The rival contenders for the huge U.S. Air Force KC-X competition for a new aerial tanker have been briefing the relative merits of the KC-30 and the KC-767 all round the show this week. But political considerations apart–and there are plenty of those–it all boils down to a simple fact: size matters.
EADS Astrium plans to move into the space tourism market, the company revealed. Rides, including three minutes of weightlessness at an altitude of 330,000 feet, are likely to cost upward of $200,000. The only route to space for non-astronauts today, a ride on the Russian Soyuz to the International Space Station, costs $25 million and involves “six months of horrible training,” the company said.
Two EADS CEOs have swapped places–almost. Stéphane Mayer, who since 2003 was CEO of aerostructures and light aircraft specialist Socata, has moved to regional turboprop manufacturer ATR as its new CEO. Meanwhile, Jean-Michel Léonard, who was a former ATR CEO and used to be head of Airbus’ center of excellence in electric systems, has been appointed CEO of Socata.
The final configuration of the Thales Watchkeeper UAV for the British Army is unveiled here, outside the Thales pavilion. Now that the critical design review is successfully accomplished, Thales is showing this intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance (ISTAR) system to other potential customers.
MBDA, the missile manufacturer owned by BAE Systems, EADS and Finmeccanica, has appointed Antoine Bouvier as its new chief executive. He replaces Marwan Lahoud. Bouvier was most recently chief executive officer of EADS Astrium Satellites, a post he took up in 2002, and before that he held senior positions at ATR culminating in his becoming chief executive in 1998.
EADS Astrium’s plans to move into the space tourism market, revealed last week to a VIP audience and represented here by a full-scale mockup of a hybrid spaceplane’s forward fuselage and its business-jet-like cabin, depend on raising money from the private sector.
The next 30 days or so will be critical to the future of Airbus and its EADS parent company as top executives struggle to push through the core elements of the European airframer’s Power8 restructuring plan.
The L-3 Communications Integrated Systems-led C-27J team, including partners Alenia Aeronautica, GMAS (a joint L-3/Alenia company) and Boeing Integrated Defense Systems, comes to Le Bourget on a high, having landed the potentially huge Joint Cargo Aircraft competition last Wednesday. The Pentagon announced on June 13 that the team would build the C-27J Spartan to fulfill a joint U.S.
It has been a busy year for the Airbus Military A400M program, which has seen the first major components of the European airlifter reach the final assembly site at Seville, Spain, the first run of the TP400-D6 turboprop at Istres, France and–until the beginning of March–the successful achievement of all critical milestones.
Does the recent sale of its Inertial Products business signal a round of sell-offs by BAE Systems? A statement accompanying the move noted that the company’s strategy is to expand as a developer and integrator of systems and “de-emphasize its role as a components provider.”