The U.S. Navy restarted the VXX Presidential Helicopter Replacement Program by issuing a final request for proposals on May 3. The next day, Marine Helicopter Squadron One (HMX-1) officially welcomed a new type into the presidential fleet–the MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor–which will be used in a support role to carry White House staff and reporters following the President.
A debate has unfolded in Russia over whether to invest further in the MiG-31 series or to concentrate funding on the Sukhoi Su-35. United Aircraft’s Sokol factory in Nizhny Novgorod continues to deliver MiG-31BM multirole aircraft modified from MiG-31 interceptors built earlier. The plant’s general director, Alexander Karezin, reported that the company handed over 15 last year, and the plant “holds a firm order for about sixty MiG-31BMs due for delivery in 2011-2018.” He added, “This is a considerable contribution to the national defense of the country.”
Integration of remotely piloted air systems (RPAS, or unmanned air systems) into non-segregated airspace in Europe has moved a step closer with the latest test flight in the Desire project (Demonstration of Satellites enabling the Insertion of RPAS in Europe). The project is funded by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Defence Agency (EDA) and led by Indra of Spain.
The Indian Naval air arm is set to double its fleet of 217 aircraft in the next decade. The fleet–a mix of 14 models–“has emerged as a mini air force,” said assistant chief of naval staff (Air) Rear Admiral D.M. Sudan.
The U.S. Air Force awarded Raytheon a $50.6 million engineering and manufacturing development contract to build mobile ATC systems capable of providing approach control guidance to military and other aircraft operating within a terminal airspace area. Raytheon will supply 19 mobile systems under the service’s deployable radar approach control (D-Rapcon) program; the overall contract value is approximately $400 million.
Worldwide business jet deliveries rose by 4 percent, to 129 units, in the first quarter, according to statistics released today by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association. Pressurized turboprops, meanwhile, saw an increase of nearly 53 percent year-over-year.
In a Service Bulletin issued May 3, winglet manufacturer Aviation Partners (API) instructed operators with winglet-equipped 800-series Hawkers modified by STC#ST01411SE to reduce maximum permissible altitude to 34,000 feet. “Several instances of aileron/wing oscillations have been reported on the Hawker 800 [series],” the company said. “Aviation Partners and the FAA consider this Service Bulletin to be a safety-related limitation until a design change to preclude the oscillations is developed and FAA approved.”
The wing and fuselage of the first production Citation M2 were mated this week at Cessna Aircraft’s facility in Wichita. Certification of the M2, an upgraded Citation CJ1 with Garmin G3000 avionics and more powerful Williams FJ44 engines, is expected later this year. Now that the wing mate is completed, the engine installation phase has started and will be followed by functional testing of the aircraft systems, including avionics, hydraulics and flight controls.
Signature Flight Support has resumed handling of all helicopter traffic into London Gatwick Airport, coinciding with the reopening of the helicopter aiming point (HAP) on May 3. The opening of the HAP after a 12-year hiatus allows operators once again to land helicopters at Gatwick without having to taxi on the runway. The new HAP is located at the end of Taxiway Uniform on the airport’s west side. Slots are still required for landing, and the HAP is for daylight use only when visibility is better than 1,500 meters.