25.05.2009
FLUG REVUE

News Update 25 May 2009 - News in Brief

Our weekly news roundup from around the aerospace industry.

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NASA's Mission Control gave the Expedition 19 astronautcrew aboard the International Space Station a "go" to drink water that the station's new recycling system has purified. Mission Control radioed the news to the crew Wednesday, following a report from the Water Recovery System team that station program managers approved. The decision is an important milestone in the development of the station's environmental and life support systems, which will begin supporting six-person crews at the end of May. "This has been the stuff of science fiction. Everybody's talked about recycling water in a closed loop system, but nobody's ever done it before. Here we are today with the first round of recycled water," said Barratt. "We're really happy for this day and for the team that
put this together. This is the kind of technology that will get us to the moon and further." Space shuttle Endeavour's STS-126 mission delivered the Water Recovery System to the station in November 2008. Mission Specialist Don Pettit and Expedition 18 Commander Mike Fincke installed the equipment before Endeavour's departure. The system has been processing urine into purified water since shuttle Discovery's STS-119 crew delivered and installed a replacement Urine Processing Assembly in March. The system is tied into the station's Waste and Hygiene Compartment toilet and recovers and recycles moisture from the station's atmosphere.
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NASA's PharmaSat nanosatellite successfully launched at 7:55 p.m. EDT Tuesday, 19 May, from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport located at Wallops Island, Va. PharmaSat rode to orbit aboard a four-stage Air Force Minotaur 1 rocket. Also aboard were the Air Force Research Laboratory's TacSat-3 satellite and other NASA CubeSat Technology Demonstration experiments, which include three four-inch cubed satellites developed
by universities and industry. PharmaSat will investigate the effects of antifungal agents on the growth of yeast in microgravity. This research could improve understanding of how microbes may become resistant to the drugs used to treat sick astronauts on long-duration space missions. Approximately 20 minutes after launch, PharmaSat separated from the Minotaur 1 rocket and entered low Earth orbit at an altitude of approximately 285 miles. About an hour after launch, NASA spaceflight engineers made contact with PharmaSat. After a spacecraft checkout period, ground controllers will command PharmaSat to initiate its biological experiment, which will last approximately 96 hours.
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NASA and industry engineers successfully completed the first test of the Ares I rocket's three main parachutes Wednesday. The parachutes -- the largest rocket parachutes ever manufactured -- are designed to slow the rapid descent of the rocket's spent first-stage motor, permitting its recovery for use on future flights. The Ares I, the first rocket in NASA's Constellation Program, is designed to launch explorers aboard the Orion crew capsule on journeys to the International Space Station, the moon and beyond. The three main parachutes measure 150 feet in diameter and weigh 2,000 pounds each. They are a primary element of the rocket's deceleration system, which also includes a pilot parachute and drogue parachute. Deployed in a cluster, the main parachutes open at the same time,
providing the drag necessary to slow the descent of the huge solid rocket motor to a soft landing in the ocean. Engineers from Marshall managed the team that conducted this first cluster test at the U.S. Army's Yuma Proving Ground near Yuma, Ariz. This was the eighth in an ongoing series of flight tests supporting development of the Ares I recovery system. Researchers dropped the 41,500-pound load from a U.S. Air Force C-17 aircraft flying at an altitude of 10,000 feet. The parachutes and all test hardware functioned properly and landed safely.
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Air Berlin is expanding its route network and will be flying from Israel to Berlin for the first time this summer. From 7th July 2009 onwards, Air Berlin passengers will have a choice of two non-stop flights a week from Tel Aviv to Berlin. There will be connecting flights to various German cities. The Air Berlin jets will be taking off from Tel Aviv early on Wednesdays and Fridays and touch down in Berlin before noon.
