30.11.2009
FLUG REVUE

News Update 30 November 2009 - News in Brief

Our weekly news roundup from around the aerospace industry.

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Pilatus Business Aircraft, Ltd. announced that the U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has taken delivery of its first Pilatus PC-12. The aircraft will be put to multirole use performing cargo, passenger, smokejumper, air tactical, aerial supervision and lead plane fire-fighting missions. BLM said it selected the PC-12 because it is the only aircraft that meets all the mission requirements, and will provide it with significantly enhanced capability at the least annual program cost. BLM estimates that ownership of this aircraft will reduce the direct cost to the government by $1.5 million per year as opposed to contracting for a similar aircraft.
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Lockheed Martin has received a $17.8 million contract from the U.S. Air Force for a software upgrade that integrates critical communications and situational awareness capabilities into the A-10C close air support fighter. The software upgrade will provide improved pilot vehicle interface and enhanced weapons delivery. Also included with the upgrade are software baselines for the helmet-mounted cueing system that increase situational awareness through improved visual cues for the pilot, and the lightweight airborne recovery system that integrates search and rescue capability. The software upgrade is the third in an annual series planned for the A-10 and is scheduled for release in May 2011. The earlier two upgrades were also performed by Lockheed Martin; the first was fielded on schedule in May 2009 and the second is on target for release in May 2010.
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Lockheed Martin successfully delivered a commercial telecommunications satellite for Intelsat, the leading provider of fixed satellite services, into orbit aboard an Atlas V booster provided by United Launch Alliance. The Intelsat 14 (IS-14) spacecraft, built by Space Systems/Loral, will provide high-powered video and data services through its C-band and Ku-band payload to Intelsat customers throughout the Americas, Europe and Africa. IS-14 is also part of an 11-satellite replenishment campaign and will replace Intelsat's 1R satellite once it enters service at the 315 degrees east longitude orbital location. The spacecraft also carries a hosted payload for the Internet Router in Space, or IRIS program, for Cisco Systems.
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Sikorsky Aircraft and AVIC celebrated completion of the first S-76C++ civil helicopter airframe produced in China. The airframe is the first to be built under an agreement between Sikorsky and Changhe Aircraft. The airframe will be delivered to the Sikorsky Global Helicopters facility in Coatesville, Penn., USA, for customization. Additional airframes are scheduled to be delivered in 2010. In 2006, Sikorsky reinforced its manufacturing base in China when it signed a Memorandum of Understanding with China Aviation Industry Corp. II (AVIC II, now AVIC), parent company of Changhe. The agreement laid the foundation for a business relationship between the two companies that has led to the production of the S-76 civil helicopter airframes from Changhe's facility southwest of Shanghai.
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Pratt & Whitney has delivered the 400th F119 engine, which powers the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor, to the U.S. Air Force. This milestone delivery marks a significant accomplishment for the only operational fifth generation fighter engine in service today and demonstrates the maturity of this highly advanced propulsion system.
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Mary Ellen Jones has been named President of the Engine Alliance, a 50/50 joint venture of General Electric and Pratt & Whitney, a division of United Technologies Corp. Jones will succeed Jim Moravecek who will return to Pratt & Whitney in a new leadership position. Jones comes to the Engine Alliance from Pratt & Whitney where she most recently led Commercial Engines & Global Services Marketing. Prior to this role, she served at the Engine Alliance as head of Sales & Marketing.
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Rockwell Collins announced its intent to acquire AR Group, Inc., and its affiliated companies including Air Routing International, a premier provider of trip support services for business aircraft flight operations. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. Air Routing has been providing flight departments with trip planning services for more than 30 years. Recently, the company extended its offering to give customers comprehensive online access to its flight support tools. This offering provides customers with a single-source, global solution for weather services, flight planning services, fuel arrangements, international trip handling and concierge services. The company has 240 employees and is headquartered in Houston, Texas. "The acquisition of Air Routing will broaden our information management and aftermarket services offerings," said Rockwell Collins Chairman, President and CEO Clay Jones. "Air Routing's strong customer relationships, flight operations support services and trusted agent network complement our information management strategy to deliver enhanced value to business aircraft operators."
