27.04.2009
FLUG REVUE

News Update 27 April 2009 - News in Brief

Our weekly news roundup from around the aerospace industry.

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Bombardier Aerospace announced that U.K. airline Flybe has taken delivery of its 50th Q400 airliner. The aircraft is equipped with the 1,000th installation of Ultra Electronics' Active Noise Control (ANC) system which is called the Active Noise and Vibration Suppression (ANVS) system on Q400 and other Bombardier Q-Series aircraft. Since the introduction of the ANVS system to Bombardier's Dash 8 aircraft in 1996, the aircraft have been known as Q-Series airliners, signaling a new era in turboprop passenger comfort. The “Q” means quiet. Flybe, previously known as British European, placed an initial order for four Q400 airliners in March 1999. Subsequent orders were announced in 2003, 2005 and 2007, confirming Flybe as the largest operator of the aircraft type. Flybe which operates 190 routes in 13 countries, carried 7.5 million passengers in 2008 and is now the largest regional airline in Europe.
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The SICRAL 1B satellite, on behalf of the Italian Ministry of Defense, has been successfully launched on 20 April at 10.16 am (CET) by a Zenit-3SL rocket operating from the Sea Launch platform, positioned at the equator in the Pacific Ocean. The SICRAL 1B program is under the joint responsibility of Thales Alenia Space and Telespazio, partners in the Space Alliance for their parent companies Finmeccanica and Thales. From today it is possible to proceed with the programme completion and development and realisation of the SICRAL 2 satellite, in partnership with France. Such a cooperation will be an international synergy for military telecommunication systems.
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Lockheed Martin has begun its first friction stir weld process on an Orion crew module Ground Test Article at the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, La. This ground test article will serve as a production pathfinder to validate the flight vehicle production processes and tools. When completed, this first full-sized, flight-like crew module will be tested on the ground in equivalent flight-like environments, including static vibration, acoustics and water landing loads. Results will be used to correlate sizing models for all subsystems on the vehicle. The initial weld joined an Aluminum-Lithium (AL) 2195 cone panel and AL 2219 longeron using an innovative friction stir welding process. This high-strength, high quality welding process will be used for all crew module welds. Weld operations on the test article will continue for approximately three months. The structure will then undergo mechanical assembly, integration and testing in New Orleans and Denver.
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Boeing has completed major assembly of the first set of wings for the 747-8 Freighter. The new 135-foot 3-inch (41.2 m) wings incorporate the latest aerodynamic technologies to fly farther and more efficiently. The advanced airfoil provides improved overall performance and greater fuel capacity.
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Zurich based Swiss International Air Lines has received its first new A330-300. The aircraft is the first of nine A330-300s ordered in September 2007 to expand the Swiss' medium to long haul network. Powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 772B EP engines, the carrier's first A330-300 is fitted in an all-new, comfortable three-class layout with a total of 236 seats (183 seats in Economy, 45 in Business Class and 8 in First Class).
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Airbus, its parent company EADS and the Russian Technologies State Corporation's integrated structure VSMPO-AVISMA Corporation, the Russian Titanium manufacturer, have signed the biggest and longest-term contract in the history of Airbus/EADS cooperation with Russian industry. The agreement was signed today in Moscow by Sergey Chemezov, General Director of the Russian Technologies State Corporation and Tom Enders, President and CEO of Airbus in the presence of Vladimir Putin, Russian Prime-Minister, Walter Jürgen Schmid, German Ambassador to Russia, Jean de Gliniasty, French Ambassador to Russia and Juan Antonio March Pujol, Spanish Ambassador to Russia. The agreement covers the supply of Titanium to Airbus and other EADS Divisions until 2020. The scope of the contract includes the supply of Titanium and covers die forging parts for all existing Airbus aircraft, including new programmes such as the A350XWB. VSMPO-AVISMA Corporation may also machine Titanium products in order to develop a vertically integrated Titanium supply chain, starting from raw materials to finished products. The contract comes as a confirmation of the framework agreement signed in July 2008 at Farnborough Airshow. The new agreement further boosts the relationship between the companies, which dates back to the early 1990s. It also enlarges Airbus' cooperation with the Russian aviation industry, which currently includes production of components for Airbus at Russian plants, passenger to freighter aircraft conversions (P2F) and joint Research & Technology (R&T) projects.
