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Robert Wall and Michael A. Taverna

Robert Wall and Michael A. Taverna
France Steps up European Milspace Push 

Europe is signaling a growing willingness to develop new military space capabilities and more closely integrate them. But moving toward a unified milspace will require high-level political support that remains elusive, government and industry executives say.

French officials have been rallying Europe to put more joint effort into milspace. And while more nations are jumping on the bandwagon, cooperation has been largely ad hoc and with little concern for broader integration.

Business Aviation Grapples With Environmental Pressures 

European business aviation leaders are looking for ways to avoid draconian environmental compliance rules by staying out in front of regulators. One tactic is trying to be "carbon neutral."

New Directions Likely At French Defense Ministry 

French policy in defense, foreign affairs and air transport is likely to see some new directions, following key ministerial appointments on May 18.

Both the defense and foreign affairs ministries went to people outside of President Nicolas Sarkozy's conservative UMP party: defense to centrist-party member Herve Morin, and foreign affairs to socialist Bernard Kouchner. Analysts say this might mean these ministries' activities will enjoy a lesser priority than under former president Jacques Chirac.

Business Jet Market Hobbled by Capacity Crunch 

A looming shortage of cabin-completion capacity is creating a new headache for the business aviation community. With manufacturers and suppliers already stretched by record orders, customers may have to wait longer for their aircraft.

Especially in the larger bizjet segment, there's a feeling of a capacity crunch in completions, industry officials say. "It's easier to get airplanes than completion slots," notes Walter Herdt, senior vice president for sales and marketing at Lufthansa Technik. Negotiations are already ongoing for 2012 and 2013 slots.

VLJs Could Change Supplier Relations 

Makers of commercial aircraft are expected to fundamentally rethink what they are willing to pay for subsystems after watching very light jet manufacturers strike deals with their supply base, which is delivering relatively low-cost but high-performance avionics and engines.

What's in store is a potentially radical shift in thinking by the likes of Dassault, Embraer, Airbus and Boeing. The aircraft makers may try to try to get similarly attractive deals VLJ makers apparently have been able to strike, industry executives suggest.

Safran Reviews Technology Focus 

Safran is undertaking a thorough reexamination of its research and development plans as part of a revamped R&D policy aimed at ensuring that funds are directed at real sales prospects and not just technology for technology's sake.

Safran Eyes New Engine Opportunities 

Safran expects CFM56 deliveries to increase once more this year, although order intake may fall off after another record-setting year.

Moreover, the company's Snecma engine unit is looking ahead for growth opportunities, particularly new applications for its SaM146 regional jet engine joint venture with NPO Saturn, and perhaps a greater workshare on the General Electric GEnx.

Eurocopter Increases Performance Targets for 2007 

Eurocopter expects sharp growth again this year as it continues to consolidate its leading position in the helicopter market. New products are also on the agenda, but the emphasis will be on cutting costs and lifting earnings.

Eurocopter predicts 2007 deliveries will rise at least 20% over the record 381 units handed over to customers in 2006, says Lutz Bertling, who took over the CEO position from Fabrice Bregier late last year. Another 20% increase is likely in 2008. Order intake last year, 615 units, was also a record.

Neuron UCAV Approaches Design Phase 

A French-led effort to develop a stealthy unmanned combat air vehicle is set to move into high gear as engineers begin to prepare detailed definition of the Neuron demonstrator.

NetJets Orders Falcon 7X, Eyes New Hawker 750 

NetJets is in talks with Raytheon about another big executive-jet purchase to meet continuing strong business jet demand, particularly in Europe, and hints at a possible follow-on Falcon 7X order from Dassault after an initial buy last week.

In the fractional ownership operator's purchase crosshairs is the Hawker 750, a new business jet Raytheon plans to announce this month.

Key Elements of French UAV Plans Reach Milestones 

A series of development milestones is bringing some cheer to France's struggling unmanned aircraft effort.

Pressures Remain as Outlook for Commercial Space Communications Improves 

New services and replacement satellites in the commercial satellite communications business are improving the outlook for transponder pricing and satellite orders, but growing competition means pressures on hardware suppliers will persist.

French Army Expands UAV Capability 

The French army is preparing its Sperwer tactical unmanned aerial vehicle fleet for operational use and first overseas deployment. But there are growing concerns within the service about the lack of a clear long-term road map for unmanned reconnaissance.

Boeing Builds Big Lead Over Airbus In Order Race 

Boeing is on track to blow rival manufacturer Airbus out of the water in terms of order intake this year. It is outselling its competitor by a four-to-one margin.

Airbus and Boeing officials generally see the market as balanced as long as the two remain in a 60-40% band. But with Boeing net orders through July 5 standing at 480 aircraft, and Airbus's through June 30 at 117, the European aircraft maker has a busy six months ahead to get back in the game.

BAE Plans Airbus Audit 

BAE Systems' planned audit of Airbus activities will stymie EADS's ambitions to quickly integrate the troubled air transport affiliate more closely into its overall operations.

Under a management reshuffle announced early last week, EADS Co-CEO Tom Enders will take the reins of Airbus from his French counterpart, Noel Forgeard, who was forced to resign.

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