Boeing to Adjust 2010 Twin-Aisle Airplane Production Plan; First-Quarter 2009 Results to Reflect Impacts of Production Decisions and Lower Price Escal

SEATTLE, April 09, 2009 — Boeing [NYSE: BA] today announced that it will adjust its twin-aisle airplane production plans for 2010 due to significant deterioration in the business environment for airlines and cargo operators driven by unprecedented global economic conditions.

Monthly production of the 777 will decline from seven to five airplanes per month beginning in June 2010. Boeing will also delay previous plans to modestly increase 747-8 and 767 production. No change is being made at this time to the 737 production rate.

In addition, the weak global economy has contributed to significant declines in the escalation indices that affect forecasted pricing for commercial airplanes already ordered.

The production decisions and unfavorable price escalation are expected to reduce Boeing’s first-quarter 2009 net earnings by approximately $0.38 per share. Because the 747 program is currently in a loss position, the reduced earnings associated with the factors above will be recorded for most units in the 747 backlog. That impact, somewhat offset by a refinement in cost estimates, accounts for approximately $0.31 per share of the first-quarter charge. For the other commercial programs, the impact will be reflected in lower margins on deliveries as they occur, including an estimated $0.07 per share net earnings reduction in the quarter.

The company will update its 2009 guidance when it reports first-quarter results on April 22.

“These are extremely difficult economic times for our customers,” said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and CEO Scott Carson. “It’s necessary to adjust our production plans to align supply with these tough market conditions. We are in close contact with our customers as we continue to monitor this dynamic business environment.”

The production rate decisions announced today solely reflect delivery deferrals requested by customers in response to unprecedented declines in global passenger and air-cargo volumes. No 767, 747 or 777 orders have been cancelled this year. Boeing’s commercial backlog of more than 3,500 airplanes remains strong and well-diversified in terms of airplane models, geography and customer business models.


AMX: no topo da lista dos cortes da Itália

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Com a crise, Força Aérea Italiana prevê cortes drásticos e, entre as aeronaves de linha de frente, o AMX poderá ser desativado primeiro.

Cortes no orçamento para a Força Aérea Italiana poderão acarretar uma degradação significativa de suas capacidades, conforme reportagem da Flight International. Segundo declarações de uma autoridade ligada à Força, “se os cortes continuarem, há riscos concretos de destivarmos um dos componentes da aviação de linha de frente, possivelmente o AMX.” A Itália hoje dispõe de aproximadamente 65 aeronaves do tipo.

As horas de voo disponíveis para treinamento também deverão ser afetadas, o que poderá ser compensado apenas em parte através do uso de simuladores de voo. Apesar da Itália ter atraído clientes internacionais para treinamento de voo, como a Argélia e a Grécia, a frota de treinadores Alenia Aermacchi MB-339 poderá ser reduzida, o que também afetaria a equipe de demonstração aérea Frecce Tricolori.

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Os planos da Força Aérea Italiana são manter em linha, no médio para longo prazo, uma força de 200 aviões de combate, restrita a apenas dois tipos, o Eurofighter Typhoon e o F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, com 100 aeronaves de cada modelo.

O plano original era reduzir a frota de aproximadamente 95 Tornados e 65 AMX para 50 aviões de cada tipo, por volta de 2014, para gradualmente serem substituídos pelos F-35, 60 deles de decolagem e pouso convencionais (modelo A) e 40 da versão B, de decolagem e pouso curtos / verticais (VSTOL). O modelo B seria entregue antes, para reequipar dois esquadrões equipados com AMX.

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Sobre o compromisso de adquirir 121 caças Eurofighter Typhoon, a visão da Força é se ater ao orçamento total fixo, não à quantidade. Assim, espera-se que com o orçamento já fixado seja possível adquirir um total de 100 aeronaves do tipo.

Quanto ao novo treinador Alenia Aermacchi M-346 Master, espera-se a confirmação de compra de 15 unidades. A Força Aérea Italiana já vem sofrendo redução nas suas horas de voo, caindo de 116.000 há três anos para apenas 87.500 no ano passado.

Fonte: Flight International Fotos: Força Aérea Italiana


SAMCO Aircraft Maintenance Becomes Bombardier’s Second Recognized Service Facility for Dash 8/Q-Series Aircraft in Europe

Bombardier Aerospace announces today that SAMCO Aircraft Maintenance B.V. has been selected as a Recognized Service Facility (RSF) for the Dash 8/Q-Series aircraft. Located at Maastricht Airport in Beek, the Netherlands, SAMCO will service aircraft based in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Under an RSF agreement, SAMCO is recognized by Bombardier as a quality service provider for “C” checks and other heavy maintenance on all Dash 8/Q-Series aircraft. The company can also perform aircraft modifications and upgrades on Dash 8/Q-Series aircraft.

