2008-03-30 - News in BriefNews in Brief

Kurzmeldungen<br /> +++<br /> Elbit Systems will supply Skylark I UAV systems to France's Special Forces, as it won a tender involving 10 of the leading UAV manufacturers worldwide. This contract marks Elbit Systems' first UAV contract with France.

Haim Kellerman, General Manager of Elbit Systems UAV Division and Corporate Vice President said that there is a worldwide growing demand for UAVs for Special Forces, counter terrorism units and other forced focused on the security of borders and sensitive facilities. France's selection of the Skylark(R) attests to its ability to meet the sophisticated challenges of the modern battle field. Elbit Systems considers this agreement with France's Special Forces as a milestone in entering the French market and believes that it will be followed by further agreements with European NATO member countries."
Boeing announced that Qantas Airways' fleet of 747-400 airplanes will be monitored by Boeing's Airplane Health Management (AHM), a software system that helps airlines improve the management of unscheduled maintenance events. In addition, Qantas will use Airplane Health Management for future 787 Dreamliner deliveries. Qantas has 65 Boeing 787s on order. Qantas' 30 747-400s will use Airplane Health Management to gather and evaluate critical in-flight data on the real-time flying condition of its airplanes, information that can be used across the enterprise to identify and address overall efficiency.
In a new analysis, Forecast International projects that fighter aircraft manufacturers will deliver 3,345 new fighters over the next 10 years. According to the study, "The Market for Fighter Aircraft 2008-2017," it is estimated that the total value of production for the fighter market during this timeframe will be worth $164.5 billion. The study notes that many nations are in the middle of a major, long-term re-equipment cycle. While annual fighter production is set to average around 300 aircraft per year through 2013, it will increase to 400 aircraft per year in 2014 as production of Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II/Joint Strike Fighter ramps up later in the decade. During the forecast period, the total value of annual production will fluctuate from $16.1 billion in 2008 to a 10-year low of $14.8 billion in 2013. It will then begin to grow in line with rising production levels, reaching $18.3 billion by 2017. "Although fighter production will remain stable over the next few years, the U.S. military and allies of the United States are set to buy huge numbers of Lockheed Martin's F-35 to replace legacy fighter fleets in coming years," said Douglas Royce, Aerospace Analyst at Forecast International. "No other maker can look to such a potentially large market for its fighter aircraft."
Boeing has been awarded a $49.5 million U.S. Air Force contract to integrate the Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS) into 145 F-15E aircraft. The contract includes hardware and installation services on the aircraft, as well as initial pilot equipment, such as helmets and visors. Installation in the first F-15E is expected in October, with contract completion in December 2010. JHMCS enhances pilot situational awareness and provides head-up control of aircraft targeting systems and sensors. Using visual displays inside the helmet visor, the pilot is able to detect, acquire and engage surface and airborne targets.
Lancair International is pleased to announce the latest addition to its line of high performance aircraft kits the Evolution, has achieved first flight. The Evolution aircraft kit is the result of 3.5 years of engineering, research and development at Lancair to produce a more spacious aircraft that will meet all flight handling characteristics required by FAA Part 23, including a 61 knot stall speed, while maintaining the Lancair tradition of extraordinary high performance. In addition, the Evolution provides a new level of safety to the experimental kit market by providing the BRS parachute system, Energy absorbing seats, and the AmSafe Aviation airbag seat belts for those customers who demand the latest in occupant safety! The Evolution is powered by the Pratt & Whitney PT6A-135A, which produces true airspeeds in excess of 385 mph, when coupled to the Hartzell four blade propeller, while consuming only 39 gallons of Jet A per hour. The Evolution has a current empty prototype weight of 2,130 pounds, and an estimated completed flying weight of 2,300 pounds with paint and interior.
Bell Helicopter announced the recent delivery of the first of two Bell 407 helicopters to HeliNiugini, a long-term Bell customer operating in Papua New Guinea (PNG). HeliNiugini have been flying 206L's for over 20 years and anticipate the 407's will enable the work done in support of seismic research, oil and gas exploration and gold mining to be done at a higher altitude and with shorter cycle times.
