29.06.2009
FLUG REVUE

News Update 29 June 2009 - News in Brief

Our weekly news roundup from around the aerospace industry.

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AerCap Holdings announced that Abu Dhabi-based investment holding company Waha Capital PJSC has agreed to acquire a fifty percent stake in AerVenture Limited. The remaining fifty percent will be held by AerVenture's current parent company AerCap. The parties have committed to a combined total equity investment in AerVenture of US$270 million. The joint venture agreement was signed in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates today by Salem Rashid Al Noaimi, CEO of Waha Capital and Klaus Heinemann, CEO of AerCap. Completion of the transaction is scheduled before the end of June 2009. AerVenture, established in 2006 with a focus on new Airbus A320 family aircraft, has a US$2.4 billion asset base that includes 22 A320s plus firm orders for a further 32. AerVenture had become a wholly-owned subsidiary of AerCap earlier this month following the termination of its joint venture with two Kuwaiti co-investors, LoadAir and Al Fawares. Salem Rashid Al Noaimi, CEO of Waha Capital said: "The AerVenture joint venture is an example of the promising opportunities on offer in the current economic environment, opportunities that Abu Dhabi is leveraging to fulfill its diversification goals."
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British based Virgin Atlantic Airways, has signed a firm contract to buy six Airbus A330-300 long-range aircraft, and is leasing a further four from AerCap. Fleet renewal with the A330 reflects Virgin's commitment to replace older aircraft and to invest in the worlds' most environmentally efficient fleet. Virgin's A330-300s can seat up to 270 in Upper Class, Premium Economy and Economy, and introduce revolutionary onboard cabin products and innovations for every passenger. The aircraft will allow Virgin to offer enhanced services between the United Kingdom and the United States and the Caribbean, for the business as well as the leisure traveller. "The A330s will be a great addition to our modern and fuel efficient fleet and will also add immense operational flexibility as well as offer revolutionary new cabin products. At the same time, the A330s fits with Virgin's commitment to invest in the worlds' most environmentally efficient aircraft." said Steve Ridgway, CEO Virgin Atlantic Airways.
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Turkish Airlines signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for seven Airbus A330 widebody aircraft. The order includes two of the increased take-off weight version of the A330-200, which offers an extended flying range of up to 7,200 nautical miles, and five A330-300s. With deliveries scheduled from August 2010, Turkish Airlines will use the aircraft on their regional and long-haul routes. Turkish Airlines already operates 67 Airbus aircraft, including five A310s, 46 A320 family aircraft, seven A330s and nine A340s, fully exploiting the advantages of the unique Airbus commonality, allowing the airline to use the same pool of pilots, cabin crews and maintenance engineers.
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NASA has signed a $144 million follow-on contract with ARES Corp. of Burlingame, Calif., for International Space Station Program integration and control services. ARES will provide support for configuration management, data management, information technology, safety and mission assurance, vehicle integrated performance, resource and budget analysis, program schedule development, engineering and technical services, spacecraft integration, international partner integration and strategic analysis planning. The three-year contract is effective Oct. 1, 2009 through Sept. 30, 2012, and includes two one-year options that could extend the contract through Sept. 30, 2014. If both options are exercised, the total value of the indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract would be $180 million.
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CAE and the Quebec government announced an investment of up to C$274 million in a new research and development (R&D) program extending over seven years. The Quebec government will participate through a repayable investment which could reach C$100 million and CAE's share of the program is C$174 million. The aim is to leverage CAE's modelling, simulation and training services expertise into the promising sectors of healthcare, heavy equipment, mining and energy. Investissement Quebec will handle the funding and the follow-up for the Quebec government contribution. "CAE is a world leader in modelling and simulation for aerospace and defence. We intend to leverage our expertise into fields that have similar challenges. Fields where safety is imperative and there is little margin for error, where task complexity and costs of training on real equipment are very high," said Robert E. Brown, CAE's President and Chief Executive Officer. "In addition, this new development axis will enable us to continue diversifying our activities.".
