31.08.2009
FLUG REVUE

News Update 31 August 2009 - News in Brief

Our weekly news roundup from around the aerospace industry.

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Boeing and Canadian airline WestJet announced an order for 14 additional Next-Generation 737-700s. The airline currently flies an all-Boeing fleet of 81 Next-Generation 737s. WestJet also has announced a plan to reschedule 16 leased and direct-purchase airplanes. "The new order of Boeing 737-700s will enable us to continue serving our guests with one of the most modern fleets in the air," said Sean Durfy, WestJet president and CEO. "At the same time, we'll have enhanced flexibility to deliver on our vision of becoming one of the top five airlines in the world by 2016." Including this order, WestJet has 54 additional Next-Generation 737s scheduled for delivery.

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The JCSAT-12 communications satellite, designed and built by Lockheed Martin for SKY Perfect JSAT Corporation (SKY Perfect JSAT) of Japan, was successfully launched on 21 August from Kourou, French Guiana. Lift-off occurred at 6:09 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) aboard an Ariane 5-ECA launch vehicle provided by Arianespace of Evry, France. Initial contact with the satellite was confirmed at 7:17 p.m. EDT from Lockheed Martin's satellite tracking station in Uralla, Australia. JCSAT-12 is a high-power hybrid satellite consisting of 30 active Ku-band transponders and 12 active C-band transponders that will provide broadcast and broadband services to Japan, Oceania, the Asia-Pacific region and Hawaii. JCSAT-12 is designed for a minimum service life of 15 years and will serve as a back up satellite for other SKY Perfect satellites following in-orbit check of all systems. The spacecraft was delivered to the launch site in Kourou 22 1/2 months after the contract was awarded to Lockheed Martin.

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A NATO E-3 AWACS took part in six-hour combat scenarios that demonstrated interoperability between its prototype interrogator and various joint platforms that interrogate in the same mode in July flying at an observation point 100 miles off the coast of Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md. During the multiservice, multinational Joint Operational Test Approach Operational Assessment, a combined international E-3 team -- led by a Hanscom Air Force Base 635th Electronic Systems Squadron team-- had the opportunity to test the interrogator in a genuine multiservice environment. A team from the 635th ELSS, the Electronic Systems Center team responsible for test and development of the aircraft's Mode 5-capable UPX 40 Interrogator, was among Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps participants there to test their respective interrogators and transponders.

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Boeing has modified the Standoff Land Attack Missile Expanded Response (SLAM ER) to engage land-based moving targets (LMT). The U.S. Navy declared the missile system, with its enhanced targeting software, operationally effective against LMTs on July 2 following a successful Operational Evaluation. "Upgrading SLAM ER with the land-based moving target function adds a key capability to the warfighter's arsenal," said Steve Morrow, Boeing director of Naval Weapon Programs. "We look forward to helping the Navy train the fleet to use this new capability." A four-part series of developmental and operational flight tests demonstrated the system's network-centric ability to use third-party targeting. During its final test flight in January, SLAM ER scored a direct hit against a remote-controlled, land-based moving target. Previous test flights included an operational test launch, also in January, and engagement with remote-controlled mobile targets in 2006.

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Boeing and Norwegian Air Shuttle management and airline staff celebrated as the low-cost airline completed its first direct purchase and delivery of a new 737-800 at Boeing Field in Seattle, Wash. Norwegian Air Shuttle CEO Bjorn Kjos said the delivery of the 737-800 marks an important milestone in the Oslo, Norway-based airline’s history. “Having already leased 13 Boeing 737-800s, we know there are good reasons why the Next-Generation 737 is the best-selling airplane in the world,” said Kjos. “It’s because Boeing is constantly improving the 737 family of airplanes. It’s the right answer for a point-to-point airline like Norwegian Air Shuttle.”