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Turkish Airlines has signed a firm order for the purchase of two A330-200F freighter aircraft, becoming a new customer for this aircraft type. The aircraft will be powered by Rolls Royce engines and will join Turkish Airlines' existing all Airbus freighter fleet of four Airbus A310s from Autumn 2010. The aircraft will be used to support Turkish Airlines ambitious growth plans, which include the expansion of its cargo operations.
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First flight of the Navy's X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstrator will take place in second quarter of fiscal year 2010 at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. First flight was planned for late 2009. The Naval Air Systems Command UCAS-D program office (PMA-268) and industry partner Northrop Grumman continue pre-flight testing of the aircraft to ensure the system's readiness to fly in early 2010. "This is not in any sense a derivative aircraft," said Capt. Martin Deppe, program manager in Patuxent River, Md. "The Navy is breaking new ground here, and given both the resulting technical complexity and strategic importance of this program, we're taking a closer look before first flight to sort out any integration issues. We intend to do it right." The X-47B ground-based check-outs, surrogate aircraft flight testing, and lab-based integration testing reveal challenges of ushering in a fundamentally new class of aircraft. During recent X-47B system check-out activities, propulsion acoustic issues and engine start sequencing did not operate to required performance levels, requiring engineers to troubleshoot, make associated adjustments and perform additional testing both in the lab and on the aircraft before moving forward, according to Deppe.
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Northrop Grumman completed the first three MQ-8B Fire Scout production deliveries to the U.S. Navy, which completes the first year of Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP) for the Vertical Takeoff and Landing Tactical Unmanned Air Vehicle (VTUAV) program. Two of the three Fire Scouts were deployed aboard the USS McInerney for use on a scheduled operational deployment to complete a Fire Scout Military Utility Assessment (MUA). Prior to the current deployment, Fire Scouts have been aboard the USS McInerney four times since December 2008, completing 110 ship takeoffs and landings and 45 landings with the harpoon grid, accumulating over 47 hours of flight time.
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Successful launch of the Proton-M rocket with Breeze-M upper stage and communication spacecraft Eutelsat W7 took place on Nov. 24 at 17.19 Moscow time from site 200 of Baikonur. The launch passed in the regular conditions. The contract for the launch was concluded between European telecommunications company Eutelsat and International Launch Services Inc. (ILS). The control share holding in ILS belongs to Khrunichev Space Center, which is also the main producer and designer of Proton-M and Breeze-M upper stage. W-7 launch is the eighth launch of Proton in 2009 and the 349 th launch in its history.
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US Airways announced it has completed a series of transactions with key business partners designed to improve its near-term and future liquidity. The Company will significantly reduce capital expenditures over the next three years, eliminate the need to access aircraft finance markets in 2010 and extend certain debt maturities. These transactions improve projected year-end 2009 liquidity by approximately $150 million and generate, in aggregate, approximately $450 million of projected liquidity improvements by the end of 2010. The Company's actions include the deferral of 54 Airbus aircraft previously scheduled for delivery between 2010 and 2012 that are now to be delivered in 2013 and beyond. These deferral arrangements will reduce the Company's aircraft capital expenditures over the next three years by approximately $2.5 billion, and reduce near- and medium-term obligations to Airbus and others by approximately $132 million. In addition, commencement of US Airways' Airbus A350 XWB operations, with aircraft deliveries originally scheduled to start in 2015, will now be postponed until 2017. These deferrals will not significantly alter the airline's capacity plans as aircraft originally scheduled to be replaced will be retained until the rescheduled new aircraft delivery dates. “Although we will slow deliveries during the next three years, over that period we will continue to modernize our fleet, which is already one of the youngest in the United States. The Company will take delivery of two A320 and two A330 aircraft in 2010 and an additional 24 A320 family aircraft in 2011 and 2012,” said Kerr. “We have financing commitments for all 28 aircraft and believe this is a more manageable delivery rate given the current economic environment.”
