France, Germany and Italy have formally signed to launch studies that could lead to development of a European medium-altitude long-endurance unmanned aircraft for delivery in the early 2020s. Airbus Defense & Space in Germany is to lead a two-year, €60 million ($68 million) definition study with France’s Dassault and Italy’s Finmeccanica.
New software may have cut off fuel supply to the engines of the Airbus A400M airlifter that crashed near Seville on May 9, killing four of the six crew on board. Aircraft MSN23, for Turkey, was on its first flight. Most operators grounded their aircraft and production test flights were halted after the crash.
Russia and China have agreed to co-develop the Advanced Heavy Lifter, a helicopter similar in size to Sikorsky’s CH-53K. China will be an investor in the program, likely paying most of the development cost as Russian does not have a requirement for the aircraft, and will produce the airframe.
India’s Defense Acquisition Council has accepted the sole bid from Tata and Airbus to supply 16 C295 light transports to replace Indian air force Avro 748s, with another 40 to be built in India. Also approved is Russian Helicopters’ bid to build 200 Ka-226T light helicopters in India for its armed forces.
Richard Paver/Crown Copyright
The British Royal Air Force has painted up one of its Eurofighter Typhoons in camouflage worn by the Hawker Hurricane to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. The Typhoon will fly a synchro display with a Spitfire at a number of airshows around the U.K. during the summer.
US Marine Corps
Six U.S. Marine Corps Lockheed Martin F-35B Joint Strike Fighters began two weeks of operational testing on the USS Wasp off the U.S. east coast on May 18 in a critical step toward achieving initial operational capability with the short-take-off-vertical-landing fighter as planned later this year.
The Netherlands is to train pilots for its Lockheed Martin F-35A Joint Strike Fighters on Alenia Aermacchi M-346 jet trainers at Italy’s flight school in Lecce. The M-346 will fill a perceived gap between the Northrop T-38 now used for training in the U.S. and the F-35.
The European Defense Agency and European Space Agency have partnered on an 18-month follow-on demonstration of satellite-communications-based command and control of unmanned aircraft flying in non-segregated airspace. The trials, led by Italy’s Telespazio, will use Piaggio’s P.1HH HammerHead UAV.
The first CFM Leap-1A-powered Airbus A320neo flew on May 19 from Toulouse. First delivery is scheduled for 2016. Two Pratt & Whitney PW1100G geared-turbofan-powered A320neos are already flying. CFM says it has orders and commitments for 2,508 engines, 55% of neo orders for which an engine selection has been made.
Etihad Airways says critics Delta, American and United Airlines have benefited from $71.48 billion in U.S. government aid, most of it since 2000. A report for Etihad by the Risk Advisory Group says these benefits mainly accrued from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, which it defines as a government benefit.
China’s Comac is unlikely to meet its 2018 delivery target for the 158-seat C919, with 2019 or even 2020 looking more likely. The first aircraft is now expected to fly some time in 2016. When the C919 was launched in 2008, service entry was planned for 2016.
Joint venture Chongqing Commercial Aircraft Corp. has been formed by China’s Mei Li Xing Hang Industrial Corp., and U.S.-based Alliance Aircraft to develop the StarLiner 100 50-seat regional jet with Chinese funding. Alliance has been trying to launch the SL100 since before 2004.
Rolls-Royce’s improved Trent 1000 TEN engine for the Boeing 787 has exceeded pre-test predictions in altitude and operability tests at the Arnold Engineering Development Center in Tullahoma, Tennessee. The engine is to enter service in 2016 on the 787-8 and -9 and will power the stretched -10
The UK’s Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) has exceeded its £2 million ($3 million) crowdfunding target, securing the cash needed to return its Airlander 10 hybrid airship to flight by the first quarter of 2016
Deutsche Post DHL
A team of 19 U.S., Canadian and UK universities led by Mississippi State University is operate the FAA’s center of excellence for civil unmanned aircraft, the Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence (Assure), to help develop regulations. Industry partners include Amazon and FedEx.
Pilatus flew its PC-24 light business jet for the first time on May 11, from Stans in Switzerland. Three prototypes will take part in a 2,300-hr. flight test program. Powered by twin Williams International FJ44 turbofans, the PC-24 is scheduled for certification and first deliveries in 2017.
Bombardier is cutting 1,750 jobs on Montreal, Toronto and Belfast by the first quarter of 2016 as it slows production of Global 5000 and 6000 large business jets, citing soft markets in Russia, China and Latin America. Production had ramped up to 80 a year in 2014 and 2015, from around 50 up to 2012.
Embraer is moving all production of Phenom 100 and 300 light business jets to its U.S. assembly line in Melbourne, Florida, to make room for assembly of the E-Jet E2 regional-jet family in Sao Jose do Campos, Brazil. Phenom wings and fuselages will still be manufactured in Botucatu, Brazil.
The AeroMobil 3.0 prototype roadable aircraft crashed in Slovakia on May 8 after the pilot encountered problems on a test flight and activated the ballistic recovery parachute at 900 ft. The pilot, the vehicle’s designer Stefan Klein, was unharmed, but the aircraft was damaged.
Aerion has opened the orderbook for its AS2 supersonic business jet with a list price of $120 million. Launch pricing will be available to the first 50 customers
Gulfstream’s G500 large-cabin business jet made its 2 hr 16 min first flight from Savannah, Georgia, on May 18, powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW814GAs. The clean-sheet G500 is scheduled for certification in 2017 and service entry in 2018, and will be followed by the longer G600.
The June launch of Inmarsat's third Global Xpress Ka-band communications satellite has been delayed following the May 16 failure of Russia's Proton M/Briz M launch vehicle to orbit Mexico's Centenario satellite. The Proton suffered a “disabling anomaly during third-stage operation,” its operator says.
Aerojet Rocketdyne, with Dynetics and Schafer, is exploring re-engining the Atlas V with its AR1 rocket motor and has asked the Pentagon what data it owns on the launch vehicle. United Launch Alliance, which plans to replace the Russian-engined Atlas with the Blue Origin BE-4-powered Vulcan, says it has no intention of letting anyone else build the rocket.
Graham leads Aviation Week's coverage of technology, focusing on engineering and technology across the aerospace industry, with a special focus on identifying technologies of strategic importance to aviation, aerospace and defense.