The U.S. Navy recorded another first on May 14 when it conducted the first catapult launch of the Northrop Grumman X-47B unmanned combat air system demonstrator (UCAS-D) from the deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush under way off the coast of Virginia.
China’s first jet-powered stealth unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV), the Lijian or “Sharp Sword,” was recently spotted undergoing taxiing tests in that country. Analysts interpreted the sighting as indicating that the Lijian’s maiden flight is imminent.
The international defense industry fair (IDEF 13) held in Istanbul, Turkey, from May 7 to 10 saw the Turkish industry announce a number of developments. The most notable was the revelation of three potential concepts for the TF-X national combat aircraft program, a stealthy aircraft that is ultimately expected to replace the F-16.
Germany’s Federal Ministry of Defense (MoD) as a cost-cutting measure will not buy four production models of the RQ-4E Euro Hawk unmanned aircraft system as planned. The MoD’s decision to stop the program after acquiring one demonstrator aircraft was disclosed earlier this week. During a parliamentary debate, Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere said of the decision: “We prefer to pull the plug.
Beechcraft, which recently emerged from bankruptcy protection and is now focused on its piston and turboprop products, expects to sell its mothballed jet division in the coming months. According to CEO Bill Boisture, the company has already completed disposition of its remaining inventory of approximately 20 new and pre-owned Hawker 4000 and Premier IA jets, a move he said went “better than planned,” though he declined to offer details about the revenue derived from their sale.
Business aircraft flying in Europe contracted by 3.6 percent year-over-year in the March and April period, according to recent data from business aviation information provider WingX Advance, based in Hamburg, Germany. “Activity [in Europe] remains in the trough it entered in the fourth quarter of 2012, with no recovery in sight,” the company said.
The FAA approved an automated rig approach for offshore operators on the Sikorsky S-92, offering new functionality for the medium-twin helicopter. The system is said to “reduce cockpit workload by 60 percent” and allow safer operations under challenging weather and operating conditions. Sikorsky has been developing the “rig approach” system since 2007 in cooperation with operator PHI.
A Gulfstream G650 set a city-pair speed record last month on a flight between Shanghai and Newark, N.J., flying the 6,855-nm route in 13 hours and 32 minutes, the Savannah, Ga.-based aircraft manufacturer announced yesterday. The jet took off from Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport on April 18 carrying five passengers and four crewmembers. ATC restrictions kept the G650 below FL310 for the first hour before it was cleared to climb to its normal cruising altitude of FL410 to FL510.
In the first quarter of 2013, revenue at Eurocopter fell by 13 percent, to €1.04 billion ($1.35 billion), with deliveries of 58 helicopters during the three-month period. Parent company EADS attributed the downward performance to the ongoing “technical problems with the Super Puma/EC225 fleet.” Affected have been both deliveries and the service revenue generated by helicopter operations. In the first three months, Eurocopter booked net orders for 51 helicopters, the company said.
An announcement made this week by cabin equipment manufacturer Vision Systems hints that Eurocopter will unveil a VIP variant of the EC175 medium twin at EBACE, which opens on Tuesday in Geneva. Vision Systems said it provided a Wi-Fi network, a tablet application, ceiling displays for movies and electronically dimming windows–all integrated in a cabin management system–for the EC175 that will be displayed at Eurocopter’s EBACE booth.