03.08.2009
FLUG REVUE

News Update 3 August 2009 - News in Brief

Our weekly news roundup from around the aerospace industry.

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The first Boeing C-17 Globemaster III acquired by the NATO Airlift Management Organization and the Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC) consortium officially joined the Heavy Airlift Wing (HAW) at Pápa Air Base, Hungary, as part of a ceremony commemorating the activation of a new airlift capability for 10 NATO and two Partnership for Peace nations. The advanced airlifter, known as SAC 01, is the first of three C-17s that will be assigned to the HAW in western Hungary this year and will soon start flying missions in support of the International Security Assistance Force operations in Afghanistan. The unique SAC approach to shared use of the strategic airlifter is viewed as a model for the future acquisition and management of defense capabilities. The SAC nations will share acquisition and operating costs for the C-17s over the nearly 30-year course of the agreement. SAC 01 has been contributed by the United States, a member of the consortium. Hungary agreed to both host the wing at Pápa Air Base and to register the C-17s under the Hungarian flag. Boeing will deliver SAC's two remaining C-17s in September and October. A Boeing team assigned to Pápa Air Base will provide material management, depot maintenance and other support for the C-17s under Global Services & Support's C-17 Globemaster III Sustainment Partnership program.
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In a new study, “The Market for Commercial Communications Satellites: 2009-2018,” Forecast International is projecting deliveries of approximately 262 commercial communications satellites destined for geostationary or medium-Earth orbit, worth $38.7 billion, during the next 10 years. The low-Earth-orbiting (LEO) market, comprising satellites primarily for the provision of mobile communications, will see production of 142 spacecraft worth about $2.7 billion. Most of the LEO spacecraft forecast for production are in response to the solidification of fleet replacement plans for ORBCOMM and Globalstar. “The demand for high-definition television services and mobile satellite services will serve to load the order books for satellite manufacturers globally during the next 10 years,” said John Edwards, Forecast International Space Systems Editor. He added, “There will be a slight spike over the next 36 months, with purchases tapering off somewhat in subsequent years.” Twenty-five spacecraft were ordered in 2008, a slight increase over the 23 ordered in 2007. Early indications for 2009 point to a solid year for commercial communications satellite orders. In spite of a highly unfavorable dollar exchange rate, European manufacturers are holding their own in the commercial communications satellite market. Looking ahead, there should be 20 to 25 orders per year on the open market over the next five years. More than two-thirds of these orders – about 69 percent – will be replacement satellites for existing fleets. The remainder will be for new operators or new applications in the industry. Thales Alenia Space, and the company's Spacebus series, will continue to maintain a healthy share of the communications satellite market in the near term. Keeping with the trend toward longer-lasting communications spacecraft, much of the production in the latter half of the decade is expected to shift over to the Spacebus 4000 platform. Of the 20 to 25 satellites per year, European manufacturers Astrium and Thales Alenia are expected to capture four or five each.
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Rolls-Royce announced plans to build a new wide chord fan blade (WCFB) factory in Singapore. The factory will be located at the Group's Seletar Campus alongside the previously announced `Facility of the Future', which will test and assemble Trent aero engines. Total investment in the Rolls-Royce Seletar Campus, including investment in the WCFB factory, will exceed S$700million (around £300 million). It will create approximately 500 new jobs when fully operational, bringing the number of people employed by the Group in Singapore to around 2,000. Construction of the Facility of the Future and all other elements of the campus, including a regional training centre, will begin in the first quarter of 2010. The new factory will be the first outside the UK to manufacture Rolls-Royce hollow titanium WCFBs, a technology which has played a key role in the success of the Trent engine family. It will provide additional capacity to the Group's Barnoldswick factory in the UK, which Rolls-Royce separately announced today will be receiving further investment.
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Aurora Flight Sciences was awarded a contract for the Air Force Research Laboratories (AFRL) Revolutionary Configurations for Energy Efficiency (RCEE) program. Aurora will explore methods of achieving a 90% reduction in air mobility fleet fuel usage in the 2030-2050 timeframe. The study begins with a comprehensive analysis of airlift and tanker aircraft to determine the best fleet composition, aircraft performance attributes, and technology requirements to meet the aggressive goals. Myriad technologies will be evaluated in aerodynamics, structures, propulsion, subsystems, and operations. As the study progresses, down-selected technologies will be modeled with increasing fidelity and applied within Aurora's multidisciplinary design optimization environment. The program concludes with technology demonstration plans for continued research.
