Termination of arms probe under fire

REGULATION The UK government's recent decision to halt an investigation by financial regulators into arms sales to Saudi Arabia has drawn criticism from one of the country's largest institutional investors. The Serious Fraud Office probe into alleged false accounting during previous arms deals had threatened the sale of 72 Eurofighter Typhoons to Saudi Arabia and was abandoned on the grounds that it could compromise national security (Flight International, 19 December 2006-1 January). F&C Asset Management has written to defence procurement minister Lord Drayson to express its concern at "the broader implications this decision could have for the efficient functioning of financial markets as a whole".

IAI and KAI discuss civil aircraft projects

TALKS Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has agreed to enter discussions with Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) on proposed passenger aircraft joint ventures. Senior IAI officials recently met KAI's top management in Seoul to discuss the framework of the co-operation. Sources say the talks focus on two types of aircraft: an eight- to 10-seat feeder aircraft and a 50- to 100-seat regional aircraft. The civil aircraft division of IAI manufactures the Gulfstream G150 and G200 business jets. IAI declines to comment.

Cessna clinches Encore certification

APPROVAL Cessna has received US certification for its Citation Encore+, an upgraded successor to its Encore light jet, after more than 600h of flight testing. The 11-seat aircraft has digitally controlled Pratt & Whitney Canada PW535B engines, Rockwell Collins Pro Line 21 integrated flightdeck, a new interior and a 90kg (200lb) higher maximum take-off weight.

Oasis signs lease deal with Saudi NAS

AGREEMENT Saudi Arabia's National Air Services (NAS) has sealed a sale and lease agreement for two Airbus A319s and four business jets with Abu Dhabi-based Oasis International Leasing. The agreement covers the sale of an A319 already on lease from Oasis to NAS as well as the lease by NAS of an A319 in corporate configuration. NAS is also leasing two Gulfstream IVs and two Raytheon Hawker 800XPs from Oasis.

ST Aero shuts UK subsidiary BASCO

CLOSURE UK-based aircraft maintenance firm Bournemouth Aviation Services (BASCO) has closed as a result of continuing losses. Singapore Technologies Aerospace, which owns 81%, and fellow shareholder FR Aviation confirmed the decision on 21 December.

Star Alliance dumps Varig

REMOVAL Brazilian carrier Varig has been removed from the Star Alliance airline grouping after nine years as it no longer fulfils the required criteria for membership. Varig has been operating limited services as a Star Alliance member on behalf of a successor airline known as VRG Linhas Aereas or "new Varig". Brazilian authorities last month granted VRG Linhas Aereas its own air operator's certificate, essentially turning it into a standalone airline and disassociating its operations from those of the Star Alliance member.

European programme clears final hurdle

FUNDING The European Commission's €50.5 billion ($66.3 billion) Seventh Framework Programme for research and technological development began on 1 January, after getting the final go-ahead on 18 December when it was adopted by the Environment council.

Thales, Alcatel tighten ties

TRANSFER Thales and Alcatel are set to take another step towards closer co-operation, with Thales's board of directors due to approve the transfer of transport and security assets from Alcatel-Lucent at a board meeting scheduled for 5 January.

Source: Flight International