Tests currently under way at the Airbus UK facility in Filton are exploring technologies aimed at extending the use of advanced composite materials on the main wing of future airliners such as the A350.
News and issues concerning aerospace companies, including formations, acquisitions, mergers and financials; and announcements of significant aircraft sales, delivery statistics and personnel appointments.
The chasm separating the realm of full-size airliners and regional airplanes has claimed another victim, swallowing the Boeing 717 as surely as it did the Fokker 100 and British Aerospace 146/Avro RJ. So who, you ask, would dare tempt fate again? All signs point to Canada’s Bombardier.
As Canadian conglomerate Onex prepared for its historic buy of Boeing’s commercial subassembly plants in the midwestern U.S., 9,300 employees at Boeing sites in Wichita, Kansas, and Tulsa and McAlester, Oklahoma, understandably felt a nagging unease over their futures.
BAE already derives 34 percent of its revenues from North America, where 27,000 employees produce an annual turnover of $5.6 billion. Of equal significance, the return on sales is 8.4 percent–the highest figure in all of BAE. The group’s CEO, Mike Turner, is fond of reminding UK and European government officials that the conditions for technology investment are so much more favorable to BAE on the other side of the Atlantic.
The Rochester, UK facility of BAE Systems has developed the world’s first control stick that tells a pilot, through feel, that the airplane is exceeding the design envelope. The stick provides discernably greater resistance when the pilot moves it beyond the limits by the aircraft’s flight control software.
BAE Systems has all but abandoned Europe. The British defense conglomerate is putting its money into North America, where the budgets are large and the risks are low. But the U.S. government has imposed major bureaucratic controls on all foreign entities that seek to share defense technology. So can BAE ever become a truly integrated transatlantic company?
Some 20 new aircraft, including the world’s largest–such as the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 777-200 Long Range–are among the 200 types on display here, making the Paris Air Show an exceptional showcase of flying hardware. Also making their first appearances are the Dassault Falcon 7X and Gulfstream G450 and G550 business jets, Embraer’s new 195 regional aircraft and Kazan Helicopters’ Mi-38.
An optimistic Louis Le Portz flashed a broad smile as he contemplated the opening of this week’s Le Bourget salon just a few weeks prior to the event. He knows that his first stab as commissaire général, or commissioner, of the biennial Paris Air Show marks a recovery from four gloomy years of aerospace industry decline and a return to something resembling the conditions exhibitors enjoyed prior to the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
At the start of last year, GIFAS merged with GITEP, an association of French defense and security electronics firms, bringing its total membership to 234 companies, including 199 equipment makers. The aerospace sector companies together employed 118,000 people in France–half a percent down on 2003. When the figures included the GITEP workforce, the total was 129,800.
In his swan song as the outgoing chairman of French aerospace industry association GIFAS last month, Philippe Camus called 2004 a “satisfactory year in a difficult environment.” He said prospects for the country’s aerospace and defense firms are brighter for 2005 with greater volumes of new orders flowing in–especially from commercial airliner and business aircraft programs–and exports achieving record levels.