05.10.2009
FLUG REVUE

News Update 5 October 2009 - News in Brief

Our weekly news roundup from around the aerospace industry.

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Embraer officially delivered the first EMBRAER 190 jet to the Brazilian Government in a ceremony held at the Brasília's Air Force Base in Brazil's capital. The aircraft is especially configured for missions involving the President of the Republic and will be operated by the Special Transportation Group (Grupo de Transporte Especial – GTE) of the Brazilian Air Force (Força Aérea Brasileira – FAB). The contract signed by Embraer and the Aeronautics Command (Comando da Aeronáutica – COMAER), in June 2008, also includes a second aircraft of the same model. In support of the two EMBRAER 190s, the FAB signed a five-year Embraer Support Solutions for Governments (ESSG) contract. This program provides logistical support covering maintenance services, material support, specialized field engineers, and managing repairs and warranties.
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The U.S. Air Force Aerial Demonstration Team, the Thunderbirds, took to the Australian sky Sept. 26 showcasing the power and precision that embodies Air Force Airmen worldwide. Flying wingtip-to-wingtip formations and in solo maneuvers, the Thunderbirds put on a show for a crowd of more than 70,000 spectators lining the beach in Townsville and filling the balconies of hotels for miles around. "When I was 12, I actually had a Thunderbirds replica model," said Jason Bitossi, a local man who enjoyed the Thunderbirds' recent visit "down under" with his son, Kyle. The Thunderbirds typically travel from mid-March to Mid-November in the continental United States, and only travel overseas semi-annually. It's been more than a decade since the Thunderbirds performed in Australia; however, the airshow was about much more than the aerial demonstration. While hundreds of man-hours went into the planning and execution of the show, the relationship between America and Australia goes back much further.
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Goodrich´s Landing Gear business has signed an innovative agreement with a major airline in which Goodrich will use the airline's rotable landing gear as part of its landing gear overhaul services. Under the agreement, Goodrich will offer the rotables as exchange units to other airlines that purchase landing gear overhaul services. Aircraft types covered are Boeing Next Generation 737-700/800/900 models and 777-200ER models.
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TUI Travel continues to believe that the Boeing 787 Dreamliner is the ideal aircraft for its airline's long-haul requirements. Not only will it be able to fly greater distances than equivalent aircraft today but it will do so with greater fuel efficiency and additional comfort for our customers. We have been in extensive discussions with Boeing, however, and it is the intention of both parties to agree to cancel ten of the 23 787 aircraft that we had on order, whilst adding purchase rights, with no obligation, for a further 13 787 aircraft. This optimises the flexibility around our long haul capacity and we expect to receive delivery of the first 787 aircraft in early 2012.
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In its new analysis entitled “The Market for Light Aircraft Retrofit & Modernization,” Forecast International estimates that nearly $1.7 billion will be spent on upgrades for fixed-wing aircraft weighing less than 70,000 pounds during the 2009-2018 period. As the electronics sector has stabilized after a spike fueled by FAA mandates, the market will be led by propulsion upgrades. “In the light aircraft market, emotion and personal preference play a much greater role than in other markets,” said Adam Feld, airborne R&M analyst and author of the report. “An operator may choose one aircraft over another purely due to taste, and a new aircraft is often preferable to an older one, even if modernization has bridged any gaps in performance.” With a new generation of very light aircraft entering the market – with some as cheap as $1.5 million – the retrofitting option is losing its cost advantage. Some of the more appealing electronics retrofits, such as Wide Area Augmentation Systems (WAAS), are relatively affordable, while others, like re-engining, can cost more than an entirely new aircraft. However, private operators are often more interested in maximizing their investment through performance upgrades rather than focusing on efficiency. Comfort can also be a priority, one that is rarely affordable in other markets, such as the military sector. Re-engining and refurbishment programs that include engine modification are also more popular in the light aircraft market. “While militaries and large carriers struggle to find funding for expensive fleet-wide re-engining efforts, a private individual or corporation may have an easier time fitting in a new engine or two,” said Feld. "Smaller fleets and cheaper engines can make the price easier to manage, even with a comparably smaller budget."
