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.
Fractional operator NetJets announced an order late last month for 50 Hawker 400XPs and eight midsize Hawker 800XPs, a deal valued in excess of $360 million. The order also includes an option for 50 Hawker 400XPs, bringing the total potential value to more than $600 million. In addition, discussion is under way with an undisclosed company on a long-term maintenance agreement, which was to be finalized by the end of last year.
NetJets has doubled its order for new Hawkers. The fractional operator, which announced at last year’s NBAA Convention an order for 30 Hawker 750s and 18 Hawker 900XPs, disclosed last month that it ordered another 30 Hawker 750s and 18 Hawker 900XPs. Both aircraft are derivatives of the Hawker 850XP and will replace that model on the production line.
Following up on a tentative agreement reached nearly nine months ago, Raytheon Aircraft and NetJets signed a contract for the purchase of 50 Hawker 4000s (née Horizons) for the latter company’s fractional fleet. In addition, there is a separate 10-year guaranteed maintenance program. Raytheon Aircraft said the combined total value of these contracts will exceed $1 billion, the largest single commercial order in the company’s history.
India’s lack of air force training capacity has taken its toll in high accident rates over the years but the recent selection of the BAE Systems’ Hawk advanced jet trainer marked an important step in reversing this trend. Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.
The Royal Bahraini Air Force’s new air training wing is on track to start full operations in 2007. In March 2006 synthetic training equipment will be delivered, and by the end of next year all six Hawk aircraft are to be in place.
Deliveries of six Hawk Mk 129s to the Royal Bahraini Air Force (RBAF) by BAE Systems beginning in the middle of next year will highlight the company’s continuing efforts to promote its advanced jet trainer in the highly competitive Middle East market. On August 26, the first of six aircraft destined for Bahrain made its first flight at BAE’s Warton facility in the UK.
The Korea Aerospace Industries/Lockheed Martin T-50 Golden Eagle could capture a large proportion of future world orders for advanced jet trainers. This transpacific joint venture made its aerial debut at the Seoul Air Show last month, and is now taking to the international stage here at Dubai 2005 this week. It is the first new, supersonic purpose-built jet trainer to fly in 40 years. The Koreans are very proud of it.
BAE Systems has recently announced three major programs aimed at improved flight safety and providing contingency plans in the event of emergencies.