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Ryanair confirmed that it will close its base at Dusseldorf-Weeze with the loss of 2.5m Passengers and 2,500 local jobs if the decision by the OVG Court in Munster to restrict the airport's operating hours is not overturned. Ryanair has stopped accepting bookings on all flights affected by the change in the airport's operating hours. The airline will review the Court's decision with the Airport and its lawyers but confirmed that the base will close if the court decision to restrict operating hours is not overturned by Wednesday 29 April. Ryanair currently operates 6 based aircraft at Weeze, which deliver 2.5m passengers p.a. and sustain 2,500 local jobs, most of which will be lost if Ryanair closes its base at the airport. Ryanair's Deputy Chief Executive, Michael Cawley, said: “Ryanair and Dusseldorf-Weeze airport have been a huge success story for the entire region. We have grown our routes and passenger numbers rapidly but the OVG Court decision will result in the loss of 2,500 local jobs and Ryanair's 2.5million passengers p.a. if this unworkable, unfair and unnecessary restriction to operating times is enforced. 
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L-3 Communications, the prime contractor for the U.S. Army and Air Force Joint Cargo Aircraft (JCA) program, announced a $203 million order of seven additional aircraft by the JCA Joint Program Office. This January 2009 order brings the current contract total to 13 aircraft. L-3 leads an industry team that includes aircraft manufacturer Alenia Aeronautica, Rolls Royce, Honeywell and Dowty. With the first two C-27J aircraft delivered and crew training under way, the program continues to progress on schedule and on budget. Following the on-time delivery of the first aircraft in 2008, the first C-27J JCA training class commenced in November 2008, preparing pilots and loadmasters to perform multiple mission roles and serve as instructors.
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Bombardier Customer Services formally opened a new component repair and overhaul center for commercial aircraft in Dallas. The $4.3 million facility, located south west of Love Field Airport, will cater for Bombardier's growing number of customers across the United States as well as Central and South America. Focusing on the repair and overhaul of structural components for nacelles, the facility's capabilities will include support for the RB211 E4 and IAE V2500 engine ranges. Occupying 50,000 square feet of workshop, storage and office space at the Pinnacle Industrial Center, the layout was designed using Lean methodology. Currently employing a team of 16, the facility is expected to grow to 60 employees over the next five years.
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As a result of low production volumes within the commercial aircraft production, Saab is serving notices of lay-offs of 300 employees within Saab AB in Linköping. Both office workers and factory employees are affected. The reason for the notice is primarily due to customer delays within major programmes at Saab Aerostructures. This has led to considerably lower production volumes than planned, resulting in a substantial decrease in revenues. The notice affects aviation related operations in Linköping.
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Following intensive negotiations between Austrian Airlines and Flughafen Wien (Vienna Airport), it proved possible to decide on concrete solutions designed to improve the competitiveness of Vienna as a business location: in the spirit of lived system partnership, the two sides agreed to actively increase their synergies through mutual efforts. The transfer incentives applicable to all airlines, which Flughafen Wien will raise by EUR 2.00 to a total of EUR 10.21 for a period of 12 months from 1 July 2009 onwards, will create more competitive framework conditions for Austrian Airlines. By restructuring its fares and extending fare formulas until 2012, Flughafen Wien is creating internationally comparable framework conditions with regard to its cost structure. This will enable Austrian to reduce its costs in the medium term, improving its chances of achieving sustainable cost cuts by 2012. In return, Austrian Airlines has extended by another three years the handling contract which entrusts Flughafen Wien with handling all flights operated by the Group. The contract, which was due to expire this year, will now run until 2012. Austrian's Chief Operations Officer Dr. Peter Malanik and Chief Commercial Officer Dr. Andreas Bierwirth are satisfied they were with the agreement: “In recent weeks, we have successfully implemented a wide range of internal measures, including short-time working and temporary salary waiver amongst staff, as well as an efficiency programme, in order to achieve our savings target of EUR 225 million. We are very satisfied with the agreement that we have achieved today with Flughafen Wien. By implementing the agreed package of measures, Flughafen Wien is improving the competitiveness of our Vienna hub, thereby supporting Austrian Airlines' efforts to build a successful future as its premier system partner. We expect to see similarly positive results from the talks with the other system partners, since it is only in this way that we can safeguard the value of Vienna as a business location.
