Brazil’s Força Aérea Brasileira (FAB) plans to retire its fleet of Mirage 2000 fighters at the end of this year. The announcement has brought new focus on Brazil’s longstanding but deferred FX-2 new fighter requirement. In testimony to the Brazilian Senate on August 13, FAB Commander Lt. Gen. Juniti Saito defended the need for new fighters to maintain an adequate air defense, as well as for the benefits any purchase would bring to Brazil’s own aerospace sector.
The U.S. Navy says that the unmanned carrier-launched airborne surveillance and strike system (UClass) could be operational as early as Fiscal Year 2018. On August 14, the Department of Defense announced the award of $15 million contracts to Boeing, General Atomics, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman for preliminary design reviews (PDR) of the UClass air vehicle.
The U.S. Navy is rethinking prime contractor Northrop Grumman’s selection of an Exelis-built collision avoidance radar for the unmanned MQ-4C Triton maritime surveillance aircraft. The plan was to fit the Global Hawk derivative with the first Department of Defense (DOD) program of record “sense-and-avoid” radar, to comply with international airspace requirements and prevent midair collisions. However, “we’ve made a decision to pause on the development of that capability,” Capt. James Hoke, the Navy’s Triton program manager, said at the Unmanned Systems 2013 conference in Washington, D.C.
Eurocopter reported “an important new milestone” in the Tiger combat helicopter program with the first flight of a Spanish-assembled HAD version. It will be the first to enter service with the Spanish army, by year-end. A prototype HAD/E that was assembled and flown in France has been performing the certification and qualification flight campaign in Spain since 2010. The French Army also ordered the HAD; Eurocopter delivered the first of 40 HAD/Fs last April for operational evaluation. Spain has ordered 24 HADs; six will be upgraded from HAP versions already delivered to that country.
Pilatus said here at LABACE yesterday that it will deliver three more of these PC-6 Turbo Porters to Brazil this year, having delivered only one since certification in the country in 2011. The Swiss manufacturer is emphasizing the single turboprop’s short takeoff and landing performance, pointing out that it can operate more economically than helicopters and with superior payload. Maximum payload is 1.2 metric tons, maximum range is 870 nm and this can be achieved operating out of an airstrip shorter than 1,500 feet (440 meters).
AgustaWestland is preparing the way to possible final assembly of its helicopters in Brazil with plans to expand the São Paulo facilities of its local subsidiary. Construction is due to be completed by the end of 2014 and the enlarged facility will also be used to accommodate a training center, bonded warehouse, workshop space and a heliport.
As the global economy in general, and business aviation in particular, begins to stabilize, so the squeeze on aircraft financing is beginning to relax, albeit with an element of conservatism. That was the message from speakers at the 5th Business Aviation in Latin America summit held here at LABACE yesterday. A range of financial issues was covered during the summit, as well as other key issues such as managing flight clearance risk in developing nations and pilot shortages in Latin America.
Appearing for the first time in Latin America at Cessna’s LABACE display is the single-engine turboprop Grand Caravan EX. The new version of the turboprop single offers increased power through its Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-140 867-shp engine to better serve hard-to-access areas. It delivers 25 percent more horsepower than the original Grand Caravan, which translates into a 38-percent increase in rate of climb, a 340-foot (106-meter) reduction in takeoff distance and a 12-knot faster cruise speed.
Arguably the most eye-catching aircraft on display at LABACE is the ultra-sleek Epic LT six-seater turboprop on show at Somma Aviation’s outside stand (5116). The aircraft is a revolutionary kit-built, carbon-fiber, high-performance transport that has caused quite a stir in its home country of the U.S. Now Somma is looking to bring in a certified version tailored specifically to the Brazilian market.
Implementation of a new Brazilian requirement mandating the use of level-D simulators for renewing privately operated business aircraft type ratings has had to be postponed until next year due to a shortage of suitable training equipment in the country.