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The RAF Tornado GR4/4A fleet is to benefit from a £28m Mid-Life Fatigue Programme (MLFP) contract which is aimed at seeing the fleet through to its planned Out-of-Service Date (OSD) in 2025. The Tornado GR4 aircraft remains the most capable ground attack platform within the RAF inventory. Recent investments in state-of-the-art avionics, defensive aids, precision weapons and reconnaissance systems have ensured the aircraft remains a potent and flexible offensive air platform. Sustainment of this robust capability is vital to the RAF and to its successful involvement in current and future operations. This Phase 2 programme follows a concept phase that established the best way of dealing with aircraft fatigue issues identified during routine monitoring, and will involve technical demonstrations to assess the best method of delivering them. Its outcome will inform Phase 3, which will seek approval to roll-out the programme across the fleet, ensuring that the fatigue life of key areas of the aircraft's front and centre fuselage are extended to the OSD. The MFLP contract was awarded through the NATO Eurofighter and Tornado Management Agency (NETMA) to Panavia. The work will be carried out by BAE Systems at its Warton plant in Lancashire, involving some 30 technical staff. Design and development will be carried out at EADS in Manching, Germany. The Phase 2 programme will see the design and trial installation of structural modifications into one in-service aircraft on a trial basis, taking about three years to complete. At that stage a final decision will be taken on progressing to Phase 3 which, if approved, could see the modifications embodied in 40 aircraft at a cost of about £207m.

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Lockheed Martin announced that the second Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS) Highly Elliptical Orbit (HEO-2) payload and associated ground systems have been certified for missile warning operations by U.S. Strategic Command. SBIRS is designed to provide early warning of missile launches, and simultaneously support other missions including missile defense, technical intelligence and battlespace awareness. "The certification of HEO-2 for missile warning operations is another major operational achievement for the SBIRS team," said Col. Roger Teague, the U.S. Air Force SBIRS Wing Commander. "The HEO system is delivering revolutionary new surveillance capabilities to combatant commanders and we look forward to continued strong progress on this critical national security space program." The formal certification by U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) completes the system development, operational activation and certification process, demonstrating the capability of the SBIRS HEO sensor and associated ground systems to provide timely, accurate and unambiguous warning data in support of USSTRATCOM missions.

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Eurocopter and UTair Aviation signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to establish a certified Eurocopter Flight Training Center in Tyumen, Russia. This new flight training centre will commence operations at the beginning of 2010 and will allow flight crews and technicians to be trained locally in Russia to operate Eurocopter helicopters. This agreement is a new step in the cooperation that Eurocopter and UTair have started to establish several years ago. In 2008, the two companies decided to create an integrated technical maintenance center in Tyumen to support the Eurocopter fleet in Russia. This Eurocopter certified maintenance center will open its doors towards the end of 2009.

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Qantas has taken delivery of its fourth Airbus A380, with the aircraft touching down in Sydney after a ferry flight from Toulouse, France. Qantas Chief Executive Officer, Mr Alan Joyce, said the addition of the aircraft to the fleet would see Qantas A380 services to Los Angeles and London increase from 7 September.  "Our A380 services, which commenced in October 2008, have been incredibly popular with customers and the aircraft has generated extremely positive customer feedback," Mr Joyce said.
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Lycoming Engines announced Michael Kraft as its new senior vice president and general manager, replacing Ian Walsh who was promoted to Chief Innovation Officer at Textron Systems. Lycoming is an operating unit of Textron Systems. As Lycoming's senior vice president and general manager, Kraft will oversee all aspects of the business, reporting to Fred Strader, chief operating officer of Textron Systems. Formerly Lycoming's vice president of Research, Development & Engineering, Kraft led a high-performing team that accelerated product development, while still meeting the company's high engine safety and performance standards. He also led Lycoming's Air Safety Investigation unit.

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The U.S. Navy has awarded Northrop Grumman a contract valued at approximately $2.4 billion for the refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH) of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). The work will be performed by the company's Shipbuilding sector in Newport News, Va. and will include the refueling of the ship's reactors, as well as extensive modernization work to more than 2,300 compartments, 600 tanks, and hundreds of systems. In addition, major upgrades will be made to the flight deck, catapults, combat systems and the island. The carrier is scheduled to arrive at the shipyard this month. "During this large and complex project, we'll touch almost every part of the ship," said Jim Hughes, Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding's vice president of aircraft carrier overhaul and fleet support. "As in the past, we look forward to working with our Navy partner to meet quality, cost and schedule commitments as we increase and modernize Roosevelt's capabilities to return her to the fleet for another 25 years of service."

