France’s Aerospace Valley, with 94,000 jobs at 1,300 companies (including approximately 1,000 small and medium-sized enterprises– SMEs) and 8,500 research positions, has emerged on the industry map as Europe’s only true aerospace cluster.
The Franco-Russian Powerjet SaM146 turbofan engine, which is to power the Sukhoi Superjet 100 regional airliner, is set to fly by the end of this month. The first example of the 14,000- to 17,500-pound-thrust family made its first ground run in July 2006 at Rybinsk in Russia.
GKN Aerospace is working toward out-of-autoclave processing of carbon-epoxy laminated structures upward of 23 feet long and 275 pounds in weight and has already manufactured components up to 8.2 feet long and weighing 175 pounds in an R&D environment.
Prices for new Boeing jetliners could harden as the manufacturer works to manage production rates and outsourced parts supplies in the face of continuing high demand that Boeing says defies previous market cycles.
Training pilots to fly combat jets is an expensive proposition. A proposal by European air chiefs to cut costs by combining forces has made only slow progress. However, two well established multinational training programs are readily available in North America.
The key to Bombardier’s still-pending decision on whether to go ahead with a $2 billion-plus investment in its projected C Series 110/130-seat regional airliner family appears to rest with the engine manufacturers.
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