Pratt & Whitney Canada is launching the second phase of a $45 million investment program designed to increase the long-term competitiveness of its Halifax facility. The company will transform it into a world-class, high-technology assembly and test aerospace centre. Since 2006, P&WC has invested $21 million in its Halifax facility to install state-of-the-art manufacturing equipment and to begin sub-assembly of engine components. P&WC will now build a modern engine assembly line and test cell at the facility for an additional investment of $24 million. Starting in the fall of 2009, the new engine centre will have the capability of assembling and testing small to medium-sized turbofan engines. These engines embody the latest materials, fuel efficiency and environmental technologies available. The new assembly and test line will require advanced training for about 60 employees and create up to 25 new positions in Halifax. The facility currently employs about 360 full time P&WC employees.
Northrop Grumman's  RQ-4 Global Hawk set an endurance record for a full-scale, operational unmanned aircraft on Saturday, March 22, 2008, when it completed a flight of 33.1 hours at altitudes up to 60,000 feet over Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. "It was a picture perfect flight, landing flawlessly on centerline with enough fuel remaining to continue for two more hours," said Jerry Madigan, Northrop Grumman vice president of high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) systems. "The pilots and ground crew, as well as Edwards Air Force Base senior leadership were very impressed with the Global Hawk's performance, meeting or exceeding every flight objective." Designated AF-8, the first Global Hawk Block 20, tail no. 04-2015, surpassed both the official and unofficial world un-refueled endurance records for operational unmanned airplanes previously held by the Block 10 variant.
The 1st F-16 aircraft that has undergone structural upgrade by Hellenic Aerospace Industry based on the CCIP/STAR program was delivered today to the United States Air Force during a ceremony that was held at the company facilities in Tanagra. The ceremony was attended by representatives of political and military authorities, representatives of U.S. Embassy Greece, representatives of the U.S Government headed by the Deputy Commander Defence Contract Management Agency Mr. Steve Trautwein, the USAFE Representative and Chief of Aircraft Maintenance Colonel Dorothy Silvanic, officials of the U.S. Air Force and officials of the US Hill Air Force Base, Yutah headed by the Deputy Director Mrs. Dawn Sutton, representatives of the defense cooperation office headed by the office Commander Mr. Steve Boukedes, representatives of Lockheed Martin Aero.
Lockheed Martin has achieved a key milestone in the development of the Mobile User Objective System (MUOS) with the successful completion of static loads testing of the first satellite in the program constellation. MUOS will provide significantly improved and assured communications for U.S. mobile warfighters. The test, which validated the satellite's strength and ability to sustain its launch weight of over 13,000 pounds, was conducted by a team of engineers from Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Newtown, Pa., and ATK, Corona, Calif.The successful test demonstrated with high confidence that the structure can carry the physical loads it will experience during the satellite's manufacturing, launch and operation in geosynchronous orbit. MUOS satellites will be the largest of Lockheed Martin's flight-proven A2100 spacecraft series. The first MUOS satellite along with the associated ground system are scheduled for on-orbit hand over to the Navy in 2010.
