About Leithen Francis

Author Archive | Leithen Francis

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African misadventure

I was busy tracking down a story yesterday. Reports had emerged that a Jet Airways Boeing 737-800 from India had run off the end of the runway at the airport serving the town of Bor in southern Sudan. A Jet Airways 737-800 in southern Sudan? My initial assessment was that the story must not be […]

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Bombardier’s Asian bombshell

It looks like Bombardier has finally realised that it needs to do more with product support in Asia. The Canadian aircraft-maker announced yesterday that it plans to get Fokker Services to support its Dash 8 and Q-series aircraft around the globe. The only exception is that Bombardier will continue to keep Q400 product support because […]

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Japan’s new ATD-X technology demonstrator plays important strategic role

  I found this Japanese television feature package that gives a good overview of the country’s ATD-X programme, which aims to produce a technology demonstrator of a fifth generation stealth fighter. Last week, I was in Tokyo and met with Japanese ministry of defence officials who are involved in the ATD-X programme. I asked them […]

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Japan looking to take new direction with future fighter programmes

The growing trend towards international joint-development of military aircraft is leading Japan to review its military export policies. Japan’s long-standing ban on the export of military equipment effectively stops local manufacturers from participating international programmes such as the Joint Strike Fighter. But many of the top programmes these days are multinational joint-development programmes. And Japan’s […]

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ShinMaywa’s US-2 needs a big market

I visited ShinMaywa Industries, on the outskirts of Tokyo, today and met with Yasuo Kawanishi, who is involved in business development. I also met with Eiichi Negishi, who is seconded to the Japan Aircraft Development Corporation, and is helping with commercialisation of the ShinMaywa US-2 amphibious aircraft. The US-2 is a search and rescue (SAR) […]

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Is the sun setting on Japan’s defence industry?

I am in Tokyo doing some research on the Japanese aircraft manufacturing industry and are looking very closely at the Japanese defence market. For decades Japan has been a closed shop where western aerospace companies wishing to sell into Japan have had to partner with one of the large Japanese manufacturing conglomerates such as Mitsubishi […]

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Indonesia’s new 19-seater entering crowded market

Indonesian Aerospace (IAe) is developing a new 19-seat aircraft, the N219. I spoke with the aircraft-maker’s director of aero-structure Andi Alisjahbana, who sent me these pictures of the aircraft. IAe already makes the CASA 212-200 under licence from Spain but the Indonesians are developing the N219 independently of CASA and argue that the Indonesian aircraft will not […]

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Royal Brunei poised to announce deal for 777s

Royal Brunei has publicly confirmed that it plans to add Boeing 777s in late June and that it is speaking to Singapore Airlines (SIA), which is looking to phase out some of its 777-200ERs. I confirmed this with Royal Brunei’s top spokeswoman but she was reluctant to elaborate because the deal has yet to be […]

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China needs to do more to patch cracks in MA60′s image

Officials at Indonesia’s Merpati Nusantara are saying that Xian Aircraft has fixed the crack found in the vertical stabiliser of one of Merpati’s MA60s, local registration PK-MZC.  The airline official I spoke to says it was a problem with the materials used rather than a design flaw.  But the fact there was a crack is […]

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Picture of India’s light combat helicopter having first flight

I received a very nice picture today from the office of R Srinivasan, managing director of Hindustan Aeronautics’ (HAL) helicopter complex. It shows HAL’s light combat helicopter (LCH) having its first flight on 29 March in Bangalore. This helicopter was originally due to have first flight in 2008 but, not surprisingly, there were some delays. […]

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