737 replacement could be decided within 18 months

Narrowbodies Boeing may decide to launch a replacement programme for the 737 before May 2009. Scott Carson, Boeing Commercial Airplanes president, says the company will "likely" decide on a single-aisle replacement within 18 months. A final decision must be made by 2012, he adds. The new timeline means Boeing could be seeking to advance the development schedule for the 737 replacement. Previously, the airframer has stated that the step in engine technology to justify a 737 replacement would not become available until at least 2015.

Saudi Typhoon deal clears final hurdle

Contract Saudi Arabia's at least £4.4 billion ($9 billion) deal for 72 Eurofighter Typhoons has formally advanced into its production phase, with the four-nation Eurofighter organisation having signed documents on the project with industrial prime contractor BAE Systems. The Royal Saudi Air Force will receive its first Typhoon in mid-2009, although an industry source says discussions on training and support packages and the in-country final assembly of 48 aircraft have yet to conclude. Israel's Rafael has meanwhile received a $25 million contract to supply Litening III targeting and reconnaissance pods for the German air force's Eurofighters.

Chemical spill Airbus destruction settled compensation

Compensation A Chinese court has ordered a state-owned company to pay more than $65 million in compensation over an incident nearly eight years ago in which chemicals it was having transported on a Malaysia Airlines Airbus A330-300 leaked and destroyed the aircraft. State-run media say a unit of China National Chemical Construction Corp was ordered yesterday by the Beijing high court to pay more than $65 million in compensation to five overseas insurers over the March 2000 incident. The official reports say the company's shipment had been declared as a non-toxic solid substance known as hydroxyquinoline when in fact it was a corrosive liquid substance known as oxalyl chloride.

Pratt Canada ups helicopter engine output

Manufacturing Pratt & Whitney Canada is establishing a new helicopter engine assembly line at its Saint-Hubert, Quebec service centre to meet growing demand. The line will assemble PT6T Twin-Pac turboshafts, which power the Bell 412 medium twin. P&WC's main production plants are at Longueuil, Quebec and Mississauga, Ontario.

F-15s stay grounded as more cracks found

Safety Fuselage longeron cracks had been found in seven US Air Force Boeing F-15Cs by late last week, at which time 330 of the service's 442 F-15A-Ds had been inspected. Air Combat Command has ordered that all A-Ds remain grounded until further notice even if they pass the inspections. This follows discovery of additional longeron cracking in the F-15C that crashed due to structural failure on 2 November.

US Army wants more new AH-64D Apaches

Procurement The US Army plans to procure an additional 30 new-build Boeing AH-464D Apache attack helicopters with war-related supplemental funding in fiscal years 2008-10. They would join 47 wartime replacement aircraft already under contract. The army also plans to remanufacture an additional 24 AH-64As to D standard, taking its total D-model procurement to just under 700 helicopters.

North American aviation market credit "sound for 2008"

Finance Fitch Ratings remains positive about credit quality in the North American aviation market in 2008, despite recent economic concerns including the so-called credit crunch sparked by the US sub-prime mortgage market collapse. In Fitch's view, there would need to be a substantial amount of "contagion" leading to a global economic downturn for the market outlook to become negative all segments of the commercial aerospace industry should deliver solid growth in 2008 and 2009. See Business P26

Q400 withdrawal hurst SAS

Fleet  SAS Group's first full monthly traffic figures since its decision to withdraw the Bombardier Q400 fleet show that load factors for its Danish and Swedish divisions have suffered as a result. The company decided towards the end of October to withdraw the Q400s following three highly-public landing accidents in the preceding few weeks.

Source: Flight International