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AerCap Holdings announced that it has signed letters of intent with Virgin Atlantic Airways for the purchase and leaseback of six Airbus A330-300s that Virgin Atlantic has on order with Airbus. In addition, AerCap will lease four Airbus A330-300 aircraft to Virgin Atlantic from its own A330 order. The lease terms for all aircraft are twelve years and deliveries are scheduled for 2011 and 2012. Virgin Atlantic has not yet selected the engine type. AerCap expects to finance the six new aircraft purchases under its existing funding facilities. The four aircraft for direct lease to Virgin Atlantic were the only remaining positions from AerCap's order of thirty Airbus A330s placed in 2006/2007.
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The Digital Map Generator System (DMGS) from EADS Defence & Security (DS) has been certified for use on board the A400M military transport aircraft in good time. Approval for use in flight was granted as part of a first flight acceptance review carried out by Airbus. In parallel to this, conformity of the equipment with certification requirements was examined by the military aviation authorities. Due to the fact that the certification is based on civil regulations, general flight acceptance for all European airspace is also possible. The first DMGS from Defence Electronics, an integrated activity of DS, had already been delivered to Airbus' Toulouse site two years ago and tested since then under laboratory conditions. In this context, special attention was paid to checking the interfaces to other systems. Finally the DMGS proved to be able to meet the high demands of Airbus. The DMGS is part of a product family of navigation and tactical information systems which Defence Electronics in Friedrichshafen has developed for many different types of military aircraft. For example, a modified version of the system adapted to meet the individual operational requirements is also deployed in the Eurofighter as well as in the Tiger and NH90 helicopters of the German Armed Forces.
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The Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, successfully completed its most significant early mission milestone Tuesday with a lunar swingby and calibration of its science instruments. The satellite will search for water ice in a permanently shadowed crater at the moon's south pole. With the assist of the moon's gravity, LCROSS and its attached Centaur booster rocket successfully entered into polar Earth orbit at 6:20 a.m. PDT on June 23. The maneuver puts the spacecraft and Centaur on course for a pair of impacts near the moon's south pole on Oct. 9. "The successful completion of the LCROSS swingby proves the science instruments are functioning as expected. It is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the entire team" said Dan Andrews, LCROSS project manager at NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif. "We are elated at the results from the maneuver and eagerly anticipate the impacts in early October." During its swing by the moon, the spacecraft's instruments were turned on and calibrated by scanning three sites on the lunar surface. These sites were the craters Mendeleev, Goddard C and Giordano Bruno. They were selected because they offer a variety of terrain types, compositions and illumination conditions. The spacecraft also scanned the lunar horizon to confirm its instruments are aligned in preparation for observing the Centaur's debris plume.
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After a four and a half day journey from the Earth, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, has successfully entered orbit around the moon. Engineers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., confirmed the spacecraft's lunar orbit insertion at 6:27 a.m. EDT Tuesday. During transit to the moon, engineers performed a mid-course correction to get the spacecraft in the proper position to reach its lunar destination. Since the moon is always moving, the spacecraft shot for a target point ahead of the moon. When close to the moon, LRO used its rocket motor to slow down until the gravity of the moon caught the spacecraft in lunar orbit. "Lunar orbit insertion is a crucial milestone for the mission," said Cathy Peddie, LRO deputy project manager at Goddard. "The LRO mission cannot begin until the moon captures us. Once we enter the moon's orbit, we can begin to buildup the dataset needed to understand in greater detail the lunar topography, features and resources. We are so proud to be a part of this exciting mission and NASA's planned return to the moon."