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Aero-Instruments announced that it has begun customer deliveries of Federal Aviation Administration-approved replacement Pitot Probes for installation on Airbus S.A.S.-manufactured aircraft. After 18 months of testing and evaluation, including stringent anti-icing and de-icing testing, the FAA approved Aero-Instruments' 0851HL-AI Pitot Probe for installation on the more than 4,500 Airbus A318, A319, A320, A321, A330 and A340 series aircraft in operation worldwide. Aero-Instruments is one of only three companies in the world whose Pitot Probes are approved for Airbus commercial aircraft. The availability of the new Aero-Instruments devices helps meet increased worldwide demand for replacement Pitot Probes for Airbus-manufactured aircraft. "The testing and approval of these precision-engineered parts was an appropriately rigorous process, and, now, we are ramping up our manufacturing quickly to help meet the increase in demand for replacement Pitot Probes," said Ryan S. Mifsud, Vice President / General Manager, Aero-Instruments. "Our ability to deliver such a high-performance product and superior customer service is essential to our customers. Products are being shipped as ordered, and we are building our inventory to help meet the needs of the Airbus fleet." In granting Parts Manufacturer Approval (PMA) for the Aero-Instruments 0851HL-AI Pitot Probe, the FAA concluded that the part meets or exceeds the agreed upon certification plan, which was based on the requirements of TSO C-16A, including the anti-icing requirements outlined in SAE AS393, AS8006, and BS2G.135.

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NASA and Air Force Office of Scientific Research officials recently announced the launch of an environmentally-friendly, safe propellant comprised of aluminum powder and water ice. "By funding this collaborative research with NASA, Purdue and the Pennsylvania State University, AFOSR continues to promote basic research breakthroughs for the future of the Air Force", said Dr. Brendan Godfrey, the AFOSR director. The collaborative team of Drs. Steven F. Son and Tim Pourpoint of Purdue, Rich Yetter and Grant Risha of Penn State, Vigor Yang of Georgia Tech, Harold Bell and Frank Bauer of NASA, and Mitat Birkan and Thomas Russell of AFOSR watched as the rocket soared 1,300 feet into the sky near Purdue University in early August. Doctor Son said the success of the flight can be attributed to "a sustained collaborative research effort on the fundamentals of the combustion of nanoscale aluminum and water over the last few years." "This collaboration has been an opportunity for graduate students to work on an environmentally-friendly propellant that can be used for flight on Earth and used in long distance space missions," said Mike Ryschkewitsch, the NASA chief engineer at NASA headquarters in Washington. "These sorts of university-led experimental projects encourage a new generation of aerospace engineers to think outside of the box and look at new ways for NASA to meet our exploration goals."

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Lockheed Martin delivered the 50th C-5B Galaxy strategic transport modified under the Avionics Modernization Program (AMP) back to the Air Force. This completes the AMP modifications to the C-5B fleet. Modification of the C-5A fleet continues at Travis and at Dover AFB, Del. Current plans call for the entire 111-aircraft C-5 fleet to receive the AMP modifications. "Completing the B-model fleet marks a significant milestone for the AMP program," said Lorraine Martin, Lockheed Martin C-5 vice president. "We are at the halfway point in AMP aircraft redeliveries, our modification teams have consistently been on or ahead of schedule, and our quality has been exceptional. We are delivering a significant capability to the warfighter, enabling the C-5 to fly wherever it's needed around the world." AMP is the first phase of a two-phase modernization effort for the C-5. The AMP modifications replace the earlier analog avionics in the Galaxy with a commercially available, digital avionics suite along with an integrated architecture that allows for upgrades. The entire system is designed to increase safety, ease crew workload and enhance situational awareness.

