When Minden Air contacted BAE Systems’ regional aircraft division to ask about leasing a 146 jetliner to use as a water-bomber, it came as something of a surprise to director Mark Taylor. “When they explained the characteristics they were looking for, we began to see its potential,” he told Aviation International News.
European industry officials hope that relationships with regulators and other agencies will improve following recent consolidation of representative trade lobby groups. The AeroSpace and Defence Industries Association of Europe (ASD), formally established earlier this year to promote and support the sector’s competitive development, already has identified several major topics for action.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is about to oversee tests of antimissile airliner protection equipment on board an American Airlines Boeing 767. By year-end, three aircraft are to be used for testing prototype equipment under development by Northrop Grumman and BAE Systems as officials seek to resolve whether the systems can be sufficiently effective and affordable for mass deployment on civil airliners.
EDO Corp. is headquartered in New York and has grown by acquisition into a significant defense supplier. It now employs 2,700 people. Revenues last year totaled $461 million. As well as weapons release equipment, the company’s product range includes rugged electronics for defense applications, composite structures, electronic warfare systems, antennas and communications/network systems.
Last month Lockheed Martin chose Smiths Aerospace and Eaton Aerospace to participate in testing the F-35 JSF program’s approach to performance-based logistics (PBL) during the first phase of low-rate initial production of the multi-role stealth aircraft. The U.S. Department of Defense selected the F-35 as a candidate pilot program in 2004 to test revised contracting, budgeting and financing processes for PBL agreements.
BAE already derives 34 percent of its revenues from North America, where 27,000 employees produce an annual turnover of $5.6 billion. Of equal significance, the return on sales is 8.4 percent–the highest figure in all of BAE. The group’s CEO, Mike Turner, is fond of reminding UK and European government officials that the conditions for technology investment are so much more favorable to BAE on the other side of the Atlantic.
The Rochester, UK facility of BAE Systems has developed the world’s first control stick that tells a pilot, through feel, that the airplane is exceeding the design envelope. The stick provides discernably greater resistance when the pilot moves it beyond the limits by the aircraft’s flight control software.
BAE Systems Platform Solutions claims leadership in developing a multispectral enhanced vision system that allows pilots to land in zero-zero visibility. A unique, integrated processing architecture interfaces with multiple sensors to tile, stitch and fuse the information into a coherent, intuitive picture on a head-up or head-down display in the cockpit, or even on a pilot’s helmet-mounted display.
BAE Systems has all but abandoned Europe. The British defense conglomerate is putting its money into North America, where the budgets are large and the risks are low. But the U.S. government has imposed major bureaucratic controls on all foreign entities that seek to share defense technology. So can BAE ever become a truly integrated transatlantic company?
A recent slew of new announcements from BAE Systems Regional Aircraft has reminded the industry that the BAE146/ Avro RJ jetliner family has not gone away. New lease packages to regional airlines, the possibility of a new production line and some innovative conversion packages all suggest that the four-engine jets still have some life left in them.