Future Falcon business jets may use composite materials for their wings, but the fuselages will likely continue to be constructed from aluminum alloys. Speaking at a conference organized by the French Air and Space Academy in Paris in late November, Philippe Vautey, a Dassault senior expert in aerostructure technologies, outlined the company’s vision for Falcons that might enter service “four to eight years” from now. He would not clarify whether this includes the still-under-wraps Falcon SMS.
AgustaWestland is giving serious consideration to building production models of the AW609 civil tiltrotor in the U.S., possibly in Texas, a senior executive told AIN last month. Robert LaBelle, managing director of the AgustaWestland TiltRotor Co., said that initially the aircraft will be built partially in Italy and the U.S. but that the ultimate decision on where to conduct final assembly will be “driven by the customer base.” Some 35 percent of that customer base, he noted, is predicted to be in the U.S.
In Greek mythology, when Achilles was a baby, it was foretold that he would die young. To improve his chances of immortality, his mother, Thetis, took Achilles to the River Styx, which was supposed to offer powers of invulnerability, and dipped his body into the water. But Thetis held Achilles by the heel… The rest of the myth is well known. If the mother of the helicopter concept ever dipped it into the River Styx, she probably held it by the main gearbox.
Bristol Flying Center (BFC), the aviation services provider at the UK’s Bristol Airport, has completed an expansion after its parent company signed two handling contracts, one of them with a regional airline that handles Airbus corporate business. The FBO expects to see its annual passenger numbers increase 1,700 percent as a result of the agreements, which take effect this month. The company has completed two new passenger lounges and a separate crew lounge, along with new security screening facilities and redesigned reception areas in its 6,500-sq-ft terminal.
Embraer appears ever more bullish on the prospects for its products in China, judging by its most recent market forecast for the country. Released during November’s Airshow China international aerospace exhibition held in Shanghai, the forecast predicts that the number of aircraft holding between 30 and 120 passenger seats will grow more than eight-fold, from 125 today to 1,005 in 2031.
Eurocopter’s ubiquitous light single, the AS350B3e Ecureuil/AStar, is subject to airspeed limits and repetitive inspections as a result of an early-October emergency service bulletin and accompanying airworthiness directive (AD). The helicopter is now limited to 100 knots airspeed at sea level to reduce dynamic loads on the tail rotor. In addition, repetitive inspections must be conducted, with maximum intervals of three flight hours, on the laminated half-bearings.
Early in December, Eurocopter and the EASA published an additional emergency service bulletin and accompanying emergency AD. All AS350/AS355 Ecureuil (AStar and TwinStar) models are affected. Although no evidence of laminated half-bearing deterioration has been found on pre-B3e models, inspections are mandated. However, as the inspection interval is 10 hours, the AD will probably cause less inconvenience than those affecting the B3e.
Eurocopter has signed the first customer for the AS332C1e Super Puma, the “low cost” version of the medium twin. Starlite Aviation, an operator based in Ireland and South Africa, will be the first to fly the new, shorter-fuselage variant. Starlite provides passenger and cargo flights and heavy sling-load operations for, among others, United Nations agencies.
Many pilots had their first–but thankfully second-hand–exposure to the pitfalls of flight systems automation when they watched a remarkable video of an Airbus A320 performing a gear-down, nose-high flypast demonstration at the small French airport at Habsheim in 1988.
The first flight of the Quest Helicopters AVQ light twin has slipped by half a year, to “August or September” this year. A prototype aircraft is said to be almost ready to fly, even as the company shifts its focus from the four-seater to a larger 10- to 15-passenger version.