According to Airbus Military officials, the A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) has won all the recent competitions for a large aerial tanker because of its superior airframe, coupled to a unique, high-technology refueling system. “We’re very proud of our in-house boom,” said Peter Scoffham, vice president for defense capability marketing.
Eurocontrol is warning helicopter operators, especially offshore oil operators, of a potential threat posed by “skysails,” giant kites that help propel some large ships such as oil tankers and container carriers. On September 15 a helicopter was descending over the southern North Sea to a nearby oil or gas platform when the crew saw such a skysail. It was flying ahead of a vessel, at around 1,000 feet, just below the clouds.
Air Routing is here at the NBAA Convention announcing it will integrate its Datalink, Trip Quote, Fuel Stop Analyzer, GPS RAIM Prediction, Runway Analysis and Domestic Flight Watch under a single portal–Flight Planner. The company, long known for international flight planning, also announced a new goal of becoming a flight-planning vendor of choice for domestic operators.
While Boeing and Northrop Grumman/EADS prepare to lock horns again for the U.S. tanker replacement program, one might be forgiven for thinking that there were only two sources for modern jet tankers. IAI’s Bedek Aviation Group would certainly disagree.
Battle lines were drawn here this week for round three of the Great Tanker War. Conflict is likely to break out next month, when the Pentagon is expected to issue a new draft request for proposals (RFP) for the KC-X program. Boeing said that it may now offer a tanker version of the 777.
Embraer has redesigned its C-390 tactical transport after advice from the Brazilian Air Force (FAB). The new configuration has a larger fuselage, a new wing and a T-tail, and therefore now has much less commonality with the EMB-190 regional airliner. The FAB is expected to launch the program with an order for at least 22 aircraft.
Lockheed SP-2H, Reno, Nev., Sept. 1, 2008–The Lockheed Neptune air tanker was destroyed after losing power and crashing two miles from Reno Stead Airport, killing the two ATP-rated pilots and a flight mechanic. A witness who watched the airplane take off reported seeing flames coming from the left engine when the airplane was at about 100 to 300 feet agl. The left wing was engulfed in flames.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates last week called off the revised KC-X tanker solicitation before the final request for proposal (RFP) was issued.“We can no longer complete a competition that would be viewed as fair and objective in this highly charged environment,” he said.
Northrop Grumman’s defensive systems division has been awarded a $93 million contract to supply its large aircraft infrared countermeasures system for the RAF’s Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft program. The systems will be supplied to Thales UK, one of the members of the AirTanker consortium that is supplying 14 A330-200 aircraft for the FSTA requirement.
The U.S. KC-X tanker win in February was a major breakthrough for EADS (as part of the Northrop Grumman team), which has established operations in Mobile, Alabama, already and started to relocate A330 freighter activity there, too. But the champagne corks are back in after the U.S. GAO in June upheld seven points in Boeing’s protest at the U.S. Air Force procurement.