Air International 2014-08 - PDF Free Download (2024)

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AUGUST 2014 Vol.87 No.2

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Rafales & Mirage 2000s On French Air Defence

Territorial Tensions

China’s Air Defence Zone

Lufthansa Technik

Hi-Tech Aircraft Maintenance & Services


Bombardier’s CSeries


Kamov’s Utility Twin

Solar Impulse

Showing the Solar Spirit

joint strike


fighter Produced by AIR International’s worldwide team, F-35 Lightning II – An Air Warfare Revolution is a bumper 172-page publication which provides a comprehensive profile of the world’s largest defence programme. FEATURES INCLUDE:


The origins of the Joint Strike Fighter.


Why the F-35 is needed.


Details of the F-35s state-of-the-art sensors, technologies and weapons


Extensive coverage of F-35 flight-testing at Naval Air Station Patuxent River and Edwards Air Force Base.


On the USS Wasp and work-up for the USS Nimitz.





AIR International visited Eglin Air Force Base home of the 33rd Fighter Wing and the F-35 Academic Training Centre.


At Nellis, Yuma and Luke



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08 Air New Zealand welcomes the Boeing 787-9 Chris Kjelgaard visited

Airbus launches the A330neo family, Japan’s Mitsubishi ATD-X Shinshin is rolled out, RAF Sentinels reprieved, Sikorsky gets CRH-60 order, Draken buys Aero Vodochody L-159As, Etihad confirms record 777X order, Bangladesh orders AW139s,RNZAF T-6C Texan II flies and Moody AFB becomes the preferred training base for Afghanistan’s Super Tucanos.

HMS Queen Elizabeth christened, France retires the Mirage F1, AMXs leave Afghanistan, QF-16 survives live-fire test, Myanmar looks to build the JF-17, Su-25s rushed to Iraq, Il-22PP begins state trials, production HondaJet flies, Citation X+ is certified, Airbus rolls out the first A320neo, MRJ prototype comes together and the last CH-147F is delivered.

Everett to take part in the celebrations.

10 Filling the Gap The European Defence Agency is working on a multiproject approach to tackle the shortage of tanker capability on the continent, as Kees van der Mark found out.


16 Buffs, Spirits & Bow Waves Ian Harding and Matthew Clements report on a deployment of B-2 and B-52 bombers to the UK.

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32 Etihad Edges Nearer to Alitalia Mark

Broadbent describes Etihad’s bid to buy Italian airline Alitalia.


FRONT COVER: One of the biggest features in this issue is on French Air Defence. Henri-Pierre Grolleau LEFT INSET: Bombardier Aerospace MIDDLE INSET: Kamov RIGHT INSET: Solar Impulse



Lufthansa Technik is the world’s largest, most technologically sophisticated aircraft maintenance and technical services group. Chris Kjelgaard finds out what makes it tick.



The French Air Force has one of Europe’s most comprehensive air defence networks, including Mirage 2000 and Rafale fighters, as Henri-Pierre Grolleau explains in the first of a two-part feature.

The zero emissions Solar Impulse is being prepared for a round-the-world flight that its creators hope will show what clean technology can achieve. Mark Broadbent reports.

Editor Mark Ayton [emailprotected] Sub Editors Sue Blunt, Carol Randall








Riccardo Niccoli visits Konya Air Base in mid-western Turkey for the latest edition of exercise Anatolian Eagle. Despite an engine incident, Bombardier says its CSeries airliner will enter service in the second half of 2015. James Careless reviews the programme.


A new look and a revised network – change is under way at Europe’s largest regional airline. Mark Broadbent outlines.

News Editor David Willis [emailprotected]

Designer Dave Robinson Commercial Director Ann Saundry

Production Controller Sam Jarman

Managing Director & Publisher Adrian Cox

Subscriptions/ Mail Order Manager Roz Condé

Executive Chairman Richard Cox

Marketing Manager Martin Steele

The Faroe Islands’ national airline is profitable despite the operational and commercial demands it has to face, considers Dominik Sipinski.

Andreas Rupprecht describes increased tensions between China and Japan after China established an air defence zone over disputed islands in the East China Sea.

Marketing Assistants Shaun Binnington

Production Manager Janet Watkins

Chris Kjelgaard details the design of the F-35’s propulsion systems and reports on development possibilities.

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Breaking News

US Air Force CRH Development Funded A $1.27bn initial engineering, manufacturing and development (EMD) contract has been awarded to Sikorsky to begin work on the US Air Force’s Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH). The company will develop a version of the UH60M Black Hawk, provisionally known as the CRH-60 with four to be produced for EMD, it was announced on June 26. CRH aims to deliverer approximately 112 helicopters (the exact number is flexible) to replace the Sikorsky HH-60G Pave Hawk. The recent contract has options for the additional helicopters, which, if they are all exercised, will raise the cost to $7.9bn. Production quantities will be authorised year-by-year over the length of the programme, with all 112 due to be built by June 2029. Sikorsky anticipates the first five production CRHs will to be delivered by 2020 once options have been exercised. In comparison to the HH-60G, the CRH-60 will carry additional fuel to increase range and have a greater internal cabin volume. It will be powered by a pair of General Electric T700-GE-701D engines, turning composite widechord main rotor blades. Sikorsky was the sole respondent to a request for proposals issued on October 19, 2012 (see US Air Force Combat Rescue Helicopter Programme Launched, December 2012, p26). CRH research, development, test and evaluation funds from Fiscal Years 2012 and 2013, worth $298.5 million, have already been handed over. The US Air Force began the process of selecting a replacement for the HH-60G in 2010 after the Combat Search and Rescue X programme was cancelled and procurement of the Boeing HH-47 abandoned (see Axe Falls on US Air Force Programmes, May 2009, p4).

Airbus Launches A330neo at Farnborough

The Airbus A330-900neo, one of two members of the A330neo family launched at Farnborough on July 14. Airbus/FIXON-GWLNSOD

On the opening day of the Farnborough International Airshow on July 14 Airbus officially launched the Airbus A330neo. The A330 neo family comprises the A330-800neo and -900neo, which will replace for the A330200 and -300 respectively. A330neos will be powered by the new Roll-Royce Trent 7000 and feature aerodynamic refinements to reduce fuel-burn over the baseline airliner by 14% per seat. The Trent 7000 builds upon experience gained from the Trent 700, one of three engine choices for the current A330. It also uses technology and internal configurations from the Trent 1000-TEN and the Trent XWB. Rated between 68,000 and 72,000lb st (302.5 to 320kN), the Trent 7000 will have twice the bypass ratio (at 10:1), a larger (112in; 2.84m) diameter fan, 10% better specific fuel consumption and half the perceived noise of the

Trent 700. The new variants will have a wingspan of 64m (210ft), increased from 60.3m (197ft 10in), with winglets derived from those used on the A350 XWB. Range will be increased by approximately 400nm (740km). As well as retaining the same pilot type rating of earlier A330s, the neo family will also share a common type rating with the A350 XWB. New cabin features will be incorporated into the airliner, including more seats. Compared to the A330-200 and -300, the -800neo and -900neo will accommodate ten more (to 310) passengers and six (to 252) respectively. During the launch Air Lease Corporation’s Chairman and CEO, Steven F Udvar-Házy, and Airbus President and CEO, Fabrice Brégier, signed a memorandum of understanding for 25 A330900neos. Initial deliveries are due in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Japan Seeks UH-1 Replacement European and North American helicopter manufacturers and their respective local partners are in talks with the Japanese Government for a $2 billion deal to build a military transport helicopter. The UH-X project is designed to replace

Japan’s 150-strong Bell UH-1H/J Iroquois fleet and the likely bidders include Airbus Helicopters, teamed with Kawasaki Heavy Industries; Bell Helicopter, with Fuji Heavy Industries, and possibly also AgustaWestland. Nigel Pittaway

RAF Sentinel Reprieved...Until 2018 British intelligence, surveillance, targeting acquisition and reconnaissance assets will benefit from an investment of £800 million announced by Prime Minister David Cameron on July 14. Among the benefactors is the Raytheon Airborne Stand-Off Radar (ASTOR) system and the Sentinel R1s of



No.5(AC) Squadron, which will now be retained in service until 2018. The 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) stated that the Sentinels would be retired after the end of operations in Afghanistan this year, but their use over Libya and other conflict zones highlighted the value of

their surveillance capability. As part of the recent announcement, Raytheon will improve the maritime surveillance capabilities of the aircraft systems, partially plugging the gap created by the cancellation of the BAE Systems Nimrod MRA4 programme in the 2010 SDSR.



RNZAF TEXAN FLOWN Flight tests of the first Beechcraft T-6C Texan II for the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) are under way at Wichita, Kansas. The trainer (N2824B, to become NZ1401), completed its maiden flight on June 10. New Zealand ordered 11 T-6Cs on January 24 (see RNZAF Buys Beechcraft Texan II Trainers, March, p28) to replace the Pacific Aerospace CT-4E trainers used for the service’s basic pilot training course and part of the advanced syllabus currently flown on Beechcraft King Airs. Six RNZAF qualified flying instructors will begin converting to the T-6C in August. Four of the aircraft will be delivered to RNZAF Base Ohakea by the end of the year, with all 11 due to arrive by mid-2015.


AW139S ORDERED BY BANGLADESH The Ministry of Defence of Bangladesh has ordered a pair of AW139 intermediate helicopters, it was announced by AgustaWestland on July 14. Both will be configured for maritime search and rescue and other utility missions, equipped with a search/weather radar, forward looking infrared sensor, rescue hoist, emergency floats and four-axis dual digital automatic flight control system. They will be delivered to the Bangladesh Air Force next year along with a support and training packages.


L-159AS SOLD TO DRAKEN Draken International signed a contract with Aero Vodochody in Prague, Czech Republic, on July 14 for 14 former Czech Air Force L-159A Advanced Light Combat Aircraft. Seven airframes are involved in the first phase of the transfer, including one as a source of spares. Within two years another batch of seven will be handed over, including one for parts. Draken International will use the aircraft to provide contract services to the US military. It also holds an option to purchase a further 14 L-159As. Sale of the aircraft to Draken was approved by the Czech Government on January 2 (see 28 L-159s for Draken, February, p14).

A further £300 million will be spent to equip the RAF Typhoon fleet with the E-Scan radar and fund unmanned air systems, as well as purchase the Ice Patrol Ship HMS Protector. The £1.1 billion has been sourced from the Ministry of Defence’s 2012 budget under spend.

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Breaking News

Moody Preferred A-29 Training Base Afghan Air Force pilots and maintenance personnel will train on the Embraer A-29B Super Tucano in the United States at Moody AFB, Georgia. The air force base is the preferred site for the Light Air Support (LAS) programme, with Mountain Hope AFB, Idaho, and Shaw AFB, South Carolina, as potential alternatives if Moody AFB is unsuitable for any reason. Basing details for LAS were revealed by the US Air Force on June 25. Twenty A-29Bs are being purchased by the US Air Force on behalf of the Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan. The first is expected to arrive at Moody AFB from September and will be joined by the initial cadre of Afghans in February 2015. After training is complete the aircraft will be transferred to the Afghan Air Force, although a presence will be maintained at the Georgian base until 2018.

Bavarian Tiger

Typhoon 30+09 of Jagdgeschwader 74 based at Neuburg won the ‘Painted Tail’ award during the NATO Tiger Meet at Schleswig-Jagel in Germany between June 16 and 26. The award is presented for the aircraft judged to have the best scheme. The wing took over the Tiger Association membership of Jagdbombergeschwader 32 after that wing disbanded at Lechfield in March 2013. David Willis

Zagrosjet Adds European Destinations

JASDF C-2 Delayed The Japanese Air Self Defense Force is to delay introduction into service of the Kawasaki Heavy Industries C-2 jet transport for two years. The first C-2 was scheduled to be operational in late Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 at Miho AB, Tottori prefecture, with ten deployed by the end of FY 2018. Engineering changes are required to the C-2 following the failure of a cargo door during tests in January. David C Isby

Airbus A321-231 YI-AQU (msn 1878, ex TC-ATO) of Iraqi carrier Zagrosjet seen on approach to Amsterdam-Schiphol during the airline’s second flight to the Netherlands, on July 3. The Dutch capital was one of two European destinations added to Zagrosjet’s expanding network at the end of June, the other being Munich in Germany. A year on from launching operations, the carrier now serves nine destinations via 29 return flights per week from its home base at Erbil in Kurdistan, northern Iraq. It currently operates three aircraft, the other two being A320s. Kees van der Mark

Japan’s Heart Revealed Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has rolled out the Advanced Technology Demonstrator-X (ATD-X) from its Komaki Minami plant in Nagoya, Aichi prefecture. The fifth generation fighter (51-0001) has been developed by the defence ministry’s Technical Research and Development Institute. Known as the Shinshin (‘Heart of God’), it will be used to test advanced features, including low observability and enhanced manoeuvrability, to provide data for a new, ‘sixth generation’ combat aircraft for the Japan Air Self Defense Force. The future fighter will encompass i3 (informed, intelligent and instantaneous) concepts and counter-stealth capabilities, according to Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera. The Diet (Japanese parliament) will decide by Fiscal Year 2018 if

The Mitsubishi ATD-X Shinshin 51-0001 during its official roll out. Mitsubishi

Japan will continue to develop the aircraft alone or seek international partners. While the roll-out was announced on June 30, it is reported to have taken place on May 8 – poor-

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quality pictures reportedly showing the ATD-X outside the factory appeared on the internet prior to the announcement. The ATD-X is due to make its maiden flight before the end of the year.

Record 777X Order for Emirates

Emirates Airline has confirmed an order for 150 Boeing 777Xs, valued at $56 billion. First announced as a commitment at the 2013 Dubai Airshow, the order was part of the largest product launch in commercial jet airliner history (see Large Airliner Orders at Dubai, December 2013, p6). The deal comprises firm orders for 115 777-9Xs and 35 7778Xs and also includes purchase rights for an additional 50 aircraft that, if exercised, could increase the total value to $75 billion. Boeing now holds orders and commitments for 300 777Xs from six airlines. Mike Jerram




Air New Zealand welcom Boeing 7 87-9 with koru &

Air New Zealand’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner ZK-NZE (c/n 34334) at Paine Field, Washington on July 9, two days before its delivery flight to Auckland. Christian Kjelgaard

Air New Zealand formally took delivery of the first customer Boeing 787-9 on July 8, in a memorable ceremony featuring 1,000 Boeing production employees. Chris Kjelgaard visited Everett to take part in the celebrations


esplendent in a glossy black livery featuring the airline’s Maori koru logo in white on its vertical stabiliser and New Zealand’s national silver fern symbol (also in white) along its rear fuselage – both in white – Air New Zealand’s first Boeing 787-9 ZK-NZE (c/n 34334) took off on its delivery flight from Boeing’s widebody plant at Everett on July 10. The non-stop flight departed Everett’s Paine Field at 0700 local time and landed 14 hours later at Auckland Airport at around 1600 local time on July 11, after crossing the international dateline. As the Rolls-Royce Trent 1000-powered aircraft taxied to its parking position, it was welcomed by a group of Air New Zealand employees performing the traditional Maori haka on a wet winter afternoon. A ceremonial challenge to combat issued by the All Blacks, New Zealand’s fearsome national rugby team, the haka is a famous starter at their international rugby union clashes, but it is also performed as a dance of welcome and honour. It is so closely tied to the New Zealand psyche through the All Blacks that Air New Zealand calls the new black colour scheme – which won’t adorn every aircraft – its ‘All Black’ livery. Air New Zealand has already adopted



the ‘All Black’ livery for much of its single-aisle fleet the airline’s first Boeing 787-9 is the first long-haul aircraft to wear these colours. The first 787-9 delivered to any carrier, it is part of an initial order placed by Air New Zealand for 10 in 2005 as launch customer for the model. The 787-9 represents a major part of Air New Zealand’s medium-term future and embodies a new generation of the airline’s commitment to passenger comfort. Its three-class interior contains new economy-class and premium economy seat designs, as well as a new in-flight entertainment (IFE) system billed by Air New Zealand as the world’s most advanced. The IFE system, made by Panasonic and designed in large part by Air New Zealand, is app-based, touchscreen-controlled and offers more than 2,000 hours of content from more than 2,000 film, television and audio titles. These include new high definition releases, new and classic Disney and Hollywood titles and a dedicated category for HBO content. Air New Zealand has also partnered with travel website Trip Advisor to create an app that will allow passengers to research their destinations on board. Air New Zealand due to roll-out this app in August.

The 787-9 Up Close Two nights before the delivery flight, Air New Zealand formally took delivery of its first 7879 in a ceremony attended by more than 500

guests including reporters at the Future of Flight science centre just north of the Paine Field runway. Speeches were made and ceremonial gifts – the largest a 1/20th-scale model of the Air New Zealand All Black 7879 – were given by senior Boeing and RollsRoyce executives, and by Rob McDonald, Air New Zealand’s Chief Financial Officer. Then a huge door in the side of the building opened to reveal the 787-9 right outside, accompanied by 1,000 Boeing production employees wearing black T-shirts. Each T-shirt front bore a white koru symbol (a stylised representation of a new, unfurling silver-fern frond and symbolising life, growth, strength and peace) and ‘Air New Zealand Boeing 787-9 Grand Tour’ on the back. Styled as T-shirts promoting rock band tours, the ‘Grand Tour’ T-shirt had three dates and cities on its back: Perth in October, Tokyo in November and Shanghai in December the first three Air New Zealand destinations for its Boeing 787-9 scheduled services (see below). Reporters were given a close-up of the aircraft, at Boeing’s delivery centre terminal at Everett. Speaking to reporters, McDonald said the Boeing 787-9 would directly replace the Boeing 767-300ER in Air New Zealand service. The carrier currently operates five 767-300ERs and all will leave the fleet by 2016. Air New Zealand is also due to retire its last two 747-400s by this September and

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omes the u & haka

its final 737-300 next year. Its fleet will be entirely composed of 777-200ERs, 777300ERs, Airbus A320s and 787-9s by 2017.

Boeing 787-9 Operating Plans Air New Zealand has 10 787-9s on firm order – all due for delivery by late 2017 – “you will see some [network and traffic] growth”, McDonald said. Since each 787-9 will carry 302 passengers in Air New Zealand configuration (18 in the airline’s Business Premier long-haul business class, 21 in premium economy and 263 in economy) compared to the 230 passengers in each of its 767-300ERs carries, every replacement will provide substantial capacity growth. That isn’t a problem for Air New Zealand, according to McDonald, because traffic on many of the tourism-driven Pacific Rim routes on which it operates its 767-300ERs is growing quickly. Air New Zealand hasn’t yet indicated on which other routes the 787-9 will operate, McDonald only noting that the sectors its 767s fly now are “pretty obvious” future 787-9 routes and that the airline could also use the 787-9 for the Auckland-Singapore route for which it is awaiting regulatory approval. However, AIR International has learned the carrier plans to launch 787-9 services from Auckland to Honolulu and to Papeete in French Polynesia in 2015. McDonald pointed out that although Air

New Zealand is the world’s 58th-largest capacity carrier, New Zealand’s geographical remoteness has made its flag carrier the world’s fourth-largest airline in terms of capacity on flights of more than 12 hours. He said much of the network growth provided by the 787-9s will come in “depth rather than breadth” – operating additional service frequencies to existing destinations, rather than serving new destinations. Air New Zealand has high expectations for the codeshare agreement it launched two years ago with Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways for domestic and international connections at Narita International Airport outside Tokyo. McDonald said the Aucklandbased carrier is itching, “to bring growth back into Shanghai and Narita”. This applies both to passengers and cargo: each 787-9 flight will be able to carry ten more tonnes of belly cargo than a 767-300ER, he said. In all likelihood 787-9s will also replace the airline’s eight Boeing 777-200ERs when Air New Zealand begins retiring them during the next decade, according to McDonald, who said the 787-9 is a natural replacement in terms of range and capacity. The airline

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operates each 777-200ER with 304 seats, just two more than in its 787-9 configuration, though each 777-200ER has 36 of the airline’s unique ‘Premium Economy Spaceseats’, which are business class-like. If Air New Zealand chooses to replace its 777-200ERs with 787-9s, it would firm the options it holds on eight 787-9s. McDonald conceded that the 787-9 is, “very different electronically and in terms of maintenance” from any other Air New Zealand aircraft and so the carrier is giving itself three months to learn how to operate and maintain the aircraft efficiently. The carrier already owns the largest autoclave for composite materials in the southern hemisphere, according to McDonald, and will perform its own repairs on the 787-9’s composite fuselage. Its 787-9 learning process will include a lot of route-proving flights: before the 787-9 officially starts serving Perth on October 15, Air New Zealand will often substitute a 787-9 at short notice for a commercial flight scheduled for a 767-300ER, McDonald said.




AirTanker Voyager for Thomas Cook Thomas Cook Airlines is to operate an Airbus A330-200 Voyager belonging to AirTanker Services in what it described as a “groundbreaking” civil aircraft leasing deal. The UK arm of the European charter airline will lease one of the five Voyager Multi-Role Tanker Transports (MRTT) forming the so-called ‘surge’ component of AirTanker’s 14-strong fleet. AirTanker’s contract with the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) includes a core fleet of nine Voyagers flown in support of, and by, the RAF for aerial refuelling and strategic transport missions from RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire. The ninth was delivered in May. The five Voyagers of the surge fleet can be leased on the civil market by AirTanker, but with the proviso they can be recalled for military use within 90 days if required by the MoD. The deal is due to be finalised in September. If concluded, Thomas Cook will lease the first of the five surge aircraft for three years. The A330 is due to be delivered in February 2015 from the Airbus Defence and Space facility at Getafe in Spain to AirTanker in a military configuration as a two-point tanker (Voyager KC2). It will then be stripped of its military equipment and its cabin reconfigured from a 291-seat layout to an alleconomy class, 323-seat interior (including in-flight entertainment) for Thomas Cook – and will begin flights on May 1, 2015 after painting in the airline’s livery. The jet, which will operate on AirTanker’s air operator’s certificate (AOC), will be used on Thomas Cook’s routes from Glasgow in Scotland, Manchester and Stansted, Essex, to Cancún in Mexico, Orlando in Florida and Las Vegas, Nevada, joining four A330-200s already operated by the airline. Mark Broadbent

RAF Rivet Joint Conducts Initial AAR Hook-Up

The first of the RAF’s Boeing RC-135W Rivet Joint aircraft made its in-flight refuelling debut off the coast of England on June 26 when ZZ664 (c/n 18773, ex 64-14833) linked up with a 351st Air Refueling Squadron, 100th Air Refueling Wing Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker from RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk. Not operating any tankers equipped with the flying boom, the RAF will have to rely on foreign support for its RC-135W electronic-intelligence gatherers to conduct sorties lasting longer than its roughly 12-hour endurance. No.51 Squadron will eventually operate three RC-135Ws being produced from late production KC-135R airframes by L-3 Communications in Texas. The first arrived at RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire, on November 12, 2013. Airman 1st Class Jonathan Light/US Air Force

HMS Queen Elizabeth Christened

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the reigning British monarch, christened the Royal Navy’s latest and largest warship, the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (R 08), on July 4. The ceremony was held at the Rosyth dockyard in Scotland where the vessel was assembled, and climaxed in the breaking of a bottle of Islay whisky to christen the ship. Flypasts during the event included the RAF Red Arrows aerobatic team, an additional formation of three British Aerospace Hawk T1s from the Fleet Air Arm’s No.736 Squadron and

AgustaWestland Merlin and Wildcat, Boeing Chinook, Westland Sea King and Lynx helicopters. A number of historic Royal Navy aircraft also took part. While it was widely reported by British media that a Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II would fly over the carrier, this was not requested when the British Government asked for the type to make its debut at RIAT and Farnborough. A temporary halt to F-35 flight operations meant the aircraft remained in the United States. Much work remains to be done on HMS Queen Elizabeth, but the warship

was due to be floated out of the dry dock by the end of July. It will then be berthed for additional systems to be installed. Initial sea trials are due to start in 2016 and onboard trials of the F-35B in 2018. The carrier can carry 36 F-35Bs and four helicopters, but a typical deployed air wing will have only 12 fighters, plus helicopters. Final assembly of the second Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier is due to start in September: HMS Prince of Wales (R 09) will take shape in the same dock where the lead warship was christened.

Stripped Typhoon at RAF Coningsby Unpainted Typhoon FGR4 ZK328 (b/n BS089) on the Aircraft Servicing Platform at RAF Coningsby, Lincolnshire, on June 12 while receiving attention at the Typhoon Maintenance Facility. It had its paint removed as part of the process, showing the different materials used in its construction. First flown on October 4, 2011, ZK328 arrived at RAF Coningsby on December 15 that year. Stephen Brennan



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LUFTWAFFE A310 TO BE NEW EUROPEAN ‘VOMIT COMET’ Airbus A310-304 10+31 (msn 498, ex DDR-ABA) will be modified by Lufthansa Technik at Hamburg to undertake microgravity simulation flights. It will replace Airbus A300B2-103 F-BUAD (msn 003, ex F-ODCX) of Novespace, the oldest operational example of the airliner, which has been used as a ‘zero-g’ trainer since mid1996. Previously flown as a VIP transport by Lufttransportstaffel 1 of the Flugbereitschaft based at Cologne-Bonn, the A310 was retired by the Luftwaffe on June 30, although its final operational flight was undertaken 17 days earlier. Four tanker-transports and a single pure transport A310 remain in Luftwaffe service.


SPANISH TYPHOONS FOR BALTIC AIR POLICING Spain will provide four Typhoon fighter aircraft for the Baltic Air Policing mission in the autumn of 2014. The future deployment was announced by NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and the Spanish foreign minister, José Manual García-Margallo, on June 12. The Baltic Air Policing mission provides fighters to protect the air space of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania; NATO has recently increased the number of aircraft deployed in response to the Russian annexation of Crimea. David C Isby


MIG-29M2S OFFERED TO SERBIA Russia is understood to have offered Serbia favourable terms on 26 (24 single-seat and two twoseat) Mikoyan MiG-29M2 Fulcrum fighters during recent ministerial level discussions in Belgrade. A Russian Air Force delegation arrived in Belgrade on July 3 to talk about the deal. Serbia has expressed interest in advanced versions of the MiG-29 before, with a signed deal for six MiG-29M2s reported in May 2013 (see Six MiG-29M2s for Serbia, July 2013, p12). The status of this purchase is unconfirmed, but it is understood to have been replaced by the recent offer for 26 aircraft. David C Isby


Colourful Holloman Tornado

Luftwaffe Tornado IDS 46+05 of Holloman AFB, New Mexico-based Ausbildungsstaffel Tornado (Tornado Training Squadron) within the Fliegerisches Ausbildungszentrum der Luftwaffe (FlgAusbZLw, German Air Force Flying Training Centre) recently received special markings on its tail, depicting the unit’s badge and a stylised version of a roadrunner, New Mexico’s state bird. The squadron operates 14 Tornados, including six twin-stick aircraft, and is responsible for weapon system training of new Tornado crews – eight pilots and eight weapon system officers per year – as well as two advanced courses: the fighter weapons instructor course and Tornado instructor course. Kees van der Mark/Arnaud Boxman

Luftwaffe Transalls Leave Mali

Three German Transall C160D transports assigned to support the United Nation’s (UN) Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) began the trip home on July 3, arriving the following day. While they can be recalled to support the mission within 72 hours, the UN foresees this happening only if the military situation changes drastically. Operational control of the transports

passengers and around 520 tons of materials. While the UN praised the Transall’s ability to use unimproved airstrips, it highlighted the age of the aircraft and their reduced performance in hot environments. The UN wants to replace the aircraft by leasing transports better capable of operating in hot weather conditions and at night. David C Isby and David Willis

Thunder Tiger Rafale

Armée de l’air (French Air Force) Dassault Rafale C 330/‘113-GU’ of Escadron de Chasse 1/7 ‘Provence’ was painted for the NATO Tiger Meet at Schleswig-Jagel in Germany between June 16 and 27. Eighteen units from 11 countries (plus a NATO Boeing E-3A Sentry) took part in the meet, which involved just under 60 aircraft, 16 of them receiving special markings. Bob Fischer

‘Black Cats’ Come Home Four Aeronautica Militare Italiana (Italian Air Force) AMX International ‘Centaurs’ returned to Italy after the ‘Black Cats’ Gruppo di Volo detachment in Afghanistan came to an end. The fighters landed at Pratica di Mare air base near Rome on June 20 in company with a Boeing 767 Multi Role Tanker Transport operated by 14° Stormo,

has been returned to the European Air Transport Command. The aircraft operated from the MINUSAMA logistical hub at Dakar in Senegal from July 1, 2013 (see United Nations Transalls, March, p16). They officially completed their Mali role on June 30, having flown more than 470 support missions during 1,050 flight hours, carrying approximately 4,500

which provided air refuelling and logistical support to the fighterbombers during the flight home. The ‘Black Cats’ Gruppo di Volo was manned by personnel from both 32° Stormo at AmendolaFoggia and 51° Stormo at IstranaTreviso. AMXs have operated from Herat air base in Afghanistan since November 7, 2009.

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Last Flypast for French Mirage F1s Four Dassault Mirage F1CR/Bs took part in the annual Bastille Day flypast over Paris on July 14, marking the end of the aircraft’s service with the Armée de l’air (French Air Force). Escadron de Reconnaissance 2/33 ‘Savoie’ at Base Aérienne (BA) 118 Mont-de-Marsan held a parade to mark the official retirement of the type on June 13. The unit had 11 F1CRs and three F1B two-

seaters on strength at the time of the parade, including four that had received special markings for the event. Six aircraft were retained for the flypast, with most of the rest sent into storage at BA279 Châteaudun. France received 246 Mirage F1s. The original F1 entered French service in December 1973; the tactical reconnaissance F1CR became operational in September 1983.




THE EUROPEAN DEFENCE AGENCY The European Defence Agency (EDA) was established in 2004 to support the European Council and EDA member states in their effort to improve the European Union’s defence capabilities through cooperative projects and programmes. In the same way EDA develops relationships with other EU institutes, the agency is also working with third parties, including non-EU member states Norway (which is a NATO member) and Switzerland. EDA has also established and is developing its relation with NATO. Currently, 27 countries – all EU member states except Denmark – participate in EDA. The agency is headed by Catherine Ashton in her role as High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs & Security Policy.

Filling the Gap


uropean armed forces have relied heavily on US tankers for many years to assist air operations, in particular the Kosovo campaign of 1999 and Operation Unified Protector in Libya in 2011. During these and many other operations, air-toair refuelling (AAR) assets – in particular strategic aircraft – have more than proved their value as force multipliers.

The European Defence Agency is working on a multi-project approach to tackle the shortage and fragmentation of tanker capability on the continent. Kees van der Mark reports

To date, just half a dozen European nations have chosen to operate their own tanker fleets, which are mostly modest in size (see European Tanker Aircraft Fleet). The combined US tanker fleet of more than 550 aircraft is made up of just three types (KC-10, KC-130 and KC-135). European Union (EU) member states operate barely 50 tanker aircraft comprising nine different aircraft and sub-types. This clearly illustrates the problem Europe faces: insufficient tanker capability and the lack of interoperability.

In addition, many European-operated combat aircraft are not (yet) certified to refuel from other nations’ tankers and only part of the current fleet of tankers are strategic multi-role tanker/transports (MRTTs). The tanker capability gap and lack of interoperability was acknowledged by the European Defence Agency (EDA). AAR was endorsed by the EDA Steering Board as one of eleven pooling and sharing priorities on November 30, 2011. Four months

By the end of 2014 there will be 14 tankers within the EATC’s 180 aircraft fleet, four of which are French Air Force veteran Transall C-160Rs. Kees van der Mark



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n age e


later, EU ministers of defence agreed further development of AAR should be given priority. EDA’s approach has three main objectives: increasing overall AAR capacity, reducing fragmentation and optimising the use of existing assets and organisations. To achieve this, EDA’s AAR project is based on four pillars.

Gap Filling An increase in the number of European tankers cannot be realised before the end of this decade. The first pillar focuses on improving short-term capability, including leasing existing AAR aircraft or contracting commercial companies which offer AAR capability. Airbus Military and Omega Air delivered commercial proposals but to date no EDA member states have shown interest in either the leasing option or the commercial proposals.

Optimise Existing Capabilities The second pillar of EDA’s AAR project aims to optimise existing capabilities. One way is through the six-nation European Air Transport Command (EATC), with headquarters at Eindhoven Air Base in the Netherlands. EATC was established in 2010 when Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands put major parts of their air transport and AAR fleets under EATC’s operational control. Luxembourg joined EATC on November 22 that year and Spain followed on July 3, 2014. When authority of the Spanish aircraft has been transferred by the end of this year, there will be 14 tankers among almost 180 aircraft assigned to EATC: one German A310 MRTT, two Dutch KDC-10s, four French Transall C-160Rs and seven from Spain: five KC130H Hercules and two Boeing 707T/Ts. The

French Armée de l’Air’s fleet of 14 C-135FR/ KC-135Rs is not available for EATC tasking, as is usually the case with the German Luftwaffe’s second tanker-configured A310 MRTT and ten further French C-160Rs. Optimising existing capabilities can also be achieved by increasing technical and operational AAR clearances. This was done on a bilateral basis until September last year, when the first collective European AAR clearance trials were carried out with an Italian KC-767A, refuelling French and Swedish fighters. A second trial with the KC767A is scheduled for this September, while future clearance campaigns should see RAF Voyagers and A400Ms from several European air forces taking part. Receivers will not only include fighter aircraft, but other types as well.

Purchasing AAR Kits The Airbus A400M is also involved in the project’s third pillar. EDA has proposed nonA400M operators, or A400M operators that have not yet acquired AAR kits for their new aircraft, could either buy or lease these kits to increase capacity. So far, AAR kits have been purchased for only 18% of the A400Ms ordered by European air forces. Another proposal would see surplus A400M airframes combined in a joined fleet, similar to NATO’s Strategic Airlift Capability C-17 initiative, to be used as strategic transport and AAR aircraft.

New Tankers The last pillar of EDA’s AAR project is the most comprehensive and aims to increase the strategic air transport and AAR capability in Europe by 2020. Defence ministers from Belgium, France, Greece, Hungary, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, and non-EU partner Norway, signed a letter of intent (LoI) on November 19, 2012. They agreed to consider acquiring new MRTTs together. The aim is to reduce the shortfall in AAR and strategic transport while reducing the number of aircraft types in the European inventory. The initiative is led by the Netherlands, a nation that acknowledged the need for a MRTT-type of aircraft when it acquired two DC-10-30CFs from airline

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Martinair in 1992 and converted them into strategic tanker/transports. They entered service with 334 Squadron at Eindhoven Air Base in 1995 and are scheduled to be replaced by the pooled fleet of European strategic tankers. Current plans foresee a pooled tanker fleet being based at Eindhoven, with forward operating bases in Norway and Poland. The MRTTs would be tasked with AAR, transport of passengers and/or cargo or medical evacuation (MedEvac). EDA sent a request for information (RFI) to the industry in February 2014. The two candidates are the Airbus A330 MRTT and Boeing KC-46. Answers to the RFI were due on May 28. Assessment of the RFI was due to be complete by July 1. Tendering should start in October, with contract award foreseen in July 2015. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) between participating nations should be ready by the end of this year and should also be signed in July 2015. An ambitious schedule for service introduction would see the first aircraft arrive in May 2019. Initial operational capability status of the new tanker is aimed for 2020 and full operational capability in 2021.












A310 MRTT**











B707 T/T





Tp 84T (C-130E)



Voyager KC2/Voyager KC3*

Notes * Operated by AirTanker on behalf of the RAF; the total fleet will be 14. ** The Luftwaffe has four A310 MRTTs, but only two have refuelling pods fitted.



