental to enter into an integrated worldwide alliance. "Continental's entrance into Star Alliance will provide substantial benefits for consumers worldwide while preserving domestic competition and jobs." said Larry Kellner, Continental's chairman and CEO. "In addition, a timely final approval will allow Continental to provide a seamless transition for its customers from the SkyTeam alliance to Star Alliance this fall." In addition to Continental and United, the eight Star Alliance members receiving tentative DOT approval for antitrust immunity are Air Canada, Austrian, bmi, Lufthansa, LOT Polish Airlines, Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), SWISS and TAP Air Portugal.
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NASA has chosen the material for a heat shield that will protect a new generation of space explorers when they return from the moon. After extensive study, NASA has selected the Avcoat ablator system for the Orion crew module. Orion is part of the Constellation Program that is developing the country's next-generation spacecraft system for human exploration of the moon and further destinations in the solar system. The Orion crew module, which will launch atop an Ares I rocket, is targeted to begin carrying astronauts to the International Space Station in 2015 and to the moon in 2020. To protect the spacecraft and its crew from severe conditions, the Orion Project Office at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston identified a team to develop the thermal protection system, or TPS, heat shield. For more than three years, NASA's Orion Thermal Protection System Advanced Development Project considered eight different candidate materials, including the two final candidates, Avcoat and Phenolic Impregnated Carbon Ablator, or PICA, both of which have proven successful in previous space missions. Avcoat was used for the Apollo capsule heat shield and on select regions of the space shuttle orbiter in its earliest flights. It was put back into production for the study.
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Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne completed a series of successful hot-fire tests for a propulsion system that could lead to increased mission capability and flexibility in sending humans to the moon, Mars and beyond. During the tests at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio, a 25 pound-force thruster testbed successfully demonstrated cooling with gaseous methane and gaseous oxygen, as well as rapid start and stop at simulated altitude conditions. The tests also gathered a wide range of data on ignition and combustion performance. A test program highlight was the igniter demonstration of split-second pulses that emulate how a spacecraft may perform during a mission. The hot-fire testing was conducted as part of the Propulsion and Cryogenics Advanced Development (PCAD) project under NASA's Exploration Technology Development Program (ETDP). The goal is to develop and demonstrate key technologies that will enable NASA to conduct future human exploration missions to the moon, Mars, and beyond. Testing was conducted at NASA Glenn Research Center under contract management from NASA Johnson Space Center.
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Satellite export control rules are hampering U.S. national security and economic interests, and must be updated to protect the U.S. space industrial base, AIA President and CEO Marion Blakey said Thursday in written testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade Subcommittee. “Without meaningful steps to modernize the U.S. export control system and enhance space trade among our allies, the United States faces a real and daunting possibility of losing our leadership in space and ability to compete in the global space industry,” Blakey said. U.S. market share for commercial satellites dropped from 73 percent to 27 percent after legislation passed in 1998 to control commercial satellites as military items. The Center for Strategic and International Studies reports that the United States is the only country that requires stringent and time-consuming reviews and approval processes for exports of commercial communications satellites and related components. AIA recommends that the government undertake a review of all space technologies to determine which ones should be controlled as commercial or military items. The review should be coupled with legislation that allows the administration flexibility to differentiate between sensitive commercial satellite technologies and truly commercial components.
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On Tuesday 7 April 2009 in Méaulte, the official ceremony marking the delivery to Airbus of the first nose fuselage subassemblies for the new Airbus A330-200 Freighter took place. At this occasion, Christian Cornille, CEO of AEROLIA welcomed Patrick Piedrafita, Head of AirbusS Long range Programmes, who declared: «Our presence today at Meaulte as an AEROLIA customer shows the consideration in which we hold all the teams of this young company, which, with all its aeronautics experience and know-how, has delivered this first nose fuselage of the new Airbus A330-200 Freighter in accordance with objectives». The A330-200F is the new Airbus freighter aircraft and is part of the long range family; it is characterised by specific nose section parts, designed by the AEROLIA Design Office at Toulouse and Méaulte and produced by the Saint-Nazaire and Méaulte teams.
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Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) on Tuesday strengthened its position as a leading aerospace export house when it handed over the first rear fuselage for the Gulfstream (G-150) aircraft to Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI). HAL Chairman Mr Ashok Nayak handed over the documents of the HAL-built Aft (rear) fuselage for G-150 to Mr Shlomi Karako, General Manager, Business Jets Division, IAI, at a simple function at HAL's Aircraft Division in Bangalore. Gulfstream (G-150) is a business executive aircraft built in Israel and transported to the United States for further furnishing. The G-150 is marketed the world over by the US-based Gulfstream Corporation.