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Airservices Australia and Naverus have signed a contract that will lay the foundation for the worlds' first nationwide Performance-based Navigation (PBN) network, delivering significant reductions in aircraft emissions and noise, reduced flight miles and substantial fuel savings. Airservices CEO Greg Russell and Naverus CEO Steve Forte explained that the initiative was the first of its kind in the world to more than 170 world air traffic control delegates who gathered yesterday at the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO) Annual General Meeting in San Diego, California. In a groundbreaking move, Airservices Australia, the national air traffic control organization, and Naverus, a global PBN solutions provider, will develop Required Navigation Performance (RNP) procedures (a form of Performance-based Navigation) for arrival and departure flight paths at up to 28 major airports around Australia over the next five years. Appropriate collaboration and consultation will occur with all affected stakeholders, including the community, in the development of these environmentally friendly procedures. The program could create a reduction of 122 million metric tons of CO2 emissions and save 39 million kg of fuel per year based on actual flight-trial experience at Brisbane, Mr. Russell and Mr. Forte said.
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Ryanair announced cuts in its winter based aircraft, flights and jobs at Dublin and Shannon Airports as the Government's €10 tourist tax continues to devastate Irish traffic and tourism. In the first five months of 2009 traffic at Dublin Airport has fallen by 11%, a loss of 1 million passengers in just five months. If this traffic collapse continues for the full year it will mean the loss of 2.5 million passengers, 2,500 jobs at Dublin Airport and €750 million of tourism spend in the Irish economy in 2009. Ryanair today announced that it will cut its base aircraft by one at both Dublin (from 17 to 16) and Shannon (from 4 to 3) this winter, resulting in the loss of 350,000 passengers and 350 jobs at Dublin Airport and a further 300,000 passengers and 300 jobs in Shannon Airport.
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The Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company, the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, and a national and international team of co-investigators have been selected by NASA to develop a new Small Explorer Mission (SMEX) called the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph (IRIS). The Lockheed Martin Space Systems Advanced Technology Center (ATC) in Palo Alto has scientific payload and overall mission responsibility. Construction, integration and testing of the IRIS spacecraft will be done by the Lockheed Martin Space Systems Sensing & Exploration Systems (S&ES) organization. In addition, mission operations and some system engineering will be the responsibility of NASA Ames in Mountain View, Calif. Mission costs will be capped at $105 million, excluding the launch vehicle. IRIS fills a crucial gap in our ability to advance Sun-Earth connection studies by tracing the flow of energy and plasma through a dynamic interface region - the chromosphere and transition region - between the solar surface and the solar corona. Here all but a few percent of the non-radiative energy leaving the Sun is converted to heat and radiation. The remaining few percent create the corona and solar wind. Magnetic fields and plasma exert comparable forces in this region, and IRIS is uniquely suited to provide the observations necessary to pinpoint the physical forces at work in this little understood piece of real estate near the surface of the Sun.
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Sikorsky Global Helicopters, a Sikorsky company, today marked the 25th anniversary of the first delivery of the aircraft now known as the S-300C(TM) helicopter. The first 300C helicopter manufactured by Schweizer was delivered to the Baltimore Police Department on June 24, 1984. Schweizer Aircraft Corp., since renamed Sikorsky Global Helicopters, acquired the licensing rights to the 300C program from Hughes Aircraft Co. in 1983 and began production of the first Schweizer-manufactured 300C helicopters the following year. Within eight months of signing the agreement and shipping Hughes' entire manufacturing inventory in 32 tractor-trailers from California to the Schweizer facility in New York, the first helicopter was assembled, test flown, and delivered. Eleven helicopters were delivered in 1984, and within three years production quadrupled. Schweizer purchased the entire 300C helicopter program in 1986.
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Elbit Systems announced that it will supply the Israeli Ministry of Transportation with the C-MUSIC system (commercial multi-spectral infrared countermeasure) under a contract in the amount of approximately $76 million. The system, to be supplied by Elbit Systems' wholly owned subsidiary, Elbit Systems Electro-optics El-Op Ltd., is to be installed aboard a variety of commercial aircraft owned by Israeli commercial airlines. C-MUSIC is based on the MUSIC system, a direct infra-red countermeasure technology for military aircraft and helicopters that disrupts missiles fired at aircraft and causes them to veer off course by transmitting a laser beam. The systems' reliability, rapid-response and ability to deal with multiple threats is considered to be among the most advanced systems of its kind in the world today. Elbit Systems' MUSIC system completed a series of flight tests recently.
