Each of the original three contenders to supply the UAE Air Force with an advanced jet trainer (AJT) offered unique selling points that could have tipped the balance in their favor. But following the recent rejection of the BAE Hawk submission, a final selection is expected imminently and could even be announced before the end of the show.
Operators of Beechjets, MU-300s (Diamonds) and Hawker 700s will have an RVSM solution from Raytheon Aircraft in the near future. A company spokesman told AIN that the company expects to complete STC programs for these airplanes “early next year.” To that end, Innovative Solutions & Support of Exton, Pa., has received a $3 million order for RVSM-compliant avionics intended for these aircraft.
In a major marketing change spurred by the fallout from September 11, Salt Lake City, Utah-based Groen Brothers Aviation (GBA) recently announced it would slow the already lagging FAA certification program on its four-place Hawk 4 gyrocopter, and concentrate on selling the aircraft to government agencies as a noncertified public-use aircraft.
The future of the Defence Export Services Organisation is under review by the new UK government. The agency promotes British arms sales abroad, and has administered the ongoing but controversial Al-Yamamah contracts through which the UK sold the Royal Saudi Air Force 120 Tornado combat jets, 50 Hawk and 50 PC-9 trainers, all supplied and supported by BAE Systems.
Sikorsky announced Tuesday that the kingdom of Bahrain had signed a letter of acceptance for nine Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters, the first export sale for the variant. Handled through foreign military sales channels, the acquisition is costing $204 million. The UH-60M is the latest Black Hawk version, featuring uprated engines and gearbox, wide-chord rotor blades and a digital, open-architecture avionics suite.
Helicopter maker Sikorsky Aircraft has tapped Honeywell to develop synthetic-vision technology for Black Hawk pilots landing in brownout conditions. The $6.9 million contract is part of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) so-called Sandblaster program.
Training pilots to fly combat jets is an expensive proposition. A proposal by European air chiefs to cut costs by combining forces has made only slow progress. However, two well established multinational training programs are readily available in North America. Meanwhile, “downloading” and “contractorization” are the prevailing buzzwords, as all air forces try to rationalize their flight training systems.
To inaugurate its newest aircraft type, fractional provider Flight Options is offering a reduced hourly occupied rate for customers who sign up for shares in the Embraer Legacy. For the first 24 months of the 60-month contract, the share owner will pay an hourly rate of $1,990, comparable to that of a Hawker 800XP. At the 25th month, the rate reverts to the regular $2,485 per hour.
Bell Helicopter has initiated an engineering study with a number of partners for a rather unconventional aircraft that designers say would be especially well suited to urban operations. The Bell X-Hawk would feature two shrouded main rotors in tandem configuration, fore and aft, and two smaller shrouded rotors acting as thrusters. Although Bell is targeting military applications, a civil variant is under consideration by its partners.
A Gulfstream IISP (for Special Performance–GIIs equipped with Aviation Partners’ winglets) set a world speed record December 15 on its way from Los Angeles to Kitty Hawk, N.C. The record flight was made to honor the Wright brothers’ first manned powered flight 100 years ago. The GIISP made the cross-country flight in 3 hours 48 minutes at an average groundspeed of 548 knots.