Last year saw reasonably brisk activity in the regional turboprop business, as the Western world’s remaining players scrambled to hold their positions during a period of continuing sluggishness in the air-transport sector.
The Czech government has pledged $13.5 million over three years to a consortium of 16 companies to build and market a nine- to 14-seat twin turboprop dubbed the EV-55. Organized by the Czech Aviation Manufacturers’ Association and led by Kunovice-based Evektor, the program would awaken a virtually inactive Czech civil aerospace industry and help regain some of the status it enjoyed during the peak of Let 410 and Zlin glider production.
Swiss International Air Lines may again fly its Saab 2000 turboprops into Switzerland’s Lugano Airport under a new indirect IFR approach procedure proposed by the flag carrier and charter operator and FBO chain Jet Aviation. The indirect approach serves as an alternative to the steep approach to Runway 01 imposed by the Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) since November.
Nearly four years after the accident, the Swiss Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (BFU) published its final report on the Jan. 10, 2000 crash of a Crossair Saab 340B at Nassenwil near Zurich Airport. The unusual delay stems from appeals filed against the BFU’s conclusions, the most publicized objection coming from Moritz Suter, Crossair’s CEO at the time of the accident.
The so-called regional jet revolution has in the minds of many rendered turboprops a quaint throwback to the days of “commuter” airlines. But this year’s spate of big orders for new turboprops has turned conventional wisdom on its ear, giving the last two Western builders of prop-driven airliners a renewed sense of vitality.
After some years of negotiation, Pakistan has signed a provisional contract with Saab to procure an airborne early warning system. It will be based on the Saab 2000 twin-turboprop airliner carrying a strut-mounted Ericsson Microwave Systems Erieye radar above the aircraft’s spine. The contract is worth SEK 8.3 billion ($1 billion), of which Saab will receive two-thirds and Ericsson Microwave one-third.
On Sunday night a Brazilian air force Embraer EMB-145 ANEW&C landed at the Dubai airshow to make the type’s first appearance outside South America, at the start of Operação Guardião–a demonstration tour that will also take the aircraft to December’s LIMA show in Malaysia. The aircraft flew from Brazil with six stops along the way.
The arrival of the Gripen at the Dubai airshow represents a major milestone in an expanding marketing campaign for Sweden’s multirole fighter. Not only does it mark the aircraft’s first public appearance in the Middle East, it introduces the latest JAS 39C/D–now in service with Sweden and the Czech Republic–to the major international airshow circuit.
Away from the turmoil of the marketplace, the Gripen team has continued to develop the aircraft and enhance its weapon capabilities. On Dec. 13, 2005, a Gripen took off from Linköping with a fully representative systems-fit Meteor missile, the first such flight for this important European weapon.
With a big, self-contained display outside Hall A here, Gripen International signals its determination to compete in Asia. And elsewhere, of course. Sales and marketing director Bob Kemp told journalists here this week that he expects the Swedish fighter to gain 200 export orders over the next 10 years–just under 10 percent of his estimate for the total combat aircraft market.