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Lockheed Martin delivered the first set of new production P-3 Orion wings to the company's launch customer, the Royal Norwegian Air Force, on Sept. 25. The milestone delivery ushers in a new era of P-3 life cycle sustainment. The new production wings are the cornerstone of Lockheed Martin's P-3 Aircraft Service Life Extension Program (ASLEP). ASLEP replaces the outer wings, center wing lower surface assembly, horizontal stabilizer, wing and horizontal stabilizer leading edges and various filet fairings. All necessary fatigue-life limiting structures are replaced, leading to significantly reduced maintenance and sustainment costs. New alloys are employed that provide a fivefold increase in corrosion resistance. ASLEP is the only solution that removes all current airframe flight restrictions on the P-3. The RNoAF will receive six life extension kits, two conditional kits and engineering support under the contract. Other ASLEP customers to date include U.S. Customs & Border Protection, Canada and Taiwan. Additionally, the U.S. Navy has contracted with Lockheed Martin for 13 sets of P-3 outer wings.
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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) announced international scheduled traffic results for August. Compared to August 2008, passenger demand was down 1.1%, (an improvement compared to the 2.9% decline in July), and freight demand fell by 9.6% (also an improvement compared to the 11.3% drop in July). Compared to August 2008, passenger load factors improved by 1.2 percentage points to 80.9%. Despite the tighter supply and demand conditions average fares continue to be depressed (-22% for premium seats and -18% for economy). To match capacity with demand, airlines have reduced daily aircraft utilization in recent months. For example, average daily hours for the global Boeing 777 fleet dropped by 2.7% to 11.1 hours per day through the first eight months of the year.  Lower utilization helps load factors, but spreading fixed asset costs over fewer hours in the air pushes up unit costs. “Demand continues to improve, but profitability remains ever distant,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's Director General and CEO. “Fares have stabilized, but at profitless levels. Meanwhile cost pressures are mounting from reduced aircraft utilization and rising oil prices. The industry is not out of the woods yet,” said Bisignani. Compared to the low point of December 2008, seasonally adjusted freight demand has improved by 12%, but remains exceptionally weak at 16% below April 2008 levels when the fall in demand began. All regions saw improved demand conditions in August compared to July: “Even with improving demand, there are few bright spots in the industry. This must point us to the need for some fundamental re-thinking. At the top of the list for change are the industry's antiquated rules of the game which restrict access to markets and to international capital. This industry needs to operate as a normal business. Liberalization of ownership rules could be a lifeline for airlines as we approach a difficult fourth quarter,” said Bisignani.
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Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia), Saudi Arabia's national airline, has taken the delivery of its first Airbus A320 becoming the newest operator of the aircraft. The aircraft was acquired under a long term lease agreement with ALAFCO. The A320 will be deployed on routes in the region, to Europe and to the Indian subcontinent, from Saudia's hub in Riyadh. Depending on configuration, the A320-200s, will seat between 120 and 132 passengers in two-classes. The aircraft are powered by CFM56 engines.
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Today, 1st October 2009, Aerolia is pleased to announce the integration in its perimeter of the Systems personnel and activities from Airbus Saint-Nazaire. This agreement is part of the Airbus strategy to concentrate on its core activities of aircraft architect and integrator. With an annual production of 250,000 shaped pipes, 35,000 welded tubes and 6,000 subassemblies at Saint-Nazaire, Aerolia is reinforcing its human competencies and its technologies adapted to its strategy of systems activity development. "My message is first addressed to the women and men of the Systems Unit. On behalf of all our teams I would like to welcome them to Aerolia, a company on a human scale but with global ambitions" said Christian Cornille, CEO of Aerolia.
