Out with the old

The US Air Force’s Lockheed U-2 surveillance aircraft features on our cover this week (4 March) as one of several types proposed for retirement as part of the latest budget-cutting plans from the Pentagon. Jon Hemmerdinger assesses the contents of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s proposals, which will also mean the Fairchild Republic A-10 ground attack aircraft and the army’s Bell OH-58D helicopter facing the axe.

In a busy week for the team, Dan Thisdell was in Toulouse for the former EADS (now Airbus Group) results. He discovered that, after a busy 24 months of rebranding, deep internal reorganisation and a failed merger, CEO Tom Enders is looking forward to a “year of execution”.

I was at Rolls-Royce in Derby, where the propulsion giant outlined plans for two new engines – evolutions of its Trent engine family, which it hopes to bring to market in the 2020s.

Stephen Trimble flew to Anaheim for Heli-Tech. Although the civil rotorcraft industry’s biggest show was low on programme announcements – the big story was a new version of AgustaWestland’s AW109 – companies and operators alike were in bullish mood with helicopter sales, in the US and throughout the world, higher than ever.

On the other side of the globe from California, Kate Sarsfield spent two days at the Abu Dhabi Air Expo, where business jet and general aviation manufacturers were promoting their wares to some very discerning customers, and several infrastructure developments are underway.

And ahead of the Hyderabad air show, Greg Waldron looks for signs of renewed activity in India’s airliner market. Rising spending power ought to make the country one of the fastest-growing in aviation, but oversupply of capacity, bad management and other industrial inefficiencies has held it back.

Our man in Bengaluru, Atul Chandra also examines the prospects for India’s first home-grown airliner and finds out the country still has a long way to go to join the club of aircraft manufacturers.

Finally, David Learmount checks progress on the SESAR project to create a common air traffic management regime for Europe. It is taking a while to implement, but, he says, if reforms are brought into force, the continent’s skies will never be the same again.


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