US sanctions ground China's Great Wall

Suspension Singapore Airlines' (SIA) joint-venture cargo carrier in China has been forced to suspend all operations after its Chinese parent company had sanctions imposed on it by the US Treasury Department for allegedly supplying missile technology to Iran. Great Wall Airlines, which only launched operations at the end of May, suspended all services on 18 August. SIA says the suspension was necessary as the US government's sanctions against Great Wall's 51% owner, China Great Wall Industry, mean Boeing and its Jeppesen unit are "not allowed to provide support or have business dealings" with the company or its subsidiaries. China Great Wall Industry is a state-controlled company that has been involved in commercial satellite launches and other aerospace-related businesses. Great Wall Airlines has two Boeing 747-400 freighters on lease from SIA, which owns 25% of the Shanghai-based cargo carrier. A subsidiary of Singapore Government investment arm Temasek Holdings owns 24%.

Turkey inspects Iranian transports

Interceptions The Turkish government became involved in Israel's war in Lebanon when it followed Israeli intelligence leads by intercepting two Iranian transport aircraft transiting its airspace en route to Damascus, Syria. Believed to have been Ilyushin Il-76s, the aircraft were forced to land at Diyarbakir airbase in south-east Turkey on 27 June and 8 August. Israel had suspected the flights were being used to deliver missiles to Hezbollah militants, but both aircraft were declared clear by the Turkish authorities following a search. Turkey intercepted a further three Iranian and one Syrian aircraft during the crisis.

Boeing cuts Connexion

Strategy Boeing has confirmed that it is to discontinue its Connexion by Boeing service, exiting the high-speed broadband communications connectivity market. "The market for this service has not materialised as had been expected," says chief executive Jim McNerney. Boeing said in June that it was considering options for the service, which it launched in 2000. The manufacturer will recognise a pre-tax charge of up to $320 million in relation to the move. Boeing says it will "work with its customers to facilitate an orderly phase out of the service".

Saudis advance Typhoon deal

Acquisition Saudi Arabia has moved a step closer to acquiring 72 Eurofighter Typhoon strike aircraft, following its signature last week of an extension to a December 2005 understanding document with the UK government. "The required commercial principles have now been agreed," says the UK Ministry of Defence. "This has initiated the purchase of Typhoon aircraft and the associated commitment to the industrial plan to be launched." A final contract will be signed before year-end once negotiations on price and the location of final assembly have concluded. BAE Systems will be the main beneficiary of the sale, which will represent a third phase to Saudi Arabia's Al Yamamah oil-for-arms deal with the company.

Qinetiq celebrates Zephyr test success

Endurance Qinetiq has extended the mission performance of its Zephyr high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned air vehicle ahead of the type's planned entry into service in 2008. Three of the 30kg (66lb) solar-powered air vehicles performed flights at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico late last month, recording a longest single sortie of 18h - including 7h flown in darkness on battery power - and reaching 36,000ft (10,980m).

Air Berlin swoops for rival DBA

Takeover Budget carrier Air Berlin is to take over fellow German airline DBA after signing a deal to acquire 100% of the Munich-based operator. DBA is majority-owned by investment company Intro, which acquired the carrier from British Airways in 2003, and operates around 30 narrowbodies.

Source: Flight International