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AgustaWestland announced that Petroleum Air Services (PAS) of Egypt has signed a contract for two AW139 medium twin engine helicopters plus two optional aircraft. These helicopters will be used for offshore oil and gas support operations. This order marks the entrance of the best selling AW139 helicopter into the Egyptian market and further strengthens its presence in the Mediterranean area for various applications as well as worldwide for offshore oil and gas transport duties. The AW139 is part of PAS's continuing fleet modernisation plan of medium twin engine helicopters.
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RAF pilots will train alongside British Army forward air controllers and artillery personnel prior to deployment to the front line thanks to a contract just awarded by the MOD that covers the provision and running of a bespoke multi-million pound training facility at RAF Waddington. The Distributed Synthetic Air Land Training (DSALT) contract is worth £26m over the next four years. Under the contract sponsored by the RAF, QinetiQ as the project lead, and Boeing will together provide around 44 weeks access to specialist synthetic training facilities each year. The primary users will be HQ level fire planning cells and fire support teams, who act as the eyes and ears on the front line for artillery batteries plus the RAF pilots that will be operating alongside them in the region and engaged in ground attack missions. By working together they will safely experience the complexities of controlling aircraft, artillery and other assets, all in fast-moving situations.
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GIMD and Dassault Aviation announced that they have completed the acquisition by Dassault Aviation of GIMD's shares in Thales, namely 10,277,043 shares. The transaction is based on a price of EUR 38 per share, representing a total value of about Euro 390.5 million. The transfer of shares took place on May 20, 2009. The payment was made 50% cash / 50% on credit (repaid 1/4 after one year, 1/4 after two years).
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Hawker Beechcraft announced an order from Jordan-based RayaJet and Ayla Aviation Academy for a Premier II -- the world's largest, best performing and most technologically advanced single-pilot business jet. Evolving from the successful Premier IA, the Premier II will feature higher cruise speeds, a 20 percent longer range with four passengers and an increased payload while still offering the largest cabin and most technologically advanced single-pilot business jet in the world. The Premier II will feature a high-strength, state-of-the-art all-composite fuselage that allows for a medium-jet sized cabin at light jet costs. Featuring luxurious and comfortable standard seating for up to six passengers and their baggage, the Premier II will deliver more people to more locations, more efficiently and in more comfort than any other light jet.
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MTU Aero Engines will pull out of its production activities in the U.S.: Germany's leading engine manufacturer sells the manufacturing unit of MTU Aero Engines North America (AENA) to U.S.-based EDAC Technologies. The contract was signed late last week. The transaction will not affect MTU's revenue and profit forecast for the year, nor will it have an impact on the engine programs pursued jointly with its partners. "We are pleased to have found in EDAC a reliable partner capable of offering AENA Manufacturing excellent development opportunities," said MTU CEO Egon Behle, who went on to explain the reasons of the move: "The sale comes as a result of a review and realignment of our entire production structure." In future, MTU will have less highly engineered components for new engine programs manufactured primarily at its new location, MTU Aero Engines Polska, which will be officially inaugurated on May 20. At MTU AENA's shop in Newington, Connecticut, 120 employees are manufacturing rotating components, such as disks, rings, and shafts. In fiscal 2008, the operation posted sales in the amount of 15 million euros. Starting in June this year, it will become part of EDAC Technologies, a company specializing in serving the needs of engine manufacturers based in the U.S.. MTU AENA's second unit - Engineering – will remain part of the MTU network of companies; based in Rocky Hill, Connecticut, it employs an engineering team of 60 employees who design and develop components for joint MTU/Pratt & Whitney engine programs. With its affiliates Vericor Power Systems and MTU Maintenance Canada, MTU operates two more locations in North America, in addition to MTU AENA.
