Embraer delivered two E170 regional jets to Bahrain’s Gulf Air during a ceremony at the manufacturer’s headquarters in São Jose dos Campos, Brazil, last month. The OEM handed over the aircraft in a two-class, 67-seat cabin configuration, as prescribed in a three-year lease agreement it signed with Gulf Air just after January’s Bahrain International Airshow. The deal includes a provision to extend the leases by another five years.
Alongside ostentatious neighbors like the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain has tended to get overlooked as a Middle Eastern hub for air transportation. Yet, the island kingdom in the Arabian Gulf actually lays a fair claim to being the birthplace of aviation in the Middle East. Next month (January 21 to 23) it intends to point the world to its aviation future when it hosts its own airshow for the first time.
Royal Jordanian Airlines’ new president and chief executive, Hussein Dabbas, is maintaining the carrier’s long-held ambition to become the Middle East’s airline of choice. After 30 years in the airline’s marketing and sales organization, Dabbas brings contrasting experience to that of his predecessor, Samer Majali, an aeronautical engineer who left Royal Jordanian abruptly four months ago to lead troubled Bahrain carrier Gulf Air.
CAE has sold two full-flight simulators to Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Co., the investment arm of the Kingdom of Bahrain and owner of national carrier Gulf Air. The 7000 Series A330/A340 convertible FFS and 5000 Series A320 FFS, both with the Tropos-6000 visual system, will support the training of Gulf Air pilots. CAE will also provide a suite of support services over the next 10 years.
Gulf Air has selected the Rolls-Royce Trent 700EP turbofan to power 20 previously ordered Airbus A330 aircraft, along with a TotalCare long-term service agreement. With the spares, the order totals 44 engines for $1.5 billion. Deliveries are scheduled to start in 2012.
Abu Dhabi government investment vehicle Mubadala Development Co. (Stand W300) has enlisted the aid of some of aerospace’s biggest names in pursuit of the United Arab Emirates’ aim to become a producer and investor in the industry as well as a major customer. The company says its entry into aerospace will be “organized in carefully planned stages and is likely to involve significant investment in the first few years.”
Never a hotbed of activity for the West’s two regional jet makers, the Middle East market for RJs has long seemed as barren as the Arabian Peninsula’s Empty Quarter. But like the oil riches that lie beneath the desert sands, the need for smaller, more efficient airplanes has finally surfaced with a little coaxing, as Embraer proved in late April.
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