This week: Briefings

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ASTRONAUTS URGE OBAMA TO KEEP MOON IN SIGHT

Sixteen former astronauts have signed a joint statement in support of NASA's Moon return Constellation programme, which may be tipped for cancellation by a committee reviewing US human spaceflight plans that reports to US president Barack Obama later this month. Some scenarios being outlined will include neither Constellation nor the spacecraft and rockets being developed for its Moon missions, but the astronaut signatories - some of whom are now employed by Constellation contractors -insist a Constellation-based programme would be the safest, as it would be "infused with generational lessons learned" from earlier NASA experience.


ROLLS-ROYCE AND P&W IN MS-21 POWER FRAME

Russian airframer Irkut has shortlisted Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce to supply engines for the export version of the proposed MS-21 twinjet and plans to make a choice this year. Foreign manufacturers making MS-21 bids are requested to have a Russian-registered partner.Irkut says P&Wis looking to team with engine developer Aviadvigatel and affiliated plant Perm Motors, while Rolls-Royce would link with Moscow-based engine specialist Salyut.


CZECH PILOTS RAISE FEARS OVER STRATEGY

Czech Airlines pilots have criticised management strategy and warned that the airline is heading for unrest after Air France-KLM backed out of the carrier's privatisation. The Czech pilots association CZALPA says employees have been supportive of measures such as wage cuts to help the airline through the economic crisis but warn that other measures, such the abolition of long-haul scheduled flights, will reduce it to a regional airline.


UK START-UP IN TALKS FOR UPTO 10 IL-96S

Russian lessor Ilyushin Finance is set to identify a potential foreign customer, thought to be a UK-registered start-up operator, for up to 10 new Ilyushin Il-96-400T freighters, possibly for service in Africa. The Il-96-400T is a four-engined transport developed from the passenger Il-96-300 variant produced by Voronezh-based airframer VASO. Neither type is certificated by the European Aviation Safety Agency or US Federal Aviation Administration.


CHINESE AIRCRAFT FOR CHINESE CARRIERS

Start-up airlines in China may find it easier to get an air operator's certificate if they opt for Chinese-built aircraft, according to a report in the state-run China Daily. The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) announced last December it would refrain from granting air operator's certificates in 2009, but now unidentified CAAC officials have been quoted as saying certificateswould be easier to obtain for start-ups that plan to operate Chinese-made aircraft, particularly the Xian MA60 turboprop and CACC ARJ21 regional jet.


SUKHOI CAN 'SHARE' RUSSIA, SAYSB OMBARDIER

Bombardier is confident it can share the Russian regional market with Sukhoi, maker of the soon to be certificated Superjet 100. Bombardier's representative in Russia, Sergy Ermolaev, saysthe Russian market will require delivery of "close to 400 new airplanes" in the regional segment over the next 10 years and that the Superjet "cannot satisfy all the needs of the market". Bombardier turboprops, he says,are one example of products better suited for some market niches.