Years of speculation were brought to an end last Friday with the long-anticipated public debut of Russia’s new Sukhoi T-50 fighter, on the occasion of its first flight. Test pilot Sergey Bogdan took the prototype aircraft aloft for a successful 47-minute maiden voyage from Dzemgi airfield at Komsomolsk-na-Amur, followed by the public release of still and video imagery.
Gulfstream Aerospace and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) flew the super-midsize G250 for the first time on December 11, and at press time were expecting the new airplane to fly again, weather permitting. This second flight could see the Honeywell HTF7250G-powered twinjet reach 40,000 feet and Mach 0.8, according to IAI chief test pilot Ronen Shapira.
Japan’s Defense Ministry is preparing to select the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to replace its aging F-4EJ feet. The plan to about acquire 40 F-35s, estimated to cost about ¥9 billion (US$91 million) each, is likely to be included in new defense policy guidelines to be adopted this month.
Three new service centers located in Fort Lauderdale, Toronto and Montreal have been added to the Piaggio Aero network. West Star Aviation in East Alton, Ill., received a similar designation two months ago. According to a Piaggio spokesman, an additional center is scheduled to be opened in Calgary, Canada, early next year. Piaggio Aero’s authorized service centers provide factory-authorized maintenance and modification on all Piaggio Avantis.
Although the supply of French Rafale combat jets to the UAE was not finalized at the Dubai Airshow, there were plenty of indications that negotiations are going well. In an unusual departure from custom, the former head of the UAE Air Force gave a detailed interview on the progress of the deal to The National, the main newspaper in Abu Dhabi.
Officials from Team Rafale are quietly confident that a deal for up to 60 airplanes will be made with the United Arab Emirates. Meanwhile, they are signing agreements here at the show with local entities that further strengthen the French influence in Emirati education and industry.
How can the Rafale be produced–and offered for export–at an economic price when the production rate is only about one aircraft per month? Official French statistics give a unit production cost of only ?64- to ?70 million in 2008 prices, depending on variant, excluding amortization of development costs, but including value-added tax of 19.6 percent (which would not be payable on export aircraft).
The Dassault Rafale combat jet may yet prove to be an export winner, despite no such orders being placed to date. The OEM is negotiating a contract with the United Arab Emirates air force, and Kuwait has formally expressed interest in the aircraft.
A new 43,000-sq-ft hangar has opened on Denton Airport in Texas. Jet Works Air Center’s newest facility is dedicated to maintenance, repair, inspections and avionics installations and will accommodate long-range business jets up to the size of the Boeing 757-200. The facility, which includes 3,000 sq ft of offices and back shop space, joins an existing 66,000-sq-ft facility.
Piaggio Aero CEO Alberto Galassi yesterday confirmed that the company’s much anticipated, follow-on aircraft to the P.180 Avanti II turboprop would be a jet. “Definitely,” he said.