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The European Helicopter Safety Team (EHEST) has released today its preliminary analysis report on helicopter accidents occurred in EASA Member States between 2000 and 2005. Analysis is the first step towards reducing the helicopter accident rate by 80% by 2016, an objective stated by the International Helicopter Safety Team. To reach this objective, EHSAT, the European Helicopter Safety Analysis Team, was formed with the purpose of identifying safety issues and intervention recommendations. The report presents the results of 186 accidents where a final investigation report has been issued by the responsible Accident Investigation Board. Of the accidents analysed so far, 72 involve General Aviation operations, 66 Aerial Work, 40 Commercial Air Transport, and 8 State Flights. 68% of the fatal accidents and 34% of all accidents analysed by EHSAT occurred during the en route phase of flight. In 33% of the accidents, the pilot had less than 1,000 hours total helicopter experience. In 26% of the accidents, the pilot had less than 100 hours flight experience on the helicopter type involved in the accident. However, accidents also occurred to very experienced pilots. The analysis aims at identifying all factors, causal or contributory, that played a role in the accidents. The top three identified areas are 'Pilot judgment and actions', 'Safety Management and Safety Culture', and 'Pilot situation awareness'.  Different patterns were observed for Commercial Air Transport, Aerial Work and General Aviation.
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Bombardier Aerospace, Lufthansa Flight Training (LFT) and Lufthansa Technical Training (LTT), signed the first Authorized Training Provider (ATP) agreement for the Bombardier CSeries aircraft. The agreement will ensure that European operators of CSeries aircraft have access to world-class training services right at their doorstep. LFT is a wholly owned subsidiary of Deutsche Lufthansa AG while LTT is a wholly owned subsidiary of Lufthansa Technik AG. Under the agreement, LFT will provide pilot training and cabin crew training, and LTT will provide technical training for Europe-based operators of the 110-passenger CS100 aircraft and 130-passenger CS300 aircraft, scheduled to enter into service in 2013. The new ATP will deliver training through an existing network of training centres in various locations across Europe.
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A Cessna Citation XLS landed and took off earlier this year at Qamdo Bangda Airport (BPX/ZUBD) in Tibet, demonstrating the aircraft's capability to operate at the world's highest airport at 14,219 feet (4,334 meters). Operated by the China Flight Inspection Center (CFIC) of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), the flight was to validate navigation aids and to gather information on high altitude operations. Altogether, the aircraft made five landings and takeoffs during the operation in February. “The flight inspection mission flown by the CFIC is one of the most demanding in the world, and one has only to look at this mission for proof,” said Todd Duhnke, Cessna director, International Sales. “The Citation XLS has long been the most popular business jet in production and this achievement is just another example of its great operational performance and versatility.”
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Cessna said at the Sun 'n Fun Fly-In in Lakeland, Fla., development of the Model 162 SkyCatcher program continues. A production SkyCatcher - built in Wichita, Kan. - was involved in an incident during flight test on March 19. The aircraft was undergoing a very aggressive spin test regime - power on and cross-controlled - when it entered a spin that was not immediately recoverable. This spin test was one of more than 500 flown to date using various combinations of center-of-gravity positions, power settings, flap settings and control inputs. The pilot deployed the airframe parachute in accordance with the flight test procedure and emerged from the aircraft unhurt after it touched down. The aircraft was slightly damaged and is being repaired. Cessna has committed to additional testing beyond ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) requirements throughout the aircraft's development; the SkyCatcher will meet ASTM standard F2245 for the light sport category. All engineering work and testing of the 162 is being completed in Wichita at Cessna Aircraft Field Airport adjacent to McConnell Air Force Base. In the coming weeks, Cessna will gather additional wind tunnel data. That information, combined with data from recent spin testing, will be used to refine the configuration before spin testing will be resumed.
