Thursday, November 17, 2011

Airbus prevails over Boeing in Dubai Air Show passenger jetliner sweepstakes, but no Paris-like blowout

Posted by John Keller

In the continuing grudge match over passenger aircraft sales at major global air shows, Airbus in Toulouse, France, has prevailed over Boeing Commercial Airplanes at this week's Dubai Air Show in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. By rough count, Airbus sold a total of 296 passenger aircraft, while Boeing sold 214.

While taking the passenger jetliner sweepstakes at Dubai, the high-profile competition between the world's largest aircraft manufacturers was nothing like the blowout last June at the Paris Air Show in LeBourget, France, where Airbus sold 730 aircraft to Boeing's 142.

At Dubai, Airbus continued with healthy sales of its future fuel-efficient A320neo single-aisle passenger aircraft with deals for 160 of the so-called new engine option aircraft. The A320neo was the star of last summer's Paris Air Show, when Airbus inked deals for 667 of the new aircraft, which will enter service in 2015 or 2016.

Dubai, however, was a different story in global competition to supply the next generation of narrowbody passenger jets for commercial airlines around the world. At Paris, Airbus rival Boeing still had not announced a new aircraft to compete directly with the A320neo. At Dubai, however, Boeing had rolled out its future 737 MAX, which will enter service in 2017.

This past week Boeing closed deals for 201 of its 737 MAX aircraft, besting Airbus in this crucial class of standard jetliners designed for fuel efficiency and environmentally friendly operations. Dubai was among the first chapters of what promises to be a lively and hard-fought competition over the next several years for the single-aisle aircraft market.

So, with the numbers in for Dubai, Boeing sold 201 737 MAX aircraft, 58 777-300ER long-range widebody aircraft, 29 long-range 737-900ER narrowbody aircraft, six 787 Dreamliners, and two 777 freighters. In contrast, Airbus sold 160 A320neo aircraft, 44 A320s, five giant A380 jumbo jets, and five A330-200 widebody aircraft.

This high-profile competition will continue to heat-up over the next year, and the next high-profile match will be at the Farnborough International Airshow next summer in Farnborough, England.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

An update on the Avionics Europe conference and expo March 21 and 22 in Munich

Posted by John Keller

We've got an update on the Avionics Europe 2012 conference and exposition, which PennWell is sponsoring March 21 and 22 in Munich. Avionics giant Thales has signed on as a major sponsor and exhibitor at the show. Thales will be the delegate and visitor bag sponsor.

Avionics Europe has the support of Association of European Airlines, SESAR, and EUROCAE, who will all be hosting two-hour workshops relating to the Single European Sky initiative and its influence on the avionics industry.

The theme of Avionics Europe 2012 is Common Sky: Operating in One Air Space. Commercial and military aircraft, as well as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), have vastly different missions, yet share many of the same operating requirements -- especially when operating side-by-side in common air space. The conference and expo will highlight and explore the technological, policy, and design issues faced by designers and operators of civil aircraft, military aircraft, and UAVs as global aviation moves into the new frontier of air traffic management exemplified by SESAR and NextGen.

The revolves around two tracks: cockpit avionics and technologies for civil and military aircraft; and aircraft, spacecraft, and UAV sensor payloads, diagnostics, and certification.

The Avionics Europe conference and exhibition saw a 30 percent growth in attendance at the 2011 event, highlighting a return of activity to the aerospace industry following the preceding challenging economic climate. For more information contact Avionics Europe online at

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Space geeks rejoice: NASA news abounds

I had the opportunity to meet with high-level executives at military and aerospace technology firms throughout the Pacific Northwest in the past couple weeks. I had the pleasure of discussing the avionics market, including military, commercial, and general aviation with professionals at industry firms VPT, Crane Aerospace & Electronics, Radisys, Martek Power, EDT, and others.

I learned in numerous face-to-face meetings that, when it comes to the current and future health of the industry, optimism abounds. Demand for avionics is growing across multiple segments and locales; among them are: the Asia-Pacific region, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and space. Space avionics sub-segments--including spacecraft systems, unmanned rovers, and satellites--are active and gaining considerable attention.

NASA officials have made several announcements, just in this first week of November. Among them is a rare opportunity.