The Dash 8/Q-Series aircraft, including the Q400 airliner, are flown extensively throughout the region with over 300 in service or on firm order from operators in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

”Accrediting SAMCO as a Bombardier RSF assures potential customers that the company has met Bombardier’s expectations for quality service and customer attention,“ said Todd Young, Vice President, Customer Services and Support, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft. “The combination of SAMCO’s advanced maintenance facilities and highly professional personnel will provide exceptional and cost-effective maintenance services to the Dash 8/Q-Series customers in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.”

SAMCO Aircraft Maintenance is Bombardier’s third RSF in Europe, joining Adria Airways of Slovenia and Flybe of England. Adria Airways services CRJ Series aircraft while Flybe services Dash 8/Q-Series aircraft.

Bombardier Commercial Aircraft continues to expand its international presence, with over 70 per cent of its Dash 8/Q-Series operators based outside of North America. This latest announcement follows Bombardier’s RSF accreditation in Oceania to Hawker Pacific for Dash 8/Q-Series aircraft and in Asia to STAECO of Jinan, People’s Republic of China for CRJ Series aircraft.

In North America, Bombardier provides heavy maintenance for CRJ Series aircraft at West Virginia Air Center in Bridgeport, West Virginia and Tucson Air Center, Arizona. Bombardier also provides line maintenance for CRJ Series aircraft at Ronald Reagan Washington National, D.C.

About SAMCO Aircraft Maintenance

Established in 1987 as an independent third party maintenance provider for a complete range of regional jet and turboprop aircraft, SAMCO’s modern fully equipped facility provides a vast array of aircraft maintenance activities, including heavy base maintenance checks, line maintenance, logistic support, continuing airworthiness, structural repairs, and structural & avionics modification programs. SAMCO Aircraft Maintenance has an EASA part 21 DOA approval for the design of minor changes and repairs on the aircraft. News and information are available at www.samco.aero.

About Bombardier

A world-leading manufacturer of innovative transportation solutions, from commercial aircraft and business jets to rail transportation equipment, systems and services, Bombardier Inc. is a global corporation headquartered in Canada. Its revenues for the fiscal year ended Jan. 31, 2009, were $19.7 billion US, and its shares are traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange (BBD). Bombardier is listed as an index component to the Dow Jones Sustainability World and North America indexes. News and information are available at www.bombardier.com.

Bombardier, CRJ, Dash 8 and Q400 are trademarks of Bombardier Inc. or its subsidiaries.


RAA cautiously optimistic about Obama team’s EAS stance

By Mary Kirby

US trade group the Regional Airline Association (RAA) is expressing cautious optimism that the country’s essential air service (EAS) programme will be strengthened under President Barack Obama’s administration.

“Already now, the current administration is better than the prior administration,” RAA president Roger Cohen tells ATI. He points to the Obama team’s “brief mentions of the [EAS] programme in the budget”.

The administration’s proposed budget would increase funding for EAS by $55 million.

By contrast, says Cohen: “You’d be hard pressed to be worse [than the Bush administration]. They were pretty candid, particularly on the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) level, that they didn’t want to support this programme.

“So their heart wasn’t in it. And you see what happened. The rapid run up in fuel costs [in 2008] was not of their making, but at the same time they needed to be better attuned.”

In order to make vital changes “that will restore health to the EAS system”, says the RAA, the organization proposes, among other things, an increase in overall programme funding by retaining the current standing appropriation of $50 million and authorizing and appropriating an additional $150 million for FY2009, bringing total programme funding to $200 million.

It also seeks an increase in the per-passenger subsidy cap to $300 per-passenger in order to accommodate unavoidable programme cost increases associated with fuel.

As currently proposed, FAA reauthorization legislation in the House of Representatives would provide for $200 million in funding while modifying the EAS subsidy formula to reflect the cost of fuel retroactively.

“In general, Congress has been very supportive of the [EAS] programme historically and Congress so far, particularly Congressman James Oberstar and the House transportation and infrastructure committee, have been very supportive of increasing the funding. They have also tried to make some proposals. Some will help. Some won’t,” says Cohen.

He adds: “I think the most critical thing is that everybody’s attitude, their heads, hearts and wallets all have to be in alignment here. That’s the federal government, the communities, the airlines. People really have to want to make it work.”


IAI releases details of maritime Heron UAV

By Arie Egozi

Israel Aerospace Industries has released new details about the equipment fit of its maritime patrol-configured Heron unmanned air vehicle.

To be employed as a replacement for current manned surveillance assets in nations including Israel, the Heron will carry an Elta Systems EL/M-2022U maritime patrol radar, confirms Dr Gilad Dekel, director of maritime operations at IAI’s Malat UAV division.

The EL/M-2022U has a maritime search mode capable of detecting and automatically tracking ships from small to large size, and offers “unprecedented capabilities”, Dekel claims. Inverse synthetic aperture radar imagery and a vessel’s range signature are then used against a stored library of data for classification purposes, with the latter creating a ship contour on the radar screen, “and not only a blip”.

The maritime patrol-configured Heron also carries an automatic identification system (AIS) to verify individual vessels. The International Maritime Organization has issued a directive that all ships should be equipped with an AIS transponder by 2018 before entering territorial waters.