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According to Forecast International's annual review of the market for airborne anti-submarine warfare (ASW) sensors, the next 10 years will see production of more than 199,000 systems valued at $6.1 billion. This growth in the airborne ASW sensor market reflects the fact that aircraft remain the most mobile, flexible, and cost-effective ASW systems available to the world's navies. Despite economic doubts and uncertainties surrounding the defense industry in the first decade of the 21st century, aircraft continue to be the most dangerous adversary faced by a submarine fleet. "Airborne ASW systems are likely to be the first line of defense against any major submarine threat over the next decade," said Stuart Slade, senior naval editor at Forecast International. For that reason, the research and development funding that accounts for nearly half of this sector's fiscal value is of critical importance for the future of the market as a whole. In the analysis, Slade notes the dynamic nature of this market sector's technology, which is revolutionizing submarines: the introduction of air-independent propulsion for diesel-electric submarines; new weapons and sensor technologies; new silencing techniques; and, perhaps most significantly, the widespread introduction of unmanned underwater vehicles for more hazardous duties. Silencing techniques, originally designed for nuclear boats, have made the latest diesel-electric designs remarkably quiet. At the same time, ASW detection technology has also advanced. Computers continue to increase their processing speed, allowing data to be handled more quickly and accurately. The advanced technology allows more accurate detection of the source of a sound, providing the ability to disentangle the slight and transient sounds made by a submarine from the sea's background noises. Improving datalinks and information dissemination means that target data can get from the spotter to the shooter with minimum delay.
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Thales Alenia Space announced it has signed, on September 29, 2009, a contract with the APT Satellite Company Limited, a leading satellite operator in the Asia Pacific Region for the design, manufacture and delivery on ground of a high-capacity telecommunication satellite. The contract also includes Launch Campaign, Training, Launch and Early Operational Phase, In Orbit Tests as well as On Site Support, Dynamic Satellite Simulator, Satellite Control Centre and Baseband Subsystem. APSTAR 7 will provide reliable broadcasting and telecommunications services over the Asia Pacific Region, Africa, Middle East and a part of Europe. Based on Thales Alenia Space's Spacebus 4000 C2 platform, APSTAR 7 is equipped with 28 C-band and 28 Ku-band active transponders. With electrical power of 11.4 kW and payload power of 8.4 kW, the satellite is expected to have a minimum of 15 years lifetime. It will be launched in the first quarter of 2012 to replace APSTAR 2R currently operated at 76.5° East Longitude orbital position.
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On September 28, 2009, Åuropean Aviation Safety Agency (ÅÀSÀ) issued Type Certificate to AN-26 and AN-26B freighters. This document confirms that AN-26 and AN-26B powered by ÀI-24VÒ engines with AV-72T propellers and RU19A-300 APU comply with requirements of parts 25, 33, 35 of the FAR and ÒSO-ñ77 recognized by the EASA. Following issue of the Commission Regulation of European Commission, according to which all the aircraft registered in European Union, must be certified by the EASA, and by request of AN-26 and AN-26B operators, on December 18, 2006, Antonov ASTC submitted an application to perform validation, i.e. providing approval of the initial Type Certificate to these airplanes issued by State Aviation Administration of Ukraine in 2001. The works were fulfilled with support of State Aviation Administration of Ukraine and Aviation Register of Interstate Aviation Committee.
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Boeing announced that a (K)DC-10 modified with Fokker Services and Boeing's Cockpit Upgrade Program (CUP) has completed a certification flight-test program that began in July 2008. CUP provides aircraft with new flight-management and display systems as well as improved communications. Crewmembers from the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF), Fokker and subcontractor Boeing conducted the certification program's five-hour final test flight from the Netherlands' Eindhoven Air Base on Aug. 26.
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On 28 September 2009, the Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC) conducted its first mission in support of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. The first ISAF-related flight by SAC's operational component, the Heavy Airlift Wing (HAW) based in Papa Airbase in Hungary, delivered materiel to Mazar-e Sharif, to supply Swedish troops in the Afghan theatre. The HAW has already flown several operational missions, including flights to support KFOR troops in Kosovo, but the first trip to Afghanistan was an important milestone for the SAC program, which was launched three years ago in order to acquire three C-17 aircraft, to meet strategic airlift requirements of the 10 participating member nations.
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Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC) will reduce its global workforce by approximately 250 employees by year's end to align with a projected decline in customer demand and weakness in the global aerospace market with no signs of a recovery in 2010. P&WC is a United Technologies Corp. company. The company will also close its facility on Auvergne Street in Longueuil, Quebec, by the end of 2010. The plant's activities will be transferred to other P&WC facilities on Montreal's South Shore. This closure will result in an additional workforce reduction of 160 employees across P&WC's Quebec operations, starting in early 2010. P&WC will consolidate its activities into three key strategic manufacturing and aftermarket facilities in Quebec. These include its headquarters, manufacturing, and research & development facility in Longueuil; its service centre in St. Hubert; and its Mirabel Aerospace Centre, the future home of Pratt & Whitney's global flight test operations and final assembly and test of PW1524G engines for the Bombardier CSeries and the PW800 engine family.