North America

C-130J MYP to be Signed The delayed multi-year procurement (MYP) multi-service contract for 79 Lockheed Martin C-130J-series Hercules airframes is set to be signed in December. The contract covers 72 US Air Force aircraft (29 C-130Js, 25 MC-130Js, 13 HC-130Js and five AC-130Js) plus seven US Marine Corps KC-130Js. It will also include an option for five US Coast Guard HC-130J aircraft. The contract, which will cover Fiscal Years 2015 to 2020, is expected to cost about $5.8 billion, representing a 9.5% savings over buying the same aircraft via five annual contracts. David C Isby

‘Stinger’ Hornets Pass Through Morón

Two US Navy F/A-18C Hornets transitioned Morón AB in Spain on July 3 as TABOR 21 and 22. Neither aircraft (BuNos 164223/‘311’ and 164217/‘305’) carried squadron markings but are understood to be assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 113 (VFA-113) ‘Stingers’ based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California. The squadron is understood to be deploying to support operations in US Central Command’s theatre of operations. Antonio Muñiz Zaragüeta

Problems Mar Lightning’s Planned International Debut The international debut of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II was marred by a halt to flight operations following two separate incidents in June. US Marine Corps F-35Bs (from NAS Patuxent River, Maryland) and a British example (ZM137, BK-3, at Eglin AFB, Florida) were due to appear at the annual Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) at RAF Fairford, Gloucestershire, before flying at the Farnborough International Airshow in Hampshire. However, a halt in flying operations was implemented on June 27 (see latter). The ban was lifted on July 15 and efforts were under way as AIR International went to press to allow the type to appear at Farnborough.

Mandatory engine inspections were ordered for all F-35s after an in-flight emergency involving the Pratt & Whitney F135 engine’s oil flow valve occurred on an F-35B near Yuma, Arizona, on June 10. Problems with three valves at Yuma, led to fleet-wide inspections being ordered three days later and they were largely completed by June 16, without disrupting flights. On June 23 an F-35A on a runway at Eglin AFB, Florida, suffered a major engine failure that reportedly caused a 12 to 15ft (3.7 to 4.6m) section to detach, starting a fire. All F-35 flight operations were halted from June 27, for what the US Air Force described as a “temporary suspension of flight”.

The incident was caused by the tolerances between the third-stage integrally bladed rotor (‘blisk’) and the surrounding engine casing being too tight, allowing excessive heat to build up. All 98 in-service F135s were checked: none were found to have the same problem. US Marine Corps F-35B training at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Beaufort, South Carolina, will begin on October 1. Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron 501 (VMFAT-501) is in the process of being transferred from Eglin AFB to MCAS Beaufort and a welcome celebration was held at the base on July 11 for the unit’s personnel already there to establish the required support infrastructure. The base should be prepared for the

QF-16 Survives its First Live Fire Test

The Boeing QF-16 programme completed a major milestone on June 25 when the Full Scale Aerial Target participated in its first unmanned live fire exercise at Holloman AFB, New Mexico. The aircraft, QF-16A Block 15 83-0110/ ‘QF-004’, completed a one-hour sortie, during which it came under live munitions fire. The aircraft was not hit and made a successful landing, guided by Lt Col Brian Swyt, commander of the 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron, Det. 1, flying in a McDonnell Douglas QF-4 Phantom. Full-scale production of the FSAT at the Boeing facility at Cecil Field in Florida is due to start later this year. US Air Force/Airman 1st Class Aaron Montoya



aircraft by October 1, although the initial pair of F-35Bs were expected to arrive in July. Others will follow as training courses end at Eglin AFB, with the entire squadron due to be in place next spring. The US Marine Corps remains on schedule for its F-35Bs to achieve initial operational capability next year and full operational capability in 2016. The first shipboard deployment to the western Pacific on the USS Wasp (LHD 1) is due in 2017 although it may be delayed for up to six months if the amphibious assault ship is not available. The Navy’s F-35C remains on schedule to start at-sea carrier testing on the USS Nimitz from October. David C

Isby and David Willis

US Navy Hornets Back Over Iraq The aircraft carrier USS George H W Bush (CVN 77) began launching surveillance flights over Iraq with F/A-18 Hornets on June 18 to monitor the advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIS) insurgents. Carrier Air Wing 8 is embarked, with two strike fighter squadrons of Super Hornets (VFA31 ‘Tomcatters’ with F/A-18Es and VFA-213 ‘Fighting Black Lions’ flying F/A-18Fs) and two of F/A18C Hornets (VFA-87 ‘Golden Warriors’ and VFA-15 ‘Valions’). The aircraft carrier moved into the Arabian Gulf on June 14 along with other warships of Carrier Strike Group 2. It was joined by the amphibious dock ship USS Mesa Verde two days later. The USS Mesa Verde has five Bell-Boeing MV-22B Ospreys onboard as part of the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit. David C Isby

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Iraqi Aid, Pegasus & t by Robert F Dorr With Iraq apparently collapsing into civil war, a plan to provide its air force with 36 F-16C/D Fighting Falcon jet fighters has been halted, at least temporarily. A June 12 ceremony at Lockheed Martin’s Fort Worth facility to celebrate turnover of the first Block 52 F-16IQ model had little real meaning because officials already knew the fighter would remain in Texas indefinitely. Marie Harf, a State Department spokesperson, said on July 6 the deliveries were delayed because Iraq lacks the infrastructure — pilots, maintainers, and facilities — to operate the fighters. Experienced pilots who once flew with Saddam Hussein’s air force retired long ago. Harf cited delays in preparations including, “housing and securing the aircraft, completion of pilot training, and completion of required financial and administrative details.” Just seven Iraqi pilots were scheduled to complete flight training in the United States in August. The pilots were training with the 162nd Fighter Wing, Arizona Air National Guard, based at Tucson. The wing is scheduled eventually to train 27 Iraqi pilots or less than one per F-16 being purchased. Iraq ordered its first batch of 18 F-16s in 2011 for $3 billion and requested a second batch of 18 soon afterward. Each of the deals covered 12 F-16C singleseat and six F-16D two-seat models. Other US aid to the Iraqi air arm makes for a mixed story. In June, forces of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, later



The first Iraq Air Force F-16IQ to fly from the Lockheed Martin plant at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth Texas was two-seat 1601 (c/n RB-01). The aircraft made its maiden flight on May 2, 2014. Carl Richards

renamed the Islamic State, overran Tikrit airfield — in Saddam Hussein’s home town — where the Iraqi Air Force conducted training in the T-6A Texan II. Despite US training and funding, Iraq’s small fleet of Mil Mi17 helicopters has been operating at less than 50% reliability and ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant jihadist group) has captured some Mi-17s. According to the Associated Press, the Iraqi Army’s fleet of a dozen Bell 407 helicopters, once operated with US instructors, is grounded. The United States delivered 400 AGM-114 Hellfire airto-surface missiles to Iraq this year and is continuing with plans to ship a total of 1,132. Yet, according to the Associated Press, Iraq

currently has just two aircraft capable of using the missile, a pair of Cessna C208 Caravans. Washington has not responded to Baghdad’s request for AH-64E Apache attack helicopters. Meanwhile, Iraq is operating about 11 Sukhoi Su-25s, including seven provided by Iran with pilots and ground crews. On July 6, Tehran acknowledged that an Iranian Su-25 pilot had been killed in ground fighting in Iraq.

Army Helicopters The US Army is pressing ahead with plans to retire its 182 TH-67 Creeks and conduct primary helicopter flight training with the UH72 Lakota. The move will put to pasture a perfectly

good single-engine trainer (the TH-67 is a military Bell 206 JetRanger) and replace it with a complex, twinengine machine (the UH-72 is a military Airbus Helicopter EC145). As an indirect result of this change in its primary training programme, the army will purchase 100 more UH-72s from Airbus Helicopter, which operates an assembly plant in Columbus, Mississippi. The Pentagon will request funds for the purchase in its budget request for Fiscal Year 2015, which begins on October 1. The initial funding will cover 55 helicopters, with money for 45 more to be requested in 2016. The TH-67/Bell 206 is no longer in production. The aircraft uses ‘steam gauge’ analogue instruments and has the army’s only semi-

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& the Weather Hawg

rigid, low-slung rotor system. Supporters of the change say the TH-67 has been overtaken by technology and that the UH-72 will better prepare a new pilot for an operational helicopter fleet that is entirely twinengine but the UH-72 has significantly higher operating costs than the TH-67. The change in training aircraft goes hand-in-glove with ambitious plans for army aviation in the field. They include retiring all OH-58A/C/ D/F Kiowa and Kiowa Warrior helicopters, upgrading all Apache helicopters to AH-64E standard, and shifting all AH64Es to the active-duty force. The move would put more UH-60L/M Black Hawks into reserve units.

Combat Rescue A new Combat Rescue Helicopter (CRH) will result

from a $1.28 billion contract awarded to Sikorsky Aircraft on June 26 to replace the HH-60G Pave Hawk. The on-again, off-again CRH programme is the latest of several attempts over a decade to enable the US Air Force to keep its combat search and rescue mission, rather than spreading responsibility among military service branches. CRH will be a version of the UH-60M Black Hawk but with more power, redesigned rotor blades, greater fuel capacity and greater internal cabin space. Tentatively dubbed the CRH-60 and loosely termed the “Black Hawk Two Point Oh,” it will become the most numerous helicopter in the air force inventory if the service exercises all contract options and buys 112 airframes. The first pair will be delivered in 2018, with two more the following year.

Pegasus and the Weather Hawg The KC-46A Pegasus air refuelling tanker — a military derivative of the Boeing 767200 — is back on schedule, according to Boeing, after minor delays that prevented a once-planned first flight in June. The manufacturer is targeting the third quarter of this year for the maiden flight of a 767-2C “provisioned freighter” that will become one of the first US Air Force KC-46A aerial refuelling tankers. In July, the US Air Force broke ground for $219 million of construction to accommodate the KC46A at McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas. The facilities are to be ready before the KC-46A reaches initial operating capability in 2017. The Pentagon has also announced that the training base for the KC-

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46A will be Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma. The plan is to purchase 179 KC-46As through 2029. The KC-46A is a competitor for a South Korean purchase of four new tankers valued at $1.3 billion. A retired A-10C Thunderbolt II is being modified with increased armour to become a weather research platform that can fly inside thunderstorms. The National Science Foundation funded the modifications at a small airport north of Oklahoma City. The foundation reported the demilitarised, up-armoured A-10C will study the inside of violent thunderstorms— an environment laced with winds, hail and lightning that would take down most aircraft. The A-10C will replace a modified T-28 Trojan, which has performed the weather research mission for the past 35 years.




Buffs, Spirits & B Ian Harding and Mathew Clements report on a deployment of B-2 and B-52 bombers to the UK

A KC-135R tanker and a B-2 Spirit above the Cornish coastline. Nick Martin




AF Fairford in Gloucestershire has hosted B-2 Spirit and B-52H Stratofortress (colloquially known as the Buff) bombers in the past but not at the same time. In June five Air Force Global Strike Command bombers (three B-52Hs and two B-2s) were based at the sprawling airfield for a major training exercise. RAF Fairford is the only declared forward deployment base for US long-range bombers within the US European Command theatre. Three B-52H aircraft arrived on June 4. Aircrew were drawn from the 20th Bomb Squadron (BS) ‘Buccaneers’ and the 96th BS

‘Red Devils’, based at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana and the 69th BS ‘Bomber Barons’, based at Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota. Three days later two B-2 Spirits 82-1069 Spirit of Indiana and the 93-1088 Spirit of Louisiana (the last of 21 B-2 aircraft built) arrived from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri: home of the 509th Bomb Wing. Spirit aircrew were drawn from the 13th BS ‘Grim Reapers’ and 393rd BS ‘Tigers’. The timing of the exercise might be considered significant given the continuing tension in the Middle East and Putin’s intervention in Ukraine. The bomber deployment enabled the US to send a very powerful message to allies and potential adversaries of its preparedness and capability to forward deploy long-range bombers quickly and efficiently.

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& Bow Waves AIR International spoke with Colonel Leland Bohannon, Detachment Commander for the 2nd Air Expeditionary Group (AEG) about the objectives for this deployment: “Our purpose for being here is to train. The effect of our training mission can be summed up three ways: it will assure our allies, deter adversaries and improve readiness. The touchstone for US Air Forces Europe is to be ‘forward, ready, now’ which is what you see in this bomber deployment. Our efforts here [at Fairford] are unique; we have never deployed B-52s and B-2s simultaneously to the UK. Bringing strategic assets into theatre gives us an opportunity to make a strong statement about assurance, deterrence, and readiness in this corner of the world.

“This is a significant deployment especially given the budgetary constraints we are experiencing. Understandably there is utility in the strategic message that comes with moving bombers into this theatre but please understand that the apparent confluence of our deployment with current events is interesting but unrelated.” Col Bohannon also confirmed that neither type of bomber carried any weapons with them nor were they using UK ranges during the deployment. Bombing missions were simulated using the full range of conventional weapons available to both types of aircraft. Simulations ranged from Conventional Air Launch Cruise Missiles to close air support with joint tactical air components. A US Air Force spokesperson confirmed

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that the exercise enabled the 381 deployed personnel (including 28 B-52 flight crews and 24 B-2 pilots) to familiarise themselves with RAF Fairford and UK airspace, generate and conduct training flights within the US European Command theatre of operations. During a seven-day stay, the two Spirits undertook daily missions. Sorties focussed on navigation exercises, airspace familiarisation, air-to-air refuelling (AAR) and simulated weapons release. Lt Col Brad Cochran from the 393rd BS and the B-2 detachment commander confirmed that B-2 crews completed scheduled training runs using simulated conventional weapons: “The AAR training is critical for our longrange strike role. It enables us to cover greater distances and complete our global


Matthew Clements




NEWS REPORT power mission. To conduct both short- and long-range missions requires us to train AAR constantly to the point where it becomes second nature. With long-range missions, we move the tankers to where we need them to be, to off-load gas. It’s always a time-intensive planning scenario.” Both aircraft flew one long-range mission to sub-Saharan Africa on June 11. They departed Fairford during the late afternoon and returned 21 hours later. Completing global power missions requires a huge physical effort from the two-man B-2 crew. “One benefit from taking very experienced people on to the B-2 is that we can take ‘shifts’ flying. On a long-duration mission lasting for up to 36 hours, one guy flies whilst the other can get some sleep. There is a space right behind the seat where we can put up a place for us to lay down and get some rest,” said Lt Dan St Clair. The two Spirits returned home on June 15.

Exchange Pilot

Above: B-2 93-1088 ‘Spirit of Louisiana’ is the last

of 21 Spirit bombers built. The aircraft is shown inside one the customised B-2 hangars at RAF Fairford. Matthew Clements Top: The opportunity to practise multiple dry connects and disconnects with B-52s provided good training for some of the boom operators assigned to the 100th Air Refueling Wing based at RAF Mildenhall. Matthew Clements



One of the 24 B-2 flight crew at Fairford was Flt Lt Ian Hart, Royal Air Force, a mission-qualified combat-ready B-2 instructor pilot. Hart is only the fourth RAF pilot to fly the Spirit and has been assigned to the 13th BS since 2012. He flew the Tornado GR4 for more than ten years before being selected for the three-year B-2 exchange programme. “There are always new challenges when you return to a location like this, notably, how you work the command and control, how you integrate with it, how the assets work and although normal for me, how the UK airspace structure works which is new to most of the guys here. Planning for this has therefore

been on-going for many months,” said Hart. The British pilot was clear on the benefits of the exchange programme: “Ultimately, we [the RAF] have a different way of looking at things and the exchange programme helps the two services [RAF and USAF] accomplish operational training in a variety of mission specialties. However, I would like to think I bring a different tactical background and a different viewpoint on the procedures used. Ultimately we are looking at the way we are developing together.”

Air Refuelling During the two-week deployment, KC-135R crews assigned to the 100th Air Refueling Wing (ARW) based at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk supported the 2nd AEG. In total, the 100th ARW refuelled the B-2s six times and the B-52s twice (within or near UK airspace) conducting both simulated and actual fuel offloads. AIR International flew with the 100th ARW for one mission on June 11 and spoke with boom operator Airman 1st Class Danielle Repp about the challenges of refuelling a B-2 bomber: “We travel at significantly slower speed to refuel the B-2 [Mach 0.26/0.275]. When the B-2 approaches the tanker it does so at a closure rate of one foot per second and creates a significant bow wave, which is similar to doing AAR with a C-5 or C-17 aircraft. A bow wave is created when a large receiver aircraft approaches the tanker disrupting the air behind it making it lurch forward slightly.” The B-2 is a unique aircraft with specific requirements and the boom operator must be certified to refuel it to a higher level of precision than other platforms, in order to prevent damage. And it’s an essential requirement for the bat-winged bomber’s ability to fly

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NEWS REPORT intercontinental sorties, extending its range beyond 6,000 nautical miles (11,100km).

Mighty Eighth Headquartered at Barksdale Air Force Base the Eighth Air Force is one of two active duty numbered air forces in Air Force Global Strike Command (AFGSC). Its motto is “Deterrence through strength, global strike on demand” and its wartime mission is to support the US Strategic Command. The Eighth Air Force has more than 16,000 active-duty, Air National Guard and Reserve airmen assigned, operating and maintaining 76 B-52H Stratofortress and 20 B-2 Spirit bombers. Active duty units and aircraft are: 2nd Bomb Wing, Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana (B-52H), 5th Bomb Wing, Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota (B-52H) and the 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri (B-2). Other units assigned to AFGSC are the B-52H-equipped 307th Wing, Air Force Reserve Command at Barksdale and the Missouri Air National Guard’s 131st Bomb Wing which flies the B-2. The reserve units are officially known by the somewhat awkward title Air Force Reserve Total Force Integration assets. A partner unit, the 102nd Air Operations Group, 102nd Intelligence Wing (ANG) part of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, is based at Otis Air National Guard Base on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. In recognition of the legacy of the United States Army Air Forces’ Eighth Air Force in the allied invasion of Normandy in World War Two, one B-52 took part in the D-Day 70th anniversary commemoration at Graignes, France on June 7, 2014. The commemorative mission was flown by crew from the 20th and 96th Bomb Squadrons.

Above: Maintenance personnel gather up a B-52H drag chute. Ian Harding Above middle: The B-52 uses a drag chute with a 44ft diameter. Ian Harding Top: ‘Spirit of Louisiana’ cuts a ghostly shape as it descends into Fairford during twilight hours. Ian Harding

Ian Harding

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Last Super Hornets, Last Skytrains, Last S by Rick Burgess The US Navy has awarded Boeing a production contract for 44 F/A18E Super Hornet strike fighters and EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft in what may be the last run for the Super Hornet. The $1.94 billion contract, awarded on June 30 for fiscal year 2014, will result in the production of 11 Lot 38 F/A18Es and 21 EA-18Gs for the US Navy and 12 EA-18Gs for the Royal Australian Air Force. The contract will be the last for the Super Hornet unless additional orders for the F/A18E/F are forthcoming from the US or foreign governments. The last jets would roll off Boeing’s St Louis, Missouri, production line in 2016. Production of the EA-18G may be extended beyond 2016 if Congressional mark-ups of the 2015 National Defense Authorisation bill or defense appropriations bill survive the budget process. The House Armed Services Committee has approved five Growlers, and the House Appropriations Committee has approved funds for 12 Growlers. The navy has stated a requirement for 22 EA18Gs in 2015 or beyond. The navy plans to stand up two additional expeditionary EA-18G squadrons and to increase the number of EA-18Gs per carrier-based squadron from five to seven, if procurement levels allow.

First MH-60S MCM Detachment Deploys The US Navy is deploying the Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS) on board the MH-60S Seahawk helicopter to Bahrain in the US Fifth Fleet area of operations in July. This marks the first



deployment of the mine countermeasures (MCM) on board the MH-60S. Capt Jim Glass, the Navy’s H-60 Seahawk helicopter program manager, said the ALMDs is one of two MCM systems being developed for the MH-60S, the other is the Airborne Mine Neutralization System (AMNS). The AMNS is scheduled for its second Operational Assessment, this time from ship between September through November (the first assessment took place from shore between April and June). The MH-60S equipped with the ALMDS and AMNS is a key component of the MCM mission package for the littoral combat ships (LCSs), some of which will be forward-deployed to the US Fifth Fleet. Currently, the only airborne MCM platforms in the Fifth Fleet area are four MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopters. Three other systems originally planned for the MH60S on the LCS have been deleted from the helicopters’ array of MCM systems: the towed AQS-20 sonar, the Rapid Airborne Mine Clearance System and the Organic Airborne and Surface Influence Sweep system.

to the MH-60R Seahawk in 2015. The navy’s only reserve SH-60B Seahawk helicopter squadron is also scheduled to be equipped with MH-60R versions next year. Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron Light 49 (HSL-49) ‘Scorpions’ at Naval Air Station North Island, California, is slated to be re-designated Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 49 (HSM-49) on April 1 2015, as it upgrades to the MH-60R, according to an internal navy directive. HSM-49 will not be assigned to a carrier air wing but will have an expeditionary role, deploying detachments of MH60Rs and MQ-8B Fire Scout vertical takeoff unmanned aerial vehicles on-board surface vessels operating independently of carrier strike groups. The unit will be one of eight HSM squadrons on the West Coast, Hawaii and Japan. Like its active-duty counterparts, HSL-60 ‘Jaguars’, based at Naval Station Mayport, Florida, will be re-designated as HSM-60, on July 1 2015, as it makes the transition. HSM-60 will be equipped with seven MH-60Rs and be required, when fully mobilised, to sustain six single-helicopter detachments. HSL-60 historically has operated mostly in the US Fourth Fleet area of responsibility, providing helicopter detachments on board frigates for drug interdiction patrols. The SH-60B is fast fading from navy service, with only 27 remaining as of May. Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron Light 48 (HSL-48) ‘Vipers’ at Mayport is in the midst of transition to the MH60R.

West Coast Reserve to Complete MH-60R Transition in 2015 Marine KC-130Js Moving to Iwakuni The US Navy’s last SH-60B Seahawk helicopter squadron in the Pacific Fleet will upgrade

The US Marine Corps will move an aviation squadron

from Okinawa to one of the main Japanese islands as part of a realignment of Marine aviation units within Japan. The aim is to reduce the impact of air activity on the Okinawan population. Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152 (VMGR 152) ‘Sumos’ moved the first two aircraft from Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma on Okinawa to MCAS Iwakuni on July 8. Iwakuni is the home of Marine Aircraft Group 12 and its tactical jet squadrons, some of which are deployed there on rotation from the United States under the Unit Deployment Program. The marine corps’ helicopter and MV-22B Osprey squadrons in Japan will remain in Okinawa but will move to a new base being built to replace Futenma. Iwakuni is going through an expansion of its facilities. The base is also scheduled in 2017 to receive some of the squadrons assigned to the navy’s Carrier Air Wing 5, which is currently based at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, located near Yokosuka, Japan.

Navy Reserve Retires Last C-9 Transports The navy reserve has retired its last C-9B Skytrain II jet transport aircraft and is replacing them with new C-40A Clippers. Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 61 (VR-61) ‘Islanders’, a reserve squadron based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington, withdrew its the C-9B in ceremonies on June 28, 2014. The squadron is scheduled to receive its first C-40A in December. The C-9B is a derivative of the popular twin-jet DC-9 airliner. It was equipped

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s, t Sabreliners with a cargo door on the forward port side to allow carriage of pallets of cargo, with the remainder of the cabin fitted with passenger seats. The C-9B could be configured to carry all passengers, all cargo or a combination of both. The aircraft was used for organic airlift for naval units, such as squadrons positioning to and from the ports of deploying aircraft carriers. Fleet Logistics Support Squadrons also routinely sent detachments to overseas bases to support forward-deployed ships and other units. The navy received 17 C-9Bs from 1972 onwards, including two for the Marine Corps, and 16 former airline DC-9s which were converted to C-9 standard but never re-designated. Marine Transport Squadron 1 (VMR-1) ‘Roadrunners’ based at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, will continue to fly two C-9Bs until it receives C-40As replacements. The C-40A is a derivative of the Boeing 737 airliner.

Navy to Retire T-39N Training Jets in August The navy’s air training command will retire the last of its Rockwell T-39 Sabreliner training aircraft this summer, ending four-decades of training Naval Flight Officers (NFOs) in navigation and radar intercept procedures. Training Squadron 86 (VT86) ‘Sabrehawks’ at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, responsible for training NFOs to operate the weapon and sensor systems in the navy and marine corps’ multi-seat tactical jets, such as the F/A18, EA-18G and EA-6B, will retire the last T-39N versions in August. The T-39G nonradar versions have already been withdrawn. The T-39s will be replaced by a combination of simulators and the T-45

An Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) signals the pilot of an F/A-18F Super Hornet to stop as it approaches a catapult aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). Could the US Navy’s $1.94 billion contract, awarded on June 30, be the last production lot of the Super Hornet? Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Chelsea Kennedy/US Navy

Goshawk training jet. The navy acquired 42 T-39Ds, the first of which entered service in 1963. This fleet was retired in 1984, replaced by 15 Cessna T-47As under a services contract. The T-47A contract

was not renewed because of irregularities. The navy had 17 Sabreliners refurbished as T-39Ns and placed them in service in late 1991, later joined by eight T-39Gs converted from CT-39G rapid-response transports.

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The navy will continue to operate a single T-39D assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 31 (VX31) ‘Dust Devils’ at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California. Courtesy of SEAPOWER magazine



Russia & CIS

Russian Air Force Il-76MD-90A Rolled Out

Aviastar at Ulyanovsk in the Volga Federal District rolled out Ilyushin IL-76MD-90A (Il-476) c/n 0103 on June 17, transferring it from the final assembly line for painting at the co-located Spektr-Avia facility. The transport is the first of 39 for the Voyenno-Vozdushniye Sily (Russian Air Force), ordered in October 2012, 13 of which are in various stages of production. Delivery of the initial example is due before the end of the year. Aviastar

Fighting Claims More Ukrainian Aircraft Government forces continue to combat pro-Russian separatists in the east of Ukraine (further to Aircraft Losses Mount as Ukrainian Fighting Intensifies, July, p5). Fighter-bombers and helicopter gunships, as well as fixed- and rotary-wing transports, have been active throughout late June and early July, although a ten-day truce was in place between June 21 and June 30. Air strikes continue to be launched on insurgent positions and several Ukrainian aircraft have been damaged by rebel fire. A Sukhoi Su-24 Fencer was hit by one of four missiles from manportable air defence systems launched at it over Donetsk oblast on July 2. The aircraft was able to return to base after flying 300km (186 miles) with one engine

inoperative. Unconfirmed reports state that a Sukhoi Su-27UB Flanker was shot down near Luganskaya village on July 1; both of the crew ejected safely. A Sukhoi Su-25 Frogfoot was damaged by ground fire on the same day but returned safely to base. Three crew members and six others were killed when Mil Mi-8MT (‘63’ yellow) was shot down near the town of Slavisansk, controlled by the separatists. The helicopter was hit by a shoulder-launched missile. Prior to the end of the ceasefire, a Russian unmanned air vehicle was reported shot down 4km (2.5 miles) inside Ukrainian territory on June 29. Ukraine television reported that Russian Mikoyan MiG-29 Fulcrums flew stand-off reconnaissance missions along the shared border

Latest Su-34s Delivered

Initial examples of Sukhoi Su-34 Fullback fighter-bombers delivered in 2014 were flown to Morozovsk AB, Rostov Oblast, from the Novosibirsk aircraft plant in Siberia on June 10. Morozovsk AB is assigned to the 6872nd Air Base. Ninety-two Su-34s were ordered on March 1, 2012, adding to 32 already delivered under the terms of a contract signed in December 2008. The recent deliveries are the first under the 2014 State Defence Order. Sukhoi



on June 25, and a squadron of the fighters had arrived in Rostov-onDon from an unspecified Russian air base. Russian air activity around Ukraine included two Tupolev Tu-22M3 Backfire-Cs bombers, based at Engels in the Saratov oblast, which carried out a simulated missile attack on naval targets in the Black Sea. The Backfires were escorted by Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker fighters, while a Beriev A-50 Mainstay early warning aircraft and Su-24 Fencers also participated. Details of this mission were revealed on June 9. The flight was launched following a June 4 announcement that Russia’s Dalnyaya Aviatsiya (Long Range Aviation) would increase patrols over the Black Sea. David C

Isby and David Willis

Su-25SMs for ‘Oldest Regiment’ The 899th Aviatsionnyy Polk (ShAP, Shturmovik Aviation Regiment) will reform in 2017 at Buturlinovka AB in the Voronezh region. It will be equipped with 24 Sukhoi Su25SM Frogfoots, according to the Voyenno-Vozdushniye Sily (Russian Air Force) commanderin-chief, Lieutenant General Viktor Nikolaevich Bondarev, speaking on June 12. The unit disbanded on December 1, 2009. According to InterfaxAVN, the regiment is “the oldest in the country’. David C Isby

Il-22PP Begins State Trials

The Ilyushin Il-22PP, an upgraded stand-off jamming aircraft based on the Il-22 Coot-B airframe, has started state trials. The Il-22PP was developed under the Porubschchik project, which aimed to develop a new electronic warfare system to jam the radars of NATO airborne warning and control system aircraft and the Patriot missile air defence systems, as well as the communication links of unmanned air vehicles. At the heart of the aircraft’s mission systems is the L-415 jamming station developed and produced by the Myasishchev Experimental Machinery Plant at Zhukovsky outside Moscow. The first aircraft modified was RA-75903 (c/n 0393610235), which arrived at 20 Aviatsionnyy Remont Zavod (Aviation Repair Works) at Pushkin, St Petersburg, by January 2009 in a basic Aeroflot scheme. Modifications and installation of the L-415 took place in 2011 and the airframe gained large fairings on the forward and central fuselage sides, plus a small pod under the fuselage at the trailing edge of the wings. Small radomes were mounted at the tip of the tail and on the rear fuselage. By late December 2011 the prototype was at Zhukovsky. It completed 18 engineering test flights in 2012, most of which are understood to have been conducted by the M M Gromov Flight Research Institute at Zhukovsky. The aircraft was last noted at Akhtubinsk in Astrakhan Oblast in late May, where the state trials are taking place with the 929 Gosudarstvennyy Lotno-Ispytatelnyy Tsentr (State Flight Test Centre). Five production Il-22PPs are due to be delivered to the VoyennoVozdushniye Sily (VVS – Russian Air Force). While three were due to be converted in 2012 and 2013, and the other two in 2013 and 2014, no information on the status of this work has been made public. The first is due to be handed over to the VVS before the end of the year. David C Isby and David Willis

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Rest of the World

Chad Receiving MiG-29s The Force Aérienne Tchadienne (Chadian Air Force) is in the process of acquiring at least three Mikoyan MiG-29 Fulcrums from Ukraine, with the first aircraft noted in Chadian colours at the end of May. The aircraft was seen at Liviv-Skinilov AB/Danyo Halytskyi International Airport in Ukraine. In April 2009, President Idriss Déby has been quoted online saying: “No African country except Egypt, Nigeria, and South Africa has the weapons that Chad has today. In addition...I am trying to acquire




A single Xian Aircraft Corporation MA60 twin transport was inaugurated into the Force Aerienne du Djibouti (Djibouti Air Force) on June 18. Used for logistic support of Djibouti forces deployed in Somalia, it will supplement two Let L-410 Turbolet transports already in service. David C Isby

others. As I speak, my little brother Umar Déby, accompanied by the chief-of-staff of the air force, is in Ukraine, negotiating acquisition of three MiG-29s, pilots, mechanics, and ammunition.” It is not clear where the Chadian MiG-29s have been sourced from, but it is highly probable that they are former Ukraine Air Force aircraft. Chad has bought combat aircraft from the Ukraine before, including two second-hand Mil Mi-24V Hind-Es in 2008, and six Sukhoi Su-25 Frogfoots, delivered in 2008 and 2010. Guy Martin

Jordan Signs for C295 Gunship A co-operative agreement between the King Abdullah II Design and Development Bureau of Jordan, and Airbus Defence and Space has been signed to jointly develop a gunship version of the C295 transport. An existing aircraft already in service with the Royal Jordanian Air Force will be modified by American aerospace company ATK and redelivered to serve alongside the pair of recently delivered AC-235 light gunships (see AC-235 Light Gunship Debut, July, p5). The agreement was signed on June 17.

The AC-295 will have a similar mission suite and armament as the AC-235. It includes an integrated mission and fire control systems, electro-optical and radar sensors and a defensive suite. The gunship can carry and fire AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles and 2.75in guided rockets, as well as having a side-mounted ATK M230 30mm chain gun. Jordan received two C295Ms in April 2003 and January 2004. Both are currently assigned to 3 Squadron based at Amman Marka.

South Africa Hosts Gripen User Group The South African Air Force (SAAF) hosted the international Gripen User Group in June, at Air Force Base Makhado, which is home to 2 Squadron and its fleet of 26 Saab JAS 39C/D Gripen fighter jets. The Gripen User Group gets together annually in

one of the member countries to share experiences operating the fighter, and covers topics such as maintenance, logistics and operational matters. Attending the week-long event in South Africa were representatives from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Sweden

and Thailand. The SAAF also hosted the Gripen User Group in December 2011, but has not always been able to participate. The SAAF flies nine two-seat Gripen Ds and 17 singleseat Gripen Cs, which were delivered between 2008 and 2012. Guy Martin

Kuwaiti Globemaster at Newcastle


ISR CARAVANS RECEIVED BY MAURITANIA A pair of Cessna 208B Caravans configured for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions was handed to the Force Aerienne Islamique de Mauritanie (Mauritanian Islamic Air Force) on June 25. Both aircraft were supplied by the United States Government and have been equipped to support operations against illegal maritime activity and terrorist groups operating in the country. David C Isby

Boeing C-17A Globemaster III KAF342 (b/n F-264/KAF-1, ex 13-0001) of 41 (Transport) Squadron of the Kuwait Air Force, departed Newcastle International Airport, Tyne and Wear, on June 21. The aircraft has made three visits to the airport to pick up high value cargo since delivery in February (see Kuwaiti Globemaster Delivered, March, p8). Nicholas Hoenich

North African Customer Seeking C295s A confidential customer in the Maghreb has ordered eight C295 transports from Airbus Defence and Space. Airbus officials said the customer had signed the contract,

but it would only become effective once a down payment was received. The company recently disclosed orders received for another 16 C295s this year, including three for Ecuador.

