Airbus officially opened its first final assembly line outside Europe today in front of official dignitaries and 600 guests gathered for the inauguration of the new A320 facility in Tianjin, China.
Boeing faces a tough decision, now that the Pentagon has confirmed that bigger is better in the KC-X tanker competition. “We’ve now revised the language to make it unambiguous that we intend to provide consideration above threshold for fuel offload,” said U.S. director of defense procurement and acquisition policy Shay Assad. He spoke at a press briefing on August 6, to introduce the draft revised request for proposals (RFP).
Northrop Grumman’s defensive systems division has been awarded a $93 million contract to supply its large aircraft infrared countermeasures system for the RAF’s Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft program. The systems will be supplied to Thales UK, one of the members of the AirTanker consortium that is supplying 14 A330-200 aircraft for the FSTA requirement.
Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways announced here yesterday orders for 100 Airbus and Boeing aircraft nominally worth $20 billion. The contracts include options on another 55 jetliners and purchase rights covering an additional 50 machines (see table). If the airline converts all options and purchase rights to firm orders, the value of the overall package would reach about $43 billion in 2008 catalogue prices.
Boeing still believes that the KC-767 is the right-size airplane to meet the KC-X tanker requirement, despite the U.S. Air Force’s selection of the larger Airbus A330MRTT, now voided. “I’m not convinced that they want a bigger airplane,” Chris Chadwick, president of Boeing Military Aircraft told AIN as the show opened.
The U.S. KC-X tanker win in February was a major breakthrough for EADS (as part of the Northrop Grumman team), which has established operations in Mobile, Alabama, already and started to relocate A330 freighter activity there, too. But the champagne corks are back in after the U.S. GAO in June upheld seven points in Boeing’s protest at the U.S. Air Force procurement.
Airbus announced at last month’s NBAA show the World Ranger, a corporate version of the four-engine A340-200. “It is important to note this is not an ACJ2 but rather an entirely different aircraft based on the A340 with a range in excess of 8,000 nautical miles,” said Richard Gaona, Airbus’ v-p corporate jetliner.
FOKKER F28-100, Manchester, UK, APRIL 6, 2002–A misunderstanding of the flight manual resulted in damage to the horizontal stabilizer tip and leading edge of a Fokker F28 Mark 0100 (G-UKFI) at Manchester Airport. There were no injuries to those aboard, including the ATP-rated captain and his copilot.
A new Pentagon order for V-22 Osprey tiltrotors could boost prospects for more rapid development of the BA609 civil tiltrotor. The U.S. Department of Defense signed a $10.4 billion contract for 167 more Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey military tiltrotors over the next five years, despite continuing engine problems on the machine. The Marine Corps will receive 141 MV-22s and the Air Force 26 CV-22s for its Special Operations Command.
Boeing is formally protesting the U.S. Air Force’s “surprise decision” in favor of the Northrop Grumman/EADS Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) for the KC-X tanker requirement. According to the Air Force, the keenly fought award is worth $35 billion for up to 179 KC-45As–the new, officially approved designation.