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In support of its increasing business activities in Portugal, AgustaWestland, a Finmeccanica company announced the opening of its new regional business headquarters in Lisbon, following the establishment of its in-country subsidiary AgustaWestland Portugal S.A. The opening ceremony was attended by Italian Minister Gianfranco Rotondi, Portuguese Deputy Minister for Industry and Innovation Antonio Castro Guerra, Deputy Minister for National Defence and Sea Affairs João Mira Gomes, Italian Ambassador Luca del Balzo di Presenzano, British Ambassador Alexander Ellis, AgustaWestland Managing Director Business Graham Cole and other dignitaries. The offset agreement related to the AW101 helicopter contract signed in August 2008  included the provision of aerospace manufacturing and engineering services in which AgustaWestland Portugal will play a major role as will other local companies including OGMA and CEIIA.  A six year agreement was signed in December 2008 for the Research and Development, Design and Engineering Project (RDE) under which Portuguese companies and universities are being involved in diversified aerospace-related projects. The main aeronautical fields targeted include mechanical systems, aircraft interiors, structures and composites, electronic and software systems.
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Lockheed Martin was awarded a $4 million contract by Boeing for the technology development phase of the F/A-18E/F Infrared Search and Track (IRST) program. The technology development contract follows a two-year pre-system design and development program in which Lockheed Martin was down-selected as the sole source provider. "The IRST sensor system will provide next generation capability to counter emerging threats," said Ken Fuhr, fixed-wing program director at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. "The ability to passively detect and track targets in the absence of radar capability is essential to the Warfighter. It's all about seeing the enemy. If you lose sight, you lose the fight." The F/A-18E/F IRST is a passive, infrared sensor system that enables long-range detection and weapons-quality track of enemy targets under normal and electronic attack environments. The system enhances survivability and lethality in both offensive and defensive counter-air roles.
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Boeing has received a $48.9 million contract from the U.S. Navy for development and testing of a Distributed Targeting (DT) system for the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet strike fighter. This new targeting capability is part of the Navy's F/A-18E/F Network Centric Warfare Upgrades program and F/A-18E/F Flight Plan, a technology-insertion program that ensures the Block II Super Hornet will stay ahead of known and emerging threats through 2025 and beyond. “Distributed targeting is a powerful new tool for the warfighter and another increase in capability for the Super Hornet, in line with the F/A-18E/F Flight Plan,” said Rick Martin, Boeing F/A-18E/F and EA-18G Flight Plan program manager. “Boeing will continue to work with the Navy as this new system moves forward to ensure our men and women in uniform have the capability they need.” The DT capability utilizes onboard hardware and software processing to produce precise targeting solutions.
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Boeing announced that it delivered an advanced Apache Longbow Crew Trainer (LCT) to the U.S. Army in Illesheim, Germany, in April and declared the helicopter simulator “ready for training.” The LCT is the Army's first mobile trainer to be delivered equipped with two newly developed Boeing technologies: Next Generation Flight Model (NGFM) and Common Simulation Framework (CSF). The NGFM software, which improves the trainer's realism, incorporates actual aircraft flight-test data. The CSF combines tools for software development, testing and systems integration with reusable software packages, ensuring faster, easier development of trainer software. Both technologies were developed by Training Systems and Services, a division of Integrated Defense Systems Global Services & Support. This LCT also provides the Army with new image-generator technology that allows for the display of more realistic "out-the-window" scenes in real time. It is housed in a trailer that integrates improvements based on fielded users' feedback and incorporates a globally compliant refrigerant so that the Army can train in locations around the world.
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Boeing has achieved another milestone for the first 747-8 Freighter by completing assembly of the airplane's forward fuselage. The 89-foot, 2-inch (27.2 m) fuselage section, featuring the airplane's signature upper deck, was moved from the final assembly installation tool for sealing and testing before beginning systems installation.
