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WASHINGTON, Oct. 7, 2009 — Boeing [NYSE: BA] today announced that the AH-6i light attack/reconnaissance helicopter successfully completed its first flight on Sept. 16, seven months after the company started work on the prototype aircraft.
During the 36-minute flight at the Boeing Rotorcraft Systems facility in Mesa, Ariz., the helicopter demonstrated its flight characteristics and several handling maneuvers.
Speaking today at the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Annual Meeting and Exposition, Al Winn, Boeing vice president of Apache Programs, said that Boeing experimental test pilots have subsequently flown the helicopter over the Arizona desert on multiple occasions as they test the platform’s capabilities.
“The AH-6i is based on a combat-proven airframe that special operations forces have deployed with great success,” said Winn. “The successful first flight and our ongoing flight test program give us great confidence in the capabilities of this new international variant and its ability to meet the light-attack and reconnaissance requirements of our international customers.
“The rapid integration of the avionics suite and cockpit proves the value of the Boeing open systems architecture, originally developed for the AH-64D Apache Block III, to facilitate quick configuration and integration of new technologies,” Winn added.
The AH-6i program, launched by Boeing at the 2008 AUSA meeting, is intended for international customers. The AH-6i features flexible mission configuration, an integrated digital cockpit, combat-proven design, the highest payload in its class, an integrated and qualified weapons system, and a communications package that enables connectivity with other aircraft and ground stations.
Boeing will produce the AH-6i at its facility in Mesa and is responding to inquiries from potential customers around the world.
MOSCOW, Oct. 6, 2009 — The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] and Russian aerospace company RSC-Energia signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) in Moscow on Oct. 2 to work together on a future common docking system for advanced space exploration vehicles.
The two companies will complement each other’s extensive knowledge in International Space Station (ISS) design, assembly and operation to produce an international standard for docking mechanisms.
“Future space exploration will provide opportunities for more international collaboration,” said former astronaut Brewster Shaw, vice president and general manager of Boeing’s Space Exploration division. “As the commercial space market matures, there will be a need for an international standard for docking on orbit. The Boeing Company and Energia will draw on proven experience to provide an innovative docking solution for future space exploration.”
The agreement outlines collaboration between the two companies to produce a mechanism based on Energia’s existing Androgynous Peripheral Docking System (APDS). Designed and built by Energia in Russia, APDS is a proven system that has connected every space shuttle mission to the ISS for more than a decade.
“By partnering with Energia, we are taking an important step to the future of space exploration,” said Joy Bryant, vice president and program manager for Boeing’s ISS program. “As NASA and other space agencies begin to explore beyond low Earth orbit to places such as the Moon and Mars, it will become more critical that spacecraft from countries around the world can dock together.”
Boeing has a long relationship working with Energia on the ISS, including the use of the Orbiter Docking System for space shuttle docking maneuvers to the ISS, elements of the station’s waste hygiene system, and the Guidance, Navigation and Control system that maintains the station’s attitude.
Boeing is the prime contractor to NASA for the International Space Station. In addition to designing and building all the major U.S. elements, Boeing is also responsible for ensuring the successful integration of any new hardware and software — including components from international partners — as well as for providing sustaining engineering work for the ISS.
Russian Space Corporation Energia, named after S.P. Korolev, is Russia’s leader in the rocket and space industry. It conducted the launch of the first Earth satellite in 1957, the first Earth cosmonaut mission of Y.A. Gagarin in 1961, and the first orbital stations Salyut and Mir missions.
Today, RSC Energia is the prime contractor of Roskosmos for the Russian segment of the ISS and prime integrator of this unique, science-driven, high-technology international space project.
RSC Energia develops and manufactures elements of the ISS transport system — the Soyuz TMA and Progress M series vehicles — and supports operation of the ISS Russian segment and ISS flight management in close cooperation with international partners. RSC Energia is responsible for the software development and integration for the Russian segment. Integration docking systems developed by RSC Energia have implemented over 300 successful dockings.
RSC Energia is the prime developer in several major Russian space projects, including launch vehicles and automated space systems.
RSC Energia and Boeing are closely cooperating in the international Sea Launch project.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif., Oct. 6, 2009 — Boeing [NYSE: BA] has been informed by the U.S. Air Force that the second Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) satellite began supporting on-the-ground warfighters on Aug. 18, providing urgently needed communications services to U.S. and allied forces in the Middle East and central Asia.
The Boeing-built WGS-2 satellite was launched on April 3 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., and handed over to the Air Force on June 15 for extensive on-orbit testing. The first WGS satellite began supporting U.S. and allied operations across the entire Pacific in April 2008 and has met and exceeded the Air Force’s expectations.
“With its outstanding capacity, operational flexibility and performance, WGS is fast becoming the satellite communications workhorse for the U.S. armed forces,” said Col. Bill Harding, Vice Commander of the Military Satellite Communications Systems Wing at the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center in Los Angeles. “The smooth handover of WGS-2 earlier this summer and the successful start of operations clearly demonstrate the government and contractor team’s effective plan for the WGS system.”
The WGS satellites — part of the U.S. Defense Department’s highest-capacity satellite communications system — address the military’s growing need for high-bandwidth communications. The WGS satellites are augmenting and will eventually replace the Defense Satellite Communications System (DSCS) constellation. One WGS satellite can support more than 12 times the capacity of one DSCS satellite.
