07.12.2009
FLUG REVUE

News Update 7 December 2009 - News in Brief

Our weekly news roundup from around the aerospace industry.

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The Soyuz TMA-15 reentry module landed safely in Kazakhstan at 08:15:34 CET (13:15:34 local time) on 1 December, bringing ESA astronaut Frank De Winne, Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko and Canadian Space Agency astronaut Robert Thirsk back to Earth. The landing concluded the six-month OasISS mission, ESA's second long-duration mission to the International Space Station (ISS). This flight saw Frank De Winne, from Belgium, become the first European to take command of the largest human outpost ever assembled in space. When De Winne, Romanenko and Thirsk arrived on the ISS in May 2009, they joined the three resident astronauts to form the first permanent crew of six, allowing more scientific experiments to be conducted onboard. During his six months on the ISS, De Winne was instrumental in performing the robotic operations during which Japan's HTV 1 supply ferry was attached to the ISS and the external payloads of Japan's Kibo laboratory were installed. Together with his Expedition 20 and 21 crewmembers, De Winne carried out a variety of scientific experiments. Advanced materials research was boosted with the commissioning of the Materials Science Laboratory, inside which two experiments were conducted to understand the solidification of metal alloys to help optimise industrial processes. In ESA's Protein Crystallisation Diagnostics Facility, protein crystal growth was studied for over three and a half months. Good quality, stable crystals were returned to the waiting scientific teams to investigate how these proteins grow.
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SWISS announced a new long-haul service between San Francisco and Zurich six times a week offering Bay Area passengers the opportunity to enjoy Swiss hospitality and feel right at home when flying to Switzerland and beyond to any of its 76 worldwide destinations. The new service will begin on June 2, 2010 with an Airbus 340 complete with the SWISS First and SWISS Business cabins plus a more comfortable SWISS economy experience.
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Sikorsky celebrated the formal delivery of a UH-60M BLACK HAWK helicopter to the Defense Forces of Bahrain. It is the first of nine aircraft that will ultimately be delivered. The delivery also marks the beginning of the first squadron of UH-60M BLACK HAWK helicopters that will be operated by an international military organization. The Royal Bahrain Air Force will fly the aircraft for military operations that include protection of sovereign borders as well as protection and defense of U.S. and coalition strategic facilities. Bahrain officials signed the U.S. Army Letter of Offer and Acceptance on May 7, 2007, to purchase nine UH-60M BLACK HAWK helicopters through a Foreign Military Sale (FMS), the first such sale for the UH-60M aircraft.
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Eurocopter Japan handed over the first EC135T2i training helicopter to the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (MSDF). The delivery ceremony took place at the Tokyo heliport in the presence of the Japan Ministry of Defense and MSDF representatives as well as Defense attachés from the German and French Embassies, manufacturer and air industry community members. The Japanese Ministry of Defense had signed a contract for two EC135 helicopters in February this year. The first helicopter is delivered on schedule. The second helicopter is planed to be delivered in February 2010. The helicopter will be instrumented and evaluated by MSDF Test & Evaluation air squadron before effective training starts at the Naval pilot training school by the second half of 2010. MSDF instructor pilots were dispatched to Eurocopter Deutschland's training academy in Donauwörth and Manching from September to November, and completed their training to obtain EC135 type rating. MSDF instructor technicians have also completed their training in Germany.
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The Boeing EA-18G Growler was approved to advance into Full Rate Production (FRP) by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) on Nov. 23. The St. Louis-based EA-18G program now can proceed from Low Rate Initial Production to FRP quantities of approximately 20 aircraft per year. "Full Rate Production for the EA-18G is critical, as it enables Boeing to quickly ramp up production of the U.S. Navy's newest and most advanced airborne electronic attack (AEA) platform, and rapidly get this new capability to the warfighter," said Bob Gower, F/A-18 and EA-18 Programs vice president for Boeing. "The FRP decision is also a clear indication of DOD support for the EA-18G program and the immediate capability it will provide Combatant Commanders around the world." The EA-18G achieved Initial Operational Capability as planned in September with U.S. Navy electronic attack squadron VAQ-132, based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
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The Gripen fleet has now flown more than 130 000 hours. Gripen is in operational service in the Czech, Hungarian, South African and Swedish Air Forces and is also flown by the Empire Test Pilot School (ETPS). The Swedish Air Force is the largest operator of Gripen and their first Gripen Squadron was declared operational in 1997. The Czech Air Force took deliveries of their Gripen C/D in 2005, followed by the Hungarian Air Force in 2006. Deliveries to the South African Air Force began in 2008 and are ongoing.