Dekel says the EL/M-2022U provides effective surveillance in littoral waters – a crucial requirement for Israel during anti-terrorism missions. It also has an airborne search mode that can detect and track other aircraft, providing support for ground-based systems. Its UHF/VHF radio system will also enable it to serve as a communications relay platform, allowing a controller to speak directly to a suspect vessel.

All the system’s features were “successfully demonstrated” during a maritime trial of the Heron performed in Australia last year, says Dekel.

Israel expects to begin flying maritime patrol sorties over the Mediterranean Sea with the UAV by mid-2009, gradually replacing its IAI Westwind 1124 business jet-based Seascans.


Lufthansa Group turns in dismal first-quarter traffic figures

By Simon Warburton

Lufthansa Group has posted quarterly traffic and cargo figures which reflect the challenging industry outlook.

Group passenger traffic for the first three months fell 6.2%, while passenger numbers dropped 6% to 15 million.

Passenger load factor fell 3.2 points to 74% and Lufthansa Group trimmed its total flights by 4.1% to 187,738.

Group freight figures confirmed the global downturn with traffic falling 21.9% and load factor declining 11.6 points to 54.9%.

Within the group, Lufthansa’s own passenger traffic was down 7.2% and it cut capacity by 3.3%.

“Passenger numbers were down in all traffic regions,” it adds.

Swiss International Air Lines‘ passenger traffic fell 1.5% and load factor was down 3.6 points to 73.2%. Swiss cargo traffic also dropped 16%.


New Tech for Network Communications

By Bill Sweetman

One problem with networked military operations is that in the past communication systems were not designed to be networked. In fact, the reverse was true: They were designed to be secure, which means they can generally communicate only with other radios in the same system. Software-defined radio systems, like the U.S. Joint Tactical Radio System, are one approach to this problem, but integrating new radio technology into an inventory is a huge challenge.

Alternative approaches to the communications problem are being worked on, however, and a couple of potentially revolutionary ideas were unveiled at recent air and defense shows.

At Aero India in Mumbai, Israel’s Rafael was marketing the C4I-Connect system for air and land applications. It is already built into a system being developed for the Israeli Air Force. In essence, C4I-Connect is a Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) system, plus radio over IP (RoIP). As such, it resembles Skype or the other VoIP systems that consumers use to replace landlines: Voice is converted into Internet packets, which are delivered across the network between any two IP addresses.

The system is based on a high-performance, scalable network controller that manages and allocates bandwidth to different users and connects the system together. Operators—such as commanders or air controllers—work with a voice terminal that features a simple graphical user interface and allows them to store, select and talk to multiple users on the system. The terminal comes in desktop, rugged-portable and compact form factors. Finally, a telephony and radio gateway connects the system not only to existing radio transmitter/receiver systems, but standard landline or mobile telephone systems.

The commander using C4I-Connect can, on a single screen, call up any user (color codes show whether they are online) and set up two-way or conference calls with as many as 40 users. With frequency use managed automatically, the operator can set up a virtual channel as needed for two users to stay in contact. The system is designed to work with larger battle-management systems, supplying them with an integrated communications function. Text and chat functions are fully integrated.

Simply put, C4I-Connect makes it possible for a fighter pilot to get through directly to the chief-of-staff’s secure mobile phone. It can also include a complete recording and debriefing system that stores every voice, data or video transmission over the net for later playback and analysis.

One important feature of C4I-Connect is that it is “waveform-agnostic.” Rafael’s advanced compression algorithms require as little as 10-20 Kbps. to carry voice calls. The result: It delivers many of the advantages of networking without requiring the user to modify or replace hundreds or thousands of user terminals.

At the IDEX show in Abu Dhabi, Hydra Trading—one of the United Arab Emirates’ biggest technology and defense companies—unveiled a tactical communications system based on ultra-wideband (UWB) radio technology, developed with Fanna Technologies, an Abu Dhabi electronics house. A technology that has been on the verge of a breakthrough for about a century, UWB communicates by using extremely short pulses with wide bandwidth—i.e., without a constant carrier frequency—but very low power. Voice or data are coded into the pulse sequence.

A prototype of the Hydra UWB system was shown at IDEX, installed in a Russian BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicle (IFV). It is essentially a short-range wireless system, like WiFi or WiMax, but because of its low operating power it can be used over tactically useful ranges without interfering with conventional radio or radar systems. Because signal pulses are in the picosecond range, it has no problem with multi-path effects. According to Hydra, this makes it possible to use the system for wireless data communications at up to 1 megabit/sec. between electronic systems inside the vehicle. The developers call this “put inside and play” as opposed to “plug and play.”

With internal and external antennas—the Hydra system incorporates a proprietary antenna not shown at IDEX—the UWB network can link together soldiers in a squad and the vehicle commander when they are inside an IFV and outside it. The team also says it can form a “body area network” linking different soldier-carried electronic systems, and that because it uses very low power it reduces the need for batteries. The company claims that UWB uses only 0.04 megawatts to transmit video over 40 meters (about 130 ft.), with a radiated power of 0.0000002 microwatts.

Photo: Boeing