While any direct comparison of the fundamentally incongruent market forecasts published by the Western world’s four civil airframe manufacturers might seem like an exercise in futility, a little extrapolation can reveal some basic differences in opinion, methodology and, maybe most significantly, equipment offerings.
On the day after the merger talks between EADS and BAE Systems became public this week, the French and German governments signed a cooperation agreement on future medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAVs. The two nations will develop a common operational requirement, and may also jointly operate an interim solution. Both countries currently fly the Israeli Heron 1 system in Afghanistan, but their respective air forces have been pressing for a replacement.
The Russian defense ministry has extended its commitment to the Antonov An-140 twin turboprop to a total of 11 units, following acceptance of two such aircraft earlier this year. In the meantime, Russia and Ukraine are negotiating on setting up a final assembly line of the An-72 light tactical twinjet at the MoD’s 308th Aircraft Repair Plant in Ivanovo, which has been long doing repair and maintenance on the type. Formal government-level agreement on the matter is expected later this year.
Boeing converted a tentative order for five 747-8 Intercontinentals from Air China to firm status on its Orders and Deliveries web site today, marking the end of a roughly year-and-a-half-long wait for Chinese government approval.
The FAA has issued an airworthiness directive for all Eurocopter SA365N, SA365N1, SA366G1, AS365N2, AS365N3, EC155B and EC155B1s. The AD was prompted by the discovery of a cracked main rotor mast nut. This condition, if not corrected, could lead to complete failure of the mast nut, resulting in failure of the rotor mast and loss of control of the helicopter.
Russian Helicopters has received an order for 18 Ka-226TG light twins from NefteGazAeroCosmos, a “research and production center” linked to Russian oil and gas giant Gazprom. Six helicopters are scheduled for delivery next year and the remaining dozen in 2014.
The FAA issued an AD–Docket FAA-2012-0222– on September 6 for some versions of the Eurocopter AS350. The directive, which is effective from October 11 this year, was issued after an in-flight fire caused by the ignition of hydraulic fluid leaking from a damaged forward servo-control hydraulic hose. The AD is intended to prevent the forward servo-control hydraulic hoses from becoming damaged and leaking hydraulic fluid that could ignite in flight.
The wide-cabin, ultra-long-range Gulfstream G650 received full FAA type certification today, just days after the Savannah-based aircraft manufacturer obtained final FAA and Israeli approval for its super-midsize G280. Gulfstream Aerospace expects to deliver the first outfitted G650s to customers before year-end; it delivered 12 green G650s late last year after receiving provisional FAA certification in November.
EADS has replaced Stefan Zoller as head of Cassidian, the group’s defense business. Cassidian has not enjoyed the same level of success as other EADS divisions, and is facing a difficult home market in Europe. An official statement says Zoller is leaving “to pursue new professional challenges.”
Russian Helicopters, the company that parents Russia’s two helicopter design bureaus and five helicopter-manufacturing plants, is moving forward with a new-generation helicopter that is intended to replace the hugely successful Mil Mi-8/17 series. The new project, dubbed Rachel (Russian advanced commercial helicopter), clearly has many military applications.