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Space shuttle Atlantis and its crew of seven astronauts ended an 11-day journey of nearly 4.5 million miles with a 9:44 a.m. EST landing Friday (27 November) at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The mission, designated STS-129, included three spacewalks and the installation of two platforms to the International Space Station's truss, or backbone. The platforms hold large spare parts to sustain station operations after the shuttles are retired. The shuttle crew delivered about 30,000 pounds of replacement parts for systems that provide power to the station, keep it from overheating, and maintain a proper orientation in space. STS-129 Commander Charlie Hobaugh was joined on Atlantis' STS-129 mission by Pilot Barry Wilmore and Mission Specialists Leland Melvin, Randy Bresnik, Mike Foreman and Bobby Satcher. Atlantis returned with station resident Nicole Stott, who spent 91 days in space. This marks the final time the shuttle is expected to rotate station crew members.
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The leaders of all Japan Airlines' partners in the oneworld alliance issued this declaration to their colleagues at the airline, to the Japanese government and to the country's flying public: oneworld is by far the best alliance for JAL. To reinforce their commitment to retaining JAL as a valued, full member of the world's leading quality airline alliance, they have put together a "total alliance value proposition" for JAL totaling some US$1.8 billion of investment and additional revenue, which outstrips by threefold any other offer to lure JAL away from oneworld. The package was finalised at a meeting of the oneworld Governing Board today, on the sidelines of an International Air Transport Association (IATA) event in Montreal, Canada. The Chief Executives of the alliance's ten other member airlines reaffirmed their belief that oneworld offers JAL by far the best revenue opportunities, the best access to funding, the best network fit, the best quality partners, the best hubs, the best experience to help it adapt to the new competitive and financeial environment - and the best prospect for a stable and successful future. oneworld Governing Board Chairman and American Airlines' Chairman and Chief Executive Gerard Arpey said:  "The oneworld alliance already has a significant investment in the success of Japan Airlines, and we are prepared to do even more to ensure that American, oneworld and JAL have a successful partnership for the long-term. We believe this in turn will allow JAL to produce significant benefits for all of its stakeholders - the travelling public, employees and investors, and certainly the Japanese tourism and aviation industries.
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A CFM56-7B engine powering a Boeing Next-Generation 737 for TUIfly, the German holiday airline, has logged more than 40,000 hours on wing without a single removal, setting a new record for this engine model. The CFM56-7B engine was installed in February 1999 and, to date, has logged 40,654 flight hours and more than 14,000 flight cycles. TUIfly, part of TUI Travel PLC in which TUI AG of Germany, the world's largest tour operator company, holds a majority stake, has operated a CFM56-powered Boeing fleet exclusively for more than 20 years. The airline has chosen CFM56-7B engines for all of its airplanes since1997 and has more than 80 aircraft in service or on order. The CFM56-7B engine is still on wing, and continues to show a very good EGT (exhaust gas temperature) margin, indicating that it will be able to stay in service until the first LLP (life limited part) reaches its limit at about 48,500 hours. In September 2003, a CFM56-3 engine powering a Hapag-Lloyd Boeing 737-500 on lease to Malev Hungarian Airlines set the time on wing record for that engine model, also achieving more than 40,000 hours on wing without a shop visit.
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The engineering model of the first Galileo satellites has completed platform integration tests at the Thales Alenia Space facility in Rome. The platform is now undergoing functional testing. Delivery of the engineering model payload from Astrium UK is expected in December. These tests are an important step towards building and launching the first four Galileo satellites. Integration testing verifies the interfaces between units or subsystems and the larger integrated system. Functional testing demonstrates that the integrated elements meet their design specifications. The engineering model of the Galileo In-Orbit Verification (IOV) satellites is mitigating the design risks ahead of building the proto-flight model and the three flight model satellites. It is also being used to debug the testing procedure and to demonstrate the satellite's compatibility with the Galileo ground system.