“Boeing is committed to the success of the WGS mission because it provides such valuable service to the brave men and women in our military services, who need and deserve the best,” said Craig Cooning, vice president and general manager, Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems. “The successful operation of WGS-2 marks another great milestone for the WGS system and contributes to the overall success of Boeing’s satellite programs this year.”
The WGS satellites are built on the proven Boeing 702 platform with 13 kilowatts of power, reconfigurable coverage areas, and the ability to connect X-band and Ka-band users anywhere within their field of view via an onboard digital channelizer. The cross-banding capability and reconfigurable X- and Ka-band coverages are not available on any other satellite communications system.
Boeing is building three Block I and three Block II WGS satellites for the Air Force. WGS-3 is the final satellite in the Block I series and is scheduled for launch later this year. The Block II satellites will include a radio frequency bypass designed to support airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms requiring additional bandwidth and are planned for launch in 2011 and 2012.
CHICAGO, Oct. 6 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — The Boeing Company (NYSE: BA) today said it expects a pre-tax charge against third-quarter results of approximately $1.0 billion due to increased production costs and the difficult market conditions affecting its 747-8 program.
Approximately $640 million of the charge reflects higher estimated costs to produce 747-8 airplanes at both Boeing and supplier facilities. As the program assembled major components of initial 747-8 Freighters during the third quarter, it became clear that late maturity of engineering designs has caused greater than expected re-work and disruption in manufacturing. This is resulting in additional resources being applied on the program and higher supplier expenses, which are the primary cost drivers.
The remaining $360 million of the charge relates to challenging market conditions and the company’s decision to maintain the 747-8 production rate at 1.5 airplanes per month nearly two years longer than previously planned, deferring an increase to 2 per month. Higher allocation of fixed expenses and volume-based penalties to suppliers are the main drivers of the additional costs.
Because the 747 program is in a loss position, costs associated with the factors above will be immediately recorded in the third quarter for future 747-8 deliveries.
The company now expects first flight of the 747-8 Freighter to occur by early next year with the flight test program taking place in 2010. First delivery of the 747-8 Freighter is now expected in the fourth quarter of 2010. First delivery of the Intercontinental passenger variant remains scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2011.
The third-quarter tax benefit related to the 747 charge and the previously announced 787 charge is expected to be approximately 31 percent. The full-year tax benefit for both charges is expected to be approximately 37 percent. Boeing will update its 2009 financial guidance on October 21 when it reports third-quarter results.
HONG KONG, Oct. 6 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Boeing (NYSE: BA) today announced it is joining with Honeywell’s UOP to commission a study on the sustainability of a leading family of saltwater-based plant candidates for renewable jet fuel. The study is being commissioned as part of the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Users Group (www.safug.org) consortium. The Masdar Institute of Science and Technology in Abu Dhabi will lead the study, which will examine the overall potential for sustainable, large-scale production of biofuels made from salicornia bigelovii and saltwater mangroves – plants known as halophytes. Yale University’s School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and UOP will also participate in the analysis, which will include an assessment of the total carbon lifecycle of biofuels.
Halophytes can be highly productive sources of biomass energy, thrive in arid land and can be irrigated with sea water, making them suitable for biofuel development and Abu Dhabi a viable location for conducting a lifecycle-analysis study. With improved plant science and agronomy, early testing results indicate that halophytes have the potential to deliver very high yields per unit of land.
“Boeing and the scientific and academic communities are stepping forward to look at the totality of each renewable fuel source that can help us reduce carbon emissions,” said Billy Glover, managing director of Environmental Strategy for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. “By working with Masdar Institute to look at these species in a formal research framework, we will better know if certain types of halophytes meet the carbon reduction and socioeconomic criteria that will allow them to become part of a portfolio of sustainable biofuel solutions for aviation.”
The Government of Abu Dhabi founded the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (www.masdar.ac.ae) to research and develop alternative energy and sustainable technologies. Masdar Institute is an independent, non-profit, research-driven graduate institution established with the support and cooperation of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, recognized as one of the world’s premier scientific institutions.
The halophyte study will evaluate aquaculture management and practices, land use and energy requirements and identify any potential adverse ecological or social impacts associated with using halophytes for energy development, specifically for aviation biofuel development.
“We must continue to evolve biofuels to incorporate feedstocks that are not only sustainable, but actually regenerative and can restore the ecosystems where they are found,” said Jennifer Holmgren, general manager of UOP Renewable Energy & Chemicals. “Global Seawater Inc. has led the development of a promising solution, and we are excited to be working with this team to further develop and understand the potential impact of integrated seawater systems.”
A successful outcome of the study will give the Masdar Initiative (www.masdar.ae) an opportunity to expand its portfolio of renewable energy technologies into biofuels that are sustainable and can be grown locally, Dr. Sgouris Sgouridis of Masdar Institute said. The Masdar Initiative aims to create and sustain the world’s first carbon-neutral, zero-waste city, Masdar City, located on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi.
“Masdar City will have access to important production of locally grown food and thus reduce its dependence on carbon-intensive imports,” Sgouridis said. “In terms of the United Arab Emirates, it would provide an additional significant source of biofuels that would allow the UAE to transition into a less fossil fuel-dependent economy.”
Sustainable biofuel development is a key component of aviation’s strategy for lowering carbon emissions. Potential plant sources being considered are only ones that don’t distort the global food-chain, compete with fresh water resources or lead to unintended land use change. To verify data gathered during the analysis, the halophyte study will be peer-reviewed by third parties and measured against practices and principles developed by the Roundtable for Sustainable Biofuels. The results are expected to be available in late 2010.