SECURITY Jordanian authorities took into custody a passenger who attempted to force his way into the cockpit of a Qatar Airways Airbus A300-600R operating an intra-Gulf service from Amman on 10 August. The passenger, identified as a young Eritrean national, was restrained by a cabin crew member and three passengers as he tried to enter the cockpit shortly after the aircraft left the Jordanian capital for Doha. Flight QR401, which was transporting 267 passengers and 12 crew members, subsequently returned to Amman, where it landed safely.
SURVEILLANCE The US Department of Energy (DoE) is planning to carry out flight demonstrations later this year of its developmental Constant Hawk airborne surveillance suite. The DoE released a tender on 10 August for the lease of a single-engined, fixed-wing unmanned air vehicle or optionally piloted aircraft. The Constant Hawk system records and archives sensor data from persistent surveillance systems into a fast retrieval system that allows for imagery of incidents such as a bomb blast to be "fast rewound" to allow analysts to backtrack the sequence of events to assist in the detection and identification of perpetrators.
REVIEW Boeing has completed the preliminary design review of the 747-8 Freighter, the first major programme design milestone for the new aircraft. Boeing says over 600 participants from the 747-8 team, customers, suppliers and other Boeing programmes took part in the week-long review. Newly appointed 747/747-8 programme vice-president Dan Mooney says "development of the 747-8 Freighter is on schedule". The freighter is set to reach firm configuration by October, with major assembly due to begin late in the first quarter of 2008 and first flight due around the end of the year. The 747-8F is due to enter service with launch customer Cargolux in late 2009.
FLIGHT TESTING Cessna has clinched US Federal Aviation Administration type inspection authorisation for its Mustang very light jet at it edges closer to final certification and customer deliveries of the seven-seat aircraft later this year. This "signals the FAA's approval for the Mustang prototype to begin accumulating flight hours that will apply toward official certification", says Cessna, adding that the Mustang prototype and first production aircraft have accumulated more than 490h over 270 flights. Meanwhile, Pratt & Whitney Canada has received initial certification from Transport Canada for the dual-channel full-authority digitally controlled PW615F engines.
CONSOLIDATION US Airways has confirmed that it has sought merger discussions with Delta Air Lines, and says it remains open to exploring consolidation opportunities. In an employee newsletter on 8 August, US Airways says chief executive Doug Parker has told Delta's chief Gerald Grinstein to "make sure that the Delta team knew not to listen to" rumours that US Airways is uninterested in another merger after its own amalgamation with America West Airlines last year. "Doug [Parker] asked that they not discount us as a potential merger candidate if Delta did decide it wanted to try to emerge from Chapter 11 with a partner," says US Airways.
UPGRADE Boeing and the US Air Force have signed a $19.8 million engineering manufacturing development contract for the modernisation of Swedish air force Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules transports. The contract, expected to be finalised by October, falls under the USAF's C-130 avionics modernisation programme (AMP) and is the largest ever administered by the USAF for the Swedish government. Sweden became the first European C-130 operator in 1965 and is the first international C-130 AMP customer.