On February 11 a U.S. Navy Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet made the type’s first flight equipped with an infrared search and track sensor. Developed by Lockheed Martin, the IRST sensor is intended to give the Block II Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler a long-range, passive detection and tracking capability against multiple air targets to augment the aircraft’s APG-79 AESA radar and other sensors. Fleet fielding is scheduled for 2017.
A pair of STCs announced late last week by Eclipse Aerospace add anti-skid braking and autothrottle capabilities to new-build Eclipse 550s. The approvals also bring the company closer to first customer deliveries of the very light jets.
The Challenger 350 is on track to enter service in the middle of this year, Bombardier Aerospace confirmed on Thursday. As of the end of last year, 75 percent of the flight-test program had been completed and the new interior was certified on December 17, the company said.
Quest Aircraft received FAA approval for a 565-pound maximum landing weight increase for its Kodiak to 7,255 pounds, the same as the turboprop single’s mtow. This allows operators to carry extra fuel–“a significant benefit for those flying to remote regions,” said Quest president and CEO Sam Hill. The upgrade is standard on all new-production Kodiaks and an option for in-service aircraft without requiring any structural upgrade.
Bell Helicopter has sold two Bell 412EPIs and two 407GXs to Chongqing General Aviation, marking the first Bell helicopters to be used in China for parapublic missions, including firefighting and search-and-rescue. The four aircraft will serve the Chongqing Fire Fighting Department. “We are pleased to collaborate with Chongqing in its efforts to further its parapublic offerings,” said Chris Jaran, managing director for Bell Helicopter in China.
On February 17 the co-pilot of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 767 hijacked the aircraft single-handedly and flew to Geneva airport to seek political asylum. Although both Italian and French aircraft were scrambled to escort the 767, the fighters of the Swiss Air Force remained firmly on the ground. A Swiss air force spokesman confirmed that no interceptors were on alert at the time, as the air force operates to office hours only, or by special notification. However, the air force was keen to point out that it could have generated interceptor sorties given more warning.
The Helicopter Association International (HAI) will offer registered attendees no fewer than 44 educational seminars during the three-day event’s rotor safety challenge at next week’s Heli-Expo show in Anaheim, Calif. The event opens with NTSB-led sessions covering lessons learned from helicopter accidents in which investigators will look at the facts gathered through safety recommendations related to pilot training and helicopter maintenance.
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada reported that the crash of a Bell 206B last May 75 miles north of Fort McMurray in Alberta was caused by the pilot’s failure to recognize that the aircraft was entering a right-quartering tailwind that reduced the effectiveness of the helicopter’s tail rotor.
Eclipse Aerospace received a supplementary type certificate from the FAA on February 10 covering the autothrottle and anti-skid braking (ASB) systems on the new Eclipse 550. “The [550’s] is the only ASB in general aviation that does not require a complex aircraft hydraulic system and it can be retrofitted to most earlier Eclipse 500s,” the company said.
According to media reports Egypt’s interim government, installed by the army in July 2013, is negotiating a $2 billion arms package with Russia. Some sources say the deal may have already been signed during the visit this week to Moscow by the head of the Egyptian army, Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. It is understood that the deal is being funded by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.