General Electric is ranked as one of the world’s leading aero engine manufacturers, with a $20 billion business powering airliners, fighters and many other types of aircraft around the world, plus servicing and systems provision. Currently just $400 million of that annual business comes from the Business and General Aircraft (BGA) division, but the company has plans to dramatically expand in that sector, and in so doing is taking on the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 family that currently dominates the marketplace.
If you look closely at the exhibits of the major aerospace and defense companies here this week, you will likely notice some unexpected capabilities on display. With their traditional defense businesses threatened by declining budgets, many of these companies are exploring “adjacent markets.”
This trend started with offers in the security and IT realms. But now they are extending to other areas, such as energy, environment and climate; food and water security; and natural disaster protection and response.
The Raytheon standard terminal automation replacement system (Stars) began continuous operations in early May at the Dallas-Fort Worth terminal radar approach control (Tracon) facility, the first of 11 large Tracons in the U.S. to manage air traffic continuously using the new ATC automation system.
The UK government and key aerospace companies have formed a joint venture to invest more than £2 billion (approximately $3 billion) over the next seven years in a move designed to keep the country’s aerospace sector globally competitive, and to increase its market share. Under the Aerospace Growth Partnership (AGP), the government’s £1 billion investment will be matched by industry and will see the creation of a new Aerospace Technology Institute.
AgustaWestland is in an expansive mood when it comes to civil rotorcraft training. The northern Italy-based helicopter manufacturer recently installed a new CAE-built AW139 full-flight simulator (FFS) at its primary training center in Sesto Calende and plans to add FFSs for the new AW189 and AW169 designs by 2014 and 2015, respectively. In addition, the company has recently launched courses in Switzerland and Malaysia, and anticipates future training expansion into the UK and Russia. The Middle East and South America are on its radar also.
Rolls-Royce says that by August it expects to have demonstrated a new high-pressure turbine (HPT) destined for its Trent 1000-Ten engine, which is being offered to power the prospective Boeing 787-10. Assembly of the first full development engine is scheduled before year-end.
UTC Aerospace Systems (Chalet A330, Hall Concorde 35) has won a contract from Virgin Atlantic Airways to supply the wheels, carbon brakes and MRO services for the airline’s fleet of 16 Boeing 787-9s, the first of which the airframer plans to deliver in September 2014. UTC Aerospace said it would supply the parts through its Wheels & Brakes division, based in Troy, Ohio.
The carbon brakes on the 787-9 use UTC’s Duracarb carbon heat sink material, which, according the company, lasts 35 percent longer than competitive products.
Boeing has finished modifying the lithium-ion battery systems on all 50 of its 787 Dreamliners in the field and all the airplanes’ operators have re-launched service.
A switch from composite to titanium inner wall of the thrust reversers on the Boeing 737 Max has allowed designers to increase the fan diameter in the airplane’s CFM Leap-1B turbofans without a proportional increase in the size of the nacelle.
Boeing has left little doubt that it harbors bigger plans for its new plant in Charleston, South Carolina, where by the end of this year it expects to deliver three Dreamliners a month.