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AOPA HIGHLIGHTS TRAINEE PILOT DROP-OUT RATE

Some 80% of student pilots voluntarily withdraw from training before gaining even a basic pilot licence, according to a study conducted for the US Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. Carried out by polling specialist APCO Insight, the study found that about 35% of instructors were not rated as sufficiently professional or as good teachers, and nearly half the students rated support from the training schools as indifferent, and the aeroplanes themselves as being rather scruffy.


FURTHER DELAYS FOR BRAZIL FIGHTER ACQUISITION

President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil says a decision about the air force's F-X2 fighter procurement will be delayed by several more months. Rousseff says the step has been prompted by severe budget cuts of roughly $29.9 billion for fiscal year 2011 that will see the defence ministry's procurement allocation slashed by 26.5%. No decision is expected before 2012.


IAI REVEALS UNMANNED ROTORCRAFT ACTIVITY

Israel Aerospace Industries has shown two new unmanned rotorcraft to defence minister Ehud Barak, and released limited details on one. Powered by electric motors and weighing 4kg (8.8lb), the tandem-rotor "Ghost" features automatic take-off and landing, has a top speed of 35kt (65km/h) and a 25min endurance.


GULF HELICOPTERS SNAPS UP FIVE MORE AW139s

Qatar Petroleum-owned Gulf Helicopters has signed for five more AgustaWestland AW139 medium twin helicopters for offshore passenger transport use. The company, which operates across the Middle East, North Africa and India, ordered 12 AW139s in 2007.


SUPER TUCANO OFFERED FOR RAF BASIC TRAINER

Embraer confirms that its EMB-314 Super Tucano is a potential candidate for the UK Royal Air Force's basic trainer requirement, with Elbit Systems as a possible partner. Two other teams, led by BAE Systems and Cobham/Cassidian, are eyeing the basic trainer need as part of the UK Military Flying Training System's fixed-wing aircraft service provision deal. Final proposals will be delivered to Lockheed Martin/Babcock joint venture Ascent during March.


FLAT CFM56 SALES STUNT SAFRAN FIGURES

Slow spare-part sales for CFM International CFM56s contributed to a 1.2% fall in Safran Group's aerospace propulsion revenues to €5.6 billion ($7.7 billion) in 2010. CFM delivered 1,251 CFM56 engines, "almost flat" against 2009 but orders doubled to 1,583. CFM56 shop visits dropped by 8% but the trend improved in the second half. Safran has also increased work on the Chinese Comac C919 after its Labinal subsidiary agreed a wiring joint venture with Comac's Shanghai Aircraft Manufacturing.


UK MOD SLAMMED OVER PROCUREMENT BUNGLING

The UK Ministry of Defence has been sharply criticised by MPs over its management of procurement programmes, including the Eurofighter Typhoon and BAE Nimrod MRA4, describing it as being in a "cycle of failure". The House of Commons public accounts committee says that poor decision making had led to cost overruns or delays to major projects and the consequent early retirement of a number of aircraft types including the BAE Systems Harrier.