Negotiations continue between the UK and Saudi Arabian governments over the details of Project Salam, the agreement to supply 72 Eurofighter Typhoons to Saudi Arabia. Major decisions still have to be taken on the avionics and weapons configurations, and on the arrangements to produce and support the aircraft in Saudi Arabia. Final assembly of the first 24 aircraft, and training of the first Royal Saudi Air Force crews, will be done in the UK.
BAE Systems Regional Aircraft suggests there might be a large increase in the Persian Gulf-based fleet of British Aerospace 146/Avro RJ regional jets in the next six months. The current four airplanes operating in the area could have grown to as many as 15 by the second quarter of 2008, according to BAE Systems salesman Andy Whelan at an aviation-finance conference here last week.
Next year’s 60th anniversary Farnborough Airshow should be a record-breaker, according to organizers Farnborough International (Stand W106). Sales are at the highest level ever seen at this stage in the biennial cycle, the company said, and exhibitors’ plans are correspondingly ambitious.
BAE Systems (Stand W412) has started building the airframe for the Taranis, a $254 million unmanned combat aerial vehicle demonstrator aimed at helping the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) determine its armed forces’ future equipment needs.
In separate efforts, Jet Aviation and Kollsman are the latest companies to explore possible anti-surface-to-air-missile (SAM) systems. Jet Aviation, a subsidiary of a Swiss-based company with U.S. headquarters in West Palm Beach, Fla., is reportedly in talks with possible system vendors Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.
Farnborough Aircraft’s struggling turboprop-single program has received the backing of former Rolls-Royce chairman Sir Ralph Robins and the ex-CEO of BAE Systems, John Weston. The UK company went into bankruptcy last year, but has now been restructured and is hoping to fly an F1 prototype before the end of next year and receive certification in 2007.
Farnborough Airport officially came under the control of TAG Aviation on February 5, when the Swiss-based group signed a 99-year lease with the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD).
Aviation–and more particularly business aviation–is increasingly becoming the dominant component in the portfolio of UK public company BBA Group. The London-based group aviation holdings on both sides of the Atlantic now account for close to 60 percent of its worldwide business (out of approximately $2.3 billion total revenues recorded last year).
Following recent restructuring, British Airways wholly owned regional subsidiary BA CitiExpress (BACE) “is on track to stop the bleeding,” but will need at least another year to meet profitability targets, company officials predict. The airline has made
West Star Aviation is now the only FBO and Air BP the only fuel supplier at Walker Field in Grand Junction, Colo., following West Star’s purchase of Timberline Aviation. However, West Star president Bob Barry promised he will maintain the former Timberline’s fuel price margins and aircraft tiedown rates. “We intend to keep fuel prices regionally competitive,” he said.