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Flight tests have been completed with the electro-optical/infrared sensor turret for UH-72A Lakotas that will be operated by the U.S. Army National Guard in Security and Support (S&S) missions. The L3 Wescam MX-15 turret's chin-mounted centerline installation was validated during flight tests with an EC145 – the helicopter on which EADS North America's UH-72A is based. Completion of these tests marks a major milestone in the integration of the Army National Guard's full mission equipment package.  The Army National Guard will be a major operator of UH-72A Lakotas, receiving aircraft configured for the S&S mission, as well as for use in medical evacuation and multi-role transportation.
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Stork Fokker has signed an important contract with Airbus for the development and manufacturing of the composite outboard Flaps for the A350 XWB family of aircraft. Outboard flaps are increasing the surface-area of the wing during take-off and landing. The A350 XWB composite flaps have unique capabilities. For the first time differential flap settings are applied, enabling the center of lift to be moved depending on the loading scenario. Development activities, scheduled to last 18 months, have already started in Papendrecht in close collaboration with Airbus Operating Company in Bremen with first hardware deliveries in 2011. During serial production, Fokker intends to produce 140 sets of flaps annually. The new contract will ensure employment for 100 specialists. This contract recognizes Fokker's position as a specialist in complex lightweight aerostructures. The company recently won the contract for the JSF Flaperons and already produces the inboard flaps for the Boeing 747-8 and the Flaperons for the F16. Fokker and Airbus have a long lasting business relationship. The company is an important supplier on the A380 for the Glare (glass fibre reinforced) fuselage panels and the thermoplastic leading edge. The awarded contract expands this position to the latest Airbus program and is therefore considered a real milestone.
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Brussels Airlines will manage its codeshare flights with SchedConnect from Lufthansa Systems. The companies recently signed a 5-year contract to this effect. The Belgian airline offers around 180,000 codeshare connections per year with 26 partners. Brussels Airlines will join Star Alliance in December 2009 and requires a powerful tool to handle the growing number of codeshare flights.SchedConnect is the most advanced system of its kind available today and offers a high degree of automation. Each day, it calculates the optimum codeshare assignments based on the current flight schedules. The system processes up to five million schedule changes of all SchedConnect customers every month. If a minimum connecting time is violated due to a schedule change or if a partner flight is cancelled, SchedConnect assigns automatically the marketing flight number to another suitable connecting flight. Changes are sent through the reservation systems to travel agents and customers as well as to the operations and passenger-related systems of the airlines involved.
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Alenia Aermacchi officially delivered the eight MB-339CM to the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) in a ceremony held at the Langkawi International Show, in Malaysia. The ceremony was chaired by the Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and was attended by Ing. Carmelo Cosentino, Chief Executive Officer of Alenia Aermacchi, by Italy's National Armaments Director Gen. Aldo Cinelli, by the Italian Ambassador to Malaysia, Aldo Busacca, by Finmeccanica representatives and by all the staff involved. The MB-339CM advanced trainers were ordered in late 2006. The contract, with an overall value of approximately 88 million Euro, includes eight aircraft as well as the provision of spare parts, ground equipment and services over a two-year period. It also covered the training of Malaysian pilots, which was undertaken at Alenia Aermacchi in the first quarter of this year.
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Bombardier Aerospace announced that AMR Eagle Holding Corporation, the parent company of American Eagle Airlines, Inc. of Fort Worth, Texas will acquire 22 CRJ700 regional jetliners. The transaction represents the conversion of 22 options held by the airline into a firm order contract. Based on the list price for the CRJ700 aircraft, the contract would be valued at approximately $779 million US. Actual terms of the deal are confidential. Including the transaction announced today, Bombardier has recorded orders for 1,695 CRJ Series aircraft, and as of October 31, 2009, 1,569 of these had been delivered. More than 60 operators in 38 countries operate CRJ Series aircraft.
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Bombardier Aerospace confirmed that its Global Express XRS jet set a new speed record on October 26, 2009, flying 4,994 nm (9,249 km) non-stop from Mexico City to Paris in just ten hours. The flight was officially sanctioned by the National Aeronautics Association on November 19, 2009 and by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale on November 30, 2009. Bombardier's Global Express XRS business jet departed Toluca Airport (MMTO) with a three-person crew and payload equivalent to eight passengers - a fuel surplus of 780 pounds (354 kg) above reserves and four passengers. The aircraft cruised at Mach 0.82 (870 km/h) during the first six hours of flight and Mach 0.85 (907 km/h) during the last four hours. The average speed was 924.9 km/hr throughout the flight, with average tailwinds of 55 Knots (102 km/hr). The Global Express XRS jet landed at Le Bourget Airport (LFPG) with fuel reserves in excess of NBAA IFR requirements.