The first Ecuadorian example was handed over on June 6 (see Ecuador Receives C295, July, p12). More than 140 C295s have been ordered by 19 countries. Guy Martin

Frogfoots Rushed to Iraq to Combat ISIS Iraq has taken delivery of Sukhoi Su-25 Frogfoot aircraft to help it stem rapid advances made during June by Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIS) insurgents. Russian sources reported on July 2 that five disassembled Su-25s had been flown into Baghdad the day before on board an Antonov An-124-100. The aircraft had previously been in Russian service and were not overhauled before delivery; they retained the dark green upper surfaces and grey undersides

applied to many Russian Air Force Su-25s, but with bort numbers painted out. The total order, for 12 Su-25s, is said to be worth up to $500 million. Russian technicians will assemble the Su-25s, which Baghdad says will be flown by Iraqi pilots. While the Iraqi Air Force previously flew Su-25s, operations ceased after the overthrow of the Saddam Hussein regime in 2003 and Iraqis have not flown the type for more than a decade. Pilots with previous

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experience on the type are to requalify on the aircraft before conducting operations against ISIS. Helicopter gunships have been heavily used in the fighting, but are proving to be vulnerable to small arms fire and other weapons used by the group. In addition, there have been unconfirmed reports of Iranian Su-25s flying combat missions against ISIS in Iraq, using aircraft with Iraqi national markings but retaining Iranian camouflage and

identification numbers. Delivery of the Su-25s has served to underline US unwillingness to expedite the handover of 18 Lockheed Martin F-16IQ Block 52 fighters ordered by Iraq. This reflects the US assessment that there is currently no indigenous capability to operate the aircraft, as the first six Iraqi pilots are still training on the type in the US. The first two F-16s are due to be delivered in September or October. David C Isby



Asia & Australasia

Su-30MKI Ready for BrahMos Trials




Japan will purchase a new Boeing 777-300ER as its government transport for use by the prime minister. It will replace the current Boeing 747-400 in fiscal year 2019. The announcement of the purchase follows an agreement, reached on June 12, that the 21% of Japanese content in current baseline 777 models will be retained in the next generation 777X. David C Isby



A mock-up of the BrahMos anti-shipping missile mounted under an Indian Air Force Sukhoi Su-30MKI. Piotr Butowski

Adaptation of the first of two Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighters that will undertake trials of the air-launched version of the BrahMos missile has been completed in India. The news was revealed by Alexander Maksichev, the Russian CEO of the Indian-Russian BrahMos Aerospace Company, during an interview for the ARMS-TASS news agency. According to Mr Maksichev, the first flight of a full-scale model of the BrahMos carried by a Su-30MKI

is due before the end of this year (adding to BrahMos-A Integration Work Under Way, April 2013, p12). Prior to the flight, wind-tunnel tests and simulations of separation of the weapon from the aircraft will be undertaken at Bangalore, India. He also emphasised the missile mock-up was equipped with a large number of sensors to record loads and vibration. “[The] launcher for the missile [has been] developed in India and is

completely ready. Optimisation of the ‘missile-launcher’ interface is now being conducted; then the ‘launcher-carrier’ interface will be adjusted,” he said. Flight tests of BrahMos will start with the Su-30MKI carrying a fullscale mock-up of the missile. It will be followed by launches of inert, unfuelled missiles, so flightcontrols can be optimised before combat-ready weapons are test fired. Piotr Butowski

Royal Brunei Air Force Training Contract BAE Systems Australia has signed a contract to continue military aviation training with the Royal Brunei Air Force (RBAirF) at its facility at Tamworth, New South Wales. The contract, announced on June 18, is to train a further six students across three courses during 2014 and 2015. It was signed by Deputy

Commander Colonel Hamzah Sahat and Officer Commanding 63 Squadron/Flying Training School, Major Azmie Iskandar Ariffin, on behalf of the RBAirF. BAE Systems has carried out flight training at Tamworth on behalf of the RBAirF since 2009. Students have graduated from ten different

military aviation courses over the period. Tuition is undertaken on the Pacific Aerospace CT-4B Airtrainer primary trainers. Tamworth also provides training and facilities for pilot candidates from the Australian Defence Force, Papua New Guinea Defence Force and the Republic of Singapore Air Force. Nigel Pittaway

PLAAF Takes to the Highway

Sukhoi Su-27UBK 30202 of the 19th Air Division landing on the Zhengzhou to Minquan highway during tests conducted by the PLAAF on May 25. PLA Daily via Andreas Rupprecht

The People’s Liberation Army Air Force has conducted tests for the first time to operate military aircraft from a highway. The trials were held on the Zhengzhou to Minquan



highway in central China’s Henan Province. Aircraft involved included a Xian Y-7H and Harbin Z-9B assigned to the Jinan MR (Military Region) Liaison Unit from Jinan, as

well as Sukhoi Su-27UKS fighters from the 55th Air Regiment, 19th Air Division based at Jining. According to an air force spokesman the PLAAF “test-flew warplanes using highways for take-offs and landings” on May 25 to enhance “the air force’s capabilities of emergency landing and co-ordination between military and civilian forces”. The state-owned news agency Xinhua added that the roads could also be used by cargo planes and as an “alternative airport” for civilian aircraft. It also indirectly quoted a senior military officer as saying it “can also be used in exercises and training for military airplanes as well as emergency landings during wartime”. Andreas Rupprecht

Hindustan Aircraft Limited plans to be able to overhaul 15 Indian Air Force Sukhoi Su-30MKI fighters a year at its Nashik facility in Maharashtra from 2016-17. The first ‘prototype’ overhaul is scheduled to be completed at Nashik in August. It will be followed by a further four under the ‘pre-production’ phase. The programme has been delayed by about two years due to the late arrival of machine tools, equipment and raw material from Russia. David C Isby

Korean Tanker Evaluation Under Way Airbus Defence and Space, Boeing and Israel Aerospace Industries have all lodged bids in response to the Republic of Korea Air Force’s tanker requirement, valued at approximately 1.4 trillion Won ($1.4 billion). South Korea initially wants four tanker aircraft and the bids have been assembled in response to a request for proposals from the Defense Acquisition and Program Administration (DAPA). Airbus Defence and Space is proposing its Multi Role Tanker Transport-Enhanced (MRTT-E) platform, based on the civil Airbus A330-200 airframe. Boeing is offering the KC-46A Pegasus, derived from the commercial 767200, as being developed for the US Air Force’s KC-X tanker programme. Israel Aerospace Industries has submitted a response based on its Multi Mission Tanker Transport, which makes use of former airlineconfigured Boeing 767-300ERs. A DAPA spokesperson said evaluation of the three proposals was due to have begun in early July. A decision is anticipated around November. DAPA expects the aircraft to be delivered between 2017 and 2019 (see Korean Tanker Programme, December 2013, p22). Nigel Pittaway

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Asia & Australasia

Third Australian Spartan Airborne

Alenia C-27J Spartan I-RAID on approach to Turin-Caselle, Italy, on June 30. The transport is the third produced for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and will become A34-003 upon delivery. The RAAF has ten C-27Js on order. The first flew on December 18, 2013, and was due to be handed over around the time AIR International went to press (see Australian Spartan Flown, February, p6). The type will enter service with 35 Squadron at RAAF Base Richmond, New South Wales. Marco Rossi

North Korean MiG-17s Back in the Air The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Air Force MikoyanGurevich MiG-17F Fresco-C and Shenyang F-5 fighters are understood to be have restarted operations after they were briefly grounded. North Korea retains the largest fleet of Russian-built and Chinese-copies of the Fresco, but it was grounded following a crash off the west coast of the country in late May. David C Isby

Myanmar Looks at Local JF-17 Production The government of Myanmar is planning to licence-build the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex/ Chengdu Aerospace Corporation JF-17 Thunder fighter aircraft, according to reports in the local media. If agreement can be reached to allow local production, technology will be transferred from both China and Pakistan and a state-owned assembly factory will be established to construct the aircraft, according to a report in the Burma Times published on June 15.

Exercise Garuda V

The fifth Indo-French air exercise Garuda V was held at Air Force Station Jodhpur in Rajasthan, India. Four Dassault Rafale C/Bs from the Armee de l’air’s (French Air Force) Escadron de Chasse 3/30 ‘Lorraine’ were deployed to Jodhpur, supported by a single Boeing C-135FR Stratotanker from Groupe de Ravitaillement en Vol 2/91 ‘Bretagne’. Indian aircraft included Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21bisUPG Bisons, Mikoyan MiG-27UPGs and Sukhoi Su-30MKIs, as well as Ilyushin Il-78MKI tankers and an A-50EhI airborne early warning and control aircraft. The object of the Garuda exercises is to enhance interoperability and co-operation between the two air forces. Crews fly combat training missions covering a range of realistic scenarios. The 12-day exercise concluded on June 13. Armee de l’air

The story has not been confirmed by the Myanmar Government. Additional combat aircraft are required by Myanmar to replace obsolete types and others grounded by a lack of spares. The Myanmar Air Force is helping fight the Kachin Independence Army in the north of the country. Myanmar investigated acquiring JF-17s to fulfil requirements for a new multi-role fighter but instead a deal for 20 additional Mikoyan MiG-29 Fulcrums was concluded

Korean Falcons Ready for Upgrade The first two Korea Aerospace Industries KF-16 Fighting Falcons of the Republic of Korea Air Force have arrived in the United States to be upgraded by BAE Systems, in partnership with the US Air Force. The work is being carried out at Alliance Airport, Fort Worth, Texas, under the terms of a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) contract. A total of 134 KF-16C/D Block 52 aircraft will be fitted with advanced weapons and avionics, including advanced mission computers, new co*ckpit displays, targeting sensors and the Raytheon Advanced Combat Radar. Phase 1 of the project covers detailed design of the hardware and software and is funded by a FMS announced on November 25, 2013 (see KF-16 Upgrade

Indonesia to Build New Air Base in West Kalimantan

The Indonesian Air Force plans to build an air base at Temajuk, West Kalimantan, on Borneo, to bolster security, according to Assistant Chief

of Staff, Air Vice-Marshal Supido Handoyo. “Today we will scrutinise the preparations for the construction of an air base in the area,” AVM Handoyo

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by December 2009. Most, if not all, of the MiG-29s came from existing stocks in Russia, including some aircraft originally due for Iraq. Myanmar has little in the way of an indigenous aircraft industry, although 24 Yellow Cat A2 unmanned air vehicles were assembled in the country. The Yellow Cat is a copy of the Chinese Beijing ImageInfo Co Sky 02A, a twin-boom airframe with a maximum take-off weight of 80kg (176lb). Nigel Pittaway and David Willis

said while visiting the Supadio AB in Pontianak, West Kalimantan, on June 9. “We will build an air base there to prevent illegal acts, including alleged

Progressing, January, p7). Phase 2 funds the completion of the systems integration and flight test activities, followed by production and installation of the upgrades. It is expected to begin before the end of the year, after the changes to the aircraft have been accepted. BAE’s vice-president and general manager of Global Fighter Programmes, John Bean, said on June 25: “The arrival of the jets is a major milestone for our entire team and a historic occasion for both our company and the industry. Our longterm goal is to offer sophisticated aircraft upgrades with an integration approach, providing cost-effective solutions to meet unique requirements while reducing long-term sustainment costs.” Nigel Pittaway and David Willis

annexation of our state borders,” he added. Indonesia, Malaysia and the Sultanate of Brunei all have sovereign territory on Borneo. Nigel Pittaway



Unmanned Aerial Systems

DoT Criticises Unmanned Integration The US Department of Transport (DoT) has criticised the Federal Aviation Administration’s progress on integrating unmanned air systems (UAS) into US airspace. An audit report issued by the DoT Office of Inspector General said: “The FAA is making some progress in meeting UASrelated provisions of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 [but] the agency is significantly behind schedule in meeting most of them – including the goal of achieving safe integration by September 2015. “While it is certain the FAA will accommodate UAS operations at limited locations, it is uncertain when and if full integration of UAS into the NAS [National Airspace System] will occur.” The 2012 legislation laid out 17 provisions the FAA must have in place by September 2015. The DOT claims the FAA “missed the statutory milestones” for nine of the 17 and that “much work remains to fully implement them”. It also says the FAA has not reached consensus on standards for technology that would enable UAS to detect and avoid other aircraft and ensure reliable data links between ground stations and the unmanned aircraft they control, adding that the FAA has not established a regulatory framework for UAS integration, such as aircraft certification requirements, standard air traffic procedures for safely managing UAS with manned aircraft or an adequate controller training programme for managing UAS. The DoT report was released shortly after the FAA granted Certificates of Waiver or Authorization to a further two of the six proposed UAS test sites in June (adding to Initial FAA UAS Test Site Active, June, p28). The Department of Energy will use an Insitu ScanEagle at the private airport at Desert Rock, Nevada, to test air traffic control procedures; and an American Aerospace Recon System 16 (RS-16) will be used at Corpus Christi, Texas, to test operational standards. They join test sites in North Dakota and Alaska approved earlier this year (see BP Starts Prudhoe Puma Flights, below). Mark Broadbent



New Sensor for Fire Scout Northrop Grumman MQ-8B Fire Scout BuNo 168213 completed its first flight equipped with a Telephonics Corporation AN/ZPY-4(v)1 (RDR1700B+) multi-mode maritime surveillance radar mounted in a nose radome on June 16 at the Webster Field Annex at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland. The AN/ZPY-4(v)1 can operate in synthetic aperture radar and ground moving target indicator modes and will complement the turret-mounted FLIR Systems Brite Star II electro-optical/infrared system under the forward fuselage. An initial deployment with the Fire Scout carrying the new sensor is due next year. US Navy

BP Starts Prudhoe Puma Flights An AeroVironment Puma AE (UAS has begun survey flights over BP’s Prudhoe Bay oilfield in Alaska, believed to be North America’s largest reserve. BP has contracted AeroVironment for

mapping and geographic information data to help monitor its infrastructure, including pipelines, pads and roads. The Puma has an electro-optical/ infrared sensor and a light detection

sensor used for 3D modelling. The Alaskan site is one of the six congressionally mandated test sites being used to integrate UAS into American airspace. Mark Broadbent

More Reasons to Fear the (RAF’s) Reaper

The fuselage of General Atomics Aeronautical System Inc MQ-9 Reaper ZZ209 is lifted out of its travelling container at Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan on April 3. The airframe is one of five more recently deployed to Afghanistan. Crown copyright/Sergeant Ross Tilly RAF

Five more General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc MQ-9 Reapers have entered operational service with the RAF in Afghanistan – doubling the British fleet of the type in the theatre. Operating from Kandahar Airfield and flown by crews from XIII and 39 Squadrons (respectively stationed at RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire, and Creech AFB in Nevada), they

will be used alongside British Army Elbit Hermes 450s to gather intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data and undertake strike missions supporting British, Afghan and International Security Assistance Force troops. All are assigned to the 83 Expeditionary Air Group, which controls all UK air assets in Afghanistan.

The Reaper remotely piloted air system (RPAS) has been operated by the RAF since 2010 and the five additional examples were ordered in 2012. They have flown more than 54,000 flying hours in the Afghan theatre and fired some 460 weapons since being deployed, according to the UK Ministry of Defence. Mark Broadbent

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Business Aviation

G650 Enters European Charter Service

Swiss business aviation operators Vertis Aviation AG and ExecuJet have put into service the first Europeanbased Gulfstream G650 available on the charter market. The aircraft (HB-IVJ, c/n 6062) has a 12-seat interior, which features eight business class seats in club configuration and six divan-style seats that can be converted into lie-flat beds. The communications suite features highspeed Wi-Fi connectivity along with Satellite TV Europe and US, two Apple TVs and two Blu-Ray players offering a choice of up to 300 movies. The G650 joins Vertis’ Zug, Switzerland-based long-range charter fleet, joining two Airbus ACJs, a Bombardier Global 6000, two Global XRSs, a Global Express and a Dassault Falcon 7X. Mike Jerram

500 Phenoms Delivered

Embraer Executive Jets delivered its 500th Phenom series jet on June 4, five-and-a-half years after the first entered service. The aircraft, a Phenom 300 (PR-SAD, c/n 50500220), went to Prime Fraction Club, a Brazilian fractional ownership company which operates three other Phenoms in addition to helicopters, boats and sports cars. Phenoms are now flying with 400 operators in 37 countries, and have logged total flight time in excess of 370,000 hours. Embraer

Citation X+ Delivered, Latitude Flows The Federal Aviation Administration certified Cessna’s top-of-the-range Model 750 Citation X+ business jet in late June. Customer deliveries began immediately, with the first aircraft (N750GB, c/n 750-0504) going to Gerry Buchheit of Orchard Park, New York – who owns road construction and real estate development companies – on June 26. Designated X+ to reflect its evolution from the Citation X, the new model accommodates up to 12 passengers and has a maximum

operating altitude of 51,000ft (15,545m). It is 15in (0.38m) longer than its predecessor, providing extra passenger legroom in the forward club seating area. The most distinct external difference is the addition of winglets, which enable the aircraft to cruise more efficiently at higher altitudes and consume less fuel, as well as improving take-off and landing performance in hot-and-high conditions. With a maximum speed of Mach 0.935 (536kt true air speed) the Citation X+ is currently the

Production HondaJet Flying

HondaJet N420EX, the first production example of the light business jet, flying for the first time on June 27. Honda Aircraft Company

The first production HA-420 HondaJet (N420EX, c/n 42000011) completed its maiden flight on June 27 from the company’s headquarters at Piedmont Triad International Airport Greensboro, North Carolina (further to Production HondaJet Rolled Out, July, p15). During the 84-minute flight the aircraft climbed to 15,500ft (4,724m) and reached a

speed of 348kt (644km/h). The test crew checked low- and high-speed handling characteristics, avionics and systems functionality along with landing gear, flaps and speed brake operation. On return to the airport they were greeted by more than 1,000 Honda Aircraft employees. The HondaJet is expected to enter customer service in the first quarter of next year. Mike Jerram

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world’s fastest production civilian jet. Its 3,408nm (6,312km) range enables it to fly non-stop between city pairs such as New York-Paris, Dubai-Singapore or Panama CitySão Paulo, Brazil. Cessna has also started full assembly line flow for the Model 680A Citation Latitude mid-size business jet which, the company says, features many technological advances including the use of automated robotics and ergonomically-friendly tooling stations on the production line. The prototype first flew on February 18

(further to Latitude Prototype Begins Ground Tests, March, p33) and on its third flight achieved full envelope performance for its maximum speed of Mach 0.80 (440kt, 815km/h true air speed) and maximum operating altitude of 45,000ft (13,716m). By the end of June it had made 100 flights and logged 230 hours. The first production aircraft will serve as the fourth flying prototype as part of the programme for Federal Aviation Administration certification, which is expected in the second quarter of 2015. Mike Jerram

Renamed Diamond Diamond Aircraft has renamed its DA52 light twin the DA62. “We’re renaming it to improve differentiation from our DA42 series, which continues indefinitely in parallel production,” said company CEO Christian Dries. “The DA62 series is designed with significant growth potential and will compete well with conventional sixseat single- and twin-engine piston aircraft and offers a great stepup alternative to owners of high-

performance four- and five-seat singles seeking more space and capability without sacrificing operating economics,” he added. The DA62 will be marketed in several models, with optional configurations and maximum take-off weights, including seating for up to seven. Two prototypes are currently flying and European Aviation Safety Agency type certification is expected next year. Mike Jerram

BBJ 777-300ER Order Boeing Business Jets (BBJ) received an order on June 3 for a VIP BBJ 777-300ER (Extended Range) from an undisclosed customer. The company will deliver the jet without an interior, for fitting out at a completions centre of the customer’s choice. It is the

second order for a widebody BBJ this year. Since BBJ 747-8 and 787 versions were announced in 2006, widebodies have accounted for nearly 40% of total net orders. Since it was formed in 1996 the company has won orders for 217 BBJs and delivered 195. Mike Jerram




COMMERCIAL ORDERS Airbus Customer Aerospace International Group AWAS Qantas Airways Synergy Aerospace Unidentified Unidentified

Z/C Aviation Partners One ATR Customer Myanmar Airways International Boeing Customer Air Lease Corporation Alaska Airlines Belavia China Eastern Airlines Turkish Airlines Virgin Atlantic Airways Bombardier Customer Unidentified Xian Aircraft Customer Boliviana de Aviación (for BoA Regional)

Aircraft A321ceo A320ceo A321 A320neo A320ceo A320neo A319ceo A320ceo A320neo A321ceo A321neo A319

Number 7 6 1 21 12 70 4 10 16 20 30 2

Date June 27

Aircraft ATR 72-600

Number 6, MoU

Date May 6

Aircraft 737 (undisclosed) 737-800 737-800 737NG and 737 MAX 737 MAX 8 787-9

Number 1 6 (previously listed as unidentified) 3 (previously listed as unidentified) 80, purchase commitment

Date June 30 June 30 June 26 June 13

15 (exercised options place May 14, 2013) 1 (exercised option placed in June 2007)

June 13 June 24

Aircraft CRJ900 NextGen

Number 16, plus 8 options

Date July 1

Aircraft MA60

Number 4

Date May

May 22 June 1 June 1 June 27 June 27

May 2

All orders are firm unless stated. Compiled by Mark Broadbent

New Widebody Plans for SAA South African Airways (SAA) will lease 20 to 25 new widebody aircraft, after plans to buy were dropped earlier this year. SAA CEO Monwabisi Kalawe said the lease will be signed by October with deliveries from 2017 or 2018. In February, Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba forced SAA to withdraw a multi-billion dollar

request for proposals for 23 new long-haul aircraft, over concerns about a lack of localisation– adaptation to a particular language, culture, and desired local ‘look and feel’ (further to 23 Widebodies Sought by SAA, September 2013, p32). The Boeing 787 Dreamliner and Airbus A350 were understood to be the favourites for this contract

– Airbus has said its A350-900 would be 11% cheaper to operate than existing equipment on SAA’s international routes, many of which make losses. SAA needs to replace its inefficient fleet of Airbus A340s and carrier spokesperson Tlali Tlali said it was important to operate new aircraft to reduce operating costs and return to profitability. Guy Martin

A320neo Rolled Out

Airbus A320-271N(WL) F-WNEO was rolled out on July 1 after painting in corporate colours. It is the first of eight A320neo family airliners that will participate in the flight test and certification campaign. Airbus/F Lancelot

Airbus rolled out its first A320neo (new engine option) from the painting facility at its Toulouse headquarters in southern France on July 1. The aircraft (A320271N(WL) F-WNEO, msn 6101) is the first fully assembled example of



the re-engined narrowbody. The manufacturer has secured more than 2,700 orders from 50-plus customers for the A320neo family of airliners, which was launched in 2010 and features new engines and fuelsaving features that include Sharklet

wingtips. Airbus predicts that the changes over the baseline A320ceo (current engine option) will reduce fuel consumption by 15%. Msn 6101 is powered by Pratt & Whitney PurePower PW1220G turbofans, one of the two engine choices for the

Routes for Virgin’s 787 Revealed

Virgin Atlantic Airways is to place its first Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner on the six times per week London Heathrow to Boston, Massachusetts, route from October 28. The airliner is due to be delivered to the carrier in late September. The initial aircraft will be named Birthday Girl to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the airline this year and its paintwork will feature Virgin’s ‘Flying Lady’ logo displayed faceon. Other Virgin Dreamliner routes from Heathrow will be Washington, DC; Newark, New Jersey; and New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport, all scheduled to begin by next March. Virgin will be the first European airline to take delivery of the 787-9 – it has 17 on order and the type will make up more than half of its fleet by 2018 – as the carrier retires and replaces older aircraft. Virgin is assessing whether to purchase 787-10s, Airbus A350s or more A330s to fulfil its future requirements. The last of its 20-year-old Airbus A340-300s is due to exit the fleet by next February and in the first quarter will also phase out two A340-600s. Virgin has deferred orders for six A380s by another year to 2018. Mark Broadbent

A320neo, the other being the CFM International Leap-1A. Airbus expects the recently rolledout aircraft to fly in September; it will be used for initial development and flight manual tests, before entering the A320neo development and certification phase and maturity campaign. The neo family test programme will use eight aircraft in total, with four (two A320neos, an A319neo and one A321neo) powered by the two types of engine on offer. The test and certification campaign is expected to take 12 months, with initial series production A320neos due to be delivered to customers in the fourth quarter of 2015. Approximately 250 hours have already been accumulated on the company’s A320ceo developmental aircraft to evaluate hardware and software for the flight control laws for the neo. Mark Broadbent and David Willis

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Oldest Active ATR at Burgos

Departing runway 06R at Palma de Mallorca on June 16, Aero Nova ATR 42-320 EC-IDG (msn 003, ex F-WQNE) is based at Burgos-Villafría in northern Spain for the summer season for charter flights to Mediterranean destinations including Alicante, Malaga and the Balearic Islands. It has special titles (‘Burgos origen y destino’ – Burgos origin and destination) on its forward fuselage for the duration. The turboprop is the oldest active ATR, having first flown on April 30, 1985. Javier Rodríguez

Aeroflot Superjet 100 Replacements Complete The Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company (SCAC) has replaced all ‘light’ configuration Superjet 100 (SSJ100) regional jets in service with Aeroflot with the ‘full’ version of the airliner. The tenth ‘full’ Superjet was handed over to the Russian flag carrier on June 26. Earlier this year, the manufacturer announced that the first ten Superjets delivered to Aeroflot would be replaced by new aircraft featuring a number of improvements, including an updated flight management system, weather radar with a wind direction detection mode, separate lighting controls, an additional flight attendant’s position, third lavatory and a fourth galley (see Superjet in Service, July, p50). The changes to the airliner were made at Aeroflot’s request. The first ‘full’ aircraft flew on February 22, 2013, and was delivered to Aeroflot on May 31, 2013. SCAC will produce a further 20 SSJ100s in the full configuration, with another eight scheduled for delivery by the end of this year. Aeroflot is currently the largest operator of the SSJ100, flying them on domestic routes and to central and Eastern Europe. Mark Broadbent

PEOPLExpress Starts Operations A new budget carrier in the US started operations on June 30. PEOPLExpress, based at Newport News, Virginia will fly three Boeing 737-400s, initially on routes to Boston, Massachusetts; Newark, New Jersey, and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Services to Palm Beach in Florida were due to start on July 15 (after AIR International went to press), followed by Atlanta, Georgia on August 1 and St Petersburg, Florida, and New Orleans, Louisiana, on August 28. The 737s are configured with 138 economy-class seats and 12 ‘Living Large’ seats, which offer passengers more personal space. Mark Broadbent

DiscoveryAir Takes to the Skies Nigerian airline DiscoveryAir started flights on June 9 after being granted its air operator certificate (AOC) by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority. Operations began with two Boeing

737-300s (737-36N(WL) 5N-BQO c/n 28571, ex N571TP and 737-33R 5N-BQP, c/n 28870, ex G-TOYK), which will fly between Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt and later Uyo and

Yola. The airline, backed by Nigerian oil firm First Deepwater Discovery, says it aims to offer reliable and safe flights within Nigeria and the African continent. Guy Martin

MRJ Prototype Coming Together

The prototype Mitsubishi Regional Jet at the company’s facility at Nagoya following mating of the wings to the fuselage, and prior to the addition of the engines. Mitsubishi

Assembly of the first Mitsubishi Aircraft (MITAC) MRJ (Mitsubishi Regional Jet) is progressing after mating the fuselage and wings, and engines installation. Mitsubishi revealed on June 17 that the major structures had been joined, while the Pratt & Whitney PW1200Gs had been added to the airframe nine days later. Pratt & Whitney delivered the first PW1200G from its factory at the Mirabel Aerospace Centre in Quebec, Canada by June 5. The airliner

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prototype (c/n 10001) is being assembled at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Nagoya Aerospace Systems Works at Nagoya, in the Aichi Prefecture. The MRJ was originally due to fly in 2012 and enter service three years later, but due to production and development delays the first flight test aircraft is scheduled in the second quarter of next year. Service entry with launch customer All Nippon Airways is currently projected for the second quarter

of 2017, three years later than originally planned. Firm orders for 165 MRJs (plus 160 options) are held by MITAC from All Nippon Airways, SkyWest and Trans States Holdings. The manufacturer is aiming to produce up to 120 MRJs a year by 2022 (see 120 MRJs a Year by 2022, June, p32), but will face competition from the Embraer E-Jet E2 family, COMAC ARJ21, Sukhoi Superjet 100 and Bombardier CSeries to win significant orders. Mark Broadbent




Final A350 for Test Fleet Flying

Airbus A350-941 (F-WWYB, msn 005) completed its maiden flight on June 20. The airliner has been completed to the definitive configuration in which the type will be certified, and is equipped with a passenger cabin. During certification it will undertake route proving and ETOPS validation. At the time of this, the fifth, A350’s first flight, more than 2,000 flight test hours had been accumulated by the test fleet and the type is set to achieve certification in the third quarter of this year. Qatar Airways will take delivery of the first A350 to enter service in the fourth quarter. Airbus/A Doumenjou

Air Uganda Grounded The Ugandan Government has suspended Air Uganda’s air operator’s certificate (AOC), grounding its three CRJ200s and a MD-87 pending recertification. The Ugandan Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) on June 18 suspended the licences of all Ugandan carriers running international routes. Air Uganda CEO Cornwell Muleya, said the grounding came after the ICAO concluded a review of UCAA systems, structures and operations on June 17, which found shortcomings in its processes and the application of international rules. All Ugandan airlines flying overseas must reapply for their AOCs. Guy Martin

Jumbo Jet Reaches 1,500 Deliveries

Boeing delivered the 1,500th Boeing 747 on June 28, the first widebody commercial airliner to reach the production milestone. The aircraft (747-830 D-ABYP, c/n 37839) is the 14th 747-8 Intercontinental handed over to Lufthansa since the first in April 2012 and it has a further five on order. The Boeing 777 is expected to be the next widebody to reach 1,500 deliveries, in around three years’ time, based on currently monthly production rates for the airliner. Boeing

Libyan Carriers Shelve Merger Plans Afriqiyah Airways and Libyan Airlines have dropped long-running plans to merge due to the precarious political situation in Libya (further to Libyan and Afriqiyah to Merge, November 2010, p29). Afriqiyah Chairman Abdulhakim Fares said the two airlines would stay separate and added that it was impossible to say

if the two could combine by the end of the decade. Both are subsidiaries of Libyan Afriqiyah Aviation Holding Company. Libya is in the middle of a worsening domestic security situation; in March a bomb exploded on the runway at Tripoli, and Benghazi Benina Airport has been closed since May due to fighting. Guy Martin

Aurigny Air Services Puts Embraer 195 into Service On June 24 Embraer 195STD G-NSEY (c/n 19000671, ex PT-EGE) was delivered to Aurigny Air Services, becoming the largest aircraft operated by the airline. Configured for 122 seats in a single-class layout, it was ordered in August 2013. The regional jet entered service on the Guernsey to London Gatwick route, which it flies four times a day. Embraer



AirAsia Again Looks to Japan

Malaysian low-cost carrier AirAsia is to re-enter the Japanese market with a re-launched AirAsia Japan. Flight operations are due to start in 2015 with a fleet of five Airbus A320s conducting domestic and international flights. The airline will be a joint venture between AirAsia and a number of other shareholders, including Japan’s largest online retailer Rakuten (18%), Octave Japan Infrastructure Fund (19%), Noevir Holdings (9%) and sports firm Alpen (5%). The earlier AirAsia Japan, a joint venture between AirAsia and All Nippon Airways (ANA), was launched in 2012 (see Japan Budget Carriers Launched, September 2012, p30) but operated for just a year. That partnership was dissolved last October, with ANA buying out AirAsia’s 33% stake and going on to operate it as whollyowned subsidiary branded Vanilla

(see Partners End AirAsia Japan Joint Venture, August 2013, p30). At the time AirAsia said, a “difference of opinion in management, most critically on the points of how to operate a low-cost business”, played a role in the joint venture ending. Much more of the strategic and operational decision-making in the ‘new’ AirAsia Japan will be left to AirAsia, as the carrier is the majority stakeholder and its partners are non-aviation companies. Rakuten, controlled by Japan’s fourth-richest man, Hiroshi Mikitani, wants to use the partnership to boost its online travel site, which is one of the most popular in the country. The revitalised AirAsia Japan will join a number of other low-cost airlines operating in the country, including Vanilla, Peach and Air Do, which are controlled by or affiliated to the major network carriers ANA and Japan Airlines. Mark Broadbent

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Additional Dreamliners Sought by Norwegian

Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner EI-LNF (c/n 35313) on approach to runway 01R at Stockholm-Arlanda in Sweden on June 26. It was delivered to Norwegian at Oslo Airport on May 29 on lease from the International Lease Finance Corporation. Stefan Sjögren

Norwegian Air Shuttle has confirmed it plans to buy Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners as part of its long-term growth strategy. Chief executive Björn Kjos, said the carrier wants to buy 20 of the extended-range variant of the Dreamliner for delivery after 2018. Mr Kjos made the comments at London Gatwick as

Norwegian launched its first longhaul routes from the Sussex airport to Los Angeles, California; New York and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. These routes add to the airline’s existing services, from Scandinavia to the United States and Bangkok in Thailand, launched last year. All of the airline’s long-haul routes

Sky Aero Begins Operations Kenyan start-up carrier Sky Aero began scheduled commercial operations on May 23, between the capital Nairobi and Kisumu 220 miles (350km) northwest of the

capital, using a McDonnell Douglas DC-9. The airline began flying to Mombasa on May 30. Sky Aero is backed by Pan African Airways. Guy Martin

Etihad Fleet Passes 100

are operated using seven 787-8s; Norwegian is due to take delivery of a further ten of that variant over the next four years. Norwegian is awaiting approval to launch 787 services to the US from Ireland and is seeking further rights on routes to Asia and North America. Mark Broadbent

Boeing could soon announce whether it will develop a new medium-sized airliner capable of replacing its out-ofproduction 757, according to an airline executive. Peter Foster, the President of Kazakh national carrier Air Astana, stated at a June media event that there had been recent discussions between the airline and the American manufacturer. He said: “[Boeing] made absolutely clear that this [idea] is now firming up and that they’ll be making an announcement soon”. If launched the new aircraft could enter


Fast growing United Arab Emirates flag carrier Etihad Airways recently took delivery of its 100th and 101st aircraft. Airbus A321-231(WL) A6-AEC (msn 6143, ex D-AVXL) was the milestone one hundredth aircraft and was handed over on June 18, on lease from BOC. It is the third A321 for the airline, which has seven more on order. Airbus A320-232(WL) A6-EIX (msn 6134, ex F-WWIP), received six days later took its fleet to 101. Both will serve the carrier’s short-haul network.

The recent arrivals mean Etihad has grown to more than 100 aircraft in just over a decade, having started operations on November 12, 2003. Etihad will take deliveries of its first Boeing 787-9 and Airbus A380 this autumn. First-class travellers on its A380s will have access to a threeroom suite called The Residence, featuring a separate living room, bathroom and double bedroom, as well as the services of an on-board butler, trained by the Savoy Hotel of London. Mark Broadbent

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Boeing recently increased the weight of both the 787-9 and -10 variants of the Dreamliner and clarified details about the performance and configuration of the -10. The maximum take-off weight for both variants has risen by 3,990lb (1,810kg) to 557,000lb (253,000kg), allowing the -9 to fly up to 8,300nm (15,400km). Boeing stated the range of the 787-10 has been increased to 7,200nm (13,334km), up from the 7,000nm (12,964km) announced when the variant was launched at the Paris Air Show in June 2013. The manufacturer also confirmed the -10 would accommodate 323 passengers in a three-class layout, a reduction of seven seats over previously released figures. Boeing held 413 orders for the 787-9 and 132 for the -10 by early July. Mark Broadbent

Replacement for 757 Mooted


Airbus A321-231(WL) A6-AEC (right) and A320-232(WL) A6-EIX are respectively the 100th and 101st airliners delivered to Etihad Airways, both arriving in June. Etihad Airways

Dreamliner Performance Changes

the market in the mid-2020s. Boeing Chairman W James McNerney recently acknowledged to investors, “we are examining [the idea] seriously”. However, he added, “we don’t see a need for it immediately as compared to some other opportunities we’ve got,” a reference to the 777X and 787-10 development programmes. The last of 1,050 Boeing 757 was built in 2004, but the type remains popular with many US carriers on transcontinental passenger and cargo routes. Mark Broadbent


Kenya Airways is to take delivery of two Boeing 737800s leased from General Electric Capital Aviation Services (GECAS), which said: “The aircraft come from GECAS’ existing order book with Boeing and are scheduled for delivery in early 2015.” They will join the carrier’s five other 737-800s. Kenya Airways recently took on two 777-300ERs leased from GECAS for use on European and Chinese routes. Guy Martin


AIR FRANCE A320S FOR TRANSAVIA Dutch charter airline Transavia is to operate Airbus A320s on lease from Air France. A pair, repainted from Air France to Transavia colours, are due to be flown until the end of August on a damp lease, whereby Air France provides pilots and maintenance

for the Dutch airline, which supplies its own cabin crew. Two A320s will be wet leased (aircraft, complete crew, maintenance, and insurance) to Transavia from August until the end of next March. Mark Broadbent


CRJ100S FOR CEMAIR South Africa’s CemAir has acquired 16 Bombardier CRJ100 jets from ex-Delta Air Lines subsidiary Comair, making it the largest operator of the type in Africa. Five will be used for contract operations outside South Africa and three on CemAir’s domestic network – the carrier flies between Margate, Plettenberg Bay, Sishen and Cape Town. CEO Miles van der Molen said the remaining aircraft will be parted out or sold. He said CemAir would return the aircraft – previously held in storage in Arizona – to service over a year. The carrier also operates three CRJ100s and 10 Beech 1900C/D turboprops. Guy Martin




Etihad Edges Ne by Mark Broadbent Etihad Airways has agreed terms and conditions to purchase a 49% stake in Alitalia after the European airline’s board accepted an offer from the United Arab Emirates’ flag carrier. Growth Strategy The deal still needs regulatory approval, which Italian media reports say could be achieved by the end of July. Should it be cleared, it will be the latest stage in the Abu Dhabi-based airline’s growth. Its expansion, and that of the other major Gulf carriers, Emirates and Qatar Airways, has seen the international air travel market’s centre of gravity shift south and east to their Middle Eastern hubs. Alitalia says Etihad’s proposal to invest €1.2 billion in the airline over four years would “provide financial stability” to an airline that’s only turned a profit once in its 68-year history (in 1998). The Italian flag carrier, regarded by the country’s government as a strategic national asset, has debts of €800 million and in 2012 alone lost €280m; figures for 2013 have not yet been released.