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Scaled Composites has historically not released technical status information of its flight test programs while the tests are being conducted. An obvious downside of a public flight test program is that if the team feels like their learning might be taken out of context by the public that they may make decisions that do not properly address test safety instead of public perception. Accordingly, Scaled has made no comment about the active White Knight Two flight test program. However, several recent published articles have been sufficiently inaccurate and negative that we have decided, with our customer's approval, to set the record straight and report briefly on key test results to date.The WK2 has a fully mechanical, reversible control system with no boost or augmentation of any kind. This always represents a challenge from the standpoint of aerodynamic design, since as vehicle size increases, so do control forces. The decision to use a simple, reliable mechanical system on the WK2 is not unusual; aircraft as large as the B-36 and the DC-9 have un-boosted controls for the same reasons. Thus, the WK2 was designed to provide acceptable pilot feel forces without boosted controls. We always expected that the aerodynamics would have to be adjusted as we conducted flight tests in order to optimize the forces (not too heavy, not “overbalanced” and thus too light or unstable. Regardless of aircraft size, it is not unusual to expend a significant portion of the flight tests to optimize pilot feel forces. The good news from the first WK2 flights is that we only needed to adjust the rudder forces. The first flight, with the gear down, also illuminated that the main landing gear wake significantly affected these forces. As a result, we have made three modifications to the rudder aerodynamic balances, along with adding vortex generators to ensure we achieved the maximum effectiveness of these changes. We concluded the rudder aerodynamic modification tasks following flight 3. The basic stability of the WK2 about all three axes is strongly positive, and the aerodynamic design predictions match the flight test data very closely. We have now completed a significant portion of the longitudinal center of gravity envelope expansion with excellent results. Systems development is coming along well, and we will be flying to high altitudes (above 50,000 ft) this summer. Flight 4, conducted on 20 April was very successful, with gear retraction, cg envelope expansion, and systems evaluations. During a touch and go landing, we encountered a significant thrust asymmetry (not a fault of the engines or the design but of an asymmetric idle thrust setting) that resulted in a large yaw upon power-up for the takeoff part of the maneuver. Both rudders were lightly scraped (less than a quarter inch of material) while recovering from this asymmetry. The aircraft behaved extremely well throughout the recovery, and we thoroughly understand the root cause of the asymmetry. Only procedural changes are required to ensure we do not experience it again. This was not a function of the crosswind at landing, which was within previously demonstrated levels. We appreciate the opportunity to set the record straight. In the mean time, do be cautious of what you read if it does not come from either our flight test team or our customer. Also, to state the obvious, you should question the motivations of a publication that reports design or flight test information that is based only on speculation.
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Thales announced that its RBE2 active electronically-scanned array (AESA) radar has successfully completed a new series of tests on the Rafale at the Cazaux flight test centre in Southwest France from February to March. These tests, carried out jointly by Thales and the French defence procurement agency (DGA), provided functional validation of the radar's operating modes. This milestone marks the latest step towards qualifying the RBE2 AESA radars this year in readiness for delivery of the first two units to Dassault Aviation during the first quarter of 2010. The radars will be installed on the aircraft in 2011 for delivery to the French Air Force early in 2012.
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Giving a big boost to its defence surveillance capabilities, India successfully launched an all-weather Israeli-built spy satellite that will help security agencies keep a vigil on the country's borders. Indian space agency ISRO's workhorse, PSLV-C12 rocket soared majestically into a clear sky at 6.45 am on 20 April from the spaceport in Sriharikota and placed its first Radar Imaging Satellite (RISAT 2) and micro-educational satellite ANUSAT into orbit about 19 minutes later in a textbook launch. The 300 kg RISAT-2 will primarily keep an eye on the country's borders round-the-clock and help in anti-infiltration and anti-terrorist operations. A jubilant ISRO Chairman G Madhavan Nair said "the year 2009 has started off well. The final moments of the launch were more thrilling than a cricket match as we hit a few boundaries and bowled some googlies."
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Four Block 8 Eurofighter Typhoons were delivered to their new home, German Fighter Wing 73 “Steinhoff” last week, following a period of QRA duties and in-service testing at Fighter Wing 74 in Neuburg in Southern Germany. On the 14th April, two Tranche 2 aircraft were delivered to the base in Laage, Northern Germany followed by a further two Eurofighter Typhoons on the 16th April. The first Tranche 2 deliveries to Germany began in December 2008.
