Ireland-based aircraft lessor Avolon is speaking out against what it characterizes as irresponsible speculation that the economic life of modern airliners has been significantly reduced by the dismantling (for parts) of a number of relatively young aircraft, such as the Airbus A318. In an October 2 webcast, Avolon CEO Domhnal Slattery and head of strategy Dick Forsberg presented the results of a study drawing on raw fleet data provided by consultancy Ascend, combined with its own 10-year projections.
Eurocopter, which is nearing completion of a new development center in Donauwörth, Germany, that will house 900 engineers, has begun building another development center in Marignane, France. Employees currently based in Ottobrunn will move to the new German facility next spring. In Marignane, the project includes the construction of a “Helicopter Zero” building, with test benches integrating various helicopter systems to be delivered in April. New construction will start in July, with the goal of accommodating 1,000 people in “plateau” concurrent engineering.
Eurocopter hopes to establish a completion center for Ecureuil light helicopters in Tianjin, China, by next year to accelerate deliveries for Chinese customers.
Senior officials from EADS and BAE Systems are hastening to secure agreement for their proposed 60-40 merger from key governments, after the premature leaking of the deal. They must specify full details by October 10, to satisfy UK stock market rules.
Airbus Military says it hopes to resume, in November, the remaining 140 hours of function and reliability flight-testing that is required before its A400M airlifter can be granted a full type certificate. The flights with MSN6, the first production-representative aircraft, were suspended in July because of the repeated detection of metallic chips in the oil system of one of the TP400 engines.
EADS Cassidian reports positive results from a third flight-test campaign conducted recently from Goose Bay, Canada, with the second prototype Barracuda UAV. Five flights during June and July each lasted up to one hour and proved various new mission modes, including autonomous 4-D navigation and cooperative flying with a second UAV. Unlike the previous two campaigns in 2009 and 2010, the latest flights were funded entirely by the company.
Last week’s ILA airshow in Berlin did little to bolster backlogs of airliner orders, beyond the pair of ATR 72-600s that the regional aircraft maker sold to Austrian carrier InterSky. The $47 million deal will see the first of the 70-seaters delivered in December and the second in March.
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.