If Etihad’s investment is approved, Alitalia will be the eighth carrier in which it has bought a stake (following airberlin, Air Seychelles, Virgin Australia, Aer Lingus, India’s Jet Airways, Air Serbia and Switzerland’s Darwin Airline). These carriers, which Etihad calls its ‘equity alliance’ of partner airlines, play an important role in its business model by feeding passengers to the UAE airline’s network. Last year they transferred 1.8m travellers onto Etihad flights. They’ve helped propel Etihad’s rapid growth: last year it carried 12m passengers (or ‘guests’, as it calls them), double the total just four years earlier.

Global Expansion Etihad’s equity investment policy differs from Emirates and Qatar Airways’ strategies, which are focused on organic

growth by expanding their own route networks and, in Qatar’s case, membership of oneworld. Italy is Europe’s fourth-largest air transport market but Etihad significantly lags behind Emirates and Qatar Airways in its presence there: its single daily flight to Rome compares with the six frequencies to the Italian capital offered every day by Emirates and Qatar Airways’ five. Investing in Alitalia therefore opens an opportunity for Etihad to configure the Italian airline’s network so more traffic from Italy can be fed to Etihad’s Abu Dhabi hub. The Sydney-based consultancy, the Centre for Asia-Pacific Aviation (CAPA) has also noted in a report that with Alitalia set to become Etihad’s fifth European partner, creating a European hub “becomes a distinct possibility” to further cement its place in the continent’s air travel network.

South America The CAPA report said another reason why Etihad made a move on Alitalia is because of the Italian airline’s routes to South America. Etihad has only one direct flight

to the continent from Abu Dhabi (to São Paulo) and, although it’s improved its connections this year through a codeshare with the Spanish airline Air Europa on 12 routes between Madrid and South American countries, its footprint in the continent is still relatively light. Alitalia serves Rio de Janeiro (which Air Europa doesn’t) and offers more frequencies to São Paulo and Caracas than the Spanish airline. In this respect, says CAPA, “Alitalia offers another gateway for Latin American services and, compared to world market, continuing the process of connecting the dots.”

Alitalia’s Benefits Analysts say further services from the Middle East and a more closely aligned network with Etihad will feed more passengers onto Alitalia’s European network, which has come under pressure with the entrance into Italy’s air travel market of low-cost carriers, such as Ryanair and easyJet. “CAPA previously analysed Alitalia’s cost base, finding it

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Nearer to Alitalia to be too expensive compared with low-cost carriers in its short-haul routes and lacking medium-/long-haul scale to feed its short-haul network,” said the consultancy. “Additional feed would help begin to alleviate this problem.” The consultancy says another potential benefit of the deal for Alitalia is greater access to Asia. Currently the airline has a minimal presence there, serving just two points (Tokyo Narita and Osaka in Japan) and ranking 36th in the list of airlines’ seat capacity to and from the continent. Its 10,000 weekly seats to Asia contrast to the 100,000 offered by Lufthansa’s mainline operation. The consultancy adds, “an Italy-Asia flight [could be] routed through Abu Dhabi, where traffic rights permit”, helping Alitalia capture transfer traffic from Etihad’s hub. “There are opportunities for Alitalia to gain a larger – and arguably more justifiable – foothold in the Asian market.” As CAPA observes... “an

Etihad deal is about much more than simply buying an airline’s aircraft and routes”. The UAE carrier emphasises to its partners that being part of its equity alliance is also about sharing costs. Based on Etihad’s previous equity stakes, there may be the potential for co-operation in the areas of fleet utilisation, equipment purchases, shared maintenance (both airlines operate Airbus A320s and A330s and Boeing 777s), product development and the use of common booking technology.

Cost Cutting More immediately, it appears likely there’ll be job losses at Alitalia if the deal is completed. “This is about restructuring and moving a business to a sustainable profitability, and if you don’t restructure you won’t survive,” said Etihad President and Chief Executive James Hogan to UAE newspaper The National.

“Within the letter I sent to Alitalia regarding our investment there were a number of criteria that we were seeking as investors moving forward, and one of them was obviously the manpower sizing. We’re restructuring an airline. We restructured Air Serbia. We restructured Air Seychelles. And staff came out of both those airlines.” Reportedly more than 2,000 jobs, nearly a fifth of Alitalia’s workforce, could be cut and employment contracts renegotiated. There is as yet no official clarification on how many jobs might go if the deal was approved. International media reports say concerns from Italy’s strong trades unions were a factor in the two airlines taking months to agree a deal in the first place. While there’s uncertainty about the future structure of the airline’s workforce, the Italian establishment nevertheless

believes in the benefits for Alitalia of Etihad’s investment. Transport Minister Maurizio Lupi said: “It’s increasingly clear that this marriage should happen because it’s obvious to all that we are dealing with a strong industrial investment that will offer our airline concrete growth prospects. I’m confident that this will come to a good end.” And Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, the Chairman of Ferrari and Vice-chairman of UniCredit, one of the banks that financed Alitalia, told the Financial Times recently: “There is no alternative [to the Etihad investment]. The past four years have been very, very bad for Alitalia. What is crucial is for Italians, tourists and entrepreneurs to have a competitive airline that takes them anywhere.”

Danish Aviation Photo/AirTeamImages

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Rotary Wing

Record Chinese Order for Airbus Helicopters Airbus Helicopters has won a record order for 123 civilian models from three Chinese operators. Fujian Xinmei General Aviation Co ordered three AS350B3es to be delivered this year and has committed to an additional 50 single and twin-engined helicopters over the next six years. Guangdong Baiyun GAC has also ordered 50, a mix of Ecureuils and EC135s. An EC130T2 will

be delivered this year; the first three EC135T2es will arrive by April 2015. The remainder will be spread over the next five years as Baiyun expands its activities in the helicopter emergency medical services, search and rescue and corporate transport roles. Yunnan Fengxiang GAC is adding 18 AS350B3es to its existing fleet of two. The first four are scheduled for delivery this year. Mike Jerram

Radiation Detection Bell 412

Bell 412 N411DE (c/n 36030) of the US Department of Energy made a rare public appearance at the 2014 American Heroes Airshow at Hansen Dam Recreation Center, near Los Angeles, California, on June 21. The specially equipped helicopter has two large pods outside the cabin housing radiation detection equipment. It detects ambient radiation and the data is used to establish background levels for an area. The sensors can also distinguish different radiation types and possible sources. The helicopter is used on joint projects conducted by the Department of Homeland Security’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office and the National Nuclear Security Administration. Damon Duran

Half a Century for Dutch Alouettes SA316B Alouette III A-301 of 300 Squadron, Dutch Defence Helicopter Command, with A-275 in the background, at its home base of Gilze-Rijen on June 21, with the ‘50 years’ markings. Of note are the additional markings on the underside of the fuselage and horizontal stabilizers. Kees van der Mark

The Sud Aviation SA316B Alouette III celebrates 50 years of service this year with the Koninklijke Luchtmacht (Royal Netherlands Air Force, RNLAF). It is an achievement unrivalled by any other aircraft within the Dutch armed forces. The last four Alouettes (A-247, c/n 1247; A-275, c/n 1275; A-292, c/n 1292 and A-301, c/n 1301) received special markings for the occasion. Between 1964 and 1969, 77 Alouettes joined the RNLAF to serve with 298, 299 and 300 Squadrons as well as a small search and rescue flight. The final four Alouettes are operated by the Defence Helicopter

Command’s (DHC) 300 Squadron at Gilze-Rijen, alongside the Airbus Helicopters AS532U2 Cougar Mk 2 fleet. They are still called upon almost daily for a variety of tasks including (royal) VIP transport, training, calibration and photo flights. All four received their current, ‘royal’ dark blue colours during a major overhaul carried out by RUAG in Alpnach, Switzerland, in 2004/2005. The Alouette III is scheduled for retirement in December 2015 despite the helicopters’ immaculate condition. There are no firm plans to acquire a replacement as the DHC aims to operate as few different types of helicopter as possible. Kees van der Mark

Mi-26TS Ordered by Shangdong Province Russian Helicopters has received an order from China’s Shandong Province for a Mil Mi-26TS for forestry management work. The heavylift helicopter will be delivered in 2015. Details of the order were




Russian Helicopters has delivered two multirole Kamov Ka-32A11BCs to the Sino-Russian Helicopter Technology Company, based in Qingdao, China. Another four are scheduled for delivery by the end of this year. A Ka-32A11BC, operated by the Chinese State Oceanic Administration, played a key role in January rescuing passengers from the Academician Shokalsky research vessel after the ship became trapped in Antarctic sea ice. More than 140 Ka-32A11BCs have been built, half of them operating outside of Russia, including in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Japan, Mexico, Portugal, Spain, South Korea, Switzerland and Taiwan. Mike Jerram



revealed by the manufacturer on July 2. Three civil Mi-26TSs are already in service in China with Qingdao Helicopter (two) and Flying Dragon. They are used to transport heavy



loads, technology and personnel, as well as for emergency evacuation operations and firefighting missions. Mi-26TSs were used in the clearup operation following the major earthquakes in China’s Sichuan



Defence Secretary Voltaire Gazmin told local media on June 26 that the first four Bell UH-IH Iroquois on order for the Philippine Air Force (PAF) have been delivered to Clark AFB. “The first four helicopters are being assembled so they can be displayed during the Air Force anniversary,” he said, referring to the 67th anniversary of the founding of the PAF at Clark AFB on July 1. He also revealed three more aircraft were expected to be delivered in July. Rice Aircraft Services Inc of the US and Eagle Copters of Canada are jointly supplying 21 Iroquois to the PAF in a project worth PHP1.25 billion ($28.8 million) (see 21 UH-1Hs for the Philippines, February, p16).

All five of the Papua New Guinea Defence Force Air Transport Wing’s (ATW) Bell UH-1H Iroquois have been permanently grounded. The helicopters were donated by Australia in 1989 and two remained operational in 2012. At the beginning of June, two of the three helicopters (a Bell 212 and a pair of Bell 412s), leased from Hevilift PNG and financed by the Australian Government, were still operational. The Wing’s two CASA CN-235-100M transport aircraft are being overhauled in Indonesia and one is scheduled to return to service this year. A new commanding officer for the ATW, Lieutenant Colonel John Matagarakikai, was appointed in April. He has a force of around 200, including fewer than 50 pilots.

Nigel Pittaway

David C Isby

Province in 2008 and 2013, transporting military and searchand-rescue crews, delivering heavy construction machinery, equipment and materials, and evacuating large numbers of civilians. Mike Jerram

Maritime Helicopters Sought by Vietnam

Vietnam’s coastguard is looking to procure helicopters to operate from its four DN-2000/ Damen 9014 offshore patrol vessels (OPV). A request for proposals could be issued within months. The OPVs can operate helicopters with a maximum take-off weight of up to 14 tonnes. Potential competitors include derivatives of the Kamov Ka-27 and the Airbus Helicopters AS565 Panther. David C Isby

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Rotary Wing

Dutch MoD Suspends Acceptance of NH90s

The Netherlands Aerospace Laboratory found widespread corrosion and excessive wear problems on NHIndustries NH90 NFH N 227 (c/n 1227/NNLN007) of the Dutch Defence Helicopter Command’s 860 Squadron, after it entered a 600-hour inspection on August 28, 2013. It has been grounded since. The helicopter was pictured in June 2013, shortly after returning from the type’s first-ever operational ship-based deployment. Kees van der Mark

Dutch defence minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert told the Dutch parliament on June 27 of her decision not to take delivery of the final seven of 20 NHIndustries NH90 NATO Frigate Helicopters (NFHs) ordered in June 2000 until corrosion and excessive wear problems have been solved by the manufacturer. Earlier the same day, the Defence Helicopter Command (DHC) took delivery of its 13th NH90 when N 317 (c/n 1317, customer number NNLN014) arrived at Maritime Air Station (MAS) De Kooy. Delivery of the next NH90, N 318 (c/n 1318/ NNLN015), was scheduled for September but is now likely to be delayed by at least six months. The minister first mentioned the problems found on two NH90s involved in the type’s first operational ship-based deployments last year (see Dutch NH90 Deliveries, Conversions and Problems, June, p34) in a letter to parliament dated March 11. In her June 27 letter, she provided further details on the corrosion found during scheduled maintenance. The affected helicopters (N 227, c/n 1227/NNLN007, and N 233,

c/n 1233/NNLN009) each operated from Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLN) vessels in tropical and saline environments for about four months each. The Dutch say the corrosion is excessive considering the helicopters’ age. Delivered on March 29, 2012, N 227 deployed to the Horn of Africa as part of the European Union’s Atalanta antipiracy mission between January 20 and June 8, 2013. N 233 was delivered on June 27, 2013 and operated in the Dutch Caribbean between August 11 and December 13, 2013 to support the RNLN’s permanent counter-drug operations. When N 227 entered its 600 hours inspection and three years saline inspection at Gilze-Rijen Air Base on August 28, 2013, it had clocked up a total of 511.3 hours, including 243.9 saline flying hours; N 233 had 299.3 total hours, including 246.9 in saline conditions, when entering its 300 hours inspection and six-monthly saline inspection at MAS De Kooy in late January 2014. A third Dutch NH90, N 234 (c/n 1234/ NNLN010), operated off the coast of Somalia as part of NATO’s anti-piracy mission Ocean Shield between

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January 26 and June 7 this year. Details on the state of this helicopter have not yet been released. The Dutch Ministry of Defence (MoD) asked the Netherlands Aerospace Laboratory (NLR) to assess the corrosion issues found. In its report, the NLR documented 92 separate corrosion-related problems found until March 20 – several more have been discovered since and will be included in a second, updated version of the NLR report. The NLR classified the 92 problems in either one or two of the following four categories: insufficient application of corrosion protective measures; use of materials ill-suited for application in saline environment; errors in design; and wrong manufacturing. The problems found on N 227 were most serious, and it remains grounded. N 233 was less affected. After its 300 hours inspection, repairs and corrosive protection measures, N 233 was back in the air in time to begin its second operational deployment on May 4, this time in Ocean Shield. According to the ministry, by late June the manufacturer had found solutions for 60% of the encountered problems and continued working on the other 40%. A road map to counter the problems is expected to be finished in September. The MoD says it is prepared to resume acceptance of the NH90s once solutions have been offered – but not necessarily implemented on all helicopters – and when

NHIndustries is willing to pay for additional costs involved. The DHC was the first customer to deploy the NH90 aboard naval ships for an extended period. Of the other operators of the naval variant only France has reported corrosion problems, although less widespread than those found on the Dutch helicopters. The latest problems will lead to yet more delays in the already troubled Dutch NH90 programme. With fewer helicopters and flying hours available due to deferred deliveries and unserviceability, aircrew and technician training will take longer than foreseen. The MoD doesn’t now expect to have sufficient numbers of trained personnel available to fully support maritime operations until at least 2019. Meanwhile the DHC’s already reduced helicopter capacity is under even more pressure. A solution is partly being sought by returning to service some of DHC’s nine Airbus Helicopters AS532U2 Cougar Mk2s placed in storage and offered for sale in May 2011 as a cost-saving measure. Once returned to airworthy status, they should join the eight Cougars still flown by 300 Squadron at GilzeRijen, taking over some of the tasks originally scheduled for the NH90. The Cougars are now expected to continue in service until all 20 NH90s are operational – which is likely to be beyond 2018, the Cougar’s out-of-service date projected in 2011. Kees van der Mark



Rotary Wing

BrazilianBuilt EC725 Delivered The first wholly built-in-Brazil Airbus Helicopters EC725 was handed over to the Brazilian Navy in mid-June. The event is a major milestone in the manufacturer’s contract to supply mission-ready, multi-role rotorcraft for the three Brazilian military services and to develop a national helicopter industry in the country. The ceremony took place at the new rotary-wing centre of excellence operated by Airbus Helicopters’ Helibrás subsidiary at Itajubá in Minas Gerais state. The €160 million facility includes an EC725 final assembly line, test benches, a paint shop, training resources and an engineering centre. Brazil’s armed forces has received 12 EC725s to date. The previous 11 were supplied from Airbus Helicopters’ production line in France or partially assembled at Itajubá. The Brazilian Navy now has three with this latest delivery, while another five are operated by the air force and four by the army. Jointly, they have logged a total of 5,000 flight hours. Helibrás has signed contracts with 16 Brazilian companies for components, parts and services as part of developing an in-country supply chain for the EC725. It is aiming for 50% domestic content in helicopters for its armed forces. Mike Jerram

X3 Retired to Le Bourget Museum

Eurocopter X3 F-ZXXX leading a Dassault Alpha Jet E of the Patrouille de France. The hybrid helicopter reused the fuselage from the AS365N4 development airframe. Airbus Helicopters/Anthony Pecchi

Airbus Helicopters’ X3 (F-ZXXX) high-speed hybrid helicopter has been put on display in the Musée de l’Air et de l’Espace at Paris-Le Bourget. The X3 (‘X cubed’) logged more than 155 hours during 199 flights from its maiden flight on September 6, 2010. Last summer it achieved a rotorcraft world record speed of 255kt (472km/h) in level flight, as well as completing a tour

of the United States to demonstrate its capabilities to commercial and military operators (see X3 Becomes Fastest Rotary-Wing Aircraft, August 2013, p5, and Eurocopter X3 Concludes Tour of United States, September 2013, p38). Its manufacturer foresees a wide range of potential applications for hybrid helicopter configurations that may be developed from the X3

Dutch Apache Block II Upgrades Gather Pace

Dutch Defence Helicopter Command AH-64D Apache Q-02 at its home base Robert Gray Army Airfield, Texas, on June 4, a few days after it was redelivered to 302 Squadron following its upgrade to Block II standard. Kees van der Mark/Arnaud Boxman

The Dutch Defence Helicopter Command (DHC) took delivery of its second Boeing AH-64D modified to Block II standard in late May. Q-02 returned to 302 Squadron at Robert Gray Army Airfield (AAF) in Fort Hood, Texas. All 29 Dutch AH-64Ds will be subject to the upgrade. New communication equipment will be installed, including a high-frequency radio, replacement of some analogue systems by digital ones, upgrade of



the identification friend or foe system to mode 5 standard, a blue forces tracker and a new data modem. Fort Hood-based AH-64D Q-03 acted as prototype for the modifications, carried out by Boeing at its Mesa plant in Arizona. It was returned to the Dutch Defence Materiel Organisation during a ceremony at Mesa on November 14, 2013, and re-entered service with 302 Squadron – known as

the Joint Netherlands Training Detachment until November 25, 2013 – the following month. The 21 Apaches of 301 Squadron at Gilze-Rijen AB will go through the upgrade programme at the Royal Netherlands Air Force’s Logistiek Centrum Woendrecht (Woensdrecht Logistics Centre) in the Netherlands. Work on all eight 302 Squadron Fort Hood-based DHC Apaches will be carried out by Boeing at Mesa. The Apaches are being upgraded one at a time to ensure continuous operations of the heavily-used, USbased fleet. After a functional check flight, Q-02 returned to operational service in the second week of June. The third aircraft, Q-12, is currently in Mesa. The eighth and final Block II-upgraded Apache is expected back at Fort Hood towards the end of 2015. Meanwhile, work on the Netherlands-based Apaches starts this summer and should be complete by the end of 2017. Kees van der Mark

concept. It could offer an advanced, cost-effective vertical take-off and landing transport at the speeds of turboprop aircraft but with the fullflight capabilities of a helicopter. Potential applications include long-distance search and rescue operations, coastguard missions, border patrol, passenger transport/ inter-city shuttle services, and offshore industry support. Mike Jerram

R44 Donated to Tanzania The Howard G Buffett Foundation has donated a Robinson R44 helicopter to Tanzania for anti-poaching duties. The aircraft was handed to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism on June 14 in the capital Dar es Salaam. It will be deployed to the Selous Game Reserve. Tanzania only had one helicopter for anti-poaching surveillance before the delivery. The Howard G Buffett Foundation paid for the training of four helicopter pilots and will also pay salaries and the operational costs of the aircraft. Tanzania will receive another two helicopters, including a Bell 206 and another R44 to counter poaching in the country’s national parks, such as the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Howard Buffett visited Tanzania in April and pledged to stop the poaching of elephants and rhinos – the country has lost tens of thousands of elephants over the last decade. In March he donated $23.7m to combat poaching in South Africa’s Kruger National Park, which has lost 300 rhinos in 2014 so far. Guy Martin

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Rotary Wing

Final CH-147F SASEMAR EC225 Arrives in Spain Delivered Boeing has delivered the Royal Canadian Air Force’s fifteenth CH-147F Chinook ahead of schedule. It was accepted by Rob Nicholson, the Minister of National Defence, on July 3 at Garrison Petawana, Ontario. It will join the 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron, under command of 1 Wing, at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Kingston in Ontario, but based at Garrison (previously CFB) Petawawa. The Canadian CH-147F is derived from the US Army’s CH-47F, but has a long-range fuel system allowing it to fly twice as far. An upgraded electrical system provides additional power and redundancy. A fully integrated Common Avionics Architecture System co*ckpit and Digital Automatic Flight Control System reduce pilot workload and provide greater situational awareness. It is also equipped with an advanced aircraft survivability suite which includes a directional infrared countermeasures system to increase crew safety while allowing operations to be conducted in a wider range of threat environments. Boeing will provide in-service support to the CH-147F fleet over the next 20 years under a performance-based logistics contract, with Canadian industry playing a key role. Canada ordered 15 CH-147Fs in August 2009 to fulfil its medium-toheavy lift helicopter requirement. The first flew on June 24, 2012, and one year and three days later the initial example was officially accepted by Canada. The tenth example was delivered on March 13. Mike Jerram


FMS UH-60MS FOR MEXICO Mexico has requested five Sikorsky UH-60M Black Hawks via the US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme. The helicopters are at the core of a $225 million package which includes training, logistical support, parts and associated equipment, plus three spare General Electric T700-GE-701D engines. The helicopters will be armed with M134 7.62mm machine-guns which are part of the deal. FLIR Systems Star SAFIRE III forward looking infrared systems will also be fitted. Mexico will use the Black Hawks to assist in the fight against the narcotics trade within its borders. Details of the proposed sale were passed to the US Congress by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency on June 24.


ADDITIONAL MI-17S FOR INDIA’S BSF India’s Border Security Force (BSF) plans to order a further eight Mil

The first Airbus Helicopters EC225 for the Spanish SASEMAR (Sociedad Estatal de Salvamento Marítimo) arrived at the manufacturer’s facility at Albacete on June 11 after a 3.5 hours flight from the company’s site at Marignane, France. The contract for the helicopter (EC-004, c/n 2892) was signed on September 5, 2011. It is part of SASEMAR’s plan to gradually replace Sikorsky S-61Ns operating in the northeast of the country and from the Canary Islands on all-weather rescue and surveillance missions. It will be repainted in the white and red colours of SASEMAR prior to delivery. Roberto Yáñez

Kazakh Border Service Hip

Mil Mi-171Sh Hip ‘16’ yellow is a recent delivery to the Kazakh Border Service from the Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant. The helicopter is one of a pair ordered in 2012 to undertake day and night-time patrols. It will also transport special forces to detain people crossing the border illegally. Russian Helicopters


Mi-17V5 helicopters from Russia in September for counter-insurgency operations. The BSF’s expansion of its helicopters force is limited by a shortage of pilots and technicians, a problem set to continue for the next three to four years. The Indian Air Force has agreed to support the BSF with technicians but not aircrew. David C Isby


MH-60RS COMMISSIONED FOR DENMARK Sikorsky was issued with an order worth $115.7 million for nine MH-60R Seahawks on June 20. The maritime helicopters are for the Danish Defense Acquisition and Logistics Organisation, as outlined in a Foreign Military Sale. Denmark ordered the MH-60R in preference to the AgustaWestland AW159 Lynx Wildcat on December 6, 2013 (see Denmark Opts for Seahawk, January 2013, p4). The helicopters will be completed by July 2018 and replace Westland Super Lynx Mk 90Bs

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currently operated by Eskadrille 723, based at Karup. Danish Lynx helicopters have been actively supporting Operation Atalanta, the European Union’s task force against pirates operating off the Horn of Africa.


EC725S DELIVERED TO MALAYSIA The recent delivery of four Royal Malaysian Air Force Airbus Helicopter EC725 Cougar helicopters to Labuan AB completed the order for 12 placed in April 2010 (see 12 EC725s For Malaysia, June 2010, p23). The last batch arrived at the airbase on June 3. The EC725 was ordered to replace the Sikorsky S-61A-4 Nuri, survivors of which will be handed over to Malaysian Army Aviation. The Royal Malaysian Navy is also looking at the EC725 as a potential anti-submarine warfare helicopter, in competition with the Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk and the AgustaWestland AW159 Lynx Wildcat. David C Isby


NH90S DELIVERED NHIndustries delivered the 200th production NH90, a tactical transport helicopter variant for Belgian Defence on June 24. It is the service’s third NH90 and will be operated by 1st Wing from Beauvechain AB. The handover took place during the NH90 Product Conference at the German Army Aviation School at Bückeburg, near Hanover. The school has 14 full flight mission simulators and is able to train pilots and crews on several types of new generation helicopters, including the NH90 and Airbus Helicopters EC135. It will become the International Helicopter Training Centre in July 2015, when it will start to train foreign military helicopter aircrews as well as continuing tuition of German flight and maintenance personnel. Luigi Cereti, Managing Director of NHIndustries, said: “The NH90 programme is now reaching its maturity phase, with more than 50,000 flight hours logged in service in the most demanding conditions.” Mike Jerram





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Lufthansa Technik is the world’s largest, most technologically sophisticated aircraft maintenance and technical services group. Chris Kjelgaard finds out what makes it tick

Sonja Brüggemann/Lufthansa Technik AG



sk anyone in the massive aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) and technical services industry to list the halfdozen most important companies in the business and you are guaranteed to hear the name ‘Lufthansa Technik’ in the reply. Almost certainly, the person you ask will list the German company either first or second in responding to your question. Any MRO and technical-services company which generates €4.4 billion ($6.1 billion) a year in operating revenues and made an operating profit of €404 million ($561 million), as Lufthansa Technik did in 2013, has to be taken seriously. A group which has more than 30 operating subsidiaries and affiliates all over the world, and has controlling or joint-venture equity stakes in a total of 53 companies, Lufthansa Technik now employs 26,000 people in


High-Tech in


n Hamburg



COMMERCIAL LUFTHANSA TECHNIK its own companies and more than 30,000 including the staff of all its joint ventures. Although some of these companies are large and powerful in their own right – its Ameco Beijing joint venture with Air China is Asia’s largest aircraft MRO facility – Lufthansa Technik’s largest operation by far is located at Hamburg Airport, which lies near the northern-Hamburg suburb of Fuhlsbüttel. There, on a 185-acre main-base site, Lufthansa Technik’s modest five-storey headquarters sits amongst a vast complex of engine and component overhaul shops, laboratories, huge maintenance hangars and engine test cells. On this main base, more than 6,000 Lufthansa Technik employees work on engine and component MRO, engine testing, technology research and development, refurbishing the interiors and cabin systems of commercial aircraft for Lufthansa and other customers, and performing MRO and interior-completion work on airliner-size VIP aircraft. But the global airline and MRO industry takes Lufthansa Technik seriously not just because of its size, impressive though that is, but also because it lies at the very heart of the reputation Lufthansa has gained over many decades for technical and operational excellence. Its vast range of commercial activities spurs Lufthansa Technik to innovate constantly and to conduct research continuously throughout a wide range of technical and engineering fields. It does so in order to retain its technological edge over its competitors and to strive to offer its customers evergreater reliability and service quality when conducting airframe, engine or component maintenance for their aircraft, or any of the dozens of other technical services that Lufthansa Technik offers the world’s commercial, business and VIP aviation sectors. In all of these areas (just as in military aviation), high-quality MRO and aviation technical services are of the most crucial importance. “You have to rely on people, on technical competence, on quality – I’m not talking about safety – in regard to having a sustainable and reliable operation,” says August Wilhelm Henningsen, CEO of Lufthansa Technik Group and chairman of its Executive Board. “This is the core and focus of everything we do. Reliability and sustainability is the umbrella under which everything sits.” Henningsen is clear on where Lufthansa Technik’s priorities lie – and how its attitude and responses to these priorities influence the reputation it generates in the wider aviation world. “This starts with line maintenance. This starts with engineering support – that you know, if there’s something wrong, if there’s a failure in the system, that you really go 150% after it. We have the component shops and the engine shops, so we can go into the details of the individual component or the engine part. “We have very strong engineering to identify the root cause [of a technical problem with any aircraft or engine part], and also cost drivers in the [part’s] life cycle. We have the knowledge, the ability and the drive really to go after these things.”



Success Through Experience As Henningsen says, reliability is Lufthansa Technik’s core strength: “This is what gives us a strong reputation. I think this is what our customers want to see – if they give airplanes, engines, components or service contracts to us, they can be sure they can 150% rely on us. This is the basic thing.” This might sound like a simple recipe for success in the aviation MRO and technical services business. But while Lufthansa Technik’s philosophy of excellence in customer service is simple to understand, achieving the standard of service reliability and quality required for customers universally to regard a company as excellent is a different matter. This difference represents the crux of the challenge for any company wishing to be successful in the MRO business. Two attributes are enormously important in helping to achieve it: long experience and a willingness to invest large sums of money to innovate and become more efficient. This, in an aviation industry environment in which technological change is accelerating. In Henningsen’s view Lufthansa Technik has both attributes. Certainly, no one can question the company’s long history of aviation technical experience. When Lufthansa was reestablished nearly a decade after World War Two ended, operating its first services on April 1, 1955 as a then-Hamburg-based airline, the carrier established a technical division at Hamburg to provide maintenance and support for its aircraft. Over four decades this division grew along with the airline and became increasingly capable until, in the mid-1990s, Lufthansa’s Supervisory Board decided to split its large cargo, catering, technical and IT divisions into separate businesses, each with its own shareholding structures. Hence, nowadays, Lufthansa Group includes major subsidiaries LSG Sky Chefs, Lufthansa Cargo, Lufthansa Technik and Lufthansa Systems – most of which control and/or have substantial stakes in large groups of companies in their own right. When it was transformed into a separate company in 1995, Lufthansa Technik still had to fulfil its basic responsibility of maintaining the aircraft of Lufthansa and Lufthansaaffiliated regional airlines. However, says Henningsen, “beyond that was the knowledge that we had to reach out and sell the service into the market, and the capability to do it.” Here, he reckons, Lufthansa’s foresightedness helped give Lufthansa Technik a head start on many of its potential competitors. “Due to the fact that we were relatively early in segregating the different businesses, in comparison to other peer airlines round the globe, we had a good and quick start and we could grow the business,” he says. “So the dedication of a dedicated board and the ability to supply Lufthansa – and also being successful in the marketplace – helped us to grow and after 19 years we are where we are.” It is a cliché of modern business that a company is only as good as its people. However, Henningsen is in no doubt that from 1995 Lufthansa Technik has grown to achieve a position as a global leader in the aviation MRO and technical services industry very largely as a result of the skills, knowledge and

dedication of its employees. “I think our strengths are that we have the very, very excellent skills of our people, and we have broad capability because we are serving the wide variety of Lufthansa airplanes,” he says. “But beyond that, combined with the skill, and also a little bit of German attributes, I think we have well-trained, well-educated people who take care and really go into depth on individual subjects and items.”

Investing for Success This is all good; but the skills and enthusiasm of the Lufthansa Technik employees would be diminished in the market were Lufthansa Technik’s (and Lufthansa Group’s) top management not prepared to back and strengthen its employees’ capabilities with plenty of research and development funding where required. “We are investing continuously, principally in two areas,” says Henningsen. “One [area] is continuous improvement in processes and production. This is innovation: new and higher-productivity machines in the operation, automation, improvement or innovation in the supply chain, innovation in EDP [electronic data processing] data management. This is inherent in the organisation. Continuous improvement only works with innovation and new ideas – and we invest in those, continuously.” Another way Lufthansa Technik has invested to help secure its future has been to buy companies that have specialist expertise in the area of aviation MRO and technical services. This expertise has added to the capabilities the group can offer and Lufthansa Technik has made sure that it can project its capabilities all over the world by purchasing companies situated in many different strategic locations worldwide. For instance, in the United States, Lufthansa Technik owns three widely differing MRO companies outright, and holds a 20% stake in a fourth. It bought landing-gear overhaul specialist Hawker Pacific Aerospace – located in Sun Valley, California – in 2002. In 2000, it purchased Bizjet International, a leading specialist in the completion of VIP aircraft interiors (particularly for the Airbus Corporate Jet and Boeing BBJ families). Bizjet is also one of only two companies outside the Rolls-Royce group to operate a centre for the overhaul of Rolls-Royce Tay and Spey engines. These power Gulfstream Aerospace’s II, III and IV families of large, longhaul executive jets. Bizjet International is based in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which is also the headquarters location of Lufthansa Technik Component Services (LTCS), which specialises in test, repair, overhaul, and modification services for a very wide range of aircraft components. It also operates five workshops spread throughout the United States. Also in the United States, Lufthansa Technik owns a 20% shareholding in HEICO Aerospace, the world’s biggest independent developer and producer of aircraft and engine components, certified by both the FAA in the United States and EASA in Europe. HEICO Aerospace is based near Fort Lauderdale in Florida and majority owner HEICO operates 12 additional manufacturing and inventorylocation sites in the US.


Sonja Brüggemann/Lufthansa Technik AG



Sonja Brüggemann/Lufthansa Technik AG



Truly Global Ambition Lufthansa Technik has a large collection of subsidiary and joint-venture MRO companies throughout Europe. Many are in Germany but others are located in other countries, such as Lufthansa Technik Brussels and Lufthansa Technik Milan. A fair proportion of Lufthansa Technik’s European subsidiaries and joint ventures are to be found in nations at the continent’s edges – Bulgaria, Ireland, Malta and Russia, for instance. Completing the company’s current geographical portfolio of subsidiaries and joint ventures are a clutch of companies in Asia. These range from a Kuala Lumpur-based joint venture called Airfoil Services (which specialises in the repair of aerofoils in the compressor and turbine blades of jet engines) to Ameco Beijing, which is majority-owned by Air China. With 5,600 employees it is Asia’s largest aircraftoverhaul facility. Lufthansa Technik’s Asian joint ventures are in China (two companies), the Philippines, India and Malaysia. Henningsen says that while Lufthansa Technik is strong in Europe, he wants it to grow in Asia and the Americas – but also in Africa and the Middle East, so its aspiration is to have a presence in every populated continent. As a latest step towards this ambition, the company has recently strengthened its presence in aircraft MRO throughout the Americas by announcing the establishment of Lufthansa Technik Puerto Rico (LTPR) to service short-haul and mediumhaul aircraft. It has signed agreements with the government of Puerto Rico and the responsible port authority, and plans to start work by July on the construction of the new facility at Aguadilla’s Rafael Hernández International Airport, a former US Air Force base located on the northwest coast of Puerto Rico. The company will employ up to 400 workers and will run a total of five overhaul lines. Initially, it will operate two lines for Airbus A320 ‘C’ checks and ‘D’ checks, the two most numerous categories of airframe overhaul work. The first aircraft induction is due to take place in 2015 and Lufthansa Technik already has firm commitments from two major US airlines to be launch customers for overhauls at the new site. One is JetBlue Airways, which flies to Aguadilla and has the largest network of any airline to and from Puerto Rico, and also boasts Lufthansa Group as a 17% shareholder. The decision to create LTPR appears to have been made at exactly the right time. Coupled with Lufthansa Technik’s reputation, the new company’s focus on servicing shortand medium-haul aircraft – and particularly A320-family jets – puts it in the ideal position to benefit from the massive influx of A320family aircraft to airlines in the United States and Mexico. In fact, three leading low-cost Mexican airlines have all chosen the A320neo for their next-generation fleets. The facility will also be able to bid for aircraft MRO business from airlines throughout Central and South America, where in recent years Airbus has achieved much greater market penetration than Boeing for single-aisle aircraft. However, this doesn’t mean LTPR will focus entirely on Airbus aircraft. Although Lufthansa itself is retiring its remaining 737s by 2015, Lufthansa Technik routinely services Boeing 737 Classics and 737NGs at several of its aircraft MRO facilities in Europe. This is something LTPR also expects to do. Updating LTPR’s

skills for the future 737 MAX family should be a relatively simple exercise for Lufthansa Technik.

