Bradley Perrett perrett@aviationweek.com

Bradley Perrett perrett@aviationweek.com
Articles
Mitsubishi Rolls Out MRJ, Plans 2015 First Flight 

NAGOYA, Japan—The first Mitsubishi Aircraft MRJ flight-test aircraft, unveiled Oct. 18, will undergo about six months of ground evaluations before taking to the air in the second quarter of 2015.

The second flight-test aircraft is coming together much faster than the first, final assembly of which began a year ago, said a Mitsubishi Aircraft executive. Airframe-contractor Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), the manufacturing contractor to developer Mitsubishi Aircraft, built a static strength-test airframe before the first flight-test unit.

Cathay To Retire A340-300s By 2017 

Cathay Pacific will withdraw its 11 Airbus A340-300s between 2015 and 2017, the Hong Kong-based carrier says.  

Cathay needs to deploy more fuel-efficient aircraft on long-haul routes, Paul Barwell, airline planning manager, says. “Secondly, we need to recognize that the A340 is a costly aircraft to maintain, and there are considerable maintenance savings to be made by retiring these aircraft earlier.” 

Australia Boosts Jindalee OTH Radar Performance 

An upgrade of Australia’s Jindalee over-the-horizon (OTH) radars has increased the speed, sensitivity and precision of the sensors, and knitted them into the national command-and-control network of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

The Australian Department of Defense plans to seek preliminary approval for further enhancements in the first half of next year, although the focus of the development effort is now shifting to ensuring the RAAF can operate the system, formally known as the Jindalee Operational Radar Network, until around 2040.

MHI Aims to Cut 777X Risk With Automation 
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) is implementing and planning new measures for its Boeing 777 program, including increased automation, to help minimize risk as it looks to its participation in 777 production.
 
The head of MHI’s Boeing program, Shigefumi Tatsumi, repeatedly used the words “stability” and “robust production” when discussing the changes.
LCCs Lead Boeing To Lift China Narrowbody Outlook 
BEIJING – Beijing’s backing of low-cost carriers (LCCs) and the opening of the Chinese market to new entrants prompted Boeing to markedly upgrade its forecast for the country’s demand for narrowbody airliners, a senior company executive says.
 
The Chinese-airliner fleet—from regional jets to super jumbos—will grow to 6,930 in 2023 from 2,310 aircraft in 2013, Boeing says in its latest forecast.
F-35s, Aegis proposed for Japan's 2015 budget 

SYDNEY—The Japanese defense ministry has requested a 2.4% rise in funding to ¥4.9 trillion ($47.2 billion) for the fiscal year beginning April 1, 2015.

The proposed budget includes funding for Lockheed Martin F-35s for the Japanese air force as well as funding for a seventh and eights Aegis destroyer for the navy. 

JAL Turns To Mitsubishi, Embraer For New Regional Jets 
Japan Airlines has signed a letter of intent for 32 Mitsubishi Regional Jets which will eventually form the backbone of its domestic regional jet fleet, and has also placed an order with Embraer to cover its more immediate fleet replacement needs
Avicopter AC311A Flies 

BEIJING — Avic rotorcraft specialist Avicopter completed first flight of its AC311A light helicopter, an upgrade of the aircraft offered for the key 2-ton market.

The flight of the aircraft, which introduces the Turbomeca Arriel 2B1A engine to the AC311 series, lasted 10 minutes and took place at Jingdezhen, the home of Changhe Aircraft, a long-established Chinese helicopter maker now part of Avicopter.

Australian LHD Running Final Contractor Sea Trials 

BEIJING — The first of Australia’s two new assault ships is running its final contractor sea trials, reinforcing expectations that the program will meet its revised schedule.

The trials include testing the combat and communication systems, prime contractor BAE Systems says.

South Korea To Commission Second Assault Ship In 2020 

BEIJING — South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-Koo has authorized construction of the country’s long-delayed second assault ship, now scheduled to enter service in 2020.

The design will be improved from that of South Korea’s first such ship, Dokdo, which displaces 19,300 metric tons when fully loaded.

“The basic configuration will be similar to Dokdo’s, with more up-to-date equipment,” a spokesman for the Defense Acquisition Program Administration said after Kim made the decision to build the ship.

Avic Capital In Talks To Buy Lessor Avolon 

BEIJING — Avic subsidiary Avic Capital says it is in talks to buy Irish aircraft lessor Avolon but stresses that no deal is certain.

In a stock-exchange statement, Avic Capital denies a newspaper report that the deal will be valued at €12 billion ($16 billion). Reuters reported last week that Avic Capital and state-run firm China Investment Corp. were negotiating to buy Avolon for $4-5 billion, including the value of debt that they would assume in the acquisition.

Australia Reportedly Buying Two More A330s, One Or Two C-17s 

BEIJING – Australia will buy two more Airbus A330 tankers and one or two more Boeing C-17 Globemaster airlifters, local media report, quoting Defense Minister David Johnston.

“When you get good service from a platform it prompts you to say, why don’t you get some more?” Johnston said in reference to the tanker-derivative of the A330 airliner. The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has five of the aircraft, which retain the airliner’s main-deck seating and belly cargo holds.

Shanghai Budget Carrier Spring Considers A330s 

BEIJING — Leading Chinese low-cost carrier (LCC) Spring Airlines is looking to introduce Airbus A330s to extend its reach beyond the capabilities of its A320s.

In contrast to AirAsia in Southeast Asia, Spring is considering services to Europe and not limiting itself to Asia and Oceania.

South Korea Contracts KAI For Medevac Surion 

Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) has further widened the market for its Surion utility helicopter, gaining a South Korea defense ministry contract to develop a medical evacuation (medevac) version of the aircraft.

Development is due to be completed by 2016, with the aircraft going into service in 2018, KAI says.

Parliament last year authorized the acquisition of eight medical evacuation helicopters; the army reportedly has a requirement for about 20. But KAI does not yet have a production contract.

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