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The MINT project sees the last in a series of 10 demonstration flights with a Novair Airbus A321 aircraft dedicated to investigate how modern aircraft are able to support performance based operations, leading to significant reductions in emissions and noise impact, also importantly improving the predictability in the air transport system. Based on the experiences and results from flights flown during the summer into Stockholm Arlanda Airport, the MINT project (Minimum CO2 in Terminal Manoeuvring Area) demonstrates today the procedure during a flight dedicated to stakeholders and media. Representatives from the EU Transport Council will be on board, as well as, among others: CANSO, airline operators, and Airbus Head of ATM, Senior Vice President Eric Stefanello. MINT builds on greater navigation accuracy derived from GPS and on-board Flight Management Systems, known as Required Navigation Performance, up linked wind nowcasts tailored to the trajectory, as well as Continuous Descent Arrival. In addition, it is the first time in Europe that flight trials have fully integrated an element of time control enabling the aircraft to fly an optimal trajectory while meeting an air traffic control time gate, reducing the need for holding or 'path-stretching', therefore helping to reduce CO2 emissions.
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Sukhoi has started implementing state contract on Su-35S multifunctional highly maneuverable fighter jets delivery to the Russian Defense Ministry. The contract was signed last August at the MAKS 2009 aerospace show on the delivery of 48 Sukhoi Su-35S before 2015 to the Defense Ministry. This is the largest purchase of modern fighter jets by the Russian Air Force in the past two decades. The Sukhoi's Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aviation Production Association (KnAAPO) in accordance with the approved schedule has already started production of component parts. Contracts were signed with sub-contractors for supply of necessary units, mechanisms and equipment. The assembly of the first serial planes is scheduled for 2010. Long-term contracts for the fighter aircraft delivery to the Russian Air Force and foreign customers allow Sukhoi Company to provide for a steady work load of its serial plants by combat aircraft production and make a shift from modernizing aircraft in the Russian Air Force inventory to production of new products.
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Within the scope of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's visit to France, Safran and Rostechnologies signed a collaboration and partnership framework agreement in Rambouillet. The agreement was signed by Safran Chief Executive Officer Jean-Paul Herteman, and the CEO of the state-owned company Rostechnologies, Sergey Chemezov. The framework agreement defines the general guidelines for collaboration, which will lead to the implementation of joint high-technology projects, in particular concerning engines for helicopters such as the Ka 226, Ka 62 and Mi 34, and associated equipment.
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The Military Air Systems (MAS) Business Unit of EADS Defence & Security in Spain recently signed a contract with the Spanish Air Force to provide the ON Aircraft Scheduled Inspections Industrial Service (OASIIS) for the Eurofighter aircraft being operated at Morón Air Base near Seville. Worth 150 million euros, the contract will run for 10 years and includes scheduled maintenance activities and the procurement and management of consumables for the Eurofighter fleet.
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GKN Aerospace joined tier one industry partners Vestas, Airbus and Rolls Royce in celebrating the Government's announcement of a new National Composites Centre (NCC) to be based in the south west of England. Marcus Bryson, Chief Executive Officer, GKN Aerospace stated: "We were a founding member of the UK's National Composites Network, launched in 2005 and are fully committed to the Government's National Composites Strategy. This new Centre in the South West will be a key facility in enabling UK manufacturing as a whole to develop new composite material applications and to extend our expertise in an area that is a critical UK manufacturing skill for the future." The new NCC is close to two of GKN Aerospace's key UK facilities - at Filton in Bristol and Cowes on the Isle of Wight. GKN Aerospace is the leading independent supplier of composite structures to the global aerospace sector, supporting UK-based companies such as Airbus and Boeing as well as a wide range of international customers. The Company has been a key force in driving forward the use of composites in aviation and is now instrumental in developing new and innovative manufacturing techniques that are extending the performance and environmental benefits of composites further across the airframe and into the aero-engine. Many of the new techniques developed recently are already being implemented in the new automated production facility now being created at the Company's Filton West site in Bristol - and due to be operational in 2010. Filton, acquired from Airbus in January this year, is to be developed as GKN Aerospace's global centre of excellence in aero-structures offering state of the art composite manufacture and assembly with faster turn-around times and greater consistency and quality than has been achievable to date.
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Greg Combet, Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science, has today farewelled the DHC-4 Caribou from Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) service. “One aircraft was received by the RAAF Museum at Point Cook today, while another will be presented to the Australian War Memorial at Canberra airport tomorrow,” Mr Combet said. “Famed for its ability to take off and land on short and unprepared airstrips, the Caribou was purchased to replace the Dakota transport with No. 38 Squadron. A total of 29 aircraft were received between 1964 and 1971. “This aircraft has served in Vietnam, supported United Nations efforts in Kashmir, and has seen extensive service in South East Asia and across the South Pacific,” Mr Combet said.
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