U.S. Army AH-64D Block III helicopter crews exercised directional control of the MQ-1C Grey Eagle unmanned aircraft system (UAS) during the recently completed initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) of the upgraded Apache. The Army will decide whether to approve full-rate production of the Block III in July, including production of the mast-mounted UAS tactical datalink assembly (UTA) developed to control the Grey Eagle.
Lockheed Martin has provided more details on the lower-cost C-130XJ that it revealed earlier this year, along with the proposed SC-130J Sea Herc for maritime missions. The company has delivered 252 of the 320 C-130Js on order by 15 countries, and is reducing the production rate to 30 per year from last year’s peak of 36.
The latest Selected Acquisition Report on the Lockheed Martin F-35 program has updated the Pentagon’s cost estimates. The eight international partners may take some comfort from the predictions of future unit recurring flyaway costs, once full-rate production begins. That is, if they defer the majority of their buys until then, which seems increasingly likely. The report also details the schedule delays that were officially approved last December.
The U.S. Navy grounded its fleet of 14 MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopters following the recent crash of an aircraft in Afghanistan and a ditching at sea. The Naval Air Systems Command (Navair) said it is reviewing Fire Scout system performance and operational procedures. Loss rates of U.S. military unmanned platforms are not often discussed, but official data from the U.S.
Business aircraft flying activity in the U.S. flattened last month, with traffic falling 1.6 percent versus the year-ago period, according to TraqPak data released yesterday by aviation services company Argus.
Part 91 flying eked out a slight increase, climbing 0.6 percent year over year. Flying activity at charter and fractional providers dropped 3.6 percent and 5.9 percent, respectively, from March 2011. This marks the 14th consecutive month of retrenched activity at Part 135 charter companies, though it should be noted that charter turboprop flying did rise 2.3 percent.
Clearwater, Fla.-based Avantair announced on Tuesday that its entire fleet of fractional Piaggio Avantis will soon feature airborne high-speed Internet. The company is now installing Aircell ATG 5000 communications systems in its twin-turboprop fleet and expects to complete the work this summer. The ATG 5000 covers the continental U.S. above 10,000 feet and portions of Alaska, providing broadband connection via a nationwide network of ground stations.
Jet Aviation St. Louis has developed a Wi-Fi STC for the Bombardier Challenger 300, Global Express and Global Express XRS. The new STC joins existing Wi-Fi STCs for the Gulfstream V, Challenger 605, Learjet 40 and Learjet 45. Wi-Fi coverage is now available for both domestic and international operations, providing full Internet functionality in the aircraft.
The FAA is proposing to adopt a new airworthiness directive for Eurocopter France SA365N, SA365N1, SA366G1, AS365N2, AS365N3, EC155B and EC155B1 helicopters. It was prompted by the discovery of a cracked main-rotor mast nut that, if not replaced, could lead to complete failure of the mast nut, failure of the rotor mast and loss of control of the helicopter. The proposed AD would require replacing the main-rotor mast nut with an airworthy main-rotor mast nut.
Dassault Falcon promoted Jean-Michel Jacob to senior vice president of international sales. In his new position, he will oversee all sales activity for Dassault Falcon in Asia, the Pacific Rim and South America. Jacob, who has worked for the French aircraft manufacturer in several sales capacities since 1987, will be based in Beijing. He was named vice president of international sales in 2005 and established the company’s Asian sales headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2007.
Gulfstream Aerospace appointed Thomas Huff to the newly created position of aviation safety officer. A retired U.S. Navy test pilot with more than 25 years of experience, Huff reports directly to company president Larry Flynn. Huff will oversee a comprehensive aviation safety program for all Gulfstream flight operations, including experimental test, production test, demonstration and corporate flights. He will provide independent safety oversight and promote aviation safety and awareness throughout the company, Gulfstream said.