The task of keeping development of the new Airbus A350XWB airliner on track for service entry in the second half of 2014 “remains challenging,” the European airframer’s parent company EADS acknowledged at a press conference today.
On Friday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood laid out the likely consequences to his department and the FAA of possible automatic federal budget cuts, known as sequestration, that are scheduled to start March 1. In the absence of a revised budget deal between the Obama Administration and Congress, he said the FAA is planning $600 million in cuts through the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends September 30.
Canada-based Diamond Aircraft has again suspended its single-engine D-Jet program and has temporarily laid off the majority of its workforce while it restructures. “Regrettably, we need to suspend activity on the D-Jet program, pending the securing of additional funding,” said Diamond president and CEO Peter Maurer in a press release issued yesterday.
The emergence from bankruptcy of Hawker Beechcraft last week not only marked the beginning of the new Beechcraft Corp., but also signaled the end of the Hawker business jet line. Choosing to focus instead on its turboprop products, government contracts and aircraft service, the Wichita-based manufacturer has shut down all jet production and sold its remaining inventory of new and in-production Hawker 4000s and Premier IAs.
On Thursday, Finmeccanica’s board nominated Daniele Romiti as the new CEO of subsidiary AgustaWestland, replacing Bruno Spagnolini. Romiti, who was promoted from COO, has since been endorsed for the position by AgustaWestland’s own board. Spagnolini and Giuseppe Orsi, CEO of AW parent Finmeccanica, were arrested February 12 as part of an ongoing bribery investigation involving the sale of 12 AW101 VIP helicopters to the government of India.
Sandpoint, Idaho-based Quest Aircraft announced several promotions of key personnel today. Paul Duff, Jason Eddy and Steve Zinda have been promoted to vice presidents of their respective departments: supply chain; engineering and operations; and sales, marketing and customer service. Kenny Stidham, who joined Quest in April 2005 as the engineering test pilot, has also been promoted to the newly created position of director of flight operations and safety.
UK-based Bond Offshore Helicopters has won a $24 million contract with BW Offshore for transportation services to its “Limited Floating Production Storage and Offtake vessel” operated on behalf of Ithaca Energy in the Athena oil field, approximately 100 nm northeast of Aberdeen, Scotland. Operations are due to begin in March with an AgustaWestland AW139. The contract covers three years and includes options to extend the period.
The effort toward returning the Boeing 787 to service enters a new phase this week as the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration digests a formal proposal issued last Friday during what the manufacturer characterized as a productive meeting between BCA president and CEO Ray Conner and FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. Neither Boeing nor the FAA would comment on the substance of the proposal, widely believed to center on a modification of the airplane’s lithium-ion batteries meant to prevent fire from spreading from one cell to another.
The U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration have released details of the cuts they will make if mandated budget reductions from “sequestration” take effect March 1. The likelihood of Congress acting to prevent sequestration appeared to be dimming last week.
Malaysia’s AirAsia has unveiled plans to launch a new domestic airline in India by the fourth quarter of 2013. Under the terms of a deal announced on February 21, the largest low-fare carrier in Asia will hold a 49-percent stake–the maximum holding permitted by the Indian government for a foreign investor–in the new airline. AirAsia is partnering with major Indian industrial groups Tata (to carry a 30-percent stake) and Telestra Tradeplace (21 percent).