This month Bombardier commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Learjet’s first flight even as the company struggles to launch a larger new flagship, the Model 85, and switch to composite airframe construction. Since 1963, Learjet has become one of the world’s most iconic brands, often generically misused to describe any make/model of private jet, and a conspicuous sign of affluence. Early Learjet owners included crooner Frank Sinatra and industrialist Louise Timken, and their aircraft were a far cry from the comfortable cabins of today.
Aviation International News » October 2013
Lockheed Martin, the Pentagon’s largest supplier, has joined forces with Bell Helicopter on the V-280 being proposed for the DoD’s joint multi-role (JMR) technology demonstrator program. The move by Lockheed Martin comes one month after the company announced it is developing a “universal” avionics and weapons package for the Army’s JMR aircraft even before selection of an airframe. As many as 4,000 helicopters could be acquired under the program.
Bell Boeing, the joint venture that produces the V-22 and MV-22 tiltrotor for the Air Force, Navy and Marines, announced that it had successfully demonstrated the capability of that aircraft to serve as an aerial refueling tanker in trials with F/A-18C/D fighters. The test V-22 used a retractable refueling drogue. Bell Boeing has been promoting the V-22 for other roles, including that of the Greyhound COD resupply mission for aircraft carriers.
Yunnan Jingchen Group ordered one Sikorsky S-92 medium twin last month for transporting corporate and government VIPs. The group had just received Chinese government approval to establish a general aviation company, named the Ruili Helicopter Group. The newly ordered S-92 is scheduled for delivery in November 2015. It will become the second operated by Jingchen, after the first was delivered in June this year.
Sikorsky Aircraft and China’s Changhe Aircraft Industries have signed an agreement for Changhe to produce cabins for the S-76D. Changhe, which had previously provided cabins for the predecessor S-76C++, will now serve as a second source for S-76D cabins, as Czech-based Aero Vodochody also supplies cabins. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2016.
The first prototype of the Marenco Swisshelicopter SKYe SH09 would be assembled “over the next weeks,” the company predicted early last month. CEO Martin Stucki said testing of gearboxes and rotors was confirming expectations and simulations. The program’s schedule has the prototype flying four to six weeks after the completion of final assembly.
China-based Henan New Continental Business Aviation has ordered two Eurocopter helicopters in VIP configuration. An AS350B3e Ecureuil/AStar single will be delivered at year-end and an EC145 Mercedes-Benz Style (the first such light twin to be sold in Asia) in the middle of next year. The operator plans to create a helicopter fleet for business passengers. “While VIP helicopter transportation in China is relatively young, the customers’ needs are maturing rapidly,” chairman Zhou Suiji stated.
AgustaWestland is flight-testing a redesigned vertical fin for the AW609 civil tiltrotor, part of an extensive package of aerodynamic improvements aimed at reducing drag by up to 10 percent, cutting weight and increasing performance. Other changes include new engine exhaust nozzles and modifications to the prop-rotor spinner cones.
Chinese media recently reported that Avic officials have ambitions of entering the high-speed rotorcraft market. The airframer’s helicopter subsidiary is developing helicopters that will be able to reach 270 knots, said president Lin Zuoming. Meanwhile, Avicopter general manager Cai Yi stated, “Avicopter civil helicopters can join the ranks of the world’s most advanced,” adding that his company has mastered core technologies in key areas such as rotors, flight controls and avionics.
Prominently on display at the Aerial View Systems exhibit at next month’s NBAA Convention will be the new AVS820-HD tail camera, which will also be featured on Gulfstream’s new G280 demonstrator.
The camera was fabricated using a Catia/five-axis CNC and is already being delivered for the Boeing Business Jet and private 747. The company has also done drawings for a Falcon 900.
One of the more unusual aspects of Aerial View’s AVS820-HD product is that it is delivered with a custom conforming enclosure, including heated sapphire window.
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