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The members of kapers, the staff association for SWISS cabin personnel, have voted to approve the proposed new collective labour agreements provisionally concluded by SWISS and the kapers executive committee. The new accords will enter into effect on 1 May, and will remain valid for at least four years. Following their provisional conclusion by SWISS and the kapers staff association, the proposed new collective labour agreements (CLAs) for SWISS cabin personnel have now been approved in a referendum by a large majority of the association's members. One CLA is for cabin crew staff with unlimited contracts of employment working at least 50% who joined the company before 1 October 2006; the other is for freelance cabin personnel. Both will enter into effect on 1 May and will remain valid for at least four years.
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The SWISS Board of Directors named Harry Hohmeister to succeed Christoph Franz as the company's Chief Executive Officer. Hohmeister, who is 45, has been a member of the SWISS Management Board since the beginning of 2005 and has made a major contribution to the company's recent success. He will assume his new duties on 1 July. The Supervisory Board of Deutsche Lufthansa AG today appointed Christoph Franz to the company's Executive Board as Deputy Chairman & CEO. Franz will also serve as CEO of Lufthansa Passenger Airlines. SWISS will continue to be managed as an autonomous airline within the Lufthansa Group. Harry Hohmeister is to be the new Chief Executive Officer of Swiss International Air Lines. 45-year-old Hohmeister was appointed today by the SWISS Board of Directors to succeed current CEO Christoph Franz on 1 July. Hohmeister has been a member of the company's Management Board for more than four years where, as Chief Network & Distribution Officer, he has been a major architect of the company's recent success. He will now serve as Deputy CEO to Christoph Franz, who will familiarise him with his new duties over the next few weeks.
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MTU Aero Engines Holding AG has reported a 10% improvement in revenues to €693.1 million for the first quarter of 2009 (1-3/08: €630.0 million). Discounting the effect of the U.S. dollar exchange rate, revenues decreased by 2%. Operating profit amounted to €75.2 million, compared with €80.0 million in the first three months of 2008. This reduction is mainly attributable to higher research and development expenses, in addition to the impact of the present market situation. The EBIT margin for this three-month period amounted to 10.8%, which slightly exceeds the level expected by MTU for the full year. Net income for the first quarter of 2009 amounted to €31.0 million. This is lower than the figure for the equivalent period one year earlier (1-3/08: €44.2 million), mainly due to a lower financial result attributable to valuation differences and the reduced operating profit. “The figures for the first three months are encouraging and we are optimistic to meet our 2009 targets,” commented Egon Behle, CEO of MTU Aero Engines Holding AG. “They confirm that MTU is well placed even given the constraints of the present difficult market situation.” The increase in revenues compared to the first quarter of 2008 has been boosted by strong growth in the commercial maintenance sector, where MTU's revenues have improved by 17% to €302.4 million (1-3/08: €258.3 million). Excluding the effect of the U.S. dollar exchange rate, MRO revenues increased by 2%. The main source of these revenues was the V2500 engine that powers the Airbus A320 family of aircraft.
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The constituent meeting of the Supervisory Board of Premium AEROTEC GmbH took place in Augsburg. According to German Co-determination Law, the Supervisory Board of Premium AEROTEC GmbH consists of twelve members, of whom six are elected by the shareholders and six are representatives of the employees. Dr Gerald Weber was elected as Chairman of the Board, and Jürgen Kerner as Vice Chairman. The core functions of the Supervisory Board include the control and monitoring of executive management, appointments to the Board of Management and the approval of the Operative Planning and important corporate decisions.
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The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued its type-certificate for the Embraer Model EMB-500 business jet (“Phenom 100”). The EASA "type-certificate" confirms that the design of the aircraft complies with European safety and environmental standards. The Phenom 100 can now be legally registered and operated throughout the European Union. In addition, the type-certificate is valid in Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. The Agency's certification process started in November 2005 with a team consisting of experts from the Agency, CAA-UK and LBA Germany. The team worked in close cooperation with the Certifying Authority ANAC Brazil and the engineering and certification teams from Embraer.
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BAE Systems has developed a new chalcogenide random-access memory product for spacecraft. The company's newest C-RAM device is designed for applications requiring large amounts of radiation-hardened, non-volatile memory, making BAE Systems the first company to combine these attributes in a single device. “The space industry has been looking for a radiation-hardened replacement technology for commercial EEPROM and FLASH memories,” said Tim Scott, national sales manager for BAE Systems' space electronics business in Manassas, Virginia. “This solution combines the speed of faster volatile memory with the benefits of non-volatile memory.”
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