Editors' Briefing: The Fortnight In Aerospace And Defense
Poland has selected Airbus Helicopters’ H225M as its future military utility helicopter, and Raytheon’s Patriot as its next-generation air defense system, together valued at around $8 billion. The defense ministry says helicopter bids from AgustaWestland and Sikorsky, which already have facilities in Poland, did not meet requirements.
India may scrap its long-delayed Medium-Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) deal with Dassault for 126 Rafales in favor of a government-to-government route, after negotiating the purchase of 36 Rafales from France in flyaway condition under a separate deal. MMRCA includes 18 aircraft from Dassault and the rest built locally by HAL, but negotiations have “gone into a loop,” says India’s defense minister.
Dassault’s Falcon 2000 Maritime Surveillance Aircraft has been selected by the Japan Coast Guard. The number of aircraft required is not disclosed. Dassault’s partners in equipping the aircraft are L-3 Platform Integration and Thales. The Coast Guard already operates two Falcon 900s.
The due-regard radar required for the U.S. Navy’s Northrop Grumman MQ-4C Triton to operate in international airspace will now be fitted to the “multi-intelligence” version of the unmanned aircraft planned to become operational in 2020. The active-array radar was planned for the baseline version of Triton, to be operational in 2018, but hit development problems.
Antonov rolled out the An-178 transport aircraft on April 16 in Kiev. First flight is planned for early May. The airlifter is derived from the An-148 regional jet, with a rear cargo ramp, reinforced landing gear and uprated Ivchenko D-436 turbofans. In February, UAE-based freight carrier Maximus Air signed a letter of intent for An-178s.
Air Berlin and International Airlines Group (IAG) carriers British Airways and Iberia have withdrawn from the Association of European Airlines, citing disagreement over protectionist aviation policy. European airlines led by Air France-KLM and Lufthansa are calling for curbs of the growth of Gulf carriers. Qatar Airways is the biggest investor in IAG, and Etihad Airways in Air Berlin.
Struggling with chronic airliner seat-delivery delays, Zodiac Aerospace has launched a major process reorganization. “We overloaded the production capacity,” says CEO Olivier Zarrouati. “These delays are unacceptable, for the client and for us.” He expects the delays, which have had an impact on Airbus and Boeing deliveries, to be resolved by August.
Piper Aircraft has revamped its high-performance single-engine line, introducing the turboprop M600 and Meridian M500 and the M350 – an upgraded piston-engined Mirage. The M600 has Garmin G3000 touch-screen avionics and a new wing with more fuel for a maximum range of 1,300 nm. Certification is expected in the fourth quarter. The M350 was certified on April 10.
Eclipse Aerospace and Kestrel Aircraft have merged to form One Aviation, with plans to develop a family of aircraft including the Eclipse 550 twin-engine light jet and Kestrel K350 single-engine turboprop. Kestrel’s Alan Klapmeier, who co-founded Cirrus Aircraft, is CEO with Eclipse’s Mason Holland as chairman. Kestrel development will now be funded from Eclipse sales.
To ensure its Model 525 super-medium helicopter will not be missed when it makes its first flight, Bell has painted first prototype FTV1 bright orange. FTV1 is largely complete and awaiting installation of its five-blade main rotor system in preparation for ground runs and a first flight, likely to take place in the next couple of months.
Canada has ordered seven Bell 412EPi medium utility helicopters for its Coast Guard modernization. The C$155 million ($123 million) deal is the second helicopter contract placed by the Department of Fisheries & Oceans—umbrella agency for the Coast Guard—following a 2014 order for 15 Bell 429s. The 412s will be delivered from June 2016, replacing Bell 212s.
NovaWurks has agreed to build a 40-satellite constellation for a Canadian start-up using mass-produced “satlet” modular building blocks it is developing for Pentagon research agency Darpa. The company will provide the space segment for Montreal-based NorStar Space Data, which plans to provide hyperspectral Earth-observation and space-debris tracking services in low Earth orbit.
10 Years Ago in AW&ST
The Airbus A380 made its maiden flight from Toulouse on April 27, 2005, in front of 50,000 onlookers. French President Jacques Chirac hailed the flight as “a milestone for Europe,” but the program soon was bedeviled by wiring problems that would delay its entry into service with Singapore Airlines by about a year, to October 2007.
Read our original coverage of the first A380 flight and other momentous events at: AviationWeek.com/100