Dubai Airshow News In Brief, Nov. 15

Credit: Bell Textron

Third Bell 429 Medical Helo For Kuwait

Bell Textron Inc has signed a contract at Dubai Airshow with Kuwait International Aircraft Leasing to supply a Bell 429 helicopter for use within the country's Ministry of Health-run HEMS (Helicopter Emergency Medical Services) program. The aircraft—the third 429 HEMS sold to Kuwait—is expected to be delivered in August 2022.

“We are very familiar with the aircraft’s excellent performance in our hot environment and its ability to quickly move patients from emergency scenes to our medical facilities,” says Jassem Buqamber, Kuwait’s air-ambulance commander. The first two helicopters have been operating in the role since 2015. Delivery of the third aircraft, Buqamber says, will “allow us to expand our operations within the country.”

Collins, Seeing Machines, Partner On Pilot Fatigue Monitoring System

Collins Aerospace has announced it is working with Australian company Seeing Machines on a suite of technologies to monitor fatigue and alertness among flight crews. Seeing Machines will provide its eye-tracking optics and analytic algorithms which Collins’ business and regional avionics division will incorporate into its Pilot Support System product line, which—once complete—will be offered to both aircraft OEMs and operators for new-build projects and as an after-market upgrade. By tracking eye movements, the system will be able to sense levels of alertness and enable pilots to better understand and manage workloads.

“As the aviation industry looks to the future of intelligent aircraft design, understanding the cognitive state of the pilot and crew is paramount,” says Christophe Blanc, Collins’ business and regional avionics vice president and general manager. “This collaboration will allow us to further support pilots and their needs.” 

Wahaj Awarded Seven-Year Contract By Honeywell

In a first for a company based in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia-based Wahaj has been appointed as a strategic supplier to Honeywell. Under the terms of the seven-year agreement, announced during the Dubai Airshow, the AS9100-certified Wahaj will manufacture and export a wide range of OEM parts to Honeywell Aerospace sites in the U.S., Europe and Asia. Parts will include components for wheels, brakes, power systems, air and thermal systems, and auxiliary power units for platforms including widely used Airbus, Boeing and Dassault types. “The partnership is a major achievement for us and will accelerate the realization of Wahaj’s strategic vision to be a global aerospace and defense manufacturing partner,” says Saeed Nasser, Wahaj CEO, who said the deal will create new jobs within the Riyadh-based precision-engineering firm.

Qatar, Safran To Replace 10,000 ULDs

Concerns over the safe transportation of lithium-ion batteries are the main reason Qatar Airways Cargo has opted to replace its entire inventory of more than 10,000 unit load devices with new fire-resistant containers from Safran Cabin. The new containers can contain a battery fire for up to six hours. The project, which only began in 2019, is proceeding at pace: the airline intends to have swapped out 70% of the units by the end of next year. “The project ... was finished in record time to support Qatar Airways Cargo’s replacement plans,” says Pascal Piveteau, Safran Cabin’s cargo and catering executive vice president. “Together, we are contributing to the setup of new standards for a safer aviation environment.”

GANS, ATRiCS Partner On Automated Tower Controller Training

A successful collaboration on the automated tower system at Abu Dhabi International Airport has laid the foundation for a long-term agreement brokered late October by UAE-based air navigation services provider GANS and the Frequentis-owned, German-based ATRiCS Advanced Traffic Solutions, an airport software solutions provider and consultancy. During the World ATM Congress, held in Madrid, the two firms announced the agreement to develop a training course to build up a cadre of staff able to operate a new generation of tower control systems. GANS CEO Yahya Al Hammadi said that his company “see[s] this collaboration with ATRiCS as a natural evolution which exploits the knowledge and experience from the [Abu Dhabi tower] project, to develop a truly innovative course which prepares controllers for the working environment of the future.” In the same statement, ATRiCS CEO Wolfgang Hatzack said: “Adapting training to the new possibilities of automation systems in the tower is key to preventing negative impacts on safety and efficiency.” No timetable for the project has been revealed, but the companies said that work to develop the curricula will begin before the end of this year.