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Boeing and Turkish Airlines have finalized an order for seven Boeing 777-300ER (Extended Range) airplanes valued at $1.9 billion at current list prices. This order is in addition to the five 777-300ERs that Turkish Airlines ordered in April 2009, bringing their total 777-300ER orders to 12. The airline currently operates a fleet of 65 Boeing airplanes including Next-Generation 737s and leased 777-300ERs.
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Hawker Beechcraft Corporation (HBC) announced the launch of the new Beechcraft King Air C90GTx -- the latest advancement for the most successful turbine aircraft in general aviation today. The new C90GTx features impressive enhancements to both payload and performance while remaining one of the greenest and most efficient aircraft available. The C90GTx marks the eighth major King Air upgrade the company has introduced since 2003. "The C90GTx is the latest example of our commitment to keeping the Beechcraft King Air family the most successful turboprop lineup in aviation history," said Bill Boisture, HBC Chairman and CEO. "We took an outstanding product, the C90GTi, and made it even better in the new C90GTx. No other aircraft in its class can compare." Key enhancements to the new King Air C90GTx include an increase in gross weight and the addition of composite winglets, which improve climb performance and further increase fuel efficiency. The maximum ramp weight and maximum takeoff weight of the C90GTx have been increased by 385 pounds to 10,545 and 10,485 pounds respectively. This increase in maximum weight provides the new C90GTx with a full-fuel payload capability of more than 750 pounds -- almost double that of the C90GTi and ahead of any entry-level jet. The ability to carry more fuel with higher payloads increases the four passenger range by more than 200 nm. The C90GTx will be available beginning in early 2010.
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Cessna's second quarter revenues decreased $630 million from the same period last year, reflecting the delivery of 84 jets this year compared with 117 jets last year. Segment profit decreased $214 million primarily driven by the lower sales volume. Segment profit included higher write-downs of pre-owned aircraft inventory and higher unabsorbed overhead costs related to lower production levels and temporary plant shutdowns. These decreases were partially offset by an increase in deposit forfeiture income from order cancellations and lower selling, general and administrative expense largely due to workforce reductions. Cessna backlog at the end of the second quarter was $8.2 billion, a decline of $4.8 billion from the first quarter. The decline included $2.1 billion related to the removal of Citation Columbus orders from the backlog.
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Textron announced that John L. Garrison, Jr. has been named president and CEO of its Bell Helicopter business unit, effective August 1st. He replaces Richard (Dick) Millman, who is retiring after 43 years of service to Textron. Garrison served as president of Textron's Industrial segment since November 2007, leading operating improvements and new product introductions at E-Z-GO, Jacobsen, Greenlee and Kautex. Prior to that, Garrison served as president of E-Z-GO. Prior to joining Textron, Garrison held senior management roles with Azurix Corporation and Case Corporation. He earned a master's degree in business administration from Harvard University and a bachelor's degree in engineering from the United States Military Academy. Before joining industry, Garrison served 10 years on active duty in the US Army as an Airborne Ranger, commanding an 8 inch Artillery Battery in the Republic of Korea, and taught in the Department of Social Sciences at the United States Military Academy. Garrison will continue to report directly to Textron President and Chief Operating Officer Scott Donnelly. “John is a seasoned executive and a proven strategic leader with vast experience in managing manufacturing businesses, serving global customers and bringing products to market,” said Donnelly. “Along with his military experience, this makes John the perfect leader to continue Bell's legacy of supporting both our commercial customers and military warfighters around the globe at a time of significant growth opportunities for Bell.”
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Embraer broke ground for a new industrial unit to be built in the city of Évora, Portugal. Participating in the event were the Prime Minister of Portugal, José Socrates, and Embraer's President & CEO, Frederico Fleury Curado, along with the Mayor of Évora and other Portuguese Government officials. The new 15,000-square-meter facility, scheduled for completion by the end of 2011, will be dedicated to manufacturing complex airframe structures and components in composite materials. The new composite material manufacturing facility will rely on state-of-the-art manufacturing processes, in conjunction with the Company's lean manufacturing initiatives. In order to sustain and further develop the competencies of its centers of excellence, Embraer has been in contact with local organizations, including potential suppliers, research centers, and universities. This facility represents an estimated total investment of € 48 million, which is fully integrated with Embraer's long-term planning and budget, and consistent with Company's economic and financial projections.