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The Lockheed Martin team developing the U.S. Air Force's next-generation Global Positioning System (GPS) spacecraft, known as GPS III, has successfully completed the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) phase, a major program milestone that allows the team to begin the Critical Design Review (CDR) stage. Lockheed Martin, Newtown, PA., along with teammates ITT, Clifton, NJ., and General Dynamics of Gilbert, AZ., completed a comprehensive spacecraft segment PDR, which represented the culmination of 70 subsystem and assembly PDRs, executed over the past six months. Nearly 150 representatives from the U.S. Air Force Global Positioning Systems Wing and user communities, including representatives from the Department of Defense, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Air Force Space Command, the Department of Transportation, and the Federal Aviation Agency participated in the four day Space Vehicle PDR at Lockheed Martin Space Systems facilities in Newtown, Pa. Completion of the PDR milestone validates that the design meets warfighter and civil requirements and advances the GPS III program into the Critical Design Review phase.
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USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) made history May 19 after safely landing the first fixed-wing aircraft, an F/A-18F Super Hornet. Lt. Patrick McKenna and Cmdr. Beau Duarte, from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., piloted the Hornet and made the first arrested landing, known as a "trap," at 2:07 p.m. local time. The aircraft carrier is underway performing flight deck certifications in the Atlantic Ocean. The ship is equipped with arresting wires which are capable of safely landing aircraft traveling at speeds of more than 200 miles per hour in about 300 feet.
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Astrium CEO François Auque and Gavyllatyp T. Murzakulov, CEO of JSC National Company “Kazakhstan Gharysh Sapary”, a company reporting to the National Space Agency of the Republic of Kazakhstan, have signed a technological and strategic partnership agreement that will allow Astrium to play an active role in the development of the Republic of Kazakhstan's space industry. Within the framework of the agreement, Astrium will build a major satellite integration centre that will be part of the future Kazakhstan national space centre planned for the country's new capital, Astana. A joint venture between Astrium and JSC National Company “Kazakhstan Gharysh Sapary”, will run the integration centre. Astrium will also provide Kazakhstan with two Earth observation satellites, as well as receiving stations for the Spot and TerraSAR-X satellites. The increasing use of satellite imagery is spurring the development of Kazakhstan's satellite capabilities. A major partnership is planned in this sector with Spot Image and Infoterra – the two companies developing the market for satellite imagery applications as part of Astrium Services. Kazakhstan has already chosen several applications for mapping, the environment, agriculture, and management of the country's significant natural resources. The applications will be operational very shortly. Astrium will train more than 100 Kazakhstan engineers in satellite integration and satellite imagery processing. The training will take place in Kazakhstan and at Astrium's site in Toulouse.
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International Launch Services (ILS) successfully carried the Indostar II/Protostar II satellite into orbit today, marking the second commercial mission of the year for International Launch Services (ILS) and the fourth successful Proton launch of 2009. The May 16th launch comes on the heels of the milestone 50th ILS Proton launch on April 3rd. The Indostar II/Protostar II satellite was launched for Protostar LTD of Bermuda and will be commercially operated for Indovision of Jakarta, Indonesia, the largest Direct to Home operator in Indonesia. The ILS Proton Breeze M launched from Pad 39 at the cosmodrome at 6:57 a.m. today local time (8:57 p.m. EDT, 00:57 GMT). After a 9 hour 15 minute mission, the Breeze M successfully released the satellite into the planned geo-transfer orbit. This was the 345th launch for the Proton. The Proton Breeze M vehicle is developed and built by Khrunichev Research and Production Space Center of Moscow, Russia's premier space manufacturer.
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Jet Aviation recently leased a new hangar facility at Brazil's Sorocaba Airport as part of the company's aircraft management services expansion in the region. The new site is in close proximity to the city center of Sao Paulo. Jet Aviation will initially provide hangar space for its clients, and the location will serve as a parts storage and distribution facility for aircraft operators. The newly built 24,000 sq ft hangar can house up to five aircraft, including Embraer Legacy, Gulfstream 550, super mid-size corporate jets or smaller aircraft. In addition, the facility features a passenger and pilot lounge with Wi-fi Internet service, refreshments and entertainment systems, and provides office and storage space for tenants.