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BAE Systems has established a new, state-of-the-art aircraft maintenance centre in North Queensland to better support the Australian Defence Force (ADF)’s current and future aviation needs. The Hon Greg Combet, Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science, today officially opened the company’s new, purpose built hangars at Townsville Airport. The facility, built at a cost of $10 million, is the home of BAE Systems’ support program for the Australian Army’s Black Hawk and Chinook helicopter fleets, and provides employment for 140 people. It replaces former hangars used by BAE Systems which dated back to World War II and lacked space, amenities and air conditioning. Jim McDowell, Managing Director of BAE Systems Australia, said the new facility was perfectly placed to provide long term military aviation support to the ADF’s airborne assets garrisoned at Townsville (5th Aviation Regiment and RAAF Base Townsville).

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Eurocopter announced the contract signature of another 2 EC225 helicopters with the Ministry of Transport (MOT) / China Rescue and Salvage Bureau (CRS). A mere 2 years after the delivery of its first 2 EC225 helicopters in December 2007, this signature took place in the presence of MOT Vice Minister Mr. WENG Mengyong, Captain SONG Jiahui, Director General of the CRS, Mr. FU Shula, President of AVIC International Holding Corporation and Mr. Norbert DUCROT, Senior Vice-President Asia Pacific Sales for Eurocopter. To be delivered in 2011, these 2 new EC225 helicopters will be operated by the China Rescue and Salvage Bureau for SAR missions. They will strengthen the MOT’s existing fleet of 10 helicopters and 2 fixed wing aircraft, which are currently operated by 4 flight teams stationed throughout China.

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Raytheon's Standard Missile-6 has completed tests which validate the extended-range anti-air warfare missile's airframe and autopilot performance. By performing a series of preprogrammed maneuvers, the SM-6 missile was pushed to the limits of its performance, allowing the U.S. Navy to gather vital simulation validation data. "The technology that was proven in this test will provide the Navy with the weapon system it needs for outer and area defense to defeat current and future missile threats," said Louis Moncada, Raytheon Missile Systems' director of the SM-6 program. "This control test vehicle launch is the fourth test of the SM-6 following two guided test vehicle launches in 2008 and the recent advanced area defense interceptor test in May." SM-6 takes full advantage of the legacy Standard Missile airframe and propulsion elements, while incorporating advanced signal processing and guidance control capabilities of Raytheon's Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile. This merger of these two proven technologies allows SM-6 to use both active and semiactive modes.

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AgustaWestland and UI International (UII) announced they have been awarded a contract by the Korean Public Procurement Services to supply the Korea National Police Agency (KNPA) with one AW119Ke law enforcement helicopter as part of an on-going programme to modernise the Police helicopter fleet. This is the first AW119Ke to be purchased by the Korean Government and the third law enforcement helicopter sold into the Korean market. It will join two KNPA AW109 helicopters that have been in service for a number of years.

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Embraer delivered a Legacy 600 executive jet to vibroair Flugservice GmbH&Co.KG, last week, at Embraer's headquarters in Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil. This is the first aircraft to be delivered to the German customer, based at Dusseldorf International Airport, and represents the beginning of a long-term relationship between the companies. Vibroair has firm orders for two light Phenom 300 executive jets to be delivered in 2014, as well as a midsize Legacy 500 for the same year.

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The Engine Alliance's GP7200 engine has marked a successful first year in service with Emirates. Since entering service in August 2008, the GP7200-powered Airbus A380 has had no in-flight shutdowns, and the engine has demonstrated a departure reliability rate greater than 99.9%. "Over the last year, the GP7200 engine has outperformed expectations and is the most fuel efficient engine in commercial service with the lowest noise signature on the A380," said Engine Alliance Vice President Bill Blair. "The engine's performance is a testament to the hard work and efforts of employees at both member companies who have developed a strong collaborative relationship focused on delivering and supporting our customers."

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NASA has named Robert M. Lightfoot, Jr., as the director of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Lightfoot  had served as the acting director of the center since March. From 2007 to 2009, Lightfoot was deputy director of Marshall and shared responsibility for managing the center. Marshall has played a critical role in advancing NASA's exploration mission, including leading development of the Ares I rocket and the Ares V heavy cargo launch vehicles and a lunar landing mission. Lightfoot served as manager of the Space Shuttle Propulsion Office at Marshall from 2005 to 2007.