Lufthansa Technik Philippines Completes Checks On Kuwait Airways A330s

A new contract covering six-year checks on four Kuwait Airways Airbus A330-200s has been secured by Lufthansa Technik, and the first two aircraft have already completed the process at the MRO house's widebody maintenance facility in Manila, Philippines. These are the first checks the relatively young aircraft have been put through. “For the first heavy checks of our A330s we were seeking a partner that not only has an outstanding reputation, but also the flexibility to overhaul our aircraft in an almost nose-to-tail sequence,” says Eisa Al-Haddad, Kuwait Airways’ chief operations officer. “Lufthansa Technik and its subsidiary in the Philippines are renowned for their engineering expertise and highly competitive turnaround times. We have put our valuable assets in the right hands.”

Elettronica Builds On 30-Year UAE Relationship 

Three decades on from its first contract with the UAE’s army, European electronic-warfare specialist Elettronica is looking to expand its involvement in the nation, as electromagnetic spectrum operations (EMSO) become embedded concepts across civil society. Gone are the days when it was just militaries that needed to worry about securing systems against electronic attack: with the proliferation of internet-connected devices and services, EMSO is a vital part of any nation’s defense of its critical infrastructure. Enzo Benigni, Elettronica’s president and CEO, argues that the UAE's Vision2030 strategy gives the country—and its industrial partners—a strong platform on which to build holistic resilience. “In recent years we have contributed to the UAE’s technological development and skills growth in the EW domain,” he said. “However, as the new and complex defence challenges of the future require further efforts and strong industrial partnerships, Elettronica Group is eager to boost its thirty-year partnership with the UAE, consolidating its presence in the Country’s industry ecosystem.” 

Flydubai Display UAE 50th Anniversary Livery 

Flydubai is at its home air show for the seventh time, and the 737 Max 8 aircraft that is taking part in the show’s official formation flight carries a new decal to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the United Arab Emirates. Ghaith Al Ghaith, the airline’s CEO, has stressed the importance of this year’s event in rebuilding the region’s transport links as COVID-related restrictions lift. “As travel begins to open up and the world begins to connect once again, it gives those of us in the aviation industry an opportunity to be optimistic,” he said. “And what better place to share this sentiment than with key stakeholders at the Dubai Airshow. It is also a great platform to showcase our Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft which offers our passengers an enhanced onboard experience and operational efficiencies.”

NASA Contracts BlackSky For Earth Observation Imagery

Smallsat operator BlackSky has been awarded a five-year blanket purchase agreement by NASA to provide high revisit imagery to advance predictive capabilities. The U.S. agency’s Commercial Smallsat Data Acquisition Program gives researchers around the world access to high-resolution images acquired more frequently than had previously been usual. “Our constellation delivers dawn-to-dusk imaging that facilitates automatic pattern-of-life monitoring and anomaly detection,” says Brian O’Toole, BlackSky CEO. “Fusing that data with our Spectra AI platform enables compelling and actionable scientific observations about our planet. Helping NASA-backed researchers broaden their understanding around critical changes in the Earth’s ecosystems, oceanography, geographic and polar sciences is vitally important.”

SAEI Strengthens MRO Capability, Signs MOUs with Leonardo, Thales

Saudia Aerospace Engineering Industries (SAEI) will become a recognized service provider for maintenance of Leonardo's AW139 twin-engined helicopter. The MRO has initiated a partnership with Thales to provide premium maintenance services following the signing of two memoranda of understanding announced during the Dubai Airshow. Speaking after the signing of what is branded a “Platinum Care” agreement with Thales, Ibrahim A Al-Omar, director-general of airline Saudia, SAEI's parent company, said the deal “demonstrates our ambition to become a world leader in the MRO market, working with established companies that will accelerate the pace of our industrial and technological development.”

The agreement with Leonardo will see SAEI becoming an authorized service center for the 139—the first in the kingdom. Around 150 139s are in service across the region in roles including search-and-rescue, offshore transport, corporate transport and in law enforcement. As well as covering the 139, the deal also paves the way for SAEI to achieve authorized service-center status for the airframer’s AW169 helicopter and AW609 tiltrotor in future.

“We are delighted to be appointed as the first authorized Leonardo service centre in the KSA for the AW139, AW169, and AW609 types,” said SAEI CEO Fahd Hamzh Cynndy. “I am confident that our industry-leading capabilities will provide airline owners and operators with easy access to reliable, cost-effective and timely services, enabling them to achieve enhanced safety and efficiency while offering superior passenger connectivity and convenience.”

Angus Batey

Angus Batey has been contributing to various titles within the Aviation Week Network since 2009, reporting on topics ranging from defense and space to business aviation, advanced air mobility and cybersecurity.