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Aircell announced that its new SwiftBroadband solution has received full certification and that customer shipments have begun. The first installation is being completed by 328 Support Services GmbH at its Oberpfaffenhofen facility near Munich, Germany, aboard an executive Dornier 328JET operated by Aviando Services based in Venezuela. Aircell's SwiftBroadband solution allows passengers to seamlessly use their personal laptops and Smartphones for e-mail and light Internet services in flight. They can also use the system's integrated cabin handsets to make and receive voice calls. Aircell's SwiftBroadband solution is powered by Thrane & Thrane. “Executives want to remain productive by staying in touch while they fly and Aircell's new SwiftBroadband solution fulfills that need perfectly,” said Dave Jackson, CEO of 328 Support Services. “Because it is so much faster, lighter and more affordable than previous generations of global technology, the system makes in-flight connectivity a reality for a whole new segment of business aircraft.”
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Indra entered SESAR Joint Undertaking (SJU), a unique public-private partnership founded by the European Commission and Eurocontrol, as a full partner. This joint undertaking will promote the Single European Sky ATM Research programme (SESAR) to investigate and develop technologies with the intention of enhancing air traffic management in the European Union. The total budget of the programme amounts to EUR 1.9 billion until 2016. Within this initiative, Indra co-leads two of the four technological programmes key to SESAR: air traffic control and management of airport operation management. It will also play an important role in other two programmes: communications systems, navigation and air traffic surveillance as well as in the creation the future ATM intranet. The company will participate in 99 projects out of 295 in its field, providing knowledge and experience in technology. This way, it will engage in almost all projects of technological development and continues progress in its acknowledgement as a global ATM industrial leader.
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Boeing and Ethiopian Airlines announced an order for five Boeing 777-200LR (Longer Range) airplanes. In doing so, Ethiopian Airlines becomes the first African carrier to order and operate the ultra-long-range 777-200LR model. Ethiopian was the first African carrier to order the 787 Dreamliner, ordering 10 in 2005. The order is valued at $1.3 billion based on list price. General Electric GE90-115 engines power the 777-200LR. Ethiopian Airlines is currently an all-Boeing operator. With the exception of the 747, it has operated every heritage Boeing commercial airplane since the 707.
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Boeing and SkyHook International announced that the design of the SkyHook Heavy Lift Vehicle (HLV) has reached the configuration freeze milestone, meaning the aircraft's overall performance and layout have been established. Boeing and SkyHook have worked on the SkyHook HLV's structural and systems design and its concept of operations since July 2008, resulting in the following improvements: the addition of a three-piece tail for enhanced maneuverability; integration of lifting and thrusting propulsion systems; improved aerodynamics for increased payload capacity and range. "Boeing's Advanced Rotorcraft Systems team and our industry partner, SkyHook International Inc., are extremely pleased with the progress on the engineering of the aircraft," said Kenneth Laubsch, SkyHook program manager for Boeing. "We all sense that we are part of something revolutionary in the advancement of this extraordinary technology, and the aerospace industry in general." The next major program milestone will be Detailed Design in 2011, which centers on the design, analysis and specification of all hardware, software and related aircraft and ground support systems interfaces.
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All airline members of the oneworld alliance serving Barcelona's El Prat airport are to transfer their operations into its new Terminal 1 with effect from 9 September. Five of the alliance's carriers serve the airport - Iberia along with its affiliate Iberia Regional Air Nostrum, American Airlines, British Airways, Finnair and Royal Jordanian. Iberia's value-based associate, Vueling, which is not part of oneworld, is also moving to Terminal 1 at the same time. oneworld Vice-President Customer Experience and Airports Robert Antoniuk said: "oneworld's airports strategy is to bring the operations of its member airlines together wherever it makes sense and where opportunities allow.  The opening of this magnificent new facility at the Iberia group's second home Barcelona provide just the ideal chance to do just that."
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Ethiopian Airlines, one of the largest and fastest growing airlines in Africa, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for 12 Airbus A350 XWB aircraft, becoming a new Airbus customer. The airline has selected the A350-900, and will operate the aircraft from their hub in Addis Ababa, linking Africa with Europe, the US and Asia. Firm orders for the A350 XWB now stand at 493 from 31 customers worldwide.