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A comprehensive National Aerospace Assessment (NAA) prepared by Naverus and delivered this summer to the Swedish air navigation service provider LFV, will help develop the roadmap for a Swedish network of Performance-based Navigation.  LFV commissioned Naverus to prepare the PBN report as an integrated part of its Green Flights project.  The project's goal is to reduce the systemwide environmental load from air traffic.  Implementation of PBN navigation procedures is a foundation for realizing the goals of the European SESAR program as well as a requirement of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).  An ICAO resolution calls for all member states to develop a PBN roadmap by the end of 2009.  In addition, earlier this year,  major aviation stakeholders from around the world signed a PBN declaration calling for states to accelerate the deployment of PBN. The Swedish NAA, prepared by Naverus, examined current air traffic operations in Swedish airspace and identified PBN benefits achievable in the near- and mid-term.  The NAA will help LFV and aviation stakeholders in Sweden manage the transition from conventional ground-based navigation to PBN.

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In the second quarter of 2009, the consolidated revenue of Air Berlin decreased by 3.8 percent to EUR 836.2 million due to planned capacity reductions, as compared to EUR 868.9 million in the second quarter of the previous year. EBITDAR reached EUR 134.9 million (Q2/2008: EUR 131.6 million). EBIT increased by 33 percent to EUR 17.6 million (Q2/2008: EUR 13.2 million). Net profit for the second quarter of 2009 reached EUR 7.1 million (Q2/2008: EUR 7.8 million). In the second quarter of 2009, the number of passengers transported decreased by 5.5 percent in comparison with the previous year, reaching 7.245 million. This decrease is lower than the average decrease recorded in the European airline sector. Over the first six months of 2009, Air Berlin transported 5.8 percent fewer passengers than in the corresponding period of the previous year. The number of passengers welcomed on board decreased from 13.5 to 12.7 million. Although, due to the decrease in demand, capacity adjustments were effected, in particular to flights within Europe and to intercontinental flights, Air Berlin was able to further improve its relative market position in Europe. Available seat kilometers (ASK) decreased by 10.5 percent, from 26.9 to 24.1 billion. Revenue per passenger kilometer increased by 13.4 percent, i.e. from 7.33 to 8.31 Eurocents. Capacity utilization of the 128-plane fleet decreased from 77.1 to 74.8 percent, i.e. a decrease of 2.3 percentage points. Consolidated turnover decreased, namely from EUR 1.522 to EUR 1.497 billion.

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Lufthansa is commencing services from Munich to Taschkent from 28 March 2010, with thrice-weekly flights to the Uzbek capital. The route will be flown for Lufthansa by a Boeing 737 operated by the Swiss carrier, PrivatAir, seating 24 passengers in Business Class and 84 in Economy Class. "With this new destination, we are laying on a first direct connection from our Munich hub to Central Asia. Our passengers will enjoy very personal comfort on the route on board the Boeing 737-800," said Thomas Klühr, Group Representative and Head of Hub Management Munich.

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Royal Navy flying training is receiving a significant boost thanks to a £57 million service contract with Ascent, a joint venture of Lockheed Martin and VT Group. This new contract will provide an incremental approach to Basic Observer Training improving the current course with the Basic Flying Training phase carried out in new aircraft. The new Basic Observer Course will be delivered by Ascent in three phases. Phases 1 (Introductory Flying Training and Common Core Ground School) and 2 (Elementary Navigation Training) will be conducted at RAF Barkston Heath, the flying elements being delivered on the Grob 115Es, owned by the VT Group. Phase 3 (Basic Flying Training) will be conducted at RNAS Culdrose on four new MOD-owned Beechcraft B350ER King Air aircraft. The contract in-turn includes a sub-contract between Ascent and Cobham plc that will see FR Aviation, part of Cobham, integrate a radar and tactical mission training system into the King Air aircraft and thereafter conduct maintenance and continuing airworthiness services.

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