For the first time in three decades, the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida is open to tourists. Guests at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex can take a tour of the 525-foot-tall VAB, where myriad rockets have been built—ranging from the first Saturn V rocket in the late 1960s to the last space shuttle, the STS-135 Atlantis.

The Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), being called the largest and most capable rover to be sent to another planet, is scheduled to launch the morning of Nov. 25. The spacecraft will carry the car-sized Curiosity rover to the surface of Mars in Aug. 2010.

NASA officials, together with engineers from Lockheed Martin Space Systems, also plan an unmanned flight test of the Orion spacecraft in early 2014. The test of Lockheed Martin’s multi-purpose crew vehicle supports NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS).

NASA’s Deep Space Network antenna in California captured radar images of the aircraft carrier-sized Asteroid 2005 YU55 passing roughly 860,000 miles away from Earth.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden has appointed Mason Peck, a professor at Cornell University, to be the agency’s chief technologist starting in January.

The Juno spacecraft has launched on its five-year voyage to Jupiter, with help from American Pacific Corp.'s in-space propulsion subsidiary (AMPAC-ISP).

NASA engineers are busy and, in turn, keeping aerospace technology companies busy and innovating. Space is a bright spot in the avionics community, and recent activity should allay concerns over a dwindling U.S. space industry. Kudos and keep up the great work--to 2012 and beyond!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Boeing: A giant awakens

By Courtney E. Howard

When I began covering the aerospace market and, soon after, relocated to the Pacific Northwest, I was surprised to find that although The Boeing Company was considered an industry giant, it was also perceived by many, especially those in technological circles, to be rather slow-moving.

In little more than the past two months, however, Boeing has made significant strides.

The company announced global leadership changes, including: Marlin Dailey, vice president of sales for Boeing Commercial Airplanes, named president of Boeing Germany, Northern Europe/EU, and Africa; Ray Conner named to the new position of senior vice president of sales and customer support, leading sales, marketing, and commercial aviation services; Stan Deal named to succeed Conner as vice president and general manager, supply chain management and operations; Tim Peters named to lead surveillance and engagement division; Lianne Stein, vice president of Boeing International and president of Boeing Germany, appointed vice president of global corporate citizenship; and Vice President, Community and Education Relations Anne Roosevelt, Boeing Space Exploration VP Brewster Shaw, and CFO James Bell announcing retirement.

In the past two months, Boeing has: introduced the 737 MAX aircraft family, upgraded CV-22 trainers, delivered 787 Dreamliners, first flew the P-8I and CHAMP missile, modernized the F-15E radar, won various avionics modernization and satellite communications contract awards, approved quarterly dividends, modernized destroyers with Gigabit Ethernet networking, helped conduct the first biofuel flight, and much more.

Be sure to stay tuned to Avionics Intelligence to read the latest news, including a new Boeing Commercial Crew program office and partnership with NASA and Space Florida, which is destined to bring new jobs to the Florida facility.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Business aviation: a boon to corporate 'fat cats' or job creator for the local community?

Posted by John Keller

Hearing the Obama Administration's rhetoric on business aviation, and you'd think anyone who rides on a private jet is a criminal. Look up Obama corporate jets, and you get a litany from proposed increased taxes on business aviation, to accusations of fat-cat corporate executives who not only don't pay their fair share of taxes and fees, but who also, when using business aviation, somehow are robbing from the less fortunate.

It sounds like outright warfare waged by the Obama Administration on anyone who uses a business jet -- whether he or she needs it or not. There are some corporate leaders for whom private jets make sense, as using this general aviation asset helps keep their companies running and ahead of the competition, but that's beside my point.

I read a story in The Telegraph of Nashua, N.H., on Sunday, which clearly lays out some of the benefits of business aviation to the community at large, not just the so-called "fat cats" who use corporate jets.

The story, headlined "Ceremony will celebrate construction of new runway at Boire Field in Nashua," discusses construction of a new runway at the general-aviation airport in Nashua, N.H., called Boire Field. This $16 million project, to be paid for primarily by grants from the FAA and New Hampshire Department of Transportation, breaks ground this week on a 6,000-foot level runway, which ultimately will replace an ageing 5,500-foot runway that has one end 10 feet lower than the other.