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Honeywell introduced its AV8OR ACE, a new seven-inch touch screen handheld Global Positioning System (GPS). The Bendix/King by Honeywell AV8OR ACE is being introduced at introductory pricing of $1,999 at the EAA AirVenture air show, and is now available at authorized sales and service centers. The AV8OR ACE offers a large display - seven inches - and is as easy to use as the highly touted AV8OR handheld introduced last summer, thanks to its touch screen user interface. The AV8OR ACE provides geo-referenced FAA charts, eliminating the need for general aviation pilots to carry paper charts. "The AV8OR ACE is able to display your airplane directly on High/Low Enroute Charts, Approach Plates and Airport Diagrams to increase situational awareness," said Chad Cundiff, Vice President, Crew Interface Systems Marketing & Product Management at Honeywell. "AV8OR ACE customers can obtain digital charts and approach plates from Seattle Avionics Software, a leading provider of aviation software, and the unit integrates smoothly with their popular Voyager Flight Software System to ensure the safest, most efficient route. Over time, we expect to provide our customers with additional charting options."
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The Pratt & Whitney F135 engine has surpassed 12,000 engine test hours as part of the system development and demonstration (SDD) phase of the development program. This achievement, in addition to the 3,600 test hours accumulated during the F-35 concept demonstration program, puts F135 engine test hours at more than 15,600. The F135 engine program remains on track to support overall F-35 development and transition to production. Pratt & Whitney is scheduled to deliver the first seven production F135 engines later this year. The F135 conventional take-off and landing (CTOL) engine and short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) propulsion system continue to power the F-35 Lightning II flight test programs with 113 flights and more than 134 flight test hours. Additionally,
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The U.S. Air Force has authorized continued development of the Operationally Responsive Space (ORS) program that features Goodrich Corporation's satellite. This build authorization follows a successful critical design review that Goodrich completed eight months from the beginning of the contract – a remarkable achievement for such a complex and capable system. Satellite delivery and launch are on schedule to occur in 2010. Work is being performed by Goodrich's ISR Systems business in Danbury, Conn. The Goodrich ORS Sat-1 satellite system will provide color pictures of regions selected by ground force commanders, and use existing ground systems to process and distribute the images and other information out to the battlefield. The system is designed to support urgent military needs, while establishing a foundation that will advance the multi-mission modular approach required for future ORS satellites.
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Raytheon completed a series of captive carry flight tests of its proposed solution for the GBU-53/B Small Diameter Bomb II competition, demonstrating the weapon's form-factored seeker is ready for guided test shots. "The test series demonstrated our form-factored tri-mode seeker and guidance receiver navigator are ready to enter the engineering and manufacturing development phase," said Harry Schulte, vice president of Raytheon Missile System's Air Warfare Systems' product line. "We have proved the technical readiness of a superior and affordable solution." The UH-1 enabled the Raytheon team to conduct more seeker data passes at a much lower cost on all required targets than would have been possible with a fast-moving jet aircraft. Using the helicopter also allowed engineers to thoroughly evaluate the GBU-53/B's terminal approach to targets, something not practical with fighter aircraft test platforms.
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Sagem (Safran group) and Stemme have successfully carried out the first campaign of flight tests for the Patroller long-endurance surveillance UAV system, scheduled to be qualified in 2010. The campaign, which took place from June 10 to June 30, 2009, in Kemijarvi (Finland), totalled 8 flights, including several endurance ones. A flight longer than 10 hours brought it to an end. The campaign demonstrated the platform's entire range of performances, and in particular its capability to carry out long duration missions. Takeoff, flight control, automatic landing and operation of the image-intelligence payload were also demonstrated. Patroller draws on Sagem's skills in operational UAV systems and Stemme's in high-performance light aircraft. With excellent cost efficiency, it has heightened performance: 30 hours autonomy, operational altitude of 25 000ft, maximum speed of 300 km/h. Patroller™ is modular with tried and tested components, including an image chain based on Sagem's Euroflir 410 gyrostabilized optronic observation system and a Synthetic Aperture Radar pod from OHB. Down the line it will be able to carry other payloads (ie, air relays and maritime radars).
