Airlines around the world in the market for equipment to serve the emerging 100-seat sector have no fewer than five choices to evaluate here at the Paris Air Show this week. Bombardier with its new C Series and Embraer with the 190/195 family enjoy a high profile, but alternative programs conceived farther east won’t easily let the Western airframers steal the show.
Paris Air Show » June 14, 2005
Plastic thermoforming specialist Dedienne Plasturgie, a sibling of Dedienne Aerospace, manufacturer of aircraft maintenance, tooling and ground support equipment, is in the business of replacing conventional aircraft metallic parts with plastic versions, integrating several functions. This translates into fewer, lighter parts.
Gamesa, the Spanish aerospace equipment manufacturer, has begun a drastic cost-reduction plan for the current financial year following a two-thirds plunge in profits due mainly to a reduction in orders from Embraer. The company does not expect that new business from the Airbus A380 super-large airliner will compensate for its short-term revenue loss and has warned that if action is not taken, it expects losses next year.
Aircraft cushion specialist Celso says interest is rising for its Soly’t lightened cushion. Thanks to its presence in the cabin of the new Airbus A380 airliner, the small French company is gaining market exposure. Here at the Paris Air Show, it is exhibiting its newest product in Hall 2 Stand I5b.
Boeing’s delivery in May of a 737-800 airliner certified for the global navigation satellite landing system (GLS) marked the culmination of a 10-year development effort. It also served as a reminder that the ground-based augmentation system (GBAS) still has a future, despite a U.S.
“Stealth does not make you invisible,” said the Russian designer sitting across the table at an out-of-the way institute in Moscow. “It makes an aircraft more survivable–but the concept that it is the only path to increasing the survivability of a military aircraft is wrong. We have taken a different approach from the U.S.”
French regions Aquitaine and Midi-Pyrénées have formed an organization called the “Aerospace Valley” to bid for government-endorsed “competitiveness area” status in the fields of aerospace and on-board systems. The French government is expected to name 10 to 20 such areas in mid-July, giving participants a certain status that will lead to industry recognition and access to new financial backing.
“We’re getting bigger–but we’re still manageable,” said Tom Cassidy of General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc (GA-ASI). The firm best known for the UAV that rewrote the rules of air warfare–the Predator–now employs more than 1,200 people at nine locations in southern California.
Joint Unmanned Combat Air System (J-UCAS): As well as its “black world” programs such as the Lockheed Martin “son of DarkStar” that was reportedly used in the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance role over Iraq, the U.S. is developing a UCAV in a publicly visible program to satisfy the needs of the U.S. Air Force and Navy.
Companies in both the U.S. and Europe are forging ahead with technology demonstrations for unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAV), but the military has yet to establish exactly what it wants from its future UCAVS. While this question remains unanswered, the development of production UCAVs will be delayed and budgets withheld.