Twelve years after the first Farnborough show in 1948, the Society of British Aircraft Constructors (SBAC) opened the event to foreign engine makers whose products equipped UK aircraft. The daily 1960 display began with a simulation of Britain’s planned retaliatory response to nuclear attack as flights of four Avro Vulcans, Handley Page Victors or Vickers Valiant “V-bombers” were “scrambled.”
The UK Royal Air Force mounted the biggest flypast seen in Europe for many years over RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, last Friday. On the ground, the Queen presented new colors to the RAF and the RAF Regiment with due ceremony, to mark the service’s 90th anniversary. Fortunately, the popular song title came true, and the rain did not fall on her parade.
Alenia Aermacchi’s first pre-production M-346 lead-in fighter trainer made its official maiden flight on July 7 with Aermacchi chief test pilot Olinto Cecconello at the controls. The jet, painted in “Finmeccanica red” in a nod to Alenia Aermacchi’s parent company, had made three previous flights, all occurring the week before the first official public flight pictured here.
French-Italian regional turboprop manufacturer Avions de Transport Régional (ATR) is considering a new aircraft to complement its 46/50 passenger ATR 42 and 68/74-seat ATR 72 regional turboprop aircraft. CEO Stéphane Mayer confirmed that the airframer is studying a larger turboprop, probably to seat between 90 and 100 seats, and options including a two- or three-member family. “A stretch [of today’s ATR 72] is not a solution,” he said.
At the Finmeccanica exhibit here at Farnborough (Outside OE2) visitors once again can find Alenia Aermacchi’s M-346 lead-in fighter trainer. At a first glance the aircraft looks the same as that exhibited at previous airshows, but close up it is possible to note some of the differences featured in this first preproduction aircraft, which was rolled out from the Italian group’s assembly line in April.
Nearby Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU) is now offering an accelerated first officer flight training (FOFT) program, which trains first officer candidates to regional airline and corporate fleet standards in less than a year.
Israel has requested the possible sale of 25 Hawker Beechcraft T-6A Texan II basic pilot training aircraft. The Israeli Air Force is the last user of the French Fouga Magister basic jet trainer, which dates from the early 1960s. These aircraft have high fuel and maintenance costs and poor serviceability. If Israel takes all the requested options, the order could cost $190 million.
Hawker Beechcraft has apparently overcome quality-control problems in the manufacture of the T-6A Texan II turboprop trainer. The U.S. Air Force recently awarded the company two follow-on contracts worth $550 million for an additional 137 aircraft.
“Aircraft insurance is a fairly pragmatic business,” stressed Jim Harris, executive vice president of AIG Aviation, Atlanta. “We put very high liability limits on our clients–$100 to $300 million and even higher on some Fortune 500 companies. Considering we’re insuring $20 million aircraft flying near the speed of sound with millionaire executives on board, training is paramount in our book.”
At the Pilatus shareholder meeting earlier this year, triumphant chairman Oscar Schwenk declared, “In 2007, we sold more aircraft, we achieved a higher turnover, we attained a better operating result and we have a larger order backlog than ever!” With sales of the PC-12 pressurized business utility single turboprop aircraft peaking above output capacity for several consecutive years and trainer sales picking up, the Swiss manufacturer is truly