Technological R&D – Engine Overhaul and Aircraft Surfaces

Investment in production, and buying other companies, represent only part of Lufthansa Technik’s overall investment strategy. “The second portion is that we invest in new and innovative products,” says Henningsen. “We have invested, for example, in in-flight entertainment and cabin-management systems for business jets, where we are very successful. We are developing wireless LAN hotspots for future demand in narrowbody airplanes.” Additionally, he says, “We are investing in innovation in fuel-saving and reducing CO2 emissions, with further development in cleaning engines – ‘Cyclean’, we call it. We continue to develop this – this is our [engine] water wash. There are new developments and new ideas on how to make it more efficient. “Then we are investing in making the core engine more efficient by optimising the shape of the compressor blades, with the help of robots and automation. That saves fuel.” Developed by Lufthansa Technik, this process is particularly ingenious. Henningsen explains that typically, after 25,000 to 30,000 flight hours of on-wing operation, the leading edges of compressor blades in commercial turbofan and turboprop engines become eroded. In doing so, they also become much less aerodynamically efficient (because the blades’ aerofoils have become degraded), which reduces the overall efficiency and performance of the engines in which they are installed. Traditionally, in their overhaul shops, engine MRO companies blast sand at high speeds at the eroded leading edges of the compressor blades in order to clean them of oxide. Then, using a high-temperature process known as brazing, they weld filler materials made of a suitable metal alloy on to the leading edge of each blade in order to try to restore as closely as possible the original aerofoil shape of the compressor blade. But Lufthansa Technik now goes much further. “We take a robot to actually measure the degraded leading edge and then we grind it with the robot to the optimum shape,” says Henningsen. “Otherwise you don’t know what you’re doing. Every compressor blade is a little wing and in the air there are zillions of air molecules passing this leading edge over 20,000 flight hours. With the number of compressor blades that you have [there are hundreds in a large turbofan engine] it’s worthwhile to take care of that. So this influences the efficiency of the compressor and, through that, also the efficiency of fuel burn.” Lufthansa Technik is engaged in many other areas of technology research for commercial and business aviation applications. These range through almost every conceivable aviation activity. For instance, it recently resumed research into the potential aerodynamic benefits of adding a sharkskin-like surface layer to the paint on an aircraft’s fuselage. This research is building on promising earlier work conducted after researchers realised that the rough skin of sharks helps trap air bubbles against their bodies and this boundary layer reduces the surface drag their bodies create in moving through the water. This allows sharks to swim fast with much less expenditure of energy than would otherwise be required.

Technological R&D – Other Developments In another R&D example, Lufthansa Technik’s IDAIR joint venture with Panasonic Avionics Corporation in Hamburg develops, builds and supplies customised in-flight entertainment, communications and cabin-management systems for VIP aircraft, and custom products for commercial airlines. Meanwhile, it is also involved in at least three projects to develop an electrically powered aircraft tug, catering vehicle (by LHG Sky Chefs and Lufthansa Engineering and Operational Services, a Lufthansa Technik subsidiary which specialises in ground-support equipment and maintenance tooling), and an electric self-taxiing system for aircraft. One of the three projects, the wonderfully named ‘eSchlepper’ designed in Israel, is a tug which wraps around the aircraft’s nosewheel and can be controlled either by a tug driver or with control passed to the pilots of the aircraft. It is used for towing unpowered aircraft out to a runway holding point where their engines can be started. Elsewhere this year, Lufthansa Technik is equipping 20 of Lufthansa’s Airbus A321s with the BoardConnect in-flight entertainment system developed by Lufthansa Group IT company, Lufthansa Systems. The wireless access points (WAPs) required for this system were developed by Lufthansa Technik. The WAP unit is unlike previous WAP systems, which are physically separate from their associated antenna hardware making installation and maintenance problematic, because it can be installed as an integrated system. Lufthansa Technik unveiled its new WAP unit at the Aircraft Interiors Expo held in Hamburg from April 8 to 10. Installed in the aircraft, the new unit supports Very High Throughput (VHT) to IEEE 802.11ac, a next-generation Wi-Fi standard that is not yet even widely used on the ground – to enable transfer speeds of 1.3 Gb/ per second. Another example of the breadth of Lufthansa Technik’s technology R&D efforts is the variety of patient transport devices the group has developed. These devices can be integrated into aircraft cabins in a flexible way. The company offers applications ranging from customised installations on commercial airliners and VIP aircraft all the way up to providing a flying hospital. Its Patient Transport Unit is a mobile intensive-care unit for use in an aircraft. The Lufthansa Technik stretcher NG can be installed above most types of economy-class seats in just a few minutes. Yet another area of technology R&D in which Lufthansa Technik is active is in developing aircraft-cabin lighting systems. The new HelioJet LED lighting system created by the company in partnership with Schott AG is now certified for aviation use. The partners boast that this new LED lighting system has the advantages of LED technology but does not suffer from the colour changes that normally afflict ageing LED bulbs. According to Lufthansa Technik, the HelioJet LED lighting system consists of just a few elements and can be integrated into aircraft cabins of every size. The partners say the system is flexible enough to enable the light to be controlled either by VIP passengers using their personal smartphones or by airline cabin crew using a touch-sensitive control screen.



COMMERCIAL LUFTHANSA TECHNIK The system has been flying since 2013 and is certified for use on the entire Airbus A320 family. Later this year the partner companies are planning to offer a full-colour RGBW LED system with the launch of their new HelioJet Spectrumcc (colour control) system. Lufthansa Technik also operates a Cabin Innovation Centre in Hamburg. According to the group, this is a ‘think-tank’ for new cabin and in-flight entertainment products. In addition to offices, the centre features test laboratories and exhibition areas for new products. More than 150 employees work there to develop products such as in-flight entertainment and cabin management systems and new seat concepts, for airline and private-operator customers throughout the world.

future – what technology is available to make [MRO] faster, better, cheaper?” The growing use of carbon-fibre composite structures in aircraft provides a prime example of the need for MRO investment in new or upgraded repair technologies. The carbonfibre repair methods and equipment in place for the current generation of airliners won’t be able to handle the huge all-composite wings, fuselage barrels and panels that manufacturers are now developing for the next generation of commercial jets. These issues are of vital importance to Lufthansa Technik because Lufthansa has more than 200 new aircraft on order which will present new repair challenges. Lufthansa is still Lufthansa Technik’s biggest single customer, even though in-house business from Lufthansa Group now represents only about 30% of its revenues. Seventy per cent of its business comes from its other 770 airline, privateoperator and manufacturer customers. Not only has Lufthansa ordered the Bombardier CSeries for group subsidiary Swiss International Air Lines and the Boeing 777-9X for itself, both of which types will have allcomposite wings, but it has also ordered up to 55 Airbus A350-900s, the fuselages of which will be made of carbon-fibre composite panels. Additionally, for different batches of the 100 A320neo-family jets for which Lufthansa has

Continuous Improvement and New Repairs

The investment effort that Lufthansa Technik directs at technology innovation for new aircraft or engine systems is just the tip of the iceberg. The group invests far more in continuous improvement in its MRO processes and production, according to Henningsen. “The investments are more linked to further developing MRO and not creating something new,” he says. “We still have airplanes which are flying and which need to be maintained. The question is, how will they be maintained in the

placed firm orders, it has ordered both of the available engine types: the Pratt & Whitney PW1100G-JM and the CFM International LEAP-1A. It has done so partly to help Lufthansa Technik gain a quick understanding of the maintenance complexities of both new engine types. The P&W geared-turbofan engine with an oil-distribution system for the reduction gearbox which links its low-pressure spool indirectly to the fan, is one of its most complex technological advances but shouldn’t present too many repair challenges technologically. However, the LEAP-1A represents a first in commercial aircraft engines by containing silicon carbide ceramic matrix composite materials in some of the parts in its hot section. Handling these ‘SiC-SiC’ composites will be a new experience for every commercial-engine MRO company. “It’s a challenge, but actually we like it,” says Henningsen. “We never come to a standstill – it’s always going forward. It’s a stimulation and a differentiation.”

Joint Ventures One of the most notable features of Lufthansa Technik’s business is the way that, in order to grow, it has developed joint ventures with airlines and manufacturers throughout the world. The group has adopted this approach for a variety of reasons, according to Henningsen.

1 Checking an A340-600 Trent 500 engine during maintenance at Frankfurt. Gregor Schläger/Lufthansa Technik AG 2 Borescope inspection. Gregor Schläger/Lufthansa Technik AG 3 Visual inspection of a CFM56 in the engine shop of Lufthansa Technik in Hamburg. Gregor Schläger/Lufthansa Technik AG 4 Fixing a fuel pump to a CFM56-5B engine during overhaul at the Hamburg facility. Sonja Brüggemann/Lufthansa Technik AG 5 Video borescope of an Airbus A321’s V2500 engine. Sonja Brüggemann/Lufthansa Technik AG 6 Inspection of the first stage fan disk of a CF6-80C2B1F engine. Gregor Schläger/ Lufthansa Technik AG 7 Fixing clamps to a CFM56-5B engine during reassembly after overhaul. Sonja Brüggemann//Lufthansa Technik AG 8 Technicians assemble a front cone of a CFM56-5B engine. Gregor Schläger/Lufthansa Technik AG 9 Fixing an oil pipe to a CFM56-5C engine during overhaul at the Hamburg facility. Sonja Brüggemann/Lufthansa Technik AG 10 Video borescope of an Airbus A321’s V2500 engine. Sonja Brüggemann/Lufthansa Technik AG



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LUFTHANSA TECHNIK COMMERCIAL “One reason is [that] we created facilities where we have lower production costs than in core facilities,” he says. Typical of these are its airframe-MRO facilities in Asia and on the geographical periphery of Europe, where labour costs tend to be lower than in Western Europe and North America. In these lower labour cost countries, Lufthansa Technik and its JV partners can accomplish the intensive man-hour work of airframe maintenance at rates that are competitive with other local providers. (Of course, Henningsen points out, they have to ensure that work done half a world away from Hamburg is still performed in accordance with its quality standards and corporate values.) A second reason for Lufthansa Technik’s fondness for joint ventures is that “we teamed up with some airlines that needed additional support and we created joint ventures with these partners,” says Henningsen. A third reason is that, for spare parts, “we created logistical centres so to have the relevant outlets positioned” strategically in places where they could be most useful. A fourth reason was, “to join forces with a partner who has a similar interest and where together we can [focus] even more strongly on economies of scale , where we join together and do special repairs in a dedicated shop.” Additionally, says Henningsen, “We have a number of training schools around the globe. We have separated the training arm of Lufthansa Technik into a separate legal entity and they also have, again, their daughter companies positioned globally. The same is the case with Lufthansa Logistik, which is also a 100% daughter company of Lufthansa Technik. They are performing services for Lufthansa Technik

and also positioning themselves with outlets on the different continents.” Lufthansa Technik has a sixth reason for creating some of its joint ventures, particularly those with airframe and engine manufacturers. These help it win more business and gain technical acumen at the same time. Lufthansa Bombardier Aviation Services (LBAS), located at Berlin-Schönefeld Airport (which is the location of the future, much-delayed Berlin-Brandenburg International Airport), handles airframe maintenance for Bombardier Challenger business jets. It appears possible that in the future LBAS could add the Bombardier CSeries – which will be operated by at least one Lufthansa Group airline, Swiss International – to its aircraft-MRO lines as well. Also in Germany, Lufthansa Technik’s N3 Engine Overhaul Services joint venture with Rolls-Royce in Erfurt is particularly noteworthy, being the European Competence Centre for overhaul of Rolls-Royce Trent 500s, 700s and 900s.

Manufacturer Competition and Co-operation

Henningsen admits that in the modern engine MRO market, Lufthansa Technik is often in competition with the engine manufacturers, which are major players in the aftermarket for the overhaul of their products. This is because the engine manufacturers want to try to control the market for spares for their engines, in order to help amortise their investments in designing the engines. Also, as engine technology become increasingly high-tech, they increasingly feel they need to keep tight control of the intellectual property involved in their products.

The engine manufacturers also believe they can handle the high-tech MRO work involved in overhauling modern aero engines better than independent MRO facilities. This is because they understand best the technologies involved in the engines, (having developed them in the first place) they can provide spares cheaply, and they can invest more in the tooling and advanced techniques required to overhaul the advanced materials that make up some engine parts. But while Lufthansa Technik has to regard the engine manufacturers as competitors on the one hand, “On the other, they are also our biggest suppliers and we are one of their biggest customers – we buy spare engines, and we buy all the material involved,” says Henningsen. “But we are also developing repairs together and we are sharing operational data, because the manufacturers are very interested in firsthand, operationally proved engineering data. “We have the operational experience and the link between the operational experience and the impact on the engine itself, or its components,” he adds. “This is very important knowledge. This is, of course, of major interest to the OEMs [original equipment manufacturers]. So we are working together in that field, because we are also interested that we receive faster improvements if we find problems with components or with engines. “Or if we have to do improvements ourselves – because we are not only a maintenance organisation, but also a design and a production organisation, certified – then of course we also speak to the OEM,” says Henningsen. “We need their know-how, they need our know-how. This is give-and-take. And I see this probably


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intensifying in the future, because maybe not too many in the MRO world are capable of delivering that. Beyond that, also, I think the OEMs cannot do everything themselves, so they rely on supporters in the industry who also have independent opinions.”

Lufthansa Technik and the Environment

Environmental friendliness and sustainability has become a big deal for Lufthansa Technik, as it has for most of the rest of the airline industry. “We have done a lot here in regard to the overhaul side, with cleaning and detergents,” says Henningsen. “We are now completely on water-based solutions; we have mainly taken the chemicals out, and we are developing paints with non-hazardous materials. So a lot has been done, but it is continuing.” But the group isn’t just making efforts to be environmentally responsible in order to feel good about itself. It is also doing it with cost-cutting very much at the forefront of its corporate mind. Lufthansa Technik is making a determined effort to achieve weight savings throughout Lufthansa’s operation, “because everything which saves fuel is very good for the environment – and it’s also very good for your pocket,” says Henningsen. “They are both going in the same right direction. So we want to save and by saving we are also protecting. We have a lot of innovative ideas in the pipeline to continue that.” These ideas concern not only weight saving, but also monitoring and improvement of engine performance. “It is easy to know what engine performance you have when the engine is in the test cell, but the question is, how do you monitor and how do you manage the engine’s performance all the time, with regard to optimised fuel burn?” asks Henningsen.




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“There is a big [fuel] bill involved in there and also a big portion of sustainability in regard to environmental questions,” he notes. “We have continuous engine health monitoring – this is what most airlines do today.” First of all this must measure the engine’s reliability, so that the engine doesn’t have to suffer any in-flight shutdowns, and then its actual performance. “And then we see the engine is not running in the ideal pattern; so we have to re-adjust, re-trim the engine,” he says. “This needs data. It needs the right interpretation of the data and it needs the skills to adjust the engine to the optimal pattern of operation.”

Cost cutting Like many other industries – and perhaps even more than most because of its traditionally low profit margins – the airline industry is always under intense pressure to reduce costs. Since its main customers are airlines, Lufthansa Technik has to be properly mindful of costs. Because the cost of labour is higher in Western Europe than in most other regions of the world, and because its German-domiciled employees are generally very well educated and highly skilled, Lufthansa Technik tends to keep close to home what it calls its “core competencies” – the highly skilled work of component repair and engine overhaul, which also represent its highest-margin activities. However, “this is also under cost pressure – always,” says Henningsen. “That’s why we do a lot in regard to lean [production], in regard to cost-cutting, improving processes and productivity, material expenditure and overall efficiency. We have made really tremendous progress in the last five years.” This is just as well: although Lufthansa Technik is one of the most profitable companies

in Lufthansa Group, it hasn’t prevented the parent group requiring it to improve its bottom line by €110 million ($153 million) annually under Lufthansa Group’s massive SCORE restructuring programme. “This is a lot,” says Henningsen, who reveals that SCORE’s targets also require Lufthansa Technik “to reduce our costs for our main customers inside the Lufthansa Group.” These “very strong” SCORE requirements provide another strong impetus for Lufthansa Technik to innovate constantly in order to keep reducing its costs. However, Lufthansa’s Technik’s huge complement of capabilities and its being a market leader help the group to keep costs down, he says: “We also have potential to expand our business, and economy of scale is an important factor in our world, if you’re talking about engine or component repair.”

A Vital Aviation History Role Lufthansa Technik also plays a key role in maintaining for posterity Germany’s and Lufthansa’s long aviation history – and it does so in the most practical way. In 1984, two years before Lufthansa turned 60, it purchased an original Junkers Ju-52 built for the airline in 1936 and operated first by Lufthansa and then by the Luftwaffe until the end of World War Two. The aircraft eventually found its way to an American aviation enthusiast in 1969 (the person from whom Lufthansa later bought it) after a long operating life in Norway and Ecuador. Lufthansa Group set up a foundation called the Deutsche Lufthansa Berlin-Stiftung (DLBS) to own the Ju52 and operate it at air shows and on revenueproducing special flights. The idea was to keep the historic aircraft in the public eye in Germany. However, the aircraft needed a complete overhaul before it could be displayed publicly and flown





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1 Line maintenance of a < TBC’s > landing gear at Munich. Gregor Schläger/Lufthansa Technik AG 2 A high-speed grinder in operation at Lufthansa Technik AERO Alzey. Gregor Schläger/Lufthansa Technik AG 3 Overhaul of auxiliary power units. Gregor Schläger/Lufthansa Technik AG 4 Final assembly of an A340300’s main landing gear after overhaul. Gregor Schläger/Lufthansa Technik AG 5 Assembly of a repaired landing gear for an Airbus A310. Gregor Schläger/ Lufthansa Technik AG 6 Overhaul of the nose landing gear from an Airbus A340-300. Gregor Schläger/Lufthansa Technik AG 7 Wingtip mounted position light of an Airbus A340-600. Gregor Schläger/Lufthansa Technik AG 8 Boeing 777 landing gear during rework with Hawker Pacific Aerospace Landing Gear Services in the UK. Gregor Schläger/Lufthansa Technik AG 9 Nozzle Guide Vanes being heat-formed at 1000°C. Gregor Schläger/Lufthansa Technik AG 10 Landing gear assembly work on a Boeing 747-400 during a D-check. Gregor Schläger/Lufthansa Technik AG 11 Milling of the sliding piston bush of an A340’s landing gear. Gregor Schläger/Lufthansa Technik AG 12 Overhaul of a PW4000 engine in a high speed grinder at Lufthansa Technik in Hamburg. Gregor Schläger/Lufthansa Technik AG 13 Repair of HPC Blades. Gregor Schläger/Lufthansa Technik AG

on public charter flights. Lufthansa Technik was given the job and – practical as ever – used the exercise to help train many of its Hamburg-based maintenance and engineering apprentices. The result of the work was a quite exquisite job of restoration. The Ju-52 received not only a thorough airframe overhaul but also an interior renovation to bring its cabin back to its as-new standard in 1936, but using more modern, fire-resistant cabin materials. The co*ckpit of the Ju-52 – registered D-AQUI and now known as ‘Auntie Ju’ – was also given a complete makeover to provide the pilots with digital instruments and cathode ray-tube ‘glass’ instrument displays, just like those in modern airliners.

Restoring the ‘Super Star’ Now, DLBS and Lufthansa Technik are close to completing their most ambitious, high-profile project yet. In December 2007, the DLBS bought at auction three Lockheed L-1649A Starliners – the last, largest and longest-range version of the classic Lockheed Constellation design. The package included 13 engines as well as countless spare parts. Immediately after acquiring the L-1649As, the Deutsche Lufthansa Berlin-Stiftung appointed Lufthansa Technik to restore one of the three newly purchased aircraft to an airworthy condition, using parts from the other two, ex-TWA aircraft it had purchased as well as from the spare parts inventory it had bought.

Lufthansa operated four L-1649As from 1958 on North Atlantic passenger routes, alongside its L-1049G Super Constellations. The first ‘Super Star’ – as Lufthansa called the type – made its first passenger-carrying transatlantic flight on February 13, 1958, from Hamburg via Frankfurt to New York, covering a distance of 6,189km (3,846 miles). The German carrier introduced its Senator First Class service on its ‘Super Stars’ in November 1958. Each aircraft carried just 32 passengers, pampering them to a high degree. Each aircraft had 20 de luxe reclining seats and 12 First Class seats, four of which could be converted to beds. However, in 1960 Lufthansa began transatlantic jet operations with Boeing 707s and the much slower L-1649A Super Stars were immediately made obsolete. Lufthansa prolonged the life of two of the four aircraft by converting them to freighters, which it operated on transatlantic routes between Germany and the United States for several more years. It is one of those two freighter-converted aircraft, registered D-ALAN, which Lufthansa Technik is now restoring, at Auburn/Lewiston Municipal Airport in Maine. The aircraft is being restored to full flying condition and with its superluxury cabin interior fully rebuilt to its original standard. Lufthansa Technik hopes to complete the structural work on the aircraft this year. Once this is complete and the ‘Super Star’ has completed its pre-delivery flight-test programme,

Lufthansa will fly D-ALAN over to Germany where it and the DLBS will offer special charters with the world’s last flying L-1649A Starliner. In typically pragmatic fashion, Lufthansa Technik is using the highly complex Starliner restoration to help train its apprentices. Twelve of them are working on the fuselage structure round the aircraft’s aft passenger door at Auburn. Others are working on manufacturing its cabin components – some of them as modifications of cabin components scavenged from Boeing 737s recently retired by Lufthansa, as well as components modified from A320 cabins – in a full mock-up of the Super Star’s cabin at Hamburg. It seems Lufthansa Technik is quite prepared to use the knowledge and skills it employs at the very forefront of modern civil-aviation technology when paying tribute to its distinguished past.






France’s Air Defenders

Part 1

The French Air Force has one of Europe’s most comprehensive air defence networks, as Henri-Pierre Grolleau explains in the first of a two-part feature

Intelligence An air defence network’s efficiency relies on three elements: surveillance, evaluation and intervention. On average, there are 10,000 aircraft movements a day in French airspace, with up to 300 an hour in the Paris area alone at peak times. Intelligence is crucial in detecting threats among such a large number of flights. International co-operation has intensified since the 9/11 attacks on the US, national and allied intelligence agencies share data to improve airspace surveillance, contributing to the security of flights in French airspace and beyond. The responsibility for detecting threats lies

with the Centres de Détection et de Contrôle (CDCs) and a dense network of civilian and military radars. The commanding officer of the CDC 05.942 at Base Aérienne 942 Mont Verdun, just north of Lyon (names have been withheld for security reasons), said: “We have, in continental France and Corsica, nearly 90 fully interconnected military and civilian radars and the CDCs handle all the data flowing into the system, including flight plans, transponder codes and airline schedules. If required, the whole network could be augmented and reinforced by an Avord-based E-3F AWACS, or even by an [Aéronavale] Flottille 4F E-2C Hawkeye from Lorient Lann-Bihoué.”


Philippe Noret/AirTeamImages


he Armée de l’Air (French Air Force) has two main operational missions: nuclear deterrence and air defence. The air force is part of a broader national security concept protecting France against a range of conventional and asymmetric threats. The modern concept of air defence in France began on November 26, 1958 when President Charles de Gaulle signed the first text of a law which allowed the use of force against civilian or military aircraft refusing to obey an order.


MILITARY FRENCH AIR FORCE AIR DEFENCE 1,2,3&4 A French Air Force pilot races to a Rafale fighter on a QRA scramble from BA118 Mont-de-Marsan. 5 AdlA fighters and helicopters are maintained at sevenminute readiness during the day and 15 minutes at night. 6 The Fennec is suitable for intercepting targets travelling at up to 100kts (185km/h), the average cruise speed of a light aircraft.

1 2


3 4

Emergencies are tackled by the Centre National des Opérations Aériennes (CNOA, national air operations centre), a highly secure command centre buried below Mont Verdun. “The CNOA undertakes a large range of missions and aircraft that don’t conform to normal procedures for routing and recognition are closely monitored from here,” added the CNOA’s commander. “When anything suspicious happens in French airspace, we’re in charge of scrambling fighters or helicopters. We then become an operational link between the pilot in his co*ckpit and the CDC on one side and the military and political decisionmakers on the other. This is the reason why the CNOA’s ops room is permanently manned, all year round.”

Command Chain The French air defence concept is particularly robust because of its ultra-short chain of command and near-instantaneous decision-making process. With an airliner travelling at 900km/h (559mph) – or 15km (9.3 miles) per minute – everything has to happen quickly to deal with a threat. Under the 1958 Constitution, the Prime Minister (not the President) is responsible for the defence of the nation, including air policing. A permanent and direct link has long



REINFORCED DETACHMENTS Major events in France that draw large crowds or high-ranking foreign representatives – such as the Paris Air Show, the G20 Summit, the Bastille Day ceremonies and the D-Day anniversary in Normandy – require increased protection. Accordingly, special reinforced detachments are created locally to set up a hard-to-penetrate security ‘bubble’. Radar and detection coverage at low, medium and high level is supported by the deployment of mobile radars such as the Saab Giraffe now in service with the Armée de l’Air. Observers equipped with optronics systems and thermal cameras also deploy in the field to visually identify aircraft attempting to fly through the net. A range of surface-to-air systems, comprising Mistral, Crotale NG and/or Mamba launchers, provide a heavy punch in conjunction with fighters and armed helicopters. TB30 Epsilons are often drafted in from their Cognac base to intercept slow movers and Harfang UAVs have been used in the past to expand surveillance coverage. If need be, in a coastal area, a French Navy Cassard or Forbin-class air defence destroyer could be included in the air defence network. Meanwhile detachments are set up at local airfields to co-ordinate use of the restricted airspace between military personnel and private and commercial pilots.

existed between the AdlA’s Hautes Autorités de la Défense Aérienne (HADAs, air defence high authorities) and the Prime Minister, without any intermediaries. There are several carefully chosen and highly-trained HADAs including a four-star general and a classified number of deputies. The general, who is also the commanding officer of the Commandement de la Défense Aérienne et des Opérations Aériennes 6 (CDAOA, air defence and air operations command), is in charge of evaluating the situation, assessing the level of the threat and applying directives. He will decide to scramble a fighter or helicopter against a potentially hostile aircraft and will order the pilot to carry out visual identification, surveillance, shadowing, escort, interrogation, route deviation (forcing the bogey to change heading), diversion to land, the firing of warning shots or, if required, destruction after a thorough identification process. HADAs can also close airspace depending on the exact nature of the emergency. The HADAs face a daunting task: with the small amount of information they might have obtained, they have to provide the Prime Minister’s office with an analysis of the situation so the right decision is taken in the least amount of time. That’s why prospective

HADAs follow a comprehensive training course during which they will be confronted with more and more complex scenarios.

Shared Responsibilities The AdlA carries out air defence in close co-operation with other agencies to ensure any emergencies are dealt with quickly. They include the Police de l’Air et des Frontières

(air and borders police), Gendarmerie des Transports Aériens (air transport Gendarmerie), the civil aviation authority, the anti-terrorist co-ordination unit, the internal central intelligence agency, the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES, national centre for space studies), the atomic energy agency, Electricité de France (EDF, the national electricity supplier), Sécurité Civile



MILITARY FRENCH AIR FORCE AIR DEFENCE and the prison administration. The AdlA is also involved in the fight against various types of trafficking and each year the CNOA responds to an increasing number of requests from the customs, police and the Gendarmerie. The cooperation is proving successful catches are on the rise. For instance, 12kg (26lb) of cocaine and 1.1kg (2.4lb) of heroin were seized on board a light aircraft at Abbeville airfield on October 31, 2012, something that wouldn’t have been feasible without the help of AdlA assets and personnel. The CNOA can also ask for airfields to be opened at night for medical emergencies such as inbound or outbound organ transplant transport flights.

Fighter QRAs For the AdlA, and all other air forces worldwide, 9/11 came as a shock. At the time, only two quick reaction alerts (QRAs) were held in France, one in the south and north. In the immediate aftermath of the attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, they were increased to six. Today the AdlA maintains four QRAs (at Creil, Orange, Mont-de-Marsan and Lorient), each with either two Mirage 2000 or two Rafale interceptors. The four bases are roughly situated at the four corners of France, providing good geographical coverage to minimise reaction times. Creil is also close to Paris, a decisive advantage in defending an obvious target for terrorists. “If needed, we could set up another two QRAs within six hours to expand our readiness and further increase the number of targets that could be tackled by our fighters,” said the CNOA commander. “QRAs are moved as required, when freezing fog is forecast for example, or when runway resurfacing is planned at one of the four bases,” he continued. “Our fighters are required to be airborne in less than seven minutes in daytime and 15 minutes at night. Readiness can be cut down to two minutes

if needed, with the pilot sitting in the co*ckpit, ready to go. Finally, we could maintain fighters airborne for extended periods of time thanks to in-flight refuelling.” NATO policy is to launch two fighters on each QRA scramble, a necessity for countries that could end up intercepting combat aircraft: examples are Norway or the UK when they have ‘visitors’ from Russia. Because of France’s geographical position in Europe, French interceptors are unlikely to meet potentially hostile aircraft and, instead, the AdlA has a pragmatic approach: singletons are usually scrambled as it’s felt that’s appropriate to deal with an airliner or a lost private pilot. This structure means the number of emergencies or threats that can be dealt with simultaneously is twice as high as could be taken on if two aircraft were launched to respond to one incident. The AdlA does however operate pairs in NATO missions in the Baltics or Iceland.

Shadowing Airliners Each year, the French Air Force is confronted with a number of real emergencies. In 2013 its fighters were scrambled on 67 occasions, mostly to deal with a loss of communication (‘com loss’) between an airliner and the civilian air traffic controllers. “As a way to minimise operating costs, some airlines ask their pilots to cut corners to reduce their fuel consumption,” says an anonymous HADA. “This type of behaviour [means] we immediately find ourselves with an airliner that becomes highly suspect because it is not respecting instructions or following its flight plan. “We never take any risk, and if we have any doubts an interception will be initiated. The first step will be to make sure we don’t already have a fighter operating in the area which could be re-tasked – if its pilot is qualified and if he has enough fuel left for its new mission. This is even faster than scrambling a QRA fighter. We recently diverted a French Air Force evaluation

1 The Aster 30 land-based surface-to-air missile system (known as the SAMP/T or Surface-to-Air Missile Platform/Terrain) is used by the French Air Force to fulfil the ground-based area defence mission. 2 A Mirage 2000 refuels from a KC-135 during a practice QRA mission. All images Henri-Pierre Grolleau unless stated.



centre’s Rafale to intercept an airliner coming from Spain. Radio contact had been lost when it had crossed the border and it took just a few minutes for the Rafale to carry out the interception. “We adapt our reactions to the situation. Usually, the sudden appearance of a fighter is enough to ‘wake up’ the airliner captain and radio contact is soon re-established. In August 2013, we experienced three simultaneous ‘com losses’ in less than an hour. The result was three successful interceptions.” The CNOA and the HADA can make direct contact with any airline’s flight operations management centres. If required, and in accordance with French privacy protection laws, they can obtain passenger lists which could rapidly be screened by intelligence agencies to confirm any threats to aviation security.

Typical QRA The author was given access to the QRA operation at Mont-de-Marsan, where two fullyarmed Rafales parked inside hardened aircraft shelters are held at heightened readiness.




MIRAGE 2000s AND RAFALEs After the retirement in June of the Mirage F1CR, QRA is now provided by Mirage 2000s and Rafales (the final Mirage F1 QRA was held between January 28 and February 4, 2014). Two single-seat variants of the faithful delta fighter, the 2000C and the 2000-5F, participate in air defence. For the time being, two-seat Mirage 2000N and 2000D variants are not used in the role because of the perceived lack of performance of their Antipole terrain following/airto-surface radar in air-to-air modes and, more importantly, their lack of an internal gun. For air defence missions, the 2000-5F and the Rafale are armed with the MICA (Missile d’Interception, de Combat et d’Autodéfense), an advanced multirole lightweight (112kg/246lb) weapon capable of interceptions beyond visual range and in close-up combat. Two variants of the MICA are carried: the radar-guided MICA EM (electromagnétique) and the infrared-guided MICA IR (infrared). Since the withdrawal of the semi-active Super 530D, the Mirage 2000C can now only be fitted with two short-range infrared-guided Magic 2 air-to-air missiles. For the peacetime air defence mission the main weapon is the gun, essential for a wide range of scenarios. For instance, in the 1990s, a French Mirage 2000 was scrambled to destroy a hot air balloon which had accidentally been released by its owner. It was in the middle of the Toulouse area and was a major danger for civilian air traffic. The Mirage 2000 easily brought down its target with 30mm rounds. Some readers might be surprised that the French Air Force fires shells above terra firma, but this type of ammunition is equipped with a self-destruct system. When the cannons (Defa 554 on the Mirage 2000 or 30M791 on the Rafale) fire, a high-speed rotation movement begins and, as soon as the shell’s rpm goes below a certain level, the projectile explodes leaving only tiny, harmless fragments to fall to the ground.

The detachment is manned by two pilots and five maintainers, all ‘locked’ in the QRA facility for a week at a time. The more the aircraft fly, the less prone they are to mechanical or electrical failure. This is one of the reasons why pilots can expect to be launched once a day on average for practice scrambles. “As soon as the siren sounds and the phone rings, the clock starts ticking,” explains one of the pilots. “We have seven minutes to be airborne, and every exercise

is timed by the CNOA as a way to evaluate the performance of the aircrews and engineers. Everybody knows what they are expected to do and no time is lost. For a live interception we’re sometimes cleared to accelerate to supersonic speed, without any restriction in altitude. “We follow very strict guidelines for the interception itself. We first position ourselves 1,000ft [304m] below and 1,000m [3,280ft] behind our ‘target’ to determine the type of aircraft, its speed, its altitude and its

heading. For a more precise identification, to determine markings and tail numbers, we close to 300m (984ft) without endangering the other aircraft. We will then come abeam to show our presence. “Our first action will be to check the behaviour of the passengers. If they look calm and quiet, we are reassured and a short radio contact might then be enough. Without any radio contact, we rock our wings to give orders. If required, we could even fire warning shots with our 30mm gun. In




One of the two Rafales held on quick reaction alert at BA118 Mont-de-Marsan.

the French Air Force, all fighter pilots are sworn in by a judge at the beginning of their career. This means we’re officially cleared to record any infringement of the existing regulations and we always carry a digital camera to record evidence. When the twoseat Rafale B fighters of Escadron de Chasse 1/91 ‘Gascogne’ are on QRA, the weapons system operator in the back is in charge of taking the photo shots.”

Ideal Interceptor Pilots and maintainers say the Rafale is ideal for the air defence role. “Its power and its



eye-watering acceleration allow us to perform what we call high-performance take-off runs: after lifting off in less than 450m [1,476ft], we hug the runway until reaching Mach 0.95 before pulling firmly on the side-stick to avoid going through the sound barrier,” the pilot explains. “We pull up to initiate a 60o climb. This proves very impressive because our seat is reclined at 29o, giving us the impression we’re climbing vertically. “The Rafale carries a lot of fuel and we can shadow a suspect aircraft over very long distances, even with only one drop tank. Obviously, the fighter is fitted with an in-flight

refuelling probe and we’re often asked to refuel during QRA practice missions. The Front Sector Optronics [a sensor] is one of the Rafale’s most useful systems as we can identify unknown aircraft at stand-off distances. [The Rafale’s] only drawback compared to the older Mirage 2000 is the slightly longer amount of time needed to start up the two engines.”

