Europe’s first unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) has flown. The Neuron technology demonstrator took off from the Dassault test base at Istres, France, at dawn on December 1. Dassault is the prime contractor, teamed with Alenia Aermacchi (Italy); EADS-CASA (Spain); Hellenic Aerospace Industries (Greece); Ruag (Switzerland); Saab (Sweden) and Thales (France).
Dying is one thing. Being reborn is quite another, as Hawker Beechcraft, its employees, lenders and creditors are discovering during the current bankruptcy and restructuring.
At the NBAA Convention last month, HBC chairman Bill Boisture explained recent events to that point and outlined the Wichita OEM’s future, which he confirmed will not include its business jet line.
Cabin humidification specialist CTT Systems is hoping to get its Cair equipment adopted for use in more business aircraft. To date, the Swedish company has mainly had success in getting Cair installed on Boeing Business Jet and Airbus Corporate Jet bizliners, but it has recently been approached by airframers, including Bombardier, about possible applications on more mainstream models.
Statistics released last month by the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) reveal that business aircraft deliveries did not show much evidence of resurgence during the third quarter. While the industry overall recorded a 4.2-percent increase, the business jet landscape remained virtually flat, with the OEMs reporting deliveries of 428 private jets through the first nine months of the year, just one more than they did during the same period last year. In the third quarter, airframers handed over 134 jets, a decrease from the 171 delivered in the second quarter of the year.
The slow and destructive passage of Hurricane Sandy before the 65th NBAA Convention and Tradeshow opened in Orlando on October 30 generated great concern about the safety of travelers and worry about what they would find when they returned home to the Northeast. Although New York-area airports opened in time for return flights, many worried about widespread power outages, severe water damage, destroyed infrastructure and ongoing challenges finding out anything about local facilities because so much of the cellphone network was compromised.
The Maryland State Police unveiled the first of 10 new AgustaWestland AW139 medium twin-engine helicopters it will receive to replace its aging fleet of 11 Eurocopter AS365N Dauphins. The AW139s will be equipped with search-and-rescue, medical and law enforcement equipment as well as a full IFR avionics suite and safety-enhancing equipment such as H-Taws, night-vision-goggle compatibility, radar altimeters, satellite tracking, live video downlink, and cockpit voice and video recorders. The AW139s can perform hoist lifts while operating on a single engine.
China has conducted fixed-wing operations on an aircraft carrier for the first time. The initial trial was conducted by a pair of Shenyang J-15s, numbers “552” and “553,” on the Liaoning, (side number 16), the country’s ex-Russian vessel. The aircraft were unpainted apart from serial numbers and large photo-calibration marks. They are believed to be the second and third J-15 prototypes, and are powered by the Russian-made AL31F engine rather than the Chinese WS10H that has been installed in some other J-15 prototypes.
Although already deployed on operations to meet urgent needs, the Northrop Grumman MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned surveillance helicopter has reliability and sustainability problems that have delayed its regular fielding. An updated selected acquisition report (SAR) obtained by InsideDefense.com reveals that both the initial operational capability and the full-rate production decision have been delayed by about two years until May or June 2014.
China has ordered 10 used Il-76s from Russia’s arms vendor Rosoboronexport as an interim measure to enlarge its fleet of the heavy airlifters, before the redeveloped Il-476 version becomes available. Sergei Kornev, head of Rosoboronexport’s aviation equipment department, told AIN that his company has already found seven suitable airframes on the secondary market. They are being overhauled before delivery to the PLA Air Force. Rosoboronexport is still sourcing the other three aircraft, which could come from non-Russian fleets.
The U.S. Navy released a draft request for proposals (RFP) for the long-delayed VXX Presidential Helicopter Replacement Program on November 23. The draft RFP revives an acquisition program that was cancelled more than three years ago. The formal RFP is expected to follow early next year.