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Cessna announced its Model 162 SkyCatcher Light Sport Aircraft is in compliance with ASTM International standards for Light Sport Aircraft. Deliveries are expected to begin before year's end. “This is significant not only for Cessna, but for the aviation community as a whole,” said Cessna Chairman, President and CEO Jack Pelton. “Once these airplanes enter service, they will act as a catalyst for increased pilot starts. They will significantly change the economics of ownership and operation for flight schools, aircraft renters and aircraft owners, and will benefit the entire GA community.” The Model 162 SkyCatcher is a two-place, single-engine piston, high-wing aircraft in the Light Sport Aircraft category, defined in the United States as an aircraft with a gross weight under 1320 pounds and with a top speed of no more than 120 knots. LSAs are built to ASTM International standards.
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AgustaWestland announced that the government of Trinidad and Tobago has signed a contract to purchase four AW139 medium twin turbine helicopters. Trinidad and Tobago's Air Guard (TTAG) will establish a dedicated unit to use these helicopters for search and rescue, surface surveillance, law enforcement, drug interdiction and disaster relief operations. The contract also includes an extensive training and logistical support service for the first five years. The contract, comprising the aircraft and support package, is valued at US$348 million.
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Northrop Grumman recently completed a series of static and dynamic proof load tests to validate the design and structural integrity of the U.S. Navy's first X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) for aircraft carrier launches, recoveries and at-sea operations under the UCAS Carrier Demonstration (UCAS-D) program. "Arrested landings, catapult launches, high winds, pitching deck, subsonic speeds, you name it - the operating environment of the carrier air wing is unforgiving," said Scott Winship, vice president and program manager of the Navy UCAS program for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems sector. "The X-47B was built for these conditions, and as the results of the rigorous proof test show, the design of the aircraft is structurally sound for all aspects of carrier operations." Conducted over a two-month period with NAVAIR involvement and oversight, the first X-47B underwent a series of progressive structural, functional proof and calibration tests to verify the integrity of all flight control surfaces, major structural load paths, main landing gear structure and tailhook assembly.
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The CH-53K's engine, the GE38, took center stage at a ceremony held at General Electric in Lynn, Mass., last week. Navy, Marine Corps and Sikorsky members of the Heavy Lift Community joined to congratulate GE employees on the completion of the first full GE38 engine test. This first engine test, which began June 24, focused on basic engine checkout and risk reduction with all engine test parameters operating within predicted values. “It is my mission to enable the support of effective and affordable systems for the warfighter,” said Rear Adm. Steve Eastburg, program executive officer for Air ASW, Assault and Special Mission programs. “You did what you said you would do for the Navy and Marine Corps Team – develop the GE38 within cost and within the schedule you stated from the beginning.” The next engine test, slated to begin late this year, will verify performance and durability.
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Boeing announced the completion of the acquisition of the business and operations conducted by Vought Aircraft Industries at its South Carolina facility, where a key structure for the 787 Dreamliner is built. The acquisition agreement was announced originally on July 7. The newly acquired facility, located in North Charleston, will be called Boeing Charleston. Boeing Charleston will be managed by the 787 program as a wholly owned subsidiary. Boeing Charleston will continue to perform fabrication, assembly and systems installation for 787 aft fuselage sections, which are made primarily of composite materials.
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Embraer recorded net sales of US$ 1,456.6 million in the second quarter 2009 (2Q09), and net income of US$ 67.8 million, equivalent to diluted earnings per ADS of US$ 0.3750. In 2Q09, Embraer delivered 56 jets to the commercial aviation, executive aviation and defense segments, compared to 52 jet deliveries in the second quarter of 2008 (2Q08). The Company's firm order backlog on June 30, 2009, remained stable compared to the previous quarter, totaling US$ 19.8 billion. The backlog of the EMBRAER 170/190 family accumulated a total of 882 firm orders and 794 options, with 328 aircraft to be delivered. Despite a higher number of deliveries, net revenues for 2Q09 totaled US$ 1,456.6 million, or a 10.9% decrease from the US$ 1,635.0 million in net revenues of 2Q08, basically due to a different product mix in 2Q09, also including 15 Phenom 100 jet deliveries. The gross margin for 2Q09 totaled 23.1%, or an increase over the 21.9% gross margin of 2Q08, mainly due to productivity gains achieved through the P3E program, widely commented on by the Company.