‘Com Loss’ An incorrect transponder setting or, even worse, a ‘com loss’, are major problems for AdlA decision-makers as they need


an immediate reaction to ensure the unresponsive aircraft has not been hijacked. The CNOA commander gave a recent example: “On January 26, 2014 we were confronted with a classic situation when a Bulgarian Antonov An-26 flying from Madrid to Birmingham failed to establish radio contact with French civilian air traffic controllers. International rules were not respected and the duty officers decided to scramble a fighter from Lorient Lann-Bihoué. The Mirage F1CR intercepted the cargo plane and tried, without success, to contact it on Guard, the emergency and distress

radio frequencies which must be monitored at all times by commercial aircraft. “Our pilot tried everything in the manual to attract the attention of the crew, but to no avail. The An-26 didn’t pose any immediate threat and our aircrew were ordered to shadow it to monitor its behaviour until it was intercepted by a pair of Royal Air Force Typhoons in UK airspace. The An-26’s captain was later arrested by the British police and it’s likely he will be prosecuted.” Suspect aircraft are sometimes forced to divert into a French air base or a civilian airfield. “On October 24, 2006, a microlight

registered in Germany, but flown by an Italian pilot, took off from Deauville airport in Normandy,” continued the CNOA commander. “It initially headed west, towards the D-Day beaches, before turning north on reaching the Cotentin Peninsula. A few minutes later it entered a restricted area and overflew the La Hague nuclear waste recycling plant and the Flamanville nuclear power station. “The microlight, the second of two, then made its way into Brittany with the intention of landing in Dinan airfield. There, Gendarmes were waiting, but the first



MILITARY FRENCH AIR FORCE AIR DEFENCE aircraft warned the [other] by radio that they were expected, so he turned back, heading east to escape. “Soon afterwards he was intercepted by a Mirage 2000 scrambled from Creil and forced into Granville airfield in Normandy, where another group of Gendarmes realised he was carrying highly sophisticated aerial photography equipment. After an in-depth investigation, we realised the pilot had intentionally overflown many sensitive facilities in France to photograph them from the air.” The event prompted a review of the procedures to take better account of the microlight threat. The inquiry also led to improvements in police and Gendarmerie procedures used to prosecute offenders.

Lost Pilots Each year, French Air Force fighters and helicopters are scrambled to assist lost pilots. “These are extremely gratifying missions because Armée de l’Air pilots help save lives,” said the CNOA commander. “On September 12, 2012 a Cessna 172 from Toussus-le-Noble, near Paris, bound for Ussel in the southwest

of France, got stranded above a thin, but dense, cloud layer. “Its pilot, the only person on board, managed to contact civilian air controllers who informed us of the arising situation. We didn’t know precisely where the Cessna was, but a French Navy E-2C Hawkeye transiting the area managed to localise it before turning itself into a communication relay. “A Mirage 2000C was scrambled from Orange to intercept the light aircraft. Our pilot was able to safely guide the Cessna into Limoges airport, where it landed with its tanks nearly empty. It was the perfect example of a successful joint, inter-agency operation.” Occasionally foreign aircraft are assisted. “A Swiss light aircraft was lost in bad weather in the Bâle terminal manoeuvring area, close to the Vosges mountains, a potentially deadly situation,” recalls a former EC 1/2 ‘Cigognes’ Mirage 2000-5F pilot. “I was already airborne and was re-tasked to assist the lost pilot. I modified my radar selection and had no difficulty at all finding him. I carried out the interception, flying alongside but not too close. He was so slow I could not formate on him and had to fly a pattern above him. I

1 The Fennecs have two snipers aboard, highly-trained to engage a micro-drone, a paramotor or a paraglider. 2 Intelligence is vital in finding threats among the 10,000 daily aircraft movements in French airspace. 3 A network of detection and control centres identifies threats in French airspace.

2 3





SPACE SURVEILLANCE France is among the few countries with a space surveillance capability and the Armée de l’Air deploys sensors that help build up a ‘recognised space picture’ as part of an expanded concept of air defence. The Grand Réseau Adapté à la Veille Spatiale (GRAVES, a large network adapted to space surveillance) bi-static radar system is designed to detect and track satellites overflying continental France. This is essential to predict the fall of debris on French territory; avoid collisions between debris in space and French active satellites; integrate space into combat operations (detecting foreign reconnaissance satellites to determine when they will overfly the most sensitive military bases); and protect French satellites against hostile activity. The AdlA will shortly set up the Centre Opérationnel de Surveillance Militaire des Objets Spatiaux (COSMOS, or operational centre for the military surveillance of objects in space) at Mont-Verdun to conduct all these tasks from a single location.

managed to establish a radio contact and gave him a vector towards Bâle. He later flew safely back to Switzerland.”

Helicopter QRAs The French Air Force is unique in maintaining five AS555AN Fennec helicopters for QRA missions at four locations: Saint-Dizier, Orange, Bordeaux and Villacoublay (two). The bases were chosen to provide air defence to strategic cities and targets such as Paris, Bordeaux, various nuclear power plants and key industrial facilities. Like the fighters, the Fennecs are maintained at seven-minute readiness during the day and 15 minutes at night. Each Fennec is flown by a crew of four – pilot, co-pilot and two snipers, with one of the latter qualified as team leader. The snipers are trained to very high standards. They carry two types of weapons: a precision 7.62mm rifle (a bolt-operated FRG2, to be replaced shortly by a semi-automatic HK417) and a 12-gauge FN Herstal TPS pump-action shotgun which can fire either red or green flares or more lethal nine-pellet buckshot ammunition – ideal to engage a micro-drone, a paramotor or a paraglider. With the 7.62mm rifle, snipers claim a precision of 500mm (19.6in) when firing at a target 200m (656ft) away while flying at 110kts (203km/h). For missions at night, the

Fennecs are equipped with either a Chlio or an Ultra 7000 forward-looking infrared turret. Fennecs were scrambled on 113 occasions in 2013. When a ‘slow mover’ flies into a restricted area, a fighter and a Fennec are launched almost simultaneously, the former tasked to make the initial interception. A Mirage 2000 cannot slow down below 150kts (277km/h), however, and it would have difficulty staying with a uncooperative slow mover. The Rafale can fly a little slower – down to 120kts (222km/h) – but

only a helicopter can stay with a microlight or a paramotor. The Fennec is suitable for intercepting targets travelling at up to 100kts (185km/h), the average cruising speed of a Robin or a Cessna light aircraft. Anything faster and the helicopter will have difficulty catching up with its prey unless the interception geometry is favourable. That’s one reason why Fennecs are sent on patrol at random times, ready to carry out an interception should the need suddenly arise. To be continued.




The zero emissions Solar Impulse is being prepared for a round-the-world flight that its creators hope will show what clean technology can achieve. Mark Broadbent reports


arly on a June morning in Switzerland the next stage in the evolution of solar-powered flight took place. The second Solar Impulse aircraft (Si2) departed Payerne, near Lake Neuchatel, on its maiden flight. The aircraft, on the Swiss civil register as HB-SIB, was airborne for two hours and 17 minutes, reaching a top speed of 30kts (56km/h) and an altitude of 5,500ft (1,670m). The numbers may seem



unimpressive compared with those recorded by new commercial airliners and military aircraft during their first flights. But speed and altitude isn’t the point of Si2. Next year the aircraft will be flown by the Solar Impulse project’s founders, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, on the first round-theworld flight powered only by solar energy. Si2 is one of the most unmistakeable aircraft in modern aviation. Though it looks ungainly on the ground, it appears elegant in flight. Its long wing – wider than a Boeing 747 – and slender fuselage have thousands of solar cells. Its makers claim there’s never

been an aircraft of its size that is so light. It weighs about the same as a small van and does not use a drop of aviation fuel or produce emissions. The two Swiss hope to spread a message about the potential of solar energy by flying this machine.

The Concept Piccard had the idea to create a solar aircraft capable of flying round the world in 1999 after co-piloting the Breitling Orbiter 3, which completed the first non-stop circumnavigation by a balloon in March that year. He presented his initial concept


companies signed partnership agreements to provide technical expertise and supplies. Manufacturing a prototype began, later registered HB-SIA (also known as Solar Impulse 1). It was unveiled on June 26, 2009, in front of 800 guests. The first test flight took place from Dübendorf on December 3 that year at the hands of Borschberg and professional test pilot Markus Scherdel.

International Flights HB-SIA flew across Switzerland for the first time in September 2010, visiting Geneva and Zurich airports. The aircraft completed its

first international flight in June 2011 when it flew to Le Bourget for the Paris Airshow, where it was the guest of honour. In 2012 it was flown across the Mediterranean Sea to Morocco, becoming the first solar aircraft to travel between two continents. Last year it was airfreighted to San Francisco, where it began a coast-to-coast tour that ended in New York City. Back at Dübendorf, Si2 was under construction with the lessons from the experiences gained with HB-SIA being fed into its development. Various structural tests were carried out to evaluate the aircraft’s


All images Solar Impulse

to the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), which agreed to launch a feasibility study. Research was led by Borschberg, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology-trained engineer and former Swiss Air Force pilot. A friendship formed between the men and they decided to work together, leading to the public launch of the Solar Impulse project on November 28, 2003. A multi-disciplinary team of aeronautical engineers and solar power specialists from six countries was assembled at Solar Impulse’s Dübendorf base. Technology



1 Solvay’s Solstick PVDF Solef polymer film was used to tape together the solar cells and provide an aerodynamically-efficient wing. 2 Solar Impulse 2 will cruise at 27,887ft (8,500m) during the day and 4,291ft (1,500m) at night.

balance, engine vibration, torsion, fuselage loadings and landing gear. Wind tunnel assessments of the aerodynamic performance were completed at the EPFL’s facilities. After testing was completed, Si2 was taken apart and moved to Payerne. Following re-assembly, taxiing and speed trials took place on the airfield’s runway in May 2014. The first flight was conducted early on the morning of June 2, with Scherdel at the controls, marking the start of an extensive test campaign.

Round the World The circumnavigation will begin in March 2015. It is hoped the journey will be completed four months later. Si2 will set off from an as-yet-undisclosed location in the Persian Gulf (negotiations are currently under way with a host airport) before travelling across the Indian sub-continent and north to China. A non-stop crossing of the Pacific Ocean will precede a North American leg, before the aircraft flies non-stop across the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean and returns to the Gulf. Si2 will fly more than 22,000 miles (35,000km) and remain airborne for approximately 500 flying hours. Crossing oceans and continents is something no solar aircraft has done before and to achieve that the route has been divided into ten stages. Piccard and Borschberg will take turns to fly legs (unlike the first aircraft, Si2 has a single seat). Each pilot will fly for up to five or six consecutive days and nights without landing,




SOLAR IMPULSE TECHNOLOGY before arriving at the next staging post and swapping places with the other. Si2 won’t operate at the high altitudes achieved by other solar-powered aircraft built over the last decade or so, such as the Helios and Zephyr 7 (see Solar Aviation). It will cruise at 27,887ft (8,500m) during the day and 4,291ft (1,500m) at night. Flying great distances using only solar energy remains a challenge and the project’s 100-strong engineering team and its technical partners have had to innovate to make it achievable.

Unlimited Endurance The biggest technical challenge was solar performance. Si2 has 17,248 solar cells spread across its fuselage, wing and horizontal tailplane. The cells, manufactured from monocrystalline silicon, are each just 135 microns (0.0053in/0.1346mm) thick. The energy they capture drives the four engines during daylight hours and charges four lithium-ion polymer batteries, which are mounted in the engine nacelles. After the sun sets, the energy in the batteries (which collectively weigh 633kg/1,395kg, or just over a quarter of Si2’s all-up weight) will power the aircraft through the night. At sunrise, the solar cells will take over again and recharge the batteries ready for the following night. The result, says Borschberg, “is the first and only aircraft in the world which has unlimited endurance. We have an aircraft which is fully sustainable in terms of energy”.

Energy Consumption Solvay, the Brussels-headquartered chemicals group and the Solar Impulse project’s main technical partner since 2004, has had a critical role in developing Si2. A number of its products have been used to help optimise energy consumption. One of the


most important is the monofluoroethylene carbonate (also known as F1EC). This solvent was used as an additive in Si2’s batteries and its electrolytes give each battery an energy density of 260 kilowatt hours per kilogram, making Si2’s batteries some of the bestperforming around. Solvay also provided advanced chemical coatings for Si2 to help maximise the cells’ performance, add strength to the airframe and offer protection from the elements. The company’s Halar ECTFE coating (a copolymer of ethylene and chlorotrifluoroethylene) measures just 20 microns (about 0.0007in/0.0177mm), or one-fifth the thickness of a human hair. It plays a key role

in boosting efficiency by shielding damaging solar radiation and providing water resistance. The Solstick PVDF Solef polymer film, which was used to tape together the solar cells, helps with aerodynamic efficiency by creating a smooth surface on the upper wing.

Saving Weight Lightness was another important design consideration. Despite its 72m (236ft) wingspan (more than 4m, or 13ft, wider than a 747’s), Si2 weighs 2,300kg (5,070lb). Engineers from the Swiss elevator and escalator manufacturer Schindler, another of Solar Impulse’s main partners, used modelling software to assess the airframe’s

SOLAR IMPULSE DETAILS SOLAR CELLS Some 17,248 photovoltaic cells mounted on the wing, tailplane and fuselage drive the four engines and charge four lithium-ion polymer batteries to power the aircraft at night.

WING Si2’s wing is wider than a Boeing 747’s and is made from a lightweight paper honeycomb sandwiched between two carbon fibre layers.

BATTERIES A lithium-ion battery is installed in each engine nacelle. The aircraft will cruise at 77kts (140 km/h)at altitude.

co*ckPIT The 3.8m3 (134cu ft) co*ckpit will be home to the pilots for several days and nights in a row. It’s designed to give the pilots maximum ergonomic comfort and storage for food, survival equipment and six oxygen bottles.



TECHNOLOGY SOLAR IMPULSE lightness and produce appropriate refinements. Technical partners supplied parts designed to provide lightness and rigidity. The Leverkusen, Germany-based Bayer MaterialScience produced foams made from polyurethane for use in the wing tips, the gondolas holding the engines and the co*ckpit. Solvay’s Ketaspire PEEK and PrimoSpire SRP polymers were used for the mechanical parts like fasteners and screws, while the company’s Polyamide 6 Sinterline was used



for complex components such as lighting clips and housings for the co*ckpit equipment.

Honeycomb Sandwich The wing is made from a lightweight paper honeycomb sandwiched between two carbon fibre layers. The latter were produced by composites specialists Décision, which makes the lightweight high-performance yachts used in the Volvo Ocean Race. The layers weigh only a third as much as sheets of printer paper.

Solar Impulse claim they and the 140 carbon fibre ribs spaced at 500mm (19.6in) intervals are “lighter in weight than any previously seen”. The honeycomb paper between the layers is made from high-performance aramid polymers and coated with Solvay’s Torlon polymer to provide strength, torsion, flexion and vibration. Chris Wilson, Solvay’s business manager for UltraPerformance Materials, explained to Paint and Coatings Industry magazine in 2013:


The co*ckpit

“Torlon resins serve as an adhesive that sticks together the pieces of paper that create the honeycomb. Imagine thousands of strips of paper sitting on their edges all stacked together. In between each one is a strip adhesive made using Torlon with each strip of adhesive taking up very little surface area. When all the Torlon strips are in place and the bonds cured, the whole structure is stretched apart. Bonds remain where the Torlon resin was placed; that creates the honeycomb.”

Si2’s 3.8m3 (134cu ft) co*ckpit is made from polyurethane and a special foaming agent. It contains a multi-purpose seat to provide maximum ergonomic comfort for the pilots during their days and nights flying the aircraft and storage space for food, survival equipment and six oxygen bottles. A parachute and a life-raft are packed into the seat-back. When the seat is fully reclined the pilot is able to perform exercises. The co*ckpit is unpressurised (hence the

need for oxygen) and unheated, meaning Piccard and Borschberg will have to face extremes in ambient temperature from +40°C (104°F) to -40°C (-40°F). They will be protected by high-density thermal insulation in the co*ckpit structure. A highly sensitive man-machine interface will alert the pilot if the aircraft goes beyond the five-degree angle of bank limit. It will trigger a vibration sensor which is attached to their flying suit sleeve. A bespoke monitoring system will constantly check the




1 Wind tunnel tests helped to finesse Si2’s aerodynamic performance. 2 André Borschberg (left) and Bertrand Piccard, who will fly Si2 round the world.

Modern solar aviation began in the 1970s when the first affordable solar power cells appeared on the market and were fitted to model aircraft. In the 1980s and 1990s several developers created small aircraft with solar cells. In the US, AeroVironment, now arguably best known for developing small UAVs for the US military, developed the Solar Challenger and in Europe Günter Rochelt built Solar 1. Both aircraft covered distances of a few hundred miles and could remain airborne for several hours. Solar Challenger flew across the English Channel in 1981. AeroVironment’s work interested NASA and the two organisations went on jointly to develop the Pathfinder, Pathfinder Plus and Centurion solar-powered unmanned aircraft, which flew during the 1990s. Those evolved into the Helios, which on August 10, 2001, reached 96,863ft (29,524m) – then an altitude record for sustained flight by a winged aircraft. In 2010 QinetiQ’s Zephyr 7 UAV remained airborne for 14 days, for which it operated at 52,247ft (15,924m). The Airbus Group, which purchased the Zephyr programme in 2013, is planning to build a follow on example, the Zephyr 8, which will be capable of flying at 60,000ft (18,288m). Meanwhile, Titan Aerospace is developing ultra-long-endurance unmanned aircraft that could potentially fly for months or years at a time (see Powered by the Sun, March, p90).



TECHNOLOGY SOLAR IMPULSE functioning of the autopilot and alert the pilot to any anomaly.

Countering Criticism Solar Impulse has its sceptics despite the technology in Si2 and that employed to ensure the pilots complete the circumnavigation safely (see The Human Challenge). In 2011 the New York Times reported: “Some industry executives privately dismiss the plane as little more than a vanity project…with scant commercial prospects, at least for the foreseeable future.” During a Google Hangout webcast last year, Piccard defended accusations the project had little real benefit. “When you are a pioneer, you have a lot of sceptical people

who will laugh at you,” he said. “[They] are just people who are prisoners of their certitudes. They’re prisoners of their old ways of thinking.” Companies involved in Solar Impulse contend there are practical applications for the technology aboard the aircraft. For example, Solvay said its chemical films could be used to improve the efficiency of solar panels, computer and mobile phone batteries, oil and gas pipelines and copper and optical fibre cables. Another partner, the power and automation technologies group ABB, said there were parallels between Solar Impulse and developing more efficient ways of storing energy and improving the reliability and stability of electrical systems.


Long-Term Applying the technologies in Si2 on a commercial basis, whether that’s in aerospace or other industries, will take time. Potentially that makes it difficult for the project to keep the media interested. As a Washington Post editorial noted last year: “We live in a world where we ‘get it’after reading 140-character updates [Twitter] and watching six-second videos. That means on-going narratives about the remarkable

The task of circumnavigating Si2 will be as much a human challenge as it will be technical. Piccard and Borschberg will share the flying duties. Each will fly the aircraft for days and nights at a time before landing and changing places. It’s estimated that it will take three days to cross the AtlanticOcean and four or five to fly over the Pacific. Detailed work to prepare the pilots for these long duration flights has been undertaken. At Dübendorf a replica of Si2’s co*ckpit, connected to a flight simulator, has given Piccard and Borschberg the opportunity to train their minds and bodies. Both have completed 72-hour practice ‘flights’ in the simulator. During these tests, EPFL scientists monitored the pilots’ mental states and cardiac rhythms using electrodes placed on their heads, which measured the brain’s electrical activity. This information was compared with a series of vigilance tests that were completed by the pilots during the 72-hour flights to test their alertness and ability to perform tasks. Piccard and Borschberg will use self-hypnosis and meditation techniques to reduce their heart rates, relax and fall more quickly into planned 20-minute periods of sleep, so energy is maintained over a long period. They will have to consume 2.4kg (5.2lbs) of food, 2.5 litres (84.5oz) of water and one litre (33.8oz) of sports drink per day. Physicians and specialists in high altitude medicine are planning what they will eat and when in order to maximise energy and concentration. While in flight, the pilots will wear underwear made of a Solvaymanufactured ‘smart fibre’ called Emana polyamide 6.6 yarn, which is designed to interact with the body and stimulate microcirculation to help muscle performance. There will be real-time communication during the flight between the aircraft and a mission control centre at Payerne, which will be able to monitor all aspects of aircraft and pilot performance. On-board telemetry will continually transmit hundreds of technical parameters via satellite data link and the physicians will be on hand to provide medical advice.





achievements in renewable energy sometimes get lost in our daily news feeds [and] we sometimes lose sight of the long-term impact one success story may have.” Piccard believes the very long-term nature of Solar Impulse is what makes it important. “We don’t know exactly what will happen with aviation in the future,” he told the New Scientist. “It will have to evolve and find new technologies. Fuel prices are going to increase…so aeroplanes will

need to decrease their weight and their fuel consumption and they will probably need alternative fuels. We have to show where research needs to be done.” Whether you regard Si2 as a novelty with few tangible, short-term results, or as a grand Victorian-style entrepreneurial endeavour with valuable benefits in the long run, Piccard’s desire to explore the promise of clean technologies and how they can be harnessed is unarguable.

“When Lindbergh crossed the Atlantic,the payload was [like Si2] also just sufficientfor one person and some fuel,” he observed in a presentation to the Boston Consulting Group. “Twenty years later there were 200 peoplein every airplane crossing the Atlantic. We have to startand show an example. This is not an airplane, this is a symbol of what we can achievewhen we believe in the impossible andwhen we have pioneering spirit.”

1 Si2 weighs 2,300kg (5,070lb), around the same as a small van. 2 Solar Impulse 2 about to touch down after its first flight on June 2. 2



WarG Turkish

Riccardo Niccoli reports from Konya Air Base in mid-western Turkey on the latest edition of exercise Anatolian Eagle

Turkish Air Force Block 50 F-16C 07-1009 of 141 Filo assigned to the 4th Main Jet Base at Ankara-Akinci. All images Riccardo Niccoli


urkish Air Force Headquarters undertook a feasibility study into running a large air exercise in 2000-2001. The 3ncu Ana Jet Us Komutanligi, or 3rd Main Jet Base, near the Anatolian regional capital at Konya, was selected as the location for the exercise, subsequently named Anadolu Kartali or Anatolian Eagle (AE). It is based on the US Air Force Red Flag exercise. The first edition was held in 2001. Two years later the TurAF activated an



Electronic Warfare Test and Training Systems (EWTTS) unit to support AE. In 2005 a new apron, known as Eagle ramp, was built at the 3rd Main Jet Base for use by aircraft participating in AE. An air-to-ground range was also opened that year at Tersakan. Several new buildings have also been built at Konya, all dedicated to AE.

Anatolian Eagle Training Centre

The exercise is organised by the Anatolian Eagle Training Centre (AETC), commanded by Maj Hasan Saffet Celikel, who also serves as director or air boss. There are no personnel

or aircraft assigned to the AETC: its role is to manage each of the three annual editions of AE, two of which are national exercises and one international. Work includes updating scenarios and tactics. It arranges advanced air combat training courses, similar to those run by the US Air Force Fighter Weapons School at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. One Konya-based unit, the 132 Filo (Squadron), operates as an aggressor force with Block 40 and Block 50 F-16s. The AETC is divided into four offices: plans, operations, analysis and evaluations, and administration. Its facilities are located in the middle of the base, and include


buildings for the Blue, Red and White forces (command), a 450-seat briefing room, accommodation, a mess and a hangar. AE has five aims in its mission: • provide advanced and realistic operational training to combat-ready pilots; • allow fighter pilots to plan large strike packages and lead them in combined air operations; • train aircrew how to survive in air combat; • provide a forum to exchange ideas and lessons learned; and • offer the opportunity to test new tactics and techniques.

Airspace to the east of the base is a key asset for AE. The area is 300 x 400km (185 x 250 miles) and has no speed or altitude restrictions up to 50,000ft/15,240m. A large part of the airspace is located in the Taurus Mountains and includes the ranges at Koc, Karapinar and Tersakan. The ranges have anti-aircraft systems to give participants real targets and threats. Many of the systems are Russian-built (SA-6 Gainful, SA-8 Geko, SA11A/B Gadfly, ZSU-23-4 Gundish) but there are also western systems, such as Hawk, Skyguard and Sparrow. The TurAF also uses a multi-threat system, which is able to electronically simulate a wide series of threats.

International Edition The author attended AE 2014-2, an international event involving units from NATO and non-NATO nations from June 4 to 20. Two COMAOs (combined military air operations) were launched each day throughout the final two weeks, each involving 50-60 aircraft. A typical sortie lasted for up to three hours, depending on the availability of tankers. The White Force was responsible for each scenario, its level of complexity, issuing the air tasking order, monitoring flight activity, and evaluating results. The exercise was tailored around the needs of the friendly Blue Force, which was










1st Squadron






Mirage 2000-5


1st Fighter Wing




Ala 12



Ala 14



141, 142, 151, 152, 161, 162, 191 Filo

F-4E 2020


111, 171 Filo



101 Filo



221 Filo



211 Filo

B.737 AEW


131 Filo

Typhoon FGR4


No.XI Squadron



was divided into a national squadron, an international squadron, air-refuelling and airborne early warning components. The Geilenkirchen-based NATO Airborne Early Warning Force deployed one E-3A AWACS but the aircraft was only used for two sorties. The remaining 14 were performed



by Turkey’s brand new AEW&C aircraft (see Turkey’s Peace Eagle). Each COMAO was led by a mission commander drawn in turn from the national or international squadron. Opposing the Blue Force was the Red Force which comprised 132 Filo (augmented by two F-16Cs and two pilots from 142 Filo), the EWTTS, anti-aircraft defence systems, and the local GCI (ground control intercept). Different types of air-to-air and air-toground missions were flown: combat air patrol, sweep/escort, suppression/ destruction of enemy air defences, close air support/convoy protection, slow mover protection, combat search and rescue, reconnaissance, and high value air assets protection. In total, 81 aircraft and 1,122 military personnel from five countries participated in AE 2014-2 including 67 from Jordan, 145 from Qatar, 121 from Spain, 137 from the United Kingdom and 24 from NATO. Observers were sent from the air forces of Algeria, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bosnia Herzegovina, Chile, South Korea, Finland, Georgia, Greece, Kuwait, Macedonia, and Romania. Control and co-ordination for all Blue Force COMAO missions was provided by the

737 AEW&C, which was the first aircraft to take off and the last to land. TurAF aircraft deployed to Konya and provided the bulk of the Blue Force aircraft: as many as 40 F-16s of all types (Block 30, 40, 50 and 50+), from seven squadrons and four air bases, and 11 F-4E 2020 Terminator fighter-bombers from two squadrons. The opposing Red Force aircraft (recognisable with only ventral fuel tanks) were able to ‘regenerate’, which enabled them to rejoin the fight after being shot down, a common practise in many exercises, in order to maximise the number of threats. All Blue Force fighters were used for both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions, except for the F-4E Phantoms, which lack a beyond visual range missile and were limited to airto-ground activity. TurAF jets employed unguided and precision-guided munitions, such as the AGM-142 Popeye missile, and the SOM (Stand-Off Missile) system, a cruise missile of Turkish origin, designed by the TubitakSAGE research institute, and produced by Roketsan. The SOM is a subsonic weapon weighing 600kg (1,320lb), with a 230kg (506lb) warhead, and a range of more than 250km (155 miles). The guidance system comprises a GPS/INS system, and


TURKEY’S PEACE EAGLE Developed by Boeing under an Australian requirement of 2000 as Project Wedgetail, Turkey’s 737 AEW&C is a Boeing 737-700IGW airframe fitted with a Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems MESA (multi-role electronically scanned array) radar with a dorsal antenna. The MESA radar operates in the L-band (1-2GHz) and has a maximum range of more than 600km (373 miles) in look-up mode, and beyond 370km (230 miles) in look-down. The system is able to simultaneously track 180 targets, intercept up to 24, can be used against naval targets, and perform ELINT (electronic intelligence) gathering at a range of more than 850km (529 miles) from an altitude of 29,700ft (9,000m). Each 737 AEW&C aircraft is modified with two ventral fins to balance the aerodynamic effects of the dorsal antenna, uses an open

an imaging infrared seeker (IIRS). Series production started in 2013. Finally, the Blue Force suppression of enemy air defences (SEAD) component was formed by Block 50 F-16s from 151 Filo, the only SEAD unit in the TurAF. International editions of Anatolian Eagle

system architecture and is equipped with an integrated IFF, an ECM suite, and an in-flight refuelling system. The typical cabin configuration accommodates six radar operator consoles, with a crew of between six and ten, a maximum take-off weight of 170,845lb (77,564kg), a range of 3,500nm (6,480km) and on-station endurance of eight hours. The Turkish programme, called Baris Kartali (Peace Eagle) includes four aircraft (with an option for two more). It is led by Turkish Aircraft Industries (TAI) and supported by Havelsan which is responsible for the electronic analysis system and the support software. The first aircraft, dubbed Kuzey (North), was converted by Boeing, while the other three were completed by TAI. Boeing completed the first test flight in September 2007 and the first delivery was

are extremely important to the TurAF because they allow its squadrons to train with similar units from allied nations - the basis for participation in future coalition operations. Col Arslan, Operations Wing Commander at Konya, summed up the cross training: “We ask foreign air forces

scheduled for 2008. Various technical delays affected the programme, including release issues with Israel over its Elta ESM system, which is part of the avionic suite. The situation was resolved in 2013, under American pressure, but in February 2014 Turkey requested penalties from Boeing reportedly totalling as much as $600 million. The whole Peace Eagle programme should amount to $1.5 billion. The first aircraft (serial 13-001) was accepted by the TurAF on February 21, 2014, while the other three (dubbed Guney, Dogu and Bati, which mean South, East and West), will follow. The squadron selected to operate the type, 131 Filo based at Konya, reached initial operational capability in February, participated in the national exercise AE 2014-1 in April, and should reach full operating capability with the arrival of the fourth aircraft in 2015.

what their objectives are for participating in Anatolian Eagle, each edition is staged with their requirements in mind. To date, use of real air-to-ground weapons has never been requested in an international edition of AE, but we can stage this kind of activity if any air force requests it.”

Turkish Air Force F-4E 2020 Terminator 77-0283 of 111 Filo assigned to the 1st Main Jet Base at Eskisehir. The aircraft is loaded with an inert AGM-142 Popeye air-to-ground missile.





t was the kind of incident no one wants when testing a new aircraft. On May 29 at its flight test facility in Mirabel, Quebec, Bombardier’s CSeries FTV-1 (Flight Test Vehicle-1) suffered an ‘uncontained failure’ in one of its Pratt & Whitney PurePower PW1500G geared turbofan engines while on the ground. “During the test, the No.1 (left) engine experienced a sudden power loss,” says a preliminary report from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB). “The crew immediately shut down the engine, observed smoke and declared an emergency. Bombardier ground personnel and airport firefighters responded. There were no injuries.”




Since then, investigations have determined the failure took place in the PW1500G’s lowpressure turbine, causing internal damage in the engine and structurally to the CS100’s airframe. The good news is that FTV-1 is repairable, and the failure did not involve the PW1500G’s advanced fuel-saving gearbox in the engine core. The engine has been sent to Pratt & Whitney for further diagnosis. The engine failure led to an unwelcome delay for the CSeries programme. Before the incident, it was already running 18 months behind its originally announced delivery schedule. Of course, such delays can happen when a clean-sheet aircraft is being developed. The

Boeing 787 ran into substantial time delays; so did the Airbus A380. But for a company like Bombardier, which is trying to break into the larger narrowbody airliner category with the 110-135 seat CS100 and the 130-160 seat CS300, any deviations from schedule are bad news, both in terms of the company’s cash flow and the impact on its reputation.

Where the CSeries Stands Today

The PW1500G uncontained failure left Bombardier bloodied but definitely unbowed. “We plan to resume test flights in the next few weeks,” declared Sebastien Mullot, Bombardier Aerospace’s CSeries



Despite an engine incident, Bombardier says its CSeries airliner will enter service in the second half of 2015. James Careless reports

and their maximum cruising speed of 470 knots/Mach 0.82.” The CS100 test flights have so closely mirrored the predictions generated from the company’s simulators that “it’s almost scary”, Mullot added. The test pilots have reported that the CS100 is “very easy to fly and very predictable. There have been no surprises. For instance, the stall tests occurred just as we projected that they would.”

Rick Radell/Bombardier

Programme Director, in an interview with AIR International shortly after the incident. As events later proved, Mullot was right: while the TSB continued to look into the PW1500G’s problems, Bombardier resumed ground engine-testing the CSeries CS100 on June 10. One of the company’s other four CS100 FTVs was used, FTV-1 still being in the shop for repairs and restoration. Engine issues aside Bombardier has made real progress in flight-testing the CS100, Mullot said. “We’ve already done a lot aloft within tightly confined limits, including flat air and stall tests. We’re now ready to open up the flight envelope. This includes taking the FTVs up to their service ceiling of 41,000 feet

A Pioneering Legacy Today’s Bombardier Aerospace is identified with modern aircraft such as the Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ) family of civilian jet transports and the QSeries of civilian turboprops. But the



COMMERCIAL BOMBARDIER CSERIES company has deep roots that go back to 1911 and the British shipbuilding/weapons firm Vickers Sons & Maxim. The Canadian Government invited the company to build ships for the then new Royal Canadian Navy. During World War One, ‘Canadian Vickers’ built the British H-class submarine for the Royal Navy and Italian Navy at its Montreal shipyard. In 1923, it was contracted to build Vickers Viking flying boats for the new Canadian Air Force (later the Royal Canadian Air Force). These rugged craft were well suited to flying in Canada’s rough and remote conditions, and found uses in other countries too. During World War Two, Canadian Vickers produced the PBV-1 Canso flying boat – derived from the Consolidated PBY Catalina flying boat – for the RCAF, US Navy and US Army Air Force. The firm came under government ownership in 1944 as ‘Canadair’ and continued to produce Cansos plus modified DC-4s equipped with Merlin engines and marketed as ‘North Stars’. From 1946 to 1976 the firm was in private hands, latterly as the Canadian division of General Dynamics, until purchased again by the federal government. The nation owned Canadair until 1986, selling it to Bombardier – initially a maker of snowmobiles – in reaction to cost overruns developing the Challenger business jet. Despite going back-and-forth between private and public ownership, the company that is now Bombardier Aerospace continued to pioneer ahead. Today, through product developments and acquisitions, Bombardier Aerospace builds Challenger, Global Express

and Learjet business jets in addition to CRJ100/200/700/900/1000 passenger jets, QSeries turboprops and Bombardier 415 water-bombing flying boats.

The Birth of the CSeries What is now the CSeries began life in 1996, when Bombardier considered purchasing the bankrupt Dutch aircraft manufacturer Fokker to access the technology of its Fokker 100 medium-size passenger jet. The deal didn’t happen, so Bombardier decided to investigate building its own medium-size jet. Known as the BRJ-X (Bombardier Regional Jet eXpansion), it featured the engine-under each wing design now found in the CS100 and CS300. The cabin would have been wide enough for five seats abreast, with a projected capacity of 100-115 seats. Initial development work, including consultation with various airlines, ran until 2000. Then Bombardier reversed course, indefinitely suspending the BRJ-X programme. It is believed the financial strain of developing the BRJ-X combined with the competitive threat of Airbus’s A318 and Boeing’s 717 convinced Bombardier to back off. Instead, it stretched the existing 78-seat CRJ700 into the 90-seat CRJ900. Fast forward to 2004: emboldened by advances in aviation technology, including composite materials/advanced engine design that would use 20% less fuel than competing aircraft, Bombardier launched the CSeries, planning to build the C110 (100-125 seats) and the C130 (120-145 seats). A less than enthusiastic reaction from

the airlines made the manufacturer rethink its goals. In January 2006, the CSeries was shelved owing to insufficient demand; instead, the company stretched the CRJ700 yet again to create the 100-seat CRJ1000. But just a year later, the ambitious Canadian manufacturer restarted the CSeries project and specified that the PW1500G would be the aircraft’s exclusive powerplant. Bombardier then renamed the aircraft: the C110 became the CS100 and the C130 became the CS300.