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Greg Combet, Australian Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science today announced the achievement of a major milestone in Project AIR 87, the Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter project. The Initial Operational Test and Evaluation Readiness milestone marks the point where the project transitions focus from individual flying, maintenance and support qualifications to collective training and development of Army Aviation warfighting skills. Australian flight test and operational crews have now flown over 4,300 hours and fired 16 hellfire missiles, 475 rockets and 4000 rounds of the 30 millimetre canon.
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New support facilities for the RAF's advanced Typhoon jets have been unveiled in a ceremony at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire. Minister for Defence Equipment & Support, Quentin Davies MP, formally opened the Typhoon Support Centre and Maintenance Facility on September 30th, marking the official start of the £450M Typhoon Availability Service (TAS) contract, signed between MOD and BAE Systems in March. The Minister commented: “These world class facilities demonstrate MOD's determination to ensure multi-role Royal Air Force Typhoon squadrons can meet their operational commitments backed up by efficient and cost-effective support arrangements. I applaud the efforts of all concerned to keep this programme on time and on budget.” BAE Systems has built upon the experience gained on other aircraft support contracts to ensure that Typhoon will benefit from a partnering arrangement with MOD, designed to maximise aircraft availability to the front line. Over its initial five year life, the TAS contract will create about 150 jobs and help to safeguard up to 350 more at Coningsby and at the BAE Systems' sites at Samlesbury and Warton in Lancashire. Work on the wider Typhoon programme is also undertaken by Rolls-Royce at Filton and Ansty, and by Selex at Edinburgh and Luton.
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Airmen of the 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing here surpassed the 600,000 flight hour mark in the MQ-1 Predator unmanned aircraft system Sept. 4. The Predator fleet passed 250,000 hours in June 2007, after 12 years of flying, and it only took a year and eight months for the aircraft to fly an additional 250,000 hours to reach 500,000 flying hours in February 2009. Due to the continuous demand for the aircraft by combatant commanders, the Predator reached 600,000 flying hours seven months later. An aircrew from the 15th Reconnaissance Squadron flew this milestone mission in support of overseas contingency operations.
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With all RAF aircraft out of Iraq, the priority is now to get all available helicopters to troops in Afghanistan. The Merlin - used mainly to move troops and supplies and evacuate casualties - should be there by the end of the year, increasing the number of UK helicopters by 25 per cent. Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth said earlier in the year: "We are working to see if we can increase the number of Chinooks that we've got out in theatre. "We're going to upgrade the Lynx to make sure it can fly all year round in the hot circumstances of Afghanistan. We've doubled the number of helicopter hours and the Merlin gives us the opportunity to get even more helicopter hours to our troops." Preparation for the Merlins' new mission began at RAF Benson.
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Saab has submitted an update on the proposal offering 36 Gripen Next Generation (NG) to the Brazilian Air Force (FAB). The updated proposal fulfils all the requirements stated by Brazil to develop, manufacture, operate, maintain and upgrade an independent multi-role fighter, together with an extensive industrial package with full transfer of technology. This will give Brazil the opportunity to be involved in the development as well as to include a significant number of Brazilian suppliers in Gripen NG aircraft. “This will be a perfect match built on complementing abilities and technological excellence. A commitment from Sweden to Brazil delivers independence and not dependence. The unique industrial offset package means a direct involvement for Brazilian companies in the development, production and maintenance of Gripen NG. This will create and maintain high technology work opportunities in Brazil,” says Saab CEO Åke Svensson.
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The U.S. Air Force has awarded Northrop Grumman a nine-year contract to provide Contractor Logistics Support (CLS) for its fleet of KC-10 Extender refueling tanker aircraft. The indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract has a total ceiling value of $3.8 billion. Under the terms of the contract, Northrop Grumman will provide supply chain management, depot-level logistics integration and support, engine maintenance, aircraft maintenance and modifications for the KC-10 refueling tanker. The tanker/cargo aircraft is part of the Air Force's Air Mobility Command arsenal and has supported anti-terrorist and humanitarian operations around the globe. The team will perform the work at depots located at Northrop Grumman's Lake Charles Maintenance and Modification Center, Lake Charles, La., and at teammate TIMCO Aviation Services' facility in Greensboro, N.C.
