Airbus Military still expects to deliver the first production A400M to the French Air Force in the second quarter. The milestone slipped by three months following a gearbox fault last summer, which interrupted function and reliability (F&R) flight-testing. To support its recent military intervention in Mali, France turned to the UK Royal Air Force C-17 fleet, which flew troops and equipment from Villacoublay to Bamako.
Northrop Grumman and EADS Cassidian conducted the first signals intelligence (Sigint) sensor test flight of the Euro Hawk unmanned aircraft system (UAS) on January 11. The aircraft flew for more than six hours and climbed to 54,000 feet in military-controlled airspace before returning to Manching Air Base in Germany, north of Munich. Bernhard Gerwert, Cassidian CEO, said the payload “showed excellent performance within the perfect interplay of the overall system.”
Last year proved another year of growth for Eurocopter, despite continued erosion of deliveries. Revenues were up by 15 percent, at €6.3 billion ($8.4 billion), but deliveries dropped to 475 aircraft, the lowest number since 2005 and short of the predicted “500 plus.”
Anglo-Italian helicopter manufacturer AgustaWestland signed a memorandum of understanding yesterday with Brazilian aircraft company Embraer to establish a joint venture to manufacture AgustaWestland helicopters in Brazil for both the domestic and regional military and civilian markets.
Airbus has raised its sales target for 2013 to 700 airliners after surpassing its target of 650 for last year with gross orders for 914 airplanes and a net order count of 833 after cancellations. But the European airframer has acknowledged that it is especially eager to get sales of its A380 widebody back on track after logging orders for only nine of the superjumbos in 2012.
Airbus surpassed its delivery target in 2012 with a final tally of 588 aircraft for 89 customers (a rise of 10 percent over 2011). In press conference held at its Toulouse, France, headquarters on January 17, the European airframer also reported that it had exceeded its own orders target for last year by logging gross orders for 914 aircraft.
Eurocopter continues to search for the root cause of the main gearbox failure that resulted in forced but controlled ditchings by two EC225s last year. Early last month, the manufacturer was still hoping it would be able to recommend a return to flight in February. In a written statement sent to AIN late last week, however, it refers only to an “update on the situation” at the end of February.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) has selected the A330 multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) for its tanker procurement in preference to the Ilyushin Il-78MK, after a second round of bidding. Commercial negotiations for six aircraft with an option for three more will start soon, and a contract that includes a 30-percent offset commitment is expected to be signed by June.
An order from Aviation Capital Group for fifty 737 Max 8s and ten 737 Max 9s last week lifted Boeing’s firm order total for the prospective re-engined narrowbodies to more than 1,000 and capped a solid year in which for the first time since 2002 the U.S. company outperformed Airbus in both deliveries and sales. Closed in December, the ACG contract increased the number of 737 Maxs on firm order to 1,029 and Boeing’s total firm order count for last year to 1,203.
EADS Innovation Works is reviewing options for the materials Airbus could use on an airplane to replace the A320eo in 2022. The competition between metal and composites remains intense, prompting EADS IW boss Yann Barbaux to advise against betting on a full-composite airplane, now designated the A30X.