Orders – Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

As a privately-owned aerospace company, Bombardier has to pay its way when developing new aircraft. To date, the CSeries programme has cost it $4.4 billion – $1 billion more than it originally estimated, due to delays. In this climate, getting airlines to order CSeries jets in advance is an absolute must. As of June 2014, Bombardier had 203 firm orders and 447 commitments for its CS100/CS300 aircraft. The company wants 300 firm orders and 20 customers by the second half of 2015, when the CSeries is supposed to enter service. The problem with firm orders is that they

CS100 CSERIES SPECIFICATIONS Wing span: 35.10m (115ft) Length: 35.00m (114ft 9in) Tail height: 11.50m (38ft) Cabin length: 23.70m (78ft) Cabin width: 3.28m (129 inches)


Cabin height: 2.11m (83 inches) 1 The CSeries flight deck includes large LCD displays, dual flight management system with optimised control and display functions, dual cursor control devices, datalink, Cat IIIa autoland and side stick controls as baseline. Bombardier 2 The CSeries family of aircraft offers flexible seating options. The interior can be customised for a single-, two- or a high-density class seating. Bombardier

Wing area: 112.3m2 (1,209 sq ft) Operating weight (empty): 73,400lb (33,300kg) Max payload: 32,150lb (14,583kg) Max take off weight: 130,000lb (58,967kg) Max landing weight: 111,999lb (50,802kg) Power: 2 x P&W PW1500Gs Max cruise speed: Mach 0.82 (870km/h) Service ceiling: 41,000ft (12,497m) Max range: 2,950nm (5,463km) Engines: 2 x Pratt & Whitney PW1500s



global workforce – to help offset the billions already spent on the CSeries, Learjet 85 and the Global 7000/8000. It didn’t help that Bombardier’s overall orders dropped 19% in 2013 compared to the year before. But CSeries Program Director Sebastien Mullot remains bullish about the future and focused on the next stages of the CSeries’ test programme. “Right now, it’s all about performance and fuel burn,” he said. “We want to ensure our actual aircraft meet the specifications we designed them for. That’s not always easy to verify at this stage, given the drag caused by some of the external equipment attached to the FTVs and the fact that they’re not equipped with the final production engines. “Still, the results we’re seeing are very promising. Even with the delays, everything 1 points to the CSeries living up to its

promise; namely providing cost-effective air transportation with significant fuel burn savings for our carrier customers.” It’s been a long time coming, but the CSeries is on the verge of making it into service, delays notwithstanding. Considering how much Bombardier Aerospace has endured since 1996 to get this far, this is no small achievement.


don’t always stay that way. Take Republic 2 Airways Holdings’ 2010 order for 40 CS300s (with an option for 40 more) for $3.06 billion. When, in 2013, Republic sold Frontier Airlines – for whom the CS300s had been intended – there were fears the entire order would fall through the cracks. Fortunately for Bombardier, Republic CEO Bryan Bedford reiterated his company’s commitment to the order on May 22, 2014. He told Canadian media that even with its delays, the CSeries offers “game-changing technology”. So he’s willing to wait for the aircraft to make its way to Republic sometime in 2015. What does concern Bedford is the CSeries’ current level of sales. “To us, this is an airplane that should have much more commercial appeal than what’s going on in the marketplace today,” he said. “So this remains a concern for us in terms of our ability to finance it, residual values and the secondary trading market.” Meanwhile, Bombardier’s chief competitor, Embraer, has been making inroads with and CS300 into production and for the money its second-generation E-jets. Like the to start flowing in from its airline customers. CSeries, the ‘E2’ family is designed to The delays have certainly hurt the provide substantially improved fuel economy company. In response to the additional compared to current aircraft. The E175-E2 $1 billion project cost and the later than will have up to 88 seats; the E190-E2 up to expected arrival of CSeries’ revenues, 106 and the E195-E2 up to 132. Unlike the Bombardier has been forced to conserve its CSeries, the E2s are built on Embraer’s first resources. In January 2014 the company generation E-Jet airframes, and will have laid off 1,700 workers – around 5% of its common co*ckpits. “Our strategy is to offer all the benefits of a clean-sheet design, but with the reliability of a mature platform and commonality with current generation E-Jets,” said Paulo Cesar Silva, President/CEO of Embraer Commercial Aviation. “We have been continually investing in the E-Jets programme so that our customers can stay competitive with aircraft that have the lowest operating costs and the highest passenger appeal.” As of February 14, 2014, Embraer had orders, options and letters of intent for 455 E2s. Major clients include SkyWest Airlines (100 orders/100 options for the E175-E2), ILFC (50 orders/50 options for the E190-E2) and India’s Air Costa (50 orders for the E195-E2).

Looking Ahead The next year is going to be critical for Bombardier as it pushes to get the CS100





Andreas Rupprecht reports on increased tensions between China and Japan after the Chinese established an air defence zone over disputed islands in the East China Sea


hina’s Ministry of National Defence established an Air Defence Identification Zone (ADIZ) over a wide area of the East China Sea on November 23, 2013. The ADIZ covers a group of five uninhabited islands and three rocks situated east of the Chinese mainland and south-west of Japan. They are known by Japan as the Senkaku Islands and China as Diaoyu Dao. The establishment of an ADIZ is not, in itself, a provocative step. There are several around the world, including ones in the United States, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan. Nations cannot claim sovereignty



over the whole area of an ADIZ: they are established for security purposes and all aircraft entering will be closely monitored and intercepted if they fail to comply with the rules set for the area (although an ADIZ is not a no-fly zone). The East China Sea ADIZ covers disputed territory. The islands are controlled by Japan but its claim to them is contested by China. Allegedly, none of the neighbouring countries were consulted before the ADIZ was established and China’s Ministry of National Defence unilaterally established strict aircraft identification rules for the area. These apply to all flights entering the zone, not only those going to China. All aircraft must provide a flight plan plus radio, transponder and logo identification to China’s Ministry of National Defence and follow its instructions. Chinese authorities said emergency defensive

measures would be taken to deal with aircraft that did not co-operate in the identification or refused to follow instructions.

Reactions China’s decision was immediately condemned by Japanese officials and the US Secretary of State, John Kerry. He said in a statement: “This unilateral action constitutes an attempt to change the status quo in the East China Sea. Escalatory action will only increase tensions in the region and create risks of an incident.” The new zone was immediately patrolled by People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) Tu-154M/D (Type-II) and Y-8CB (GX-2) electronic countermeasures/electronic warfare



A Xian H-6, similar to this was one of the aircraft intercepted by Japanese Air Self Defense Force fighters near the Senkaku Islands. All images Weimeng/AirTeamImages unless stated

aircraft. Both were intercepted by Japanese Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) fighters, according to PLAAF spokesman Shen Jinke. Several JASDF aircraft, including an E-767 AWACS, OP-3C surveillance aircraft and F-15J fighters flew through the zone in acts of non-compliance during the following week. A pair of unarmed US Air Force B-52H bombers, based at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, flew over the disputed islands without

informing Beijing as part of a long-planned flight during an exercise called Coral Lightning. Prior to B-52Hs’ sortie, US officials promised the US would challenge the zone and would not comply with Chinese identification requirements. In return, the PLAAF intensified its operations and the Liaoning, China’s first aircraft carrier, escorted by two destroyers and two frigates, was sent on its maiden voyage to the South China Sea.

China’s Explanation China’s Ministry of National Defence spokesman Yang Yujun said the establishment of the ADIZ accorded with international common practices and did not breach other countries’ territorial sovereignty or affect the freedom of flight. Yujun said the airspace enabled China to

identify, monitor and control aircraft entering the zone and was purely aimed at assessing “potential air threats” or preventing “provocative flyover and surveillance activities”. Yujun stressed: “Normal flights by international airliners in the East China Sea ADIZ will not be affected in any way.” He added China never said it would intercept every single non-compliant aircraft within the ADIZ. The state media agency, Xinhua, said: “The zone will help reduce military misjudgement, avoid aerial friction and safeguard flight order and safety.” China plans to establish more ADIZs. It is expected one may be set up over the South China Sea, where China’s territorial claims overlap with other countries, such as Vietnam.




1 There have been several flights of non-compliance through China’s East China Sea ADIZ, including one by a JASDF OP-3C Orion. Edwin Chai/AirTeamImages 2 PLAAF J-11s have been involved in recent skirmishes with JASDF aircraft. 3 Tu-154M/Ds patrolled the ADIZ on it being established. Chinese internet 1

Different View China’s move could at first sight be regarded as a unilateral act. The zone covers the disputed islands and reaches to within 130km (80 miles) of Japanese territory at its closest point. It could also be seen as a reaction to Japan extending its ADIZ 22km (13 miles) westwards in June 2010 to within 130km of mainland China at its closest point. Tensions between Japan and China increased after that with several incidents, including the arrest of a Chinese fisherman in the waters around the islands and intensified Japanese coast guard patrols. The nationalist Shintaro Ishihara, outspoken governor of Tokyo, racheted up tensions further when he announced in April 2012 that he would purchase the islands




and have them administered by the city government. A decision in September 2012 by the Japanese government to purchase three of the five Senkakus from the family that owned them had a similar effect. Until then China had always responded to Japanese actions around the islands in a reserved way by sending its own coastguard and customs aircraft to the region. The Japanese purchase of the islands was seen by China as a fundamental change in the status quo. Even if Japan’s actions were at least officially downplayed by the Chinese government, it provoked widespread antiJapan demonstrations in China. Public opinion demanded an equivalently strong response to ‘balance’ the level of China’s sovereignty. The PLAAF and People’s Liberation Army

Naval Air Force executed more extensive aerial surveillance around the island chain (although always in international airspace). These operations intensified between July and September 2013, during which time JASDF aircraft were scrambled 80 times in response to Chinese military aircraft flying near the Senkakus. A Xian H-6G bomber, Y-12 light utility transports, several Y-8 electronic warfare aircraft and even a BZK005 Sea Eagle UAV were intercepted near the islands.

Competing Claims Why do the Senkakus matter so much when for the last 60 years the United States and Russia have sent bomber and surveillance aircraft into each other’s ADIZs without


CHINA’S NEW AIR DEFENCE ZONE Air Defence identification zones China Japan Exclusive economic zones China Japan

East China Sea

Disputed Islands Senkadu, Diaoya

Pacific Ocean

would have expected China’s economy and military to rise so suddenly and certainly neither side probably expected the fall of the Soviet Union. That removed a common enemy and thus brought the attention back to ideological and historical differences between China and Japan”. A fear about Chinese expansionism has led to a sentiment in certain political, public and media circles in Japan that the country’s government should hold an unyielding stance against China’s increasing territorial ambitions. The islands’ position, close to strategicallyimportant shipping lanes as well as rich marine life and potential oil and gas reserves, have all added further spice to the mix. Japan wants China to give up its claim to the islands completely. China wants both sides to agree that the territory is disputed (Japan believes there isn’t a dispute, because of its view that the islands have been part of its territory for two centuries).

What For and Why? Several analysts believe China’s move to establish the ADIZ was planned at a high level and was a carefully timed attempt to force Tokyo to negotiate a settlement. Professor Liu Jiangyong, an expert on Sino-Japanese relations at Tsinghua

it ever leading to open aerial conflict? A complex history, recent geo-political shifts and the islands’ location are at the heart of the worries. China’s claim to the islands stems from a belief that Japan illegally seized them from China in the first SinoJapanese war in 1895. During World War Two, the Cairo Declaration of 1943 ordered “all territories Japan has annexed from China shall be restored to the Republic of China”. The Potsdam Proclamation Defining Terms for Japanese Surrender and the San Francisco Peace Treaty (which marked the formal end of the war) in 1945, reaffirmed the decision. Japan’s view is that the islands were part of its country as terra nullius (territory which has never been subject to the sovereignty of 3

any state, or over which any sovereign has expressly or implicitly relinquished control) during the 19th century. The Japanese believe the Senkakus are unaffected by the process of surrendering territories after World War Two. What actually happened after 1945 muddied the waters. The islands came under US government control after Japan’s surrender. Japan and the US in 1971, by then close allies, signed the Okinawa Reversion Agreement, which transferred control of the Senkakus from the US to Japan. Sovereignty of the islands was not transferred to Japan but the handover prompted Chinese authorities to begin laying claim to the islands. A 1978 peace treaty signed between Chinese and Japanese leaders shelved the issue for settlement at an unspecified time in the future and led to the issue being unresolved. Recent changes to the regional geopolitical situation have conflated with this history to return the Senkakus to the agenda. One unnamed poster in a Japanese blog on the subject noted that in the 1970s “no-one

University, told Chinese media that China’s intention in setting up the ADIZ was to get the Japanese to acknowledge there was a sovereignty dispute. Japanese news agency Kyodo said Tang Jiaxuan, a former state councillor overseeing foreign policy, told a meeting of Japanese politicians in Beijing that bilateral “management for aviation activities [in the area around the islands] is necessary, and this issue should be discussed”. This idea was apparently “not well received” in Tokyo, according to a report in the South China Morning Post. One reason for this stance might be a fear within Japan about the growth and modernisation in recent years of the Chinese military. On the other side, some have posited China established the ADIZ in an effort to direct attention away from internal issues. Usually Chinese politicians tend to be far more concerned with domestic affairs, such as the economy and, increasingly, the demands of a rising middle class for political participation. There is a view the current



tensions are a strategy to align popular sentiment behind the Chinese government to bolster its internal legitimacy.

New Status Quo The Japanese scholar Yabuki Susumu, professor emeritus of Yokohama City University and one of Japan’s most eminent China-watchers, recently published a book, The Core of the Senkaku Issue – What is to become of Japan-China Relations. It is regarded as the most objective exposition of both positions in the dispute. He describes in detail both arguments and the changing political situation. He comes to the conclusion that this issue can only be solved by a fundamental change in both side’s opinion and by negotiations. He blames the Japanese government for a change in its policies to be at least responsible for the

1 1 JASDF YS-11EB electronic intelligence aircraft. 2 A rare close-up of a People’s Liberation Army Air Force H-6. Chinese internet 3 Japanese aircraft intercepted a Chinese BZK-005 Sea Eagle UAV, among other aircraft, in the disputed territory. Chinese internet

CHINA’S AIR DEFENCE ZONE MILITARY latest rising of tensions. Moving towards a solution will require effort and goodwill from both sides. The United States can act as a mediator between the countries to achieve a diplomatic solution. Some level of Chinese concessions will probably be needed to confirm it is not territorially expansionist. A first step in this direction was a meeting between the US Vice President, Joe Biden, and China’s president Xi Jinping in Beijing on December 5, 2013, where both stressed openly the need for co-operation in confronting the challenges and building a stronger relationship and trust. They expressed a need for both countries to respect each other’s interests and major concerns – a sentence commonly used to refer to problems such as China’s territorial claims. Both were willing and ready to work together to develop a new relationship.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzoˉ Abe indicated in his first reaction to the talks that Japan could open the door to discussions with China. “There are issues and we’re willing to discuss it,” he said. Patriotism in both countries is a problem. Political science professor Joseph Cheng said: “On the part of China and Japan, both governments are very much under the pressure of domestic nationalism and their leaders do not want to be seen as being weak in dealing with each other.”

Strained Relations Relations were strained again after two pairs of PLAAF J-11s intercepted a JASDF OP-3C surveillance aircraft and a YS-11EB electronic intelligence aircraft near the disputed islands on Saturday, May 24. The Japanese defence minister Itsunori


Onodera told reporters in comments broadcast on TV Asahi that, “this is a close encounter that is outright over the top”. He also stated the Chinese aircraft were carrying missiles – two R-73 short-range 3 AAMs and one or two R-77 MR-AAMs. A spokesman added Japan had scrambled fighter jets against Chinese aircraft 415 times in the first three months of the year, an increase of 36% on the same period a year earlier. Chinese aircraft took no further action and the Japanese pilots returned to base. The Chinese Ministry of National Defence said the move was a justified enforcement of the country’s ADIZ. A joint naval exercise with Russia was taking place and no-fly notices had been issued for the area. A statement carried by the Chinese state media said the ministry lodged a complaint with Japan and called on it to “stop all surveillance and interference activities”. A spokesman added: “Japanese military planes intruded on the exercise’s airspace without permission and carried out dangerous actions, in a serious violation of international laws and standards, which could have easily caused a misunderstanding and even led to a mid-air accident.” China had proposed urgent talks, the spokesman said, and demanded Japan, “respect the lawful rights of China’s and Russia’s navies…and stop all reconnaissance and interference activities. Otherwise, Japan will bear any and all consequences from this”. The incident, largely unnoticed by the international media, was harshly criticised. The US Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel stated: “China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea are destabilising the region and its failure to resolve disputes with other nations threatens East Asia’s long-term progress.” The United States made a clear statement that it would honour its treaty to support Japan. Hagel urged the nations to work together to resolve the dispute. In parallel, Washington and Beijing had been trying to improve military relations, expand communications between their forces and conduct joint exercises. “Continued progress throughout the AsiaPacific is achievable, but hardly inevitable,” Hagel told the crowded room at the Shangri-La Dialogue, a regional security summit. “The security and prosperity we have enjoyed for decades cannot be assured unless all nations, all our nations have the wisdom, vision, and will to work together to address these challenges.” Japan and China have many complex historical and cultural differences to resolve before they finally begin to talk.




flybe Refreshed A new look and a revised network – change is under way at Europe’s largest regional airline. Mark Broadbent reports


he white and sky-blue livery on Flybe’s regional jets and turboprops is on its way out. The airline’s familiar colours are being replaced by a gaudy, purple paint scheme that’s now being applied to its 70-strong fleet, a process that’ll take three years to complete. Passengers will also see new crew uniforms and purple LED mood lighting in the cabin. The striking new look stems from Flybe’s objective to revitalise its brand in the minds of European air passengers. New colours are not the only thing changing at the Exeter-



based airline as the carrier implements a major re-structure of its fleet and network.

Tough Times Flybe was one of Europe’s airline success stories in the 2000s. Passenger numbers doubled to 4.6 million within three years of its 2002 rebrand from its previous British European identity. Further growth followed after it acquired British Airways’ Connect regional operation in 2006, established a franchise agreement with Loganair and pursued its own ambitious development strategy. By the 2012/13 financial year its fleet had expanded to 98 aircraft and its network to 112 airports. Rising fuel costs and increasingly sluggish

consumer demand due to the recession led to tougher times. A £4.3 million pre-tax loss posted for the 2010/11 financial year was followed by losses of £6.2m for 2011/12 and £41.1m for 2012/13.

Cost Cutting Those results led to a major cost-cutting programme. It was launched in spring 2013 and continued after the arrival in the second half of last year of a fresh leadership team including a new chief executive, Saad Hammad, and a chief commercial officer, Paul Simmons, both former easyJet managers. For the 2013/14 financial year – results were announced in June – Flybe made an


1 1 Q400 G-JECY (c/n 4157) named Spirit of Liberum was the first to be repainted in purple. It’ll take three years to rebrand the entire fleet. Simon Willson/AirTeamImages 2 Flybe operates 11 E175s on its UK operation and two for Flybe Finland. Dave Sturges/AirTeamImages

£8m pre-tax profit, grew its revenues by 2 11.1% to £868.4m and recorded a load factor of 69.5%; its highest for five years. The turnaround was achieved by fleet changes and rationalising the route network. Flybe grounded ten of its 14 Embraer E195s, sold two of its Bombardier Dash 8 Q400s (leaving a fleet of 45) and deferred the deliveries of 16 E175s from 2014-17 to 201719. The latter saved £20m in pre-delivery payments to the Brazilian manufacturer.

Routes The network was pared. In the 2012/13 financial year Flybe operated 242 routes across Europe. It still flies on more than 200 but in the last year has exited 30 unprofitable




FLYBE’S FLEET Flybe UK 45 Bombardier Q400s 11 Embraer E175s 14 Embraer E195s (five to be handed back to lessors by December 2014) Although not part of the airline’s fleet, the Flybe brand appears on the aircraft of the airline’s franchise partners: two ATR72-600s operated by Stobart Air and Loganair’s 14 Saab 340s, six Dornier 328s and two Twin Otters.

Flybe Finland 2 ATR42-500s 12 ATR72-600s 2 Embraer E175s 12 Embraer E190s

routes. It pulled out of London Gatwick in March 2014, ending 22 years of operations from the Sussex airport. It sold its 25 slot pairs there to easyJet for £17.5m. Frequencies on another 25 routes were changed in order to improve productivity – the aircraft utilisation rate rose by 1.9% to 7.3 hours per day. These decisions led to the improved load factor and boosted revenue per seat to £49.70 from £48.84 a year earlier. The airline reduced its number of aircraft and crew bases from the previous 13 to seven (Exeter, Manchester, Birmingham, Southampton, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Belfast) to save more costs.

Concentration Aviation consultant John Strickland believes the “concentration rather than dilution” in the carrier’s revised network is sensible. “Spreading themselves too thinly was a factor [in their previous losses],” he told AIR International. “Put in the context with the likes of Ryanair and easyJet, Flybe hasn’t got the muscle to have bases all across Europe. They cannot come up against those airlines because they will get squashed in running a smaller aircraft and a higher cost base.” Andrew Knuckey, Flybe’s Chief Financial Officer (set to retire in August 2014), acknowledged in a video about the airline’s year-end results that removing capacity “could have an impact on our top-line revenue figures” but insisted: “That’s no bad thing. We are now focused on profitable growth.”




European Routes

Flybe has a two-pronged strategy – providing connectivity in the UK and so-called ‘white label’ partnerships - operating its aircraft (plus associated maintenance and insurance) and crew for another airline. In its core UK operations Flybe is focused on ‘thin’ routes – services with passenger loads that make them unviable for flag or legacy carriers with larger aircraft. “There’s certainly potential in markets like that,” Strickland believes. Pointing to Flybe’s routes to Inverness as an example, he said: “If you’re not familiar with that part of the country it might be a shock to find it takes you four hours to drive from Inverness to Edinburgh or Glasgow, never mind further south. Not everyone wants to get on the train and if you want to do business in a day, or one night away, that’s where Flybe can score.” In October 2014 Flybe will return to London City Airport (LCY) after a nine-year absence, opening routes from there to Exeter, Belfast City, Edinburgh, Inverness and Dublin. The airline said it expected these flights would appeal to business travellers from the southeast wanting to connect to the regions for business and those in the regions needing to go to London. Strickland thinks returning to London City is “more appropriate” for Flybe than its previous strategy of serving London through Gatwick, because LCY is “a high-margin airport which is the crème de la crème for business customers”.

Flybe also caters for business travellers in the regions who want to fly to Europe from their local area. For example, there are flights to Amsterdam, Dusseldorf, Munich, Paris and Zurich served from Edinburgh, Manchester, Newcastle and Southampton. In April the airline added double-daily services from Birmingham to Hannover and Milan Malpensa and a six-flight per week frequency to Stuttgart. It added six routes from Southend in June to Caen Normandie and Rennes in France, Groningen and Maastricht-Aachen in the Netherlands, Antwerp in Belgium and Münster Osnabrück in Germany. These are operated on Flybe’s behalf by Stobart Air (formerly Aer Arann) using two Flybe-branded ATR72-600s in a five-year franchise agreement.

Leisure Niches Regardless of whether it’s London or the regions, Strickland observed that “high-yield business travellers don’t fill your aircraft all day long, every day, every week. There are patterns throughout the week and the year because of the nature of business travel”. To smooth these peaks and troughs and maintain consistent revenue, Flybe also flies ‘thin’ leisure routes which the low-cost carriers such as easyJet and Ryanair don’t serve because the economics aren’t right for them with their larger Airbus A320s and Boeing 737s. Examples are routes from Birmingham to Reykjavik and Florence and from UK regional airports to provincial


FLYBE COMMERCIAL French destinations such as Brest, ClermontFerrand, La Rochelle, Limoges and Nantes. Flybe is targeting second home owners and travellers interested in exploring the nature and culture of European regions with these routes. Strickland said: “People aren’t going there because it’s an offer they see or because it’s cheap. “They’ve got money in their pockets and are motivated to go. If they serve the right routes and avoid the big boys, Ryanair and easyJet, Flybe can find some good niches.”

White Label The second element of Flybe’s growth strategy is in ‘white label’ operations. Evolving business models mean some flag carriers are seeking to withdraw from regional services (see Regional Revamp, August 2013, p54). That creates opportunities for smaller carriers such as Flybe to step in and provide services under contract: its cost base is more suited to the thinner routes which larger airlines can’t fly profitably with bigger aircraft. The contracting airline gets to maintain its network at a reduced cost; the ‘white label’ provider ups its aircraft productivity, which helps with profitability. Flybe has already built considerable expertise in this market. It operates 28 aircraft (12 E190s, two E175s, 12 ATR72s and a pair of ATR42s) under the Flybe Finland brand for Finnair. The joint venture with the Finnish flag carrier, set up in 2012, produced £247.9m of revenue in first full year of operations, up from £167.2m in 2012/13. Flybe has also provided four Q400s for Belgium’s flag carrier Brussels Airlines. Two returned in April and the other pair will come back in October. It’s not just flag carriers that contract. 2

There are smaller operators which don’t have aircraft in fleets with the appropriate seat numbers to enable viable operations on a particular route. Flybe is currently providing aircraft for two airlines in this position. One of the four E195s that wasn’t grounded in the spring is currently being operated for Aurigny on the Gatwick-Guernsey route and an E190 is being flown for the Swiss charter airline Helvetic Airways on routes from Zurich to Ohrid and Skopje in Macedonia and Pristina in Kosovo. Flybe said discussions were under way with other airlines about ‘white label’ operations, though it didn’t disclose the carriers it was talking with.

than 60 minutes late. Chief Commercial Officer Simmons said: “If you want to say ‘we want to get you there on time’ you’ve got to be serious about it.” He added: “The real challenge for us internally is that it has to be a mantra that everyone lives by. Having that cultural shift makes our on-time performance go up, which means the number of flights eligible for redemption is very low, which is what we want in the first place.” Last year 84.7% of Flybe’s flights departed on time, according to Civil Aviation Authority figures.

The Brand

Flybe’s leadership is optimistic the refreshed brand, combined with prudent management of the network and fleet and the £150m capital raise from the markets earlier this year to fund growth, provides a solid platform for the future. The improving economic backdrop in the UK gives confidence the air travel market will start to pick up, but the airline’s chairman Simon Laffin cautioned: “It is important we continue to ensure Flybe does not depend on positive macroeconomic conditions for its future success, and remains focused on capacity, revenue and cost discipline.” Change will continue at Flybe. Of the 14 E195s, only three will be used for the winter 2014/15 schedule. Five will be returned to lessors by the end of the year and discussions are under way “with a number of airlines on possible ‘white label’ or subleasing opportunities for the remaining six”, according to the airline. As the restructure continues to take effect, Strickland is impressed by Flybe’s refreshed approach: “It’s sharp and determined, they’re much more focused on what they’re doing and why.”

It’s not just internal restructuring that turns an airline around: consumers need to be aware of the carrier’s offer and want to fly with it. That led to the freshening-up of the Flybe brand. Strickland said: “With smaller airlines you’ve got to make yourself identifiable. If you picked a random cross-section of people in many cities and regions in the UK you wouldn’t get the rapid coming to mind of Ryanair or easyJet.” Flybe re-focused its unique selling point (USP) around what Chief Executive Hammad described as “providing regional customers with time-saving access to the world, connecting regional communities and linking regional economies”. New slogans, ‘The fastest way from A to Flybe’ and ‘Faster than road or rail’, were created. To give shape to the idea of speedy connections, Flybe decided to prioritise punctuality. It introduced a ‘60:60 Guarantee’ that gives passengers a £60 voucher towards their next flight if, through the fault of the airline, their flight arrives more


1 Five E195s will be returned to lessors by December. Simon Gregory/AirTeamImages 2 Stobart Air, formerly Aer Arann, is operating ATR72s from Southend for Flybe under a franchise agreement. Phil Whalley



T 86


he P&W F135 is a larger-diameter, higherairflow derivative of the company’s F119 engine which powers the F-22 Raptor. The F135 was chosen for the $4 billion System Development and Demonstration contract

on October 26, 2001, by the US Department of Defense because both Lockheed Martin and Boeing had selected it (in the form of augmented F119s) to power their respective X-35 and X-32 Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) demonstrators. Lockheed Martin won the JSF contract with its X-35. The Pentagon also found attractive the fact that the F135 shared a high degree of commonality with the F119

engine, two of which power each F-22 Raptor. The F135 and F119 are both axial-flow engines (air goes through the core of the engine in a straight line) and they share a


Third Stream The F-35 Lightning II is powered by the Pratt & Whitney F135, the most powerful production jet engine ever made for a fighter. Chris Kjelgaard details the design of the F-35’s propulsion systems and reports on development possibilities

generate up to 43,000lb (191.27kN) of thrust ‘wet’ (with afterburner) for the single-engine F-35. The F119 provides a lesser 35,000lb (155.7kN) of thrust with full afterburner. As a result, the F135 has a larger inlet diameter (43 inches/1,090mm), larger fan diameter (46 inches/1,170mm) and larger overall engine diameter (51 inches/1,295mm) than the F119 to achieve a higher airflow. According to Pratt & Whitney, the maximum thrust of the F-35B STOVL version for the US Marines, the UK and Italy is a little lower than that for the F-35A and F-35C, at about 41,000lb (182.4kN) of thrust at full reheat. The F-35B’s intermediate thrust level (that is, dry thrust with no reheat applied) is approximately 27,000lb (120.1kN). The maximum thrust available for F-35B short take-offs is 40,740lb (181.2kN), while the maximum downward thrust available for hovering and vertical landings is 40,650lb (180.8kN).

The F135’s Basic Engine Architecture

common part numbers. Part numbers for the F135 have been designated differently to those for similar parts in the F119 because the US services want to be able to allocate specific part numbers to specific programmes for inventory-management reasons. Despite their similarities, there are some crucial differences between the F135 and the F119. The F135 needs to be able to


Pratt & Whitney

“highly common core”, Ed O’Donnell, Business Development Director for Pratt & Whitney’s F135 and F119 programmes, told AIR International. From front to back, these two-spool engines are “largely common through the compression system”, he said. O’Donnell noted the commonality was mainly in the form of shared engine architecture rather than

The F135 has a three-stage fan (in military engine parlance, the fan is the entire lowpressure compressor assembly) similar to the F119. Each fan stage comprises a one-piece integrally bladed rotor (IBR, or ‘blisk’, short for bladed disc), which consists of a solid titanium hub with titanium blades welded to it. The first fan stage has hollow titanium blades and each of the subsequent two stages has solid titanium blades. Aft of the third fan stage, the accelerated airflow is split: 57% goes through the fan duct as bypass air and the remaining 48% entering the core to be compressed, mixed with fuel, ignited and then exhausted as hot gas to turn the turbine stages and produce up to 28,000lb (124.55Kn) of dry thrust before afterburner. The F135 has a six-stage high-pressure compressor (HPC). Again, each stage is a blisk. Some of the initial HPC stages are made from titanium but because the airflow becomes hotter as it passes through each stage of compression, one or more later HPC stages are made from nickel-based alloys to be able to withstand the high air temperature. In conventional F-35 flight, air exiting the HPC into


TECHNOLOGY F-35 LIGHTNING II ENGINE EVOLUTION the combustor is at 28 times the pressure it was when entering the fan and it is at 29 times the pressure when the F-35B is in hover mode. The engine’s single annular combustor features removable liners and a series of fuel nozzles, all housed within a diffuser case. O’Donnell said the F135 combustor was “highly similar” to that in the F119, but featured “some improvements to accommodate the appropriate temperature requirements” of the higher-power F135. Overall, the cores of the two engines – the core includes the HPC, combustor and high-pressure turbine (HPT) – are essentially the same size and since the F135 has to produce more dry power at full thrust than the F119 it is likely to run hotter than the F119. While both the F119 and the F135 feature a single-stage HPT, the F135 has a two-stage low-pressure turbine (LPT) where the F119 has a single-stage LPT. This is because, in the F-35B STOVL aircraft, the low-pressure spool to which the LPT is attached has to drive not only the fan stages but also the driveshaft powering the Rolls-Royce LiftFan located behind the co*ckpit and ahead of the engine. The LiftFan (one of three major components of the Rolls-Royce LiftSystem, which provides the F-35B’s hover capability) is not engaged while in normal forward flight and is not present at all in the F-35A CTOL and F-35C CV conventional take-off and landing variants of the Lightning II. From the outset the specification for the F-35’s engine called for “tri-variant compatibility”: the engine powering an F-35A is identical to that powering an F-35B or an F-35C. Nevertheless, the engines are designated differently: the F-35A powerplant is the F135-PW-100; the engine for the F-35C is the F135-PW-400; and the F-35B engine is the F135-PW-600. Since the F-35B powerplant needs an extra LPT stage to provide the power necessary to turn the driveshaft (which, through a clutch and gearbox, drives the LiftFan), F135s built to power other F-35 variants have the second LPT stage as well. O’Donnell said: “The engine was designed to support that severe STOVL requirement.” For engines powering CTOL F-35As and F-35Cs, the additional turbine stage offers a substantial extra power margin, allowing for potential F-35 weight growth. Since the engine isn’t heavily taxed in many CTOL missions, its maintainability is improved too. The geometries of the cooling-air paths and airflows in the F135’s hot section are different from those in the F119. Turbine-blade thermal barrier coating materials, used to prevent nickel super-alloy turbine blades and vanes from melting in the 3,000-degrees-Fahrenheitplus airflow coming from the combustor, were updated too. P&W may have been able to apply retroactively to production F119s the advances in cooling-path and coating technologies devised for the F135. In both engines, cooling air is taken from the bypass airflow and by bleeding air away from the HPC stages to cool the HPT and LPT stages, probably by means of complex networks of tiny air channels within their blades and into the turbine casing, as is the case in commercial turbofans. O’Donnell commented: “Even fifteenhundred-degree air is cooling air if it’s relative to hotter air. The [blade] metal melts at the temperatures we’re operating at and a lot of the technology is in the



cooling and coatings.”

