Headlines briefing: 24 October 2006

This story is sourced from Flight International
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Prater promises ALPA 'offensive action'

Election Duane Woerth has been ousted as president of the US Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) after a close run election against John Prater, who in January will become the union's eighth president since its creation in 1931. Prater gained 24,444 of the 47,968 votes cast. Woerth, who was supported by 23,524 members, is currently in his second four-year term. "After five years of concessionary bargaining, lost pensions, and battered work rules, our pilots are primed to take offensive action," says Prater, a Continental Airlines Boeing 767 pilot.

Dutch parliament backs JSF involvement

Procurement The Dutch parliament has approved the signature before year-end of a memorandum of understanding for the production, sustainment and follow-on development (PSFD) of Lockheed Martin's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. Representing a $586 million PSFD phase commitment until 2052, the decision comes despite what the nation's House of Representatives describe as "considerable financial risks" linked to the project. The Netherlands defence ministry plans to buy 85 F-35s for €5.5 billion ($6.8 billion), and to spend a further €9.1 billion to operate the fleet over a 30-year period.

S-76D's turboshaft has first run

Propulsion Pratt & Whitney Canada has completed the first run of the PW210 turboshaft, launched in February 2005 and selected for the Sikorsky S-76D. P&WC says the intermediate/medium twin helicopter powerplant is expected to produce 10-20% more power for roughly the same fuel consumption of current generation engines. The 1,000shp (745kW) class engine is equipped with a dual channel, full-authority digital engine control system and is expected to be certificated in mid-2008.

Photoshoot flight ends in tragedy

Accident A twin-engined Piper Cheyenne carrying at least five people on a flight to photograph a vintage Mikoyan MiG-21 crashed last week after a suspected mid-air collision with the Soviet-era fighter, killing everyone on board. The MiG-21UM landed safely. The two aircraft took off from Prescott near Phoenix, Arizona at around 13:30 and the Cheyenne crashed about 20min later after the MiG-21 pilot asked the other pilot to take a closer look at a suspected landing-gear door problem at around 9,000ft (2,750m).

Venezuela advances Antonov talks

Transports A Venezuelan delegation has visited Russia's Polet production plant in Omsk to advance discussions over the possible purchase of up to six Antonov An-74 tactical transports. Reported to be worth over $70 million, the potential sale would build on earlier deals between the countries for 24 Sukhoi Su-30 fighters worth over $3 billion and more than 50 utility helicopters. Venezuelan interest in the An-74 emerged following the collapse of a contract with EADS Casa to supply C-295 transports and CN-235 maritime patrol aircraft.

Gulfstream nose boom goes supersonic

Tests NASA expected to conduct the first supersonic flight with Gulfstream's Quiet Spike boom-mitigation device late last week. The telescoping nose boom is fitted to a Boeing F-15 and, when extended, will divide the bow shock into a series of lesser pressure waves, reducing the initial overpressure spike and softening the sonic boom.

Britten-Norman deal ends industrial action

Pay deal Britten-Norman has negotiated a multi-year pay deal with the Amicus union after workers at its Aircraft unit took industrial action this month. The UK manufacturer says the agreement "contains conditions aimed at modernising working practices" and "increasing customer focus".