As partner governments head for another showdown with EADS over the climbing costs and lengthy delays associated with the Airbus Military A400M, there was good news for the program on December 11 when the first aircraft took to the air.
British Aerospace industry
Last weekend BAE Systems concluded the first flight trial campaign of its Mantis UAV, the world’s first twin-engine autonomous large UAV. Although the UK Ministry of Defence remains coy about details, AIN understands that the first flight was on October 21, and that the aircraft flew five times.
Six years ago, the team from Airbus Military promoting the A400M came to the Paris Air Show full of confidence and good intentions. Germany had just confirmed its order for 60, finally launching the program after years of negotiations. Italy and Portugal dropped out, leaving a total requirement of 180 aircraft for six European countries (seven, if you count Luxembourg taking one aircraft).
“Significant extra investment” is required by the UK government and industry if the country is to retain its position as an aerospace powerhouse, the Society of British Aerospace Companies warned just before the Paris Air Show opened. The SBAC has just released figures for 2008 that show sharp declines in both employment and research spending in the UK industry, but a significant shift toward export markets–particularly defense.
To the casual observer, it looked like just another chunk of concrete apron on Airbus’s sprawling production complex at Blagnac Airport outside Toulouse. Nestled between giant hangars and the Airbus outdoor museum with its graffiti-covered airplanes, Airbus is spending approximately $184 million to build the production line for its new A350XWB airliner. The new facility is expected to be fully operational during the third quarter of 2010.
Market conditions have hardly been kind to aerospace these past six months or so, but when a company is celebrating its 250th birthday–as GKN is this year–it can probably afford to take the long view.
Italian manufacturer AgustaWestland’s helicopters address what has become a sweet spot in today’s economy, the medium helicopter segment. And according to AgustaWestland CEO Giuseppe Orsi, the company is faring well during the worldwide economic downturn.
How is the world economy affecting AgustaWestland?
GKN Aerospace assumed full ownership of the former Airbus wing component and assemblies factory at Filton, UK, on January 5. The UK group acquired the facility from Airbus for £136 million ($199 million).
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) has decided to participate in development of the new Rolls-Royce Trent XWB aero-engine for the Airbus A350 XWB, the company announced today. As a risk- and revenue-sharing partner (RRSP), MHI will take responsibility for the development and manufacture of the components for the engine’s combustion system and manufacture of low-pressure turbine blades and others.
Given the skyrocketing price of oil, the global financial crisis and gloomy forecasts from the travel industry, one might be forgiven for anticipating a message of gloom and doom from a manufacturer of a substantial proportion of the world’s aero engines.