2008-01-06 - News in BriefNews in Brief

KURZMELDUNGEN<br /> +++<br /> ARINC Incorporated, the world's largest provider of aeronautical satellite services, is now supporting the Rockwell Collins eXchange broadband communications system for business jets.

For business jets, eXchange with service by SKYLink provides services similar to an office high-speed network connection, with truly high-speed connections to the Internet, company Intranets, fax over IP (FoIP), voice over IP (VoIP) telephone, and data services for Wi-Fi enabled smartphones in the cabin. Rockwell Collins, which operates one of the world's largest avionics service networks, will sell and support the eXchange system hardware worldwide. ARINC will provide the satellite connectivity for eXchange customers through its established SKYLink satellite network. ViaSat, Inc., of Carlsbad, CA, the original manufacturer of avionics for ARINC SKYLink, will continue to produce the avionics for Rockwell Collins' eXchange.
MAXjet filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on 24 December 2007. With today's fuel prices and the resulting impact on the credit climate for airlines, the comapany was forced to take this drastic measure. MAXjet contracted with Eos Airlines for seats on Eos' scheduled all-Premium service to accommodate passengers awaiting a return flight between New York and London. Passengers needing return travel between London, Los Angeles and Las Vegas will be contacted regarding their flight re-accommodations. Any customers who choose to make flight accommodations directly should seek a refund from their point of purchase (credit card or travel agency) for the unused leg of their journey.
Industry failures, rising oil prices, a weakening economy and planned reductions in corporate travel have neither diminished travelers enthusiasm for Eos Airlines' "uncrowded, uncompromising" Eos Class experience, nor hindered the company's march toward becoming an unqualified business success. Eos today announced record Guests during October and November 2007, citing a surge in passengers of 64% versus the same time last year and 14% since September, after adding 12 additional weekly flights in October. The company recently secured $50 million in equity capital from institutional and private sources and took delivery of their fifth and sixth aircraft. Continued expansion is expected for 2008, with as many as three new routes and the delivery of aircraft seven and eight. Eos President and CEO Jack Williams commented, "I am delighted that after our second successful year more people than ever are choosing to fly with Eos. Our passenger numbers are at record highs and load factors are consistently strong - including peaks in June (76%), July and September (both 73%). We are flight level profitable and all signs point toward continued success in 2008."
EADS Socata's TBM 850 is ending a highly successful year with record sales backlog booked for 2008 and moving fast into 2009 along with production rate growth for the Very Fast Turboprop aircraft. Nicolas Chabbert, EADS Socata's Vice President, Sales & Marketing, said that 60 TBM 850 aircraft were sold from its 2008 order book since the allocation was opened in early September of this year. "Never in the TBM program's history has a year's order capacity been filled up so fast," Chabbert said. "This is a spectacular achievement by our sales team and distributors. It also testifies to wide public recognition of the TBM 850's performance and overall quality. Combined with moderate fuel consumption, the TBM 850 is delivering jet speed with a low environmental signature." The new orders bring firm TBM 850 sales to more than 150 in the 24 months since the aircraft was launched in mid-December 2005. The majority has been purchased by US customers; with a 20% share for Europe and 10% for South America, Asia and the Pacific, and with new sales in Brazil and Australia.
Boeing submitted its final KC-767 Advanced Tanker (AT) proposal for the U.S. Air Force's KC-135 Tanker Replacement Program. "We have completed this KC-X process the way we began it -- by listening to our Air Force customer," said Jim Albaugh, president and CEO of Boeing Integrated Defense Systems. "We believe the KC-767 Advanced Tanker will be evaluated as the most capable, technologically advanced and affordable tanker for America." This final proposal is the culmination of a process that began when Boeing submitted its original proposal in April 2007. Since then, the Air Force has worked with the competitors to enable them to thoroughly understand USAF tanker requirements in order to submit the most optimal solution. The final Boeing proposal for the KC-767AT is tailored to meet or exceed all of the Air Force's mission requirements. For example, using ground rules in the KC-X Request for Proposal, nearly twice as many KC-767s can be based on a parking ramp compared to the competitor's oversized aircraft. Those additional KC-767s will provide more critical fuel to receiver aircraft closer to the fight while requiring fewer bases to support tanker operations.
Northrop Grumman  announced that it has submitted its Final Proposal Revision (FPR) for the U.S. Air Force KC-X Tanker Program. The projected contract award is expected on or about Jan. 31, 2008 according to the Air Force. "I am extremely proud of the quality of the KC-30 team and the progress it continues to make since initial proposal submission in April 2007," said Ronald D. Sugar, Northrop Grumman chairman and chief executive officer. "Our solution, the KC-30 Tanker, not only offers greater capabilities and versatility than any tanker available today, it offers the lowest entry risk. It also meets all of the Air Force's key requirements and is superior in every respect to the KC-135R it replaces. The KC-30 is clearly a 'game changer' in that it is the only solution to provide the potential breakthrough in future Air Force air mobility capability as the C-17 did in replacing the venerable C-141."
