For Airbus and its A350XWB program, 2013 should prove a critical year. With service entry already pushed back to the second half of 2014, the European airframer is carefully managing expectations for a first flight as it seeks to resist the temptation to rush the key milestone in time for June’s Paris Air Show.
ATR has confirmed that it will further boost production this year and present a business case to its shareholders for a new 90-seat model.
While addressing journalists at the company’s base in Toulouse, southern France, CEO Filippo Bagnato said that ATR had recorded a “good” level of orders in 2012 (firm orders for 74 aircraft and options on 41), worth $2.6 billion at list prices. Meanwhile, revenue increased to a record $1.44 billion, up 11 percent on 2011 and with a big jump from $500 million in 2005.
Boeing and Sikorsky Aircraft signed a teaming agreement to submit a joint proposal for the U.S. Army’s Joint Multi-Role (JMR) technology demonstration (TD), phase one. The effort aims to develop the Army’s next-generation medium helicopter. The two companies said they are prepared to “build and fly one or more” medium-sized demonstrator aircraft in 2017, the program’s first-flight milestone.
Flight operations of the F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing (Stovl) variant of the Joint Strike Fighter remained suspended this week as U.S. military and contractor engineering teams investigated the cause of an engine fueldraulic line failure in a test aircraft at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. The fueldraulic line is part of the fuel-based hydraulic system that controls the actuators of the F-35B’s vectoring exhaust system. The grounding did not affect the F-35A and C models, respectively, the conventional takeoff and carrier variants.
Airbus Military still expects to deliver the first production A400M to the French Air Force in the second quarter. The milestone slipped by three months following a gearbox fault last summer, which interrupted function and reliability (F&R) flight-testing. To support its recent military intervention in Mali, France turned to the UK Royal Air Force C-17 fleet, which flew troops and equipment from Villacoublay to Bamako.
Northrop Grumman and EADS Cassidian conducted the first signals intelligence (Sigint) sensor test flight of the Euro Hawk unmanned aircraft system (UAS) on January 11. The aircraft flew for more than six hours and climbed to 54,000 feet in military-controlled airspace before returning to Manching Air Base in Germany, north of Munich. Bernhard Gerwert, Cassidian CEO, said the payload “showed excellent performance within the perfect interplay of the overall system.”
Northrop Grumman selected a Telephonics multimode surveillance radar to equip U.S. Navy MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopters under a rapid deployment capability program. The company awarded Telephonics a $33 million contract for the production, integration and testing of nine radar systems.
With deliveries of Boeing’s 787 suspended pending an FAA review prompted by a string of technical problems, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has still not completed certification of the new widebody.
Former Cessna chairman and CEO Jack Pelton is among a half-dozen veteran business and military aviation executives who have joined forces to offer remanufactured turbine-powered aircraft to the aviation and defense industries. The newly formed company, The Aviation Alliance, also announced its first business aviation offering yesterday: the Excalibur 421.
The UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch released factual details yesterday on the fatal crash of an AgustaWestland A109E helicopter in central London last week, highlighting the poor visibility the pilot was facing. The light twin hit a 719-foot-high crane jib at 7:59:25 a.m., killing the pilot and one person in the street below. It was flying back to Redhill after an aborted attempt to land at Elstree aerodrome.