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Rolls-Royce has achieved a significant milestone in the Adaptive Versatile Engine Technology (ADVENT) research program, delivering the adaptive fan system rig on schedule to the U.S. Air force Compressor Research Facility (CRF). Rig testing will commence and will validate the performance of a key component of the LibertyWorks ADVENT engine. Testing will be conducted over several months and will focus on variable cycle engine performance, a critical component in achieving high-thrust capability for take-off and maneuvering, while reducing fuel consumption for long range and loiter operations. Phil Burkholder, Chief Operating Officer for LibertyWorks®, said: “The LibertyWorks technologies being created for the ADVENT program represent a revolution in gas turbine engines, improving existing performance capabilities while delivering the benefits required by our customers: lower fuel burn and greater range. Achieving this critical milestone is an important step toward demonstrating the benefits of adaptive propulsion in future aircraft.” The ADVENT technology demonstrator program, undertaken by Rolls-Royce North American Technologies, Inc. (LibertyWorks), is funded by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). ADVENT is part of Versatile Affordable Advanced Turbine Engines (VAATE), an initiative sponsored by industry and Government partners to advance state of the art turbine engine technology for military and commercial aviation.
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Qantas announced it had reached mutual agreement with Boeing to defer the delivery of 15 B787-8 aircraft by four years and cancel orders for 15 B787-9s scheduled for delivery in 2014/2015. Qantas Chief Executive Officer, Mr Alan Joyce, said the changes to the Group's B787 orders were appropriate in the current climate, and that discussions with Boeing, which commenced some months ago, had not been influenced by the announcement this week of a design issue and further delay to the aircraft's first flight. "Qantas announced its original B787 order in December 2005, and the operating environment for the world's airlines has clearly changed dramatically since then," Mr Joyce said. "The agreement we have reached with Boeing will provide greater certainty going forward in terms of our fleet renewal and growth strategies as well as broader resource planning and matching capacity with demand. "It will also allow Qantas to manage capital investment more effectively while still delivering an aircraft that offers sound prospects for our flying businesses and our customers. "For both Qantas and Jetstar, the B787 will provide for international capacity growth and new routes, including point-to-point destinations, and mean lower operating and maintenance costs, greater fuel efficiency and improved environmental performance. "The latest delay is disappointing, but we do not expect it to impact the Qantas Group given these changes to our delivery program. We remain committed to the aircraft as the right choice - for Jetstar's future international expansion, Qantas' growth and as a replacement for Qantas' B767-300 fleet." After the order changes, the Qantas Group will jointly remain the biggest airline customer for B787 family aircraft. The changes will see: Qantas Group firm orders reduce from 65 to 50 aircraft, comprising 35 B787-9s and 15 B787-8s; the Group's first 15 aircraft - B787-9s for Jetstar's international operations - delivered from mid-2013, around three years later than planned. Jetstar was to take delivery of 15 smaller B787-8s in mid-2010; 15 B787-8s follow over the 12 months from the fourth quarter of 2014 for Qantas' Australian domestic operations and to retire the remaining Qantas B767-300 fleet; remaining deliveries, of 20 B787-9s for both Qantas and Jetstar international operations, take place from the fourth quarter of 2015 through to 2017; and Qantas retain the ability to purchase up to 50 additional aircraft.
