Dubai Airshow News In Brief, Nov. 16

Credit: Mark Wagner/Aviation Images

Boeing Renews Vows With Russian Titanium Supplier VSMPO-AVISMA 

Boeing has extended its partnership with its biggest titanium supplier, Russian state-owned VSMPO-AVISMA, in a memorandum of understanding signed at the Dubai Airshow. The agreement promises to keep the companies working together “for many years to come.” The two companies have agreed: to increase utilization of Ural Boeing Manufacturing, their Russia-based joint venture established in 2007; to increase investment in research and development of new titanium alloys and technologies; and to look at possible new opportunities for VSMPO-AVISMA to provide more to the airframer than just supplying raw materials and forging. “Stable long-term relationships with Boeing enable VSMPO-AVISMA to focus on expanding our investment program and developing our production capacity,” CEO Dmitry Osipov says. Boeing Commercial Airplanes president and CEO Stan Deal says the Russian company is "a reliable and valuable partner.” The Rostec-owned supplier has been working with Boeing for almost 25 years and supplies parts used on 737, 767, 787, 777 and 777X aircraft.

IAI To Convert Four Emirates 777s to Cargo

A rise in e-commerce and supply-chain constraints amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic are cited as the reasons why Emirates has contracted IAI to convert four of its Boeing 777-300ER passenger airliners to cargo aircraft. The first conversion is due to begin in 2023 at a new site in Etihad Engineering's Abu Dhabi MRO center. There is potential within the agreement for additional passenger-to-freighter conversions to follow. The announcement "underscores our commitment to supporting our customers’ requirements and reflects our confidence in our future growth and status as one of the largest airline cargo carriers in the world,” said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and chief executive of Emirates Group.

Flyadeal Strikes Innovative Engine MRO Agreement with GE Aviation

Flyadeal, the LCC owned by Saudi Arabian Airlines Corporation, has signed an agreement with GE Aviation at the Dubai Airshow to cover overhaul of CFM56-5B engines on its 11-strong Airbus A320-200 fleet. The seven-year deal includes logistics for engine removals, changes and leases. Previously, these costs would have fallen on the airline but will now be covered by GE. The work will be carried out by Caerdav, an independent MRO based in Wales. The deal is "testament to how a true low-fare operator like Flyadeal is driving innovation and change,” says the airline's chief operating officer, Mike Hewitt.

Tawazun, Airbus Agree to Set Up New R&D Facility

Tawazun and Airbus have signed an agreement at the Dubai Airshow that could lead to the creation of a new Abu Dhabi subsidiary. The companies signed a memorandum of understanding to “explore potential cooperation opportunities” in refueling for military aircraft and UAVs, a helicopter flight laboratory, and research and development on the VSR700 unmanned helicopter, “as well as other potential cooperation opportunities of mutual interest.” The deal was signed by Tawazun’s chief economic development officer, Matar Ali Al Romaithi, Mikail Houari, president of Airbus's Africa and Middle East, and the vice-president of Airbus Helicopters' international co-operation, Michael Curran. 

ATR Books Orders for Eight 72-600s

Binter Canarias confirmed a firm order for another tranche of ATR 72-600s at the Dubai Airshow, while TAROM signed up for three of the 72-seat regional airliner.

The Binter agreement is for a firm four aircraft, with an option for a fifth. The contract will conclude the Canary Islands-based airline’s plan to replace its 72-500 fleet with the latest model from the Airbus-Leonardo joint venture. TAROM's contract continues a fleet-modernization program begun in 2019 under which its 42-500s are being replaced by the larger model.

“The ATR 72-600 has become our flagship aircraft and with 23 of them in our fleet, upon the completion of these deliveries, it provides the backbone of air connectivity throughout the Canary Islands,” Rodolfo Nunez, the airline's president, said.

“Having been an ATR pilot, I have witnessed first-hand the importance of the connectivity they provide,” said TAROM's CEO, Catalin Prunariu.

Bortoli added that the company will continue to develop the platform as it aims to “provide the most sustainable and economic solution for connecting local communities.” ATR expects around 200 aircraft in the 70-seat regional class will be replaced in the next five years.

Egyptian Air Force Expands Rafale Fleet

A contract signed in early May, under which Dassault will provide an additional 30 Rafale fighters to the Egyptian Air Force, has moved to its next stage with deposits being paid to the airframer. Following a 2015 deal that saw Egypt acquire 24 of the jets, the country is on track to have the world’s second-biggest Rafale fleet, after France. “In a demanding geopolitical context, Egypt has chosen the Rafale to ensure its role as a key player in the regional and international arena,” Dassault Aviation Chairman and CEO Eric Trappier said.

CAE, Flydubai Announce Second 737 Max Sim

Emirates-CAE Flight Training—the joint-venture between the airline and the Canadian-headquartered training provider—has confirmed that it will instal a second 737 MAX full-flight simulator in its Dubai facility by the end of next year. The second CAE 7000XR series level D device is required to keep pace with the carrier's fleet growth.