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Bombardier Aerospace announced that Air Niugini, the national airline of Papua New Guinea, has placed a firm order for two Q400 NextGen highspeed turboprop airliners. The airline has also taken an option for an additional Q400 NextGen airliner. Based on the list price for the Q400 NextGen aircraft, the contract is valued at approximately$60 million US which could increase to $92 million US if the option is exercised.Air Niugini's current fleet includes two Bombardier Dash 8-100 aircraft (one configured as freighter), three 36-seat Q200 and three 50-seat Q300 aircraft. Formed in 1973, the airline serves 23 domestic points plus ten international routes in Asia, Oceania and Australia.
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Vector Aerospace Helicopter Services-North America (Vector) has received FAA certification for the development of a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) for an Integrated Cockpit Display System (ICDS, or “glass cockpit installation”) for the Bell 407 helicopter. Mark Jensen, Manager of Avionics for Vector-Langley noted the Bell 407 ICDS is a safer, more reliable and cost effective alternative to old style gauges and gyros.  This new system includes various Attitude and Heading Reference Systems (AHRS) options, regular-size or extended instrument panels, 8 or 10 inch Sagem ICDS displays, Garmin Global Navigation System (GNS) 430 or 530 interfaces, Integrated Caution Advisory System and engine display, in addition to a variety of options currently available with Vector's Bell 206 program.
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Dr Stefan Schulte, Fraport AG's new executive board chairman, has presented the European Commission with a three-point package of demands for alleviating the burden faced by airports. Speaking to journalists in Brussels today, Schulte advocated the "complete abolition of regulations for liquids in carry-on baggage." However, he disapproved of any rushed and costly interim solutions regarding liquid restrictions. He said that it would be better to wait until new technologies are available that detect prohibited liquids in hand luggage. Schulte explained that the rationality of aviation-security regulations needed to be urgently examined. Ground processes - amounting to 35 percent of the total operating costs of European airports - are as costly and burdensome for a transfer airport like Frankfurt (FRA) as fuel costs are for the airlines. Before the 9/11 terror attacks the share of fixed costs amounted to between five and eight percent. In view of the current economic and financial situation, it is also "a prime necessity to make the economic life of airports a little easier." Commenting on the EU Commission's proposal for a directive on aviation security charges, Schulte stated that this proposal was incompatible with the new directive on airport charges and, furthermore, does not address the central responsibility of the member states. Focusing on independent regulatory agencies and arbitration proceedings in cases of dispute, the proposal does not address the States' ultimate responsibility for security matters. Safeguarding against acts of terror is in essence a sovereign duty of the State. Schulte called on the members of the European Parliament to remain steadfast vis-a-vis the plans of the EU Commission - especially since the directive on charges was already amended only half a year ago. Fraport's CEO also voiced criticism on the revision of the EU slot allocation directive. As part of their legal obligation to operate the airport, airport companies must hold available an infrastructure that is open to all users during operating hours. The extremely high share of fixed costs requires an efficient and cost-effective use of airport capacities. No economy can or should afford idling capacities at major airports such as Frankfurt, which has faced an excess of demand for many years. Therefore, Schulte called on the EU Commission to review the slot allocation directive. This directive should contain "clear and economically justifiable regulations for using the existing infrastructure as efficiently as possible".
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Sikorsky announced the appointment of Carey Bond as president of the company's Sikorsky Global Helicopters business. Bond also retains his previous position as Chief Marketing Officer and reports to Sikorsky President Jeffrey P. Pino. Sikorsky Global Helicopters produces commercial and military versions of the S-76, S-92, and light helicopter lines. SGH subsidiaries include Keystone Helicopter Corp. and Associated Aircraft Group.
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Raytheon delivered the first Joint Standoff Weapon C to Australia in July for the Royal Australian Air Force's new F/A-18F Hornet fighter aircraft. In addition to the JSOW C, the RAAF has placed an order for the JSOW C-1, which is currently in production; deliveries will begin in 2010. The JSOW C-1 maintains the land attack capability of JSOW C and adds a moving maritime target capability by incorporating a datalink. This enables the JSOW to receive target updates as it flies to its objective.
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