Bombardier Commercial Aircraft and Delta Air Lines have signed a firm agreement covering the purchase of 75 CS100 regional airliners with options for an additional 50 aircraft. The agreement also allows Delta to convert a number of these orders into orders for the larger CS300 model down the road. Continue reading
The Citation Longitude is a new, super-midsize business jet currently in development. Cessna’s product line is centered on the light end of the business jet market, and extending the product line to larger aircraft makes sense. Without a super-midsize aircraft available from Cessna, even the company’s satisfied customers must buy from other manufacturers when they outgrow jets in the medium class. Continue reading
The French DCNS Group has beaten competitors from Germany and Japan to secure the contract to build Australia’s next fleet of submarines. DCNS offered the Shortfin Barracuda, which is a modified version of the French Navy’s nuclear submarine. The much anticipated $38.5 billion contract ensures that the 12 new submarines will be built at Adelaide’s Osborne shipyards.
Canada’s new Liberal government released its first defense budget in March, and the spending plan portends a continued struggle for the military’s troubled acquisition system. The budget plan estimates that defense spending will total CAD18.6 billion in the 2016/17 fiscal year (April 1 to March 31), which is about CAD578 million less than projected under the previous Conservative government’s 2015 budget plan. Planned spending of CAD19.5 billion in 2017/18 would actually be higher than the CAD18.7 billion figure contained in last year’s budget, but that increase hides a more alarming issue. Namely, the 2016 budget takes some CAD3.7 billion worth of procurement funding allocated for large-scale projects in the 2015/16 to 2020/21 timeframe, and defers it to beyond 2020. Continue reading
On April 1, the U.S. Department of Defense announced the sale of two King Air 350ERs to Saudi Arabia. Typically, that would not be a very noteworthy occurrence, but this particular contract was awarded to Sierra Nevada of Hagerstown, Maryland, a significant provider of defense electronics and a partner with the U.S. Army on a high-profile King Air 350 program. Continue reading
Orbital ATK is asking U.S. lawmakers to end a 20-year ban on using decommissioned intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) to carry commercial satellites into orbit. Orbital ATK has built a successful business around using retired ICBMs to launch military satellites.[i] Its Minotaur rocket has lifted off 25 times since 2000,[ii] and has demonstrated an ability to carry multiple payloads to orbit in one launch (for example, in November 2013 a Minotaur I carried 30 payloads into orbit).
Van Horn Aviation recently celebrated the first installation and flight of VHA composite main rotor blades on its launch customer, Hummingbird Helicopter’s 206B. According to Van Horn Aviation, Bob Hoag, owner of Hummingbird Helicopters, is a current customer of Van Horn’s composite tail rotor blades, and was eager to be the launch customer for the main blade.
Composite materials have been developed and refined over the years for use on fixed wing aircraft and helicopters. Helicopter rotor blades perhaps benefit most from composite materials due to increases in fatigue resistance and higher strength-to-density ratios.
Among other major worldwide composite rotor blade modernization retrofit efforts is the US Army’s AH-64E Apache Reman program, which includes installation of composite main rotor blades and composite stabilators. The composite main rotor blade is 6 inches longer than the previous blade, with a new tip design to improve aerodynamic performance.
As part of the Chinook Block II upgrade, new composite rotor blades will add 2,000 additional pounds of lift capacity. The program has already made wind tunnel testing progress and was slated for flight testing in summer 2015.
Carson Helicopters provides the composite rotor blades used in Sikorsky’s S-61T conversion program, and markets the FireKing firefighting conversion. Carson is continuing with structural testing and manufacturing process improvements until FAA certification is complete.
Mil’s Mi-35M conversion package offers composite rotor blades, as does Paramount on its Superhind Mk IV and MkII upgrades.
In March 2013, Bell Helicopter signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Van Horn Aviation to produce the tail rotor blades for 412 and 212 helicopters, which operators may purchase and install on their own. Van Horn Aviation currently offers UH-1 Huey composite tail rotors, along with its other products, to include the new 206B composite main rotor blade.
“Our newly certificated 206B main rotor blade is the culmination of more than five years of design, prototyping, and testing, including extensive flight and fatigue testing,” said VHA CEO James Van Horn, who designed the blades and flew as copilot/flight test engineer during most of the certification flight testing. “Our goal was to produce composite main rotor blades that would reduce operator cost and increase durability. During flight testing, we saw and felt some improvements in responsiveness with the composite blades compared to the metal blades. We believe the JetRanger operators will be pleased with our composite blades.” – James Van Horn
In February 2016, Van Horn Aviation received Supplemental Type Certification from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for 206B composite main rotor blades. The blades were approved for 18,000 hours of service life, more than triple that of OEM metal blades. The blades consist of carbon-fiber skin and spars, a laminar-flow airfoil, and a tapered tip. Also, there is a combination of stainless steel and nickel abrasion strips across the entire length of the blade for erosion and lighting strike protection.
“We put the main blade, root, inboard and outboard sections through months of fatigue testing,” said VHA President Dean Rosenlof. “Composites are inherently durable and resist fatigue throughout normal flight parameters, so we tested the blades with simulated hail damage, induced manufacturing defects, and various extreme repairs. We won’t say that the blades are bullet-proof, but they’re close.” – Dean Rosenlof
The blades have an 18,000 hour service life with overhauls required every 2,800 hours. The list price for the blades is $79,500, sold exclusively through Aeronautical Accessories.
Van Horn Aviation is also developing 206L composite main rotor blades, projected to receive an STC in 2017. The 206L blades will be about 22 inches longer, and will have a service life of 25,000 hours.
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Forecast International’s Airborne Retrofit & Modernization Forecast provides operators in the military and commercial aviation sectors with the information they need to maximize their current investments rather than expand their fleets, a trend that is opening up multiple opportunities for the expansion of retrofit and modernization programs. It offers a one-stop service for tracking the status of commercial and military R&M programs in progress worldwide, and pinpoints key developments in the aviation industry that will impact the market in the future.
As a cost-effective means of entering the generation 4+ club, the Gripen, dubbed Saab’s Smart Fighter, serves as a desirable option on the international fighter market. The new NG model will surely create a sensation when unveiled on May 18. Equipped with the latest fighter technology, the Gripen, it seems, has made a niche for itself among countries looking to spend less. Brazil has recently ordered 36 of the fighters, joining a list of small, economically conscious operators. So what is the next step for Gripen? Continue reading