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The U.S. Navy has awarded a multi-year contract authorizing Raytheon to begin development of the Advanced Airborne Sensor, the follow-on to the Littoral Surveillance Radar System (LSRS). The AAS program will equip the P-8A Poseidon, the Navy's next patrol maritime aircraft. LSRS is currently operational on Navy P-3C Orions; the AAS will provide airborne radar surveillance with next-generation line-of-site capability. Awareness and action are critical not only to today's mission, but the ever changing threats of tomorrow. "We will be ready with intelligent technology when the Poseidon takes its place as the Navy's ISR capability in the fleet," said Capt. Scott Anderson, LSRS and AAS program manager. As the sensor prime contractor, Raytheon will oversee the mission systems integration, consisting of the development, production and installation of the AAS on the Poseidon. Raytheon will work closely with its associate prime contractor, Boeing, for engineering, aircraft modifications, integration and flight test.
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The European Aviation Safety Agency plans to propose an Airworthiness Directive mandating that all Airbus A330/A340 aircraft currently fitted with Thales pitot probes must be fitted with at least two Goodrich probes, allowing a maximum of one Thales BA type probe to remain fitted on the aircraft (each aircraft is equipped with 3 pitot tubes). The older Thales probes of the type AA would no longer be fitted. All three types comply with the applicable safety standards and the Agency's proposals are therefore intended as a precautionary measure. The publication of the Agency's proposals with further details, which are still being elaborated, is foreseen within the next 14 days. The Agency's proposals, which have been agreed with Airbus, are based on pitot probe performance data which the Agency has analysed in recent weeks.
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Aiming to achieve the highest speed ever recorded for a helicopter, Sikorsky Aircraft X2 Technology demonstrator has relocated to the company's Florida flight facility as it begins the next phases of testing in the experimental program. The X2 Technology demonstrator combines an integrated suite of technologies intended to advance the state-of-the-art, counter-rotating coaxial rotor helicopter. It is designed to demonstrate a helicopter can cruise comfortably at 250 knots while retaining such desirable attributes as excellent low speed handling, efficient hovering, and a seamless and simple transition to high speed. For the past three years, the X2 Technology demonstrator program has been located at the Sikorsky Global Helicopters operation in Horseheads, New York, where the demonstrator achieved first flight last year. "The move to Sikorsky's West Palm Beach facility signifies a major turning point in this program as we have officially concluded Phase One testing," said Jim Kagdis, Program Manager, Sikorsky Advanced Programs.
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RotorWay International is proud to present the Eagle 300T, powered by the Rolls-Royce 300 engine. The Eagle 300T builds on over 40 years of experience of producing the best, most cost effective helicopters in the industry. With over 2400 helicopters in 52 countries throughout the world, RotorWay International now introduces turbine power to the market. The Eagle 300T will fill a niche in the initial turbine training market that is currently not being served. The Eagle 300T will be the most cost effective way for the professional pilot to build turbine hours. The ability to practice cargo slinging operations with our two seat turbine trainer will give much needed versatility to the training market. The RotorWay International two seat turbine helicopter will not only be a welcome addition to every flight school in the world but also to the helicopter aviation community at large. The Eagle 300T is American ingenuity at its best.
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On 30 June 2009, the first flight of a Tiger Helicopter fitted with two MTR390 Enhanced Engines has been achieved. The MTR390 Enhanced Engine will equip the French-Spanish HAD variant, as well as the German UHT variant (for the last 16 UHTs). Compared to the MTR390-2C which currently equips the HAP and UHT variants, the Enhanced Engine brings additional power (+14%) in an extended range of temperature (especially hot weather). It enables the HAD variant to have a Maximum Take-Off Weight increased from 6.1 to 6.6 tons.This first flight represents a major step for the TIGER capability in general and for the HAD programme in particular.
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NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) President Keiji Tachikawa signed an agreement defining the terms of cooperation between the agencies on the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission. The ceremony took place Thursday at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. Building on the success of the NASA-JAXA Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM), GPM will begin the measurement of global precipitation, a key climate factor. It is an international collaboration that includes NASA and JAXA, with anticipated contributions of data from other international partners. GPM is also the cornerstone of the multinational Committee on Earth Observation Satellites Precipitation Constellation that addresses one of the key observations of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems. The heart of the GPM mission is a space-borne core observatory which serves as a reference standard to unify measurements from a constellation of multinational research and operational satellites carrying microwave sensors.
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