What caught my eye is the economic influence this project is expected to have. To begin with, the project will create more than 40 full-time jobs, and will be "a boon to most of the 30 businesses that revolve around the airport," reads the story, authored by The Telegraph's Joseph G. Cote.

A 6,000-foot runway isn't long enough to accommodate commercial aircraft, so don't expect to take an airline flight into our out of Boire Field anytime soon. Still, that extra 500 feet of runway should make all the difference for the business jets that use the airport.

The existing 5,500-foot runway isn't long enough for large corporate jets like the Gulfstream V to take off from Nashua with full fuel tanks -- especially on hot, humid days when all aircraft display relatively sluggish aerodynamic performance. That extra 500 feet of runway, however, will enable the biggest private jets operating from Boire Field to take off fully fueled, which increases range and efficiency.

The story points out other community benefits of the general aviation airport improvement project. The new runway also could mean more money for the airport from fuel taxes and for pilots who could take on more passengers per flight, the story reads.

So a project that on the surface might look to benefit only corporate "fat cats" actually will create jobs, enhance the local tax base, and improve efficiency for the local corporations that operate jets at Nashua.

Maybe we ought to think about this next time we hear President Obama or others in his administration attacking business aviation as only benefitting the rich.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Notable NASA news dominates desktop

By C.E. Howard

Color me impressed. (What color is that, anyway?) I am a space nerd, who loves all things space-oriented. I, like many others, recoiled in fear and mild horror last year when it was revealed that some NASA programs would be cancelled and government-funded human space exploration would be put on “the back burner,” to put it mildly. Yet, today, NASA-related news dominates my desktop.

The Obama Administration came under considerable fire for the decision, but I am tremendously pleased with what has transpired since then. The private human spaceflight/commercial spacecraft industry has taken off (pun intended), with help from some of the world’s best and brightest. Forward-thinking entrepreneurs—including Elon Musk, Sir Richard Branson, Robert Bigelow, and others—have invested time, thought, and considerable funds in advancing human space travel in the commercial realm.

NASA officials aren’t resting on their laurels, however. In fact, over the past few months, NASA has been making headlines each week—far more often than it had in the past several years. The organization is increasingly partnering with technology companies in the aerospace industry, as well, announcing contract opportunities and hosting industry events.

Just this month, in fact, NASA personnel have revealed an undersea mission, a next-gen space observatory, student competitions, tweetups (I shudder at the thought of this “word” making it into the dictionary), and the need for expendable launch vehicles, propulsion systems, and much more.

Read the latest NASA news, especially as it relates to requests for proposals (RFPs) and upcoming contract award opportunities, at

Related articles:

NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations undersea mission launches

Lockheed Martin builds NASA MAVEN spacecraft primary structure

Help Wanted: NASA seeks astronauts

Monday, October 10, 2011

New to NBAA

Posted by Courtney E. Howard

The 64th annual National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) meeting and convention opened today, 10 Oct. 2011, with an inspiring, thought-provoking General Session. NBAA’s president and CEO, Ed Bolen, revealed that 25,000 professionals are in attendance at this year’s event—an increase over last year’s numbers, before cutting the ribbon on the expansive exhibit floor.

Business aviation has experienced what many on the show floor have characterized as a “roller coaster ride”—with extreme highs and lows. In just a few months, however, the market seems to have stabilized; the mood is high and both attendees and exhibitors are optimistic about the short and long term. Yet, as speakers at the NBAA General Session indicated, it’s not all smooth sailing.

“We are in a fight for our industry,” Bolen described, referring to business aviation coming under fire. “The industry is being bullied.”

Politicians are scrutinizing, and looking to impose a tax on, general aviation. Reportedly, politicians began subjecting the general aviation industry to scrutiny, accompanied by accusations of corporate greed and excess, as a kneejerk reaction to disgust over CEOs of “the big three” automakers flying on private jets to Washington to plea for bailout money back in 2008.

“General aviation is a good industry, and business aviation is a proud part of that,” Bolen continued. He called for the industry to push back against negative characterizations, as well as to come together, unite, and make its voice heard.

Avionics Intelligence wants to hear your voice. How do you feel about the proposed tax on, and the recent personification, general aviation?