As the air transport industry’s heavy hitters gathered in Doha for IATA’s June 1-3 annual general meeting (AGM), thoughts turned to heavy iron—namely, prospective widebody developments that stand to upset the competitive status quo as early as the Farnborough Air Show in July.
In a ceremony complete with a band, acrobatic performers and lion dancers to bring luck and prosperity to the new facilities, and 150 spectators, Jet Aviation Singapore opened the doors of its 80,700-sq-ft hangar facility at Seletar Aerospace Park on May 31. Center stage was the MRO’s new $25 million, 53,800-sq-ft hangar erected adjacent to the company’s original facility.
EASA has certified a redesigned vertical bevel gear shaft for the Airbus Helicopters EC225, which was grounded for nine months in 2012 and 2013 after a series of in-flight failures. Manufacture of the redesigned gear shaft is under way for production aircraft and retrofits, with first installations (for both applications) planned for this year’s second half.
The new design provides corrosion resistance, compensates for residual stress and eliminates stress hot spots, eliminating all three factors that, combined, caused two unexpected vertical shaft failures.
An international field research campaign led by Airbus and NASA has gathered a wealth of data on icing conditions in convective weather, especially on ice crystals that cause engine icing. The eight-week effort ended in March in Darwin, Australia, and the researchers expect to publish their report early next year. The partners in the project hope to gain a better understanding of icing conditions that will allow them to devise mathematical models for equipment manufacturers to use when designing detection systems.
Next month’s 2014 Farnborough International Airshow (July 14-20) will not be short on novelty, with 26 percent of exhibitors new to the biennial event. With economic conditions generally stronger even in Western markets that have been soft in recent years, and with continued and new military tensions around the world, the business context for this year’s show is arguably on more solid ground than it was for the 2012 event.
Airbus has suggested civilian operation of the A400M airlifter for disaster relief flights. At a media briefing during the ILA Berlin airshow last week, Norbert Kolvenbach, vice president for public affairs Germany, noted that the aircraft is already certified by EASA. He floated the idea of a “supranational” operator, such as the United Nations. “The A400M could be interesting,” said Birgitte Stalder-Olsen, head of logistics for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), at the same briefing.
The U.S. airline industry is in “survival mode” against competition from foreign carriers, some of which are using “extreme new measures” to gain access to Americans flying internationally, said the president of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA). Lee Moak sounded the alarm during a May 29 press briefing that touched on the union’s hot-button issues, chief among them Norwegian Air’s application to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for a foreign air carrier permit.
The organizers of this week’s ILA Berlin airshow claimed 1,200 exhibitors from 40 countries, and were expecting 200, 000 visitors, including public spectators on the last three days. The show had plenty to offer in the fields of civil aerospace, space and environmental solutions. However, defense exhibitors and attendees at ILA Berlin are mostly focused on German requirements. The problem is, the Germans are not buying anything.
Airbus Defence & Space (D&S), Alenia and Dassault Aviation have proposed a Project Definition (PD) study for a future European medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) UAV to the governments of France, Germany and Italy. At the same time, however, Airbus D&S may be working with Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) to develop what it describes as “bridging solution” for the German armed forces, using the Heron TP. Meanwhile, General Atomics–Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) is quietly confident that Germany may join the European “Reaper Club” that already comprises France, Italy and the UK as members.
Despite many program delays and customer criticisms, the pan-European NH-90 helicopter “is fit for purpose and doing real missions” according to Vincent Dubrule, president of the NH Industries joint venture among Airbus Helicopters, AgustaWestland and Fokker. He acknowledged that the NH-90 “had been a development program for too long, with a lot of variants. But now, nearly all the deliveries are in the final configuration.” The current focus was to refine in-service support, reduce the intervals between scheduled maintenance, and “solve the remaining maturity issues,” Dubrule added.