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Green light for Lufthansa and Brussels Airlines: the European Commission has granted regulatory approval for the tie-up of the two airlines. The decision paves the way for Lufthansa to acquire an initial 45 per cent stake in SN Airholding SA/NV, the parent company of Brussels Airlines. Clearance from the EU competition authority will also give Lufthansa an option, from 2011, to buy the remaining 55 per cent stake in Brussels Airlines once it has secured the necessary traffic rights, thereby completing the takeover of the Belgian carrier. The transaction is expected to be finalised by the end of this month. Regulatory clearance will enable both carriers to realise synergies, further strengthen their competitive position and intensify their cooperation – to the benefit of their respective customers. Harmonised schedules, which will lead to improved connections at the Frankfurt, Munich, Zurich and Brussels hubs, are just one of the advantages that customers can look forward to in future. Today, Lufthansa and Brussels Airlines passengers already profit from the partnership between the two airlines in the run-up to Brussels Airlines' accession to Star Alliance. Besides offering code-share flights on cross-border routes between Germany and Belgium and to other destinations in Europe, Lufthansa, Brussels Airlines and SWISS have forged a reciprocal arrangement that allows members of their respective frequent flyer programmes to earn and redeem miles throughout the partner's network. From the end of October 2009, Privilege, the loyalty programme operated by Brussels Airlines, will be integrated into Miles & More, Lufthansa's frequent flyer scheme. Furthermore, since the introduction of the summer timetable, fares offered by both airlines on cross-border routes have been combinable. This means that passengers of either airline who have a ticket for a round-trip flight between Belgium and Germany can take one flight with Lufthansa and the other with Brussels Airlines. Lufthansa's and Brussels Airlines' airport lounges are already open to status customers and Business Class passengers travelling with either carrier.
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Lufthansa Technik AG has successfully expanded its component support services onto the complete Aeroflot Group, now serving aircraft of all branches of the biggest Russian aviation company. After several years of successful partnerships with Aeroflot Russian Airlines and Aeroflot Don, the Arkhangelsk based Aeroflot Nord recently became the newest member of Lufthansa Technik`s customer base on the Russian market. According to the new five-year-contract, Lufthansa Technik will provide 15 Boeing 737 Classic aircraft of its new customer with a Total Component Support TCS. In line with this product Lufthansa Technik experts will take care of all aspects of supplying Aeroflot Nord's fleet with components from writing the specifications, initial provisioning studies, home base allocation to repair and overhaul, troubleshooting, documentation and engineering services.
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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced international scheduled traffic results for May showing passenger demand declining 9.3% compared to the same month in previous year while freight demand was down by 17.4%. International passenger load factors stood at 71.2%, down from 74.5% recorded in May 2008. The 17.4% decline in international cargo demand is a relative improvement compared to the 21.7% drop in April. Since December 2008, cargo demand has been moving sideways in the -20% range. This is one of the first physical signs of the economic recovery being anticipated in equity markets. International passenger demand weakened from the -3.1% recorded in April to -9.3% in May.  But both of the past two months have been slightly stronger than the 11.1% decline reached in March, even after adjusting for the distortions caused by the timing of Easter. This indicates that a floor may now have been reached. However, the capacity adjustment of -5.0% in May did not keep pace with the fall in demand during the same month. Moreover, although the impact of the recession appears to be stabilizing, strong headwinds from debt and low asset prices are expected to weaken and delay any significant recovery. “We may have hit bottom, but we are a long way from recovery,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's Director General and CEO. “Capacity is not aligned with demand. Passenger load factors dropped 3.3 percentage points over the last 12 months. The impact on revenue is dramatic. After a 20% fall in international passenger revenue in the first quarter, we estimate that the drop accelerated to as much as -30% in May. This crisis is the worst we have ever seen,” said Bisignani.
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Like the advertisement that speaks to the value of a product, Northrop Grumman´s new Beyond-Line-of-Sight (BLOS) communications capability is priceless for troops on the ground. That is the sentiment coming from the 116th Air Control Wing, which flies the U.S. Air Force E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS). The company completed delivery of the new airborne broadband and Internet Protocol (IP) communications capability on the E-8C earlier this year. The ground stations, trainers and the full fleet of aircraft have been equipped with the IP-based BLOS communications system, which provides chat, e-mail and web-browsing capabilities across the U.S. Department of Defense secure network. The BLOS capability upgrade was developed in response to an Urgent Operational Need (UON) program request received in September 2007 to support the warfighter's requirement to communicate on a global scale using Internet-based technology. Included in the BLOS product are critical information assurance (IA) designs, which ensure the integrity, security and correct accessibility of classified communications.
