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This Week in brief

LEAST EFFICIENT AIRCRAFT FACE DELTA CULL

AIRLINES Delta Air Lines plans to retire 130 aircraft over the next 18 months, including all its McDonnell Douglas DC-9-50 and Saab turboprop aircraft and 60 50-seat regional jets. The company expects that after Labor Day, system capacity will be down by roughly 3% from one year ago. Transatlantic capacity will be down 8% to 10% by the end of the fourth quarter. It blames escalating fuel costs for its $318 million net loss in the first quarter.

BOEING MAPS OUT SUPER HORNET DEVELOPMENT

COMBAT AIRCRAFT Windtunnel testing of an International Roadmap version of the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is expected later this year, but the airframer says flight testing is contingent on customer interest. Unveiled last year, the development comes with options including uprated engines, panoramic displays, conformal fuel tanks and an infrared search and track sensor. Meanwhile, Boeing has delivered its 500th Super Hornet/EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft to the US Navy.

SEARCH CLOSES IN ON AF447 FLIGHT RECORDERS

ACCIDENT French investigators are confident that they have identified the most likely area of wreckage in which to find the flight recorders of the Air France Airbus A330 that crashed in the South Atlantic two years ago. The fifth phase of the extensive search for the aircraft - which will focus on recovery of the recorders, flight computers and other components - has started following the arrival of the cable vessel Ile de Sein at the accident site. It has already started diving operations with a Remora 6000 underwater remote vehicle.

TURBOMECA SEALS KA-62 ENGINE DEAL

ROTORCRAFT Russian Helicopters and Turbomeca, part of Safran, have signed contracts for the supply of at least 308 Turbomeca Ardiden 3G engines to be installed on the updated Kamov Ka-62 helicopter. The Ka-62 is a new medium-weight, single-rotor design with an airframe and rotor blades consisting of over 50% composite materials. It is designed to transport 12-14 passengers or 2.5t on an external sling. Certification is expected in 2014.

PREDATOR HITS FIRST TARGET IN LIBYA

UNMANNED SYSTEMS The US Air Force has conducted its first strike mission against a Libyan target using a General Atomics MQ-1 Predator unmanned air vehicle, after assigning the armed type to sustain two constant surveillance orbits. Meanwhile, the pilot of a United Arab Emirates air force Lockheed Martin F-16 ejected safely during a landing mishap at Sigonella air base.

EGYPT TO FIELD US-ASSEMBLED AW139S

CONTRACT Egypt will receive two AgustaWestland North America-assembled AW139 multi-role helicopters by November 2012 under a foreign military sales contract awarded via the US Army. The $37.6 million deal also includes search-and-rescue equipment and medical kits, plus training and logistics support.

BAMS SENSOR ENTERS TEST PROGRAMME

RADAR Northrop Grumman has begun testing the first multifunction active sensor for the US Navy's Global Hawk-derived broad area maritime surveillance (BAMS) aircraft. Flight tests using the active electronically scanned array radar should start in June, before its integration with an MQ-4C development aircraft next year.

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