At first glance, the proposed merger between EADS and BAE should not pose problems for competition regulators on either side of the Atlantic, from a defense perspective. There is very little overlap between the businesses. “It’s a great strategic fit,” one EADS official told AIN. However, that may not stop companies such as Finmeccanica or Thales from raising questions about the consolidation of first-tier defense contractors in Europe.
On the day after the merger talks between EADS and BAE Systems became public this week, the French and German governments signed a cooperation agreement on future medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAVs. The two nations will develop a common operational requirement, and may also jointly operate an interim solution. Both countries currently fly the Israeli Heron 1 system in Afghanistan, but their respective air forces have been pressing for a replacement.
The ILA Berlin airshow, held this week on a new site at Schonefeld Airport, remains largely a regional event driven by German industry and government requirements. News of the merger talks between EADS and BAE Systems broke halfway through the event, although not by design, a senior EADS official told AIN. But there was other important defense news announced or discussed at the show.
BAE surprised stock markets on September 12 with sudden announcement of a planned merger with its fellow European aerospace and defense group EADS, which confirmed a few hours later that the deal is being discussed. Under UK stock market rules, the merger would have to be agreed or abandoned by close-of-business on October 10.
Dynamic growth in emerging economies will be the principal factor driving commercial aircraft requirements in the coming 20 years, according to Airbus. Other major contributions will come from increased global urbanization and a doubling of middle-class populations. “By 2031 the number of ‘mega-cities’ will more than double to 92, and 90 percent of the world’s traffic will be between (or through) these points,” concluded the European airframer in its new 2012-31 market forecast, released in London on September 4.
Last week Airbus issued the latest installment of its future vision for aviation in 2050 and beyond, describing new ways of operating across all phases of flight. The company’s “Smarter Skies” vision centers on a “sustainable” aviation system that saves time, conserves fuel and reduces emissions. For the first time, the vision looks beyond smarter aircraft design to the efficiencies potentially derived from airspace optimization, or making the best use of the environment in which an aircraft operates, Airbus said.
EADS has replaced Stefan Zoller as head of Cassidian, the group’s defense business. Cassidian has not enjoyed the same level of success as other EADS divisions, and is facing a difficult home market in Europe. An official statement says Zoller is leaving “to pursue new professional challenges.”
Eurocopter is hoping to establish a completion center for its Ecureuil light helicopter series in Tianjin, China, next year. Company president Lutz Bertling inked a memorandum of understanding today with Feng Zhijiang, president of the Tianjin Free Trade Zone (TFTZ). The agreement aims at “exploring the creation of a completion and customization center.”
Airbus will delay first flight and entry into service of the A350XWB by another three months to address a manufacturing glitch at its Broughton, UK, wing production facility, EADS executives revealed during today’s half-year earnings briefing. Already a year behind schedule, the A350-900 now won’t reach the market until at least the second half of 2014.
European governments have reached a crossroad in the potential development of next-generation unmanned aerial systems that could challenge current Israeli and U.S. leadership in this field. The British and French defense ministers will meet in London on Tuesday, July 24, to assess the Anglo-French Defence Agreement.