Boeing and Brazil's GOL Linhas Aéreas S.A., the parent company of Brazil's low-cost airlines GOL Transportes Aéreos S.A. and VRG Linhas Aéreas S.A., announced the airline has ordered an additional 40 Next-Generation 737 passenger airplanes. The airplanes will be included in Boeing's 2007 order total. The order also brings to 127 the number of Next-Generation airplanes GOL has ordered since beginning operations in Brazil in January of 2001. GOL has also confirmed the purchase rights for an additional 40 737s, for a total of 167 737s in the company's projected fleet.
Dubai Aerospace Enterprise purchased 70 737s, 15 787s, 10 777-300ERs and five 747-8 Freighters.The value is $10.9 billion at average list prices. DAE, a global aerospace, manufacturing and services corporation, and Boeing had previously signed a letter of intent at the Dubai Air Show in early November. "This order marks a significant milestone in our relationship and strategic partnership with DAE," said Marty Bentrott, Boeing's newly appointed vice president of Sales for the Middle East and Africa. "We look forward to working closely with DAE as it takes delivery of a wide variety of advanced Boeing airplanes well into the next decade, and we're confident the performance of our airplanes will drive continued demand in the leasing market."
Boeing announced that Vietnam Airlines and Vietnam Aircraft Leasing Co. (VALC) have finalized an order for a total of 12 Boeing 787-8s with a list value of approximately US$ 2 billion. Vietnam Airlines will take four of the new airplanes and VALC will purchase the remaining eight Dreamliners, leasing them to Vietnam Airlines. The combined Vietnam order pushes 787 order totals to 802. The order is included in 2007 totals.
NASA has chosen Zero Gravity Corporation (ZERO-G), the first and only FAA-approved provider of commercial weightless flights, to manage and operate an aircraft to perform parabolic flights for NASA-operated experiments and personnel. The relationship marks a key milestone for NASA's parabolic operations, which have been previously operated using government aircraft and personnel. This represents the first time a commercial operator has been contracted to provide weightless flight services. ZERO-G's flights will primarily initiate from NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston and NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. "We consider it a distinct honor to have the opportunity to participate in NASA's scientific, education and training activities. We are excited about the important initiatives that we'll be supporting and eagerly await our first flight with NASA aboard," said Dr. Peter H. Diamandis, CEO and co-founder of ZERO-G. "NASA's Administrator Mike Griffin and Deputy Administrator Shana Dale have shown themselves to be true visionaries when it comes to encouraging meaningful partnerships with the private sector. ZERO-G, which was founded in 1993 and began commercial operations in 2004, is 100 percent privately funded. As a commercial company we are pleased to support NASA's Vision for Space Exploration," added Diamandis.
The Portuguese Ministry of Defense has awarded Lockheed Martin a direct commercial sale contract valued at $141 million (euro 99.7 million) to upgrade the mission system avionics on five P-3C maritime surveillance aircraft. Under the contract, Lockheed Martin will provide a full mission system upgrade for the Portuguese Air Force aircraft. Upgrades include electronic support measures, acoustics, communications, electro-optic and infrared systems, as well as new data management software and hardware, including controls, displays and mission computers. Systems design, development and integration work will be completed at Lockheed Martin's Eagan-based Tactical Systems line of business. After equipment installation and checkout at Lockheed Martin's Aircraft and Logistics Center in Greenville, SC, the first modernized Portuguese Air Force P-3C aircraft will be delivered in late 2009.
AeroVironment announced that the United States Air Force BATMAV (Battlefield Air Targeting Micro Air Vehicle) program has received Milestone C approval and authorization for Full Rate Production. The BATMAV program achieved these two significant milestones under the rigors of the United States Department of Defense 5000 Acquisition process in just over 11 months from contract award. The Air Force selected AV's Wasp III as the micro air vehicle (MAV) for its BATMAV Program in December 2006. "Achieving full rate production in just 11 months from contract award reflects our team's efforts, working closely with our customers, to satisfy program requirements quickly and efficiently," said John Grabowsky, executive vice president and general manager, AV Unmanned Aircraft Systems. "The rapid achievement of full rate production means that we can now produce our Wasp III systems in higher volumes so that our customers can deploy them to the front-line units who need them." With a wingspan of 29 inches and weighing only one pound, the Wasp III carries interchangeable targeting payload modules, including an infrared camera, along with two integrated color cameras that transmit streaming video directly to the hand-held ground controller for display on an integrated monitor. Wasp III is the first micro air vehicle to be adopted by the U.S. armed forces in support of a program of record. Its portability and reliability are being demonstrated through continuing evaluation in forward locations.
