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KINGFISHER CLOSES BOOK ON PRE-XWB A350

India's Kingfisher Airlines closed the book on Airbus's pre-XWB A350 by formally converting its 2005 order for five -800s into the XWB version. The move leaves Airbus' XWB backlog at 483 aircraft. There is still no sign, however, of a firm order for 15 A350s and 35 other Airbus aircraft to which Kingfisher tentatively committed at the 2007 Paris air show. Through April, Airbus's overall 2009 net order total was just 11 aircraft. It delivered 162 jets.


AUSTRALIA JOINS US NAVY'S P-8A PROGRAMME

Australia is to participate in the Spiral 1 development phase of the US Navy's Boeing P-8A maritime patrol aircraft programme and could eventually buy eight aircraft as part of an A$5 billion ($3.75 billion) package. The aircraft would enter service before 2018 to replace the Royal Australian Air Force's Lockheed Martin AP-3C Orions and operate alongside seven high-altitude long-endurance unmanned air vehicles. Boeing is scheduled to deliver the first Spiral 1 aircraft to the USN in 2015.


BOEING CONFIRMS TURKISH 777-300ER ORDER

Boeing has confirmed a firm order for five 777-300ERs from Turkish Airlines, which in March had stated its intention to acquire the General Electric GE90-powered twinjets. Boeing values the aircraft at $1.36 billion at catalogue prices.


ORION SOFTWARE NEEDS 'THOUSANDS OF YEARS'

With flight software verification still requiring "thousands of developer years" to complete for its Orion crew exploration vehicle, NASA does not expect to complete the task before preliminary design review, expected in the third quarter, and has concluded it needs to phase in functions, for example by eliminating automation where operations can be conducted manually on board or from mission control. Orion is key to NASA's plans to maintain manned spaceflight capability after retiring the Space Shuttle.


INDIA LOSES FIRST SU-30MKI TO CRASH

The Indian air force is investigating the cause of the first fatal accident involving its Sukhoi Su-30MKI fleet. One of the aircraft's two crew members died after ejecting from the multirole fighter during a routine training sortie over Rajasthan state on 30 April. The air force is continuing operations with its remaining inventory of more than 50 Russian- and Hindustan Aeronautics-built Su-30MKIs, pending the findings of a court of inquiry investigation.


LASER MENACE AT BEN-GURION AIRPORT

Israeli police are mounting a "top priority" search for the source of a very strong laser beam directed at the cockpits of aircraft approaching Ben-Gurion airport in Tel-Aviv. Sources say that the laser beam was aimed "very accurately" at approaching aircraft.


NEW BRASS AT EUROFIGHTER

Eurofighter has appointed Bernhard Gerwert as its new chairman and Enzo Casolini as chief executive. Gerwert is now chief executive of EADS Defence & Security's Military Air Systems unit. Casolini, who left the Italian air force in 1987, joined Aeritalia in 1989 and has been Military Air Systems senior vice-president since 2002. He takes over from Aloysius Rauen, who left the company on 30 April.