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The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reiterated its call for a global sectoral approach for aviation and climate change under the leadership of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The call was made by Giovanni Bisignani, IATA's Director General and CEO in the sixth annual Dr. Assad Kotaite Lecture hosted by the Royal Aeronautical Society in Montreal. As governments prepare to gather in Copenhagen for talks on climate change, Bisignani identified environmental responsibility as a top priority for aviation, alongside safety and security. The aviation industry is globally united with a commitment to stabilize emissions with carbon neutral growth from 2020 and a 50% net reduction in carbon emissions by 2050. "Aviation is a global industry that moves with global standards. Our commitment to reducing emissions includes all the value chain-manufacturers, airports, air navigation service providers and airlines-and crosses all geographies. Because our businesses operate across borders, aviation has a unique track record of finding global solutions to even the most difficult issues. For example, under ICAO's leadership, we found a solution to noise that accommodated the needs of developed and developing nations. We are a model for industry-government cooperation within the United Nations framework. Aviation will be the only industry bringing a global solution to Copenhagen," said Bisignani. A global sectoral approach would account for aviation's carbon emissions at a global level as an industrial sector, not by state. This would ensure that aviation is fully accountable for its emissions, and through access to global carbon markets would pay for its emissions once, not several times over.
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Saab has entered into a partnership with Thai company Avia Satcom Co. Ltd., to form a joint venture for developing high technology products within aviation and defence. The new company, Avia Saab Technologies, will initially focus on the development of a National Tactical Datalink in the Gripen fighter, which has been ordered by the Royal Thai Air Force. The company will be established in 2009 and is to be based in Bangkok, Thailand.
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The first composite lay-up for the A350 XWB has been manufactured in Nantes, France, and marks the 'coming to life' of Airbus's new long range aircraft. This panel for the centre wing-box (CWB), entirely made of carbon, has a surface area of 36 square meters, making it the largest “monobloc” composite panel ever manufactured in Nantes, using a new state-of-the-art laying machine. Once assembled in Nantes, the CWB will be delivered to Airbus Saint-Nazaire for integration. Along with other Airbus facilities, the Airbus plant in Nantes has a high expertise in composite material and is a leader in the manufacture of carbon fibre structural parts, such as the centre wing box and the keel beam for the A350 XWB. On the all-new aircraft Family, 53 per cent of the aircraft by weight will be composite-based, including major elements such as wings and fuselage.
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PT Dirgantara Indonesia/Indonesian Aerospace (IAe) and Spirit AeroSystems (Europe) Limited sign contracts for manufacturing aerospace components for the Airbus A320, A321, A330, and A340 aircraft at the IAe exhibition stand at LIMA (Malaysia). The contract is signed by Budi Santoso as IAe President Director and Neil McManus, Vice President and Managing Director of Spirit AeroSystems (Europe) Limited. For the last five years, IAe has been manufacturing Airbus components on behalf of Spirit AeroSystems, such as D-nose, Pylon Assemblies, and Leading Edge Skins. The contract being signed is an extension of this workload for a further 5 years and could be worth IDR 273 billion.
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Titan Airways of the UK has leased a BAe 146-300 from BAE Systems to fulfil an urgent Ministry of Defence (MoD) contract in the Middle East. The aircraft is based in Bahrain and flies several times a week between Bahrain, Muscat in Oman and Minhad in the United Arab Emirates. The requirement is to transport around 45 passengers and freight on these sectors. The MoD contract with Titan Airways is for an initial six months, with an option to extend.
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The Boeing AH-64D Apache Block III program has completed the first flight of its structures test aircraft. The test, conducted Nov. 23 in Mesa, demonstrated flight characteristics and handling maneuvers. Tests to continue to expand the helicopter's flight envelope are expected to continue for the next several weeks. Block III technologies being tested include the composite main rotor blade, composite horizontal stabilator, and -701D engines, which include an enhanced digital electronic control unit. The aircraft also features a split-torque face gear transmission that increases power throughput by more than 20 percent within the same physical operating space as the legacy transmission.
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