Aircraft interiors specialist EADS Sogerma has some sweet sleep for sale. The Airbus subsidiary formally introduced its “Ultimate Sleeper” premium first- class bed at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg in May, promoting it as having “the comfort of a real bed.”
Armed forces in Europe are bracing themselves for severe cutbacks as governments tackle budget deficit problems. The scale of the cuts is evident in a couple of proposals made public last week. Germany’s defense minister, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, has tabled a plan that saves €9.3 billion ($11.7 billion) in the long term, with current fleets and acquisition programs hit hard.
Last week bidders handed in their latest proposals for the U.S. Air Force’s KC-X program, which seeks 179 new tanker/transports to replace the aging KC-135 fleet. The deadline had been extended to allow EADS North America to prepare a new proposal following the withdrawal of Northrop Grumman, with whom EADS had been partnered until March.
Yesterday, Boeing licensed the rights to AgustaWestland’s AW101 for the purpose of entering it in the latest U.S. presidential helicopter competition, known as VXX. Under the deal, Boeing will have full data, intellectual property and production rights for the three-engine, medium-lift helicopter.
Airbus did its best to show a brave face during the May 19 ceremony marking the delivery of the first Lufthansa Airlines A380. For despite the festive atmosphere and the fact that Lufthansa had become the fifth airline to accept delivery of the superjumbo, the struggles the program has experienced couldn’t go completely ignored.
EADS has decided to bid the A330MRTT for the U.S. Air Force KC-X requirement again, this time without a major North American partner. Ralph Crosby, chairman of EADS North America, said that the Pentagon had recognized EADS North America as a qualified prime contractor. Leaving Boeing as the sole-source bidder “harms the U.S. taxpayer,” Crosby added.
Last month, EADS Defence & Security delivered back to the Luftwaffe the first Tornado to undergo the production ASSTA 2 upgrade program. This modernization is part of an effort to keep selected Tornados in German service until at least 2025.
Helicopter manufacturer Eurocopter stayed in the black last year, with €263 million ($360 million) in pre-tax earnings, according to financial results released last week by parent company EADS, although its operating margin slid from 6.5 percent in 2008 to 5.8 percent last year.
EADS will receive an extra €2 billion to continue the A400M program, as well as a loan of €1.5 billion to be repaid as a levy on future exports of the airlifter. An ”understanding” with the eight European partner nations also includes forgiveness of all late delivery penalties to date, and an acceleration of pre-delivery payments.