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Embraer signed Austral Líneas Aéreas, from Argentina, for the sale of 20 EMBRAER 190 jets. The contract will go into effect after fulfilling certain requirements, and that should take place within two months. Delivery is expected to begin in the first semester of 2010. The contract signing ceremony was held in Argentina's Presidential Palace, and was attended by Argentina's President, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner; the Minister of Defense, Nilda Garré; the Minister of Planning, Julio De Vido; the Secretary of Transportation, Ricardo Jaime; the President of the Aerolíneas Argentinas/Austral Group, Julio Alak; and Brazil's Ambassador to Argentina, Mauro Vieira. Embraer was represented by its Executive Vice President – Airline Market, Mauro Kern, and Vice President, Contracts – Airline Market, Eduardo Munhós de Campos.
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Tactical Air Defense Services, Inc., a military defense contractor which offers air combat training, ground-threat support, mid-air refueling, aerial fire-fighting, and specialty aerial services to the U.S. and Foreign Militaries, and other Federal and State Agencies, is pleased to announce that it has received a certificate of airworthiness for its Ilyushin IL-78 Mid-Air Refueling Supertanker, from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Tactical Air Defense Services' ILyushin IL-78, which is under exclusive lease to the Company, is the only IL-78 operational in the United States. The ILyushin IL-78 is a Russian Military Aircraft capable of refueling at an airspeed exceeding 400 knots, while delivering fuel to three aircraft simultaneously. The Company intends to provide its IL-78 to the U.S and Foreign Militaries for refueling during air combat training sessions and for contract refueling of military squadrons. The ILyushin IL-78 is also the largest aircraft ever designed for aerial fire-fighting, and is considered the aerial fire-fighting supertanker of choice throughout much of the world because of its ability to carry an 18,000 gallon payload of liquid or fire-retardant, and to deliver its payload with precision and at slow air-speeds. Tactical Air Defense Services intends to provide its IL-78 to State and Federal Agencies to combat the increasing threat of wildfires that have caused so much devastation in California, Texas, and other parts of the United States in recent years.
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The French Armament Procurement Agency (DGA) has confirmed to Astrium that it has accepted the Spirale space-based early warning system demonstrator. Since it was placed into orbit in February, the Spirale system has acquired more than 300,000 images of the Earth in several infrared bands – images that have been processed at the ground warning station. Due to the wealth and variety of images taken and processed by the demonstrator, Spirale's contribution to our knowledge of natural phenomena has already proved decisive. Developed by Astrium for the DGA, the Spirale satellite system is a demonstrator that will pave the way for the future operational space-based early warning system. The need for this system was specified and confirmed in the French government's new white paper on defence and national security, and its development is included in the French military budget law that is currently being reviewed. The first simulations based on actual images provided by Spirale will allow an initial estimate to be made regarding the dimensioning of the most important macroscopic parameters, such as resolution. Early results are validating the “demonstrator” approach adopted by the DGA, and will be confirmed and refined over the months ahead.
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Orbital Sciences Corporation announced today that its Minotaur I rocket successfully launched the Tactical Satellite-3 (TacSat-3) for the U.S. Air Force. The mission originated on 20 May from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS) launch facility at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island, VA. At approximately 7:55 p.m. (Eastern), the rocket's first stage ignited, beginning its flight into low-Earth orbit. Approximately 12 minutes later, the Minotaur I deployed the TacSat-3 spacecraft in its targeted orbit of approximately 285 miles (460 kilometers) above the Earth's surface. The mission was the 16th mission for the Minotaur program since its inception in 2000, all of which have been fully successful. It was also the third Minotaur I launch from the MARS facility, following the TacSat-2 and NFIRE missions conducted from the Eastern Virginia launch site in 2006 and 2007, respectively. Including the TacSat-3 mission, which carried four other smaller payloads, Minotaur I rockets have put a total of 30 satellites into orbit.
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