HELICOPTERS Sikorsky on 13 December signed a contract worth a potential $11.6 billion to build up to 800 helicopters for the US Army and Navy by 2012. The five-year deal includes a firm order worth $7.4 billion for 537 HH/UH-60M Black Hawks and MH-60R/S Seahawks, plus options for 263 more. The US Army in January 2005 decided to buy as many as 1,200 new UH-60Ms over the next decade rather than continue with a remanufacturing programme for UH-60As.

Core testing starts for business jet turbofan

PROPULSION Snecma has begun testing the core engine demonstrator for its Silvercrest business-jet turbofan at its Villaroche facility in France. The core engine includes the centrifugal compressor designed by Safran Group sister company Turbomeca. Covering the 9,500-12,000lb thrust (42.3-53.4kN) range, the Silvercrest is being offered to power super mid-size and large-cabin, long-range business jets. Snecma says the engine will also meet the power demands of next-generation 40- to 60-seat regional jets.

EASA certifies GP7200-powered A380

ENGINES European Aviation Safety Agency regulators have certified the Engine Alliance GP7200-powered version of the Airbus A380. The approval comes almost exactly a year after EASA similarly certified the type with Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines. Air France, Emirates and Korean Air are among the customers for the GP7200-equipped A380.

Lufthansa to acquire own aircraft to expand private jet servicee_SClBFLEET Star Alliance carrier Lufthansa is to acquire its own private jets to expand its Lufthansa Private Jet premium service next year after its existing co-operation with provider NetJets Europe ends in February.

The German carrier could not say how many aircraft or what types it might look to operate but says the new aircraft are expected to enter service in spring 2008. Until the fleet has reached the required size for 2008, individual LPJ flights will be operated by partners certified by Lufthansa, which launched its private jet service in 2005.

Mitsubishi picks Hamilton Sundstrand systems suite for MRJ

REGIONAL JETS Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries has selected United Technologies (UTC) subsidiary Hamilton Sundstrand to provide several major systems on its proposed 70- to 90-seat Mitsubishi Regional Jet including electrics (including emergency power), fire detection and suppression air management auxiliary power unit and flap/slat actuation. Mitsubishi in October signed up UTC unit Pratt & Whitney to supply its geared turbofan for the MRJ, and began offering the regional jet to customers. Mitsubishi plans to announce whether it will formally launch the programme at the end of its current fiscal year on 31 March 2008.

Slowdown rather than recession for airlines in 2008: IATA

CARRIERS Airlines face "slowdown rather than recession" in 2008, according to the International Air Transport Association, which adds that an increase in the number of air travellers of between 600 million and 700 million over the next five years points to robust demand. IATA chief economist Brian Pearce says airlines are experiencing the familiar pattern of aircraft orders peaking as growth peaks, with deliveries now set to take place as traffic volume flattens or even falls. This will squeeze earnings, he predicts, and the marketplace will become more challenging, but he remains reasonably confident that the world economy is strong enough to sustain airline growth. He adds that 2007 has been a good year for airlines worlwide, with US domestic performance recovering strongly as consolidation reduced capacity, forcing up load factors by 6%.

Chinese joint venture to build Liberty XL2s

MANUFACTURING Liberty Aerospace, the US-based airframer, is to invest $150 million to build its two-seat XL2 aircraft in Anyang, China joint venture partner Anyang Angel Aero Science and Technology Development, which is 50% owned by the Chinese government, will invest $300 million. It is anticipated that the joint venture will manufacture and support between 600 and 800 XL2s, all for the Chinese market and mainly for local flying schools. Liberty has delivered around 90 of the $180,000 XL2s, mainly to US customers including flights schools, but the bulk of its orderbook is from overseas.


UNMANNED SYSTEMS EADS has received a €60 million ($88 million) contract for the French/German/Spanish Advanced UAV initiative, plus approval to launch a networked UAV demonstration dubbed Agile for Finland and Germany. EADS Defence & Security will lead a 15-month risk-reduction phase for the first project, which includes two surveillance aircraft to use common fuselage and propulsion systems, but different wings. EADS Defence Electronics, Indra and Thales will also jointly develop a synthetic aperture radar payload. The Agile UAV project is expected to use EADS's Barracuda design to test the future networked potential of unmanned combat air vehicles.

GCAT acquires BAE's regional aircraft training business

ACQUISITION GCAT Flight Academy has acquired BAE Systems' Manchester, UK regional aircraft training business for an undisclosed sum. The centre provides pilot, cabin crew and maintenance training on the Avro RJ, British Aerospace BAe 146, ATP and Jetstream 31/32. Following the acquisition, GCAT will operate 56 simulators which it claims makes it the largest flight training organisation in Europe.

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Source: Flight International