FlightSafety International and Gulfstream Aerospace are pleased to announce that the first Gulfstream G150 aircraft simulator has received Level D qualification from the European Joint Aviation Authorities. In addition, the European Aviation Safety Agency has approved FlightSafety's G150 maintenance training program. "The JAA qualification of the G150 simulator and EASA approval of our maintenance training program demonstrates our ability to deliver comprehensive training programs and flight simulators that meet the stringent requirements of aviation authorities worldwide," said Bruce Whitman, President & CEO, FlightSafety International. "These two significant milestones were achieved thanks to the close and valued relationship we have with Gulfstream, the quality of our training, and the fidelity offered in FlightSafety designed and manufactured simulators."
Eclipse Aviation announced it has produced and certified 104 Eclipse 500s since December 31, 2006. Reaching this milestone makes Eclipse the fastest general aviation jet aircraft manufacturer in history to produce its first 100 airplanes. The VLJ leader completed a total of 103 aircraft in 2007. Previously, the fastest ramp to 100 aircraft was achieved by Cessna, which reached 100 Cessna Citation 550 aircraft after approximately 18 months.
Eclipse Aviation announced that it has received certification of Avio NG from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The Avio NG Total Aircraft Integration system, exclusive to the Eclipse 500 VLJ, provides centralized control of virtually all Eclipse 500 systems and avionics functions. Avio NG significantly reduces pilot workload by simplifying tasks, generating useful information and acting as a virtual copilot. Certification of Avio NG marks the completion of an intensive effort to develop and certify a significantly improved Electronic Flight Information System (EFIS) and Communications, Navigation and Surveillance (CNS) functionality for the Eclipse 500. This milestone was achieved in a short ten months following the company's announcement that it would replace the equipment supplied by Avidyne, and build and certify the improved Avio NG system. As the lead integrator, Eclipse Aviation certified Avio NG with the support of its world-class partners, including Innovative Solutions & Support, Inc. (IS&S), Honeywell, Garmin International and PS Engineering, Inc.
NASA flight control teams and ground operations teams have been requested to protect for a Jan. 24th launch date for Space Shuttle Atlantis. As work progresses, that date will be modified as required, says John Shannon, deputy manager for the Space Shuttle Program. The schedule depends on test results and modifications to a fuel sensor system connector on the external fuel tank Atlantis will use for launch on its STS-122 mission to the International Space Station. Other launch opportunities could come between Jan. 24th and the first week of February. The connector suspected of prompting false readings during two previous launch attempts is undergoing intensive testing at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. Engineers also will test potential modifications to the connector to certify it for flight. Marshall has a test facility that allows the connector to be subjected to the same conditions it saw during the earlier launch attempts. The modification and testing plans were discussed along with the launch preparation schedule during a meeting of Space Shuttle Program managers Thursday. Technicians at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla., will modify a replacement connector for the one that was removed. Metal pins inside the connector will be soldered to the socket, Shannon explained. The new connector is scheduled to be in place by Jan. 10.
Singapore Technologies Engineering (ST Engineering) announced that its aerospace arm, Singapore Technologies Aerospace Ltd (ST Aerospace), has set up an import/export and logistics facility in Guangzhou. Named "Guangzhou Aerospace Technologies & Engineering Company Limited" (GATE), the facility is wholly-owned by ST Aerospace Supplies Pte Ltd and will provide import, export, logistics and other services related to aircraft components and spares in support of ST Aerospace's maintenance and logistics business in China. ST Aerospace Supplies Pte Ltd is a wholly-owned subsidiary of ST Aerospace. This investment is not expected to have any material impact on the consolidated net tangible assets per share and earnings per share of ST Engineering for the current financial year.
The Defense Advanced Projects Agency (DARPA) has selected Goodrich to develop next-generation night vision sensor technology for helmet-mounted and micro vehicle applications. A three-year contract released under DARPA's MicroSensors for Imaging (MISI) program to Goodrich's ISR Systems division covers engineering and initial prototypes of highly sensitive lightweight imaging cameras based on the company's commercially successful shortwave infrared (SWIR) sensors. Work will be performed in Princeton, NJ. In the MISI program, Goodrich's Sensors Unlimited, Inc. (SUI) team will develop its indium gallium arsenide-night vision (InGaAs-NV(TM)) SWIR sensors into a 640 x 512 pixel resolution camera weighing less than 10 grams, intended for hand-launched unmanned aerial vehicles. In addition, the company will deliver a 1280 x 1024 pixel head-mounted monocular.
