Certification in hand, Airbus Helicopters is endeavoring to ensure a faultless entry into service of its EC175 medium twin, a critical product for the company in the highly competitive offshore oil-and-gas market. The first delivery, to Belgium-based operator NHV, is planned for the second half of this year, almost five years after the first flight. Thanks to the unprecedented preparation at the company’s headquarters in Marignane, France, and at a customer base, program officials believe an EC175 will be able to operate immediately after delivery.
Spain is forging ahead with plans to become one of Europe’s leading nations in the unmanned arena through the launch of two connected initiatives that will place the country, and the region of Andalucía in particular, at the forefront of unmanned air vehicle research and test.
Rich Oldfield, GKN Aerospace technical director, told AIN that technology remains at the heart of the company’s ability to succeed in the market and it invests heavily, especially in composites, metallics and developing a “niche portfolio in transparencies, protection systems and coatings, which many of our competitors don’t have.” Alongside this are “important technologies in inspection, assembly and automation.”
GKN Aerospace (Chalet G1) comes to Farnborough content in having achieved “a good set of results” in 2013 as it increased sales by 10 percent to £7.6 billion (around $10 billion). “It was a good year at GKN pretty much across the board–bar land systems,” said Kevin Cummings, CEO of GKN aerospace during a pre-airshow briefing.
While calling extending its geared turbofan engine family’s thrust rating by another 2,000 pounds “a big deal,” Pratt & Whitney next-generation product family vice president Bob Saia sees still bigger things in the company’s future, including what he called an Advanced GTF that could rival an open-rotor design in fuel efficiency by the middle of the next decade. For now, though, Saia finds himself “busy as a bee” with the five core programs already under way at the U.S. company.
AgustaWestland last month received the 2014 American Helicopter Museum and Education Center’s achievement award for “advancements in rotary-wing technologies,” based on the Project Zero tiltrotor demonstrator program. Dr. James Wang, the manufacturer’s research-and-development vice president, accepted the award. Led by Wang, the Project Zero team designed, built and flew a 2,200-pound, all-electric vertical lift aircraft in six months. A few flights took place in 2011-2012.
The production system that promises to support a reduction in final assembly times for the Boeing 737 from 10 to 9 days this year should become still more efficient with the introduction of a new automated panel assembly line (PAL) by early 2015. Built by Mukilteo, Washington-based Electroimpact, the PAL fastens stringers to wing skin panels at twice the rate Boeing now can manage using the current process at the 737 plant in Renton, Washington.
The successful consolidation of key parts of Russia’s aerospace industry into the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) is more evident at this year’s Farnborough International Airshow then at any time since the group’s formation back in February 2006.
Crane Aerospace & Electronics has received a pair of new contracts to supply power conversion products. In the first of two deals announced here on the first day of the Farnborough International Airshow, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) signed with Crane to use Interpoint power converters for the Mars 2020 mission. The California-based company plans to use a variety of space dc-dc converters and filters including Crane’s SMRT product, which features a built-in EMI filter, independent outputs and adjustable output voltage.
When taking helm of a company that already owns a substantial portion of the regional aircraft market, one might be tempted to wonder if there’s anything more to be done. But Patrick de Castelbajac, who was appointed CEO of ATR at the beginning of June, knows there’s plenty of work left to do.
“When you’re at the top, the challenge is not only to stay at the top, but to find ways to continue to grow,” de Castelbajac told AIN. De Castelbajac follows Filippo Bagnato, whose four-year mandate, according to ATR’s statutes, expired at the end of May.