Nearly four years after the accident, the Swiss Aircraft Accident Investigation Bureau (BFU) published its final report on the Jan. 10, 2000 crash of a Crossair Saab 340B at Nassenwil near Zurich Airport. The unusual delay stems from appeals filed against the BFU’s conclusions, the most publicized objection coming from Moritz Suter, Crossair’s CEO at the time of the accident.
The so-called regional jet revolution has in the minds of many rendered turboprops a quaint throwback to the days of “commuter” airlines. But this year’s spate of big orders for new turboprops has turned conventional wisdom on its ear, giving the last two Western builders of prop-driven airliners a renewed sense of vitality.
After some years of negotiation, Pakistan has signed a provisional contract with Saab to procure an airborne early warning system. It will be based on the Saab 2000 twin-turboprop airliner carrying a strut-mounted Ericsson Microwave Systems Erieye radar above the aircraft’s spine. The contract is worth SEK 8.3 billion ($1 billion), of which Saab will receive two-thirds and Ericsson Microwave one-third.
On Sunday night a Brazilian air force Embraer EMB-145 ANEW&C landed at the Dubai airshow to make the type’s first appearance outside South America, at the start of Operação Guardião–a demonstration tour that will also take the aircraft to December’s LIMA show in Malaysia. The aircraft flew from Brazil with six stops along the way.
The arrival of the Gripen at the Dubai airshow represents a major milestone in an expanding marketing campaign for Sweden’s multirole fighter. Not only does it mark the aircraft’s first public appearance in the Middle East, it introduces the latest JAS 39C/D–now in service with Sweden and the Czech Republic–to the major international airshow circuit.
Away from the turmoil of the marketplace, the Gripen team has continued to develop the aircraft and enhance its weapon capabilities. On Dec. 13, 2005, a Gripen took off from Linköping with a fully representative systems-fit Meteor missile, the first such flight for this important European weapon.
With a big, self-contained display outside Hall A here, Gripen International signals its determination to compete in Asia. And elsewhere, of course. Sales and marketing director Bob Kemp told journalists here this week that he expects the Swedish fighter to gain 200 export orders over the next 10 years–just under 10 percent of his estimate for the total combat aircraft market.
Saab Aircraft Leasing (Chalet C24-26) here on Monday announced that Australian regional airline Regional Express (Rex) has taken an additional Saab 340B on a four-year lease. Rex is also extending its existing lease contracts–two dozen Saab A340s–for another four years. The Sterling, Virginia-based company has inked 15 transactions since the beginning of the year.
Saab Aerostructures (Chalet C24-26) has signed a contract with Airbus to develop and produce cheaper ailerons for the A320 family. An improved design will shorten the manufacturing process, ultimately reducing costs.
The NTSB yesterday asked the FAA to attend immediately to what it deemed deficiencies in the cold-weather procedures of Saab 340 pilots and the airplanes’ performance in icing conditions. The recommendations came after a review of several icing episodes in Australia and the January 2 incident in which icing forced an American Eagle Saab 340BPlus into an uncontrolled descent for 5,000 feet over Southern California.