With the rapid development of China’s economy and accumulation of personal wealth, traditional transportation means such as civil airliners and high-speed railways are no longer sufficient to meet the needs of high-end business people. Business and private aviation is increasingly emerging as an option for the wealthy, who are now having to decide on how best to access this mode of transportation.
Sukhoi announced this week that the “design and development” (D&D) phase of the Russo-Indian prospective multifunctional fighter (PMF), also known as the fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA), has been completed. The aircraft is a joint development with India of the T-50 that Sukhoi has already designed and flown for the Russian Air Force. “The airplane has been shaped completely,” the manufacturer stated.
After a 10-year hiatus, Piaggio America is exhibiting at the Sun ’n Fun Fly-in, which is being held this week in Lakeland, Fla. The West Palm Beach, Fla.-based North American sales arm of the Italian aircraft manufacturer is displaying a demonstrator Piaggio Avanti II twin turboprop until the airshow ends on Sunday. The Avanti II will also participate in the aircraft flying display this afternoon at the airshow, Piaggio added.
Major fighter manufacturers displayed their wares this week at the 2013 Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (LIMA) exhibition in Malaysia in anticipation of that country’s pending requirement for new fighters. Five aircraft considered contenders for the program–the Eurofighter Typhoon, Saab JAS-39 Gripen, Dassault Rafale, Boeing F/A-18F and Sukhoi Su-30MKM–participated in the aerial display.
Late last week Saab received a second order from FMV, the Swedish defense material administration, for the development of the Gripen E fighter that is slated to form the combat equipment of the Swedish air force from 2018.
LouElla Hollingsworth, a veteran air traffic controller with 29 years’ experience, saved the pilot of a Piaggio Avanti when she recognized signs of hypoxia in his radio transmissions on November 16 last year. Thanks to Hollingsworth’s quick thinking as a Fort Worth Center controller in Texas, she convinced the pilot to descend to a lower altitude where the oxygen level was suitable for breathing.
Faced with growing costs in the Lockheed Martin F-35 program, Denmark is reviewing its options for a new fighter and has invited Boeing (F/A-18 Super Hornet), Eurofighter (Typhoon) and Saab (Gripen E) to submit information for alternatives. A decision is due in 2015. Dassault (Rafale) may have been approached, but at the time of writing appeared unlikely to respond. The company has a history of not bidding on programs that it calculates have little chance of success.
MBDA has confirmed that production rounds of the Meteor long-range air-to-air missile are scheduled for delivery before year-end. However, MBDA managing director Steve Wadey would not disclose which air force will be the first to get the new missile, which MBDA UK claims represents a “step change in the air-to-air world.” AIN reported last year that French Rafale and Swedish Gripen fighters would be flying operational Meteors ahead of the four Eurofighter nations.
Saudi Arabia and Great Britain have still not agreed to terms for a resumption of Eurofighter Typhoon deliveries. Twenty-four aircraft are operational in the Middle East kingdom, out of the total 72 agreed in the Al-Salam deal. Construction of numbers 25 upward began in 2009, but instead of proceeding to the final assembly line, the subassemblies were placed in storage at BAE’s Warton factory. When they were eventually moved into final assembly last year, it seemed that an agreement was close.
As China reaches an agreement with Russia to buy Sukhoi Su-35 fighters, the domestic J-20 fighter program might have developed problems that China cannot solve on its own anytime soon.