A small California aerospace company unveiled a new suborbital spaceship that will provide affordable front-seat rides to the edge of space for the millions of people who want to buy a ticket. The company, XCOR Aerospace, of Mojave, CA, announced that its two-seat Lynx suborbital spaceship will carry people or payloads to where they will experience weightlessness and see the stars above and the Earth and its atmosphere below. This will launch XCOR into the emerging space tourism market, estimated at over a half-billion dollars. The Lynx will offer affordable access to space for individuals, researchers and educators," said XCOR CEO Jeff Greason. "Future versions of Lynx will offer ever-improving capabilities for scientific and engineering research and commercial applications.   The spaceship, roughly the size of a small private airplane, will first take off in 2010 and will be capable of flying several times each day.   "We have designed this vehicle to operate much like a commercial aircraft. Its liquid fuel engines will provide the enhanced safety, durability, reliability and maintainability that keep operating costs low," Greason said. "These engines will also minimize the impact of these flights on the environment," Greason added. "They are fully reusable, burn cleanly, and release fewer particulates than solid fuel or hybrid rocket motors." "Lynx will be the 'Greatest Ride Off Earth,'" said XCOR test pilot, former pilot astronaut and Space Shuttle commander, Col. Rick Searfoss (USAF-Ret.). "The acceleration, the weightlessness, and the view will provide you with an experience that is out of this world. And the best part of it all is that you'll ride right up front, like a co-pilot, instead of in back, like cargo."
Boeing confirmed an order for three Next-Generation 737s by national flag carrier Turkmenistan Airlines. The order for two 737-900ERs and one 737-700 is worth approximately $221 million at list prices. Turkmenistan Airlines' all-Boeing fleet also includes 717s, Classic and Next-Generation 737s, 757s, and one 767.
Ryanair, Europe's largest low fares airline confirmed that it was freezing the pay of its senior management for 2008 as part of a series of cost cutting measures over the coming weeks as the price of oil rises to over $100 a barrel.    From 1st April next Ryanair's current $68 per barrel fuel hedges, expire. Ryanair confirmed that it is reviewing all of its major costs including airports, staffing, fuel and currency exposures and this cost reduction programme will continue over the coming weeks.   Since Ryanair is the only airline in Europe to guarantee the lowest fares and no fuel surcharges, Ryanair must pay for higher oil by reducing costs elsewhere. Ryanair's Michael O'Leary said: "Given the enormous increase in our fuel costs, and the likelihood that profits over the coming year may fall, it is appropriate that Ryanair's senior management lead this cost reduction programme by example, with a pay freeze in 2008. Ryanair will continue to guarantee the lowest fares and no fuel surcharges on every route we operate, This can only be achieved in a period of higher oil prices by reducing costs in every other area."
Boeing announced it has agreed to acquire Vought Aircraft Industries' interest in Global Aeronautica, LLC, a South Carolina fuselage sub-assembly facility for Boeing's newest airplane, the 787 Dreamliner.  After the transaction is complete, Global Aeronautica will become a 50-50 joint venture between The Boeing Company and Alenia North America, a subsidiary of Italy's Alenia Aeronautica -- a Finmeccanica company.  Vought will continue to produce the aft fuselage for the 787 at its facility adjacent to Global Aeronautica in North Charleston. Closing will occur following receipt of regulatory approvals. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.  The transaction will not affect Boeing's current financial guidance.  Boeing's supplier management organization will continue to oversee Global Aeronautica along with the other major 787 supplier-partner team members.
A Raytheon AIM-120D Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile successfully destroyed its target Feb. 13 in a test engagement of the newest variant of the combat-proven missile. The AIM-120D AMRAAM was fired by a U.S. Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter aircraft from the Navy's VX-31 squadron against a QF-4 target drone. The missile guided to a direct hit, destroying the drone and meeting all primary test objectives. "By putting the AIM-120 through these rigorous tests, the U.S. government and Raytheon are ensuring the warfighter receives a state-of-the art weapon system unparalleled in performance and reliability," said Brock McCaman, vice president of Raytheon Missile Systems' Air-to-Air product line. The AMRAAM missile has been developed through the combined efforts of the U.S. Air Force's Air Armament Center, the U.S. Navy, and Raytheon. The AIM- 120D is currently in the system design and development phase.
