Air Force: do fear the reaper

NAMING The US Air Force has given the name "Reaper" to its General Atomics MQ-9 Predator B medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned air vehicle. The aircraft is being configured as a hunter-killer system, carrying a mixture of 227kg (500lb) bombs and Lockheed Martin AGM-114 Hellfire air-to-surface missiles. Seven UAVs have been delivered so far. General Atomics says it will be retaining the Predator B designation for air vehicles acquired by the US Department of Homeland Security, US Navy and NASA.

Avolar to order 20 737-700s

EXPANSION Mexican low-cost carrier Avolar plans to order 20 Boeing 737-700s to strengthen its domestic network and launch a number of international routes to the USA and Canada. The airline will take delivery of the narrowbody twin-jets from 2008 to 2010.

Alenia, HAI strengthen C-130J relationship

TEAMING Alenia Aeronautica and Hellenic Aerospace Industry (HAI) have signed a follow-on agreement worth €27.5 million ($34.8 million) under which HAI will manufacture and assemble structural panels for the Lockheed Martin C-130J tactical transport until 2013. Alenia Aeronautica chief executive Giovanni Bertolone says the Greek company could also be selected to support production of Alenia Aermacchi's M-346 advanced jet trainer.

Rockwell Collins joins GoldCare team

SUPPORT Boeing has added Rockwell Collins to its list of partners for the GoldCare 787 support programme. In July, the manufacturer announced Hamilton Sundstrand, Smiths Aerospace and SR Technics as the first three of about 25 partners for the maintenance and materials management product, and says further agreements should be completed this year.

South Korea and EU sign navigation pact

AGREEMENT The European Union (EU) and South Korea have formally signed a co-operation agreement on Galileo, the European satellite navigation programme. The Agreement on Civil Navigation Satellite System was signed during an EU-South Korean summit in Helsinki, Finland on 9 September, after a deal was reached earlier this year following months of negotiations. South Korea will co-operate in areas of research, training, industrial cooperation, trade and market development, standards, certification and regulatory measures.

Grounded Firefly fleet to be recycled

DISPOSAL The US Air Force has finally called time on its grounded fleet of Slingsby T-3A Firefly pilot screening trainers, with its remaining 110 units to be recycled by 25 September. Totall Metal Recycling of Granite City, Illinois, will scrap 106 of the aircraft at Hondo airport in Texas for no charge, and receive $12,000 to recover the remaining four aircraft from Edwards AFB, California to Hondo for recycling. The USAF - which grounded its Firefly fleet in July 1997 after three fatal accidents involving the type - says it decided to scrap the remainder as "the cost of getting the aircraft or any of the aircraft's components in airworthy condition for resale was prohibitive".

Hainan plans Shenzhen Financial stake

LEASING Hainan Airlines Group aims to become the largest shareholder in Shenzhen Financial Leasing, China's principal aircraft leasing company. The Haikou-based airline group plans to buy Chinese conglomerate Three Nine Group's 23% stake, says a source at Shenzhen Financial Leasing. The company is the largest customer for the Chinese-built ARJ21 regional jet and MA60 turboprop. Hainan Airlines Group is the largest customer for the locally produced Harbin Embraer ERJ-145. Meanwhile, China Aviation Supplies Import & Export Group (CASC) has delayed placing an order for ARJ21s with AVIC 1 Commercial Aircraft (ACAC) but the two sides are still working to consummate a deal for up to 30 aircraft.

Source: Flight International