Starting in March 2008, Air China will begin using the newly constructed Terminal 3 of the Beijing Capital Airport. The Terminal 3 is the China's largest investment project for airport, and will be the main supporting building for the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. The one million square-meter Terminal 3 project also includes a 3,800-meter-long by 60-meter-wide runway, which will accommodate the Airbus A380, the largest airplane in the world. Terminal 3 and its new runway had been started in March 2004, and will double the current passenger capacity of the Beijing Capital Airport in 2015. "Air China is proud to be the flagship tenant in Beijing's fabulous new Terminal 3," said Mrs. Lan Zhang, senior Vice President of Air China. "Our familiar customers will benefit from the move to this new facility, and our new passengers joining for the 2008 Olympic Games will also be pleased with their state-of-the-art experience here in Terminal 3."
Elbit Systems recently introduced JedEyes, a highly advanced, exceptionally powerful helmet mounted display (HMD), designed especially to meet Apache and other rotary wing platform requirements. JedEyes addresses the special needs of helicopter pilots and offers dramatic improvements over existing HMDs, not only through its ultra-wide Field of View (FOV), but also by providing razor-sharp, high resolution imagery and allowing pilots to take in wider than ever areas of ground and sky, with everything in sharp focus. Exciting features and unique technologies combine to provide dual vision 3D imagery on the See-Through Visor as well as processing and manipulation of a variety of visual cues and video sources such as UAVs, digital maps and on and off-board sensors. Elevating pilots' views and performance to new realms, the breakthrough HMD is also surprisingly lightweight, thus resulting in far less head and neck fatigue than existing HMDs. With a host of built-in features critical to safety and situational awareness, JedEyes is ready to take on today's complex airspace challenges and demands when rapid response to threats is essential to survival. The system is fully operational in day, night and brownout flight environments. With the emphasis on increased flight safety and situational awareness, JedEyes ultra-wide FOV allows pilots to see wide expanses in high resolution with obstacles in sharp focus. It also diminishes vertigo occurrences. Pilots can super-impose obstacle symbology onto the HMD view so they can be forewarned in ample distance and time.
A team of weapons specialists loaded a 20-foot mock bomb into the bomb bay of a simulated aircraft Dec. 18 at Whiteman Air Force Base. The bomb was a mock up of the 30,000 pound Massive Ordnance Penetrator, a 30,000 pound bomb that has yet to enter production, and the aircraft was a mock up of the B-2 Spirit. The MOP is approximately 20.5 feet long, with a 31.5-inch diameter and a total weight of slightly less than 30,000 pounds. The weapon will carry over 5,300 pounds of explosive material and will deliver more than 10 times the explosive power of its predecessor, the BLU-109. It is designed to penetrate up to 200 feet underground before exploding. "I couldn't help but notice how enormous the bomb was hanging in the weapons bay," said Tech. Sgt. Jason Hermann, a 509th Maintenance Group weapons loader. "It looked much larger once we had loaded it into the weapons bay than when it was on the loading adapter." The bomb's development started in 2004 when the Air Force executed a contract with Boeing for the Pentagon's Defense Threat Reduction Agency, an agency that safeguards America and its allies from weapons of mass destruction by providing capabilities to reduce, eliminate and counter the threat. The weapon is guided by Global Positioning System navigation. Its cropped wings improve agility and storable grid fin controls facilitate internal carriage.  
BAE Systems has received a $29 million award from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to test an infrared aircraft missile defense system on passenger aircraft. The tests will evaluate the system's compatibility with daily passenger airline operations and maintenance. The latest contract is for the third phase of the DHS counter-MANPADS program's research development activities. There will be no testing of the JETEYE system's missile-defeating capability, as that testing was done at government test ranges as part of an earlier phase of the program. As part of the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) counter-man-portable air defense system (MANPADS) program, BAE Systems will install its JETEYE aircraft missile defense system on up to three American Airlines aircraft. The company will evaluate the system's compatibility with daily passenger airline operations and maintenance.
Lufthansa is all set to continue its growth in the New Year: To accommodate future expansion, Germany's biggest airline will be taking on close to 4,300 new staff in 2008. The need for further employees is particularly great in operating areas: Lufthansa is seeking 2,000 flight attendants and 1,000 other staff for passenger support as "Service Professionals" at Frankfurt and Munich Airports. Up to 360 trainee pilots will also commence commercial pilot training courses at the Lufthansa Flight Training institute in Bremen. The Group is additionally offering positions at the airline to 325 apprentices and 600 university graduates and academics. The number of new recruits in 2008 is even higher than in the two preceding years; it raises the grand total to an impressive 9,785 staff additions in just three years. "Lufthansa is staying on the growth path: We are enlarging our fleet and our route network. This year alone, we are taking on close to 4,300 new staff. In the course of the past year, we received 100,000 job applications, which we regard as a great show of confidence in the future of the airline and an indication of the convincing appeal of our Group," said Lufthansa Chairman and CEO Wolfgang Mayrhuber.

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