Counter-Rotating Spools, Ceramics and Augmentors

An important feature of the F135 – but one which Pratt & Whitney doesn’t talk about much – is that the engine’s two spools are counter-rotating, like those in the F119. This may have allowed P&W to dispense with one or more rows of static stators and vanes in the F135 because in some cases spool counter-rotation can be used to shape the direction of core airflow as it transitions between the HPT and LPT. This helps improve the overall efficiency of airflow through the engine. (Rows of stators and vanes, which are static blades found between many fan, compressor and turbine stages, act to condition and 1 present the core airflow optimally to each subsequent rotating stage.) the afterburner’s pilot light. These zones inject P&W possibly has been able to reduce the fuel independently, so that the afterburner parts count in the engine and make it somewhat does not act in an all-or-nothing way but lighter – but it declined to confirm this. instead provides a variable range of additional, P&W also won’t confirm the dry weight of smoothly transitioning wet thrust at the pilot’s the F135, but in 2011 a source commenting command. Like the F119 augmentor, the F135 on an aviation blog cited Warren Boley, former augmentor is stealthy. The designs of the two president of Pratt & Whitney Military Engines, as engines’ augmentors place multi-zone fuel saying the F135 weighs 1,500lb (680kg) more injection into curved vanes which eliminate than the F119. This would put the F135’s dry conventional spray bars and flame holders weight at around 5,400lb (2,450kg). However, and block the line of sight to the turbine when the F135 may have a higher thrust-to-weight looking into the engine from behind. ratio than the F119 (the F119’s overall pressure ratio is 26:1 compared with the F135’s 28:1) and Potential Developments so the 5,400lb figure might be high. for the F135 Boley also suggested in 2011 that the F135 There are a growing number of paths which had an uninstalled wet-thrust capability of Pratt & Whitney may be able to research and approximately 51,000lb (226.86kN). If this reads achieve technological advances that it might be across to an installed basis – in which bleed able to incorporate into F135 engines. The most air and shaft horsepower would be extracted routine path – but by no means a mundane to power aircraft systems, reducing the overall one – is the government-funded continuous dry-thrust capability by a fraction – it should improvement program for the F135, along with provide a comfortable operating margin over the a number of smaller technology-development 43,000lb (119.27kN) of wet thrust required by programmes in F135 engine repair, operational the spec. sustainment and operating-life increase. The F135 uses ceramic matrix composites Dr Jimmy Kenyon, Pratt & Whitney’s (CMCs) in its exhaust nozzle, primarily on the general manager for next-generation military outside sections of the exhaust nozzle on the programmes, said the F135 development story F135-PW-600 STOVL version of the engine. now included an F135-based engine test, funded O’Donnell said on the STOVL engine, also, by the US Air Force and the US Navy at different some sections of the fan ducts – particularly at times, which P&W completed in autumn 2013. the bottom, “where all the accessories hang on Designated XTE68-LF1, this test “focused to” – are made from organic matrix composites specifically on demonstrating [capability for] (OMCs), whereas the fan ducts for the F-35A higher temperatures in the turbine”, Kenyon told and F-35C engines are made from titanium. AIR International on May 20. Some of the inlet ducting in the aircraft is also Kenyon said the XTE68-LF1 test was made from OMC material. “tremendously successful” and allowed P&W According to O’Donnell, P&W used OMCs in to “demonstrate very, very high operating the F-35B to reduce weight by 40 to 50lb (18 to temperatures” in the F135’s high-pressure 22.5kg) so that the aircraft can carry a little extra turbine by introducing a variety of new weight – say, an additional 50lb of ordnance – technologies into the HPT module. These and bring it back if required when the mission included new casting technologies for metalcalls for the aircraft to land vertically. This alloy parts, new materials in the HPT (which “vertical lift bring-back” (VLBB) measurement would have to be able to resist much higher is a critical performance requirement for the operating temperatures), new thermal barrier F-35B. The aircraft, as it stands today, meets coatings for turbine blades and vanes, more the current spec. The worry is that if the F-35B’s temperature-resistant oils for lubricating and maximum gross weight grows over the course cooling, and a new main shaft bearing. of its operational career (as usually happens with Kenyon said the key achievement from the military aircraft), its VLBB performance will need success of the test was that the capability to to improve. operate at much higher operating temperatures Another key feature of the F135 is its can be used in a variety of different ways to augmentor, or afterburner system. While improve the engine’s performance, durability and details of the augmentor have remained hard to reliability and to offer more operational flexibility. come by, the F135 is known to employ multi“You can turn [the capability] into thrust, into zone (probably three-zone) fuel injection aft of

F-35 LIGHTNING II ENGINE EVOLUTION TECHNOLOGY durability and into fuel performance,” he said. The F135 development story now moves to the US Navy’s Fuel Burn Reduction (FBR) programme for the F135. Kenyon said this near-term programme will build on P&W’s findings and successes from the XTE68-LF1 HPT temperature-increase demonstration. It would marry the newly developed turbine technologies with new technologies P&W is developing for the F135’s compressor module in order to make the engine more efficient overall. These compressor technologies involve “a little bit of blade aerodynamics and [additional] pressure”, offering a greater overall pressure ratio between the pressure at which the core air enters the HPC module and the pressure at which it exits the HPC to flow into the engine’s diffuser and combustor. Kenyon said the aim of the FBR programme

development programme. Funded for both companies through 2016, the AETD programme saw Pratt & Whitney demonstrate a fullscale, three-stream adaptive supersonic fan module last autumn at the Air Force Research Laboratory’s high-compression rig at WrightPatterson Air Force base near Dayton, Ohio. P&W created its adaptive supersonic fan by modifying the development fan used for designing and testing the F135. It is called a “three-stream” fan because, unlike the fan section of a normal military or civil turbofan engine, which only produces two streams of air (one going through the core for compression and combustion in order to drive the engine’s turbomachinery and the other flowing outside the engine casing as relatively slow bypass air which actually produces much of the thrust). The adaptive

elements of its design perhaps drawn from P&W’s experience in designing the highly efficient core of the PW1000G commercialturbofan engine – with a three-stream adaptive fan module. P&W aims to bring all the different elements of its AETD research together in 2016 to run a full ground demonstration of the new adaptive fan-and-core system. Kenyon was quick to stress that P&W’s AETD research is not specifically intended for the F135. However, he conceded that “there are a lot of technologies going in there” and said the decision to bring any particular AETD technological advance into the existing F135 design would boil down to a “value-proposition argument” for the customer. Beyond even AETD are two other potential programmes. One is the US Navy’s Variable Cycle Advanced Technology (VCAT) programme, which will be a nine-phase 2 research and development effort looking further into the future. P&W is only in the first phase of VCAT research. Kenyon characterised the technologies involved as being “less mature” and the company’s research effort to date as being “a lot of component work”. By May P&W was in discussions with the navy over phase two of VCAT, which would involve work to demonstrate “proof of concept and take some technologies and advance them more”. Little information is available about VCAT, but Kenyon said much of the research programme was about “varying other things within the engine than the three-stream” fan capability. “Some of the things in VCAT would be very complementary to AETD – they’d be very synergistic when looked at holistically,” he said. What Kenyon would say about AETD and VCAT was that, all things being 1 Pratt & Whitney completed an F135-based engine test designated the XTE68-LF1. The test was foequal, in terms of the requirement and the cussed specifically on demonstrating the capability for higher temperatures in the turbine compared to the development funding existing, he expected current F135-PW-100 CTOL engine shown here during a test run with full afterburner. Pratt & Whitney both programmes (perhaps in combination) 2 Pratt & Whitney’s F135-XTE68-LF1 demonstrator engine in a test frame at the West Palm Beach facilto be able to produce, for a new fighter ity in Florida on August 11, 2013. Jane Wolff/Pratt & Whitney engine entering service within the next 20 is to be able to use combined turbine and fan produces a third stream of air which years, a fuel-burn improvement of around compressor improvements to give the US neither flows through the engine as core air 25% and a thrust improvement of about 10% Navy the flexibility to operate its F-35Cs more nor outside the engine casing as bypass over today’s F135. He characterised VCAT, fuel-efficiently when needed, allowing them air. Instead, it can be ducted to wherever particularly, as being for the next fighterto fly further and operate longer-duration in the engine it is most useful at any given engine generation beyond the F135. missions. Another way the navy could use the time. For example, the third stream can be Beyond VCAT is a tantalising hint offered by additional F135 capability would be to operate used to cool the HPT module to allow the the current US Secretary of Defense, Chuck its F-35Cs’ F135 engines within previously engine to run longer at very high operating Hagel, when he delivered his FY2015 budget existing temperature-margin ranges. This temperatures. Alternatively, it can be fed into preview speech in February 2014. “We ... would confer greater durability and allow the the compressor to provide more core air for recommended investing $1 billion in a promising navy to keep operating the engines longer the combustor, thus producing either a thrust next-generation jet engine technology, which between overhauls. bump when needed or higher overall engine we expect to produce sizeable cost-savings The navy could, when needed, use the efficiency throughout a long mission. Kenyon through reduced fuel consumption and lower extra F135 operating-temperature capability said: “The more widely variable the mission maintenance needs,” he Hagel. “This new to fly its F-35Cs faster, for quick-reaction space, the more the adaptive-cycle capability funding will also help ensure a robust industrial interception missions or high-risk missions helps you out.” It provided “a lot of options” base, a very strong and important industrial demanding very little time over a feet-dry – for instance and was potentially very helpful base – itself a national strategic asset.” target. Kenyon said that, under FBR, P&W during any supercruise segments of missions. In May 2014, like the rest of the US is developing its turbine and compressor The third-stream adaptive capability is population, Pratt & Whitney’s senior near-term efficiency technologies in ways not the only technology Pratt & Whitney is executive officers still knew very little which will allow them to be used as “drop-in developing in its AETD research. Kenyon about this potential development. Even if improvements” for the F135 engine, through a said the company was also researching Congress and the President follow Hagel’s technology-insertion programme. technologies to improve compressor thermal advice and begin development of this efficiency and turbine efficiency. It is not clear engine technology, it appears to refer to AETD, VCAT and Beyond whether or not it is taking them from the work the next-but-one generation of military jet Beyond FBR, both Pratt & Whitney and rival it has done for XTE68-LF1 demonstration engines. “It appears to be a follow-on to General Electric are working on Adaptive and FBR programme – in order to marry AETD,” Kenyon told AIR International. “As Engine Technology Development (AETD) these improvements with those offered by the details emerge, they will give insight as to research contracts under the US Air Force’s adaptive fan. This would effectively couple what technologies will mature and when Adaptive Versatile Engine Technology (ADVENT) a new, highly efficient engine core – some they will be available.”




Challenging Market The Faroe Islands, an autonomous archipelago belonging to Denmark and located halfway between Scotland and Iceland, is a demanding territory for an airline. Fog, dense clouds and frequent heavy rain pose serious operational constraints at Vágar, while the nearest available alternate airport is in the Shetland Islands, nearly 270nm (370km) away. Commercially, the islands’ 50,000-strong population presents limited outgoing demand, and incoming business traffic is minimal. And while passenger numbers have risen over the long term (there’s been a 43% growth in traffic in the past ten years, according to Vágar Airport), the carrier has to compete with Smyril Line, the Faroese ferry company, for the leisure market. Atlantic Airways was founded in 1987 as a joint venture between the Faroese Government (51%) and the Danish airline Cimber Air (49%). The first flight on the key route to Copenhagen took place in 1988 and one year later the airline was nationalised by the authorities in the Faroes’ capital, Tórshavn. The economic crisis in the Faroe Islands in the early 1990s brought the young company to the brink of collapse. Atlantic Airways got through the turmoil with a significant support of the Danish Government which provided 75 million DKK (£8.5 million) in aid.

STOL Operations Vágar’s short runway and surrounding mountainous terrain, are not suited to large aircraft, so the British Aerospace BAe 146 was chosen for its short take-off and landing capabilities. Second-hand examples of the four-engine type were the cornerstone of Atlantic Airways’ fleet from the 1990s, but due to safety requirements and the distances to alternate airports, they could only fly as far as Copenhagen or London. In 2005 and 2007 the airline received newer

Avro RJ85s and RJ100s. Their improved avionics and economy compared with the 146s made it possible to expand the network to serve more destinations in Denmark and the UK and open new routes to Norway and Iceland. In December 2007, 33.3% of the company’s shares were sold through the NASDAQ OMX Iceland stock exchange in order to attract more private investment. The other two-thirds of the company remained in government ownership.

Airbus Arrival In 2011 the runway in Vágar was extended from 1,250m (4,101ft) to 1,799m (5,902ft). An instrumented landing system was installed, which created an opportunity for Atlantic Airways to receive more modern and capable equipment. Accordingly, in March 2012 the airline took delivery of its first of seven Airbus A319s (OY-RCG). While offering significantly improved range, comfort, capacity (144 all-economy seats compared with the RJ’s 112) and an on-board product, the most important impact of the A319’s arrival remained out of sight for passengers. The type is capable of using Required Navigation Performance – Authorisation Required (RNP-AR) procedures, a satellite-based approach technique that provides unparalleled precision in navigation in difficult terrain and poor visibility. In January 2013 the airline’s RNP-AR procedure, developed in conjunction with Airbus subsidiary Quovadis (which makes the RNP-AR software), was certified by the Danish Civil Aviation Administration. Atlantic Airways became the first European airline to use this procedure. Two other A319s, which joined the fleet last year, were also retrofitted with RNP-AR capability. The benefit is that the percentage of flights delayed due to adverse weather conditions dropped to 1.5%, compared to 3.5% in 2008. The airline estimated that without the RNP-AR there would have been around 20 more cancellations or diversions in 2013 than the 36 cancelled flights and 18 diversions that were recorded.

Finances Atlantic Airways has had an excellent financial record in recent times. The only year in the last decade when the airline failed to post a profit was 2009, when it recorded a net loss of 6.6 million DKK (£0.7 million) due to the global recession. Finances have improved since then. Last year it posted a 7.4 million DKK (£0.8 million) net profit on revenues of 541.3 million DKK (£60.6 million), almost matching

Atlantic’s last Avro RJ100 will be phased out this month. Danish Aviation Photos/AirTeamImages



Michael Priesch/AirTeamImages


espite adverse weather, a remote location and limited demand, the Faroe Islands’ national airline, Atlantic Airways – the smallest flag carrier in Europe – has posted an annual profit nine times during the last decade. After revamping its fleet with Airbus A319s, the airline began seasonal flights for holidaymaking Faroese to Barcelona and Milan last year. These aircraft and expansion at Vágar, the Faroes’ only airport and Atlantic Airways’ home base, are presenting new opportunities for the carrier.


the record result from 2008 when it turned over 546.8 million DKK (£61.3 million). However, while revenues grew by 8% in 2013, the net profit decreased by 47.1% on the preceding year and is significantly lower than results from 2007, 2008 and 2011, years in which net profit exceeded 20 million DKK.

Renationalisation In February 2014 the airline’s board and the majority shareholder, the Faroese government, announced they would present an offer to the airline’s private shareholders to buy back the shares sold off in 2007. “Ever since a third of Atlantic Airways was privatised, there have been regular discussions in political circles as to whether this was the right move,” said an article on the Faroese government’s website explaining the decision. The article quoted the airline’s chairman, Niels Mortensen, as saying: “It is important that the company’s ownership structure is clear and in order, and that there is stability around the company.” The board’s offer of 210 DK per share was accepted by some shareholders and the government’s ownership increased to 95.72%. A statement from Atlantic Airways released

The Faroe Islands’ national airline is profitable despite the operational and commercial demands it has to face, reports Dominik Sipinski

antic Niche in May encouraged the remaining private investors to sell their shares to the government. If the investors decide to do so, the airline will return to full government ownership. Atlantic Airways’ Chief Executive Officer Jørgen Holme, who previously worked at SAS, Spanair and Air Greenland, declined an interview for this article, saying he would refrain from making comments to the media until the ownership situation is fully resolved.

Charter Operations In 2013 more than 85% of all Atlantic Airways’ passengers flew between the Faroe Islands and its three destinations in Denmark (Copenhagen, Aalborg and Billund). Like a number of smaller regional airlines around Europe, Atlantic Airways is trying to reduce its reliance on that core market by diversifying into charter and wet-lease (aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance) operations. In 2013 it signed a deal with the Danish tour operator Atlantis Rejser to operate flights from Denmark to Egypt. The turmoil in Egypt and resulting decline in tourism meant this route proved unviable, but the airline’s other charter and ACMI operations – it also runs seasonal flights for tour operators to destinations in the

Mediterranean – accounted for nearly 20% of its revenue last year, up from 14% in 2012. Atlantic Airways also offers flights from Vágar to remote communities around the Faroes using two Bell 412 helicopters, a service which it took over in 1994. The 412s are also used for search and rescue (SAR) duties around the islands if required. In June, it was announced that the American company Aero Dynamix had been granted a supplementary type certificate by the European Aviation Safety Agency to upgrade the 412s with night vision goggles and associated imaging systems and edge-lit overlays to improve their SAR capabilities. No information was provided about when the upgrades would be completed.

Looking Ahead There is set to be a further improvement in non-scheduled service revenue after Atlantic Airways won a contract with Statoil to provide helicopter and fixed-wing services for oil exploration near the Faroes. The carrier’s separate contract with the local authorities for intra-island helicopter transport and SAR runs until the end of 2015. While the fleet renewal programme has

helped performance, at the same time it has led to a slight downsizing of the fleet – from eight aircraft in 2010 to six. This will reduce to five in August when the last RJ100 is phased out and leased to Malmø Aviation in Sweden, for up to 30 months. Still, Atlantic Airways forecasts a growth in demand on the main route to Copenhagen by 2%. In its annual report, it predicted this should translate to a better financial result in 2014 over 2013’s. Flights to Barcelona and Milan have been reintroduced for the summer. But that seasonality poses difficulties: the number of routes in summer nearly triples compared with winter. In July Vágar serves more than 30,000 passengers – virtually all of them on board Atlantic Airways, whereas in February the number drops to just above 10,000. If Atlantic Airways is to grow in a sustainable and consistent manner, it has to continue using its aircraft on high-yield tourist destinations in the summer, while finding charter operations to keep the fleet busy during the slow winter season. Despite that, the Faroese airline is remarkable in its almost uninterrupted profitability in extremely demanding circ*mstances.



Utility Twin Alexander Mladenov details the features, uses and development of the Ka-226 utility helicopter

A Ka-226T prototype in military-style camouflage configured with an open platform for cargo transport behind the co*ckpit. Kamov via author





he Kamov Ka-226 is a twin-engine helicopter designed as a capable yet affordable workhorse for a variety of applications including transport, law enforcement, disaster relief and military flight training. It features Kamov’s signature co-axial design, with two contra-rotating three-blade high-inertia rotors. Certified for single-pilot operations, it can carry interchangeable pods for different missions. The type was originally conceived as a turbine-powered update of the popular Ka26 with considerably higher performance, better payload, lower fuel consumption and reduced noise and vibration. In reality, the helicopter can perform a much larger range of applications than its predecessor.

Co-Axial Trademark “The Ka-226 is the only Russian light rotorcraft certified to fly over urban environments that meets the stringent US and European noise requirements,” Kamov’s long-serving designer-general, Sergey Mikheyev, told AIR International. “We didn’t want to make it a luxury machine; we wanted to see the Ka-226 become a dependable workhorse for various utility tasks and special missions.” The co-axial rotor system has several advantages. It creates compact overall dimensions, its aerodynamic symmetry provides excellent stability and the lack of a tail rotor simplifies the control system. Kamov also claims a co-axial helicopter can operate in higher ambient temperatures than a conventional rotorcraft without much performance degradation, enabling it to operate safely where there’s strong turbulence such as over the sea or mountainous terrain. The Ka-226 was the first Russian helicopter built in accordance with the country’s AP-29 airworthiness rules, designed to be equivalent to Western FAR-29 standards. Its conceptual design was completed in 1996, the initial machine using the basic structure of the Ka-126, a single-engine derivative of the original Ka-26. Flown for the first time in October 1987, the Ka-126 was to have been built in Romania but the project was abandoned after the fall of Communism there in 1990.

Features The original Ka-226 prototype made its first flight on September 3, 1997. The helicopter’s design subsequently evolved to include a new fuselage structure (with an increased use of composites) and rotor system. The latter features glass fibre/carbon composite blades and a hingeless rotor hub which uses maintenance-free self-lubricating bearings. Detachable cabins and a sliding door on the port side were developed to enable the Ka-226 to perform tasks such as rappelling, fast-roping and parachuting. The co*ckpit received new crashworthy pilot and co-pilot seats and instrumentation certified for day and night instrument flying rules (IFR) operations and an electrothermal anti-icing system was added to the



rotors to enable the Ka-226 to fly in cold conditions. The overall airframe life was set at 18,000 hours and the time between overhauls at 6,000 hours or 15 years (whichever is reached first). The improved Ka-226 first flew on March 28, 2001 and in October 2003 it received its Russian type certificate. An approval for Category A operations (permitting singleengine recovery in the event of one of the two engines shutting down) was granted the following year and further certification activities continued afterwards to expand the helicopter’s performance.

Market Interest Russia’s Ministry of Emergency Situations (EMERCOM) and other Russian Government departments and gas production and distribution giant Gazprom all expressed interest in the Ka-226 early in its development. EMERCOM ordered the Ka-226A, a dedicated SAR version, while Gazprom



invested in the development and production 3 of a utility transport variant (designated the Ka-226AG) to replace its obsolete Ka-26s for logistics support and patrolling its enormous gas pipeline network across Russia. The Moscow regional government, committed to order helicopters for police and air ambulance use, also provided funding support for the Ka-226’s development. Ka-226 production was launched at two plants in southern Russia – PO Strela at Orenberg, near the border with Kazakhstan, and the nearby Kumertau Aviation Production Enterprise (KumAPE) factory. PO Strela would produce Ka-226s for civil customers, including Gazprom, while KumAPE built Ka226s for government customers.

Ka-226T In 2005 one of the Ka-226 prototypes was reengined with the Turbomeca Arrius 2G1, derated to 580shp (421kW) to provide enhanced performance in hot and high conditions,

KAMOV Ka-225 SERGEI COMMERCIAL 1 One of six Ka-226AGs delivered in 20112012 to Gazprom for gas pipeline monitoring and general transport role. Kamov via author 2 The Turbomeca Arrius 2G1 engine, combined with a range of airframe and rotor system enhancements, gives the Ka-226T a vastly improved hot-and-high performance compared to the initial version. Alexander Mladenov 3 The executive/VIP detachable cabin, made at PO Strela. Alexander Mladenov 4 The interior of this Ka-226T prototype is outfitted for HEMS for the Ministry of Emergency Situations. Alexander Mladenov


enabling operations at up to 8,200ft (2,500m). The result was a new variant, the Ka-226T (T for Turbomeca), able to operate from landing sites up to 19,680ft (6,000m). The new engine increased maximum take-off weight to 3,600kg (7,920lb) while an all-new VR-226N gearbox can handle the maximum power developed by the powerplants in take-off mode. The Ka-226T also features the UKBP KBO-226 flight/navigation suite with four flat-panel displays. Kamov sources say that, during flight tests in 2009, the prototype Ka-226T reached an altitude of 24,600ft (7,500m). The variant’s maximum payload is 1,500kg (3,300lb) on the external sling and 1,200kg (2,630lb) in the cabin, flight endurance is 3.3 hours and maximum range is 525km (283nm) with ten minutes’ fuel reserve. Rate of climb at sea level is 8.7m/s (1,722ft/min) and at 11,200ft (3,400m) it is still an impressive 7.7m/s (1,524ft/ min). Category A operations are possible from locations at up to 7,260ft (2,200m). The Ka-226T’s maximum take-off weight is 3,400kg (7,494lb). It has a maximum speed of 111kts (205km/h), a cruise speed of up to 105kts (194km/h), a range on maximum fuel 1 of 600km (324nm) and a maximum endurance of four hours and 42 minutes with no reserve.

Internal Security

While the Ka-226T was under development, the earlier version of the Ka-226 had already entered service. The first was handed over to EMERCOM in late 2004, its regional detachment in Russia’s autonomous republic of Bashkortostan (where the KumAPE factory is situated) putting the aircraft on duty in December that year. The Ka-226 also entered service with the Aviation Department of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB), the direct successor of the former Soviet Union’s KGB state security agency. The first two (built at the KuAPE, where they were designated as Ka-226.50s) were delivered to the service in December 2005. One was lost in a landing accident during training operations, fortunately without casualties. Four more Ka-226s joined the FSB in 2009 and 2010. The service’s helicopters are used for special operations support, which involves inserting and extracting FSB commando teams during anti-terrorist operations, and for border patrol surveillance over land and sea. The FSB is said to be satisfied with the Ka-226, but initially it had concerns over the helicopter’s high-altitude performance. The type certificate, issued in 2004 by Russian civil airworthiness body ARMAC, 4 constrained take-off and landing operations to a maximum height of 3,280ft (1,000m), but the FSB was keen to use the Ka-226 in the Caucasus Mountains – around the troubled republic of Chechnya – where helicopters routinely operate to and from locations well above that level. During the type’s development, Kamov engineers had calculated the engine would enable safe take-off and landing operations at up to 9,840ft (3,000m). This capability had however not been verified during certification and the FSB, together with Kamov, committed to conducting all the necessary trials to validate the type’s high-altitude performance.

Altitude Tests In June 2006 a combined Kamov/FSB test team flew a series of supplementary highaltitude certification trials at an FSB base in the Stavropol area. They were carried out using unprepared landing spots in the nearby Caucasus range at 3,280ft (1,000m),





The air ambulance mission pod has room for two stretchers and three to four attendants or seated casualties. Alexander Mladenov The area behind the Ka-226’s co*ckpit can either remain open, facilitating cargo transport, or house mission pods which can be changed in field conditions within 20 to 30 minutes. The most commonly used mission pod is for passenger and general cargo transport, fitted with foldable seating for six. It is reported to have proved particularly useful in supporting the Moscow Police Service’s fast-rope extraction technique, where a four-strong anti-terrorist detachment can be delivered in a few seconds onto building roofs or suitable ground locations. There is also a dedicated VIP pod with four leather seats; and an air ambulance pod, which is fitted with one or two stretchers and has seating for three or four casualties plus a medical attendant. A dedicated search and rescue pod, developed for EMERCOM, is equipped with a 300kg-capacity (660lb) electric winch, an external pod for mission equipment, a searchlight and a loudspeaker.

4,920ft (1,500m), 6,560ft (2,000m), 8,200ft (2,500m) and finally 9,840ft (3,000m) to verify performance. The tests, conducted under the auspices of urgent operational needs, were successfully completed within four days – instead of the two months it would have taken under civilian regulatory conditions – and showed operations were possible at altitudes up to 3,000m (9,840ft), with engine exhaust gas temperature remaining inside safe limits, at a maximum take-off weight of 3,400kg (7,494lb).

of tail-strikes, while the co-axial design contributes to the helicopter’s stability when operating in an urban environment: it is less affected than its conventional counterparts by the turbulence generated in built-up areas. The helicopter has also been delivered to other police departments across the European part of Russia and 12 are now in service, most in a standardised law enforcement configuration. This features an Israelimade electro-optical imaging sensor in the nose for day/night surveillance, equipment

Border Troops Service Two FSB helicopters were sent to the aviation units of Russia’s Border Troops Service in 2010. It intends to operate this pair from the decks of border patrol vessels, supplementing the Ka-27PS in the role over the sea and the omnipresent Mi-8 in utility, liaison, observation and resupply roles over land. The Ka-226 is expected to be given on-board weapons including rocket pods and forward- and sidefiring machine guns. The FSB is scheduled to take delivery of ten extensively modified Ka-226Ts between 2015 and 2020 for use in maritime patrol operations. They will have a sensor suite comprising a gyro-stabilised payload with TV and thermal camera and a surface search radar under the fuselage. The first radar trials on the Ka-226 took place in 2012. The first police operator of the Ka-226 was the Moscow Police Service, which took delivery of its first two in December 2006. The Ka-226 has proved versatile and cheaper to operate than heavy types such as the Mi-8MTV, and is well-equipped for use in the skies over the Russian capital in law enforcement roles such as observation, liaison, traffic control and patrol during large-scale public events. The lack of a tail rotor eliminates the risk



Alexander Mladenov

Police Service

for downlinking video to ground receiver stations, a powerful searchlight and external loudspeakers. One Ka-226 is operated by the SpecialPurpose Aviation Detachment of the Police Department in the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic of the Russian Federation (in the troubled North Caucasian region), based at Nalchik. Wearing the Russian state aircraft registration RF-21010, it was taken on in 2011 and, on both sides of the fuselage, sports as yet unidentified sensors and structures not previously seen on any Russian police helicopter. The flat antennas on the port side are possibly part of a system intended to intercept mobile communications. The first two Ka-226s for use in the helicopter emergency medical service role (HEMS) were introduced in September 2008. Built by PO Strela and operated by Orenair on behalf of Orenburg District Hospital, they are mainly used for transport of road accident casualties.

Gazprom Gazprom’s first Ka-226AGs were built in 2004. It was intended the six ordered would replace all its Ka-26s by 2009 – but delays in certifying the variant meant they were only delivered in 2011 and put into operation in 2012. In September 2012 it was announced that Gazprom would take delivery of 18 Ka226TGs, a variant of the Ka-226T featuring the KBO-226TG avionics suite. This system has been tailor-made for the low temperatures and limited visibility (in fog and heavy precipitation) found in Siberia and Russia’s far northern territories, where most of Gazprom’s gas fields are located. The avionics include a gyro-stabilised electrooptical imaging sensor for night operations installed in the nose and an additional fuel tank

KAMOV Ka-225 SERGEI COMMERCIAL for extended-range operations. Gazprom’s helicopters are also certified for landings in tailwind conditions of up to 11kts and fitted with a sensor for detecting leakages in gas pipelines. The Ka-226s will also undertake emergency repair work, cargo and passenger transportation and medical evacuation.

INDIAN REQUIREMENT A Ka-226T during trials at a high-altitude airfield in the Himalayas in February 2010. Kamov via author

EMERCOM Saga EMERCOM operated its sole Ka-226 for four years until it was handed over to the federal police service in 2008. Initially the ministry wanted to order up to 25 Ka-226s for urban environment monitoring, surveillance and medical evacuation, but the plan was put on hold while the Ka-226T was developed in a dedicated HEMS configuration. An order for one Ka-226T placed in 2012 – at a unit price of 232.2 million roubles ($7.7 million) – was followed by another in early 2013, but delays in certifying the HEMS variant led to the orders being cancelled in mid-2013. It is now expected that EMERCOM will start ordering the Ka-226T only after it gains an IFR type certificate.

Military Service So far, the only foreign customer for the Ka-226 is Ukraine’s Ministry of Emergency Situations, which purchased one Ka-226 in 2009. The Ka-226T is among the participants in a protracted and hotly-contested Indian Ministry of Defence tender for 197 light utility helicopters to replace its existing fleet of HAL Chetak and Cheetah aircraft. The type is competing against the Eurocopter AS350C3 in the contest, the winner of which is expected to be announced in 2015 or 2016. Thanks to its hot-and-high performance the Russian helicopter has a good chance of winning the competition. Flight evaluations conducted in India in 2010 in desert and mountainous conditions assessed the helicopter’s controllability and manoeuvrability in challenging operating environments. The Ka-226 demonstrated it could transport a 1,000kg (2,200lb) load on an external sling over a distance of 200km (108nm) and meet all the requirements in the tender’s technical specification. It also flew with Indian Air Force pilots and technicians on board, reaching a ceiling of 22,960ft (7,000m) and landing at (and subsequently taking off from) a site 19,680ft (6,000m) up in the Himalayas.

In 2010 the Russian Air Force (RuAF) selected the civil-certified basic utility version of the Ka-226 for the initial and basic flight training of pilots selected to fly co-axial military helicopters such as the Ka-27 and Ka-52. A long-term agreement between the KumAPE and the Russian Ministry of Defence covered the delivery of 36 Ka-226s in several batches on an annual basis. The first three from an initial batch of six were handed over for field evaluation and testing in mid-2011. In February 2012, they were delivered to the RuAF and put into socalled ‘experimental field operation’ with an instructor cadre. The first two or three batches were 1 expected to be basic civil-certified Ka226s, which are powered by Rolls-Royce M250-C20R engines, and the rest the improved and more powerful Ka-226T powered by Arrius 2G1 engines and fitted with new mission avionics. The delayed civil certification of the Ka-226T, however, means it is unlikely to be delivered to the RuAF in the foreseeable future, the service continuing to receive the baseline version. Experienced RuAF pilots who’ve flown the Ka-226 say it features more pilot-friendly handling than conventional counterparts such as the Ansat-U and Mi-8. All RuAF Ka-26s are operated by the Aviation Training Group at Sokol, within the structure of the Syzran branch of the RuAF’s Voronezh Military Training-Scientific Centre. By early 2014, the unit had 25 on strength. 2

1 This Ka-226.50, based at Nalchik, is operated by the Special-Purpose Police Aviation Detachment of Russia’s Kabardino-Balkiria republic in the North Caucasus region. Via author 2 Russia’s Federal Security Service has six Ka-226s on strength; the first two were delivered in 2004. Via author





Highly sophisticated technology is being trialled by the lowcost airline easyJet to make its operations even more efficient, as Mark Broadbent explains


fficiency is a watchword for low-cost carriers (LCCs). The successful budget airlines worldwide have built their businesses by working their aircraft hard with quick turnarounds to maximise the number of sectors flown during a day. This year easyJet, the UK’s largest low-fare carrier, will trial three new technologies aimed at helping it adhere to that plan. Unmanned aircraft, apps and augmented reality (which superimposes a computer-generated image on a user’s view of the real world) will all be used to speed up its engineering operations to maximise the time its aircraft spend in the air.

Inspections One of the most eye-catching innovations is the use of small unmanned air vehicles (UAVs). EasyJet is working with the UAV developers CopterCraft, 3D inspection specialists Measurement Solutions and Bristol Robotics Laboratory to explore how UAVs can assist with maintenance inspections of its 220-strong Airbus A319 and A320 fleet. CopterCraft builds small UAVs in different configurations, from four-rotor quadcopters to octocopters, all capable of carrying photo and video sensor payloads. The company, which already provides systems for the scientific

research sector and the film and television industries, customises its UAVs depending on a client’s needs. It’s currently working with Bristol Robotics on a niche system for easyJet. The idea is that once an A320 or A319 is in the hangar for maintenance, a UAV operated from a control station could be flown around the aircraft. It would be equipped with HD cameras streaming real-time video of the fuselage and control surfaces, enabling engineers to see whether further inspection or repair work is needed. Dr Arthur Richards, Head of Aerial Robotics at the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, said: “Coupled with smart navigation and computer vision, [UAVs] can get accurate data from really awkward places.” It means engineers won’t need to climb onto the aircraft and, if problems are spotted, they are rectified more quickly. EasyJet’s Head of Engineering, Ian Davies, said: “Checks that usually take more than a day could be performed in a couple of hours and potentially with greater accuracy.” This goes to the heart of the LCC model. Aircraft downtime, and therefore cost, is reduced and fleet availability is maximised. It’s clear to see why easyJet wants to explore the concept and, although the UAV systems are still under development, the airline hopes to trial them, “in the coming months and introduce them into operation as early as next year”.

Augmented Reality Glasses

EasyJet is looking to make engineering more efficient in other ways. Currently, when an aircraft is away from its base, pilots report technical problems by emailing pictures and calling easyJet’s Operations Control Centre (OCC) at the airline’s London Luton Airport headquarters. The airline hopes to speed up this process by giving its pilots and engineers glasses featuring 3D virtual and augmented reality technologies developed by imaging equipment manufacturer Epson and video eyewear developer Vuzix. The glasses are fitted with a front-facing camera and internet connectivity for live picture streaming. Specialists back at the OCC will have the same view as the pilot or engineer down route, opening the potential for faster diagnosis and to remedy technical problems. Potentially, augmented reality could mean an engineer could compare images from the manual and engineering database with live footage. The OCC team and the pilot or 2 engineer will also be able to communicate through an integrated hands-free headset. 1 EasyJet hopes using UAVs will help speed up Ian Davies said: “3D augmented reality maintenance inspections. Tim Anderson/easyJet technology is key to easyJet reducing longer 2 Glasses with augmented reality could assist in delays when an aircraft is down route, this will diagnosing technical problems down route. Tim Anderson/easyJet help us get greater clarity on any technical



issues which occur.” The carrier said the technology will be particularly useful at far-flung airports such as Sharm El Sheik, Tel Aviv and Moscow in its network of 138 destinations.

Tablets EasyJet is joining the growing number of airlines using mobile devices and apps for operational purposes. The airline’s pilots use Panasonic Toughbook tablets installed with manuals and navigational charts rather than printed material. The devices are used in all phases of a flight and ground operations and easyJet claims replacing heavy printed material will reduce its fuel costs by $500,000 each year. In addition, new ‘e-paper’ technology could see easyJet completely eliminate printed forms in the cabin. Sony’s new A4-sized Digital Paper tablet, which is just 7mm (0.275in) thick, boasts note writing and document annotation features. “Completed forms can be quickly saved into a central database enabling the airline’s operational team quick and easy access to information on all of the aircraft,” reported easyJet. Trials will start in coming months although the airline did not specify a date.

Apps EasyJet’s engineering department has also worked with the software company Output42 to develop bespoke apps, which it maintains, “will enable engineers to perform certain dayto-day tasks more efficiently and easyJet to return aircraft to service more quickly”. One app helps engineers identify problems with damaged fan blades with faster replacement by scanning them and automatically re-ordering from the airline’s parts inventory. Other apps are in different stages of development and the airline expects to trial an unspecified range this summer.

In-Flight Monitoring An emerging area in the airline business is inflight monitoring of aircraft to help optimise operations and detect technical problems so a fix can be prepared when the aircraft lands at its destination. EasyJet is working with the French software company FlightWatching to install an early fault prognosis tool called WILCO. A web-based software system, it provides an airline’s operations and engineering staff with live updates directly from its aircraft as they fly. It receives real-time values of aircraft system parameters via the on-board Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS). WILCO transforms the information from ACARS into an animated schematic (a moving technical drawing) to predict any potential faults.





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