World Defense Show Gets Bigger

Ahead of the first edition of the World Defense Show—a new biennial event to be held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in March 2022—organizers are increasing the available space in response to demand from exhibitors. The expansion is possible, in large part, because the site—which includes its own dedicated 3-km (1.8-mi.) runway—is being purpose-built for the event. “A major benefit of building our venue from the ground up is that we start with a blank canvas and can really listen to our customers,” WDS CEO Shaun Ormorod says in a release announcing the expansion. “We can not only make sure there is enough space for all exhibitors, but we can also build bespoke facilities for integrated live demonstrations.” The show will take place from March 6-9, 2022.

Two Regional Contracts Help Collins Aerospace Increase ACARS Capacity

Two different programs announced during the Dubai Airshow—a partnership in Saudi Arabia with satcom provider Taqnia, and a project undertaken with Kuwait Airways, Airbus and ARINC—see Collins Aerospace addressing issues around availability and capacity of ACARS (aircraft communications addressing and reporting system) in the Middle East.

Together with Taqnia, Collins will work to close the gap that presently exists in ACARS coverage by deploying ground stations at suitable locations across Saudi Arabia. This will increase availability of air/ground VHF datalinks. The work with Kuwait Airways aims to free up ACARS capacity from the opposite conceptual direction by reducing the amount of data the network has to handle. Two of the airline’s A330neo aircraft have had Collins’ Ground FOMAX (ground flight operations and maintenance exchanger) solution enabled, allowing them to send and receive non-critical messages via internet protocol (IP) links, thereby reducing reliance on satcom, both freeing up capacity for higher-priority messages and saving the airline money.

“Collins Aerospace is actively expanding its ground-station network to ensure ACARS coverage is available from multiple locations and covers the widest geographical area possible,” says Clotilde Enel-Rehel, Collins Aerospace's general manager for commercial aviation and network services. 

“As aircraft become more data-intensive, this additional information ‘pipeline’ is critical to the efficiency of airlines, airports and air traffic control,” she adds. “Kuwait Airways will serve as a great example of how nearly 80% of ACARS traffic can be routed through an IP system, as well as utilizing both ground cellular connectivity and inflight cabin connectivity to offload ACARS over IP.”

SAMI Opens Huge New Composites Plant

A 27,000-m² (290,000-ft.²) facility with a 2,268-m² clean room and the biggest autoclave in Saudi Arabia are among the highlights of the new aerospace composites plant launched by SAMI (Saudi Arabian Military Industries) on the eve of Dubai Airshow. SAMI Composites LLC is expected to generate close to 100 jobs at its site, south of Riyadh International Airport, and the company—a wholly owned subsidiary of the Kingdom's Public Investment Fund—sees the development as another step toward meeting the goals of economic diversification and technological self-sufficiency outlined in the Vision 2030 strategy.

“The new composite manufacturing facility ... will play an instrumental role in driving the localization of our competencies through partnerships with globally renowned OEMs besides boosting our aerospace exports and developing the technical skills of Saudi nationals in the defense industries sector,” said Ahmed Al-Khateeb, SAMI’s chairman.

The firm says it will partner with leading international OEMs, “thereby facilitating the transfer of technology and knowledge to enhance the local capabilities of the Saudi military industries sector.” The company expects to see the creation of 28 new jobs in 2022, rising to 90 “in subsequent years.”   

SPARFELL Partnership Helps MENA Aerospace Grow Bizav Business by 30%

A new deal under which MENA Aerospace Enterprises handles business jets in Bahrain for Geneva-headquartered AOC-holder SPARFELL has seen the Gulf firm boost its post-pandemic passenger-handling numbers by nearly a third. “We have adapted our model to reflect shifting customer preferences,” says Mohamed Juman, MENA AE's founder and managing director. “Previously, we acted as an AOC for business jets in Bahrain, serving the local region. Our new partnership with SPARFELL allows us to change the game,” Juman says. He adds there is an “emerging preference” for European AOCs among the company’s clients, and “a dramatic decline” in those wanting a Middle Eastern AOCs. Under the terms of the partnership, SPARFELL host these aircraft in Austria while MENA takes care of local requirements. Nevertheless, the company is pursuing a Saudi Arabian AOC, to allow it to operate charter flights within the kingdom.

EDGE Launches Indigenous UAE Anti-Jam System

GPS-Protect—a system to defeat GPS jamming affecting air, land and sea users—has been launched at the Dubai Airshow by EDGE. The group says the product is the first such system to be designed, developed and built within the UAE. The system uses a multi-element controlled reception pattern array antenna and is effective against both a single jamming signal or multiple ones. It also is small, light and sufficiently power-efficient to be used by small platforms. “GPS-Protect extends spectrum superiority to small-scale unmanned systems, as well as to larger aircraft and ships,” says Waleid Al Mesmari, vice-president of program management in EDGE’s electronic warfare and intelligence solutions business area. “It maintains the platform’s GPS signal throughout the presence of unintentional radio-frequency interference or jamming attacks. We look forward to working with our partners and clients in deploying this cutting-edge product to market.”

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.