In a new study, "The Market for Medium/Heavy Military Rotorcraft," Forecast International projects that a total of 3,706 rotorcraft will be produced in this market segment from 2008 through 2017.  The value of this production is estimated at $84 billion. Forecast International generally defines "medium/heavy" military rotorcraft as those having a maximum gross weight of at least 6,804 kilograms (15,000 lb).  The market for these machines is expected to be quite dynamic over the next few years, and the new Forecast International study details the various factors and trends that are affecting and driving this market. Manufacturers are busy ramping up production of several new medium/heavy military rotorcraft, including all-new models as well as upgraded variants of older rotorcraft types.  The all-new models are mainly non-U.S. designs, a fact that reflects the relative lack of new-start development programs put into place in years past by the U.S. military.  In addressing its rotorcraft requirements, the U.S. military has mostly preferred buying new versions of helicopters already in its fleet rather than pursuing the often lengthy and costly development of new designs. In response, U.S. manufacturers have understandably tended to concentrate their development energies on the upgrades for which the U.S. military was calling.  However, as Forecast International senior aerospace analyst Raymond Jaworowski notes, "The result is that new versions of older U.S. helicopters now often compete on the world market with all-new designs from non-U.S. manufacturers."
FMV, the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration, has responded to a request from the Croatian government for information regarding the supply of 12 new Gripen fighter aircraft. "FMV is pleased to be part of the ongoing process in Croatia and we believe the proposal we have submitted is very competitive" says Jerry Lindbergh, Sales Manager for Central and Eastern Europe at FMV. The Swedish response was prepared in close co-operation between FMV, the Swedish Armed Forces and Saab AB and includes offers for support, training and an extensive industrial offset package.
Cobham has today delivered the tenth and final new border patrol surveillance aircraft to the Australian Border Protection Command, under the AUS$1 billion, 12 year Sentinel project. Federal Minister for Home Affairs, the Hon. Bob Debus, accepted the aircraft in a ceremony at Adelaide Airport, in the presence of senior Border Protection Command personnel, project partners and Cobham employees. Cobham will operate the ten Bombardier Dash 8 aircraft from its existing bases in Broome, Darwin and Cairns, providing all weather, day and night electronic surveillance of Australia's maritime Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). Each aircraft will be capable of searching an area of more than 110,000 square kilometres per flight using new generation surveillance sensors and advanced satellite communications systems. Each aircraft will also act as a live link in a national data communications chain, with the customer receiving a stream of timely, high quality surveillance information, enabling them to make informed border security decisions in real time.
The Finnish government said in a statement Tuesday that the cabinet committee on foreign and security policy and the president had decided that the country would develop strategic airlift capacity under a scheme spanning 13 full Nato members together with Finland and Sweden.  The countries are to jointly procure and operate three US-made Boeing C-17 Globemaster aircraft.  
With its order book rapidly growing in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, Aerion is ramping up its efforts closer to home. The company has appointed AERO TOY STORE, which is recognized as one of the world's largest dealers in new and pre-owned private aircraft, to exclusively market Aerion's Supersonic Business Jet in Canada, Mexico, South America and the Caribbean. AERO TOY STORE has already secured twelve orders for the Aerion SBJ, placing the current order backlog at well over $3 billion. Letters of Intent are backed by refundable deposits of $250,000 for an aircraft presently priced at $80 million. "Interest from our customers in this new generation private jet already has been extremely strong; and we have only just begun to introduce this revolutionary aircraft to a fragment of the market," said AERO TOY STORE Chief Executive Officer, Morris Shirazi. "It is my belief that Aerion's Supersonic Business Jet is poised to become the new standard for corporate executive and private individual travel across the global arena."
Bombardier Aerospace confirmed that a firm order from a European airline for 10 Q400 turboprop aircraft plus 10 options, announced on October 23, 2007, was placed by Air Berlin PLC of Berlin, Germany. The airline had requested to remain unidentified at the time of the announcement. Based on the list price for the Q400 aircraft, the value of the firm order contract is approximately $267 million U.S. If all options are exercised, the contract value could rise to approximately $540 million U.S. Founded in 1978, Air Berlin has grown to become Germany's second-largest airline with a fleet of 124 jets. The Q400 will be the airline's first turboprop aircraft and will be configured with 76 passenger seats.

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