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SkyTeam announced significant milestones in the creation of a new centralized organization for the alliance. Since naming a managing director in April 2009, SkyTeam has recruited six executives from its partner airlines to serve on the core management team and secured a location in Amsterdam for the company headquarters. While a key function of the management team is to collaborate on alliance business, the dedicated SkyTeam staff is also responsible for helping to enhance existing benefits as well as develop new benefits for passengers. "SkyTeam has operated as a virtual entity since its inception," said Marie-Joseph Male, managing director, SkyTeam. "However, as the industry becomes increasingly complex and the alliance continues to pursue global growth, the transition to a central management structure remains a top priority. We have already made significant progress, and the alliance is working diligently to ensure the office is up and running no later than fourth quarter of 2009." SkyTeam's core management team will be responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations of the alliance, including: marketing, sales, airport synergies and transfer product, cargo, advertising and brand, alliance operations, finance, corporate communications and alliance administration.
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JSC “Irkut Corporation” has summed up 2008 according to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). In 2008 Irkut Corporation revenue amounted to 1,247,971 thousand USD. The revenue went up by 22% compared to 2007. The Irkut revenue shows a tendency to grow within the past few years and is likely to stay that way judging by the voluminous order-book. Corporation's 2008 gross profit increased by 30% compared to 2007 and amounted to 400,022 thousand USD. Gross profitability totaled to 32%, which is 2% above the same of the preceding year. Irkut leadership undertakes a complex of measures aimed at maintaining Corporation's stable situation within the global financial crisis. At Irkut's production facility – Irkutsk Aviation Plant the actions are being taken to reduce costs and introduce “lean management.” Due to the taken measures against the sharp growth of interest rates at the financial market the Corporation retained the 2007 level of loan interests' payoff expenses. These expenses increased by 0.8% only. Irkut Corporation intensifies work on perspective programs while the managerial expenditures are practically the same as in 2007. Irkut Corporation strictly fulfills its financial obligations. In April 2009, all Credit Linked Notes (CLN) for 125 mln. USD were paid off fully and on time. At the same time rather negative circumstances of 2008 resulted in 34,886 thousand USD loss. Main reasons: re-evaluation of some financial assets and unfavorable exchange rates. Regardless of negative macroeconomic factors Irkut Corporation implements investments program ensuring production facilities re-equipment, as well as development and production pre-run for the perspective air vehicles.
In 2009 the company commences flight trials of Yak-130 combat-capable trainers to be delivered to the foreign customer.
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Orbital Sciences Corporation, the world's leading manufacturer of smaller-sized geosynchronous (GEO) communications satellites, announced today that the MEASAT-3a satellite, which is based on the company's STAR-2 platform, was successfully launched into orbit during a mission that took place on Sunday, June 21, 2009. Orbital designed, built, integrated and tested the MEASAT-3a spacecraft for MEASAT Satellite Systems of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The satellite was delivered into its initial orbit by a Land Launch Zenit-3 rocket launched from the Baikonur Cosomodrome in Kazakhastan. Results from early tests of the satellite indicate that it is operating as planned for this phase of its mission. The MEASAT-3a satellite is the fourth communications spacecraft in MEASAT's in-orbit fleet. It will provide C-band communications services throughout Asia, the Middle East and Africa, and Ku-band direct-to-home television broadcasting to Malaysia and Indonesia. It is designed to generate approximately 3.6 kilowatts of payload power and carries 12 C-band and 12 Ku-band transponders. Over the next several weeks, the spacecraft will be maneuvered to its final orbital slot at 91.5 degrees East longitude over Southeast Asia.
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