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AgustaWestland announced that FB Heliservices has recently taken delivery of its first AW139 medium twin helicopter at AgustaWestland's Vergiate plant in Italy. This aircraft will be used to provide search and rescue training for AgustaWestland export customers and it will be operated from RAF Valley in Wales where FB Heliservices already perform SAR training for the UK military services. FB Heliservices signed a contract for two AW139 helicopters in 2008 and the second unit is expected to be delivered next month. The AW139 is equipped for over land and over water SAR operations and includes a rescue hoist, search radar, FLIR camera, cabin mission console, emergency flotation system, life-rafts, comprehensive communications system and a NVG compatible cockpit.
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One of American Eurocopter's long standing air-medical customers, STAT MedEvac has signed the first long term commercial contract to receive pilot training in the new EC135/EC145 full motion flight training device, which is now in service at the company's expanded training center in Grand Prairie, Texas. This full motion flight training device is part of American Eurocopter's significant investment in the enhancement of training capabilities to support the flight safety requirements of its helicopter operators. This new system recently was certified by the Federal Aviation Administration as a Level 6 Flight Training Device (FTD) with motion, which will be followed by FAA approval later this year as a Level B Full Flight Simulator.
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GKN Aerospace commenced on the creation of a new state of the art manufacturing facility at Bristol in the UK. This facility will form a key part of GKN Aerospace-Filton as it becomes a global centre of excellence in composite aircraft wing structures. GKN Aerospace Chief Executive, Marcus Bryson comments: "Today we are beginning our work to fulfill the commitments we made to extend the capacity and the skills base of our Bristol operation. And I must acknowledge that our success in reaching this landmark day is in good measure due to the strong and consistent support of both BERR and SWERDA. So today, representatives of local and national government, and of our customers, employees and suppliers are all able to witness the start of phase one of this major development programme - a programme that we believe will ensure the long term future of the Filton operation and workforce." The new site, known as Filton-West, will be under the management of the recently acquired GKN Aerospace - Filton. 'Filton-West' will house a state-of-the-art automated composites manufacturing operation that will incorporate production techniques that represent the future of composites manufacture in aviation. Starting in January 2010 this new plant will manufacture wing spars and trailing edge assemblies for the Airbus A350 XWB aircraft.
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SELEX Galileo, leading member of the Finmeccanica UK Battlespace Solutions team, has flown its Unmanned Air System (UAS) during a British Army mission rehearsal exercise in the UK. The flight team from SELEX Galileo's Air Systems, Unmanned Air Systems & Simulators division oversaw a number of successful flights of its STRIX Mini UAS as part of exercises carried out from 16 – 20 March on Salisbury Plain. This involved fast aircraft and helicopters, as well as SELEX Galileo's mini UAS The support provided by SELEX Galileo included flying the STRIX Mini UAS for periods of up to one hour to present surveillance of activities at key points on the ground and to monitor the movement of convoys and related action. The video images obtained were down-linked to the Company's Common Ground Control Station and then were passed directly to the Brigade's Intelligence, Surveillance and Target Acquisition (ISTAR) cell.
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Winning the fight from up high just got more advanced since the recent delivery of the MC-12 Project Liberty special mission turboprop aircraft. The MC-12 is the first of its kind for the Air Force and is set to venture downrange in May. Lt. Gen. David Deptula, Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance and Brig. Gen. Blair E. Hansen, director of ISR Capabilities took delivery of the 16,500-pound special mission aircraft at the Hawker Beechcraft Corporation. The Project Liberty program is part of the Secretary of Defense Robert Gates' ISR task force and derives from his direction to provide enhanced ISR capabilities to U.S. Central Command.  The complexities of today's battlefield call for sophisticated capabilities and A2 intelligence officials said the MC-12 delivers.
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Bombardier Aerospace announced that SAMCO Aircraft Maintenance B.V. has been selected as a Recognized Service Facility (RSF) for the Dash 8/Q-Series aircraft. Located at Maastricht Airport in Beek, the Netherlands, SAMCO will service aircraft based in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Under an RSF agreement, SAMCO is recognized by Bombardier as a quality service provider for “C” checks and other heavy maintenance on all Dash 8/Q-Series aircraft. The company can also perform aircraft modifications and upgrades on Dash 8/Q-Series aircraft.
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